A life update – February 2020

Woah… the last blog post I wrote was my review of Red Bull Timelaps in November 2019. Now that’s a record, even for me. A combination of life stuff, focusing on family, lots of amazing, rewarding freelance work and the ensuing repetitive strain injury (RSI) that comes with it has kept me away from this poor neglected corner of the internet.

But I’ve filled out my planner, made a list of backlogged blogs to write and I’ve done my vision boarding for the year, so let’s go!

As it’s been so long, let me take you through a little life update and look at what’s up ahead for 2020…

Working with passion & purpose

Freelance copywriter Tess Agnew in London

The truth is, since going freelance in 2017, more and more of my focus has been writing and managing social for my clients, instead of focusing on my own channels. I’ve learned pretty quickly that when you’re self employed, time is money, so my priorities have changed and I’m loving the challenge of working really hard to build my freelance portfolio.

There’s something really special about working for yourself.

I can genuinely say that I absolutely love my job, even when the loneliness of freelance life takes hold.* The freedom, flexibility and autonomy is both empowering and unnerving in equal measures but however hard it gets, one thing remains – I’ve never been so focused and motivated to do my very best for every client I work with, and that, my friends, really is the most satisfying feeling.

*Loneliness combatted 99% by the amazing Platf9rm coworking space and community / daily dog cuddles. 

Freelancer Tess Agnew cuddles a dog at her Brighton coworking space Platf9rm


The past year I’ve been working on some great projects with real passion and purpose:

From progressing the global mental health movement with United for Global Mental Health and Speak Your Mind, to supporting teams at Family Action, The Parks Alliance and Marie Curie on their key national campaigns. I’ve worked with Active Sussex for This Girl Can, and led bike clubs for girls with Sustrans to help to close the gender gap in cycling from the ground up (more on this soon). In between all of this there’s been lots of copywriting for various fitness, wellbeing, arts and corporate clients, and to be honest, the last thing I’ve wanted to do at the end of a working day is open the laptop again to write my blog.

This week I started a new contract working with on another great charity until May, leading on social media strategy and content planning / creation for a national campaign and I can’t wait to get stuck in. I also get a tasty eight or so mile each way cycle commute so am really excited to get the bike fitness back up and remember how good it feels to ride to work.

If you’re on LinkedIn you can read more on the projects I’ve been involved in on in my blog post.


We’re buying a flat!

This is very scary to say it out loud before we complete so *touch wood* it doesn’t fall through!

I never thought I’d get excited about bathroom tiles, matching furniture and living room rugs but dear God it’s happening and it’s happening hard. It’s our first place and the whole process is completely alien to us so we’re relieved to have our hands held through every step by our brilliant mortgage advisor at Mortgage Medics in Brighton. (Not an affiliate link, just want to share the love). 

Freelance copywriter Tess Agnew holding a vision board that she made
The vision board of dreams

After 11 years in Brighton we’re so chuffed to be buying in the city we’ve called home for so long. Suddenly my whole mindset has changed and after years of protesting I’m now ready to take a tentative step into real adulthood and embrace everything that comes with it:

An occasional chair and floor standing lamp for the books stored on shelves made from scaffold boards.

A rustic reclaimed coffee table and art framed on the walls, instead of rolled up in the tubes I bought it in 10 bloody years ago.

A sofa bed in the spare room and a big fluffy rug that matches the chimney breast.

Bathroom tiles and roll top baths; toilet room designs and belfast sinks; built-in wardrobes and a mattress that actually fits the bed.

An ergonomic office chair and all of the bikes stored properly on the walls instead of clogging up the flat. For the first time in 10 years we’ll have a bike-free bedroom.

Shoes off upstairs, coats hung up and a designated ironing area.

Adulting is coming guys… I’m ready for it.

Focusing on fitness for fun & wellbeing

As far as my own fitness is concerned, the past few months have been a case of squeezing in exercise around work when I have the time and energy. At the moment that means getting a bit of cycling power training in with the club on Monday nights (who knew this was soooo hard!), getting back on the weights with South Coast Strength Club, and training (sort of) for Brighton Half which is now less than two weeks away(!).

Consistency has not been my strong point for a long time now as I slip into cycles of boom and bust but it’s something I’m going to work on (or accept) this year as I try to reset the work-life balance and boundaries.

Whilst I have fun figuring that out, here’s this year’s events in the calendar so far:

  • Merthyr Tydfill activity weekend – 3-5 April


    If you’ve read my blog before or follow me on social you’ll know that I love Wales and Merthyr is a regular playground of mine, with Bike Park Wales at its heart. Because every holiday or trip we ever do always seems to involve the bikes I’ve never really ventured any further in Merthyr to discover what else is available for outdoor adventure lovers.

    So I’m excited to find out on this (gifted) activity weekend, courtesy of Visit Merthyr, where I’ll be having a go at rock climbing and gorge walking (I’ve done this before in the Brecon Beacons and it’s BRILLIANT) as well as getting some of my beloved mtb fun at BPW too. Stay tuned for updates!

  • BM Ride – 19 April

    The Brighton Marathon Weekend is always a banger and this year it’s actually my birthday. ?Last year we took part in the inaugural BM Ride, a 50km closed-road event that takes place before the BM10k and Brighton Marathon starts. ICYMI, catch up on my video and read the blogs for this and the other events in the links below:

  • London Revolution – 9/10 May

    Cyclist riding up hill at Dulux London Revolution
    A two-day cycling weekender combining my two favourite things: cycling and camping! An epic 155-mile loop of London over two days with a Festival Basecamp offering camping facilities, hot showers, bars, food and live music. SO EXCITED! Best get training, it’s coming up quick! Me and Chris have been gifted our places.

  • Fort William Downhill World Cup – 6/7 June

    Mountain biker riding the Fort William Downhill World Cup course
    We’re not riding obvs(!) but heading up to watch the pros send it down the Nevis Range in Fort William. The UCI MTB Downhill World Cup has been hosted at Fort William since 2002, and we went up for the first time last year. It was BRILLIANT, you get right up close and personal with the riders and all the action, and can get the gondola up the mountain and walk/climb/scramble back down trackside to see the riders smash it to the finish. At the bottom in the race village the atmosphere is electric with loads to see and do, with lots of the riders out and about mingling after their runs.

    We were short on time last year so had to fly up and hire a car / borrow a tent etc. but this year we’re taking the van up with all our gear (including the bikes!) for a big Scottish road trip mark 2.

    ICYMI, catch up on what we got upto on our Scottish road trip mark 1:
    The Quiraing on Skye: The most breathtaking walk of my life
    Mountain biking on Skye - Sligachan & Boreraig trails
  • Brighton Big Dog – 10 Aug

    Brighton’s very own cross country mountain bike (XC MTB) race and what a bloody brilliant event it is too. Great atmosphere, great course, and beer at the finish line (they hand it to you as you cross).

    I went into last year woefully unprepared and can confirm that my “I ride Stanmer all the time, I’ll be fine” strategy was not adequate. Taking on laps of the woods in Stanmer Park the course is tough and you can race in teams or do six-hour solo. Me and hubs signed up for the solo because we’re mad like that. I never got round to blogging it but I’ll do an event preview nearer this year’s event.

    For now, let’s just say I’m gonna actually do some proper training to come back stronger this year!

  • A bike trip to the Pyrenees!

    Oh yeah, and I casually won a three-night stay at the gorgeous Free Range Chalet in the Pyrenean town of Bagneres-de-Luchon with UKCycleChat, so looking forward to taking the road bikes (or mtbs?) to the mountains this September!

June and July are currently looking a bit bare but we’re gradually hunting down and collecting bikepacking kit so we can go on some proper free range adventures this summer after talking about it for literally years. Any bikepacking pros out there fancy giving us some kit / packing tips, please feel free to share in the comments or hit me up on Twitter, Insta or FB.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling… until the next one (let’s not leave it three months this time!), adios!