Our great friend and now NORTH collaborator. We hope you will join us in welcoming Chris to NORTH and we can't wait to start exploring together again during this off season!
Who am I? My name is Christopher Bruton and I am from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I have grown up playing ice hockey which has afforded me a wealth of experiences, travels, friendships, and education that I couldn’t be more grateful for. After contemplating quitting the game that has helped shape who I am today, one final call and gut feeling pulled me in for another season.
After finishing my 4th professional ice hockey season it only made sense that having played all throughout Canada, the USA, including as far as Alaska, that a call from Scotland to pursue another and possibly final year of professional hockey would come knocking at my door. When most people think of Canada they think about ice hockey, the cold, overly nice people and yes we did somehow produce Justin Bieber. Scotland! All I could think about was Braveheart, kilts, and an abundance of pubs and bars to get out of the rain.
Last season I played for the Grand Rapids Griffins, direct affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings in the American Hockey League. Now I was heading to Glasgow, Scotland to play in the Elite Ice Hockey League and retain my MBA in Business from the University of the West of Scotland.
To say this was quite a change would be an understatement. The opportunity was too good to pass up, I’d get paid to play hockey, MBA was taken care of, and a car and place over in Europe. Well Scotland, not Europe, which I quickly learned is much different and unique in its own special way. So I hugged Mom and Dad and the brother’s good bye and left home again just like I started doing at the tender age of 16, to move away and play another season of hockey. Here we go!
As my plane seared through some light clouds which I soon after learned was a sunny day in Scotland, I immediately looked NORTH! There they were the highlands and they instantly grabbed me. I knew this was going to be a special place. After getting settled for a couple weeks I instantly fell in love with the city of Glasgow with tons of music, great shopping and food, and of course an awesome bar and pub scene, which above all else was to hide from the rain. Ya right! As the year progressed along with the season, I began to gravitate towards building a life-long friendship with this Scottish looking dude tattooed up with a pretty badass looking beard. He had a great energy about him and we began to talk a lot about adventures, hiking and getting away from the normal day-to-day ebb and flow that the hockey lifestyle often grips you in. Not only hockey, but we talked about life and the 9-5 routine that so many head to the pub after work, or jump on the Netflix train for a 5 hour TV series binge. Don’t get me wrong I love taping my eyes open and hammering out a series of “How to Make a Murderer” until I pass out, but there was just so much more that I knew I had given up because I fell into the trap of a routine that was conducive to my lifestyle.
Tristan Cameron-Harper and I had a quiet understanding and mutual bond that grew quickly and we both said it without saying a thing, we were going to live it up. Yes I know a total bromance, but that is the beauty of hockey you can strike up friendships and bonds that extend well beyond the rink. On game days when it’s usually a nap and lay around day routine, we were going in to visit the city do some yoga, grab a nice lunch, and then go kick ass on the ice. If it was only two days before a game, we would go into the highlands and hike, and explore and see more do more. It wasn’t exactly what people would think was the smartest thing a pro-athlete to be doing expelling energy day before games and sleeping far less, but it gave me a rejuvenated abundance of energy, and I was playing the best hockey of my life and enjoying every minute of it. Being busy with school, hockey, and getting out and doing as much as possible was the perfect recipe. It wasn’t as if we didn’t try to include others around us, we invited people often, and they unfortunately fell into the trap of complacency and laziness and followed the lifestyle like a sheep in the herd. We wanted to be the Collie that directed the traffic and direction, and so we continued the unorthodox routine in a normally restrictive lifestyle.
My first adventure was a hike back in the highlands and a Canadian friend was visiting and we three decided to go for what the two Canadians thought would be a nice little stroll. What ensued was a 6 hour death march with no given path through the tall wet grass, to the jagged rocks and finally peaking in utter sweat and exhaustion. What a view and feeling at the top! There is so much to see in Scotland and trust me that is coming from someone who has the Canadian Rocky Mountains as his back yard. We made our way back down following a couple of sheep and as Harps pointed out “This is a great omen”. After we sat at the car had some laughs and couple beers, the ride home with tunes bumping and winding roads leaving Loch Lomond and the Trossachs was just what Scotland was all about, simply beautiful, untouched and unique in its own way. From here we went on countless other hikes, and made a point of visiting Edinburgh and heading up to St. Andrews often as our day off retreat. I couldn’t get over the unbelievable scenery Scotland had to offer, the wonderful and engaging people and the seafood was some of the best I had ever encountered. And of course plenty of pubs and bars to take cover late at night when it started to rain. It seemed to rain a lot for Harps and I.
I always heard this cliché’ quote that “people inspire you, or they drain you, pick them wisely.” At first I thought this was a crock of shit, but as I have grown older and a little wiser (not much) I have learnt first-hand this could not bode more true. In comes Jawn McClenaghan, holy hell is that ever a Scottish name. Harps told me this dude was an awesome, a long haired rocker, but was an absolute gem and they had become life-long friends and obviously work together on this blog. My first impression was a little different from what I imagined from Tristan’s description. When I met Jawn for the first time we were all going to head out for a hike and he came down after sleeping in with nothing but a hockey jersey on (I think naked underneath) and long rock star hair covered in tattoos. My first thought was that I needed more ink to fit in. My second thought was who the hell is this homeless looking beast that had a glare like he wanted to boot me in the face. After welcoming me into his home and getting out and adventuring, I instantly understood what it meant to surround yourself with the right people. He had a chuckle and part of him that wanted to keep everyone around him engaged. Getting out and adventuring only opens people up and we got each other perfectly after one hike. I even dropped his expensive camera at one point and all he did was let out a big chuckle. What a beauty. The three of us will be hitting up a couple of good adventure days and I’m pumped for the tripod to be reunited.
It’s easy to become complacent and fall into the trap of following an expected lifestyle, or a routine that becomes comfortable. For me NORTH and the fella’s are what it’s all about and have created an interactive site where they can showcase unreal gear in some of the coolest destinations. So far it showcases some of Scotland’s beautiful scenery that is easily accessible to anyone and everyone. The best part is this platform will only grow including Harps showcasing places in Spain and most definitely in the Himalayans when we adventure to Base Camp Everest together. I find myself going and checking the site often when I am studying and missing the adventures, and I guarantee if you give this a read and follow you will get hooked. These two dudes are down to earth people that would love to hear from followers on new products, restaurants, bars, gigs and places to see, and this like-minded platform will begin to flourish as a collective effort for everyone. I feel very fortunate to have met both these guys and they are truly a great representation of Scotland and their lifestyle and experience showcase brands and companies beautifully. If all goes to plan, hopefully we can get the guys over to my country to explore the “true NORTH strong and free."