How much training is enough?

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3,000km. Five to six months. Mountains, forests, knee-high mud, wet river crossings, kayaking, road walking. The legendary Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand. How much training is enough?

I put my hands up – I think I’m not doing enough. At least when I was walking up Box Hill last weekend with a 9.5kg backpack on my back it certainly felt like I hadn’t been doing enough.

Annoying, when back in March I’d put together a comprehensive four-month training programme for this adventure. But life gets in the way. I haven’t stuck to it. Actually, I haven’t even come close. Continue reading

Volcano number 15: The not-what-it-was-supposed-to-be volcano

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“I guess I should be grateful that I’m actually on my way to see a volcano,” I thought as the ‘Yellow Bus’ hurtled through the Azorean countryside, passing fields of maize and languid dairy cows.

It had almost been a no-volcano day after a caffeine-deficient, panic-fuelled morning. I’d arrived in the Azores – the volcanic archipelago off the coast of Portugal – the night before rearing to tick off four more volcanoes in my #40by40 challenge.

But it didn’t start the way it was intended to. Continue reading

Facing my fear of kayaking – and not letting it hold me back from achieving my dreams

I’ve always been a little trepidatious when it came to kayaking.

Ever since high school when kayaking in the school swimming pool was a component of PE. Physical education, for a geeky teenager who could barely throw a ball to save herself, wasn’t great at the best of times, but the kayaking class was something else.

There I was sat in a kayak, locked in by the spray deck that covered me from the waist down, learning how to capsize and roll the kayak back up.

It didn’t go very well. Continue reading

This is what it’s like to live with self-doubt

I don’t need a bully. That nasty someone to belittle me, call me names, tell me I’m no good, that I’m stupid and ugly. Nope, I don’t need a bully – and yet I’m bullied every day.

That’s because I’m my own bully; I’m my own worst enemy.

Since my school days, I’ve barraged myself with negativity, put downs and self-doubt – you’re so uncool, you’re boring, you’re stupid, you’re not attractive, I would tell myself. I’d question what I thought and what I did. I’d tell myself other people were better than me, that I should be more like them, but that I could never be because I wasn’t good enough. Continue reading

Volcano number 12: The last-minute volcano

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After a wet day with thoroughly uninviting views, we awoke in the little French town of Mandailles to what promised to be better weather. There were pockets of blue in the sky (hurrah!) and while the tops of the higher mountains were still shrouded in cloud it looked like it was only lingering like a bad smell.

Today was to be our last day of our three-day hike along a section of the GR400 route in France’s Auvergne region. So far, we had been buffeted by gale force winds in an almighty thunderstorm, my hiking companion’s tent had nearly blown off the side of the mountain, and we had climbed two volcanoes as part of my #40by40 quest to climb 40 volcanos by the age of 40.

Today’s aim was to take on two more volcanoes – including the immediate region’s highest peak Plomb du Cantal. Continue reading

5 things I learnt in 2017

2017 – one blink and it was gone. Or so it seemed.

In reflection, it was a manic year of epic highs (awesome month-long trip home to New Zealand, gaining my British citizenship and starting a new journey of self-discovery through my mind). But it was also a year of epic lows (not one but two volcano failures, putting my volcano plans on hold while sorting out my British citizenship, and adjusting to a new reality of frequent hospital visits to see the boyfriend’s father who had a life-altering stroke).

At the start of 2017, I set myself a huge list of goals (not resolutions). The fact I can’t even remember half of what those were a year on probably says it all. Continue reading

Turning disaster and uncertainty into a silver lining

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I’ve realised I’m not that great with the unknown. It can be scary not knowing what’s around the corner or on the other side of that bank of cloud when you’re high up on a mountain.

When faced with the unknown or uncertainty when we’re out on an adventure, we often instantly jump to the worst-case scenario: imagining we might be stuck on a rock face with a 30m drop below, getting lost in the woods and never finding our way home, or falling off the side of a mountain when visibility drops. Continue reading

The pitfalls of preparing for volcano number nine

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The bags are packed; map directions sorted.

The boyfriend and I are about to set off up to the Scottish border to spend two days walking over the sparse and volcanically formed Cheviot Hills – subsequently bagging volcano number nine in my #40by40 quest.

I have to admit, I’m a little excited. All that fresh air and open space – not to mention another volcano – I’m feeling giddy just thinking about it.

But several weeks ago, I wasn’t this cock-a-hoop.

Why?  Continue reading