“Are there any questions? Does anyone have other plans for tomorrow?” the hut warden Sally asked the motley group of trampers as we huddled in the Mangatepopo hut on the skirts of the Tongariro National Park in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island. Outside the wind was buffeting against the hut’s wooden walls, whipping the tussock grass (and tent flies) into a frenzy. But inside, it was cosy; the wood-burner was alight, slowly drying wet clothes whose pungent steamy fumes mingled with the homely scent of Pizza Hut pizzas some entrepreneurial Germans had carried up from civilisation.
I raised my hand, catching the eye of Sally. “We’re planning on climbing Mt Ngauruhoe tomorrow,” I ventured tentatively, worried I knew the response. Sally had already mentioned the weather conditions for the next day and while rain wasn’t going to be a massive problem (at least not until the evening) the wind was going to be frenetic, with gusts around 45km. Continue reading
So, the next lot of volcanoes in my #40by40 quest have now been lined up as I head off back home to New Zealand for a month in a little over two weeks’ time. Woohoo can’t wait!
The original plan had been to fit in five volcanoes but trying to also fit in a friend’s wedding and a trip to the South Island to see my brother and his family (my niece and nephew are soooo cute!), as well as catching up with other family and friends and playing hostess to the English boyfriend, well five volcanoes very quickly became three. Continue reading
Last week I blogged about my goals for 2017 – 15 things I essentially needed to do (or not do, in the case of watching TV) this year to upskill, up my personal development and help progress my #40by40 quest. There were a couple of things I didn’t include on the list, such as investigate mindfulness and practice patience.
I am, by far, one of the most impatient people ever – maybe it goes back to the fact that when I was born I was two weeks overdue and then my poor mother spent around 48 hours in labour, so perhaps I feel I’ve got some catching up to do! Continue reading
In my last blog, I listed all the mishaps, lows and hilarious misadventures I had experienced in 2016. Now I turn to the highlights and good times. At this time of year, with a spangly new year full of promise on the horizon, it’s good to remember the positives and to be grateful for the good things, experiences and people present in our lives. 2016 will be a year to remember for many reasons. Importantly though, 2016 has set the scene for 2017 and the experiences, adventures and joy (and certain mishaps) yet to come. Here are my top highlights from the year. Continue reading
It was only about 11:30am and it was stinking hot. The yellow sun pierced through the clear blue sky and scorched both me and the earth as beads of sweat started to gather on my brow.
For what looked like a relatively easy 390m high volcano to climb, Gran Cratere on the Aeolian Island Vulcano was deceptive. I found it hard going striding uphill in the glaring sun – I blame the heat and lack of fitness finesse for this. Continue reading
Back when I first started dreaming about this quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, I
Mt Ngauruhoe in the background – on the list for next year
spent an age on Google getting whipped up in the excitement of rugged volcanic landscapes, bubbling lava, snow-capped cones, and wilderness and vistas as far as the eye could see.
I put together a grand list of 40 volcanoes – they were dotted on practically every corner of the globe; some on islands in the middle of the ocean, others in remote and often exotic locations, requiring days of trekking to reach. Many were active, with lava lakes or hissing vents. And more than several were majestic in their height, taking on the craggy peaks in the French Alps, and promising winter mountaineering experiences.
It was a dizzying list. Just looking at it made me giddy, bursting with adrenalin and excitement. Continue reading
Say you’re running a marathon. You love running, you’ve trained hard and you’re running for a good cause, yet about halfway through you hit a wall – not literally but figuratively. Your energy levels slump, every movement creates a shockwave of pain radiating through your body, and your heart wants to leap out of your chest. Tears prick your eyes as the evil little thoughts start to infiltrate into your head – “You can’t do this,” they say. “You’re tired,” they say. “It’s ok to give up,” they say.
Almost a year ago I quit my editor’s job to go freelancing. That was a big decision; it was tough. But equally it was liberating. And now I can’t imagine having to step foot in an office everyday, let alone share a commuter train twice a day with stressed-out lemmings.
But this almost-year of freelancing has been interesting and more difficult than I expected it would be. If I thought quitting my job was hard, that has been nothing in comparison with grappling with the fear and self-doubt of venturing out on the hare-brained idea to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40. The woeful tally so far being a big fat one! (I sit here writing this with the self-pity coming off me in waves).
The fact is, in the past 10 months I’ve experienced a rollercoaster of emotions – from the jubilation of employment freedom to the finger-biting worry of where the next pay cheque will come from, and a whole mish-mash in between.
So does anyone want to spend £1000 and come on a trip to Sicily with me – April 10th to 17th?
It appears that Nigel No Mates (that’s me) has been the sole person to book a tour for these dates and the trip is at risk of being cancelled unless three more people book. I’ve got two weeks before I find out if it will get the axe.
After completely embarrassing myself on a climb up a small mountain (more hill really) in Spain a couple of weeks ago – wearing inappropriate foot attire (damn those plimsolls) and proving to be woefully unfit – I’ve taken it on myself to increase my sprightliness and lung capacity. I’ve started a spin class – after all I do have 39 volcanoes still to climb (and my Saturday morning Zumba class got pulled).
If you don’t know what a spin class is, I’ll give you a crash course here.