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Welcome to the blog of the NeverTooLate Girl.

With the aim to try out, write about and rate the things that people say they'd like to do but haven't quite gotten around to, this website gives you the real and often humourous inside gen on whether it's really worth it.

Read about it,think about it, do it.

 The Top 20 Never Too Late List

  1. Learn to fly - RATED 4/5.
  2. Learn to shoot - RATED 4/5.
  3. Have a personal shopper day.
  4. Attend carols at Kings College Chapel on Christmas Eve - RATED 2.5/5.
  5. Have a date with a toy boy.
  6. Do a sky dive.
  7. Eat at The Ivy - RATED 4/5.
  8. Drive a Lamborgini.
  9. Climb a mountain - CURRENT CHALLENGE.
  10. Have a spa break - RATED 4.5/5.
  11. See the Northern Lights.
  12. Get a detox RATED 4/5.
  13. Read War & Peace - RATED 1/5.
  14. Go on a demonstration for something you believe in.
  15. Attend a Premier in Leicester Square.
  16. Go to Royal Ascot.
  17. Buy a Harley Davidson - RATED 5/5
  18. Study for a PhD - RATED 4/5.
  19. Visit Cuba - RATED 4/5.
  20. Be a medical volunteer overseas - RATED 3/5. 



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Getting used to things

The lack of curtains on the windows and an unfamiliar bed meant I woke early and just for a moment had that strange sensation of not knowing where you are. My hair and mouth felt gritty and the parts of my body that had been exposed to the sun tingled. The room had three single beds and two other of the volunteers, both on the wildlife project, still lay asleep. I got out of my sleeping bag, picked up my wash kit and made my way to the bathroom which was at the end of the block. It was 05:30 which might sound early but felt pretty late to me given the cockerel in the chicken compound had been crowing since two thirty. That morning several of the volunteers offered to shoot it, by the end of the week they were prepared to wring it’s neck with their bare hands. I carefully checked the shower for anything alive that I’d rather not be there i.e. baboon spiders, scorpions, male volunteers (they have their own toilet block) and had a quick shower before walking around to the Lappa and making myself a cup of bush tea in an attempt to feel at home. I’d got to know the place a little bit from my walk around the previous afternoon, but sitting there, on my own in the Lappa just before 6 I felt a bit homesick.


After breakfast there is a team meeting and the volunteers are split into groups of 3 or 4 and those groups rotate around a variety of tasks. These might include food preparation for the animals (believe me, I wish I were an animal in this sanctuary), spending time with the tame animals in an attempt to keep them tame and calm around humans (this includes the caracals, tame cheetahs and meerkats) and then feeding the carnivores. This is one of the most interesting and sought after jobs for a variety of reasons. 1. You can top up your tan as you drive around in the open back of the van along with the lumps of (look away here if you are at all sentimental) horsemeat, 2. you get to be scared out of your wits by the lions if they decide to mock charge (you think you are prepared for this, but believe me, you are not) and 3. sometimes you get to go into the enclosure with the tame cheetahs (recently used in an adv for VW) and fuss them like great big cute little kitties. Except you are instructed never to turn your back on them, always to make sure your head is higher than theirs and generally remember that underneath the big kitty exterior there are 3 inch claws and teeth to match and if they're really feeling tetchy they're capable of eating you.    Being cheetahs you're never likely to outrun them but luckily all the animals here are well-fed and the prospect of becoming dinner is fairly remote.  However, not really wanting to put it to the test I did as I was told.  


NA departure day

When you are leaving somewhere for a quite a long time (and even more so when you are going away forever I expect), you look at things through different eyes. I noticed that the trees in my garden were not quite in blossom and that the sky was a rich blue broken here and there by banks of fluffy cloud. The fields at the back of my home gave off a lush and verdant greenness and the daffodils in next doors paddock cut a startling line of golden yellow through the copse.

The taxi pulled up on time and as I dragged my cumbersome and weighty suitcases the 20 yards to the car across thick gravel, the driver watched me and then as I reached him apologised for not noticing I had bags. Obviously this was a taxi driver with incredibly bad eyesight which frankly didn’t auger well for the 5 mile drive to the station. But given that time was ticking and I didn’t have time to be haughty about it, I gave a pained smile and left him to lift them into the boot. 

The journey to St Pancras passed smoothly taking me further away from home with each mile it travelled and I reminded myself that in less than 24 hours I would be on terra nuova. London was quiet, much more so than usual and the taxi driver reminded me that the G20 summit was in full swing.  Many people had apparently decided to stay away or were working from home for the day. We drove down Pall Mall, through St James’s Mews and up the Mall with nery a hitch and as we swung by Buckingham Palace the driver put on the intercom and told me to look out of the left window.  About 200 motorcyle police in hi-vi were parked up in a carpark outside some official looking building. Looking relaxed and appearing to be in no hurry to be going anywhere they strolled about amongst each other, exchanging conversation, shining bits of their bikes and just generally having what looked like a not very secret policeman’s ball. “You can never find a policeman when you need one” said the taxi driver, “but here you are, 200 in one go”. He muttered something about taxpayers money and waste of but I didn’t quite catch what he said. The sentiment though was clear enough.

The Gatwick Express pulled sedately out of Victoria and we crossed the Thames as the sun was setting, picking up speed once south of the river. We passed through Clapham Junction which I knew from my days at drama school when I lived in Wandworth Common and attended classes at the Royal Patriotic Buildings where the drama school was situated. For anyone that knows that part of London, the Royal Patriotic Buildings are a rather extraordinary site the first time you see them. A grand baronial style building with spires and turrets, it catches you by surprise as you pass it on the railway line especially since it is nestled in a cul de sac comprising of several high rise residential blocks. I look at it fondly as the train trundled by and continued on through suburbia, past Streatham Common to East Croydon with its tower blocks, concrete and glass and then through Earlswood where at last it started to feel like countryside with more trees and fields.  We arrived at Gatwick on schedule after 30 minutes and with me wondering why travelling by public transport in the UK couldn’t always be as smooth and problem free as this journey had been. Already the queue at check-in was long and as I added myself onto the end of it I glanced around to see who my fellow passengers were. Mostly people looked outdoorsy, with comfortable walking type clothes and soft bags and rucksacks. Most of the people in the Club Class queue already looked tanned and in the main more well groomed and I expected that they were transitting on to Cape Town or some other more upmarket holiday destination and wouldn’t be seeing much of Namibia. But what caught my eye and held it was a large and vocal bunch of teenagers (I later found out they were a foundation school brass band from London. Their luggage was 200K overweight.) who were clearly in high spirits about their trip.  My heart sank. Having travelled before in the presence of such a young and lively group, I knew what prospects lay ahead for the journey - no sleep, the sound of  non-stop chatter,  bodies constantly toing and froing up and down the aisles to the toilet and to chat to ech other and all in all a fairly miserale and disturbed ten hours.  So, I did what any other forty something solvent women who needs her sleep might do. I upgraded.  Oh, the joy of turning left on embarqing. The peace, the quiet, the hot towel and cold drink. I settled back in my seat, removed my boots, got out my book and then waited for another smooth and hitch free stage of my journey. I was getting used to all this. And as I sat there, smiling to myself and easing into the luxury of club class, the captain announced over the tannoy that the control tower had lost our flight plan.  A collective groan went up from the cabin.  It was already 10:30pm and all we were looking forward to was a quick meal, a glass or two of wine and then to settle down, seat fully reclined to a decent(ish) nights sleep.  Instead we sat there, lights on, the temperature in the cabin rising (in more ways than one) until at a quarter to midnight a final announcement told us we were good to go.    

Ten hours, 5204 miles later we landed in Windhoek which has the most gorgeous, compact and 1960s style airport you would ever expect to see. We stepped off the plane and onto the tarmac into 27 degrees and a sky the deepest and most perfect shade of blue. I stood for a moment before doing a 360 degree turn to fully take in my surroundings. Only six aeroplanes stood on the tarmac plus two military jets.  I found out later that this ws the full complement of the Namibian airforce.  Apparently they used to have four, but during some conflict or other in a neighbouring country  they mobilised their whole wing command (i.e. four planes) to help.  One crashed soon after take-off and was completely wrecked and another experienced technical difficulties and had to put down in Zambia .  I don't believe they ever got it back.  The Namibian Airforce are now left with only two aircraft and I don't believe any of their neighbours have asked them for assistance since.

Four other volunteers had also arrived on my flight.  You could tell who they were because they looked bruised and battered like they'd had no sleep and had been constantly disturbed by kids running up and down the aisles all night.  The journey to N/a a'n ke se camp (it means God is watching over us in Bushman) took about 30 minutes or so gave us our first taste of Namibia and the African landscape.  A wide and far reaching plain scattered with shrubs and bushes gave way to high and impressive mountains in the distance. The earth was the characteristic red of Namibia caused I am told by a high level of iron oxide in the ground. After about 10 minutes on tarmac we turned onto a dirt road and the back end of the minibus swung away from us and shimmied around alarmiglyn.  I exchanged nervous glances with a couple of the other passengers and noticed that those that weren’t wearing their seatbelts hastily clicked them into place. I checked out our driver and saw the hint of a smile playing around his lips. If he was going out of his way to make us nervous, then he was doing just fine. During my research into the country before we left I had checked out the kind of injuries I might deal with in the clinic.  Trauma from car accident was number one on the list and I started to understand the reasons for that.  Off the main highways driving in the middle of the road appears to be de rigor and heck, why not do it while you're driving round the bends too.  It appeared that Namibians liked to live dangerously but I didn't want to become one of it's statistics quite so early on.  Actually I didn't want to become one at all so I hung onto my seat ever more tightly.  We turned off the dirt road onto a narrow and windy dirt track potted with holes and rubble and then five minutes after that we swung through a wire gate and into the entrance of the camp.  My first view as we swung into the yard was a line of vehicles, several of which were up on blocks with obvious gaps where their wheels were supposed to be. I wondered for a moment if I had booked the wrong holiday by mistake and was in fact now arriving for five weeks on African Car Maintenance for Beginners. If so, I’d really packed the wrong kit.

We unloaded our luggage and stood for a moment in the fierce lunchtime sun, surrounded by dogs of various size and pedigree unsure of what we should do.  Slowly, from different directions people came to join us and introduced themselves.  Some were staff, many of whom had been volunteers previously and had come back to take up positions and some were volunteers who were part way through their stay or who were leaving that day.  The ones who were leaving really didn't seem to want to go and were clearly very attached to the place.  At first glance, being honest, I couldn't really work out what might be so beguilding.  People chatted and exchanged pleasantries which you are inclined to do in these situations but we were tired and hot and really just wanted to be shown our rooms so we could crash for a few hours and wash away the grime of travelling.  Dragging our bags along a dirt path we were directed to a building called the Lappa which we were told held our accommodation and housed the communal area where we would take our meals.  Lunch had been prepared for us and was ready.  Now tired as I was, if there is a coin to be flipped between food or sleep, food wins every time so I eagerly dumped my bag and tried not  to be disconcerted by the very basic state of my room. The Lappa sits on the front of the accommodation block, has a corrugated iron roof and three sides which are more or less open to the fresh air. There is a large concrete topped workspace which is used for food prep and which also houses an electric oven and hob.  A large circular raised fireplace sits in the centre and is used much like a large scale barbeque.  Lunch was unidentifiable but welcome (we decided collectively it was a kind of fish patty) and I learned my first lesson of the holiday.  Don't ask too many questions, just eat.  Oh, and get used to flies.  As the makeup streaked and my clothes started to crease so truely began my Namibian Adventure.


NA minus 1 HOUR

The software for my new camera crashed my laptop this morning as I was installing it, and fully screwed up the Outlook Express.  It screwed it up in a kind of 'lets get in a loop so nothing else can be done' kind of way. I suppose this is what you get from doing something critical on the morning of the day you go on holiday. I did think about installing it last night but at 2.30 am, having just finished updating my blog and having done all the other myriad thousand of things that needed to be done to leave me fully stress free (which of course I wouldn't have been in a rush about if I hadn't gone out to dinner but I had a nice time so "behind me guilt"), I just couldn't face the thought of wrestling with technology.   I considered packing the CD Roms and taking them with me but remembering the case of the 'wafer thin mint' I just knew one more thing would pop the zips on my case.  We all been there when some poor sap has stepped up to the carousel with an expectant look on their face scanning the rotary system for their bulging monster, only to be faced with the embarrassment of seeing their personal belongs (why do we all focus on the underwear? What's wrong with us?) strewn haphazard across the belt.  Many a cross dresser has been outed this way.  I do not want to be that person.  In fact I so don't want to be that person that I have just left my blog a moment to go upstairs and find a belt that will fit around my suitcase just to be sure.  Now, that's better.  Fret free.

I got the laptop fixed, sort of.  I am afraid, despite being an IT waller at some time in the far past, I failed to bother going through the problem solving fact find and resorted instead to my failsafe method of dealing with electronic things that don't work.  I switched it off and on again, several times, infact many, many times until I had forced it into a state of submission.  This close to my holiday, I was not prepared to be beaten by some measly machine. No way.  However, there remains with me some niggling little thought that at some point, no doubt a very critical moment, it will wreak its' revenge.   But at this point, I don't care.

I sit back in my chair in my office and smile.  My holiday really is here.  It's happening.  The sun is out, my bags are packed and my inbox is clear.  I look around at the house I won't see for another five weeks and mentally go through my final list - heating OFF, hot water OFF, sockets OFF, milk CANCELLED, fridge CLEAR.  I feel a sense of excitement and anticipation but also a sense of trepidation and wonder for what's ahead of me. But in the meantime, I'm going to have a final cup of bush tea while I wait for the taxi and start to get myself into 'Africa time'.......



NA minus 1

I am not sure where today has gone.  This morning at 7 my alarm went off and believe me, it was not a welcome interruption.  Packing had taken me until half past one the night before and I succeeded only with the benefit of some advice from my sister - to vac pack my clothes.  This amazing and lifesaving (yes, really) invention - just a plastic envelope and a vacuum cleaner hose - stood between me and a minor case of insanity.  Picture this if you will.  Me, a very large pile of clothes (for which I may be forgiven) a small suitcase and a very large tantrum.  It was not a pretty sight.  Having wrestled with it for well over an hour I needed to at least go to bed knowing I could get stuff in and more important, get the damn case shut.  Which I did ..... eventually.  So, as I said, the alarm going off at 7am dragged me kicking and screaming out of subconcious and into the realisation that I was going on holiday in 24 hours and I still had so... much..... to.... do.

 So, I chained myself to my desk (now, no getting any ideas) and worked my way diligently and with a certain amount of panic through the remaining items on my 'to do' list.  My frenzy fueled by the fact that I had an important date at 1 o'clock with my beautician.  There are just some things a girl has to have done before she goes on holiday and today was the day to be pummelled, plucked and steamed all in the name of beauty and it could not be missed. I redoubled my efforts.

Now, it's an interesting fact that you come out of a beauty salon looking worse than when you go in.  A bit counter intuitive but true.  All those essential oils and creams they smear liberally over parts of your body in an effort to fight the onset of age somehow manage to not only do the job they are supposed to do but seep into, and coat bits you really wish they didn't.  For example, having a facial usually results in me looking like I've washed my hair in used chip fat.  After having my legs waxed it looks like I've just taken a stroll through a field of poison ivy (don't even go there with the bikini line wax). and having your nails done means you go around for an hour afterwards having to pick things up with your elbows.  A tip for life girls - never, I mean NEVER agree to meet your man after a bout at the beauty parlour.  Instead, you should skulk out, preferably via the rear entrance, wearing a broad rimmed hat and sunglasses.  Beauty parlours are a girl's best friend, but only eventually. 

Back home (isn't writing a dream?  One minute I can be skulking out of a shop unit in Peterborough and the next, in the strike of a pen I am back at home having a cup of tea and admiring my toenails) I take stock of the final few things to be done and check my messages from Gap Year for Grownups to make sure there are no last minute hitches.  Air Namibia is still in business and my seat is booked.  I start to feel a strange sensation of weighlessness as the stress and pressure starts to lift away from me and I remind myself that in 24 hours I'll be at the airport.  Crazily I have agreed to meet a friend for dinner (why do I do these things?  At 45 you think I'd remember that there are only 24 hours in a day.  God, I wasn't that dumb at school.  Please, no comments from school friends or ex-teachers on this particular point please) and that means I have a trip to Stamford to do.  But, heck, the poison ivy rash has receded, the chip fat has given my hair a wonderful glossy finish (if not a particularly alluring smell) and my eyebrow tint deserves an outing.  So off I pootled. 

More tomorrow.  NA minus 12 hours.  Yikes.     



NA minus 3

I knew the clocks were changing on Saturday night.  I knew because 1. people told me, 2. I had a reminder on my desktop and 3. they said so on the news.  Did I remember? No. I was supposed to be swimming in a competition in Glos on Sunday but decided to be sensible and to stay at home in order to finalise some holiday stuff.  I needed to feel a bit more on top of things.  As a result, I decided I would go to the club training session on Sunday morning.  So at 6.10 I dragged my sorry butt out of bed, dressed myself in a way that would best be described as 'morning head grunge bunny', packed my holdall and, still mostly asleep, stuffed myself with that perennial swimmers snack, jelly babies, in an effort to instill some level of energy into my still pretty comatose body.  When I arrived at the pool, a little more alert given the sugar rush had kicked in, I saw faces that I didn't recognise and I saw CHILDREN.  You must understand that only a very.... unusual.... kind of person swims regularly on Sunday morning at 06.30.  Very sad people with no excitment in their lives (I include myself in that category) and.... very sad people with no excitement in their lives.  What I am attempting to illustrate is that on a Sunday morning at 06.30 there are very few people at the poolside and those faces rarely change. Except this morning the carpark was busy, there were STRANGERS parked in my space, there were children and, there, were, DOGS.  Strange dogs with quiffed hair and no fur on their butts with even stranger people (mainly men) carrying them around in expensive looking boxes.   At this point, I considered the possibility that I may not in actual fact have woken up at all and this was all one big wierd and horrible dream.  Until the guys from the swim club pointed at the clock that is and laughed before they swam off to do the LAST few lengths of the session.  My alternative universe was working 60 minutes behind everyone elses.  But being stalwart (and boy, you need to be stalwart to get any lane space in a public session) I gamely hit the water and trained until I got chucked out 30 minutes later when the swimming lessons started.  So, I got up at the crack of dawn, abused my body with large amounts of refined sugar in an attempt to get it kickstarted and then only got a 30 minute training session. Oh, and I had cancelled Gloucester for this.  Not a good start to the day.

Back at base, having washed away grunge bunny and the smell of chlorine (as a swimmer that's a bit of a turn-on for me, but I fully understand it might not be the case for everybody) I emerged sweetsmelling and glossy with a definite (ok, the lights were low, the mirror a long way away) look about me of Cher.  Well, then again, maybe not. But a gals gotta dream, so I slipped into my black leather trousers and made like a rock chick (new sunglasses and everything) while I surveyed was has become my trip operations room. Otherwise known as 'spare room bombsite'.  Hmmm. I'd off-loaded all my shopping from Saturday in a fairly haphazard manner in my hurry to get in the shower and have at least a little time to decide what to wear before I met R for dinner.  Now, the results of that hasty decision (off loading the bags that is, not the dinner date) were before me and as I glanced at my pile of packing, at my suitcase, and back again I only hoped that between now and going on Wednesday I discover a whole new field of physics that involves finding a 5th dimension.  Three into one will go, and all that.  I started to mentally list what I really had to take - my CRITICAL LIST.  That included my hair dryer, kitten heels and industrial size drum of lipgloss.  Only joking.  It did include things like my huge box of latex examination gloves, medications (see blog post 1 to get an idea of what that means), gifts for the children I will treat in the clinic and the large (albeit vac packed) bag of childrens clothes my sister had kindly given me to take.   Next there was my 'quite critical' list (outdoory stuff for working in the animal sanctuary, 'appropriate' clothing for the medical clinic (also see earlier post)) and finally my 'nice to have'.  This included things like sandals with sparkly bits, beachware and my most favourite sundresses for lounging on the veranda sipping cocktails at sundown while herds of game wandered across the plain.  Oh bugger,  wrong holiday.  I'm just gonna have to dump the sparkly bits.  And so, there ensued half an hour of deliberation while I moved piles of stuff around, made new piles, added to some, subtracted from others and by the end of it.... the bed looked just like it had before.  It was at that point I realised I had no choice.  I was gonna have to get tough.