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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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A life of it's own; I may be some time; it all sounds so easy.

The abstract thoughts which led to an idea which led to the Everest plan have, now they are committed to paper, taken on a life of their own.  It’s interesting how in only a week or so of re-establishing old contacts and making new ones, the objective, to summit Everest for a British record, has begun to develop a critical mass. Despite  some of the ambivalent qualities of the internet and the world-wide-web, it is a resource like no other for supplying one with the knowledge, information and resources with which to make things happen.

Contacts I made at an Everest event at the Royal Geographical Society nearly three years ago recollect the conversations we had, the company who will take me up Everest, Dream Guides (, are still in business and Kenton Cool who I met for coffee a couple of years ago to chat about the attempt is still alive and kicking and summitted Everest recently for the eleventh time.  The dedicated Facebook site is almost done, the charities who will benefit from the fund raising are decided and I have found the list of suggested fund-raising activities which was given to me when I was short-listed for the Cracknell/Fogle team for their race to the south pole in July 2008 (see photo above).  The fundraising prospect is daunting; there is no point in pretending otherwise.  The trip to Everest for the attempt itself is sixty thousand dollars.  I calculate the total will be somewhere in the region of seventy thousand pounds, plus what I can raise for charity.    

 I have devised a provisional training plan in conjunction with Dream Guides. Mont Blanc next June which will give me a 4800m introduction level to snow and ice and mixed climbing to build on the winter mountaineering course I took on Ben Nevis a few years ago.  I recollect that trip took place on a bleak weekend in January. At the base of the hill where the Land rover dropped us, driving rain soaked our small group despite layers of waterproofs and we trudged miserably upwards for two hours to the first of the mountain huts in which we could take shelter.  The rain turned to thick damp snow on the way and the wind, rising as we rose, slammed into us. I lost the feeling in my fingers before we were half way up, despite twice exchanging wet gloves for dry.  At the hut the combination on the lock had been changed and in the absence of any other shelter we huddled despondently in the lea of a wall, waiting for the snow to stop.  Increasingly desperate for the loo I had struck out from the moderate shelter we had found, feeling, as the snow closed around me, a bit like Captain Lawrence Oates in Scott’s ill-fated South Pole quest.  Except I didn’t leave my shoes behind.  It’s sobering to remember how battered and dominated by the weather we were.  And that was only about two and a half thousand feet up.   

After Mont Blanc will be the Chamonix Classics or a similar technical course in the Alps which provides an intermediate level snow/ice and mixed climbing opportunity.  Then the Matterhorn or Eiger or similar which offers a more technical alpine terrain to an AD level of competence.  Mera/Kilimanjaro or similar takes me into high altitude trekking and climbing in a remote area to around 6000m. Then, Manaslu or similar in the Himalaya is a suitable high altitude expedition to over 8000m as a final testing point before Everest.  And before, during and after these training climbs over the next two and a half years will be lots of climbing and trekking work up in the Lakes and the Scottish Highlands.

It all sounds so very straight forward as I sit at my computer and write....... 


A bear of little brain, throwing in the towel, making a plan

Being a bear of little brain, I had this naïve sense that I would be able to do a PhD, run a business, swim competitively, have some semblance of life AND plan and train for an Everest attempt in 2014. I realise now how pathetically ambitious that was.  Especially as all the other things, even without the Everest plan, almost conspired to send me quite around the bend.  In the last twelve months of my PhD I did little else than write, work, consume junk food, drink too much wine and cry.  There were more than a few moments where, late at night, my hand hovered over the keyboard ready to write one mere line of narrative to my PhD supervisor….” I’ve had enough”.  Now, the other side of thesis submission, waiting for my viva, surprised and pleased with the interest in my research and experience, I look back on that time as a place that existed somewhere between a nightmare and a reality. 

The month in the US post thesis submission was supposed to be a time of rest and calm in which to consider and establish the plan for the next decade of my life.  Fifty, on paper seems impossibly old but here I was, essentially at the beginning of something, rather than the end.  Between flights and car journeys and one new hotel after another, between new places to see and new experiences to have, I’d felt that there was not much time to sit and consider both practically or philosophically the years ahead.  But on the final flight, with home in sight, surprised by how much I was looking forward to being back, things began to take form in my mind.  Opting out of the in-flight entertainment and laying aside the novel I was reading, I set about making a plan.


Post-doc US trip - Top Moments

The Top Moments of the USA post-doc/50th birthday trip

  1. Sitting on the deck of my beachfront hotel room in Malibu in the early morning, watching dolphins play and pelicans dive for fish.
  2. Lunch at the Bel Air Country Club, Los Angeles.
  3. Not finding the Hollywood sign. Even though we were in Hollywood.
  4. Watching the sun set at the beach at Carmel, California.
  5. Doing a runner (don’t worry, we didn’t order anything) from the restaurant at the Post Ranch Inn at Big Sur, California.
  6. Watching the America’s Cup at Pier 21 in San Francisco.
  7. Watching the storm erupting over New York as we sat in a holding pattern in the plane, waiting to land.
  8. Having cocktails on the rooftop terrace at the Press Lounge, Manhattan Island, New York.        
  9. Watching the band at Café Wha, West Village, Manhattan, New York.
  10. Discovering the Camp Association Meeting Ground at Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
  11. Spending the afternoon on South Beach, Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard.
  12. Taking the high-speed hydrofoil from Provincetown into Boston Harbour.
  13. Crisp sheets and pillow chocolates at the Lenox Hotel, Boston.
  14. The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum at Columbia Point, Boston.

Photos from the US trip are on the gallery.


Fingers in my ears, John Harvard's statue, a final cocktail.

On the final day of my trip I turned left out of the Lenox Hotel instead of the customary right and headed west down Boylston towards the lofty Prudential building which houses a conference centre and shopping mall.   From here I would pick up the trolley bus to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a quick look around before dipping down into the subway and taking the red line two stops to Harvard.  Going in the opposite direction to normal I passed new places, admiring the plush Mandarin Oriental Hotel as I passed and stopping now and then to gaze into shops full of beautiful, sophisticated and by now, at the end of the holiday, unaffordable things.  But I didn’t mind just looking because the sun was out, I had a free ticket for the trolley bus and I was on my way to have a look around Harvard.

The trolley bus I took is one of many tours which takes a circular route around the main highlights of downtown Boston, many of which I had already seen.  But the three stops to MIT from this point took me to parts of the city I had not visited before and I was very much looking forward to it. I had not, however, counted on Shorna.  Shorna was our bus driver and tour guide and appeared to be able to talk, non-stop, without drawing breath.  I can only surmise that she has evolved over time to breathe through her ears.  However she does it, it is very annoying.  It wasn’t as if what she was saying wasn’t interesting or informative, it was, it’s just interspersed by personal opinions and facts about her personal life which frankly I didn’t want to know.  For example, “The Fenway Baseball Stadium is now the second oldest baseball stadium in the US”. Which is great.  It’s interesting. I am glad I know that now. But did I also need to know that the “Boston Redsox are my favourite team.  But not really because I only say that because I have to”?  This is how it went on and by the time I got to MIT I was desperate to get off.  And despite her repeated requests to me and everyone else, I will not be writing in to recommend her for tour guide of the year.  She’d never won it in seven years apparently.  Funny that.

You come out off the subway station at Harvard onto a small traffic island lined on two sides by shops and cafes and newspaper booths and I had to ask to be directed to Harvard Yard.  It’s only a step away in fact, but the buildings which back onto the junction don’t look particularly impressive and so it’s easy to think they are not part of the university.  A short stroll though takes you up to one of the main entrance archways which are flanked by large wrought iron gates and then you are straight into the country’s most famous campus.  Harvard Yard is a large grassy area enclosed by fences and walls through which there are twenty-seven gates in total.  It is the oldest part of the Harvard University Campus and its historic centre.  As I pass through it I notice that the trees are still full and green and lots of students are sitting out on colourful chairs reading books or looking at their laptops or chatting.  The yard contains most of the freshman dormitories, Harvard’s most important libraries and the offices of the Dean and President of Harvard University.  The original Harvard Hall that stood here housed the college library including the 320 volumes of scholarly books donated by John Harvard but all but one was destroyed in a fire in 1764.  A statue of a seated John Harvard, clutching a book and gazing contemplatively into the distance sits outside the window of the Dean’s office.  Depending on what you read and where, the statue is allegedly not John Harvard (he died at age 30 and there was no accepted likeness of him so the sculptor used as a model a young male student who had clear lineage to the Pilgrim Fathers); he was not the founder despite what the inscription says (his name was adopted for the college when he bequeathed his library to them); and the college was not founded in the year the inscription states (though this depends at what point, legally, you classify a college as ‘founded’).  Anyway, these three myths always draw a big crowd around the statue so standing on tip toe and having had a glance, I carried on my way around the various colleges and buildings poking my head through a door here and there and generally trying to get a feel for the place.  A little suffocated by visitors and by the busy roads which cut around and across the campus I gave it half an hour and then moved on.

Harvard Business School, by contrast, is a place of peace, tranquillity and calm about a fifteen minute walk down John F. Kennedy Street away from the university, over the Charles River and thence onward to N. Harvard Street.  The campus is completely open with no walls or fences.  (  The lawns are groomed, the buildings grand and imposing and surprisingly easy just to pop into for a look around.  There was almost no one about.  I popped into Chase House and had a chat with the receptionist about the campus and she was helpful and informative.  I had exchanged an email with the senior associate dean who had passed by name and contact details onto her colleague who in turn was happy to tell me more about the school and the opportunities available there.  I took lunch in the main school refectory which was busy, where the service was quick and the food was good.  With plenty of information gathered and some handy contacts made, I took a last stroll around the school, sat for a few minutes on the steps of the library building thinking about this and that and then picked up my rucksack and headed back to the tube.

Picking up the trolley bus at MIT once more, I hoped off this time, on a whim, in a charming area north of Boston common full of antique shops and small independent retailers.  All the shops had individual hand-painted signs in classic styles which made the area feel quaint and local and not at all like it were right in the middle of a very big city.  From there I took a slow and enjoyable stroll across Boston Common, watched a Chinese musician who was playing an instrument I had never seen before, crossed the little bridge over the lake, took a moment to review the bronze statue of George Washington and then crossed the road and headed down Commonwealth Avenue.  Comm Ave as it is known locally is a small parkway divided at its centre by a long grassy mall split by a path along which tall slim trees provide welcome shelter from the heat of the afternoon sunshine. It is much like one of Georges-Eugene Haussmann’s Paris boulevards and today it was doing me the favour of keeping me away from a particular shop on Boylston that sold funky hand-embroidered suede boots. Every time I have succumbed to a purchase on this trip a little voice in my head whispered “it’s ok, it’s a 50th birthday treat”.  But as the end of the holiday began to loom and I began to tot up the total cost of the trip in my head, the voice began to sound a little bit hollow.  A bit like my wallet was beginning to feel.  In the late afternoon we ate dinner at the Jacob Wirth Beer Cellar on Stuart Street ( where the beer was good but the food was not and which did not live up to its marketing in the local where-to-go magazine.  Exiting the restaurant and shivering in the sudden coolness of the evening we walked quickly down through China Town to the harbour front to take in another recommended spot – the RumBa cocktail bar at the Intercontinental on Atlantic Avenue ( Settled at the bar, not bothered by the fact that my dress was on inside-out and wearing it only because it was the last piece of clothing in my case that didn't smell too bad, I ordered a Martini and let the fact that this was the final night of the trip slowly sink in.  My reverie and quiet contemplation was disturbed by a chap sitting next to me with a now typical question "Are you English?” he asked.  Except this time the accent wasn’t American, it was a soft and lilting Irish.  Smiling, I turned around and said, indeed, I was.


Standing in the Oval Office, Bay of Pigs from the other side, frock envy.

The Oval Office is surprisingly small.  At least that’s how it feels as I stand in the mocked-up version at the John F. Kennedy Museum ( at Columbia Point in the southern half of Boston.  It had been an easy journey from my hotel on Boylston by taking the red line from down-town crossing four stops south to JFK/UMass and then popping up about fifteen or twenty minutes later in what feels remarkably like south west London.  There are streets full of solid residential properties with well-kept gardens and avenues amply planted with trees and shrubbery.  It’s a little disconcerting when you know you are two thousand miles from home. At the bus-stop I find the bus to the museum is free and the ten-minute route runs along the edge of the bay and loops into the University of Massachusetts before dropping off passengers at the front of the JFK museum.  The University of Massachusetts must have one of the most enviable locations for a university in the whole of the United States.  It is nestled on the waterfront with long lawns leading down to the water’s edge and buildings which look modern and well-maintained.  On this Sunday morning there are groups of students, male and female, black and white, doing American Football drills.  It all feels very relaxed. 

The idea of a Presidential library began with President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his second term of office as a means to store and preserve the evidence of a presidency for future generations.  It began a traditional that endures to this day.  There is, amongst others, the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California; the Jimmy Carter Library in Atlanta, Georgia; the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas and the William J. Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arizona (does it contain ‘that’ cigar, I wonder).  The libraries are really archives and museums, bringing together in one place the artefacts and documents of a President and his Administration and making them available to the public for study and discussion. They also bring together personal papers and correspondence of Presidential family members, associates and friends.  I am not sure there is anything quite like it in the United Kingdom.  The Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston is impressive both in terms of the breadth of information it makes available but also the depth, and the engaging ways it presents it.  There are journal and diary entries about key events not just from JFK himself but also from his wife Jackie Kennedy, from his brother Robert who was his campaign manager and who became Attorney General during his administration and also from JFK’s secretary.  A visit to the museum begins with a nineteen-minute film mostly of JFK talking about his early home life and containing much family film footage, and then progresses through a series of corridors and rooms displaying interesting documents and articles pertaining to his life and career.  One learns about the 1960 campaign trail; the famous Kennedy-Nixon debate runs on a TV loop (they were surprisingly gracious to each other, American politics appears to have gone downhill rapidly since then); there is a wall showing the results of the 1960 election which clearly shows how close the race for the presidency was and then stuff on Kennedy’s inauguration and the three years of his office before he was assassinated on November 22nd, 1963.  The handwritten notes, the official typed documents and the black and white films being run are generously supplemented by large glossy photographs on the walls of John and Jackie Kennedy meeting many famous political figures of the day and glass cases dotted here and there exhibit the many beautiful, valuable and sometimes strange gifts that they received along the way.  Two of the rooms deal with the US space programme which JFK was keen to see accelerated the Cuban Missile Crisis.  This latter room held particular interest for me as almost exactly a year before I had been standing in the warm and shallow waters of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba reading about and thinking about the invasion of Cuba from the Cuban’s point of view.  As I read the letters exchanged between JFK, Fidel Castro of Cuba and Nikita Khrushchev of Russia and mused on those thirteen days in October 1962 when the world seemed to be toppling towards nuclear war I wondered whether today, with communication so rapid and media coverage of events so expansive, three individuals, all with the need to maintain reputation and political position would be able to come to the arrangement they did.  JFK, so young and relatively new to the role seems to have shown remarkable wisdom and courage and a surprising lack of ego.  But before you think I am as dulI as dishwater in my interest in historical political and social events I would like to report that I also spent quite a long time admiring Jackie Kennedy’s frocks.

Back at the hotel, shoes off, scoffing pillow chocolates and considering which cocktail to start with that evening I reflected once more on how at home I felt in Boston.  Tomorrow I would be going for a tour of Harvard Business School and wondered if I would feel just at home, there.

The US trip photographs are on the Gallery.