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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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Mid-town New York City, a cocktail with a view.

After an hour in a holding pattern over Syracuse while New York Newark was closed due to a ferocious storm, I hope that the pilots definition of being "low on fuel" was only relative.  He'd suggested we might have to put down in Syracuse to refuel then, a few minutes later, informed us we had now been cleared to land.  It would be about another hour before we were on the ground, he told us.  As I said, I hoped being 'low on fuel' was only relative.  As we made the final approach into the airport I leaned my head against the window and looked out at the night sky which lit up starkly every half minute or so with bright spikes of lightening.  Given our proximity to the action that nature was laying on for us and as the aeroplane pushed its way through the driving rain onto the runway, I felt surprising calm. Or maybe I was just very, very tired.

We are staying at the New Yorker hotel on 8th avenue in downtown (don't stay there if you are in NY, get a hotel instead in Greenwich or the meat packing district or on the upper east side - much better neighbourhoods) and the next morning in search of a breakfast that didn't consume the whole of our recommended calorie intake for the day, which is what the on-site diner mostly offered, we stepped out of the hotel door and into the mass of humanity and chaos that is downtown Manhattan.  Turning left toward uptown, mostly because that is the way the majority was headed, it was like I imagine a blood cell to feel, swept along by the force of the blood steam with little chance for resistance.  We went when everyone else went, we stopped when everyone else stopped, hoping we were heading in more or less the best direction.  In some respects the hotel is well situated, within 15 minutes or so walk of Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller building and Grand Central Station. But midtown Manhatten is pretty intense with people vying with traffic and bicycles and fast food outlets, and sex shops competing with flashy brand names on the same street. We spend the day getting a feel for the this part of the city and taking in the sights.   But the best part of the day is the evening. I'd been collecting articles and recommendations for places to go and had stumbled across, in an article about the best bars in the world, a review of the  Press Lounge in midtown west (  The press lounge is a roof top bar situated on the top floor of the Ink48 hotel on 11th and west 47th ( - stay here if you can afford it and the restaurant is great). In a taxi we head north from our hotel, gradually leaving the high rise and aiming for the left bank.  As we step out of the lift and into the lobby it is difficult to describe just how cracking the view is, even in day time.  To the north and west is the Hudson River stretching out before us and dotted with barges making their slow progress up or down river.  To the east is the highrise skyline of Manhattan stretching out to the distance in both directions.  Since it opened in 2010 the article said the bar had attracted a hip and buzzing crowd and I can see why.  As Janet and I sit with our cocktail the place quickly fills up. There is the hum of conversation and laughter, gentle jazz plays in the background.  We'd arrived quite early (the bar opens at 5.30pm) to make sure we got a seat and to enjoy watching the sun set from such a great position and as the light faded the city vista came to life.  Through the gaps in the first buildings we could see the pulsating lights and video-banks of Times Square and then as it got darker these were joined by golds and blues and greens which lit up the sides and tops of the sky scrapers around and along the length of the city.  There is no charge for going to the press lounge though I understand the queues can get quite long if you arrive later.  The cocktails are expensive but no more so than any other 'happening' kind of place we went to.  If you are in NYC it is highly recommended.


Escape from (the flies at) Alcatraz, raising money for Everest.

About a million visitors a year visit Alcatraz and there is nearly a fly for every one of them. 

Having visited Napa and Sonoma in wine country the day before, we dropped off the hire car and as usual picked up the trolley bus on the F-line to take us to pier 33 where the Alcatraz tours begin.  There was an infestation of small black flies which kept everyone in the queue swiping and swatting all the way up to the boat, in the boat and then up to the prison house on the island where mercifully they disappeared.  Alcatraz is what we would now call a maximum security prison.  "If you break the rules of society you go prison, if you break the prison rules you go to Alcatraz" so goes a famous and anonymous quote.  I knew a little bit about it from films such as 'Escape from Alcatraz' and 'The Bird Man of Alcatraz' which was based on the true story of Robert Stroud who served, at seventeen years, one of the longest periods of incarceration on the island. He was fairly mad to begin with, having been sent down for a bunch of murders, kidnapping and robbery, but he must have been entirely round the bend by the time he got moved.  What I didn't know is that the island started off as a military look-out post during the civil war and then became a military prison before become a max security prison for the general populus.  Some notable criminals have had a stay here including Al (Scarface) Capone. It was closed in 1963 when the cost of maintaining the crumbling buildings became prohibitive and when the movement for rehabilitation rather than just incarceration of prisoners became the fashion.  No one is ever believed to have escaped from the island despite several attempts. The audio-tour that is included in the price of the ticket to Alcatraz is really well done and it is funny to see everyone walking around, stopping at designated points in the tour, nodding or shaking their heads before moving on.  If in San Francisco I can highly recommend giving it a go, despite the flies.

It takes us an age to get a trolley bus back to the hotel because it is rush hour now and all the buses are full. We manage at last to squeeze ourselves onto one and it is a long and hot 45 minutes until we are at last spat out at the last stop on the line.   The day improves though as we are able to get into one of the best restaurants in the neighbourhood for dinner - Frances restaurant ( on 17th street - and we have a long and enjoyable last evening in the city.  I chat to the manager there about my plans to have a pop-up restaurant when I get back home.  It will be my first funding event for Everest.


Seven hundred feet up, cycling to Sausalito, a cocktail.... or three.

We stepped down from the trolley car at the bottom end of Hyde and decided to walk the rest of the way to Blazing Saddles ( where we were picking up the push bikes which we had hired for the day.   The bottom end of Hyde is quite grim and we passed the usual stream of unfortunate down-and-outs, some pushing shopping trollies full of dirty bags or boxes and others just sitting on the side-walk, leaning with their backs against the wall.  Sometimes they sat in small groups and some just lay on the side-walk alone.  The shops along this stretch of Hyde are closed down or look about to close down. As we walk, Janet tells me that reading the local paper yesterday at breakfast it said that some American cities are paying their homeless to move to San Francisco, giving them a rail ticket and moving them on their way.  It's almost, at times, like walking among the living dead.

About a half mile along Hyde things start to change, the houses get larger and smarter and the restaurants more expensive.  It's a long and fairly steep hill which in the heat is harder still but the walk is worth the effort because at the very top, before the road begins the long slide down to Fisherman's Wharf, the views out across San Francisco to the Bay Harbour bridge one way and to the city park the other way are quite something.  It's also a good stop to get a few pictures of the cables car making their slow and stately way up the hill.  

At the hire shop the system is polished and professional.  We get a crash course on the bikes we have hired (Janet goes for an electric bike, I stick with the old-fashioned pedal and sweat type) and then a short video which shows us the different routes we can take.  Our plan is to ride along the water front, up the hill at Mason, along the cycle path and up and over Golden Gate Bridge. From there we will cycle into Sausalito which takes about 40 minutes from the bridge then onto Tubiron - another hour and a quarter which takes us to the ferry which will bring us back across the bay.  I love the sense of freedom a bike gives you and am always surprised by the amount of distance you can cover in a relatively short space of time.  This cycle route is very popular, especially the part to Sausalito which is a small and nicely kept town with a long water front loaded with restaurants and cafes and from which, if a good or long lunch dampens the enthusiasm for the second stretch of the route, the ferry can also be caught. We, though, are determined to cycle to the finish. 

Though the day had started off clear, by the time we get to the Golden Gate Bridge the fog had already rolled in. Though its famous views were obscured we stopped and propping the bikes up against the metal railing leaned over the barrier and looked down to the water. It is a very long way down, the water is fast moving and today is a dull gunmetal grey. The fog horn blows and echoes eerily.  Looking down to the swirling water far below is mesmerising and I recall that the GGB is the suicide capital of the United States.  On average one person a week jumps to their death from here. Few survive.  I wonder for a moment what must go through someone's mind as they fall the long seven hundred feet before hitting the water with, I expect, a great big smack.  I understand the need for the free-phone crisis lines which are dotted at regular and obvious intervals along the length of the bridge.

Over chicken tacos and a glass of wine in Sausalito, sitting in the sun and watching the steady stream of cyclists pass I too consider just staying on to browse the shops and then to take the ferry back. But this is the first real exercise of the holiday and so steeling my resolve I head back to the bike and are soon again on the road. The cycle lane from Sausalito takes you up towards Mill State Park where the giant Californian redwoods begin and then back around the bay to almost exactly opposite Sausalito again. It passes through pretty countryside with gentle hills on one side and the bay on the other. Mostly it is level going but there are several points where a long increasing gradient forces most people to get off and push. Getting up on my peddles and selecting the lowest gear I gamely struggled up most of the hills but twice they beat me and I get off and push like the rest.  Janet, on her electric bike sedately took every hill in her stride.  In all we cycled eighteen miles.  It felt like fifty eight.

Later, having had a good lunch, we decide to skip dinner and opt instead for cocktails, ending up in Flore Cafe at the intersection of Castro and 17th.  It's quite busy and the music is good. About eleven o'clock we gently weave our way back to the guest house where we sit for a while in the garden and chat with two of the other guests. I know words are coming out of my mouth but even I know they aren't making any sense so I excuse myself and head for bed.  In the morning I have a slight headache.  Three cocktails and no dinner is not a good combination.


America's Cup, is Derren Brown in town?, America does weird.

We take the F-line down to Pier 1 at the waterside which takes about 20 minutes, not because of the distance particularly but because it stops at the end of each street. At the harbour at Embarcado, piers which have an even number peel off clockwise and piers with uneven numbers peel off to the left. This is the direction we walk and will take us along the waterfront, past Coit Tower and to pier 33 which is our first destination.  It's hot and sunny and despite wearing a hat I can feel the heat of the sun on my face.  By happy coincidence with our stay, San Francisco is hosting the America's Cup final and today (Sunday) entry to the event is free.  It's busy but well organised and it is easy to find a place to stand which will give us a good view of the finish line. Large screens show the bits of the race you can't see from the shore. Not having followed this kind of sailing event before I am surprised how exciting and dramatic it is.  The US is trying to reclaim it's title but the New Zealanders trounce them in the first race and so the Americans walk away from the second race in a sulk.  Yes, really.  We try not to sulk when we realise the bar is selling beer at $11.50 a pint.  We buy a pint each and savour it slowly.

After we've had our fill of the sailing, we continue our easy walk along the waterfront, past the gaudy and commercialised Fisherman's Wharf, past the swimming and sailing club and up the hill to Mason which is a perfect spot to get our first good view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It should really be named the famous disappearing bridge because sometimes you see it and sometimes you don't.  Today happened to be a 'don't' day.  San Francisco suffers from a peculiar weather condition which is produced by a difference in air temperature between the land, hills and sea.  This produces vast and thick banks of cloud on the far side of the bay which then spill over the hill and down onto the water and when they do, which is frequently, it can completely obscure the bridge.  On a bad day it can extend all the way into down-town leaving everything grey and damp and miserable.  You can see the clouds as they develop and roll down the hill in a great swirling mass which is then somehow sucked right across the bay. It's all quite strange and not a little frustrating when, having struggled to the top of a steep hill, heart pumping and legs aching, you gaze across to where a hulking great bridge should be and instead see nothing but a thick bank of fog. It's like Derren Brown has been in town.

Having decided the fog is not going to lift we walk back to Fisherman's Wharf and queue for one of the famous cable cars which run on the hilliest parts of town.  Slow, noisy but iconic and quite exciting as they are so packed with bodies I was never quite sure the below-ground cable wouldn't snap and send us all hurtling backwards to the sea and our death, it did, eventually, dispatch us in one piece at Market and Powell where we picked up the F-line once more.

No one does weird quite like America and weird seems to be concentrated in Castro which is a district very close to where we are staying.  The F-line trolley bus which runs between Castro and down-town seems to be a focusing device for all the pan-handlers, homeless and just generally batty folk in the area.  I know we shouldn't, but it's really hard not to stare. How can one's eye not be drawn, for example, to some guy of indiscriminate age, but probably in his sixties, thin to the point of emaciation, with no teeth and wearing a pair of men's pants on his head keeping in place a tea towel which is hanging down the back of his head?  The chap is also wearing what appear to be a pair of leopard print combinations over which is a pair of ragged blue flannel shorts.  He pulls himself onto the bus, ricochets off one of the metal poles and then off a customer and then stands there talking to himself and swearing very loudly.  It is way beyond eccentric and unbelievably, he is not the weirdest guy we see that day.  San Francisco hosts an unbelievable number of homeless and mentally ill people; some sleeping in doorways; some shooting-up in quiet corners; some raging away to themselves on street ends.  It's all quite sad and depressing. At the wine social later and before we go out to dinner we all sit and chat about the day, what we've done and what our plans are for tomorrow.  It makes me think about how random life is and reminds me how lucky I am.


Having a gay time in 'Frisco

I sat with a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll on the beach at Carmel pushing my feet into the fine white sand and watching the mist roll back from the hills which tracked the long gentle curve of the bay.  The seafront at Carmel is quiet and natural, there are no beach front bars or restaurants and so it is easy to sit early in the morning with no one around you and nothing to see or hear than the sound of the waves and the squealing of the gulls.  It was quite a wrench to leave. 

Driving up the remainder of highway 1we passed through farmland and small towns and got a feel for the workaday life of California, admiring the piles of rich orange pumpkins which regularly appeared for sale at the side of the road, pointing out interesting features of the landscape and chatting about the merits of US life versus our own life back in England.  As we approached San Francisco the traffic began to build and the one-lane highway turned into three and then five lanes and the hills around became populated and then overrun by buildings.  On the outskirts of Frisco the architecture is very cubist and the colour scheme distinctly Farrow and Ball. As we made a long banking sweep into downtown, we saw the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. 

Sitting in a yellow cab having dropped off the hire car we headed south west towards the Mission district and Parker Guest House ( Heading down 17th it was easy to spot - a bright yellow duo of town houses just a minute or two from Dolores Park and right on the edge of Frisco's famous Castro district. Parker Guest House is owned by two gay guys who this weekend were "up at their place in Napa". The decor is stylish, the soft furnishings exquisite, the garden a little oasis of tranquility in the hustle and bustle of SFO life beyond its walls. And whilst attracting mainly a GLBT crowd Parker Guest House is open to guests of any persuasion.  I'd picked it because I knew that gay guys are highly sociable and inclusive and that we'd have a ready made bunch of new friends with which to go out and play. I was absolutely right.

Parker Guest house has what they call a 'wine social' between 5.30pm and 6.30pm where guests can come and mingle and chat and generally get to know each other.  The wine social is held in the small sun room on the first floor which is painted a beautiful Chartreuse green and which looks out over a cluster of out door sofas and a small set of table and chairs. The spreading branches of a large tree was throwing welcome shade  and coolness in the unusually hot September weather.  We settled in with a glass of wine and got to know everybody.  Three hours later via supper where we had sat and watched the colourful antics of a populace out to play on a Saturday evening and now approaching midnight we were standing on the balcony of the Lookout Bar in central Castro chatting with the guys and watching the world go by. Janet had just been hit on. Carmel and Castro.  There can't be two places more different.