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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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Entries in never to late list (21)


And a Norfolk weekend....

See the gallery for the images taken on a long weekend in Norfolk, England in October 2013.


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.


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.


The Boston Freedom Trail 

The trip to Boston had three main objectives.  The priority was to visit Harvard Business School which is situated just across the river in Cambridge, the second was to walk the Freedom Trail – a brick-lined route of approximately two and a half miles which visits sixteen significant sites which were the catalyst for the American Revolution - and thirdly to visit the J F Kennedy Library and Museum which is housed in a purpose-built and modern looking complex at Columbia Point, four stops south on the red line from the down-town crossing.  Keen to do some walking and still enlivened by the fact that we were in an American city that didn’t appear to be populated by the type of creature which frequented the famous Cantina bar in the Star Wars Universe (, we headed for Boston Common, a ten-minute walk north-east from the hotel and the beginning of the Freedom Trail.  There are lots of formal and organised tours of the Freedom Trail available which cost differing amount of money but, with a clear route outlined by a brick or painted red line and the whole day ahead of us we decided to explore it for ourselves with the help of a free map from Boston Common visitor centre (

Though the trail is not long – only two and a half miles – it takes quite a long time, partly because the sites are interesting and give one pause for thought, but also because it is a ‘must do’ part of visiting Boston and on a sunny Saturday morning there is a steady flow of people, maps outstretched and who stop (us included) to studiously read the various information given at regular points along the way.    The route includes meeting houses where the revolution was discussed and planned, and the church where lantern signals were left which were the code to begin a sequence of events that began the American journey to independence. Paul (national hero) Revere (presumably dragged out of bed) began his fabled 30-mile midnight ride to Lexington, thirty miles north of Boston, to tell everyone along the way “the English are coming” and to rise to arms.  History, as they say, was made.   Like our own earlier revolution in England in the middle of the seventeen century (though we call ours the ‘Civil War’) it began because of the perceived misuse of power, of increasing taxes and a lack of political representation for those who were required to pay them.  The trail ends, across the water in Charlestown on Bunker Hill (which isn’t actually Bunker Hill, that’s the name of a hill about a quarter of a mile NW but somehow the name got transferred and stuck). On this small hill, only about half a mile from the river, the American revolutionaries (patriots or rebels, depending on which side you were on) hunkered down and fought valiantly but were eventually pummelled by the British forces. I don’t believe one American was left standing.  The British won the battle, but the sheer number of British fatalities needed to overcome a relatively small number of revolutionaries gave confidence and succour to those invested in the drive for independence.  The battle for Bunker Hill was recognised not as a physical win for the new Americans, but was seen as a significant psychological win and proof that, with enough determination and self-belief, the British could be beat. The weird thing is, despite a clear desire on the part of the new Americans to sever British rule, nearly everywhere you go in the States people love you if you are British.  So square that peculiarity.

The photographs from the US trip are on the gallery.