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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)


Some observations about America.

No matter how nice the restaurant is that one chooses to eat in, there will always be a big screen TV tuned into the sports channel. Americans appear to be a lot less self-conscious than we are. I have lost the ability to order a light lunch.  These are three observations from my trip so far.  I have got used to the constant drip feed of sport and was there, along with everyone else in the bar last night, rooting for the Boston Redsocks.  But I still can't quite settle with having to be party to the ongoing narratives of one or more parties who happen to be in not-even-close proximity to my breakfast/lunch/dinner table.  Some Americans sure do have voices that CARRY.  Another observation - in the US even grannies eat burgers.  

We have found ourselves feeling very settled on the vineyard and so have decided to extend our stay by three days.  Just as we agree to do this, the sun goes in and rain clouds begin to build.  I don't mind, as after a short spell on the beach I was developing a similar patina to the lobster that Janet had for supper the day before yesterday.  I had been surprisingly sentimental, as we stood looking at the tank of creatures, about sending something knowingly to it's death and had an oatmeal biscuit instead. 

I did the five mile walk into Edgartown for the second time, this time dragging Janet along with me.  She now has even less skin on her feet. The catamaran we'd hired, although of a similar size to the boats we watched in the America's Cup in San Francisco was altogether more sluggish.  We warmed up with French Onion Soup at Kelleys pub and restaurant.  Seeing my reflection in the mirror after two hours on the boat I decided, my hair wild and unkempt from the wind, that I looked much like Mr Rochester's wife must have done the night she appeared to Jane Eyre. At the Atlantic bar in Edgartown, where there is dancing, a guy called Patrick buys us a drink and gets Janet up on the dance floor.  He is a player if ever there was one and failing to get very far with either of us, he moves on to a new prospect.  As we leave at Midnight he is in the corner, his tongue down someone's throat.  On the night bus the driver cuts all the lights and all I can see are the dark silhouettes of the other passengers, mostly young, their faces softly illuminated by the lights of their mobile phones. It's the weekend on Martha's Vineyard and as we head towards Oak Bluffs a steady stream of cars arrives from the ferry. 


A short hop to Martha's Vineyard, a week off being roomies.

The flight to Martha's Vineyard from JFK takes only about 40 minutes and I have hardly just finished my sandwich before we are banking sharply and coming into land.  The airport is tiny but is the second busiest in New England after Boston. The volume of traffic is not so much from scheduled flights but from the many private flights which come in each day at the peak of the season. Our weeks stay is just off-peak and so whilst the island is quieter most of the businesses are still open. We make the short walk across the tarmac and into the grey clapperboard building which is both the arrival and departure lounge.  I am asking Janet where she thinks the baggage collection point is when we realise it is so small we walked right past it. Heading into Oak Bluffs by taxi we pass clapperboard houses nestled in the trees and then as we reach town we pass the quaint 'gingerbread' houses which are an architectural feature of the island.  Think Southwold, Suffolk meeting upper east coast USA and you've got a good idea of what Oak Bluffs is like, both in size and stature.

We are staying at Isabelle's Beach House ( on Sea View avenue and as we pass by the tiny downtown district and turn along the beach side road I feel the tension in my shoulders reduce and the pressures of New York begin to recede.  Janet and I are slightly demob happy as until now in an effort to keep costs down we have been sharing a room.  This week in Martha's Vineyard we get to have our own space.


Finland Wilderness Training - Day 5: Falling off a chairlift, going home with Rudolph.

Today we are downhill skiing in Ruka.  As we wind our way along the narrow forest road away from base camp, the snow is deep around us and hangs, in precarious swathes along the tree branches.  We see a break in the clouds and wonder if the weather, at last, is turning.  It lasts for a moment and then the clouds meet once more and the brief ray of sunshine is lost.  It takes about 25 minutes to get to Ruka. The town centre is very small and offers the usual range of ski resort shops and restaurants.  As we step out of the minibus I can see that there is a white-out.  I am not sure whether it’s worth going up but also not sure what I will do in Ruka for 5 hours if I don’t.  A couple of skiers who have just come down give me an update - it’s limited visibility at the top they say, but the snow  conditions are good. First I check the quality of the equipment in the hire shop, the skis are nearly new and the edges are sharp so I decide to take the punt.  It’s the first time I have been on downhill skis for nearly five years and as we walk to the first quad lift my arms are already tired from carrying the skis and so I am glad to clip them onto my boots.  I’ve also forgotten that skiing means having five foot planks stuck to your feet.  I don’t feel at all confident. The evening before my companion had asked me if I could ski and I had said yes, and we chatted about where we had skied and told the usual anecdotes about the successes and failures of various runs we had thrown ourselves down.  I wished now the term ‘double-black diamond’ had not been uttered.  Pushing myself along on the flat I approach the gates, fumbling for my electronic pass and find I cannot stop and clatter into one of the posts.  I smile weakly at my friend.  I don’t feel happy or secure on the chairlift and regret now not doing my boots up tighter.  As we slowly glide upwards I am too nervous to take in the beauty of the countryside around us and appreciate the way the snow sparkles in the sun, which has finally emerged from the clouds.  As we approach the top, the retaining bar slowly raises and wriggling to the edge of my seat I get ready to push myself off.  The chair slows, I am slow to move, the others are faster and in the jostle I lose my balance and fall in a great clumsy heap to the ground.  My companion looks at me with a faint look of pity.  In a moment of clarity, I realize it is for herself, not me.

Because my boot clips are open and I am on a slope I can’t get up and so ensues an embarrassing,  human version of Bambi-on-ice.  I manage to get up at last and bend over to tighten my clips and to gather my composure.  In the meantime my companion checks out our route on the piste-map.  Over there, she points.  I nod and meekly follow in her tracks, glad I have hired a helmet.  It is one of those strange peculiarities of mountain weather that it can be a white-out one minute and glorious sunshine the next.  It can be snowing on one side of the mountain and clear on the other.  As we take our second chairlift, my ski legs slowly start to engage, the mist slowly lifts and when we reach the top the view is stunning.  Not one of those machismo Alpine views which is one huge craggy mountain in front of you and another one beyond it, and another one beyond that.  What surrounded us, here at the top of this mountain in northern Finnish, not far from the Arctic Circle, was a vast expanse of flatland that gently rolled away in all directions, generously scattered with lakes.  The sheer sense of nothing between oneself and, well, whatever was on the horizon felt strangely liberating.  “Let’s have a photo” I say.

My first run down is rubbish.  It’s a blue run which leads into a red.  My balance is poor; my weight distribution from ski to ski on the turns is sloppy.  I am nervous of any kind of speed.  My companion has streaked ahead of me and I see her at a bend, waiting, leaning on the poles she has stuck into the ground. I feel like deadweight.  Drumming up some confidence I push myself into a hard turn just before I reach her and feel the snow spray up in a satisfying arc around me.  “if you want to go on”, I say, “do”.  She shakes her head and smiles.  On the next bit I run through the exercises that are drummed into you time and again at ski school reminding myself.  “Lean into the slope, transfer weight to the down-hill ski, bend the knees, plant your poles”. By the end of the second run that sluggish gray matter that is my brain, is beginning to remember and my body is beginning to respond.  I hum the Blue Danube by Strauss, exactly like I used to in my first few years of skiing and start to feel some rhythm creep in and my body begins to relax.  This time, at the bottom of the slope, I am not far behind.  The village is just below us now and with its traditional Finnish architecture and twinkling Christmas lights I expect to see Santa wander across the square.  My concentration kicks back in as I see my friend take a sharp turn to the left.  I catch a glimpse of a number and a colour as I follow.  So……. we’re taking the black.  She is still down before me, but I take some little solace in the fact she is fifteen years younger.

Later, at the reindeer farm we visit, we are sitting in a large hut around an open fire eating reindeer sausages which are delicious. It feels slightly discourteous, though, given we have just finished being introduced to their mates.  They are an edgy lot these reindeer and might I say it, slightly difficult to predict.  You get the sense they might pretend to be domesticated when it suits, but really, they pretty much do what they want.  They are big beasts, with thick wiry pelts and antlers that are, well, deterring to say the least.  There are 250,000 reindeers in this region of Finland which is home to a lot fewer people – only 15,000 in fact.  The reindeers roam, but they are not wild, each one of them has a small pattern clipped into its ear to show who owns it. They all run together over the winter and then the farmers work together to find them and bring each of their herds in for breeding and slaughter.  As I sit there, chewing contentedly in the darkness, lit only by the flicker of the flames, I run my hands across the reindeer pelt I am sitting on. I had been thinking about what souvenir to take back from Finland, and now I know.


Finland Wilderness Training, Day 4, part 2 - me or the ice wall?

I find if I swear sufficiently profanely somehow it provides me with enough strength to lodge my ice-axe into the ice wall sufficiently far enough to drag myself another few inches towards the top.  I have been on the wall so long that all the blood has drained from my arms and I find myself relying more and more on the belay line.  Below me my buddy calls up in encouragement.  As the going gets harder and my swearing gets worse, the instructor laughs even more.  “You’ll make a real ice-climber yet he says”.  The crampons which I eventually got to clip onto my boots but only after some help are supposed to give me the purchase in the ice to allow me to stride up the wall using the strength in my legs and relying on the ice-axe only as a balancing tool.  It doesn’t quite work that way.  Daylight has gone and the scratches on the plastic safety visor of my helmet refract the artificial light which shines above me and makes it even more difficult.  The ice-wall is about 30 feet high; I am about two thirds of the way up and am exhausted.  My hands have gotten so cold that I can’t grip the ice-axe properly and no matter how hard I kick I can’t get the spikes on the crampons to stay in the ice.  I lose my grip and find myself falling, luckily feeling the belay respond and the rope tighten to stop me.  I signal that I want to come down.  As I slowly walk backwards down the wall I wonder how on earth I will manage the three hundred foot Lhotse face ice wall on Everest.   It’s a sobering thought.  

I belay my buddy for nearly an hour, she too is struggling but I really want her to succeed and get to the top, as much for my own motivation as hers.  She wants to come down but I won’t let her.  I shout at her to keep going, giving her as much support as I can on the line without actually pulling her up physically myself.  I have already decided to have another go and her success will bring out the bloody-minded stubbornness that I know I will need the next time around.  She briefly rests, and then in a final push hits the wooden ridge at the top. When she gets down her face is lit up with triumph and I hope I will get to feel like that too.  Swopping the harness and checking the clips I survey the wall and chose my route up.  “Right, you bastard thing, you’re mine” I think.  Swinging my axe I embed it into the face of the wall so hard once I get up to it I struggle to get it out.  Pulling back my foot I hammer it into the ice in a suitable spot and taking the weight on the spikes lever myself up.  I realize this is all about a state of mind. It’s me or the wall and this time I do not doubt that I am going to win.   Working my way up I pound into the ice which flies in every direction and I move so quickly the belay line keeps going slack.  I get to the top in 20 minutes and wrapping my arm around one of the wooden posts I hang there, catching my breath.  Looking down I get a big thumbs up from the instructor and a broad smile.  I feel crazily happy and hang in the moment trying to commit the feeling to memory and to secure it for a little bit longer.   When I get down the instructor shakes my hand and congratulates me for persevering. I take off my harness and go and quietly sit, in contemplation about the small differences which can mean success or failure.

Later as I walk to the sauna I feel the soreness beginning in my shoulders and legs.  At dinner I, like everyone else who got to the top of the wall, get a commerative t-shirt.  I will take it with me, to Everest.

Find the ice-climbing photos on the gallery.


Finland Wilderness Training, New Year's Day, part 2 - furry friends and off-road in the snow 

My team is made up of five dogs each tied, via its harness, to a central line which runs back to the sled.  They make up a two, one, two formation with the brightest ones at the front and the grunts at the back.    A bit like a rugby team really.  The dogs are tied to the central line with blue plastic string in what looks like an incredibly complicated system but I come to realize how ingenious it. The aim when maneuvering the sled is to keep the lines to the dogs taut so that they can feel the weight they are pulling and this keeps the sled at a nice, controlled distance behind them.  Allow the line to slack and catch up with dogs and the sled can overtake them.  This isn’t good for the dogs whom can end up in a tangled heap being pulled sideways or backwards and not good for the driver who losing control of the sled usually ends up hugging a tree.  Injuries follow.  The way the dogs are tied looks complicated but in fact allows the dogs to rotate in their harnesses or to hop over the top of the string when they have to.  Which, as I get to grips with the correct level of braking is fairly often. Never have I seen dogs running at speed on three legs. 

Running the sled and distributing my weight correctly as we take the corners doesn’t take too long to master.  On steep downward slopes the dogs run faster and there’s a decision to be made between pressing the brake and instead letting the dogs have their heads and feeling adrenaline streak around your system.  On upward slopes you get off and push.  But now, we are rushing out of the trees and are suddenly in the open, the snow lies deep on each side of the narrow track and the dogs, warm already, snatch mouthfuls of snow as they run. With the line of the route running out into the distance there’s time to relax a bit and just enjoy the ride.

The wind is bitingly cold on the narrow line of exposed skin between my scarf and my hat and my feet are chilled despite the two pairs of socks and insulated boots.  My eyes narrow as my vision is obscured by tiny ice crystals which slam into my face as I am propelled forward into gathering darkness.  Behind the hill to my left the sun is beginning to set and throws an orange glow across the sky.   All I can hear is the music-like rush of the runners across the snow and the sound of the dog’s feet as they run.  I feel entirely at home.

We make a long steady curve at the halfway point and head back.  It’s dark enough now to need a head-torch and there is a precarious moment when I lift one hand to find the switch and the dogs, nearing a corner, decide to take the most direct route.  I find myself and the sled in two and a half feet of virgin snow.  The dogs stop, the sleds stops and both the sled and I begin to gently tip.  But I’ve not lost control of my sled and team yet and I don’t intend to start now so I transfer all my weight to the left runner and stick my right foot in the deep snow and, I know it isn’t cool, but I yell “mush” to the dogs .  They surge forward, we rock and pitch, I manage to regain my balance and then we break through the lip and are back onto the track. The dogs don’t slow down to check the state of their driver, they are on the homeward stretch and the pace has picked up again. And as we streak off I look back and see the destruction I have wrought.  The dog team behind me does the very same thing.   

It is the third and last run of the day for these dogs who will have belted around the track a total of sixty kilometers.  We see lights in the distance through the trees and hit camp but the guide doesn’t stop which confuses me slightly.  The smell of something heating on the fire tantalizes my olfactory senses as I whip by the tent which is almost close enough to touch.  Out on a frozen lake just beyond the trees we make a wide loop and for the first time I see the convoy in full and then a moment later we are back in the clearing, stood hard on the brakes waiting for someone to rope up the sled.  Forced to stop, the dogs jump and pitch for a moment and then settle quietly down in the snow.  I expect at heart, glad of a rest.  Inside the teepee I am still buzzing from the experience and my hands are  shaking as I take the cup of gluwein.  The drink is warm and scented with spices and holding it carefully I sink onto the comfort of the bench, wrap myself in reindeer skins and think about the last few hours.  I know I want to do this again. 

See the husky driving photos on the gallery.