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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 too late list (7)


Worst case scenario; my bottoms too big; is this body mine?  

It looked, and felt, like I was intending to be away for week whereas, in reality, it was only going to be one night.  But being new to rowing I had planned for the worst case scenario and was packing for a capsized scull on a cold November day and an associated loss of feeling in all extremities.  So, the bags I saw before me were 1. A change of clothes for an anticipated soaking ; 2. Clothing suitable for a later foray into town to buy…..  3: A new outfit for a dinner party out in the evening.  And I had pushed the boat out (pun intended) by booking a room in a nice hotel so that I could pamper myself (aka picking bits of duck weed out of my hair and having a long hot bath to get some feeling back into my fingers) before I slipped into the new dress and high heels I fully expected to purchase. Then I would be heading out for pre-dinner drinks and supper.    

I had left the house, having loaded up the overnight bags plus my greeting card samples, proofs and laptop, plus my camera which these days goes everywhere with me, pulling out of the drive and starting the forty minute or so journey to the rowing club.  Turning up the heater in the car to try and dispel the early morning chill, I thought about the next few hours.  I’d signed up to the rowing course partly to try a sport I had been interested in for some time and also as something to motivate me to greater levels of fitness.  I’d never been in a scull before and had no idea what to expect. What I did know is that my friend had tried a similar course and, once the stabilisers were taken off the boat, had spent most of her time upside down in the water.  By week four she had given up.  I mused on this as I pulled into the car park at the rowing club.  It was just beginning to rain.   

Dodging the pointy ends of the boats I made my way through the boathouse and into the members lounge where a group of ten or so other would-be rowers were seated in a vague circle around a low table at which Pete, our coach for the next ten weeks was sat.  Introductions over, he took us into the gym and talked through his session plan for the next couple of hours.    Warmed up on the rowing machines, with a theoretical understanding of how to scull and with some on –land practice we were let loose on the water.  I was hopeless.

Sculling (because that is what it’s called when you are in a very narrow boat which is only just big enough for your bottom to fit into, have two blades, and you are all by yourself) for the first time is a bit like regressing back to the point where, as a baby, you are learning what your arms and legs are meant for. You are kind of aware that you have them, you instinctively know that they are meant to be useful, but, for the love of God, you can’t get them to do what you want. 

Lessons from the rowing course week 1:

a. Your bottom only just fits in the boat.

b. If the stabilisers were not on, you know, beyond doubt, you would be upside down with your head gently grazing the bottom of the rowing lake and a somewhat surprised look on your face.

c. You are somehow magnetically drawn to every other novice boat on the water and you all end up clustered together in a little group which none of you then can escape from.

d. If you don’t hit the other boats then you hit the shoreline and can’t get away from that either.

e. The stroke you think will take you forward takes you backwards.

f. The stroke you think will take your backwards takes you forward.  

g. Going around corners is hard.

h. Getting out of the scull without falling in the water involves crawling on your hands and knees and is even more undignified than getting into it.

i. The coaches try their best not to laugh.

The next morning, with the effects of the dinner-party wine beginning to wear off, my body creaks in protest as I throw back the covers and lever myself out of bed.  I sigh deeply.


And the postcard and greeting card shortlist.....

A shortlist of the images to be used in the first print run of the postcard and greeting card range is on the gallery.  All proceeds will go towards the Everest expedition.


A study in tenacity; too many zeros.

I saw the PhD as a measure of one’s intellectual pain threshold.  And, as I sat with my pal (Dr.) Ruthie in Zizzi recently, we both agreed it was a study in tenacity.  It takes bloody-minded stubbornness and strength of character to sit at one’s desk day after day, hour after hour, writing and rewriting.  I see Everest as a similar test of endurance. Except with Everest it is a measure of one’s physical pain threshold.  Both of them, though, are a test of one’s psychological determination and individuality.

People ask me why I am bothered about climbing Everest and I can give them any number of answers.  It provides a focus for life so that the months and years do not drift by without any tangible evidence of achievement or success.  A great plan like Everest or a PhD has to be carefully thought through and so creates purpose and structure and meaning to one’s existence.  The challenge and excitement and the personal satisfaction that comes from succeeding in something that, relatively, so few other people have done builds personal confidence and pushes one on to even better and greater things.

In some ways Everest already seems harder.  With the PhD my MBA research was noticed and the funding for three more years study established in a reasonably straight forward manner.  As such, there was no need for me to raise study funds of my own and I thank Warwick Business School, Aston Business School and NESTA for all their contributions.  But for Everest the fund-raising needs to be done from scratch.  £70,000 has more zeros than I would like.


Finland Wilderness Training, Monday Day 2, part 1

It’s not quite light when I wake and so I turn over and settle down into what I have now made into a warm and comfortable little nest in my tiny wooden-clad cabin.  After a while I poke my nose over the top of the covers and notice the light still hasn’t changed.  Something tells me that I shouldn’t just be lying there in the warmth and I need to make a move and so I reach out a hand and locate my phone and draw it close to my face so that I can make out the time.  It’s half past eight in the morning.  And kit collection is at nine.  Sending up a brief prayer that says thank-you for last night’s instruction that told us to jettison our morning personal hygiene routine I stick on as many layers as I can find close to hand, brush my teeth, wonder for a moment if that’s actually allowed, pull on my hat and gloves and head out across the short space to the reception and dining room.  The light is soft and flat and the snow compacts and creaks in a very satisfactorily fashion beneath my feet.  It’s like walking across a landscape colour-washed in Farrow and Ball’s Mizzle. 

Breakfast due to my tardiness is quick though I am surprised by how much I manage to pack away as everyone else is already gathering up their things and heading down to the kit room.   Tagging onto the end of the line I stand as I am slowly loaded up with stuff that will, I hope, keep me warm and dry over the week.  Stepping back and eyeing me critically, our instructor for the day nods sagely and handed me my base, mid and shell layers.  Extra-large he says, smiling.

Extra-large? I do not intend to take this slur lying down though by now I am so loaded up that I am beginning to think I had stumbled into a Nordic version of Crackerjack though luckily minus the cabbage.  Along with the clothes we are supplied with boots, a rucksack, a thermos flask and a friendly but stern warning to remember to return everything before we leave but  I decide I’ll return everything now.  Extra-large my foot.  I am persuaded out of it though and later on, half-way across the frozen lake with an absolutely necessary four layers between me and the elements(this goes up to seven layers on the full-day dog sledding)  I am absolutely fine with going up two dress sizes on my photos.  Luckily I have pulled my hat down so low and my scarf up so high, that nobody would recognize me anyway.    

Down on the lake which is mostly frozen at this time of year, we get used to our snow shoes and have the sort of childish fun that only comes from having been brought up and living in a country that rarely has snow but when it does grinds everything to an absolute halt and quickly turns to the kind of gray hue that Farrow and Ball don’t stock.  Walking in snow shoes on the flat is easy, child’s play I would say, and even uphill is fairly straight forward as long as you give the snow a good old boot with the prongs at the front to get some kind of purchase.  But downhill is tricky and to test our new skills we are taken to what is a very steep and wooded slope and told to find our own way down.  This, I realize, is not going to be as easy as it looks.

I consider for a moment the best approach.  It is to take the steepest route with the most trees on the basis that if I slip or fall I will have something to grab onto, or, perhaps ricochet off to break my fall?  Or should I take the slightly less steep route with less foliage with which to stop my acceleration should I lose control?   Route two mights mean I get down quicker, but probably on my head.  Raising myself out of the state of procrastination I notice that everyone is nearly halfway down already.  What the hell, I think.  And step off the edge.

Thirty minutes later we are standing on top of a snow covered cliff, overlooking a mill on the River Friction.  At this point on the river the water never freezes and it is ink-black.  A continuous flow of semi-frozen ice slowly rotates around the eddy at the bank.  I wonder what it would feel like to be in there, in the dark freezing water.  This part of the Oulanka national park was one of the locations for the 2011 film called ‘Hanna’  which as well as a very talented young female protagonist called Saoirse Ronan also starred Cate Blanchett and Tom Hollander  As I stand and look at the scene (see photo 8 on the Finland gallery) I feel the clean, pure air finding its way deep into my lungs.  I find a tree and leaning my back against it I slowly slip to the ground.  Closing my eyes I listen to the rushing of the water and feel I have been transported to a better, happier place.


Seeking the Aurora Borealis in Northern Finland - Part 1

When the organising company told me that our direct flights to Kuusamo had been cancelled by mistake and that we would be flying via Stockholm and what’s more there would be a four hour minibus transfer to Oulanka at the other end, I thought seriously about cancelling the trip.   It was expensive, it was over New Year, and I had booked it rather on a whim on coming back from Cuba in September and discovering that the disruption in my life continued.  Being away at New Year, a long way away, somewhere where the physical demands of the trip would force me to think of nothing else than dealing with the extreme environment I was in, seemed a sensible if slightly uncompromising option.  It also, as a by-product, fulfilled a couple of my never-too-late objectives: to step inside the Arctic Circle and to see a proper display of the Northern Lights.  I’d seen them once before, in Iceland in 2006 when I’d managed to drive for an hour down a motorway in the wrong direction and having turned around arrived at my hotel on the Snaefellsnes peninsula with just minutes to spare before the restaurant closed.   Having shared a bottle of (very expensive) wine with my travelling companion which we finished very quickly (note, expensive anywhere in Scandinavia does not necessarily correlate with ‘good’) and having spent about 6 hours in one position in a very small car, post dinner we were keen to stretch our legs and play about in the snow.  Stepping outside the triple-glazed warmth of the hotel and into the razor-sharp cold of the night we were joshing around until I looked up and said, “hang on a minute, why does the sky look so weird?”

We both stopped and in the quiet stillness turned our gaze upwards and realised, in a slightly dim fashion, that we were seeing the Northern Lights.  It was not a fabulous or momentous display, just a mild glow of green and yellow bands tripping across the sky but it drew us in and kept us there until our hands and feet could take the cold no more.

This New Year, in Finland, far further north, with solar activity more pronounced, I hope to see the Northern  Lights skipping and shimmering across the Arctic sky in a far longer and more intense display.  I have my fingers crossed.