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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 Nevertoolate girl (19)


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 - Day 4, part 1 - it seems like a dream

I open my eyes but the sense of a bad dream is still lingering in my head and for a moment I am not sure where I am. I feel damp from sweating under the weight of the layers I piled on top of me the night before and I push the bedclothes back, glad of the draught of cool air that drifts over me.  Laying there for a moment I try to shake off the sadness I suddenly feel and focus instead on the day ahead.  Its 09:45, I’ve slept for eleven hours and the muster for cross-country skiing is in 15 minutes so I shrug into yesterday’s clothes, push my hair under a hat and pulling on my boots head for the refectory.  It’s cold and grey outside, a bit like my mood.  Breakfast is being cleared as I arrive so I push some cheese and ham between two slices of bread, neck a glass of milk and then tack myself onto the end of the group that is off to pick up skis.  Out on the frozen lake it feels desolate and remote.  It’s difficult to distinguish between the colour of the snow on the horizon and the sky. 

I struggle with the binding on my skis and instead sit down in the snow because it’s just too much effort and then get up again and finish the job.  Our small group head into the middle of the lake. It’s easy following tracks which have already been made but when we head into untrodden snow the going becomes harder and slower.  Talking slows and stops and instead I hear the sound of my own heavy breathing and that of those around me. Except for the sound of our breathing, it is eerily quiet.  There is a hamlet of houses lined up along the side of the lake and the wooden steeple of a small church rises up from among them. The houses are painted in muted yellows and reds and the slight haziness of their form in the flat light and gentle mist adds to the sense of being in a dream.  Sound is muffled, the ground and sky look much the same and there is no sense that anybody else is alive except our small bunch strung out across the ice.   Having completed the circuit and warm now, we transfer from ice to land and head into the long line of pine trees which follow the frozen water’s edge.  It’s more interesting here, the ground is undulating and going uphill takes some concentration and the necessity of coordinating a set of six foot skis into herringbone format.  Our instructor who is Swedish, six foot two and having skied since a child makes it look like child’s play, strangely enough.  Even the smallest slope for me seems difficult in cross country ski bindings which allow your heel to lift and provide no apparent means for maintaining balance and coordination.  Our instructor skis down the slope backward and we applaud having learned just how difficult that must be.  On my forth attempt down the slope I manage to stay upright and slowly my body adapts to the new skills my brain is calling for.  My mood lightens and I begin to laugh.


Finland Wilderness Training, Sunday - Day 1

As I am running for my connection in Stockholm Arlanda desperate for the loo, I fleetingly cast my mind back to the 4 am start and the relative cheer I had felt as I ate the last of my Christmas Day roast beef in a sandwich coasting down the M1 and looking forward to my week away.  Now, having stressed as our flight in Heathrow was delayed, and in Stockholm being corralled by some clipboard-toting-Swedish-female-Commandant who has held the flight to Oulu especially for us, I am judging how long I can restrain myself from veering off into the most available toilets (ladies, men’s toilets, at this stage I would not be fussy) when I find myself on one side of a revolving door with my fellow Exodus companions stranded on the other side.  As I stand, legs crossed ( literally) jigging about in a temperature of minus nine desperate not to embarrass myself, the Commandant spends ten minutes with her swipe card, trying to work out what the problem is.  Me, I am stand with my nose against the floor to ceiling glass panel adjacent to the non-complying revolving door staring fixedly at the sign for the toilets just beyond it.  I wonder for a moment if I have to pee, whether it will just freeze in my knickers.  Having arrived at last upon the aeroplane  - a very intimate affair of only sixty seats -  and to the clear disgruntlement of passengers already upon it I settle in, legs crossed ever more tightly, praying for takeoff.  Normally I hate this part and over the years I have created a ‘take-off mantra’ which I habitually mutter to myself as the heap of metal hurls itself down the runway gaining sufficient velocity to take off, but today, I am desperate for it to get going.  The captain took us through his flight checks, got us ready for take-off, I had my mantra at the ready and then…. all the lights went out.  I was sitting on a plane that was ready for take-off and which, all of a sudden had been plummeted (probably poor use of verb) into darkness.  I clutched my crucifix more tightly, glad we were not off the ground and marvelled at the strength of the female pelvic platform.

More on Finland, tomorrow.

See the pictures on the gallery.

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