Third time lucky: I finally tick off volcano number seven

20170316_124710_resizedFinally, a day of sunshine!

I almost couldn’t believe it – I had to pinch myself to make sure – but there it was, crisp blue sky and a white-gold orb coating my immediate world in warm rays of sunshine. No rain to be seen; not even a cloud.

It was rejoice-worthy.

The majestic-ness of the day was in stark contrast to a mere few days ago when a weather bomb had hit New Zealand and put paid to my attempts at climbing the volcanoes Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Taranaki – what should have been volcanoes seven and eight in my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 (#40by40).

But finally, the weather gods were in good moods – today I was going to climb Rangitoto.  Continue reading

I don’t believe it…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe rain on the tent sounded like an army chucking thousands of buckets of water over it. It had sounded like that all night; a constant drumming as the torrential rain pelted the tree above us, which jettisoned the water directly onto our tent. To say it was wet was an understatement.

We’d completed the three-day Tongariro Northern Circuit trek the evening before and had set up camp in Whakapapa Village (it had already started to rain by that point). I was still gutted that I hadn’t been able to climb Mt Ngauruhoe – what should have been volcano number seven in my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 (#40by40) – because of the crappy weather. But this would be rectified – the plan today was to make the drive west towards Mt Taranaki, the 2,518m peak that pokes out the side of the west of New Zealand’s North Island. Tomorrow we would climb. Continue reading

Volcano number seven: foiled by the weather

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Are there any questions? Does anyone have other plans for tomorrow?” the hut warden Sally asked the motley group of trampers as we huddled in the Mangatepopo hut on the skirts of the Tongariro National Park in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island. Outside the wind was buffeting against the hut’s wooden walls, whipping the tussock grass (and tent flies) into a frenzy. But inside, it was cosy; the wood-burner was alight, slowly drying wet clothes whose pungent steamy fumes mingled with the homely scent of Pizza Hut pizzas some entrepreneurial Germans had carried up from civilisation.

I raised my hand, catching the eye of Sally. “We’re planning on climbing Mt Ngauruhoe tomorrow,” I ventured tentatively, worried I knew the response. Sally had already mentioned the weather conditions for the next day and while rain wasn’t going to be a massive problem (at least not until the evening) the wind was going to be frenetic, with gusts around 45km. Continue reading

Here’s the plan for the trip to New Zealand

20170212_154857-1So, the next lot of volcanoes in my #40by40 quest have now been lined up as I head off back home to New Zealand for a month in a little over two weeks’ time. Woohoo can’t wait!

The original plan had been to fit in five volcanoes but trying to also fit in a friend’s wedding and a trip to the South Island to see my brother and his family (my niece and nephew are soooo cute!), as well as catching up with other family and friends and playing hostess to the English boyfriend, well five volcanoes very quickly became three. Continue reading

The thing about patience

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Last week I blogged about my goals for 2017 – 15 things I essentially needed to do (or not do, in the case of watching TV) this year to upskill, up my personal development and help progress my #40by40 quest. There were a couple of things I didn’t include on the list, such as investigate mindfulness and practice patience.

I am, by far, one of the most impatient people ever – maybe it goes back to the fact that when I was born I was two weeks overdue and then my poor mother spent around 48 hours in labour, so perhaps I feel I’ve got some catching up to do! Continue reading

These are the goals (not resolutions) I’m setting myself for 2017

So, the first day of the new year has come and gone. I can’t help but wonder how many people made New Year’s Resolutions and have already broken them?

By all accounts, according to the experts, the better term to use is goals, not resolutions, which can be defined as more specific, and which are therefore easier to keep than a waffly ‘lose weight’ resolution. They also say that focusing on small and easy changes, and avoiding absolutes like ‘giving up smoking cold turkey tomorrow’ will help ensure the resolutions stick. And supposedly the other trick to keeping a New Year’s Resolution is to not have too many or too many complex ones that require multiple behaviour changes.

Hmmm, I may have failed here as my hand-written list came to nearly the length of an A4 page!

And here they are… Continue reading

These were my highlights from 2016

In my last blog, I listed all the mishaps, lows and hilarious misadventures I had experienced in 2016. Now I turn to the highlights and good times. At this time of year, with a spangly new year full of promise on the horizon, it’s good to remember the positives and to be grateful for the good things, experiences and people present in our lives. 2016 will be a year to remember for many reasons. Importantly though, 2016 has set the scene for 2017 and the experiences, adventures and joy (and certain mishaps) yet to come. Here are my top highlights from the year. Continue reading

Climbing Europe’s highest and most active volcano

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From a distance, Mt Etna – Europe’s highest and most active volcano – seemed mysterious. She sat surprisingly quietly in the background as people wandered the streets of Sicily’s port city Catania, just the occasional wisps of steam floated above her.

Up closer, her smoking was more pronounced and the landscape changed from lush greenery to scraggly brush and the cold hardness of black, frozen lava flows. Tree stumps had been left blackened and void of life. Mt Etna (3329m tall) is one hell of a beast. Continue reading

No two volcanoes are the same

393It was only about 11:30am and it was stinking hot. The yellow sun pierced through the clear blue sky and scorched both me and the earth as beads of sweat started to gather on my brow.

For what looked like a relatively easy 390m high volcano to climb, Gran Cratere on the Aeolian Island Vulcano was deceptive. I found it hard going striding uphill in the glaring sun – I blame the heat and lack of fitness finesse for this. Continue reading