5 things I learnt in 2017

2017 – one blink and it was gone. Or so it seemed.

In reflection, it was a manic year of epic highs (awesome month-long trip home to New Zealand, gaining my British citizenship and starting a new journey of self-discovery through my mind). But it was also a year of epic lows (not one but two volcano failures, putting my volcano plans on hold while sorting out my British citizenship, and adjusting to a new reality of frequent hospital visits to see the boyfriend’s father who had a life-altering stroke).

At the start of 2017, I set myself a huge list of goals (not resolutions). The fact I can’t even remember half of what those were a year on probably says it all. Continue reading

Volcano number 9: The boggy volcano (part 2)

[Read part one of boggy volcano here]


Day two of my ninth volcano, walking across the Cheviot Hills in England’s Northumberland National Park, and we were off. The rain of yesterday was gone, replaced by a gentle frost and lashings of lush sunshine. Now this was more like it.

My walking boots were still sodden from yesterday’s dismal weather and bog-hopping. Pulling on my cold, stinky, sopping socks that morning had given me shivers. I’d held the offending items at arm’s length, nose wrinkled, viewing them with contempt, before plunging my feet into their soggy centres. I admit, a whimper had escaped my lips.

But now, as we tramped uphill, my feet felt toasty – or as toasty as wet feet can feel. The second day of our adventure across the volcanically formed Cheviot Hills was to take us from Barrowburn back to Wooler via some summits. The original plan had been to include a few more summits but going on the day before’s poor time-keeping (and my poor fitness), I decided to scrap some that were more out of the way. Thus, our route was more direct.

Of course, that wasn’t taking into account the possibility of getting lost – and get lost we did. Continue reading

Volcano number 9: The boggy volcano (part 1)


The road stretched ahead of me, weaving its way into the lonely depths of Northumberland National Park. As the boyfriend and I strolled along, the click of my walking pole on the road, the rolling mountains of the Cheviot Hills rose up around us, luring me in with their promises of high adventure.

At this point, I had a spring in my step. I was outside the concrete confines of London, relishing in the sublime English countryside, setting out to climb my next volcano (number nine) in my #40by40 quest – albeit it was an ancient one, resulting from volcanic activity when the continents of Scotland and England crashed together some 350-400 million years ago.

I breathed in the pollution-free air. Apart from the sticky humidity and spittles of rain, it felt good to be alive.

That feeling lasted all of about two hours. Continue reading

The pitfalls of preparing for volcano number nine


The bags are packed; map directions sorted.

The boyfriend and I are about to set off up to the Scottish border to spend two days walking over the sparse and volcanically formed Cheviot Hills – subsequently bagging volcano number nine in my #40by40 quest.

I have to admit, I’m a little excited. All that fresh air and open space – not to mention another volcano – I’m feeling giddy just thinking about it.

But several weeks ago, I wasn’t this cock-a-hoop.

Why?  Continue reading

5 steps to an epic volcano-climbing adventure (without making my mistakes)

460Just over two years ago I came up with a crafty idea. I thought, why not set myself the ambitious quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 – a feat that needed to be achieved in a five-and-a-half-year time frame?

It was a bold, daring plan, borne out of a fascination of lava and plate tectonics… and the itchy-feet desire to make more of my life and challenge myself. I’d just quit my pharmaceutical journalism job of five years to go freelance and I needed a new purpose. I chose adventure. Continue reading

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