Welcome to my blog

This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!



Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy 2012

2010
Hanging on for dear life. The lake was freezing at 5500m above sea level (Tibet)
2011

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The smile hides the fear! (Costa Rica)

2012
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Saturday, 24 December 2011

Westminster Abbey

Another first, as I went to a carol concert in the Abbey yesterday. A stunning setting to listen to the angelic choirboys. A great way to start the Christmas weekend.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Olympic Games Maker

I have finally received an offer regarding voluntary work during the Olympics and Paralympics. I have been offered a role with the Cleaning, Catering and Waste team!Sounds Fab!!!!!!!!
'You'll be working in a team to celebrate the great diversity and quality of British food, delivering it at affordable prices. You'll also also make sure that venues are kept clean at all times, and that waste is sorted properly so that none of it goes to landfill. You'll be part of a huge operation, placing you at the centre of the Games and letting you see all areas of the venue in operation.'
One bright note though I have been asked to work in the Athletes village - yeah!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Royal Albert Hall

Christmas festivities always start with a sing - song at the Royal Albert Hall. This year my daughter and I went to a slightly different one than usual called 'White Christmas'. I realised it was a little different as no-one was wearing silly xmas outfits and hats with flashing lights. I discretely put mine back in the bag and expected a rather conservative concert but once it got going it was fine. By the time we got to 'The 12 days of Christmas' inhibitions had disappeared and the silly hat made another Xmas appearance!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Leonardo Da Vinci

I was lucky enough to get tickets to see the Leonardo exhibition at The National Gallery in London a couple of months ago  www.nationalgallery.org.uk . There has been a lot of hype about it being a one in a lifetime opportunity to see this amazing collection of his work and I must say I wasn't disappointed. Although it was busy it was still possible to view the works quite easily and to get very close to them especially his drawings which are breath-taking. In fact I think I enjoyed those more than the paintings. Also incredible to be able to view both versions of 'The Virgin in the rocks' in the same room. This never will happen again as the one owned by The National Gallery is too fragile to be moved. So a rare event!

(Bucket list London Museums #1)Hunterian Museum

In my quest to visit 5 museums I've never visited in London I went to see a friend who works at the Hunterian Museum(www.medicalmuseums.org/Royal-College-of-Surgeons-Hunterian-
It is not a museum for the faint-hearted as it contains anatomical specimans and you can view operations (choose which one you want at the press of a button). Probably the most interesting exhibit for me was the
skeleton of a 7ft 7in giant!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Olympic Ceremony 2nd audition

This audition was harder than the first. We were split into groups of 30 and were active for a much longer period. It still wasn't made clear for what role we were auditioning. Although this time we were introduced to the man (can't remember his name) who choreographed the movements in the play 'War Horse'. Apparently he is responsible for 2 of the movements in the opening ceremony so I assume that was the reason for the audition. Once we were all involved in the various activities I noticed that Danny Boyle had arrived and was intently watching each group and making various comments. He stayed until the end of the audition watching us very closely! I now have to wait another 6-8 weeks before I will hear one way or the other so it's fingers crossed.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The car (2)

Travelling back from Manchester on the motorway, I heard a loud bang on the side of the car. It was obvious something had hit the car. As I was driving at 70mph I couldn't really do much about it. When I was able to stop I noticed a large scratch and dent on the driver's side. My poor car. Just when it looked its best after the service and clean! However lucky me that whatever had hit the car had not caused a puncture!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The car

Today I took my car for a service and MOT. Why is this interesting you may ask. Well this is the first time I have ever had a car properly serviced by the car dealer - mainly because I've never owned such a new car. I bought this car 12 months ago as a retirement present to myself and although 2 years old it had less than 2000 miles on the clock. A good service? Well yes I suppose! I spent a couple of hours washing and cleaning out the inside before I took it to the garage and then discovered that washing, polishing and valetting the car was included in the service!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Downe in Kent

Once again it was a beautiful, sunny, Sunday morning and so I went to visit  Downe in Kent. It is a small picturesque village with not much more than a couple of pubs and a tea shop. Its big attraction is that Charles Darwin use to live there and his home has now become a must for Darwinian fans. The surrounding area is criss-crossed with bridalways and pathways, making it possible to easily waik to neighbouring villages. We just walked towards Cudham and back and then enjoyed a refreshing drink in 'The Queen's Head' reading the Sunday papers in front of a roaring log fire. What a way to spend a Sunday!

After 60 -the first 6 months

It is exactly 6 months ago that I turned 60. It has been a great experience. I love the freedom of not working and doing just as I please. Friends say my smile gets wider every time they see me! Financially things are working out OK as my pre-retirement calculations proved to be correct so I am managing just fine. I seem to be doing something everyday and can't wait to see what the next 6 months bring.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

About 9 months ago I developed carpel tunnel syndrome. Very painful and made things like writing and knitting almost impossible. After a course on anti inflammatory drugs I had a painful steroid injection in the wrist which I hoped would give immediate relief. Alas - no. The next course of action would be an operation which I think can relieve the pressure on the nerve.  But then, during my travels in the Summer I found a very unexpected cure - travel bands. For the uninitiated these are elasticated bands worn around the wrists with a solid point which is positioned over the pressure point. Very soon I realised the pain had subsided. A simple, cheap, effective and non - invasive way of dealing with CTS. Maybe I ought to write to a medical journal with my findings!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Free events in London

Today I went to the National Gallery (http://www.nationalgallery.co.uk/ ) to take advantage of one of their free tours. Their guides are excellent, giving just the right amout of information to make the talk interesting without being patronising. They always include historical facts about the artists and the context of the painting. Today we were shown paintings by Botticelli, Gerald David, Velasquez, Thomas Lawrence and Deloroche. Afterwards I went to a free lunchtime concert at St Martin-in-the-field (http://www.smitf.org/). Unfortunately the concert was to celebrate the centenary of Carl Dolmetsch who was a recorder performer, maker and teacher. Not the most pleasant sounding instrument.

Body balance

Went to this class again. Didn't fall over quite so much. What I find difficult is trying to do the moves and watch the tutor at the same time. Impossible - hence the falling over.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

November in Greenwich Park

With the sun shining I parked the car in Blackheath and walked to Greenwich park. Many of the trees are still holding onto their leaves. The mighty oaks have yet to turn brown but other trees are a vibrant yellow. The colours are a feast for the eyes.The bright green parakeets can be heard screeching above the noise of the crows. Squirrels abound with no thought of hibernating..In the gardens the flowers are straining their heads to get the last of the sun's warm rays. It's a good place to people watch but I like to find an empty bench and enjoy the peace and tranquillity. Although I've seen a lot of the world and  visited places of outstanding beauty, there is something about London Parks which can never be equalled.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Grayson Perry

Went to the British Museum to see an exhibition be Grayson Perry. He is an artist whose medium is pottery. The exhibition far exceeded my expectations. The theme to me was about pilgrimages. He had used objects from the Museum's collection and developed his work around them. His own pilgrimage, to a town in Germany, was on a pink custom made motor- bike with his Teddy bear Alan Measles strapped into his own little shrine at the back of the bike. many of his pieces included Alan Measles in one form or another. There were so many exhibits that I wanted to hold and really examine in more detail, as there was so much detail on them, but alas this was not allowed. My favourite sculptures were the pilgrim father and mother. She was carrying the world and his wife on her back whilst the man just had one or two items deemed important for the man of the house.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

New class at the gym

Yesterday I joined a new class called 'Body Balance' which is a mixture between pilates and yoga and is supposed to strenghthen your core muscles. I am still continuing with the Zumba classes but as I keep falling over when trying to balance on one leg for any length of time I thought this is the class for me. It was not a beginners class so the others had been going for some time - many of them for years. It was no surprise then that I was by far the worst and could not do many of the moves. In fact I couldn't even work out how they were getting their limbs in the positions. Hopefully, in time,  it will improve my balancing so that I don't keep falling off the mat.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Audition update

First the good news  -just heard that I got through the audition. Yeah!!!!!!! Now the bad news. I have to do a second, role specific audition at the end of the month. But at least I got over the first hurdle. Zumba here I come (maybe I should double up on the Zumba classes!)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The audition

The audition was at 3 Mills studios in East London. They were being held in groups of 200. I thought we would be split into smaller groups but apparently they would be auditioning three lots of 200 at the same time in different studios. In total they were looking at 1800 a day. This did not make me feel any less anxious as the odds against me getting in had now increased. They put us through our paces for a couple of hours doing various activities. I have to say doing the zumba classes  certainly helped me and I felt at ease with some of the movements. There was a mixture of ages and abilities although the vast majority were much younger than myself. It was obvious who were trained dancers and who weren't but I don't think I made too many drastic mistakes. There were a number of people watching and marking you but as I had no idea what they were looking for it was just a case of trying to remain focussed. We were told that they would let us know the outcome in a few days so fingers crossed.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Top Girls

Living in London, there are so many plays and shows to go to that if you had the money you could go to a different one each week. Unfortunately the cost of theatre tickets has risen steeply over the years and I only seem to go when I can find a good offer. I managed to get excellent seats to see 'Top Girls' at the Trafalgar Studios this weekend. As it starred a favourite actress - Suranne Jones I was really looking forward to it. Perhaps I should have carried out a little more research into the subject matter. What a let down. A poor plot with an equal lack of characterisation. Although the acting was good it can only be as good as the script which was so without substance I am surprised it has had the run that it has had. Never mind there's always The Jersey Boys to re energise my love of the theatre.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Volunteering

Yesterday I did my first day of volunteering. I wasn't that sure what to expect. I had done all the training but of course it's never quite the same as the real thing.  I am working from the 19th floor of an office block in Canary Wharf. The views were amazing as was the weather. My role involves interviewing prospective volunteers for the Olympics. The interviews should take 15 minutes as we ask each candidate the same questions and then after the interview we mark their answers from 1 to 5. It was fascinating to meet some of the people who are volunteering. I suppose I didn't expect to be meeting such high fliers - such is the pull of the Olympics.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Olympic Volunteer interview

Today I went along to Excel again for my interview to be a volunteer during the Olympics and Paralympics. I couldn't remember what I had put on the application form and so had no idea what  type of job I had requested. As I am passionate about athletics I assumed I would have asked for something connected to the Stadium. I was actually interviewed under the heading of cleaning, catering and waste!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Little Venice

On what seemed to be the first day of Autumn J and myself discovered Little Venice. The area was much smaller than I imagined but definitely picturesque. The idea was to walk from Little Venice to Camden Lock along the tow path which in theory you are supposed to be able to do but today was the day that clearing the tow path of old plants and leaves was taking place! A lot of the one hour walk took place on the pavements above the tow path but once we were through Maida Vale we were allowed back onto the pathway. The section through Regents Park and the Zoo was by far the best with the weeping willows and great views of Snowdon's aviary. In the main an enjoyable walk but next time I think I will start at Camden Lock and turn round once I hit the grotty bits.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Westerham

The amazing unexpected sunshine and high temperatures prompted a walk along the Greensand Way in Westerham. It is quite a gentle walk but has spectacular views over the Downs.  Being now free of work I can do these things mid week and avoid the crowds so one of the highlights of the walk was the peace and joy of the uninterrupted sounds of the countryside. Fabulous.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Olympic update

Today I heard I had been succesful in my application for the role of interviewing prospective volunteers. I know it doesn't mean I'll get into the stadium but at least it's a start! I've also got another interview to become a volunteer during the Olympics and I've even got an audition to be part of the opening ceremony. Can't wait to see what I'll have to do for that - maybe my Zumba classes will come in useful after all!
I'll keep you posted .

Monday, 19 September 2011

Zumba

This morning I tried a new class at the gym - Zumba. It was a kind of keep fit to Latin American music. I wasn't too bad. Could never understand why my arms were in the air when everyelse's were down and then vice versa. I think I need to do quite a few more classes before I really get the hang of it!
Elliott - I have changed the settings so that you can make a comment now - I think.

Open House

Open House in London  happens over a weekend in Sept when hundreds of places are open to the public for free. Many of them now require you to book in advance but there are still many that allow you in on a first come basis. This Sunday I managed to see some brilliant places inc Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament; The Banqueting Hall: The Foreign Office and the Admiralty. Next year I need to try and book earlier and see more of London's heritage.

Malta

Just returned from a very relaxing holiday in Malta. It was all about sun, sea and sand. Hotel had fantastic views over Mellieha Bay and viewing the sun-set from the balcony was breath taking - once we had actually moved to rooms with a balcony that is. We were initially given an apartment with the balcony with no view . I then got a good room but T. got the pits of a room. A view of the sea only available if you stood on a chair in the far corner! She had another room the following morning after yet another discussion with the manager. It all ended peacefully and we went on to enjoy a great holiday.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Garden overhaul

Apparently when you start writing a blog you have to update it on a regular basis or followers get fed up. So sorry about that Elliot I will try to do better in future!
Other than wandering around the world I am also doing the more mundane things in life such as trying to dig up the front garden and renew all the shrubs and other plants. Sounds easy but so far I have dug up 15 ash trees; 2 oak trees and 1 sycamore tree.I wouldn't mind if it was a large garden but it's only about 20sq metres of which I have dug half!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Olympics

Well one of the things I desperately want to do is be involved in the Olympics. For some unknown reason I haven't been selected for any sport so I am trying to get into the Stadium as a volunteer. This is proving nigh impossible. I have applied to do anything from driving the athletes around to giving out the laundry but I haven't even got an interview yet. When I came back from Costa Rica I saw they were advertising for performers for the opening and closing ceremony. So I've applied for that although not quite sure what kind of performer I could be. However, today I went to the paralympic promotion in Trafalgar Square and met someone who is interviewing volunteers and apparently they still need more people to do the interviews. Needless to say I was straight home to apply for that as well! So watch this space you never know I might get inside that stadium yet.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Zip wiring

After the white water rafting I plucked up the nerve to go on a zip wire. I chose the longest one in Costa Rica to start me off! It was terrifying! Although a very safe activity my knees were like jelly when I started off launching myself from the high platforms. After the insructors telling me on 4 different occasions that I was not braking properly they decided for safety reasons I had to have an instructor with me for the longest wires. That was fantastic because now I could relax and enjoy looking down on the forest canopy. The last part of the zip wiring involved no braking so I was able to do that on my own. The harness was turned around and you were attached from your back so that you could lie flat out with your legs behind and your arms spread out and fly like Superman. It was the closest thing to flying. It was incredibly high up and you went at great speed through the air for about 1km. Fantastic!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

White water rafting

Eventually decided to give this a go. I was going to try the 3/4 level but there was an upper age limit of 55 so opted for the 2/3 level which I assumed would be quite tame. How wrong was I! The minute we got into the river it was flowing really fast due to the rain and our first experience of a rapid was a level 3. I didn´t know what had hit me. Soaked to the skin and trying to follow the guide´s instructions of when and which way to paddle just confused me when he then shouted to get down. This meant we were heading for a collision so had to get right down in the raft. I managed to do that but remained in that position after he had told us to get back up and start paddling. Other raft companions didn´t seem that impressed but at least I hadn´t fallen out. We were on the river for 2 hours and it was a fantastic experience. Not sure I will do it again but never say never.
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The smile hides the fear! (Costa Rica)


 

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The rain forest

I have just spent 3 days in the Tortuaguera rain forest - where the jungle meets the sea. It was amazing. As you walked out of the jungle you were met by the giant waves of the Caribbean sea. I walked along the shore line paddling in the water. Going in any deeper would have been foolish as there were bull sharks waiting to come in to try and catch a turtle.
Some of the highlights of the visit were seeing 3 different kinds of toucan; sloths lounging in the treetops, a hummimgbird´s nest with 3 tiny chicks inside; numerous colourful birds and watching the giant green turtle emerge from the sea to lay her eggs. We were fortunate to see the whole process a truly wonderful sight. Also managed to kayak through the small canals in the  jungle which again was awe inspiring as the silence of the kayak made you feel at one with the jungle and I was able to observe a troupe of white faced monkeys playing in the trees above my head - magical.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

In Costa Rica

Sunday 7th Aug
After 24hours travelling I`ve finally arrived. Flight from London was great but it took 2hours to clear passport and immigration at Miami. Had a 5 hour wait for next flight but unfortunately it was delayed. In a bit of a haze when I arrived at the hotel last night but woke up this morning to beautiful view of San Jose which is surrounded by mountains. Delicious fresh fruit for breakfast and the waiter even found a tea bag for me! What more could I want. Off to explore the city today and then leave very early in the morning to the turtle nesting area and the Caribbean sea.

Monday, 1 August 2011

After60 -thenext10: The Courtauld Institute

After60 -thenext10: The Courtauld Institute: "Well I actually did get into the Courtauld for free today. It was certainly worthwhile as even the latest exhibition of Toulouse Lautrec was..."

The Courtauld Institute

Well I actually did get into the Courtauld for free today.



This view of the gallery is taken from Somerset House. It is a very small gallery compared to other world renowned art galleries but has some excellent exhibitions here. Being retired now I need to find ways of making the most of my finances so was delighted to find that entrance to the gallery is free on Mondays from 2pm. I was surprised that even the  latest exhibition of Toulouse Lautrec was free.  www.courtauld.ac.uk/gallery/lautrec

I really enjoyed the exhibition and spent a very pleasant couple of hours wandering around and then went over to Somerset House to their cafe to spend any money I had saved on a lovely cup of tea and cake!

Friday, 29 July 2011

First achievement -the blog

Well I think I've managed to set up a blog. If there is only this posting during the next month - then obviously I've failed before I even got started!