2018 final summary

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Local wooden bench where I sat in July pondering about the point of doing this blog…

The final day and my final post of 2018 so time for a little reflection…

Producing a ‘doing 50 things bucket list’ to mark the year I turned 50 is a form of goal setting with personal development and self improvement in mind.

I had something of a kick up the backside during a health check in December 2017 when I was basically told I was overweight, drank too much alcohol and had a borderline high cholesterol! And this was just 2 months before my 50th birthday… Staying fit and healthy so I can continue to travel and live my best life is a priority for me so several of my 50 goals were related to improving my health. Thankfully a health check in August revealed my cholesterol was down to ‘normal’ levels!

One of the most positive outcomes of maintaining this blog for the last 12 months has been the sense of achievement I’ve felt. Never before have I kept up a gym membership for longer than 2 or 3 months; I have rarely kept my weight under control and I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t have pushed myself to walk over 2000 miles had I not blogged about it. Publishing regular updates has made me feel accountable and has pushed me towards achieving my challenges. I might well have been tempted to cheat on my vegan month or sober October if it were not for this blog!

Walking was a significant and an immensely positive aspect of my life throughout the last year. Walking over 2000 miles has:

  • Certainly helped me to keep my weight down;
  • Kept me fit and healthy;
  • Most likely helped me to stay positive;
  • Continued to enhance my social life (I’ve met several lovely new friends this year);
  • Enabled me to see beautiful scenery (Switzerland, the Peak District and even local scenery around my home town);
  • Saved me quite a sum of money (by not paying for public transport or using my car);
  • Helped to build relationships with my husband Chris and my friends;
  • Given me little ‘light bulb moments’…

In relation to the last point above, walking is almost like a form of meditation. While I didn’t achieve my meditation goal this year, I found walking is great for switching off and clearing your mind. And I did have several moments of inspiration while walking.

Other than the meditation goal I didn’t achieve, I also didn’t do a cooking class, or watch Greg Braden or get another job or complete the first draft of a book of our 2016 global adventures! Never mind… 45  / 50 isn’t bad… and its best to settle for 90% than try to achieve everything and get stressed about it! Rather than force myself to do a cooking class I just accepted this wasn’t going to happen this year.

Plans for 2019 and beyond: 

While having 50 goals and challenges has been fun and has enabled me to stay focussed, at times it has been quite exhausting! I have several travel plans for 2019 but will maybe spend a little more time at home and a few less weekends away… I have applied for another job and I’ll definitely aim to lose the extra 4 lb’s gained over Christmas!

I read somewhere earlier today something along the lines of “tomorrow marks the first day of a set of 365 blank pages… make sure the story you write is a good one…”. How exciting! Life is what you make it and who knows what will be written in the next 365 pages…

Finally, thank you for reading my blog posts and traveling alongside me on the journey into my 50’s… I’m now nearly 51 so here’s to 2019 and the next 9 years until I’m 60!

Happy New Year! 

Marc and Angel: “You have to make yourself happy. Its not selfish, its called personal development”

 

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Bike ride

So, my husband Chris and I did do our 24 mile bike ride yesterday! While I am still up for a cycling weekend somewhere, as this is the longest bike ride I’ve ever done I’m going to tick this challenge off as being ‘complete’.

Much of the route was on dedicated cycle paths and bridleways and also fairly flat so the terrain was great for cycling. However as it was really windy we had to peddle hard! We set off in the sun but twice got soaked to the skin in a couple of heavy downpours! The second happened when we were only a couple of miles from home so we arrived back tired, hungry and soaking wet…

Note to self: take a rain coat next time…

We did both feel a sense of achievement and are keen to do more longer weekend cycling and continue our short evening cycle trips during the summer.

 

 

 

South West coast path

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It is July already and with such a busy 2018 I don’t think I’m going to get to the west coast of Wales this year. I therefore changed this challenge from the Pembrokeshire coast path to the South West coast path.

OK, so I did only a tiny fraction a couple of months ago and had just a taster of this amazing 630 mile walk. I would love to do the entire South West coast path at some point and I’ll try and get to Pembrokeshire next year…

Details of my short experience of a section near Weymouth and Lulworth Cove of the South West coast path can be found on frombluetogreen.com

 

 

 

Cuba holiday

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So… a shared celebration with my best friend! We’ve just returned from a wonderful and relaxing holiday in Cuba to celebrate that we are both 50 this year! My lovely friend Bridget and I have known each other since we met at school when we were about 13 and through the ups and downs of life we have remained good friends ever since!

A full update on our Cuba fun and frolics are available on my travel blog frombluetogreen.com 🙂

 

 

50 of my favourite songs

These tracks are in no particular order and I’ve tried to list each artist only once… but found it difficult to narrow it down to one track in many cases… never mind…

  1. Kissing a fool or maybe Spinning the Wheel or perhaps Cowboys and Angels… all classics by George Michael… I love the intro to Cowboys and Angels about 45 seconds in and also the smooth mellow saxophone instrumental at the end… Oh, and Fast Love and December Song, Georges ‘other’ Christmas song…
  2. Space Oddity or maybe Fame or maybe Aladdin Sane by David Bowie: legend…
  3. Corner of the Earth by Jamiroquai: awesome track which reminds me of trekking in remote places
  4. Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks: love this… chillin’ summery F*** it kind of song… also like ‘Tired of Waiting for You’… how cool were the 60’s?
  5. Tainted Love by Soft Cell: brilliant and classic 80’s track
  6. Gloria; Sunday Bloody Sunday; New Years Day… I’m a big fan of early 80’s U2 tracks. Oh yes… and Party Girl… silly but fab song!
  7. Could You Be Loved? One of Bob Marley’s brilliant tracks…
  8. Light my fire by The Doors: always been a fave; together with People are Strange…
  9. Club Tropicana by Wham! You can feel the holiday vibe with this
  10. Pass out by Tinie Tempah: love the instrumental bits in this
  11. California Dreaming by Mamas and Papas: bunch of hippies singing about one of my favourite places… love it!
  12. Bohemian Like You by Dandy Warhols
  13. Spaceman by Babylon Zoo… slightly weird
  14. Blue Monday by New Order: reminds me of the 80’s
  15. Valerie by Amy Winehouse: brilliant track… or Back to Black? Maybe Back to Black pips the post of my Amy faves… a bit depressing but Amy at her best…
  16. Happy by Pharrell Williams: a real uplifting song… in fact probably the most uplifting song I can think of
  17. Hawaii 5-0 theme tune: one of my favourite instrumentals; reminds me of Hawaii
  18. Green Onions by Booker T and the MGs: classic… ‘nuff said…
  19. Paint it Black by Rolling Stones: a classic Stones track… closely followed by ‘The Last Time’… love this too…
  20. Echo Beach by Martha And The Muffins: gotta have a beach track or two in here somewhere!
  21. Don’t stop the Music by Rhianna: I like a few Ri Ri songs but this is probably my fave…
  22. Livin La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin: maybe a bit cheesy but I still love this track from old swivel hips!
  23. Smile by Lily Allen… bit of attitude from Lily… Love it…
  24. The Real Slim Shady by Eminem: one of many excellent Eminem tracks
  25. Feel by Robbie Williams: by far the best Robbie track… spine tingly brilliant…
  26. Aint No Sunshine by Bill Withers
  27. Wonderwall by Oasis… classic
  28. Smells like Teen Spirit by Nirvana; one of my favourite bands
  29. Mambo Italiano by Sophia Loren: love a bit of latino Italiano…
  30. Mucho Mambo (sway) by Shaft… more latino… makes me want to get up and dance about… sorry, one more… also Lambada by Kaoma… want to find a beach bar and do the lambada all afternoon with easy access to a jug of caipirinha… sigh…
  31. Thriller by Michael Jackson: have heard this hundreds of times but never get tired of it… well its either Thriller or Off the Wall… I love Off the Wall too, real boppy stuff…
  32. Black Velvet by Alannah Myles: sultry…
  33. Gypsies Tramps And Thieves by Cher: best Cher track… so original… actually not usually keen on her songs but this is an awesome track…
  34. Age of Aquarius by The 5th Dimension: my birth sign and another hippy track!
  35. Mrs Robinson – Simon & Garfunkel… fantastic classic film! Scarborough Fair and Sound of Silence are more awesome tracks…
  36. She’s not there by The Zombies
  37. The Pirates of the Caribbean theme tune… love this and could listen to it over and over again… fabulous piece of music
  38. Hips Don’t Lie by Shakira: Sassy… wish I could shake and swivel my hips in the manner of Shakira…
  39. Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses… awesome track especially towards the end where it goes… ‘Where do we go… where do we go now…’
  40. Dreadlock Holiday by 10cc: an absolute must have in my list!
  41. Love and Pride by King: not the best vocals but a brilliant tune… another classic 80’s track and really uplifting
  42. Lady Gaga – Telephone ft Beyonce… love this song!
  43. Call Me – Blondie… brilliant 70’s track…
  44. Hung Up – Madonna… what is it with telephone songs??? Am I weird??? No… while I like this Madonna song I think Secret is probably my favourite Madge track…
  45. Ticket to ride; Twist and Shout; Love Me Do… a few classics from the Beatles
  46. Message in a bottle by Police…another real classic
  47. Baggy Trousers; House of Fun; Night Boat to Cairo… love a bit of early Madness…
  48. Down Under by Men at Work… a guilty pleasure
  49. Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, Pink – Lady Marmalade… Hey sister go sister…
  50. Hotel California by The Eagles… another brilliant track which I could listen to over and over again…

 

 

50 things I am grateful for…

I nearly changed this challenge in case it seemed a little ‘fluffy’. However, as I was preparing for this, it forced me think carefully and put many things into perspective. Having reached the age of 50 and having seen how incredibly hard so many people’s lives are in terms of poor health or simply their life circumstances I do feel immensely lucky to have an abundance of things to be grateful for. I also realise that life can change in an instant so I try to make the most of it and try never to take anything for granted.

Psychology studies have shown that people who feel and express gratitude are consistently happier, are more able to deal with adversity and are less likely to suffer from depression.

And FaceBook CEO Mark Zuckerburg had a resolution in 2014 to write a thank you note every day in a bid to counteract his critical nature and express more gratitude.

So, (being very diplomatic here) in no particular order…

  1. My husband: Chris, the person who shares my life. I am grateful that he chose me as his wife and we continue to build on our companionship, experiences and joy as we travel through our combined life journeys together.
  2. My children: I am incredibly lucky to have a son and a daughter, both now in their twenties. Nothing can beat the feelings of love, awe and protection I have felt since they were both born…
  3. My parents: who, lets face it, if it were not for them, I wouldn’t be here! My parents who brought me up, taught me right from wrong, gave me a warm and happy home and guided me from the very beginning of my life. They are all (including my two step parents) very different and I have learned a lot from each of them in different ways.
  4. My brother and wider family: including all of my relations such as my lovely step daughters, parents-in-law, nephew and niece and all of the others, all of whom I enjoy spending time with and who enhance my life in one way or another.
  5. My physical health: I’ve got to the age of 50 and thankfully have good physical health which enables me to lead an active lifestyle. I am now determined to do what I can to maintain my health in order to maximise my chances of a healthy old age. Until recently I put an average effort into keeping fit and healthy but as the weight crept on and I found my cholesterol levels had increased I gave myself a sharp nudge to focus on my health as a priority.
  6. Freedom: thankful I live in a country that allows a fairly decent amount of freedom. In the UK we generally have the freedom to make choices about our lifestyles irrespective of our age, gender or background. We can wear what we want, eat what we want, work and travel when we want and don’t have too many restrictions.
  7. Holidays: In relative terms holidays have gradually become cheaper throughout the last 30 or 40 years which means many people in the Western world can enjoy several holidays and trips away each year. I am therefore grateful that I live in a time to be able to do this. Even 30 years ago, most people only had one holiday a year. And even less in previous generations.
  8. Budget airlines: the likes of EasyJet and RyanAir have enabled me to see a fair amount of Europe, something which would have been more difficult and expensive in the past.
  9. My best friend: we’ve been friends for over 35 years and she is the one person who has always been there as someone to confide in and share my highs and lows.
  10. My friends: nothing beats having warm and lovely people to share experiences and good times with. I am particularly grateful that some of our friends have navigation and outdoor skills which enables me to join them for amazing trekking adventures.
  11. My work colleagues: these guys make my work life so much happier!
  12. My job: which provides a decent income which allows me to lead a comfortable life. I’m lucky that it is so flexible which means I can work at home sometimes, vary my start and finish times and build up hours to take additional ‘flexi’ days.
  13. My annual leave allowance: I am thankful I have 32 days of annual leave each year which enables me to take several annual trips away.
  14. My home: working in London, I constantly see homeless people sleeping rough on the streets. This always makes me feel grateful that I have a home to go to. We live in an apartment so it isn’t huge but its warm, comfortable and we have a roof over our heads.
  15. Hot water: and a lovely hot shower each morning.
  16. Clean water: to have taps with clean running water is a luxury compared with many countries around the world.
  17. Central heating: as a teenager living in a 400 year old cottage, I remember waking up with ice inside my windows in the winter! I don’t have this in my warm cozy flat. Again, central heating is a relatively modern luxury which wasn’t available for past generations.
  18. Dishwasher: I always appreciate not having to wash up the dishes… a) because I find washing dishes is a boring chore and b) because I have ezcema and the washing liquid makes my hands sore and itchy…
  19. Washing machine: I also appreciate not having to hand wash clothes!
  20. My comfortable bed: having slept in a range of uncomfortable beds while travelling the world in 2016, I am always grateful I have a warm and comfortable bed to sleep in. We brought a new bed last year and paid a bit extra for Egyptian cotton covers and a soft comfy mattress cover.
  21. An abundance of fresh food: always at our fingertips.
  22. My laptop: one relatively small device which can do so much: store photos, produce documents, send and receive emails, use of Google to research and plan trips and for the vast amount of knowledge available at your fingertips and countless other tasks. Sad, but I love my laptop!
  23. Fast Internet access: essential in this day and age. Surprisingly one of the worst places for Internet access during our 2016 travels was Australia!
  24. Books: as well as something to relax with at the end of the day, books provide a massive source of inspiration and knowledge.
  25. Music: can be incredibly uplifting although this depends on the type of music you listen to! This is why I prefer upbeat music.
  26. Nature: beautiful sunsets, sunrises, flowers, forests, animals, trees, beaches, hills, oceans…
  27. Red wine: one of life’s little pleasures!
  28. Dark chocolate: another little pleasure… nice dark chocolate straight from the fridge
  29. Coffee: necessary throughout the day and particularly first thing in the morning… I’m grateful for that little quiet time when there’s just me, coffee and my laptop… personal laptop that is… not the ‘w’ one…
  30. My car: I’m using it much less for local journeys particularly now that I have a 1050 mile walking challenge to meet this year, but having a car gives me the freedom to more or less go where I want, when I want.
  31. Lack of stress: something I have learned much better to deal with as I’ve got older.  Its important to rise above minor stresses and irritants and to stop wasting time and energy getting stressed over them.
  32. Lack of debt: only a recent thing… I’ve relied on credit cards far too much throughout most of my adult life… now the feeling is good that the only debt I have is my mortgage.
  33. Meals with family and friends: priceless! I love spending meal times with these special people 🙂
  34. My drive and determination: this helped me to push through and achieve my academic and career aspirations. It also helped to ensure we achieved our year long 2016 career break.
  35. My sense of adventure: just makes life more interesting…
  36. My positive attitude: life is to be enjoyed and not endured and having a positive attitude helps me to swiftly get through tough times.
  37. My mental health: thankfully I think my positive attitude helps to maintain good mental health. I’ve never suffered from depression or anxiety or any other mental health condition. I hope this continues!
  38. My open mind: while I have listed many modern day conveniences I am flexible and desire a simple life. I would be as happy with the adventure you experience while camping as with the luxury of staying in a 5 star hotel. My open mind enables me to try new things, new foods and new experiences with enthusiasm.
  39. My sense of humour: OK, so I’m not the wittiest person around but I believe its important not to take life too seriously and to see the funny side of things where possible.
  40. Knowing when to let go: essential… nobody’s perfect and you need to drop things that start to impact on your own wellbeing and happiness. I try to let go of the following: perfection (its too stressful and being perfect mostly doesn’t matter anyway); baggage (sometimes difficult but if you don’t let go, it drags you down); worrying (doesn’t change the outcome); other peoples opinions (OK to listen but always best to do your own thing).
  41. My minimalist values: maybe having an open mind has helped me to value experiences over things. Rather than spending money on material things including cars, houses, designer clothes and suchlike, I value living my life to the full with weekends spent walking in the countryside, weekends visiting a new place in Europe and holidays at every opportunity.
  42. Beaches and the sea: I don’t enjoy laying by the beach on a sun bed but I do love beaches and the sea. That is  snorkelling, swimming, walking along the beach, watching the waves crashing and soaking up the beach atmosphere.
  43. Mountains: I am grateful that I’ve been able to climb a few hills and mountains and experience the sense of achievement and also the solitude this brings. Not everyone is able to do this and I’m keen to continue climbing hills and mountains while I am can. The feeling of standing at the top of a mountain and being awarded with incredible views is exhilarating.
  44. Trekking: again, trekking around the countryside and particularly in scenic places such as hills and mountains in national parks or along the coast and the feeling of freedom you experience.
  45. Restaurant choices: we are lucky to have a vast number of restaurant choices which enable us to sample fantastic food from every corner of the globe. This wasn’t something as common 50 years ago.
  46. Laser eye treatment: brilliant! I had laser eye treatment when I was 40 years old so have spent the last 10 years being free from glasses or contact lenses.
  47. Laser hair treatment: oh yes… permanently getting rid of pesky unwanted body hair about 4 or 5 years ago was awesome. It was great that during our 2016 travels I had the freedom of not having to shave my legs or carry a lady shave around.
  48. Improved ezcema: I’ve suffered with ezcema since I was a baby and have had times when it has been so bad it has affected my entire body. Sore, inflammed and incredibly itchy skin… thankfully it seems to have improved as I’ve got older and got better at managing it. It hasn’t gone and it’s left its mark with scars and damaged skin but it’s under control at last!
  49. My safety: in the UK we enjoy relative safety. Sadly there has been a number of terrorist incidents within the last few years but in reality, the chances of one getting involved is quite minimal. Compared with many countries and within reason and with normal precautions you are safe to go about your daily life without fear of being mugged or murdered.
  50. My life: and hopefully many more years to come! You never know what life has in store for you and I am firmly committed to making the most of the journey through my life…

 

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