Looking Back

I know we often are told not to look back, supposedly it’s bad for us, but really isn’t it quite nice every now and then to just pour ourselves a glass of wine (because most things in life are almost always certainly better when accompanied with a glass of wine), pull up a pew, and to take a trip down ye olde favourite, memory lane. To be honest it probably only really starts to get a bit dangerous when we begin living in the past, unable to let go….

You’ll be jolly pleased to know, however, that this delightfully charming, (not so) short but (hopefully) sweet, post is not about being stuck in the past, more just a simple post to share with all you eagerly awaiting and loyal readers (don’t laugh, I’m sure there must be one of you out there…..?? …..No?? ….Anyone?? Where’s a piece of tumbleweed when you need one eh!) ways in which we might be able to add a little more… bounce to our lives. Oh, and also to share with you little snippets from the year I’ve just had.

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The start of a new day over the Okavango Delta, Botswana

I recently, as suggested above, poured myself a glass of wine, pulled up a pew, and looked over all my pictures from 2017. I’m not ashamed to say that it was actually a fairly sobering thing to do (“poured myself a glass of wine,” “fairly sobering thing to do,” – ah such perfectly positioned irony). It suddenly hit me how much I’d done these last 12 months. It hit me how much things can change from one year to the next. But it mostly hit me how special certain things, people, places, ambitions, psychologies, outlooks, you name it, can have such hugely inspiring and positive impacts on us, more than we possibly are aware of at the time. So actually sometimes it is good to look back. To remember these things, to not forget (as is so easy to do when living the busy, hectic, chaotic lives that we do), and then to use these memories in order to inspire us, to give us fight, and to keep pushing us forward.

Plus… I’m also quite eager to evaluate how many of my ‘goals’ for 2017 were actually accomplished (ahem, we won’t mention Trans Siberian …or there lack of!) 


Memoirs of the girl on the fence…


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“So this was me this time last year, enjoying a walk, the sun on my face on a beautiful winters day, and the prospect of an exciting and unknown year ahead – I’d had some ideas of what I’d wanted to do throughout the year but ultimately knowing that we are to look forward with an element of spontaneity attached to it, with no set path and with an open mind for possible new opportunities, or, simply, for when things just don’t go our way.

Looking back I can see that I had an incredibly full year…

Recently I sat and looked through my pictures, an imagery journey of a year gone by. My head began to fill with many different emotions; accomplishment, happiness, sorrow, wonder.

As someone who lives in her head, who has to battle a hundred difficult thoughts each day, it’s not easy to put into words these feelings that I get…

There is one thing I am certain of, however. I am certain that I always try to do the best I can with the time and the material that I have. And now, because of that, I have a hundred more stories and a hundred more memories for that silent girl sat there on the fence looking out.”

So last year I had written an article about some of the things that I would be hoping to accomplish throughout 2017. I’m not particularly a believer in new years resolutions… guaranteed that after a while reality gets in the way of all those promises of “new year new me!” A phrase, by the way, that I absolutely loathe! Not only does it indicate that there was something wrong with the old you, but it also sets us up for uncertain failure because ultimately, as always we discover, we can not change who we at the flip of a metaphorical switch! If you’re wanting to lose weight or become healthier, or if you’re planning on becoming a more positive person, can you really believe all that will happen simply because it’s a new year? The arrow ticks one minute past midnight and then ‘BAM!!’ your entire mindset has changed! Let’s not be silly now please. It might work temporarily, but be sure that a new number at the end of the year will not change your psychology for the longhaul. This has to come from within. It has to take hard work, commitment and a gut wrenching desire to make these changes. All of which might come to you at any time of the day, week, month or year, and should be embraced as such! It is not solely reserved for Mondays or for New Year’s day. Believe me!

 

Anyhoo, what was I saying???…. Ah yes….

 

So I’m not much of a believer in new years resolutions. However! I am someone who loves to feel excited about new ideas and plans and ways in which to add more…substance, shall we say, to the person that I am. I believe that we constantly need to work on who we are, to motivate ourselves and to bring new ideas to the table. Basically to not become lazy or without purpose. I don’t just mean our work life purpose (although this also helps), I mean it for our own happiness. A reason to get up and go to work every day, to look forward to our days off, and, if remotely possible, to inspire others to feel the same.

For example… we all know I love travel, the idea of new places, of exploration. But being someone who loves travel does not a traveller make. I have to actually go out there and do it! I have to firstly have the ideas, then take those ideas and turn them into something with substance, and then lastly into a reality. I need to have destinations in the world that I simply can’t go without seeing, and then go see them!

Or something non-travel related. Say you are a musician, someone who loves to sing or play music and often dreams of one day an audience hearing your talents… Make a plan! Set yourself a task (or tasks) and find an outlet for this potentially one day happening. Nurture that dream.

Is this all making any kind of sense?

I’m often told that everything starts from an idea. We can all have ideas, but the ones that set themselves apart from the others are the ones who take that idea and make it happen, or at least try to make it happen. I’m as guilty as everyone else with having an idea but then never actually doing anything about it. We’ve all done it, we are all more than likely currently doing it, and we will all do more of it in the future I’m certain. However, for all those really important, exciting, heart pumping, ‘I simply can’t live without doing’ ideas that we have, why not let’s all just go out there….and do them!

So as well as giving you all a good old pep talk (sometimes I just can’t stop myself) I also wanted to share with you what I managed to achieve from my ‘to do’ list of last year.

So, without further ado (“oh my god just get to it already”)….


My 2017 Stats!


 If you have the time (of course you have the time…) take a  little stroll down memory lane and read my post from last year telling you all about my plans for 2017…. ‘A New Year A New Wish List’

But if you don’t have the time here’s a little reminder….

Make a Difference • Hike More • Wedding Shinnanigans • Snowball Fight • Trans Siberian

1. Make A Difference: 


This one really was my main objective for last year. Raise as much money as possible to go towards the rebuild of Sita’s home in Nepal.

We raised £2500 which really is incredible. It actually makes me stop in my tracks when I think of the support and kindness from so many people and the interest shown from everyone.  I’ve always been someone to believe that people, for the most part, are  good. I’m not naive, I’ve encountered the ‘not so good’ ones in my life, but ultimately as a collective, people are good. The response I received, almost instantly, from you all, simply reaffirms that belief. 

That money went directly to Sita and her family and was spent directly on the materials and labour needed for the rebuild. Whilst the money raised was not the full amount needed for the rebuild, it was without a doubt the backbone towards making the build even possible. Sita and her boys were never out for a free ride. They are some of the hardest workers I’ve known, around their home and around their village, with each other and with friends, they never stop doing what they need to do in order to survive. I don’t mean this in a figurative way, and I also don’t mean it as an attempt to conjure up sympathy. I mean it as a fact. For them, work is a daily task of seeing to the animals, of harvesting, gardening, cooking, building, washing. Without keeping to the animals and without harvesting they would not have their main source of food. Without gardening their mountain homes would become overgrown within a matter of months. Their work is day in and day out. All done with a smile on their face a bounce in their steps.

Work, for the boys, is also going to school, and for Arjun work also includes being a part time trekking guide. With the money he has been able to earn as a guide, along with the money you all helped to raise, they have been able to build their new home. What an amazing thing.

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A smiley Sita and friends out on the terraces harvesting the rice.

What will I take from this experience?

That ultimately we can make that difference. To not be put off from lack of knowledge or experience, to spot those moments and opportunities in life and then to cease those moments! When I first had the thought to put this project together I almost didn’t go through with it out of some obscure fear! I mean what was I fearing? Really! That people wouldn’t donate? That people would laugh it off? I mean who cares right! If people laugh it off or didn’t donate what do I lose? Nothing!…. and that’s exactly why I went through with it eventually….

…because I had nothing to lose, yet so much to be gained for a family who simply needed a little bit of a helping hand.

(to learn more about this story take a visit to my page: ‘Make a Difference’)


2. Hike More: 


Yes! Walk, hike, trek, trail, call it whatever you want, just do more of it!” – She said.

And so she did. Well… so she did a bit.

2017 saw me don my hiking boots once, twice, thrice (yes it’s a word) again, and lots of little times in between. Okay, so I didn’t exactly flirt with the worlds highest peaks again like my boots saw the year previously. Nonetheless I did scale a couple of painful at the time mountains and reached altitudes of 5000m. And, mountains and altitude aside, I did get to lose myself to the beat of my step, thoughts from the far off distance, and to the silent world we so frequently forget is there. Really these are the reasons I love to walk. Silence, stillness, and a calm inside my head I so desperately crave. The challenge of the road ahead and the triumph once achieved. To me, it’s my sanctuary.

So where did I hike?

Other than the beautiful countryside of England you mean? 

Well, it was back to the stunning backdrops of the Indian Himalaya for me, and also a little jaunt in Nepal (if one could ever really ‘jaunt’ in Nepal!).

Nepalese Himalaya: From my previous post ‘A Brush With Death (Kinda)’ you’ll have learnt that heading back into the mountains to see Sita and the boys was not all that easy. With the heavy rains making the mountain roads impassible for vehicles, it was back to the old school form of travel – exploration by foot! Okay yes I realise there was no actual exploring to be done here, but still… the genes of my prehistoric ancestors who once roamed the world, the genes that still soar through my body and give me the itchy feet I have today and everyday, were ceasing their moment!

It was time for some off-roading!

Getting there wasn’t too bad. I was basically able to get most of the way by bus. From Kathmandu to Dhading Besi (the headquarters of the district) is no issue, tarmac roads all the way. It was from Dhading Besi into the mountains that were to become the issue.

But still, into the mountains the buses went. Some of the way at least. 

After about 5 hours driving into the  mountains I had finally reached the end of my road. I was to walk the rest of the way. Fortunately Arjun had come to meet me – if he hadn’t I would almost certainly still be lost in the mountains today! It was a long hike up, and by now it was a long hike up with the heavens pouring down over us, in the dark. It was not enjoyable! Read ‘a brush with death’ and you’ll see why.

Heading back was a different story – this I loved. It was bloody hard at times, but still I loved it. I had spent just a short 5 days in the mountains with Sita and Arjun, but within those 5 days it had rained so much and so hard that these mountain ‘roads’ had become sodden mud baths, and subsequently a complete death trap and a no go zone for buses. We had to walk.

It would take the best part of two days.

We hiked from Arjuns village to a neighbouring village, home to his nan and aunt. We cut across terraces and farmland and we hopped, skipped and jumped across streams. We scrambled down rocky mountain sides and we drank from fresh mountain springs. Eventually – just as the sun was going down and the sky was that perfect colour of milky purple, as the air was thick,  full of heat and moisture so desperate to explode out and over us – we arrived at his nans.  Here we slept.

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Home for the night.

The next day it was back to the feet for a steep hike up

up…

…up a little more, a break to drink some water, and then up we continued, for some more up hill walking, up a mountain. Flip me…it was knackering!

But how great did it feel once I’d reached the top!

….and on we continued for the rest of the day towards Dhading Besi.

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Indian Himalaya: From Nepal I continued my journey through to India, this time heading for the high altitudes of Ladakh. I didn’t have a huge amount of time – but not wanting this to stop me I utilised the little time that I had and hiked the short 2 day ‘Leh – Stok’ trek.

I’m not guna lie, it was a killer! The second day had felt like a continuous up hill battle, which basically it was! A 4900m up hill battle to be exact!

The first day I had walked from Zingchen to Rumbak, a tiny mountain village sitting at 4050m high. This had been relatively easy.

The next morning, however, I woke up and faced the 900m climb to the Stok La pass sitting at 4900m. This huge increase in altitude in just a short few hours up a steep mountain side, basically tested my limits and (almost) kicked my arse! I remember being just a short few meters from the top and genuinely thinking I actually am getting no oxygen into my lungs, I must stop!

But of course me being the stubborn bull that I am I pushed this thought to one side and finished what I had set out to do…

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An English girl, Scottish man and a Dutch man all walk up a mountain…. (there’s a joke in there somewhere surely!)

I try my best to get out there and make the most of our beautiful English countryside as well. Hiking doesn’t just have to be about far off lands and extreme altitudes (although I do enjoy the mental challenge of pushing myself, of learning how much I can handle and how high above the clouds I can go) –  There is so much beauty on all the corners of the world, including our own backyard, so let’s not limit ourselves eh.

(For a bit more info on my time in the mountains on this particular trip take a read of my post: ‘Where in the Holy Bleep am I?’

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3. Wedding Shinnanigans:


So my little bubba sister got married this year. MARRIED!! My little baby sister got freakin married this year!!!

Okay…and calm….

The reason for this reaction, I apologise, is basically because I still remember as though it was a minute ago when she really was my ‘little baby sister’ – and now here she is, full on adulting right in front of me!

…and what a beautiful adult she’s turned out to be:

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although I know her to be a little more like this….

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So yes! There were wedding shinnanigans a plenty last year.

We partied our butts off in Marbella. I fell asleep in the bar – no of course there’s no photographic proof of this!!  

We danced in the rain and we chased flip flops down the street (there was a lot of rain).

I watched as my beautiful sister and mum shared a secret little dance together…

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…and finally, my heart felt as though it would burst as I got to watch my brother walk our sister (two of my favourite people in the entire world) down the aisle, giving her away….

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So yes, my darling little baby sister, although the world may see you now as the fine looking, passionate, married woman and mother that you are…. I shall always hold dear our memories of old….

usxx

“Sisters, are doing it for themselves…”

 


4. Snowball fight!


Well… So technically  I didn’t actually have a snowball fight. BUT….I did build a snowman instead…

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…so I’m going to say this was a success 🙂

 


5. Trans-Siberian:


Ermmmmm…..

Does it count if I’ve done a whole load of research into doing it??

Yes! – you say? Fabulous!”

So I’ve done a whole load of research into the Trans-Siberian for when I actually do it…. which is actually going to be later on in this year (you can read more about these plans in my next post).

The Trans-Siberian has been a journey I’ve had a keen eye on now for quite a long time. Mongolia, in particular, is a country that has captured my interest for many many years. Then (many many years ago) when I learnt that it could be combined with one of the most epic overland journeys in the world …well really I knew it was something that had to be done. Because… as you might know and as I’ve spoken about before, I’m a lover of the journey over the destination.

For me, I believe that the journey is where we can start to capture all of those special little moments…

Wonder, lust, allure… 

It’s where, I feel, we begin to gain back small parts of who we are, and parts of our mislayed thoughts.

To watch the world happening around me, to join in when I want, or to just sit silently and observe. To have that freedom of thought and of body is a feeling I am lucky to know… and a feeling I seem to need.

So whilst the Trans-Siberian is a journey yet to be achieved (by me)…. achieved she shall be. 

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Waiting for that train….


 

So that’s it folks – all wrapped up in a nutshell. I’ve got more that I want to share with you, my plans for this year, and also a new page I want to introduce to this blog. So I’m excited to get going on those. And of course for anyone who follows ‘Brother vs Sister’ the saga still continues, and will continue to do so until that clock chimes midnight on the 25th April 2019 (aka the day I turn 35!) Gulp! – so don’t forget to stay involved and keep up to date.

In the meantime people… Happy Travels x

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Live, Laugh, Travel x

 

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