#45: Put up our roofrack and bicycles without help

This was immensely tedious and fairly difficult, but ultimately a triumph for women’s lib. One of the perils of married life is that this kind of task just never falls into my remit these days. And I get anxious about losing the ability to do stuff like this for myself. So, cue a very tedious morning messing about with keys and fittings and what not, taking an hour to accomplish something Dave can do in 5 minutes. I have no instinct at all for stuff like this, I can only figure it out by doing it wrong, then doing it differently, and only slightly less wrong, then eventually on about the 6th attempt getting it vaguely right. But I did it, and now I know how to do it again. So hurrah.
Then there was the lifting of the bikes onto the car. I can just about manage it, though it is far from comfortable, balancing inside the doorway of the back seats, mountain bike wielded aloft, and try to keep it steady to line up with the rack. Then keep it still with one hand while securing all the straps and locks. But again, it was done without injury, or misadventure to the bike. Et voila:
bikes on car
Getting them off again is harder – undo all straps, hold onto bike and somehow leap backwards out of the car, holding bike aloft, without allowing any part of bike or pedals to scratch car paintwork. It was just about done, but it is unlikely to be mishap-free every time!

But it is good that I can do it. It makes it far more possible to sneak in an adventure during school hours.

#32: Drive to the mountains and hike on my own

Well, the sun may be setting on my ‘mid to late thirties’ but I still have the banter of a 12 year old. So when planning this challenge, the only mountain worth considering was ‘Fan y Big’ – the most snicker-worthy summit in South Wales.

It may be surprising to folk who have known me a while to find this on the list – I have after all climbed Kili 5 times and led more tours up the Inca trail than I can remember – but this challenge was more about rediscovering the ‘me’ of yore. In more recent years, I rarely do anything a) on my own, or b) more than 10 miles from our village. If I do venture further afield it is usually for an organised event involving a load of other people.

So I promise it was a legitimate challenge, and not just a jolly. (Although having said that it was quite jolly once I got going)

It took an absurd amount of time to find the right place, due to my lack of planning and poor decision making (though really I should learn to plan for those, as they characterise most of my endeavours!) Wrong turns, no cash, forgot lunch, bought another lunch, more wrong turns, repeated stops to consult map, wrong car park….

No matter! Having left home before 6.30am, the sun was high in the sky by the time I was ready to climb at 9.30. That is, until I rounded the final corner, and entered a dense cloud, covering the very peak I had travelled so far to find. This was a problem, as my navigational skills are of a level that rather require being able to see where I am going.

I parked, and tried not to look too conspicuously clueless in front of the 40 army recruits who were engaged in some impressive venture with very large backpacks.

I set off up a steep climb by a waterfall. And I soon popped out the top of the cloud, to find a glorious sunny day, and lush views in every direction.
wales ridge view

In the main the path was obvious, though one stretch was across open country, and at one point I left my hat marking a junction to be sure of finding the right way home.

The summit of Fan y Big was nothing very obvious, a few rocks in a pile. But it was open, and spacious, with glorious views all around, and the schedule permitted a half hour kip in the sunshine, which was rather lovely for early March.
(see here the Standard Mountaineering Pose (SMP))

I cannot pretend it was a massively risky or hazardous venture, but it was lush to be out, and a tremendously satisfying way to fill the hours while the kids are at school… I think it would be much improved by taking some chums, and having an orienteering course under my belt. Might have to add those to the next list!

But it was great to get out and do this stuff again; proper hikes are too few and far between for me these days!

#23: Drive through a city without sat nav

I put this one in because I realised how reliant I have become on the old sat nav. I frequently arrive somewhere with no idea how I got there, where I am or how I am going to get home! If the thing packed up half way through a journey I would be scuppered.

And also, it is a shame to lose the old fashioned skills – manoeuvring through fast-moving traffic, map in one hand, steering wheel in the other, handwritten page of directions floating about somewhere in the passenger foot well… Ah yes, that’s what it was all about. And for optional added spice, I tried it with almost zero diesel in the tank and no button to press to find a route to the nearest fuel.

Happily all turned out well. In truth I confess I did not penetrate very far into London, but it will have to do – 77 more challenges on the list! Onwards and upwards!

#15: Drive across Europe at night

I put this on the list myself, as it addresses quite a number of my limitations. For me, driving at all is far from comfortable; and driving in the dark is mildly alarming. Driving on the wrong side of the road is very alarming, while driving an unknown route somewhere I have never been before brings us into the realm of naked terror. So, time to put it all together, and get on with it!

And so we did. We entered the Eurotunnel about 7pm, with the poorly formed ‘plan’ to drive all night by turns. Since it should take 10.5 hours to reach our destination, we ought to be in the mountains of the Czech Republic for an early breakfast. That was without reckoning on the vagaries of the sat nav, (which took us a circuitous route adding 2 hours to the journey). And then there was the unscheduled stop at a Belgian A and E department, in desperate search of any medication that could stop our youngest from screaming that her ear hurt. It is hard to convey the level of desperation that had overtaken our vehicle after 2 hours of this. The first packing oversight was revealed. I can see the Calpol sitting in the medicine cupboard at home. Why didn’t I put it in the bag? Why? Why?

We had to wait an hour and a half, but eventually left the Clinique Notre Dame in triumphant possession of some children’s Nurofen. It was by then 11.30 pm. We’d been going 5+ hours and were still in Belguim. Not good. I drove for another hour, handed over, Dave lasted til 2.30am. Then I bolted a coffee, resumed my shift, and managed to drive another 3 hours, crossing much of Germany, with the rest of the family slumbering all around, and ‘Pimsleur’s Guide to speaking Czech’ on the cd player. Congratulating myself on my quite brilliant efficiency. (A shame not to be knitting the socks as well, but probably wiser not to).

I did feel quite a weighty responsibility, alone at the wheel, everyone else sleeping peacefully, with no idea where I was taking them or quite how many fast-moving lorries I was negotiating. The whole experience was strangely very calm, in stark contrast to the family life of our waking hours.

By 6am I handed back, very happy to be able to tick that one off. Though I suppose we still have to get home somehow next week.

#1: Start a blog

I have set myself a challenge: for 100 days I will do something every day that pushes me out of my comfort zone… hopefully completing the full 100 before I turn 40.

I have consulted friends far and wide, resulting in the following list of challenges.  It is a work in progress so I reserve the right to change them as the attempt goes on…   New suggestions or challenges are always very welcome!

I’ll aim to blog about each as I go; post some photos; and, if my technical abilities permit, I will include the facility for folk to comment and tell me what you want more of.   But for now, here’s the list:

  1. Start a blog
  2. Put the children in charge for a day
  3. Try Zumba
  4. Cycle through floods
  5. Make a Battenberg cake
  6. Interact on social media for 3 hours.  (Not just snoop! Interact!)
  7. Cook a pig’s head
  8. Change a tyre on the car and learn to adjust the tyre pressure
  9. Introduce myself to the neighbours
  10. Join an expensive gym/health spa
  11. Go to a meditation class
  12. Pack the car for holiday entirely by myself
  13. Stay in bed for an entire day
  14. Have a drastic haircut
  15. Go rowing
  16. Build something
  17. Go to a posh restaurant and eat on my own
  18. Watch a horror film
  19. Strike up conversation with a stranger in a pub
  20. Do a mountain bike race
  21. Invite someone to dinner I don’t know very well
  22. Tantra workshop
  23. Go wild swimming
  24. Do an aerobics class
  25. Look after chickens
  26. Sing karaoke
  27. Do belly dancing (or pole dancing)
  28. Water-ski
  29. Write to 10 people and tell them what I love about them
  30. Stand up/open mic ??
  31. Sky dive??
  32. Do something generous and unexpected for someone else
  33. Ride Cow/help birth calf
  34. Learn to ride a unicycle
  35. Learn some kind of useful plumbing task
  36. Put up our roof rack and bicycles without help
  37. Take someone old and lonely a meal
  38. Have a Brazilian
  39. Ski a black run
  40. Drink a yard of ale
  41. Spend a day dressed as Bananaman
  42. Speak in a public place (speakers corner type thing)
  43. Learn to Eskimo roll
  44. Salsa/tango
  45. Volunteer to help at school
  46. Apply to be on a TV game show
  47. Knit a pair of socks
  48. Write a short story
  49. Make a Baked Alaska (for guests)
  50. Have a conversation in another language
  51. Dance all night in a club
  52. Abseil
  53. Sleep rough
  54. Learn a random new language
  55. Eat something alive!
  56. Try Tai chi
  57. Write a letter to The Times
  58. Publish a poem on the internet
  59. Potter a cup or plate
  60. Do a jump on a mountain bike
  61. Make some jewellery
  62. Paint a picture
  63. 24 hours juice-only fast
  64. Visit an abattoir
  65. Do ALL my filing
  66. Get rid of 1/2 of my possessions
  67. Give a significant amount of money to charity
  68. Drive through a city on my own without sat nav
  69. Drive across Europe at night
  70. Charge an eye watering fee for some work
  71. Get a tattoo
  72. Hire a personal shopper
  73. Take the children to a roller disco
  74. Busk/sing in public
  75. Be silent for a day
  76. Stay in a haunted house/castle
  77. Go caving
  78. Drive a bus
  79. Shoot something
  80. Have a session with a personal trainer
  81. Download 5 apps and figure out how to use them
  82. Drive to the mountains, and hike on my own
  83. Take the kids to the beach for a day trip, just me and them.       Make it fun without spending money
  84. Promote myself, shamelessly, far and wide
  85. Apply for a job with a 6 figure salary
  86. Learn a musical instrument
  87. Sell something I have made
  88. Go to a networking event and speak to people
  89. Get up at 6am every day for a week and use the time productively
  90. Go biking in the dark
  91. Take video footage of one of my challenges and upload it to you      tube
  92. Teach somebody something

…  …   …   …

100 – Take a photo of each achievement & publish them in a book!

Some slots are still blank – please do send me your suggestions!