New Year often brings reflection and contemplation of what the year ahead may bring. I realised how many great things I had done in the past 12 months, including moving house twice! Now I am planning what to do and what adventures I might have in 2012, I thought perhaps some of you may be inspired to try something new if I listed a few. I can recommend:
1 Learn to use a Compass
This is not such a stupid statement as it sounds. Am I not taking coals to Newcastle here? I am sure lots of you know how to use one, but there are plenty of ‘walkers’ out there who just follow their guide book, or even worse, their mobile phone or sat nav. This has resulted in a huge increase in the call out of the volunteer mountain rescue services when the high tech fails. I had vague recollections from when I did orienteering at school, but was only truly comfortable again after going on the Navigation Course see this post. Most walking books give you a grid reference to find the start of a walk, but what do those letters and numbers mean SD470983? So I have put up this ever so amateur video to show you.
Could also be helpful if you ever need to call Mountain Rescue.
2 Photograph a Puffin
A friend of mine had a significant ‘0’ birthday this year. She had a number of things to do before she got there. One of them was photograph a puffin. I went too. I am so glad I did. The puffins were magnificent on the Farne Islands. As were the seals, guillemots and countless other birds. There is so much wildlife on our own tiny island which is often ignored. I have seen dolphins in many places, The Amazon River and the gulf coast Florida, but watching them herding up mackerel on the Black Isle was one of the most thrilling.
3 Visit a Museum
On dark winter’s days in London I have found this a great way to spend an afternoon when visiting my son. We have found some fantastic exhibitions; Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum is a favourite. Plus brought back some memories from when aforementioned son was a child, now 21. “Do you remember when I was mad on dinosaurs?” I think that was the last time we were in the Natural History Museum.
4 Ski down a glacier
I missed out on skiing for two seasons, so my primary instruction to the travel agent in 2011 was ‘guaranteed snow’. We were recommended Saas Fee in Switzerland. It was well…. look at the photo. No explanation required.
5 Make a Photo Book
Why risk losing all those photos you have put on your hard drive. It is so easy to print them or put in a book. You could do the even more sensible thing and back up. But a failsafe is to print them. They also make great presents, or you could even put them up for sale. As I did with my note book.
6 Go to a Festival
Contrary to popular belief you are never too old to lug your backpack into the middle of a field, camp in mud and stay up all night! Having ‘done Glastonbury’ for the first time four months short of my 50th birthday I am now hooked. Kendal Calling is certainly worth a visit and I am currently listening to Noah and the Whale whom I will see at the Isle of Wight this year… yeah!
7 Visit your old Haunts
On my last trip to London I went to the East End and Brick Lane. I spent my post grad year here when it was not very salubrious. I could hardly recognise it. Total transformation, with its trendy shopping areas and cafes. Found myself repeating ‘ when I was here…’
8 Travel by train in Europe
When it works the train is a fantastic way to travel. So relaxing. From experience this is more the case in Europe than the UK. My first trip on European trains was going to the south of France in 1978. The next year I ‘did InterRail’, four weeks through France, Austria, Italy, Greece and others. Even stopping in Skopia, what was then Yugoslavia. I remember being petrified travelling through Turkey as my only knowledge of the county was Midnight Express, which had been release the year before. I digress. In 2011 I travelled from Geneva up to Saas Fee by train. A beautiful journey round Lake Geneva. Then from Prague, via Dresden to Berlin. This follows a very dramatic river valley and is a wonderful way to see scenery and small rural villages you probably would never see by road.
9 Do some family History
Having a mixture of UK and Eastern European family means I am constantly finding out new things which were not possible for the first twenty plus years of my life. I have a challenge for 2012. To find out whom these signatures belong to. They were friends of my father’s when he was a refugee in Germany in 1946. I shall be posting more information about them in a further post and on Facebook. If you have any ideas, please get in touch.
There are places in the world you will find it hard to access as a tourist, but join a research trip and more borders will open. The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon is one such place. Although you can visit the outer edges of the reserve as a tourist you have to be on a research trip or one of the indigenous people to go to the interior. I joined a group of scientist mapping the movement of endangered species, among other things, through Earthwatch. As well as seeing a part of the world I would never have had the opportunity to visit, I felt that I was actually ‘doing some good’, not just taking a holiday. People you meet will be ‘like minded’, so you should get on with them. Certainly I made friends who I have subsequently met in other far flung places. This year I am considering another Earthwatch trip, this time to Mongolia.
11 Climb one of the Three Peaks
Living where I am puts me close to Scafell Pike and I climbed it, oh a few years ago. This year it is on my list to do again but I hope to manage Ben Nevis. This will make three, as I managed Snowdonia in 2012. Only I could get a phone call asking; ‘How would you like to climb Snowdonia on your birthday?’ Other women get diamonds.