Tag Archives: driving

Why you should go all in on YOU

Usually I do the major life review thing at New Year, but for some reason this year the urge came upon me on my birthday.  It wasn’t even that I’d decided to get all insightful and zen – to be honest I was just downright frustrated and fed up and this was what led to the break through.

I guess I realized that I no longer had anything to lose.  On the surface – large parts of my life had turned to sh**.  Like – living on savings, trying to find some kind of income, laptop blown up – making it really hard to blog, partner with diminished mobility due to failed surgery on his knee, winter, cold house.  BUMMER!  It sucked, and no matter what I did I couldn’t seem to gain traction on any of it.  So I gave up.   And that changed everything….

So often we hear from the likes of influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Tony Robbins that we need to be ourselves, be the best that we can be, be honest, be authentic.  And despite writing posts on it here and here I hadn’t realized that I still wasn’t being enough ME. Not nearly enough, not even halfway enough.   Which was weird, because that’s what I THOUGHT I totally was doing.   I wasn’t embracing my weird, my crazy and irreverentness (is that even a word?), my loudness, my colour, my impulsiveness,  all those things that I’d been criticized for all my life.  I looked at myself and realized I’d been playing it small.  Far too small.   And if you ever meet me, you’ll realize that I’m NOT a quiet play-it-small person.

Instead, on that brilliant birthday I made a decision to double down on the loud, the crazy, the irreverence, the weird, and if people didn’t like it…… well zero f**ks given.   Nothing else was working anyway so nothing to lose.   And in some weird the-universe-is-watching-you way it’s worked.  Like, INSTANTLY.

In the past two weeks, I’ve dyed my hair the reddest red I could find, thrown out all the black clothing and put together the most outrageous and colourful combinations I could imagine, turned up the stereo, got an awesome job (never expected that, the over-50 curse has been upon me lately) and figured out how to get around the broken laptop dilemma until I can afford a new one.  All because I decided to say f**k it, even if it meant selling the house, moving, and losing relationships.  Whew, is that a rollercoaster or what?

To all you regular readers, I apologize.  I’ve been a fraud.  This blog is all about living with #heart especially when you’re over 50 and have to start again from scratch, and up till now I realize that I haven’t been doing that honestly.  Even my writing has been measured and careful.   But no more..  Expect more SHOUTING, more rants, more crazy.  More passion too – but what a poor sad word that’s been  debased by the HR departments of big corporates.  Anyone for a self-starter who’s passionate about counting things??? Groan.  Actually I think crazy about covers it.

And the work….driving shuttle buses at the local skifields with an awesome crew of people.  And free skiing.  Did I mention free skiing????  Except not skiing,  this year I’m learning to board so it’s free riding.  AND getting to be in the mountains all day.

So if you’re at that place where I was not so long ago.  Give up, stop trying so hard, DON’T  try to change.  Double down on YOU, wallow in your you-ness and see what it brings you.  It might just be gold.

And if you’re wondering I’m FIFTY SIX YEARS experienced.  That’s the word.  Experience.  Not old.  Never old.  Just crazy!

Bring it on! Live with #heart!  And please read follow and share too!


PS my bus is the tiny one down the far end….


Five lessons from the road


Since arriving back in New Zealand in late April I’ve been working in the tourism industry, in a friend’s limousine company.

Recently the opportunity came up to do some tour guiding.  I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time  and the usual suspects were either busy or on leave, so I was offered the job.  I’ve never guided before but was I going to turn it down – hell no!   Since, I’m all about a life of exploring in every sense of the word, I wasn’t going to pass up this chance to help someone else explore New Zealand.

The trip was to the West Coast of NZ an area known for it’s  rugged beauty , isolation,  rain and ………  did I mention rain??  You get the picture.  The opportunity to show off one of my favourite places in the world was just too tempting – I have a love affair with the place – it’s heart wrenchingly gorgeous, dramatic and wild,it’s where I go to when I need a beach fix, but not of the swimming kind.  West Coast beaches are great for long walks,  fresh air, rock collecting and daydreaming, but swim at your peril.   Lonely Planet has named it one of the top ten coast road trips in the world and it’s certainly a must-do if you come to New Zealand.

Ha!  I thought, this will be a doddle, showing a tourist my fave place, talking about the landscape, the outdoors, plants, bird life, history, all the things I love and know about.  Well,   not quite …….. it was darn hard work, much more so than I’d imagined.  RESPECT to  the tour guides I have met on my travels and all the work that they put in both behind the scenes and on the job to ensure that I as a guest had a great experience.

The trip went brilliantly, the client was happy and we both enjoyed the experience.

Being on the other side of the equation travel-wise gave me some new perspectives on travel both as a guide and as a tourist so I thought I’d share them with you:

  1.  Have a Plan B.    For whatever reasons such as weather, breakdowns, cancellations, Plan A can go AWOL, so  ALWAYS have a Plan B.
  2. Small moments count –  a perfect sunset on a deserted beach, the smell of the forest after rain, an unexpected glimpse through a doorway.
  3. Take every opportunity you can to talk to the locals (the real ones, not the people behind counters at tourist attractions) .  A random conversation with a local  can give a deeper insight into life in that area/country, or can just share the common ground that we all have as human beings on this planet.  For me, when I reflect back on my travels its these moments that often stay with me the longest and are some of the high points of the trips I’ve made.
  4. Following on from 3.  Ask a local what their favourite places and things to do are.  You may get very different answers to what is commonly accepted as the top “tourist attractions”  but you may come across some hidden gems.
  5. Go slow.  Travel is a multi sensory experience to be savoured.  Do less,  immerse yourself in local life as much as you can – eat at local cafes, take detours, get lost, talk to random strangers.  You will leave far the richer for your experiences.



Going round the bend …aka driving in Spain Part 1



Having done all my driving in tiny New Zealand on the left hand side of the road, it’s a major learning curve coming to terms with driving in Europe.

Here in Spain it is possible to go from the sublime – multi-lane autopistas (freeways) with a 120km speed limit to the ridiculous – tiny, narrow one lane alleys in pueblo blancos where a Mazda 2 can get stuck on a corner (I kid you not!) within the space of a day, each requiring completely different sets of skills.  All of which occurs on the opposite side of the road to which we are used to driving in New Zealand.

On our first trip over here we hired a Mazda 2 – yes the one we got stuck on a corner in Vejer de la Frontera.  Tiny and all as it was the only real drawback was that it had a gearbox.  Getting into a vehicle and reaching for the gearstick and getting the doorhandle is a bit disconcerting the first time you do it.  After 30 odd years of driving so much becomes  second nature;  you jump in the car, take off and don’t really think too hard about the process until you reach your destination (hopefully safely!)  At home I often use driving time as thinking time – alas not here!   Having to consciously think about the road conditions, vehicles around you, speed limits, signage, and eventual destination, let alone finding the gearstick can only be described as a head trip – or a testament to the powers of the human brain.

Luckily this time around we’re driving an older Audi A3 which is reassuringly solid and also automatic – not having to think about gears is a great relief  and I can concentrate on driving conditions.

Spain has an enviable network of autopistas funded mainly out of EU millions.  These multi-lane superhighways are “peaje” or toll roads.  There will be a P in the designation e.g. we usually travel on the A-7 along the southern coast – locally referred to as the “carretera” or highway.  The AP-7 is the toll road paralleling the A-7 but slightly higher up and further inland.  Tolls vary between 1-2 Euros per section in winter to 15 or more at the peak of summer.  If you’re new to Spain I’d recommend the toll roads if you’re travelling any distance as the speed limit is 120km /h and there are no roundabouts, less traffic and far fewer slip lanes than on the toll free roads.  It’s worth paying the relatively small price to reach your destination quicker and with far less stress.  GPS navigation systems are all very well but not always up to date and I’m convinced they count the exits at roundabouts differently to me.

Entries and exits to motorways are far more abrupt than at home  and the lanes often don’t merge at smaller on ramps.  Th is means that if there are no gaps in traffic you’re often completely stopped before joining the motorway.  A  car that can boot it to make use of any gaps in traffic is a definite plus.  The bonus is that the slow lane really is the sloooow lane and Spanish drivers are cognizant of this.  So if you’re having a nervous day its possible to potter along in the right hand lane and no one’s going to be bothered.  Phew!

Next up – parking, scooters and the joys of roundabouts..