Raison d’être…

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With my 50th birthday, 29th December 2013, having only just scraped into 2013, the onset of my life’s sixth decade falls predominantly into 2014.

2014 … a year which initially brought me much anguish and yet, with the sincere support of family and friends, is concluding with some of the most wonderful memories one could wish for.

Having both reached the onslaught of our fifties, my dear friend, Yvonne, and I metaphorically sat down and considered compiling a bucket list; with the notion of its completion before we reached the conclusion of our sixth decade. However, following much soul searching, it was decided that a bucket list was not the answer… Instead we decided to ensure we achieved / encountered 50 new ’adventures’ before the arrival of our sixtieth birthdays.

My inauguration into such an adventure appeared quite by chance, when friends, Anne and Bernie, apologising for having to cut short our evening supper arrangement April 30th, explained the need to bottle feed their ‘orphaned’ lambs… Excitedly I asked if I could participate and so, clad in wellies and accompanied by a torch, I bottle fed my first ever lamb. He wasn’t particularly photogenic and juggling bottle, torch and phone made it almost impossible to gather a photograph of the event… Though nevertheless photographic evidence was obtained.

My second adventure, June 12th, was far less spontaneous and, indeed, the reservation of which, only served to increase my level of anxiety surrounding the event… A hot air balloon ride, a birthday gift from my ‘middle’ son Luke. As the balloon rose, high above Bristol, I plummeted into the depths of the basket, unsure that I would ever be able to ‘admire the view’, commentated upon by our trusty pilot. It took several minutes of foetal position before, believing that it was necessary to somehow engage in this occasion, I slowly uncurled, returning myself to an upright position: although in order to retain a vertical stance, it seemed necessary for me to cling to Luke’s Aran jumper, whilst ensuring I was as far away from the edge of the basket as was physically possible. This was duly noted by the pilot who not only decided I was in the greatest need of the first glass of champagne but also that I should be given the dregs from each of the three bottles… Every cloud does have a silver lining! One does wonder, however, whilst when travelling on the ground I am required to wear a minimum of a 3 point seat belt and yet, whilst suspended thousand(s) of feet in the air I am only assured of my son’s Aran jumper on which to secure myself!

The mid year, and indeed, third adventure came about following an executive decision, Claire’s! It was decided that, following the calamity of my 50th birthday, my fifty and a half birthday was to be celebrated in style. And this we most duly did. June 27th saw my return to Tewkesbury Golf and Country Park Hotel with friends in tow, where we shimmied our way through the next 48 hours. However, having solemnly sworn to and being legally bound by: “What goes on at Tewkesbury stays at Tewkesbury!”, suffice to say: champagne (spot the recurring theme!), golfers, mission impossible antics, cream tea and Room 107 – make of that what you will!

My penultimate adventure, for this first of my 10 year mission, was my participation in Go Ape. Having had the balloon experience, one may wonder why a tree top assault course would find its way onto my agenda. ‘My attendance at Jemma’s hen party’ is the simple response! I strongly believe, however, that were it not for the Groom’s ‘Auntie Angela’, I would still be suspended several feet above the Forest of Dean, although, I fervently question her mathematical abilities, as her repeated assurances of:  “You’re nearly there”, proved to be rather inept, for peering through gritted tearful eyes, accompanied by gritted teeth (camouflaging a guttural reverberation) and indeed the gritting of every cell in my body, revealed rather than “nearly there” I was not, in fact, even half way across!

And so that brings me to my final adventure for 2014, which I suspect will be my most mammoth of tasks. The beginning of a 630 mile experience ~ the walking of the South West Coast Path. A desire that has glowed within me for so many years.

Realistically it would seem this will become a 5-10 year challenge. Each of my three sons and many friends have already put their name forward for accompanying me on ‘a leg’… with the aim that all the ‘accompanying leggers’ will join me in the final leg from Worth Matravers to South Haven Point where, I guess, there will be more champagne! As a Westie without the opportunity for free speech, it may be that my devoted canine, Poppy, will also accompany me – though her capacity for walking needs to be established first!

As I embark upon this particular challenge, friends and family may recall, whilst I’ve holidayed in Cornwall, the ‘moments’ I’ve had on the South West Coast Path between Holywell Bay and Perranporth… where for me the ground swayed unnervingly, the sea rose uncontrollably and it took more than a ‘moment’ for me to: catch my breath; still my fears and continue tentatively along the path towards my goal.

This South West Coast Path ‘moment’ brings to mind the moment of my breast cancer diagnosis in 2003… where it took more than a moment for me to: catch my breath; still my fears and continue tentatively towards my goal ~ “Life and all the wonders that it holds”.

And so as 2014 surrenders to Autumn, with four of the 50 adventures having been completed, I have begun the challenge of the South West Coast Path Path with my faith, as always, unwaveringly by my side.

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