So long 2015; its been a blast

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It seems fitting that as we move into a new year I take the opportunity to reignite my blog with a refection on the last 12 months. I have to say, I am quite sad to see the back of 2015 – it has filled my life with some fantastic opportunities and amazing memories.

Firstly, I have travelled more than i ever had before. I ended 2014 in Amsterdam, followed by a trip to Egypt a week later where I went diving with sharks on the Brothers Islands.

Then, in March i went to New York with my niece – i love, love, love this city and it was amazing to fly in a helicopter over the bright lights, watch another show on Broadway and finally go ice-skating in central park.

May saw my first experience of Eurovision and boy did I love it. I went my a friend from work, it was an impromptu trip but we managed to squeeze in sightseeing in 2 cities and a night at the Song contest too. We’ve already booked our tickets for Sweden in 2016!

In June I finally went away with the hubby (and another 20 friends) on our annual summer diving holiday to Hurghada, Egypt. I love spending time in this place with the people i now call my friends. We’ve already booked our return summer trip for 2016 too.

There was a short 3 weeks break and i was out of the country again, in July, with a once in a lifetime opportunity to the Maldives. This place was absolute paradise and it was here I got to swim with sharks, turtles and a whole horde of giant manta rays. I was literally speechless for most of the holiday and anyone who knows me, knows this is unheard of!

The next trip was a work related one, and I travelled to Changsha in the Hunan province of China. China is a country that I would never have chosen to visit but the experience really opened my eyes and I really enjoyed finding out about the Chinese culture, meeting staff and students studying at the University there and finding out more about life on the other side of the world to me.

I then travelled to Vegas a week later with another work mate and I have to say, this was one of the highlights of my year. We took a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and landed on the side of the Colorado river for a champagne picnic. This was one place on my bucket list but it was somewhere I never expected to want to come back to, but its safe to say that I will be making a return visit one day in the future. There’s still half a strip to explore and even more shopping to be done!

It was really nice to spend Christmas at home this year, after all the travelling, I was definitely looking forward to a rest, but I’ve already got itchy feet and am looking at holidays for the later half of 2016 – I most definitely have the travelling bug!

So, its fair to say that 2015 has taken me far and wide, to places I have never been before and to places I definitely want to visit again. It hasn’t all been bright lights, big cities,  fun and games. There have been days Ive cried and days I’ve been so mad and couldn’t wait for it to end. But I know that I am so lucky to be experiencing the life I have, the opportunities I have been given are not for everyone and I know that.

I didn’t actually manage to stick to any of the goals I set myself in 2015 – I was 2 books short of reading 52 this year, so Im not counting that as a complete fail – but do you know what, I actually don’t care about the goals I haven’t achieved, because I know that I have had one hell of a year with the people I love, doing the things I love, and I am so lucky to be ending the year saying so long 2015; its been a blast.



African Adventure: Day 2

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When we had arrived in Kenya on the first day, it was past midnight, so we were given some food and shown to our rooms pretty much straight away. I thought I had fallen lucky as I was offered a room to myself – little did I know this ‘room’ was actually a wooden hut outside the actual hotel. Now, it was pitch black, I had been in Kenya for about an hour, we had been travelling for an entire day and it had been far from plain sailing. The last thing I wanted to do was sleep in a hut, by myself, away from everyone else with no toilets or running water. I wanted to cry. I didn’t though, I took swift action, informed the guy who had shown me to my room that I didn’t want to stay there, and told myself I will bunk in with someone else and it’ll all be ok when I wake up in the morning. One mattress move later, I was on the floor, tightly wrapped in my sleeping bag, covered from head to toe in insect repellent and ready to drift into the land of nod. The morning was going to make everything better. I HOPED!!

Waking up in Kenya the next morning felt great, for a whole load of 2 minutes, until I remembered that it was another entire day of travelling to get to Tanzania! 2 seconds in the freezing shower I realised I could wait until later to wash, so I quickly got dressed and made my way down to breakfast. Thank god there was tea.

Travelling to Tanzania wasn’t so bad in the end, the views were quite nice and we even got to see some zebra’s in the distance. Getting off and on the bus at the border was a bit of a hassle and every man and his dog was there wanting to sell you something and even tried the old ‘put it on your arm/in your hand so you can’t refuse’ trick! Thankfully I didn’t succumb to the peer pressure and managed to gain entry into the country pretty much hassle free, which considering the previous days problems, was no mean feat!

As we got closer to Moshi – the town in Tanzania we were staying in, Kili started to appear in our sights. My god, it was huge!! You could see it for miles and it just kept on going higher and higher and bigger and bigger the closer we got.

Now, I had done my research, I knew it was about 5.5 times bigger than Snowdon  and a million times bigger than the hills I was use to walking up in Bangor – but nothing could have prepared me for this. I went pretty quiet for a while after that, until I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Don’t worry Danielle, we’ll conquer this together.”  “Yeah, yeah we will.” I replied, as positively as I could! In all honesty though, what I was actually thinking was “WILL WE???”

Why i decided to climb Kili…

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So, reality has started to sink in now, and i am fully aware of what is going to happen in the next 2 weeks. I am going to climb the world’s tallest, free-standing mountain, by myself, in Africa, with no phone signal, no bed, no shower, no toilet and no sky plus. WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING…

It seemed like a really good idea at the time. A fantastic charity, and adventure of a lifetime and Steve will definitely give in and come with me…HMMM DIDNT QUITE WORK AS I’D PLANNED.

It’s all Disney Pixar’s fault.

I didnt want to be like that old couple who wanted to do something all their life, only to find that when they finally got round to doing it, it was too late.

So without much* hesitation (*any) i booked it.

I thought fundraising £2450 was going to be the hard part. WHAT WAS I EVEN THINKING!!  Ive not even made it out of the country yet and im already realising, that for me, the hardest part is going to be my mental attitude. Overcoming the cold, the tiredness and the aching legs and having the willingness to continue to the top. I know i can do it, i just need to make sure i have that belief when i am there..

I thought that reading other people’s blogs and videos would help. In some ways it is comforting, in others, it most definitely is not.

but here i am, with 2 weeks to go, i am frantically trying to do everything i possibly can to prepare myself for what i am going to endure.

will it be good enough – definitely not. will i hate almost every minute of it – definitely yes. Will i try and sign up for another challenge the following year? Try stopping me…