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Sharon Cain
Time for Life Correspondent
4:00 AM 16th January 2022
lifestyle

What New Experiences Will Blow You Away?

Throwing caution to the wind: Images by Steve Hare.
Throwing caution to the wind: Images by Steve Hare.
For many of us, half way through January sees the diet ditched and the gym membership dispensed with.

The same, however, can’t be said about our lifelong passion to pursue our dreams which take on more significance at this time of year.

Our Time for Life Correspondent, Sharon Cain, shares her experiences of how, once you’ve stepped back from the grind to embark on a new life adventure, life will never be the same again!


Flamboyance of flamingos, New Year’s day, Calpe.
Flamboyance of flamingos, New Year’s day, Calpe.
The Freedom of Letting Go

Just over two years ago before the advent of Covid, we moved to being semi retired and embarked on a journey - the outcomes of which we could never have anticipated in a million years.

This included being robbed in our motorhome within our first two weeks travelling and being caught up in the European Covid lockdowns twice. We were also homeless after renting out our house for 12 months just two weeks before the World Health Organisation declared the virus a global pandemic.

Needless to say we’re still here to tell the numerous tales, and richer in many ways for our experiences!

Taking the Plunge

Taking the plunge to savour your ‘golden years’ and the anticipation and excitement of what they’ll bring is invariably the hardest part.

Immerse yourself: sensational surfing in Sagres.
Immerse yourself: sensational surfing in Sagres.
After being conditioned to consistent deadlines and tough schedules working full time, when we grabbed leisure time and holidays, we packed so much into a short time that we often returned more exhausted than when we left.

Over the last two years we found that making a life plan, while remaining flexible and open minded, stood us in good stead.

While it is understandably impossible and, depending upon commitments, impractical to plan in the utmost detail your daily, weekly or monthly schedule - setting a vision and goals is key.

Our plan was to test out the experience of motor homing which has enriched our lives in so many aspects.

Window on the world: Loire Valley views from our motor home.
Window on the world: Loire Valley views from our motor home.
Your goals do not need to entail trekking to the far flung corners of the world. They can be closer to home and include taking up yoga, cookery courses, gardening or fly fishing.

Some hobbies, like walking and hiking, can be enjoyed anywhere, and the benefits of going the extra mile are invariably rewarded with spectacular views

Walking rewards: panoramic views over Benidorm.
Walking rewards: panoramic views over Benidorm.
Turn Tribulations into Celebrations

Having ventured up Yorkshire’s Three Peaks, we’d never got round to climbing Ben Nevis which we tackled during a motor home trip to sample Scotland’s heart stopping scenery.

Dominating and deceptively dangerous: Ben Nevis.
Dominating and deceptively dangerous: Ben Nevis.
We embarked on this adventure because we couldn’t get back into our house which was only half way through its rental agreement. Faced with the choice of finding a house to rent or tour Scotland, we went for the latter.

Towering at 1,345 metres above sea level, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland and the UK.

Dominating the skyline of Fort William and the surrounding areas, it is ascended by around 150,000 people every year, with several fatalities due to climbers not wearing correct clothing.

Rescue helicopter reflects mountain dangers.
Rescue helicopter reflects mountain dangers.
We saw this foolhardiness at first hand on our descent when stopping to help a woman who had twisted her ankle and was distressed and in pain. She was wearing flimsy pumps instead of walking shoes and had insufficient warm clothing.

Those who are unprepared, ratchet up extortionate costs for the Mountain Rescue Service which we also witnessed in action.

If you’re contemplating it, Ben Nevis is a tough climb and was shrouded in mist at the summit during our climb. We set off in glorious sunshine but it gets bitterly cold at the top.

I personally found it a very tough challenge but my lingering memories are not of the aches and pains, but the happiness of a young couple who got engaged at the summit, proudly showed us their ring, and practically ran back down the mountain to celebrate!

Raw beauty: Unst, Britain’s furthermost northerly point.
Raw beauty: Unst, Britain’s furthermost northerly point.
Our magical Scotland trip, which took us to the Hebrides, Orkneys and Britain’s furthermost northerly point in the Shetlands, emphasised for us how important it is to grab opportunities while you can. You may not get a second chance.

Feed Your Mind and Body

Historical treasure: Chateau de Saumur.
Historical treasure: Chateau de Saumur.
Being transported into another world and delving into the past, whether at home or abroad, can be stimulating and satisfying.

We love wondering around castles, both further afield and in Northumberland which, at 70 strong, boasts the highest volume of castles in England.

During our latest explorations, we explored the truly majestic Chateau de Saumur in the Loire region. A symbol of its beautiful city Saumur, the fortress was converted into a palace by the Dukes of Anjou. Another castle on our list and much closer to home is Alnwick Castle, which featured as the magical Hogworts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in three of the

New horizons: sunset in Sagres, Portugal.
New horizons: sunset in Sagres, Portugal.
Turning your aspirations into reality starts one step at a time. As 2022 swings into action after a tough couple of years, what new pastimes, travels and experiences will catapult you to new heights?

You can read more about Sharon and Steve’s eclectic lifestyle and travel experiences at www.leaveworktotravel.com