I joined the Better Blogging group at the beginning of February, a pilot scheme run by the very lovely and inspiring Judith Morgan and Marion Ryan. It’s just what I needed to kickstart me into getting the Wed’n’Fled blog back on track, and it is a joy to be a part of an abundant and varied group of people. Inspired by my fabulous fellow bloggers, here’s a little fun post to let you know a little more about me.

1. I was kicked out of my first country when I was nearly 5 years old. My Father was in the RAF, and we were stationed in Malta when Mintoff decided that the country was going to be neutral. The Maltese Government issued an ultimatum to the British Government, ordering all British personnel to leave the Island.

I vaguely remember the flight home, and being sad that I wouldn’t be starting school there – I had been really looking forward to playing on the big adventure playground in the school playing fields, which I used to see on the way to pick my brother up. How simple things are to a child!

2. I nearly drowned myself in my early years in Malta. I was swimming in the sea, and my Mum had turned away for a few moments to chat to a friend. When she looked back, I had pulled my armbands off and was merrily paddling along, but with my head almost completely underwater. She hauled me out and pumped the water out of me, and apparently the first thing I said when I’d recovered was, “That was fun, can we do it again?”!

Me and the Katana

3. Growing up around planes I wanted to be a a fast jet pilot – I am an adrenaline junky after all. This was pre-Top Gun, too!

Unfortunately I was unable to join the RAF as they didn’t have any female pilots back in the day, indeed the only way a woman could become  air crew was as a Load Master, which held no appeal for me.

So it was something that I’d always wanted to do, but had been caught in the time versus money conundrum, where you have plenty of one but not enough of the other. Learning to fly is a costly business when you’re funding it yourself.

Finally I found myself in the situation of having both, after been made redundant in January 2002. “Great”, I thought, “I’ll learn to fly”. A couple of months later I was struggling to find a new job, as the IT bubble had well and truly burst. I started to wonder if it was such a good idea to be shelling out so much dosh from a rapidly diminishing pot. I um-ed and ah-ed about continuing, but decided to go ahead – after all it was one of the few positives in my life at that time, and I didn’t want to waste the money I had already shelled out.

I was very proud to gain my Private Pilots Licence in August that year.

They call us Boat Monkeys, I can't think why!

4. I sailed across the Atlantic as part of a crew of 6 on a 46′ yacht called Southern Barracuda. We sailed from Gran Canaria to St Lucia, via an overnight stop at the Cape Verde islands to restock on loo paper.

The crossing was very slow as the Tradewinds decided not to blow that year, and it wasn’t just that we were crap sailors (honest guv!) – we were in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), and came in 69th out of around 120 boats, taking 21 days instead of the more usual 10-14. We had days when we were totally becalmed, and only managed 4 miles due to the current – it is a strange thing to be in the middle of the ocean, and to be able to swim faster than the boat is moving!

We navigated by sextant as the SatNav system that the skipper had bought for the trip turned out to be only of use in the Mediterranean. I’m actually rather proud of this (the navigating by sextant, not the dodgy SatNav!).

Other highlights included a humpback whale circling the boat for a good half an hour, which was absolutely magical.

5. I have had 30 different jobs over the years, including a many and varied selection from my globetrotting days. I won’t bore you with the whole list, but they include such gems as Lifeguard, Barmaid, Computer Programmer, Flotilla Hostess (in Yugoslavia, the year before the war), Hammock Shop Manager (the chap from the Italian Gelatiria opposite always came in for an hours snooze at lunchtime), Demonstration sales (“Easy Iron Ironing Board Cover” – I can still remember the demo if anyone wants to see it), and Grape Picker (in Australia, where I also learnt how to drive a tractor, and heard one of the worse chat up lines ever, “So, how many buckets of grapes are you getting to the vine?”).

Malta photo credit: Zé Pinho via photopin cc
Grapevine photo credit: gtall1 via photopin cc