Wednesday, 3 April 2013


Tonight I'm sat here having abandoned a day at work due to a cold that has essentially flattened me. Over the weekend I overdid things, not only have some of the pressures of life been overtaking me but I've essentially been failing to rest. A new job, stresses at home and then a weekend spent out in the cold have all served to teach me a lesson - in order to progress, sometimes you just have to sit back a while.

There are things in my life I'm not happy with, others that I am and some halfway between. Everything takes work, the question really is whether the amount of work necessary is really worth it. Are the efforts you make the things that define you or is your identity more than just the sum of your efforts? There was a time where I could have told you exactly who I was with absolute certainty. Sadly I fear I lost that certainty somewhere and I'm only just trying to rediscover it.

Sounds deep doesn't it? Well perhaps it is. I've been needing to take stock of things for a while now, too many things have left me scared, insecure and basically burying my head in the sand because of the uncertainty. I've always known that to get to where I want to be will take commitment and effort, the real difficulty has been in defining where the destination should actually be.

Being back at work and doing something that finally feels like the kind of challenge I should be working on is fantastic. I put a vast amount of effort into winning this contract and I'm not going to stop now - I love to work hard at things that are tangible, where the fruits of my labours may actually be worth something. So few of the things I've been doing over the past few years have felt that way that I think I'm very lucky to have stumbled back into a part of my old identity.

Lots of things are going to be hard for me in the coming years. Everything will be a fight to reach my goals, but so long as I keep focus, retain the hunger and never lose sight of the strength I've always had buried inside, then I know damn well that I will get there - just watch me, I was born to fly!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

blasting away the cobwebs

Well, I went flying again yesterday, in my own aeroplane. Yes, after nearly 3 months of work and waiting she is back in the air and boy does it feel good.

My flying was terrible and the test yielded a couple of very minor issues, but I don't think I've felt such a huge relief and sheer joy in a very, very long time. There's definitely something comforting to the soul about seeing the vast expanse of blue sky rolled out below you!

Now I can look forward to really getting back in the saddle and preparing to start competing again (the first competition of the season is at the end of March and I need some serious practice). I've managed to build up a pretty reasonable base level of fitness and strength again over the past few months, and I will continue working hard on improving it further, but at least I'm in a very good position to gain as much as I possibly can from my flying and training.

Essentially I think that physical fitness, whilst on the face of it, not obviously all that essential for a competition flyer, makes a huge difference to performance. There are some huge forces involved when flying competition aeros - my body experiences forces that can vary very rapidly between +6g and -4g and this is hugely tiring. That coupled with the extreme levels of concentration and focus required for the entire flight duration really does make for a sport that takes a huge amount out of you. Last year I was climbing out of the aeroplane after a 10minute sortie feeling like I'd just run a marathon - no exaggeration. There may not be all that many calories burned, but the mental exertion is greater than anything else I've ever experienced.

Thus, the fitter I am, the better I can cope with the demands I place on myself during a flight, and the more quickly I recover afterwards - which in turn means I can manage to undertake more meaningful training in a day (of course at the moment the real show-stopper here is actually finance, but fingers crossed that's going to change soon). My gym obsession may well come into its own!

From this point on you'll most likely find me somewhere between praying for good weather, beasting myself in the gym, at the climbing wall or out on the trails, or back up in the sky with the biggest grin on my face :-)

Thursday, 14 February 2013

new goals for me

Sat in the gym last night, panting and hallucinating mildly after pushing myself perhaps a tiny bit too hard for too long on the mountain bike 'simulator' (yes, really and it's actually really good to use - an exercise bike attached to a computer game!), a few thoughts swam across behind my eyes and I found myself wishing for a notepad. I didn't have one handy, so no doubt my hazy next day recollections of what I wanted to write down will be missing a few key bits but hey, that's life.

Basically as I sat there feeling absolutely exhausted and not a little bit sick, I remembered vaguely what it was like to once be really fit. That got me to thinking about this year and what I really want to do and achieve for myself. This morning I've been reading a few of my friend Lynne's recent blog posts about how her state of fitness and goals are coming along (have a look-see, she writes nicely! Seeing her looking stupendously slim and fit, and reading about her fantastic training regimes has helped me clarify a couple of my own aspirations, not just for the year but for however long they take. I'm sure as my postings go on, more bits will get added to the 'lists' too.

I figure that writing all of these down will somehow help to organise things in my mind, so forgive me if this all sounds a little odd or a bit dull.

Life in general

  • Gain a proper income again
  • Stop worrying about money
  • Learn to paraglide and take up paramotoring
  • Get fitter and regain 6-pack (lose the flab!)
  • Get back into mountain biking regularly
  • Buy a cyclocross bike and use it to go places
  • Use the car less
  • Get back into running regularly
  • Use the gym 3+ times per week, every week
  • Do at least 20 pull-ups each day
  • Go to the climbing wall at least once per week
  • Get back into lead climbing
  • Boulder consistent V4 again

  • Run a marathon
  • Continue getting fitter
  • Get another motorbike


  • Do my first displays and airshows
  • Compete in the British Nationals at Intermediate and claim my bursary
  • Learn to tumble
  • Do more flat spinning and inverted flat spinning
  • Learn to tailslide
  • Learn to do negative flick rolls
  • Go to more places just for the hell of it
  • Do some night flying
  • Do some instrument flying (IMC?)
  • Build up display business
  • Gain a CRI rating (become a Class Rating Instructor to be able to do tailwheel and aerobatic training for existing pilots)

More to come!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

living the dream

Living the dream, or should I say 'living a dream' is surprisingly hard work.

I was driving home from the gym tonight, shoulders aching like hell after once again doing too much, partially drifting away into my own little world hidden behind the pools of light in front of the car when a thought struck me - this is what living a dream is really like.

The past few weeks have been hard. Very hard. Each day I get up and have to force myself to do something. Who knows, in a few weeks I may well be back working and the stress and shame of being completely broke will be gone, but for now it hurts. I couldn't even afford to pay my aircraft insurance renewal last week, I had to beg help. This is definitely a low point.

The dream isn't glamorous. It's just plain hard work. The flying part of being a display pilot is only a tiny fraction of what it actually takes, especially when you're breaking into the airshow world. The glamour just doesn't exist - I spend my time playing with websites, gathering contact details, writing and sending hundreds of emails, drawing up flyers and logos and graphics, battling to just keep some semblance of sanity. All this time I've not even had the sanity check of flying my little beast - the process of modifying an aeroplane is a very long winded one, involving much heartache, huge amounts of expense and some very frustrating periods of waiting, and waiting and waiting some more - all whilst the powers that be try to make a decision over whether or not you should actually be allowed your modification.

To those of you that fly but have never owned an aeroplane, you may think you have an idea what it must be like but trust me, the frustrations of waiting on paperwork and engineers is barely bearable at times. I should just take the opportunity to say thanks to my friends for at least allowing me to get airborne, the sky really is a beautiful place to be, whatever craft you happen to be in.

I guess every dream has its own nightmare that has to go along with it - something about being no light without darkness. I know, I'm prattling, but in all honesty if anyone decides to try to live their dream and doesn't reckon with having to cope with a whole heap of hardship, effort and tears along the way then they're going to have a rude awakening. Just as light needs darkness, endeavours need to be difficult in order to really be worth while - why bother throwing everything you have into something if it's not going to be a challenge? Maybe it's just me, but victories are much sweeter when they're hard won.

How many other people actually do this, I mean really do this. How many choose to make a dream reality, despite huge odds stacked against them? To all of you doers and dreamers out there, I'm with you.


It's been over a year since I visited this old blog of mine, let alone updated it. Basically my life has changed, dramatically.

I'm no longer living in the mountains, now my life is primarily confined to the flat-lands of Cambridgeshire. A big part of me misses Wales, the hills, my friends, my old climbing/biking/running/outdoors lifestyle, but there's an even bigger part of me that knows my current course in life is where I need to be. At least for now.

So what's happened? I wrote before about my getting into aerobatic flying, and, well, that's essentially what happened and where my life is now. I own my own aeroplane, I'm the current British Female Aerobatic champion and I'm also a newly qualified airshow and display pilot. I know, wow huh?

Flying it is then!

That said, I still have the mountain bike, I hit the climbing wall in Milton Keynes as often as I can and I head to the gym several times a week too (I may have spent several months doing nothing, got a bit fat and panicked - hence I'm back to being a fitness obsessive again and actually I do rather like it). Once I've gotten a work regime sorted out and some money again I'll be heading out to the hills for some therapy whenever I can too - I know my roots.

I guess I should mention where it is that I've been in online terms, because whilst I've not been posting here, I have been posting flying stuff on my aerobatic blog - The Aerobatic Project and I've built another website for myself in order to promote and try to sell my display flying - Please head over to either and/or both and take a look - let me know what you think!

So why am I back here, and why now? Basically I wanted to come back here to revisit something of my old way of life, and to rekindle my old style of writing. I basically want an outlet again, somewhere I can write about the every day, mundane and 'normal life' type things I think about. The Aerobatic Project is really all about being a new face in the competition flying world and what that's like, so there's no place there for me waffling on about the odd thoughts that strike me in the gym. Hence, I'm back!

Apologies right now if some of the things I write about are boring, or just downright weird. Hopefully I'll come out with a few things that may actually be of interest too.

To all of you that are still here, wow. Thank you for bearing with me!