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Hello.

I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind www.thetimeofourlives.net - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Round the world in 57 days...really?



Hello...and thanks for popping by.

I'm just getting ready for a quick whizz round the world. I'll be back on here again soon,but in the meantime.... fancy popping over to www.thetimeofourlives.net  to find out about our trip?

If you click *follow* on that site, you'll be able to follow our progress....37,250 miles, 9 countries, three very different train tracks oh....and how about the post I wrote today about missing people...and even an English autumn.... while travelling.

See what you think?  http://wp.me/p7ezGr-MV


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Turn a different corner.....

Ever been far from home....or far, far away in time from where you started....and you see a familiar face?

It just happened.

I was in my favourite coffee hang-out. I had no food in the house after a few days away... so I ordered breakfast too. While I ate, I chatted with the owner and chef, Martyn. We often compare notes about our London days....people we've met, places we've worked. Today we agreed that much of life: love, business, relationships...is down to timing. It was one of those conversations that drifts away into the middle distance...

A couple came in, and ordered food. The woman looked vaguely familiar--someone I'd been to school with, partied with, even holidayed with on a couple of cocktail fuelled teenage girls' package holidays.

Surely not. It had been more than thirty years. More than 200 miles.

I got up to pay, and tried to get a better look. It had been a long time; so I was probably wrong, and anyway, she probably thought I was a bit odd, staring back at her. I didn't want to interrupt their meal...so I left. I headed home, and three paces from my door, did an about turn and walked back up the hill, past the coffee shop and back again....and there she was. " Um.....you're ...not....erm....Sue...are you?", I tried, tentatively...now certain that I'd been right.

Yep, it was Sue. There with her partner....just days after they'd tied the knot, and in my now home-town for a brief honeymoon before heading back down south. In the few moments we had...we compared notes...jobs...children....homes...lives.

Coincidence? Fate? Both there for a reason? Or just a damn fine latte?

You can never be sure, really, can you? But I won't die wondering. And I know I'll be grinning about those "summer nights" for the rest of my Wednesday, now.

Ahhh.... timing....




Tuesday, 12 July 2016

You don't HAVE to take your clothes off....



Women around me are lying oiled and topless. 

The man beside me is stripping into shamelessly skimpy trunks; cologne reeking more strongly with each discarded layer.

This is Nice in November, and sitting alone and I'm feeling coy, British, and slightly overdressed.

Beach man half runs, half hobbles painfully over pebbles towards the glistening sea; arms flailing, throwing shapes like a drunken dad on the dance floor. After five minutes' immersion, he's mincing back over the stones to his sun-roasted shirt and shorts; scent still, inexplicably pungent.

Above the beach, the beautiful people are barely breaking sweat as they pound the Promenade des Anglais, happily lapping the designer clad walkers in the slower, 'no-look-at-me' lane, out to pose in size two Gucci, with poochie.

I'm now feeling overdressed, and overweight, in Nice.

I grab a comforting almond croissant and retreat to the cooler, shadier old town, for my own work-out: an ungainly clamber back up the near vertical, hamstring-stretching 39 steps to my rented top floor studio. It's five minutes and several centuries away from the city's blindingly bright yachts and designer stores; and thankfully so.

The sunlight's dappled here; dancing on higgledy terracotta terraces of homes so close you can inhale the heady aroma of someone else's supper;  hear who`s coming… and (cue slamming door…) who's going. You can squint at the headlines in Monsieur's "Nice Matin", opposite; or the frilly flutter of Madame's smalls on their balcony line; blushingly close.

In fact, there`s such a patchwork of scenes unfolding, that I'm tempted to stock up on baguettes, cheese and fruit from the feast of stalls in the Cours Saleya , shout “ACTION!” and stay in this royal box of a balcony for the duration. 

But with holiday clock ticking, I chase the bigger picture; the mesmerizing, breathtaking, sparkling sweep of city and shore from the wooded castle ruins high above the town. Far, far below, more beautiful beach people are home from school with their beautiful children, splashing and squealing as they play in the warm water.


Reluctant to leave the view,   I dawdle down, stopping for a crisp, skinny slice of socca, and a fat scoop of sorbet .

That's supper sorted; superfluous the next day, though after a simple, filling lunch at another Nice surprise: The April knitting café (needles optional.)

Women, mainly, meet here, away from the bustle of the city's big squares and their
everlasting lunches, to chat, eat, and create something.  Travelling alone, I find the female clientele comforting, especially when Lisa serves me her incredible cauliflower soup with bread and salad, then lemon cake and coffee. On the Ruelle de la Boucherie, this is a real sanctuary; a gem of a find.

I discover other Old Town treasures too; the minuscule but opulent, Genoese- Baroque Palais Lascaris, near tiny shops packed with soaps and shoes and spices. There are eye-popping displays for free at the gleaming Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, and just streets away, the Opera de Nice. I`m only here to ogle, but it's offering free concert tickets for that night. I grab one, gratefully, and return later, smarter; taking the tiny lift to the dizzy heights of the sixieme etage. My heart soars at magnificent Mozart from the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice with its incredibly talented young guest soloists.

Show over, I scuttle back through the dark side streets to pack; woken for my morning flight by unsynchronised bells sounding seven, from two churches; overlapping noisily, boastfully, like squabbling children.


Later, airborne, I look back at the bay, and my break. One of sated senses and uncovered secrets; but with tankini untouched, none of them, mercifully, mine. 




One of my favourite solo trips, and blogs from the last few years. Please dip in for more...or cross to thetimeofourlives.net to find out about our pretty big adventure #writearoundtheworld . ...and some pretty fab medium sized travel adventures, too....Thanks for reading !


COMMENTS:






"unsynchronised bells...overlapping noisily...like squabbling children." An amazing felicity of expression.

Jennifer M: Loved it, Jane. I was transported there instantly. You’re a natural and a loss to the BBC.Keep travelling and (not) taking your clothes off….Regards Jennifer


thank you for the journey to Nice this morning, loved it :-)

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The customer is always.....invisible..?

I'm going round the world this autumn. (Sorry if you're the last one to know....) And that involves a lot of planning, budgeting....and buying stuff for the trip. I've got one small-ish bag to carry all my clobber in, so I'm breaking the habit of a lifetime and travelling reasonably light.

That means buying clothes that suit all weathers, can be washed and dried fast, and can move seamlessly from a mountain hike to dinner..... some time later.... in a swanky restaurant (now and again). Sheesh. Anyway, I knew that finding something that wouldn't let in the wind or rain but could do me a turn in sunny San Francisco would be tough. And pricey. And when you're spending a fair bit of dosh, and need advice, you really hope you're going to find someone helpful.

Take my Lowa walking boots. I bought them a few months back at Cotswold Outdoor in Tunbridge Wells. Strolled in. Told them exactly where I was going, how much walking I'd be doing, on what kind of terrain, and how much I had in my back pocket. Sorted. The guys there knew what they were talking about, walked a lot themselves, were happy to help, and within about half an hour, they had a sale. Look. Me and my boots at Loch Lomond. Happy as anything.


Today: Hereford. Mission: to buy a light, but very waterproof jacket, that was also breathable. Possibly a couple of pairs of those glamorous trousers that morph into shorts. And, if things went well, a fleecy top. 

Three different outdoor type shops. Here's how I got on:

Shop 1: Two assistants. One admittedly busy on the till. Some good sale items on display. Tried to make eye contact and smile at Assistant Two. He looked away, said "Excuse me..." and squeezed past. To nowhere in particular. I meandered around for seven minutes or so....felt the merchandise, looked his way. Nothing. Left the shop.

Shop 2: Three assistants. All chatting. About childbirth and whether freckles were genetic, mainly. Some potential jackets in the sale. Tried one on. Looked their way. They chatted on. Put jacket back. Pulled out another one. Looked their way. Looked for Mary Portas. But the band played on. Nothing. Left the shop.

Shop 3: Four assistants. First caught my eye within moments. Came over, and asked if she could help. She was brilliant. Left me trying on jackets. Narrowed it down to a couple of options but couldn't find quite what I wanted. A second assistant took over, and confirmed that the one that might work for me was available online, at the same price, and could be delivered to my door. They (hello, Mountain Warehouse, Hereford...!) could not have been more helpful, informed, or charming. I knew there were a couple more shops to try and said I'd be back if I didn't have any luck. But I did. In one of those huge, apparently assistant-less, discount clothing stores. The service wasn't there, but the Regatta jacket was similar, and cheaper, so I bought it. A bit guiltily, to be honest, because the ladies in Shop 3 had been so good.

As for the rest of the gear I needed? I couldn't face going through all that again...so that's still on the list.

So. To shops that ignore their customers, please sharpen up your act. You're in a big battle with online sales and out of town outlets as it is. I have a budget, but it's limited, and while I don't want to be pounced on, I do want you to register that you've seen me.

Is that too much to ask? Is it just me? Or do you sometimes feel invisible, too?

(Oh...and the round the world bit. We leave on September 12th. Drop in on thetimeofourlives.net . We'll smile, say hello, and everything.....!)



Thursday, 19 May 2016

You'll never walk alone? Women and safety.


I've got a confession to make.

I'm just back from a fabulous couple of miles to kickstart my day. It's gloriously sunny, and my route took me across a little common, through a quiet, wooded area, along a tranquil path by a river, and back up through another hilly woodland track.

There were plenty of other twists and turns I could have taken. Higher up into the woods, alive with morning birdsong. Through `verdant pastures`with not a soul in sight.

But I was too scared.

I'd chosen to go out slightly later in the morning, when I knew there would be runners, dog walkers, local people enjoying the morning sun. Even then, I checked back over my shoulder three times because there was a bloke I'd noticed out alone, on the same path as me, not too far behind. Why? He was enjoying the countryside, too.

I've always loved walking or running, and my favourite time of day has always been early in the morning, when there's still dew on the grass and the birds still aren't quite sure what day it is. I love being alone with my own thoughts, or quite often, my earphones and some classic Aretha Franklin. But I'm always looking over my shoulder. And I feel resentful about that.

I have plenty of friends who clock up mile after mile on their own, especially before a big race.Trainers laced, music on; no looking back. Maybe they're fit enough to run themselves out of a
worrying situation. I'm not. I've been a member of two running clubs, and have also run with one or two friends. It's  fun,and companionable, but I'd like to yomp across a country field on my own sometimes too, without feeling scared. You know...at six on a summer's morning, when everyone else is still asleep.

I can hear my own voice, reminding me I've travelled happily alone in European cities. I've even had stuff  published about being a lone female traveller . I've strolled around New York side streets, dined in Rome with a bunch of total strangers, negotiated narrow Parisian walkways after dark....marched through London late at night as a young reporter, slightly squiffy after a hard day's writing....and a couple of hours in the pub. All of which were probably far riskier.

And now I'm away from the city, in glorious Shropshire, I can hear my sensible side reminding me that the countryside's for everyone, male or female. Run or walk through it and you feel great and lose weight. You just need to know where you are. Use a tracker on your phone. Take your earphones out in lonely areas to heighten your awareness. Pretend you're on the phone if someone's worrying you. And study the stats, for goodness' sake... it's pretty safe out there.

Trouble is.....I'm not listening to my own advice. I play it safe, and go where I know, where I'll see other people .Am I stupid? Do you feel the same, because you're female--or are you happy to roam pretty much anywhere? Maybe you could help talk some sense into me; share your tips. I'd love to hear from you!


Thanks for your comments today... most of them below. But there have been views of the blog so far from (in order...) USA, UK, Germany, Japan, Ireland, Bulgaria and Poland...that's great....but if you have a moment....say hello? :)

Important blog by Being active often means being alone (through choice or necessity).

btw thanks for intro to these ladies. I've followed ... they had me on 'cake'!
I was scared walking for so long. Somehow I don't get that fear running. Yes once or twice I've thought what would I do?
but usually I just go out and enjoy it for the pure love of it the freedom, the escapism, my time etc...

Use a tracking app. My daughter used one called ecrumb-but I think there are better(newer)

wouldn't sthg like Find My IPhone work? And I think Garmin has live tracking?


I'm not an expert, but some phone your contact if you are stationary-much safer

ah fair dos. Could backfire if you get a cramp/stop to stretch I guess!

I vaguely recall this, but not what the app was. might know?

very sad reflection on Society that you feel that way, Especially so in rural county like Shropshire

I know. I'm cross with myself! But I've always felt that way, even years ago, walking with our dog.

better to be safe than sorry. Just sad.




Friday, 8 April 2016

Why the Teme's tame for boatman Ike


Considering its beautifully tranquil setting, Ludford Bridge has had a pretty violent past. Battling factions during the Wars of the Roses, batterings from the weather`s worst, and now a mighty thwack from a weighty lorry; it's long been a troubled bridge over Ludlow's waters.

It's not surprising, then, that the locals, inconvenienced by the bridge's complete closure to cars during these latest repairs, have been squeezing past the scaffolding and warning cones on foot to check what's going on. They see the huge gap caused by the collision and the stonemasons' skilled-- but painstaking-- progress on this listed landmark.

And some of them lean over the bridge's 'good' side and spot Ike, bobbing about in his boat. They carry on with their dog walk; return an hour or two later...and find Ike's still there. And the next day, and the day after that.

"What's he doing down there then...health and safety?" chortles one elderly man. The workmen nod and smile and get on with the major task in hand.



But my curiosity gets the better of me, and four days later, I'm back to find the man you almost miss while the clever stuff's going on at road level. I'm in luck. The men are working a safe distance from the gaping hole in the bridge for a while, and so Ike's on dry land for a bit, and has time to talk.

It turns out that yes, Ike's there for 'health and safety'; yes, he's getting used to people asking whether he's caught any fish yet, and yes........nine hours bobbing about in a tethered boat is "the most boring job" he's ever done.

"Basically, yes, I sit in the boat and wait for someone to fall in--but that's not going to happen," he grins.

But it turns out that if it did...this guy's the one you'd want coming to your rescue. After a life on the ocean wave; for Ike, the Teme's tame.

A former commercial diver turned mariner, Ike--Isaac Adam-- spent around 20 years working around North Sea oil rigs on dive support vessels. Conditions were often rough; and occasionally life threatening. In 1998, for instance, his diving partner was trapped for 10 hours, 140 metres below the sea's surface.

The team had been undertaking decommissioning work on old wellheads, using explosives.

"There was a fault in the lifting gear," recalls Ike."A section of the wellhead being lifted, fell off. It just missed me, but hit his section."

It meant vital gas wires were disconnected and that the men had to get back to the diving bell, and after working at that kind of depth, had to spend four days in the ship's decompression chamber. Both were fine.

Four years later, Ike retired from diving,but rather than put his feet up, bought a 12 metre yacht and spent the next seven years sailing round the world with his then wife and son. From the UK, they headed out to Madeira, the Canaries, Cap Verdi, the Caribbean, Venezuela, through the so called ABC (Lesser Antilles) Islands to Panama...and on to the Galapagos Islands.

Their journey took them on to French Polynesia, to Tonga, and to New Zealand, where they stayed for seven months. After that, there was a year in and around Australia, with seven weeks of that stay seeing Ike laid up in hospital.

" We were on a river, and there'd been a flood," he remembers," We'd just cleared customs and were on our way but I got trapped between two yachts and smashed my pelvis."

It wasn't the only drama. Sailing between New Zealand and Australia, their yacht had hit major weather, which disabled the yacht's steering mechanism. They were 300 miles from New Zealand and found themselves having to shut themselves inside the boat, sails down; one keeping watch while the two others tried to sleep.

"But you had to sleep on the floor, not the bunks, " says Ike. "My wife tried it. The sea was so rough, she got flown out of the bunk, over the table on to the floor". When the storm eased, Ike managed to dive in, lash the broken steering system to the boat and continue repairs from the inside, using their supply of spares.

The family's amazing seven year trip also took in East Timor, Sumatra, Mauritius, South Africa--round the Cape to Capetown..on to St Helena and Tobago (a four month rest for the hurricane season there...) up to the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Azores and...eventually...to Falmouth.

Ike's been back from that trip for ten years now. These days, he often drives yachts for wealthy private owners. And, from time to time, helps a friend out manning safety boats like the one on the
Teme. So--(hopefully....) without any rescues to attend to, and with no rod and bait to help pass the time...what does he DO all day?

"I just think," says the diver, turned mariner, "I write a bit, so I think about that, too.."

I urge him to write his autobiography, pump him for a bit more information about Tonga, before my own round the world trip this autumn. And reflect on my way home how even people who appear to be doing very "boring" jobs.....are rarely ever boring, themselves......



PS: Why would I want to know about Tonga?! Thought it might make a change from Aberdovey this year. Follow me with fellow empty nester Nigel on www.thetimeofourlives.net as we finalise plans to whiz round the world.