Old Dog, New Tricks

Why wait until January 1st to make a resolution to follow your dreams? There is no time like the present.

Sail Around The World

Why would a 49-year old man swap a good job working at a bank in Sydney for eleven gruelling months at sea? This is a question that has followed Marc Hundleby around ever since he signed up to take part in the 2015/16 Clipper Round the World challenge. The Clipper Race is an amateur sailing challenge whose participants spend eleven months in a yacht covering over 40,000 nautical miles in a bid to circumnavigate the globe. A daunting challenge by anyone’s standards, so what on earth pushed Mr Hundleby to do it?

“I saw an advertisement on a Sydney ferry on my way to work that immediately struck a chord with me, ‘swap your daily commute for the adventure of your life’. I took a photograph of the poster and went straight to the web link as soon as I got home from work,” says Mr Hundleby. “I’ve always been adventurous, I have read many books on maritime history and spent many an hour staring out to sea wondering what it would be like to cross an ocean.”

So, handing in his notice at work, he began the arduous training process to prepare himself for a year riding the ocean waves. However, there were some challenges that it was impossible to train for.

“The challenge was not what I thought it would be. I thought I would struggle with the lack of sleep but I slotted into the routine of the watches,” says Mr Hundleby. “On some of the legs, the discomfort of the heat was difficult to deal with as there was no escape from the sun.”

Marc and his team completed their voyage and finished in a respectable mid-table position on the leaderboards – including winning the fifth leg around the south of Australia. The Clipper challenge bills itself as a life-changing experience but how has Marc found the transition back to land? “Taking time out for the race has not affected my career at all, I have only been back in Sydney a few weeks and already have a new role,” says Mr Hundleby. “The race has given me a new lease of life and greater confidence than I had before. I also have great stories to tell and amazing memories that will stay with me forever.”

If you are itching to get out on the ocean and discover your sea legs, then keep in mind this advice from Marc: “Think about what you are signing up for, a circumnavigation is not for the faint-hearted and it is a lot of hard work, but if you want to challenge yourself physically and mentally then go for it.

“Get yourself fit and make sure you have the right equipment and clothing to ensure you are comfortable as it is certainly no champagne cruise.”

Start A Band

Who would not want to be a rock star? The adoring fans, the excitement of hearing your songs on the radio. Oh, and the groupies – let us not forget the groupies. And while you may have played a bit of guitar when you were younger, unfortunately life gets in the way. Work, marriage and kids come along and before long your guitar sits in the loft gently weeping.

Yet, the dream never goes away, well, at least it did not for Joan Anderman. Working as a music critic for The Boston Globe in the USA, a lifetime of meeting the world’s biggest bands left her with an itch she just could not scratch. So, at the age of 50, she took the decision to leave it all behind and become a musician.

She recruited three friends from the Boston area and in 2013 they formed Field Day. Her fellow bandmates have not yet taken the plunge to quit their jobs but they are committing more time to it. “When the band formed in 2013, John, Dan, and Phil all had day jobs and Field Day was purely extracurricular,” explains Ms Anderman. “Several months ago, John left his job for a variety of reasons, and Dan may do the same later this year. Both will continue to work, but they will also have more time to focus on the band.”

Do they still harbour hopes they could experience the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle? “The beauty of starting a band at this stage of life is that we’re not driven by commercial aspirations or dreams of stardom. That said, we’re thrilled when a Field Day song comes on the radio, or we play to a packed house in New York City,” says Ms Anderman. “What we want to do is to develop as songwriters and performers, to make records that we’re proud of and to play great shows.”

Rock music has always been a young person’s game, so how do they feel about playing to audiences full of twenty-somethings? “We’ve found that audiences don’t care about age. They care about hooks and rhythm and words and spirit. It’s harder to get our peers out to a 10 or 11pm set but once we do they’re as pumped as teenagers,” laughs Ms Anderman.

So, would she recommend retrieving that old guitar from the loft, squeezing into those old ripped jeans and handing in your notice. Right, Joan?

“It’s such a personal choice and not an easy one. But if you have the ability and courage to make a change, and to stop worrying about what other people think, you may come to realise that money is not the only form of currency in life.

“When I was working up the courage to leave my job I taped a Goethe quote up on the wall as a kind of beacon in the night: ‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it’. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

Fly A Plane

Who could forget the first time they saw an aeroplane as a child: the feeling of anything being possible encapsulated in that sleek metal frame. One can safely assume this emotion is what forms the basis of someone wanting to be a pilot.

One such pilot, Nick Deeks, a 48-year old businessman from St Albans, has his own fond childhood memories of flying. “Flying has always been a dream; I still love the smell of aviation fuel at airports. I remember the first time I smelt it, before a flight to Dublin aged about six to see my grandparents. I still love that smell, even though I fly somewhere in the world once a week for work,” explains Mr Deeks.

After a friend informed him at a party that flying lessons were not as expensive as he feared, Mr Deeks booked a lesson with Flight Training London, but learning how to fly has not been as simple as he hoped: “I thought I’d be a natural pilot. I am not. It has not come easily to me. Even taxiing is not as easy as one might expect.”

“You have a steering wheel-shaped controller in your hand, but steering on the ground is controlled by the rudder, which you use by moving the foot controlled pedals. Nothing happens if you move the wheel and it feels counterintuitive to steer with your feet, so I suppose if you can rub your stomach while tapping your head you’re half way towards being a pilot!”

Little by little, he improved and before long it was time for him to take his first solo flight.

“Take off and the initial stages of the flight whizzed by. I was busy doing safety checks, making sure I was at the right altitude. I didn’t register I was on my own until I turned on to ‘Final’. I remember thinking: ‘What am I doing here? I have a mortgage, kids, a wife and here I am flying a plane towards the ground with no one to help if it goes wrong!’

“The landing was fine and the air traffic controller congratulated me on my first solo once I had come to stop. It’s a real Cheshire cat-grin moment. It’s a relief you didn’t break the plane, but above all, it’s a total sense of achievement. It proves you mastered the essentials of flying. You are a pilot.”

Whether you are looking to fly as a hobbyist pursuit, wanting to fly to your holiday home or fancy taking those first steps to getting behind the controls of a 747, there is a lot to love about flying.

“Learning to fly is a challenge. It’s fun, it’s rewarding and leaves you with a great sense of achievement and lets you see things from another perspective,” Mr Deeks explains. “Anyone can learn, so it’s not like a sport where natural aptitude is essential. All you need is the right mind set and a willingness to achieve.”