‘Dreams & Age Limits’, or does it?

Arlene and I decided a little while back that we were going to follow up on one of her life-long dreams, to travel the world.

Secretly, it had also been one of my ambitions, and it wasn’t until our chance meeting in Sharm El-Shiekh, nearly 3 years ago now, we found after opening our dream buckets to each other that we both wanted the same things in life; to travel to places without time limits, places you would not normally go to on your own, and places that made the mind tingle with excitement just by imagining them.

Arlene and I are both 54 now, so most of the ‘spring chicken’ has been long since worn out of us, but we are still young enough not to have given up hope on life and travel just quite yet.

However, we must all take into consideration our age, but more importantly our general fitness levels when planning out travelling that takes in any sort of physical activity such as climbing, cycling, mountaineering, or simply just long walks or treks that may involve inclines, hills and other important factors such as changes in ‘ALTITUDE’.  You can’t just pop down the old travel agent or pull up online a holiday to say Peru and expect to throw in a quick saunter up to Machu Picchu. Even the youngest of us would probably struggle without any build up training, yes that was ‘Build UP & Training’. Have I frightened any of you off yet?

As I mentioned earlier, I am now 54 and at the start of the year when I found out I was to leave my job/career of 18 years, I decided to put some of my severance pay to good use and which may benefit Arlene and me in our worldly travels. I started diving back in 1977, when Cousteau was still conquering the planet in the name of science or so we thought, and after around a 20 year lay off due to marriage and young children growing up, a change in my life’s circumstances saw me getting back into my diving with such a passion that most Psychiatrists would describe me as ‘needing severe remedial treatment’ as a result. I decided that I wanted to return to teaching Sub-Aqua, so hatched a plot whereby I would do a cross-over to P.A.D.I., dropping down initially to the ‘Dive Master’ level to get my head round their way of thinking, and to then go on and complete the Instructor Development Course followed by the Instructor Exams. Now, back in my youth going through to my early 20’s, I was sports mad and my forte was swimming, although I did represent various institutions at rugby, cross country, athletics, basket ball, etc., etc.  I gave up competition swimming roundabout 1982 when, to be quite honest, younger people were just getting faster and faster.  I spent so much time in pools training when I was younger I cringe when I walk past one nowadays.

The last 10 years of my job saw me enter the world of the White Collar worker again, and so the fitness you keep when ‘Working on The Tools’ gradually drained from me, although from 2009 onwards I have tried to get away into the Welsh mountains 2 or 3 times a year for some serious ‘Yomping’.  This was a bit of a struggle at times due to having had a motorcycle accident in 1997 where both my knees saw some serious battery.  In the last 12 months of my job, more and more meetings were taking me away for longer and longer, and the opportunity for exercise in the wilds of the mountains or just running round Draycote Water near Rugby almost but vanished.  So the decision to ‘Go P.A.D.I’ needed some serious thought along the fitness lines.  I had seen the requirements for the in-water fitness testing, and some of the times, if I was to perform well, were Olympic to say the least!

So, at just on 54 I joined the gym, not because I don’t like running around the ‘Downs’ or the Eastbourne seafront, but because the running machines in these places have built in cushioning under the roller mat which is far kinder to my knees. They also have several pools which I also needed to use to build up my in-water stamina to a reasonable level again.  My first trip went well, I drove down, the weather not being very good that day, and cracked 10k on the machine.  Blimey I thought, not bad for an out of condition old fart, but it wasn’t to last. I reduced the distance somewhat to about 6k combined with around a 6k cycle ride there and back from the house. I built up to going 3 times a week, cycling and running for 2 and cycling and swimming for the other day.

I built up a good level of stamina again thanks to the gym and passed my courses, which is what it was all about wasn’t it?  Remember Machu Picchu.


Photo courtesy of Jilly Healy (left), Course Director at Ocean College Diving, Sharm el Sheikh

Should Dreams have Age Limits?  I suppose it depends on the dream.  We also need to be practical and realistic about our physical capabilities.  In some circumstances as we become older, the abuse we gave our bodies when we were younger and less wise catches up with us.  The carrying of the outboard motor 200 yards down to the beach on your shoulder looking all Macho, or humping that gearbox up a set of Giraffe ladders on your own to fit it to a helicopter on a far too regular basis and too many other things to mention all affect our bodies.

The brain is really the thing that needs to be tamed as we age, the body’s wearing out either from over use and abuse or from accidents, but the brain tricks us into thinking we’ve still got it ‘in us’.  Well regarding some things we have, we just have to prepare for them, and in some instances do them a little slower, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop altogether.


photo courtesy of Jilly Healy as above

How about my knees and Machu Picchu I hear you say? huayna-picchu-cliff_36163_600x450


I’m preparing now and was back in the gym for the first time since my return from Egypt and my diving exams.  Little and often, little and often Peeps.

Now that I can put diving on the back burner for a while, I’ll be supporting Arlene with blog posts about various things about traveling and preparation, so keep dreaming Ya’all, and speak soon.