A Year of Challenges and Adventure..... and did someone say airshow season is here?

As the clock struck midnight and the party swung into 2018, my friend asked me "What's your New Year resolution?" and it got me thinking....

Those of you reading this who follow my lifestyle and aviation account on Instagram (@vintagedakota1) will know that I decided to start new things in 2018 rather than doing the tradition of giving things up. 2018 is going to be the year of positivity and challenge. Here's bit of an update of how things have gone so far and what I'm doing in May; my adventure month! 

In January, I started running again, having not really run much since the Edinburgh Marathon in 2011. I had forgotten how much I loved being outside and pushing my body to go faster and to be stronger. It was this month that I signed up for the Eden Half Marathon and declared I would run for charity: Lymphoma Action after my mum was diagnosed in 2017. (I also stupidly agreed to wing walk for the same charity if we raised £1250, which of course you amazing people made possible! Thank you!)

In February, I tried veganism. This came about after watching an interesting interview with an animal rights activist. He delivered his argument in such a non-aggressive, articulate way, he had me convinced. I enjoyed the changes to begin with but I think it is such a massive lifestyle change, it became problematic with the boys. I now try and remain vegan for at least two days of the week but I do love meat and cheese a bit too much to totally give up. 

In March, I walked or rather stepped 10k a day minimum. This challenge I loved! I continue to do this daily, although it is especially hard on days where I have been desk bound editing or marking papers. But the running has helped here too and together it has meant that for any journey under a mile, I have ditched the car and I now walk. Sometimes I can be seen running to the local shops with my backpack like some mini marine commando! 

April was interesting. I interacted positively with at least one person a day, passing on a compliment or acknowledging something good they had done. This came about following an article I read on Twitter by the charity MIND regarding the need to raise awareness for mental health and to diminish the stigma that being mentally ill is a weakness. If you haven't read it, there is the story of the college student in America who was suicidal and on his way home with all his college books. He was about to take his own life. He dropped the books and a fellow student scooped them up and carried them home with him. They became great friends. On graduation, the student publicly thanked his friend for saving his life. His actions made the difference and we can all potentially have that impact on someone's life. After a heartbreak a few years ago when my world went a bit upside down, there were two people in particular who kept me strong. They probably didn't even know at the time of the difference their care meant but it did. If anyone reading this relates to these emotions and feelings, please open up. There will always be someone who will lend an ear to listen and a shoulder to support. In this big old world, we are not alone. Samaritans are currently running a campaign called #smalltalksaveslives. They offer a 24/7 365 day helpline for free on: 116 123.

I found it interesting how we are not great at accepting compliments and are often suspicious of other's kindness. It's given me food for thought and made me look at myself a bit deeper. 

And now it's nearly May... May is bit more of an adventure than a challenge and has been a few months in the planning. I kept it quiet because there were lots of factors that needed to come into play and I think now, bar the weather, we are all set to go! 

So it started in late 2017 when my friend, James Wheeler, contacted me. He mentioned he had been talking to aviation photographer, Darren Harbar and had suggested me as model for Darren's Best of British photography course in May at Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Darren leads a series of courses there throughout the year and is well known for his published work in various magazines. When Darren contacted me, it was no brainer! I get to dress up in my favourite style of dress (1940's) with some beautiful aircraft on one of the most historic airfields. I met with Darren at Old Warden recently and was honoured to be shown around the Shuttleworth Collection. If you have yet to visit, I urge you to do so. The hangars are full of beautifully maintained aircraft and vehicles from yesteryear. Oh and the smell... the smell of the hangars is just dreamy. The grounds at Old Warden are also so beautiful; the bridges were a personal favourite of mine. Well worth a wander!


So on Friday 11th May, I will be on the other side of the lens, which does take me out of my comfort zone. I may be the selfie queen but there is a difference when you can't see what is being taken. Eeeek!

The adventure does not stop there though.. and this is where the weather best be kind. One night, I received a very generous charity donation from the other side of the pond from my friend Mark (@photog130 on Instagram) for my run and wing walk fundraiser (Justgiving page linked here) .  We were discussing Lymphoma as we both had a personal connection to the illness. We then got onto the subject of Duxford and Mark showed me a picture of the Wacky Rabbit, the lovely Harvard (Texan T6 as Mark says; potato/potato!)that Mark had taken when he visited the UK.  I happened to tag Andrew Goodall in the image that Mark had posted and from there things began to snowball. The Wacky Rabbit is based at Duxford and Andrew kindly offered to show me around her when I'm there for the photography day. It also happens to be my birthday weekend (yeah for cake!) and when Andrew found out, he arranged for me to go on an aerobatic, that's right people,  an aerobatic flight in her with him.... Ok,  so who is laughing now because we all know I'm an eternal earth sign with bit of a fear of flying (unless it is taking me to the Caribbean with a gin and movie!). I did have to take time to think but having been reminded by my dear friend, Nigel Wood,  that I need to step out of my comfort zone this year, I have gratefully accepted! Double eeeeek! It is being pitched as good practise for the wing walk (which I am having nightmares about but that's a different story altogether!) As the months have gone on, I am actually really excited about the weekend at Duxford and am kind of wishing the days away. 

Duxford May 2017 - Wacky Rabbit-3.jpg


I will of course give a full blog of my experience but in the meantime, if anyone else would also like to book a flight in the "Wabbit" the packages on offer can be found on the website here and details of Darren's photography courses can be found here

So that's May... next weekend sees the first airshow for me at Abingdon where I can't wait to catch up with Jason, Mark, Nigel, Claire and of course Poppy (she now has her own IG account: @thedanishpoppstry - well worth a follow, literally the most gorgeous dog ever!) so loads of images to follow.

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera

Love Carly x

*All charities, businesses and products mentioned and linked in this blog have been done so on my own accord and for no personal financial gain.