How to follow paragliding.



Goodness me. I can’t believe that it’s July already. This year is flying by. Since making a conscious decision about three years ago to ‘get out there and start living,’ time seems to be passing faster and faster. I don’t have a ‘bucket list’ as such, but I’ve made up my mind to try as many new experiences as I can and so far this year is providing me with a fair amount of challenges and adventures.

2014-02-09 22.52.19So far I’ve; gone on a girly holiday to Las Vegas, where I also visited the Grand canyon and Hoover Dam; performed with the choir before an adjudicator at the Chipping Norton music festival,we were awarded a distinction; been part of a group providing backing vocals on a CD by a local Witney singer called Phil McMinn and I’ve para glided off a 1,700m high mountain. All this while doing my first level 2 module for my Open University degree. They’ve all been very exciting and enjoyable in their own way, but so far the paragliding is definitely in the top spot.

Phil McMinn and choir.

Phil McMinn and backing singers.

Some of life’s experiences and adventures can be hard to follow. Paragliding off a 1700m high mountain you would think would be one of them. In many respects it is. So what could a ‘mature lady of a certain age’ possibly do to follow a paragliding experience without feeling disappointed.

A. Sky diving? 

B. Pot holing?

C. Going into space?

D. None of the above.


The answer is D. None of the above.

In the two weeks following my paragliding experience, I participated in something that I found not only equally as exhilarating, but actually more terrifying.What on earth could that be? Would you believe singing?

Me singing solo

Me singing ‘You’re just too good to be true’.

Anyone who knows me or follows my blog will know that I’m no stranger to singing. In fact I do it all the time and have even been known to sing a solo or two. So what made this time different?

Earlier on this year, Brian, from Woapa, was approached by Opera Anywhere,  an opera company based in Oxfordshire and asked if the choir would be interested in forming the chorus for a couple of productions of the Mikado they were planning to perform. As it’s not our usual style of music, Brian asked for a show of hands to see how many would be interested. Having never taken part in a Gilbert and Sullivan production before, I was one of the first to raise my hand. Another adventure to add to my list. This proved to be more of a challenge than I thought.

Although familiar with some of the songs form the show, being an alto, I had to learn the alto part. Our rehearsal time consisted of 6 x 3/4 hour sessions, one of which I was unable to attend. I’ve never felt so unprepared for anything in my life. It was a bit like one of those nightmares where you’re sitting an exam that you haven’t studied for. But undeterred, I decided to go for it and just mime the bits that I was unsure of.

Mikado 4

Cast and chorus of the Mikado at St Leonard’s church.

Waterperry amphitheatre

Waterperry amphitheatre.

We performed it twice. The first time in St Leonard’s church, Eynsham, which was OK because it was dark and we couldn’t see the audience. But the second time we performed it was at Waterperry open air amphitheatre. We started the performance at 6pm as there was to be an hour’s interval to allow people to have a picnic. That was quite scary. Not only could we see the audience, but they were right beside us. This was a week after the first performance and I’d been practising all week and felt a bit more confident. That is, until I saw their faces and how close they were going to be. There was only a small gap between us and them.

Picnic at Waterperry

Picnic at Waterperry

But I needn’t have worried. The audience loved it. Some of them even joined in the singing. The sun shone and we had a lovely picnic during the interval.  All in all it was another wonderful experience.

So what’s next? Well, I’ve applied and been accepted to perform as part of the chorus for a performance of Handel’s Messiah in the Royal Albert Hall,  London. Fortunately it doesn’t take place until the end of November so I have plenty time to practice.

It’s hard work fulfilling my mission to prove that life can still be an adventure. But so much fun. That reminds me. I must find out when Phil’s CD is going to be released…….

Mikado finale

Mikado finale at Waterperry.

Photos courtesy of:

Deryn Mungal

Brian Conroy

Isabel Johnstone






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