Inspiring Women 5: Nicole Morelli

In this 5th Inspiring Women post, I catch up with the brilliant Nicole Morelli, founder of Menopausal Mermaids, a local cold-water swimming group. Here’s Nicole’s  in-a-nutshell bio:

1. She’s a 49-year-old mum of two girls, Lucia (8) and Giannina (6)
2. She sells delicious ice-cream! (You can find her at Morelli’s To Go ice-cream parlour.
3. She’s based in Portrush, Northern Ireland.

And here’s the interview 🙂 :

1. You’re the founder of the Menopausal Mermaids, a local sea-swimming group for women (and the odd merman or two). Can you tell me a little bit about how it all started? I was recovering from a hip replacement and was feeling pretty rough (heavy medication etc.).  I was at a birthday party in the beautiful Arcadia in Portrush and I got chatting to a friend, Maggie Purdy, who has blood pressure issues. We couldn’t take our eyes off the sea: there and then we decided to meet the following day for a swim -the rough sea just looked so inviting! I think we lasted about 2 minutes but the buzz and laugh we had brought us back the very next day.

2. How many members do you have now and how does it all work? We have over 200 members now between our Facebook and WhatsApp group! Most of it’s been word-of- mouth: people have heard about us or seen us and have just turned up on the beach asking to join us. It’s fantastic!

3. What do you think the main benefits of sea-swimming are – in general and particularly for post-menopausal women? The changes I have seen in myself and others are night and day! The high you get on coming out of that cold water: you feel so brave you feel you can do anything! I’m off all of my pain relief medicine now (I have osteoarthritis). There are women in our group with many forms of arthritis, angina, blood pressure issues, depression, skin issues. Every one of those women is feeling the benefits physical  and mentally from sea-swimming.

4. If people want to have a go at sea-swimming themselves, what advice would you give to them? Never swim on your own. It’s much more fun and safer to have someone with you! Get changed as quickly as possible after and bring a hot drink with you to help heat up your core! Hooded towels are a must and a bottle of warm water for you sandy feet!

5. Sea-swimming seems to be really taking off. Why do you think that is? It should be on prescription! I think people are hearing and reading about the benefits and the best part is that it’s free 🙂 .

6. What has sea-swimming given to you that you didn’t expect? It has given me a confidence in my body that I’ve never had before. I feel strong and invincible when I leave the water – not to mention the amazing friendships I have made which I know will last a lifetime.

7. What are the most memorable Menopausal Mermaid moments from the last 2 years? Last June we all got together for a swim and picnic at East Strand Portrush. We brought our kids, our husbands,and our partners. We stayed for hours chatting, swimming, and eating; and our kids who had never met just played. It was a wonderful day, considering we were strangers to each other only a few months before.

8. What’s next for the Menopausal Mermaids? Our group is growing every week (we get at least 4 new member requests a week). We just want to keep on swimming! We have a golf group now also, we meet and play once a month; we also have cinema nights, dinners and lunches. I never thought it would become so social but it has and it’s fantastic.

You can find out more about open water swimming on the Outdoor Swimming Society websiteI’m yet to join the Menopausal Mermaids for an adventure, but I’m feeling the call of the sea 🙂 In the meantime,  I’m just going outside and may be some time. (By the way, if you’re new to my blog, you can find more out about my #OldDogNewTricks project here.)

Going with the Flow

Today I’m video-blogging for a change! In the video-blog I talk about some of the unusual things that have been happening over the last two weeks:

  1. Experiencing a sentient landscape.
  2. Hearing my flow voice.

I’ve popped details of the books I mention, along with info about the CrossFit Open heats and Olympic lifting sessions, below the video-blog.

Alan Garner’s Thursbitch Every inch of this book is breathtaking: from the vivid language (which you need to tune your ear to, but the effort is well worth it) to the awe-inspiring depiction of a sentient landscape (a landscape that has a presence and that can feel yours); and from the interweaving of ancient rites and echoes from the past with a shifting and uncertain present to the gradual melting of boundaries in the liminal space that is the Thursbitch valley. 


Steven Kotler’s The Rise of Superman This is all about what ‘flow’ is and how to create conditions to access it (even when you’re not an adventure sports junkie 🙂 ). I’m about halfway through and just getting onto the ‘how to’ bit. I’d say you need to be prepared to wade through a lot of stuff about men doing daredevil stuff (and couched in sports-technical terms) to get to the real juice, but it is worth sticking with. (Shame more women don’t get a mention. In fact, no women mentioned so far ….)

Here’s what I’ve been learning in the Olympic lifting technique sessions over the last 2 weeks (clean and jerk):

And here are the last two heats I’ve completed in the CrossFit Open 2019. For 19.3 I managed all the lunges and box step-ups but couldn’t manage a single handstand press-up (even though I had plenty of time!). For 19.4 I managed 4 rounds plus 6 pull-ups (so 16 pull-ups in total). The pull-ups were the limiting factor for me 😦 .



I’m just going outside and may be some time 🙂


Hopping Mad

It’s been an eventful week in the Big Adventure House! I had my first sprint coaching session on Tuesday. Powerlifting has powered right down (it was a de-load week, which means that I still lifted but the weight was cut to give me some rest). Wednesday’s singing lesson focused on keeping the energy up (Gilbert & Sullivan doesn’t half take it out of you). Lots of improvements came in the pool (an unintended, but very welcome, consequence of doing two recovery sessions in the pool a week); and I completed my first heat in the CrossFit Open 2019. The CrossFit competition is not part of my official adventure schedule, but CrossFit forms an important part of my training regime, so I thought I’d give it a whirl (and I think it’s going to help me up my game 😉 ).

400/800m Training
(Background image sourced from Wikimedia Commons.)  My first coaching session with Richard focused on some of the drills I need to do to help with speed, balance and power. There was quite a bit of jumping, a fair old bit of hopping and a load of leaning 😉 . By the end of the session, my body had picked up the basics, and I’ve added the following drills to my current running sessions:

3 x 20m flys (falling into a lean and then sprinting as fast as I can)
5 x 10m jumps (leaning from the ankles, pulling from the belly button forwards)
5 x hops (R leg)
5 x hops (L leg)

I’m not sure what the neighbours make of all my hopping and jumping (there was actually a bit of curtain-twitching this morning), but I can tell you what I make of it: it’s harder than it looks (and my buttocks and hamstrings are working like they’ve never worked before!).

I think there’s something to learn from the lean itself. It’s not just about the clear psychological parallel (we’re all probably au fait with Brené Brown’s notion of leaning into vulnerability and her books such as ‘Daring Greatly’ by now). It’s also about what happens inside your body when you lean from the very bottom of you (your ankles). When you lean like this, everything feels ‘joined up’ and you can literally feel the core of yourself ‘waking up’ and working for you. And it’s not just your physical core. It feels like you’re bringing your whole self to the lean: to the EDGE. I’m still unpacking what this means, but this is where I’m at with it right now.

In the Pool
I won’t be tackling the butterfly until July, but I’m already in the pool twice a week to help with recovery from running and powerlifting (it really helps with mobility and flexibility). At the moment, I can’t do more than two strokes of butterfly before The Big Sink kicks in 😉 It’s not part of my swimming sessions because I can’t see much recovering going on while I’m doing anything to do with the fly! Instead I’m doing a 1600m easy session twice a week (crawl and breaststroke), incorporating some intervals mid-session.

I’ve been going to the pool twice a week since 31 December, and this week something really changed for me. This week I put in a little more effort and got a much greater return (there’s a life lesson right there!). I put the joined-upness of the ‘sprinting lean’ into practice, creating tension in my body all the way down to my ankles, keeping my ankles and feet as relaxed as possible, and kicking from the hips. It made such a difference!

As I gave more to each stroke, the water seemed to give something back to me. I’m not sure if this is what they mean by developing a ‘feel’ for the water, but I certainly have begun to experience it as a living thing that I am working with – something I’m in an active and dynamic relationship with. I noticed how the increase in power (thanks to my hips and thanks to the tension) helped to create a ‘breathing hollow’. I smiled every time I came up for breath. It was like the water was saying ‘That’s right!’

The swimming adventure is still in its early days, but I think I’m going to get a huge amount out of it. I look forward to each swim: it feels like a complete treat!

The CrossFit Open 2019
Every Friday for 5 weeks I’ll be competing in the CrossFit Open heats. People from all around the world do the same workout and post their results to a leader board. I’ve only been doing CrossFit since last September – and there are plenty of things that I still can’t do – but I’m taking part because I think it’ll help me to push myself a little further.

Last Friday was the first heat. We had 15 minutes to throw a medicine ball (prescribed – or RX – standard for women aged 50-54 was 14lbs) up to a 9ft line from a squat position 19 times, and then row for 19 calories. At the end of each throw-row sequence, we repeated the sequence until the 15 minutes was up. The final score was the number of ball throws added to the number of rowed calories.

Normally I throw a 10lb-ball for wall balls, but on Friday I gave the 14-lb ball a whirl: I upped my game. I’m not saying it was necessarily a good move! Because I wasn’t used to the weight of it, I threw it vertically (without hitting the wall) a few times (so that’s a lot of effort for a ‘no throw’). It also smashed me in the face a few times. Also not great 😉 . But now I’ve thrown  14lb-ball up against a wall 95 times in one session, well, I just might stick with that weight of ball!

6 of us from Causeway CrossFit completed the heat on Friday. It was a great atmosphere and lovely to be supported, and support, other athletes. There’s something really powerful about spending time with people who are giving it everything they’ve got!

At the moment, I’m 27th in the UK in my category (women, 50-54). That will change as more people complete the heat and submit their results (which has to be done by Monday night). By Monday night I could be much further down the board, but for now I’m enjoying being 27th 🙂 . As the heats wear on it’ll be more and more likely that there will be things I just can’t do or have to adapt (‘scale’): that’s all part of it. I’m going to give it my best shot, though. (On the other hand, if there’s any hopping or leaning in the upcoming heats, I’ll be grand 😉 ).

By the way, if you’re new to my blog, you can find out more about my #OldDogNewTricks adventure project (what I’m doing and why I’m doing it) here.

I’m just going outside and may be some time.
JT 🙂

Adventure 236 ~ Write A Collection Of Haiku Poems [9]

honeysuckleToday’s poetic adventure was inspired by the honeysuckle on the side of my mother-in-law’s house : the agile shrub seems to be attempting to climb its way out of the turn of the season. It’s doing a really good job too : it’s trumpet blooms are still eye-catchingly healthy, and it’s still reaching skywards to the fading sun.

I’m really enjoying using this poetic form. It requires the creation of a dense and compressed essence , and it really helps to know a little about the element of nature you’re describing too (beyond its appearance). So, it’s encouraged me to learn more about the world around me ~ I like that 🙂 .

Today I learned that honeysuckle is also known as fairy trumpets (I can see why!) and woodbine (it winds and binds itself in the hedgerow). According to folklore, if honeysuckle grows outside your house, it’ll protect you from evil. If you bring it inside, it’ll bring wealth into the house. Although you’d think that everyone would want to take it into their house, some people don’t because they believe the sweet, pungent aroma causes “racy” dreams!

You can read today’s haiku here, and I read it out loud in today’s video-blog too.

I am just going outside and may be some time.


Adventure 163 ~ Compose A Song For A Choir To Sing [Day 4]

ellaFor today’s adventure, I’ve written the lyrics for the first verse of my choral piece. You’ll notice from the SoundCloud recording of me singing that the melody has been slightly simplified. I simplified the melody to improve its SI* (* Singability Index) 🙂 .

I’ve posted the lyrics (as they stand) below today’s video.


Verse 1 Of The- Song- Without- A- Title- Yet! (You can listen to me singing it here ).

Where the sun sails high

And the winds they blow dry

So the buds and the blooms start to sing.


Where the mountains rise

And the seas sing lullabies

To the birds that bear dreams on their wings.


I’ll meet you there

With my hands in the air

A dance in my heart

And my soul without care!


Where the trees grow tall

And the leaves, they never fall

Where the dawn of the dusk is rising.

[ Jane Talbot © 2014]


I am just going outside and may be some time.





Adventures 140 – 143 ~ Diary Of A Romantic Novelist [Days 22-25]

write for you 2 jpeg

Gosh. It’s been a BIG four days :

  • I’ve completed Chapter Three and passed the 8000 word mark ;
  • I’ve crafted the first draft of the synopsis ;
  • I’ve issued both the manuscript and synopsis for review by my editorial team.

And that’s all sounding good, right? Only, I’m beginning to feel a little bit uncomfortable. Further investigation reveals that I may have to depart from my own writing style (in quite a big way) and I’m not sure how I feel about that. The best word to express where I’m at right now is “crossroads”.

Today’s video is an amalgamation of the last 4 video diary entries.  After making today’s video, I heard myself muttering some sage words of advice to myself. When I wrote them down, I realised that there is a part of me that has quite a strong opinion about which way to turn 🙂 . “Sometimes you just have to do what’s write for you.”

I’m going to let things settle and I’m looking forward to speaking with my second author of the day tonight. I am open to the possibility of letting Mills & Boon go. I think 😛 .

I am just going outside and may be some time.





Adventure 29 ~ How To Write My Name In Japanese

For today’s adventure I decided to see if I could learn to write my name in Japanese. It’s absolutely amazing what you can find on the internet these days : sure enough, there’s a 37-second tutorial on YouTube entitled “How to write Jane in Japanese“. How brilliant is that? (By the way, there are all sorts of names on the E-Japanese Channel if you’re curious how to spell your name in Japanese too!)

I watched the tutorial 3 times and then gave myself 1 minute to memorise the characters and their locations. You can compare how well I did with the YouTube tutorial but I think I got it right ~ more or less 🙂

Here’s me writing my name from memory :

Kanji JaneI am just going outside and may be some time.


Adventure 16 ~ Three Line Solo

Well, I’m really going for it today! I’ve never had a go at “improv” [improvisational theatre] before and I’m curious to see what it’s like.

I looked for an improv exercise that I could do on my own and found a warm-up exercise called the “Three- Line Solo”. The exercise involves playing a 3- line scene with 2 characters. You play both characters yourself.

You’re supposed to repeat the exercise  at high speed so you run through your “easy” characters quickly. I think the aim is to expand your range and to explore the opportunity for “playing out” the parts of yourself that don’t often get much of the limelight.

I got completely caught up in the different states and was barely aware of the camera. I didn’t think about what I was doing or saying, I just waited for the characters to emerge. I can see that this would be fun to do with other people too! (I’m also wondering what would have  happened if I’d kept going just a little longer 🙂 )

Take a look at how I got on here ~

I’m just going outside and may be some time.