Most days I climb into bed thinking, "What have I really done with my life?" I'm in my sixties and I retired from my job of thirty-six years at the same grade that I joined. No promotions applied for. I have never married or had children and have no savings. It is a life wasted.

This morning I woke up and realised something. I may not be what many would consider a great success but . . .

I have eaten snails. OK, they were served on toothpicks, so I didn't have to play with those ridiculous tongs, but I have tasted them. I was not impressed. They were like chewy mushrooms but I tried them. I have also had frog's legs or, more precisely, a frog leg. I shared a pair with a friend. Again, I was not impressed because they really do taste like chicken! I've eaten fried catfish too. A bit earthy but I have eaten it. I can think of very few of my friends who have done even one of those things.

That was when I started looking at the rest of my life and realised that it has been full of wonderful experiences that I would not swap for any high-powered job or 'success', as the world counts it.

I have sung "We Will Rock You" with Freddy Mercury. Admittedly I was one of thousands at the concert, but I have been to a Queen concert. Wow! What a wonderful memory. It was at a football stadium (Elland Road, Leeds) on one of England's rare hot and sunny summer days. Queen were top of the bill and their set did not start until after the sun went down. The atmosphere really was electric when all the lighting was switched on and the whole crowd jumped to their feet as Freddy bounced onto the stage.

I have strolled down the narrow streets of Pompeii and seen plaster casts of the poor residents who didn't manage to make it. Standing in rooms of the homes in Herculaneum I have looked at their beds and the trunks that stored their clothes. I've seen the carbonised remains of their bread and stood in an ancient Roman fast food bar. I've even walked through a brothel and sat in an auditorium, where the softest whisper can be heard from the farthest row. I've drunk Limoncello in Sorento and crossed the blue, blue waters around the isle of Capri.

There was a week spent cruising up and down the Nile, visiting a different temple every day. No murders on board but one of the waiters offered to exchange me for five camels. (He was joking.) I have danced alongside a belly dancer and had a live cobra draped around my neck (not sure I'd do that last again). I strolled through the huge temple of Karnak and sat beside it's sacred lake to watch a sound and light show beneath a star strewn sky and a perfect crescent moon. I stood in a tomb and gazed upon the shrunken body of the boy king, Tutankamun. I climbed the ramp to the mortuary temple of the rebel female pharao, Hatshepsut, and 'read' the painted record of her journey to the far land of Punt to collect precious incense.

I have landed in a plane, one engine short, and been chased down the runway by fire engines and ambulances. (It's OK. It was just a precaution but it certainly got the blood pumping.) I did the Florida theme parks two years in a row, laughing and shrieking my way through every water flume ride available and sitting, entranced and weeping, as the parades passed by. I have met friends in the USA, even stayed with one, and shared a wonderful weekend in Boston, visiting the LOTR exhibition with other fans (several times!).

In London I met a couple of the LOTR actors at a mini sci-fi convention, navigated my way through the Underground, visited the V&A, the Royal Albert Hall, Natural History Museum, National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery, Queens' Gallery, Science Museum, Star Wars Exhibition, and stood beside Elizabeth I tomb in Westminster Abbey. I've been to the theatre to see the LOTR stage show (several times again) and Les Miserable and shopped in Covent Garden, where Liza Doolittle once prepared her wares and dreamed of a room somewhere.

I have walked elegant Regency terraces in Bath, rubbing shoulders with the memory of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy as I stopped to 'take the waters' in the Pump Room. I dipped my fingers in the warm waters of the Roman bath of Aqua Sulis and strolled in the reconstructed gardens of the ruined Roman palace of Fishbourn.

I have shopped in the crooked, cobbled streets and alleys of York and marched with the ghosts of Roman legions along her city walls. York Minster is an old friend, where once kings were crowned and gargoyles grin down on faithful and faithless alike. I have climbed Whitby's one hundred and ninety nine steps, marvelled at a whale's jawbone, prayed in the ruins of her ancient abbey and danced at a ceilidh.

In Dublin's fair city I crossed the 'niffy' Liffy and paused to admire a statue of 'the tart with the cart' (Molly Mallone). I watched glass being blown in Waterford, ate home made apple pie and soda bread and finished my evening meal with an excellent 'Irish coffee'.

Cyprus provided memories of an amphitheatre overlooking the sea, a secluded grotto where they say Aphrodite bathed, mountain-top monasteries, toasted cheese sandwiches in the sun, ancient tombs, oranges picked fresh off the tree that morning, and earthquake crazed and tilted ancient mosaic floors.

This is not a life wasted, for I have seen attack ships on fire, off the belt of Orion!