Sunday, 12 June 2016

I'm 30 and outta time!

This has been an exciting four years working through this list and visiting Stonehenge was an amazing way to mark my thirty years on this planet but unfortunately I didn't mange to get through everything on my list. I didn't get chance to:
  • Read 'A long walk to freedom' - this is chunkier than the Bible
  • See the pyramids of Giza - the flights and tour were booked but Civil War broke out!
  • Sleep under the stars - again I was going to sleep on a felucca in Egypt but Civil War got in the way and I didn't fancy it in the Maasai Mara in case the baboons ate my face in my sleep.
  • Buy and pay for a bottle of champagne in a bar - I have no idea how this didn't happen!!
  • Ride horseback along a beach - apparently you have to be quite a competent rider to do this in this country

However I couldn't give two hoots because I have done so many other amazing things that weren't on my list that I didn't think would be possible four years ago. My favourites have been;
  • climb a mountain
  • buy a house
  • fall in love!!
  • see white and black rhinos in the wild 
  • bathe in the hot springs in Iceland
Thank you to everyone who has helped me get through this list and has contributed to creating some wonderful memories that I will cherish until I kick the bucket. I am blessed to have so many people in my life that I can call my true friends and are there for me when I need them to do something a bit crazy.

Now, I have had a lot of people ask me about what I am going to do next and it is will careful thought and consideration (and pressure from Laura Wilson) that I am going to continue on with a 40 things to do before I am 40 list. Watch this space...


17. Visit Stonehenge

24 May 2016

This picture really says it all, what a birthday treat! Thanks Chris!


Stonehenge has many different meanings to people today. It is a wonder of the world, a spiritual place and a source of inspiration. With a history of over 4,000 years to me it signifies how sophisticated people were during the Neolithic. The Stone Circle is a masterpiece of engineering, and building it would have taken huge effort from hundreds of well-organised people using only simple tools and technologies. 
English Heritage have done a great job in making it into a tourist experience for those who aren't die hard stone lovers. The have invested a lot on money in making an attractive visitor centre with museum, gift shop  and cafĂ© (serving excellent ciders) and creating the route to the stones as accessible as possible. The buses made me laugh out loud because one of mine and the best fours catchphrases is 'to the bar'.


Stonehenge is just a small part of a wider extraordinary archaeological landscape so rich and varied that it was designated a World Heritage Site in 1986. The World Heritage Site Management Plan summarises the significance, or outstanding universal value, of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site as follows:
The Stonehenge, Avebury, and Associated Sites World Heritage Site is internationally important for its complexes of outstanding prehistoric monuments. Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world, while Avebury is the largest in the world. Together with inter-related monuments and their associated landscapes, they help us to understand Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and mortuary practices. They demonstrate around 2000 years of continuous use and monument building between c. 3700 and 1600 BC. As such they represent a unique embodiment of our collective heritage.  
I would recommend to anyone to go and visit this site but only as part of a visit to explore the wider prehistoric landscape in Wilshire. Even though the stone circle at Avebury isn’t as intact it is the largest in the world and sits in close proximity to Silbury Hill (the largest man made mound in the UK) and West Kennet Long Barrow one the largest and most accessible Neolithic chambered tombs in Britain.

Windmill Hill, Neolithic causewayed enclosure
West Kennet, long barrow
Silbury Hill
Avebury Stone circle

Thursday, 2 June 2016

25. Jump in a pool fully clothed

Tynemouth Outdoor Pool is situated at the Southern end of Longsands beach, on the North East coast. Rectangular in shape, it was built from concrete in the 1920s to create a salt water tidal pool. It was popular with locals and holiday makers alike for over 50 years however it began to lose favour in the late 1970s with the introduction of cheap package holidays abroad, just as other British coastal holiday destinations lost out. The pool fell into disrepair and an attempt was made in the 1990s to create a ‘rock pool’ which hoped to encourage local marine life into the pool however the end result was the creation of an eye sore. There is currently a campaign to raise money to restore the Pool so watch this space.

In the meantime I took it upon myself to jump on in there. Fair enough it didn’t have any water in but it is a pool and I was fully clothed so I feel it counts!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

10. Plant a tree

With my birthday imminently approaching Chris whisked me up to Vicky’s farm to plant a Silver Birch tree along the A69. After a 90 minute detour of the countryside and numerous park ups at Little Chef to check the directions we eventually find Vicky and her dad equipped with tractor, tree and spade. The planting didn’t take long because Mr Lowery stepped in and did a lot of the heavy digging while I supervised but I then took great enjoyment in stomping the tree into place.

After the tree stomping we went to see the pet lambs which was even more exciting!

You can find out more about the Silver Birch from the Woodland Trust, my personal favourite line is that in early Celtic mythology the birch symbolised renewal and purification (maybe that is what will happen to me when I hit 30?!) 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

6. Watch a rugby match in New Zealand

Out of all the challenges on this list I knew that this one was going to be tough. With less than 12 months to go until my 30th birthday I knew I would not make it to New Zealand however when I heard New Zealand were playing Tonga at St James Park for one of their group matches for the 2015 Rugby World Cup I knew I had to try and get a ticket. Not only would it be an awesome experience to be part of the World Cup but in my opinion it would act as a worthy substitute  for not travelling over to New Zealand before my 30th (and there is no doubt in my mind that I will get to New Zealand at some point in the future).

I didn’t fancy going to the match alone so I bought a ticket for my dad as a birthday gift because even though he doesn’t like the All Blacks it was the opportunity to watch some world class players and I had a suspicion that the All Blacks would end up winning the whole competition. The week before this match St James Park played host to its first world cup match between Scotland and South Africa and the city was electric. The local news reported that 200,000 fans had descended on the city to be part of the event and when I was watching the match in the fanzone at Science City there was a lot of love for both teams in the atmosphere which just made me more excited to watch the New Zealand v Tonga match.  The highlight of being in the fanzone was watching the grown men attempt to play rugby after far too many beers and a man in salmon pink trousers being tackled and splitting them right in the crotch!

Getting to match day and there are only 2 words to describe it. Frickin awesome!!

The atmosphere was awesome.

The haka was really awesome.

The Tongans bringing it to the All Blacks was awesome. 

Richie McCaw as water boy was awesome.

The seats were ridiculous (Me and dad even had a fleeting appearance on the telly).

Witnessing Ma’a Nonu scoring a try and achieving his 100th cap was awesome (apparently if you are from the South Sea Islands then you get tinsel as a symbol).

All in all I think this has to be one of the best experiences on the list thus far!

30. Complete my Woobadge training

Unfortunately this has not happened and will not be happening before I’m 30 (if ever).

In January 2015 I came to the tough decision that I would leave my leadership role within the Scout Association at the end of the Spring term in March and would therefore not complete my Woodbadge. I think I stepped into the role without knowing to the full extent what was expected of me and how much of my time and energy I would have to commit to this voluntary position. Without a doubt I gained valuable experience in leadership, organisation and the opportunity to try new things but I decided that I wasn’t getting out of it what I was putting into it which wasn’t fair on me or the young people in the scout group.

Among my highlights were taking the troop climbing and seeing the determination on their faces, raising money through a cake sale for mynoma cancer charity and seeing them achieve badges when they didn’t even realise they were working towards one. The young people were great (if not trying at times) and it was extremely rewarding getting the opportunity to know them and see them progress through the section.  Don’t let this deter you from volunteering with a uniformed group because in all sections there lacks adult helpers however don’t run before you can walk. I would suggest if you are interested in helping out then have a trial for a month or so to get a feel of what it is like to assist running a group and don’t feel pressured into a role unless you’re comfortable with it. Never say never but for the moment this is the end of my scouting journey (and for the record Bear Grylls makes it look a lot more glamorous that it actually is…) 


18. Learn to play Poker

This is just a short post because to get the full effect of my newly learnt gambling skillz you need to come round for a poker night. For this challenge I called upon my friends Brian Kerrigan and David Gray for a lesson in poker. I wasn’t the only amateur round the table so didn’t feel too pressured. Apparently the success with poker all lies in your ability to bluff and not give away if you have good or bad cards oh and try and remember the winning hands. I didn’t win but I gave the seasoned pros a run for their money so a rematch is definitely in order…