Archives for category: 40 Things

After a lengthy hiatus I’m back to using this site. In the short term mainly as a mind-dump, although it would be nice to think I could begin to connect with people again via WordPress, which has always seemed to me a more charming and friendly network than some of the more image-led sites.

A dearth of suitable technology has largely been responsible for my absence, turns out you can’t blog at length easily on a mobile phone, and a 40th birthday ultrabook gift heralds my return.

So I turned 40. Which means a revision of The List is due. It says something about my nature that I’m already thinking of the next to-do collection, especially since many items were left unchecked, but at least some can be rolled over to 50 things to do before I’m 50…..right?

So here are The Good (achieved), the Bad (not achieved/carried forward) and The Ugly (ditched) results.

  1. Reduce to part time working No, I haven’t managed to reduce to part-time working,  given our current circumstances that continues to look unlikely before retirement, but things are altogether more positive since The List was created. One of my biggest gripes at the time was the length of my commute, which added at least 10 hours to my working week. I’ve since switched to a college 20 minutes away (buses permitting). I’m working much more at home, which has allowed me to spend more time with the children as planned.
  2. Go glamping Carried over.
  3. Dance until dawn Not yet, although there are some planned opportunities before I need a zimmer frame.
  4. Learn how to ride a bike I’m ditching this. I’ve clearly had plenty of opportunity, but am now comfortable with my status as one of life’s more stationary people.
  5. Host a swishing event Nope, although I have found one locally that I intend to visit before year end, which will tick this box, kinda.
  6. Watch all of the West Wing Only one season to go!
  7. Host a radio show I forgot this one completely. It does seem to run in the family- radio presenting not forgetting-I have an uncle and a niece who have their own shows, but the fact this wasn’t even on my radar is enough to ditch it.
  8. Have an overseas family holiday Achieved! First one on the list at #8, I did worse that I thought. We had a wonderful week in Guardamar, Spain this July. The children relished flying, even though my poor husband didn’t, meaning I don’t think this will be an annual thing. 13686630_10157212701225134_6871111906277997201_n
  9. Go on a Murder Mystery Weekend My husband took me to The Plough and Harrow for an organised evening. It was fantastic fun, and I spoke with one of the actors afterwards who was trying to convince me to get involved. I was tempted.
  10. Publish a knitting pattern I did actually come up with a very simple pattern, which felt way too simple to publish on Ravelry. I still could though….
  11. Decorate every room in the house A cursory poke at the plaster in my daughter’s room revealed structural problems involving the roof – expense has limited this achievement. Definitely one to carry forward.
  12. Mow a lawn Errr, no. To be fair, my husband’s barely mowed a lawn this year. I don’t know what’s happened to our garden, its a disgrace and we barely use it.
  13. Learn how to play chess Yes! Or at least the very basic basics. Turns out, I’m not well suited to game based on strategy, patience and logic. Who knew?!
  14. Read LOTR I tried. I really tried. The first book was SO turgid. I felt like I needed to be a 1930s schoolchild to get through it. There’s just so many other tempting choices in literature. Ditched!
  15. Sleep under the stars Carried forward. Camping next year, definitely.
  16. Have a boudoir photo shoot I never did lose that two stones.
  17. Win a TV quiz show I went on to appear on another two shows after compiling this list, including a very popular one (Tipping Point), and a primetime one with a prize of 25k (Celebrity Squares). A combination of bad luck and bad performance means I haven’t WON one, but I did come away from Squares with £300, so I’m counting this as achieved. One of my best goals of recent years; something I’ll never forget.12313790_10156296236055134_5081300372296779270_n
  18. See a ballet My beautiful friend bought me tickets for The Tempest for my birthday. It was magical, and I found a new love; Prospero.
  19. Learn how to make a signature cocktail I’ve drank quite a few, but yet to decide. Carried over.
  20. Restore and revive a piece of furniture My lovely desk
  21. Perform on stage again I still feel a long way away from this, and my confidence ebbs with each passing year. I came very close to teaching drama recently, which I hoped might spark something, but it was not to be. Carried over.
  22. Eat at a Michelin starred restaurant I documented our trip to Simpsons. Delicious, but not something I feel I need to make a habit of.
  23. Go bellydancing Not achieved, and I do worry (now I’m 40+) that the image of a fat middle aged woman bellydancing is a little cliche.
  24. Learn to read Tarot I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this, and its been a real revelation. I consider myself a secular reader and have found them a great coaching tool, as well as good fun with friends.
  25. Swim five lengths  I honestly remembered this as two, and was feeling all proud that I’d achieved it. Oh well.
  26. Start a pension plan. Done! And thanks to salary increase, I’m managing to put a reasonable wedge in every month too. Success on this one.
  27. Get a colonic Not been brave enough yet.
  28. Practice basic yoga I did go to class, so this is achieved. However, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact my nose is not compatible with yogic breathing. The search for enlightenment continues.
  29. Cook every recipe from a cookbook I settled in my Gill Holcombe books, and would say I’ve managed this is a less-structured, roundabout way. But its been totally uninspiring.
  30. Go vegetarian for one month September 2015. I managed this fairly easily, and am toying with the idea of pescatarianism.
  31. Have my nails ‘done’ properly Yes, I’ve had a couple of manicures. Next step, shellac.
  32. Play poker My husband taught me. See also ‘chess’.
  33. Drive on a motorway Driving still eludes me. Definitely carrying forward.
  34. Go to high tea in a classy hotel I’ve managed to rack up a few afternoon teas, its been quite trendy over the last couple of years which has made it easier. My favourite has been a trip to Betty’s, with some dear old internet friends. 11659230_10155795968430381_2276365119083963615_n
  35. Read the 32 books that will change your life I think what I never considered was how American this list was, and some titles just didn’t resonate at all. Still, I’ve read a lot of them. I’ve rediscovered a love of reading this year, as well as developed an appreciation for the Goodreads site and a compulsion for watching Booktube.
  36. Plant a wildflower garden I continue to be an indoor girl. Related goals for the new list I think.
  37. Visit Scandinavia DESPERATELY carried over. I just couldn’t budget for it in time. I did go to Bruges for my birthday. Nowhere near Scandinavia, but a stunning European city that I truly loved anyway.
  38. Sew myself a dress I’m ditching this. You can just buy so many lovely ones that are better than anything I could make.
  39. Play with some kittens How has this not happened? Just how?!
  40. See a West End show My auntie took me to see Les Miserables. I loved it just as much this time.

So there we are. 16 successes, 14 carried over into what I hope will be a fabulous decade. 10 ditched forever. What’s clear is that single events are more likely to be achieved, particularly if they involve food. Self-improvement? Not so much. Still I’ll be looking longer term than 18 months away this time, plus there are 10 extra slots. So, some smaller pleasures may be the way forward..


Since I devised my list of 40 things to do before I’m 40, I have had a birthday. In only one day I changed from having forever to complete my tasks at a youthful 37, to feeling completely overwhelmed by the knowledge that I have less than two years before the big 4.0. When you consider there’s a couple of trips abroad to be had at the very least, that’s a lot of planning to be done.

I have managed to tick a few things off the list.

I visited a Michelin starred restaurant.


My lovely husband took me to Simpsons for a birthday lunch. The staff there couldn’t have been more welcoming and friendly, although I confess I did feel something of a fish out of water. The food was very………..complicated. Lists and lists of ingredients. But it was all completely delicious. I’m not a food blogger and would have been far too embarrassed to start taking pictures, so you are spared that at least. We each had a different taster menu of four courses, and where possible chef prepared the plates so we both got to try a bit of everything. The highlight was the braised ox cheek. So soft! And something neither of us had tried before. After the meal the waiter bought some complimentary macaroons on a plate with ‘Happy Birthday’ piped in chocolate. I felt very special and, whilst I don’t feel the need to repeat the experience frequently, it was a lovely treat.

I have restored a piece of furniture

Specifically this little desk, picked up on Ebay for a song.


I chose it to fit into a little nook in my living room. We have only two rooms downstairs, and no spare bedroom space, so carving out an area to work has been a bit of a challenge. This small desk is perfect, and could easily evolve into a study desk for either of the children’s rooms as they get a little older.

It’s got a mid-century vibe to it, teak and well made. The replacement handle was probably why it was so cheap, but I liked the mixy-matchy vibe. My ‘upcycling’ was relatively simple: I sanded it down, revarnished all over, and gave the drawers a lick of paint. Dulux tester pots were perfect for this.

I’m really pleased with the result.

It’s very much my style I’d say, and compliments my G-plan coffee table and wall unit. Next I’m after a sideboard to put the TV on. They are fetching some lofty prices of late, way above my bargain threshold. Its strange to think you couldn’t give them away just a few years ago!

I have learnt how to read Tarot

Well, perhaps that should say learnING, since its a slow process to become really knowledgeable. I am fortunately a quick learner, especially once I have an interest in something, there’s no stopping me! I have a decent working knowledge of each card and some basic spreads, but its more about developing one’s intuition and learning to see the cards in relation to each other as a whole.

I am enjoying it much more than I thought I would. I bought a set of The Housewives Tarot, a fabulous deck featuring illustrations that could have been designed especially for me! They are very easy to use for the beginner, with detailed images and clues. I am tempted to invest in a tradition Ryder Waite deck next, some Tarot cards are so beautiful and I can see it would be an easy collection to fall into.

The Four of Wands is one of my favourite images

I’ve been reading for everyone who’ll let me. Friends, husband, even the lovely ladies on my pregnancy forum have been getting daily card pulls. As you would expect, some seem more successful than others but I think I am improving. I find it difficult to read for myself though; it’s limiting to talk to yourself about a card’s reading, I need people to listen. Typical extrovert behaviour.

In truth, I remain sceptical about spirits, magic and all things mystic, and recognise that cards are heavily open to interpretation. I do believe in an individual’s guiding energy though, and if we choose certain cards, there may be hidden meanings it would be helpful to discover. Tarot has been one of my best discoveries this year.

Now that I look at it, I really need to get much more of a move on if I’m to finish the list before 40. There are a number of other slow burners: I am trucking through West Wing Season 4 and the List of 32 Books That Will Change My Life, plus November is my vegetarian month, and the husband is dying to teach me poker.

If all goes well over the next few weeks, the part time working (a Serious One) will become a reality too. Watch this space!

It’s true that there are a thousand posts like this in the blogosphere. Here is mine.

I wrote this list acutely aware of the fact that, as I turn 38 next month, I have a ever-decreasing time frame in which to achieve all these things. With that in mind, many of the items are ‘smaller’ and more achievable; I’ll save the novel writing for the Before I’m 50 list.

When I asked friends and Mr Google for ideas, the same obvious ones came up. These include: running a marathon, climbing a mountain, swimming with dolphins, bungee-jumping/sky diving etc. Whilst I’m not totally risk averse and actually quite enjoy heights, there are many things ‘extreme’ that just don’t appeal. The List needed to be things I WANTED to do, rather than felt I had to. Plus, I avoid running on principle. It’s too trendy and bad for my knees. Besides, if nature wanted me to run it wouldn’t have built me so jiggly. Built for comfort, not for speed. There are some physical activities, I’m not totally lazy, but quite a lot can be ticked off whilst enjoying a sit down and a nice cup of tea.

Not all of the things on the list are firsts. But if I have done them before, its not been lately. There are experiences from my youth I’d like to relive before I’m scared of breaking a hip.

I have randomised the order from my original notebook so I didn’t get caught up on priorities. I go into this with a view to completing ALL items.

Without further ado….


The List


1. Reduce to part time working: This is a serious one, and its been part of my life plan for a couple of years. I resent leaving my children as much as I do. I love them and I miss them.  At the moment we can’t afford to drop a penny to meet our modest budget so I’m working all the hours, but I’ll get there.

2. Go glamping: Like, in a yurt or something. Somewhere I can sing round the campfire but still get a dry towel and charge my phone.

3. Dance until dawn: I’ve done this before, but not within the last 15 years or so. I love still being awake when the sun comes up, it makes me feel naughty.

4. Learn how to ride a bike: I can get on one, and peddle it forwards, but I’m screwed when I get to a corner. I’m not after a star turn in the Velodrome, but maybe a rental weekend and a ride in the country would be nice. Don’t judge me, I was a bookish child.

5. Host a swishing event: I’ve been looking for one to go to for YEARS in Birmingham but it appears no-one hosts them. I’m worried there’s a very good reason for that, but I’m willing to give it a go. There’s a couple of local charities I can support so I am thinking or organising it as a clothes swapping based fundraiser,  maybe Autumn time as people’s wardrobes are in transition.

6. Watch all of The West Wing: I’m two seasons in, but as its not currently on Netflix its at the back of my viewing queue. Definite cold weather viewing, I’ll get on this towards the end of the year.

7. Host a radio show: No idea how to go about this one. I just want to inflict my *cough* eclectic music taste onto someone.

8. Have an overseas family holiday: I was 23 before I flew on a plane, I want my children to experience this earlier. Will be looking at Europe breaks for next summer.

9. Go on a Murder Mystery weekend: Not a night, a proper full on weekend. These ones look brilliant!

10. Publish a knitting pattern: The only knitty thing to make the list, and admittedly a little reluctantly. I felt like I had to have one in there. I suck at designing, but I should nurture my creative spirit.

11. Decorate every room in the house: This isn’t as lofty an ambition as it sounds. We only have a small house, and I’m not including the kitchen and bathroom as they were done last year. So it’s only five rooms in all, and that includes the hallway.

12. Mow a lawn: Just because I’ve never done it. We have a lawn, but it’s normally Big G’s job.

13. Learn how to play chess: Really keen to do this, cause its like, intelligent innit?

14. Read the Lord Of The Rings trilogy: I couldn’t get into the films, but I have enjoyed the Game of Thrones books, so willing to give fantasy genre another chance. I live with a LOTR geek, so I have access to all the literature.

15. Sleep under the stars: Maybe I can slip out of that yurt one night.

16. Have a boudoir photo shoot:  OBVIOUSLY, I need to lose two stones first.

17. Win a TV quiz show: I now have one appearance under my belt, so the next step is to actually win one!

18. See a ballet:  Since I’m not sporty, I should be cultured. Opera is a step too far, but ballet I can do.

19. Learn how to make a signature cocktail: Because a sophisticated, ballet-going lady such as I should have her own drink.

20. Restore and revive a piece of furniture:  I’m thinking sanding and painting rather than replacing dovetail joints, but I’m openminded.

21. Perform on stage again: I’ve done quite a bit of amateur theatre in the past, but the time-guilt combo of career and parenting but a stop to it. I used to love it though, and hope to again.

22. Eat at a Michelin starred restaurant: Spoilt for choice in Birmingham, since we have more Michelin restaurants than any other UK city outside London. Maybe one for a special lunchtime.

23. Go bellydancing: Although generally exercise shy, I do love to dance. And I do have a belly.

24. Learn how to read Tarot: I think of myself as a healthy sceptic when it comes to all things mystical, but I do think card reading can be a useful way to self-reflect, providing you use them to clarify your own thinking and not see them as messages from the beyond.

25. Swim five lengths: As embarrassing as my cycling this one. I’m not a strong swimmer, and generally expend all my energy staying afloat. I’d love to learn a proper strong swimming technique. My daughter is a fish; I want her to see mummies can swim too.

26. Start a pension plan: So I said this list was all about WANT, but this is a NEED. Well, I have to be sensible sometimes, I am nearly 40.

27. Get a colonic:  Out of nothing more than gruesome curiosity.

28. Practice basic yoga:  This is something I should already be doing, I need to work harder at finding a local class.

29. Cook every recipe from a cookbook:  I’ve just bought Nigel Slater’s iconic Real Fast Food, and the recipes look accessible and delicious. Unfortunately there are also over 360 of them. That’s a meal every other day. I don’t even make toast every other day. I MAY revise this down to 100 recipes. Or something.

30. Go vegetarian for one month:  I did this in a half-arsed manner for Lent one year. I do worry about eating so much intensively farmed meat, and can see a veggie could be healthier for me, and almost certainly better for the earth.

31. Have my nails ‘done’ properly: My idea of a manicure is to trim my hangnails with the kitchen scissors. I see girls with glossy, glittery talons. I want a bit of that.

32. Play poker: I suck at cards, which I’m willing to accept as throughout life I have been blessed with wonderful luck in love. Poker rules feel like something I should know, though.

33. Drive on a motorway: I have a THING about driving. I need to get over myself.

34. Go to a high tea in a classy hotel: Like I said, a list of WANTS. I always want cake.

35. Read the 32 Books That Will Change Your Life:   From this list here. I have a head start having read 5 or 6 of them already.

36. Plant a wildflower garden:   Just because it would be so pretty! And it would mean less lawn to mow.

37. Visit Scandinavia: I hesitated to put grand travel plans, since I didn’t want budget restrictions to hamper my success. But the truth is I am woefully poorly travelled, and this is one part of the world I have long wanted to visit. It may well be a trip for my 40th as things stand.

38. Sew myself a dress: Sewing is something I feel like I should be good at given my knitting prowess, but its a skill I’ve never really nailed. I blame it on a sewing machine which has never worked properly. What do you mean, a poor workman blames his tools? (grumble, grumble).

39. Play with some kittens:   I just love them, and I haven’t cuddled any for ages!! I’ve had my babies, my life is devoid of cute. I need kitten cuddles and I need them now.

40. See a West End show: I saw Les Miserables about twenty years ago. I’m due a revisit.