30 before 30

Can you hear ticking?

Can you hear ticking?

On the 13th of December 2015, I’ll turn 30 – and I want to celebrate it by becoming the most well-rounded human being I can. So I’ve written a list of 30 things to do before I’m 30 – the first 20 by me, and the other 10 suggested by the lovely people of Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and real life. I’ve tried to make my list items as measurable as I can so that I know how to reach each goal and how to gauge when I can cross it off. And as much as I’d love to have a number one record or go to space, I have to be realistic – I don’t want anything uncrossed on my 30th birthday! Besides, I’ve got the rest of my life for the really big stuff.

Completed so far: 25/30

1. Watch every single one of IMDB’s top 100 films.
See the list here. It’s changed a bit since I started, but if I had to keep watching all the new additions then it’d never end.
Update: Finiiiiiiiished! Holy MOLY this was a slog. It’s so nice to be able to watch things I’ve chosen again.

2. Read every single book on Waterstones’ ‘50 books to read before you die’ list. Except the Bible.
See how I’m progressing here. I’ve edited the list a bit, because Waterstones counts the Lord of the Rings, His Dark Materials and the Harry Potter series as one book each when they’re far from it – if I did all the ones on the original list, it’d actually be 61 books. I’ve also removed the Bible.
Update: Just finished ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ which means I am DONE! Woohoo.

3. Write the first chapter of a book.
I don’t know what it’s going to be about. But I can definitely manage a chapter of something by next year.

4. Go abroad on my own.
I might combine this with 13 (Ireland) and cross off two at once.

5. Reach 10,000 Twitter followers.
Update: DONE! As of the 26th of July. See for yourself here.

6. Donate *something*
This one’s changed a few times. Originally I wanted to donate my eggs to a childless couple, but sadly I was disallowed because I’m a carrier for Cystic Fibrosis. So then I wanted to donate bone marrow, and signed up as a donor with Anthony Nolan (YOU SHOULD TOO). Then Anthony Nolan told me that “most people on the register never get to donate.” Which led to a third change: I’ll donate blood instead. I’ve already donated quite a few times, and I’m loving being a regular donor. I think this is something I’ll keep up for life.

7. Start and finish a course of dance lessons.
I did hip hop & commercial dance at City Academy. Course completed 17th December 2014. There *may* be video if my teacher ever puts it up!

8. Start and finish a course of singing lessons. 
Done! I had ten 1-hour singing lessons at MLC Academy in Nottingham. Final one completed 7th December 2014. 

9. Learn to sew
I have no idea how to sew properly. It would be nice to be able to sew buttons and hem my jeans, and maybe even make stuff.
Completed Sunday 18th January – I did a 5-hour sewing workshop at Saturday Sewing Session. This involved learning to thread and use a sewing machine, hemming jeans, sewing buttons, making a lavender bag, and altering a t-shirt to fit.

10. Throw a really amazing party and not cancel it.
I have a bad habit of cancelling parties at the last minute. I’ll probably save this one for my 30th birthday party.
Update: Come to my party!

11. Visit Wales
Oh man, Wales is amazing. Why have I not been before?!

12. Visit Scotland
Done! Spent a lovely weekend in Edinburgh with Acer in November 2014. 

13. Visit Ireland
I *am* going – but not until after my birthday. I may let this stand in.

14. Be an extra in something.
Ideally the kind of extra that gets to stand next to Christian Bale. Oh, fine, just behind him then.

15. Learn to cook 3 new dishes.
Update: Learnt to make chicken and chorizo paella, which I’ve made three times now.
Update 2: Did a half-day of sushi-making at Yo Sushi. One more to go!
Update 3: My sister taught me to make piadinis. Boom!

16. Learn to make 3 new desserts.
Got my mum to teach me to make coconut ice!

17. Raise £1000 for charity.
Absolutely smashed it.

18. Have a column or article published in a physical newspaper or magazine, with my name on it. 
I last did this in the 90s when I wrote something for Junior Mensa Magazine. I was cool. I’ve made a start on this one by taking a Guardian Masterclass in freelance journalism.
Update: Completed! I wrote for the Daily Mail, both online and in print, plus Look and Fabulous magazines, and I’m now regularly writing for Woman & Home.

19. Learn to juggle
I am exceptionally uncoordinated. This will be hard.

20. Learn to love beer, or at least cider.
I tried really, really hard. I tried lots of my friends’ beers. I went to a craft beer pub and tried samples of six different types, from lightest to darkest. Then I went to a beer festival and forced loads of types down my neck. And still nothing. I hate the taste of beer, and I don’t think that’s going to change.

BUT! I have definitely grown to love cider. I had lots of it at the beer festival, and now I drink it by choice. So I’m crossing this one off.

21. Learn to taste wine properly
Submitted by Alison Garner. This would definitely be useful for my job, because I have no idea what “a seam of balanced minerality” means.
Completed 9th January 2015. I took a tasting course with the world-renowned Adam Carmer in Las Vegas, and now I can actually taste the notes people talk about!

22. Jump out of a plane
I DID IT! I DID IT I DID IT I DID IT!

23. Be on TV
Submitted by Mike Hoy. I was on the news in 2013, and Songs of Praise when I was a kid, but this one is more about actually being myself on a television programme.
Update: I appeared in ‘Dinner Date’ on ITV. It definitely wasn’t a huge mistake or anything. 

24. Go to a festival
Submitted by Ian Stewart. I’ve never been to a festival and always thought it wasn’t my kind of thing – which is why it’s exactly the sort of thing that should be on this list.
Update: I went to Download on the 13th of June 2015 and got very, very muddy.

25. Learn an instrument well enough to play the Game of Thrones theme song
Awesome suggestion by Matthew Downey. I played piano when I was little (and recorder, like everyone else) but can’t play anything anymore. Plus it’ll be fun to learn the Game of Thrones tune.
Update: I’ve had a couple of tinkers with a guitar. Think this will be my instrument of choice.
Update 2: I’ll be learning through Rocksmith because guitar lessons are expensive.
Update 3: Bought an Epiphone Les Paul.
Update 4: Guitar is HARD. Trying keyboard…
Update 5: After a whole lot of faff, I managed to play the tune well enough to recognise. There is a video. I’ll put it up eventually.

26. Make a website
Submitted by Paul Curry.
Completed 7th March 2015: I made the website, from scratch, for my mum’s new business. I created the logo, took the photos, bought the domain and all that good stuff, too. Yes, it’s a WordPress template, but I’ve customised it a lot and my mum’s pretty happy. I’m also happy she didn’t pay some charlatan £600 to do it (seriously, that nearly happened).

I’d link it but giving out my mum’s address on the internet would be daft at best.

27. Perform in public
Suggested by a bazillion people. I haven’t decided yet whether this will be comedy, singing, rapping (ha) or something else, but I will stand on a stage and embarrass myself, because you all want me to. I’ll film it and post it as well… probably.
Update: As part of number 23, I sang on national TV. Which was horrific. Well and truly crossing this off!

28. Take an entry-level lesson in something new
Submitted by Rich Quick. Update: Completed 22nd September 2015 – I learnt to use a DSLR for photography and filming.

29. Learn/improve a language
Submitted by Charlotte Marshall. I’m going to work out a measurable achievement for this, but it’ll most likely be Spanish.

30. Write a comedy song
Suggested by Andrew Blakeley. This one was originally “write a comedy sketch” but I’ve started going to One Life Left‘s amazing Marioke videogame karaoke events, and I think rewriting a pop song to be about games is much more up my alley. Currently thinking I’ll write one about SimTower.

The challenge is on! Thank you all for your suggestions. If you can help with any of the things on the list or know someone who can, please leave a comment or tweet me – I’m taking on a lot here! If you’ve got your own list or mine has inspired you to create one, please share it – I love seeing how people are working on themselves.

13 thoughts on “30 before 30

  1. andydent says:

    You can donate plasma as frequently as every 2 weeks and sometimes under circumstances when you can’t donate blood (eg: been to Malaria country like Indonesia). Plasma is used in massive quantities by people with all sorts of ailments including cancer sufferers like my dearly-missed parents, which is why I’m keen to keep donating and prompting others to do so!

    Jealously observing tweets from Spain!

      • andydent says:

        Yeah, I’d just ask. Interestingly, the option is not as clearly documented in UK as here in Australia. http://www.blood.co.uk/giving-blood/component-donation/ mentions it.

        Here it is commonly advertised that you can give plasma, platelets or whole blood. The first two are like being on dialysis and take a lot longer than whole blood because of the separation time and pushing back the blood with some added saline (you can’t see the difference). Platelet donations have more demanding conditions such as being totally free from any breaks in the skin – combination of amateur carpentry and cycling meant I had to cancel so many donations I just stick with giving Plasma.

        Maybe we just have more fancy machines that go swoosh. Our blood centres are run by Red Cross, not our equivalent of NHS. They have incredibly strict conditions for eliminating risky donors (such as visits to the bits of Australia where Dengue Fever is common, or living more than 6 months in the UK during the Mad Cow years).

        I’ll have to chase up my brother in York and ask him if he donates. (Is that the Minster in the background on your Twitter bio?)

  2. Derbyshire Lost says:

    I love these projects, good luck. I just wish I could get myself motivated to do something similar as it’s just 800 days to my 40th (which is scary and I need to achieve something!)

  3. Bo Mandeville says:

    Visit Wales: as a blow-in, have moved from Ireland, Northwest Wales to me is the most stunning. Worth a visit.
    Visit Ireland; the West! County Mayo (Western part) is amazing, stunning … and cold and windy

    • Holly says:

      I have. Read them years ago. That whole section of “So-and-so begat so-and-so” is particularly fascinating.

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