Last updated March 2023
When I was 35 I made a list of 40 things I wanted to do before I was 40. It was quite a mixed list – everything from riding the wooden escalators in Macy’s in New York to making my own lemon curd. I wasn’t sure how I’d get on with it to be honest. I did wonder if once I’d bought the notebook I might let it fall by the wayside, but actually I really got into it. Having a list gave me a sense of purpose – something to focus on when I was feeling a bit lost or bored or not sure what to do on a Sunday afternoon.
I turned 40 in April and although I didn’t manage everything on the list I came pretty close. (You’ll have to go and read it to see which I missed.) In fact I enjoyed it so much that I decided to make another one.
50 things to do before I’m 50.
It’s kind of scary to think about. 40 feels like a pretty cool age, prime of lime and all that, but 50? I don’t know. 50 feels different. 50 feels OLD. Like a proper grown-up. Am I still going to be able to wear t-shirts with cats on when I’m 50? Can I still eat party rings and read Nancy Drew books? It feels like uncharted territory.
When I first wrote the 40 things before 40 post I didn’t have 40 things on the list. I wanted to get it started though, to get the ball rolling, and then I added more things to it as I thought of them. I wanted to do the same with my 50 things before 50 list. Ten years is a long time so I have plenty of time to add things as I go along. Who knows what opportunities might present themselves or what new interests I might stumble across?
This is just a starting point then, so if you have any suggestions please do let me know, the more specific the better. I find that having really specific goals gives me a much better focus and is far more satisfying to tick off.
Here’s my list of 50 things to do before I’m 50:
- Stay at Gladstone’s library
- Take a road trip in a convertible (ideally a blue roadster so I can pretend to be Nancy Drew.)
- Hang out in a 19th century Ottoman mansion and take a cruise up the Bosphorus – I had this one planned for my 42nd birthday but had to cancel because of coronavirus. Sad times.
- Stay at Burgh Island Hotel – done! Read about it here.
- Make a Baked Alaska – I actually did a version of this from a 1970s cookery book in a hollowed out pineapple.
- Become a Granny (bit out of my control but I’m adding it anyway) – Who guessed that this would be one I’d tick off so soon! Here’s where I became Slummy Single Granny.
- Stay in an old school VW camper van – I’ve done this one! The van was even green like the photo I found when I made the list.
- Drink a ‘Mermaid Tattooist’ at El Baron in Cartagena de Indias, Columbia
- Read the complete works of Jane Austen
- Have a coffee in the first ever Starbucks (it’s in Seattle)
- Read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in Guernsey
- Ride The Flåm Railway in Norway
- Visit the pub built in honour of a pack of cards
- Holiday in a narrowboat
- Have my colours done (Bridget Jones’ mum style) – Yup, done! I’m an autumn leaf.
- Take a train through New England in the fall
- Blow glass – Tick! I gave myself a migraine by staring at the bright light of the furnace and it’s quite hard to blow glass when you can’t see out of one eye but there we go, I never have to do it again.
- Make crumpets from scratch – done! You can see them on Instagram here.
- Meet Reese Witherspoon. I don’t normally get silly about celebrities, (apart from when I interviewed Antonio Banderas, but honestly I didn’t realise I was flicking my hair about quite so much), but Reese is my one true celebrity love. Snaps for Reese. You never know, maybe she has a Google alert for her name and will see this and invite me to tea.
- Cruise the Norwegian fjords
- Go to the Chelsea Flower Show
- Have a boudoir style photoshoot done – done! In fact I enjoyed it so much I’ve done it twice now and wouldn’t put it past myself to do it a third time to be honest. Turns out I am a massive show off who loves taking her clothes off. Who knew? (Me.)
- Visit the Vent Haven Museum in Kentucky, the ‘world’s only museum dedicated to ventriloquism’.
- Turn a piano into a cocktail bar (might need to develop some DIY skills for this one)
- Ride the steepest passenger railway in the world. (It’s here.)
- Carve a spoon with Barn. Years ago I cut this out of the Guardian weekend magazine because I love this approach to life and I’ve had it on my fridge ever since. Turns out that ‘Barn the Spoon’ is now a bit of a celeb and has written a book and runs spoon carving workshops. Done!
- Operate a lock (the canal kind, not just a door.)
- See penguins in Antartica
- Make my own sushi – all done. It’s not really hard, I’m not sure why I thought it warranted being on the same list as ‘see penguins in Antartica’.
- Look out onto Dealey Plaza from the sixth floor of the old book depository
- See inside Buckingham Palace
- Read a Mills and Boon – I read more than one! Here’s how I surprised myself with a Mills & Boon Regency trilogy. Turns out I’m a bit of a romantic after all. Who knew?
- Visit every country in Europe (I didn’t realise when I added this one quite how many countries there are in Europe, but I do have ten years and I’ve done 14 of them already.)
- Play all three courses at Hastings mini golf, the ‘spiritual home of crazy golf’ – YES! I did this.
- Complete 100 escape rooms
- See a play at the Globe Theatre
- Drive the Northumberland 250
Great list, hope you can achieve it all, well most of it at least
Great list, I must do this myself!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your list. I hope you thoroughly enjoy working your way through it!
Great list. Well done! Some amazing things on your list
Love the comment about sushi, penguins sound amazing! Good luck with the escape rooms, I’ve not managed to escape one yet!
You don’t have to go to Antarctica to see the penguins. They also have them in the Falkland Islands. Just a thought……
True true, and I have seen penguins plenty in zoos too, it was more a reason to go to Antartica!