50 things to do before you’re 50

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.
  • 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.
vintage vw camper

Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!

50 things before 50

  • 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


  1. Debbie Skerten
    23 April, 2023 / 3:27 pm

    Great List

  2. Priscilla Stubbs
    28 April, 2023 / 9:30 am

    Great list, hope you can achieve it all, well most of it at least

  3. lorraine
    30 April, 2023 / 11:11 am

    Great list, I must do this myself!

  4. Susan B
    3 May, 2023 / 5:03 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your list. I hope you thoroughly enjoy working your way through it!

  5. Suzanne Walkingshaw
    4 May, 2023 / 11:26 pm

    Cool list!

  6. Diane Carey
    5 May, 2023 / 11:14 am

    Great list. Well done! Some amazing things on your list

  7. Miss C L Kelly
    5 May, 2023 / 1:00 pm

    Love the comment about sushi, penguins sound amazing! Good luck with the escape rooms, I’ve not managed to escape one yet!

  8. Claire
    20 May, 2023 / 8:22 pm

    You don’t have to go to Antarctica to see the penguins. They also have them in the Falkland Islands. Just a thought……

    • Jo Middleton
      22 May, 2023 / 5:33 pm

      True true, and I have seen penguins plenty in zoos too, it was more a reason to go to Antartica!

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