I am now well into the final year of my thirties, and its time perhaps for a bit of reflection. Looking back on how I got here, the journey along the way, as well as more recently since I met my wife and life moved up a gear.
When you are a child, time seems to go so slowly, always wanting to be older, waiting for something, the six week summer holidays can feel like literally forever, just waiting for the weekend can feel like torture, and yet as an adult time seems to go much faster, the months can feel like weeks, and weeks begin to feel like days. I have somehow only got two weeks left of my six week summer break, four of those weeks have gone already, and I don’t even know where! It still feels like the summer break has only just started, and already I need to give some consideration to squeezing everything in that I wanted to do before I went back to work!
Of course, anyone who knows me well, will know how I love to make lists. Any kind of event, in my opinion, is much more likely to go without a hitch with just a simple bit of planning, and nothing makes that easier than a list, such as our recent holiday in Torquay, or planning our wedding, or what to take to the hospital when we were expecting Olivia, etc.
One thing I did give some consideration to recently, was another kind of list, not a bucket list, but what seems to be a popular theme from the little research I did, forty things to do before you’re forty. I spent a little while thinking about my list, and came up with much more than forty options. I spent a little while whittling it down, and considering what I was hoping to achieve from it. This list is not specifically a list of goals or targets that I “must complete or I have failed at life”, some of the points are general things that I think most people would want to tick off before they’re 40, some are things I may have already achieved, some of them are things that I may never achieve, but that doesn’t make them any less valid, a man needs to have dreams! Some of these things may seem bizarre, or maybe just not sound very exciting, but for me they are things that I think are either important to do, or maybe something we just need to stop putting off. I will try to explain each one, even if only briefly, as to why I have chosen this above others.
Here is my list, in no particular order:-
1) Party in Ibiza till the sun comes up. DONE!
I have been to Ibiza a number of times, and on the last visit I got engaged there, popping the question as we watched the burning sun sink into the ocean. I love the island and have seen all aspects of it, from the old town to the rowdy english lager lout corner, from the sleepy villages to the international superclubs. I’ve partied hard and had fun, but I definitely needed to do that before I was 40!
2) Run a half marathon. DONE!
I completed my first Birmingham Half Marathon in 2011 and then went on to it again three more times and also the Silverstone Half Marathon. I’ve broken the 2hr mark, but still want to try and break the 1hr45 mark, so I will undoubtedly try it again. Its no secret that I am fitter now than I was at 21, and do far more exercise, even if I am slightly heavier, but I am glad I got the half marathons under my belt before I got any older! Not that being over 40 would stop me, but when you are trying for timed races, you don’t want to leave it too late!
3) Get a tattoo. DONE!
I have never been opposed to tattoos, I’d just never found anything I liked enough until we went to California on our honeymoon, and I had a dragon put on my arm whilst in San Diego. It gave me the taste for more, but now we have a child and another on the way, that is just going to have to wait!
4) Visit Las Vegas.
This was originally my plan for my 40th, to get out and celebrate in style in Vegas with friends. Since the arrival of Olivia, and the news that number two is on the way, that trip has been postponed and my 40th birthday plans heavily downgraded!
5) Get married. DONE!
Its not necessarily something you can make plans for, you’re either with the right person or you’re not! For me, it came at the perfect time though, I’d done a lot of growing up prior to meeting Clare and was ready to settle down!
6) Have Children. DONE!
I always wanted to have had my children before I turned 40, it was important to me. I didn’t want to be an “old” dad. I didn’t want people assuming I was the grandparent and not the parent. Sure, I left it a bit late, but again, it was the right time for me. Of course, I never went into any of my previous relationships trying to work out if they’d make a good mother or not, but as you begin to creep towards 30 that thought does start to cross your mind. Clare was perfect, and I knew as soon as I met her that she was the girl I wanted to settle down with and have a family with. She was my winning lottery ticket!
7) Learn to oil paint.
You may think its a pretty low goal, not much of an achievement if I do manage to do it. The artist in me would love to have a go at this though. Photography has been wonderful, but sometimes its nice to create rather than just capture. Why is this on my before 40 list? Well if I get to around to starting this and really enjoy it, I’ll have missed out on years of doing it, plus I don’t want to be 75 and find either my eyesight has gone or my hands are now too shaky.
8) Go to Disney World. DONE!
The child in me jumped at the chance of doing this! It was my first ever holiday abroad, my first journey on an airplane, and I was off to Florida! It seemed rude to go all that way and not do Disney! No matter how old you are, its still a lot of fun! Sure I was 23 when I went, but I felt about 7 again!
9) Learn a new language.
Yes, I am British, and yes I expect everyone to understand me no matter where I go in the world! I was top of my class in French at school, but that was a loooong time ago! I have been on Spanish holidays many times, and of course I know some key phrases such as ordering drinks and food etc, but not enough to hold even a basic conversation, so I can’t really count either of theses as knowing another language.
10) Complete a three peaks challenge.
I arranged to do this with friends 10 years ago and ironically couldn’t go myself in the end, even though my friends carried on! I tried it again with a large group of work colleagues more recently, but when part of the group got lost, it set the rest of us back and we ran out of time to get to Ben Nevis. A smaller group of us are going to try it again soon, without the distractions of slower members, so hopefully this will be completed before the big 4-0!
11) See a west end show. DONE!
Actually I have been to see several, and they are all fantastic. Each one was a wonderful experience, and worth every penny! The first was Miss Saigon back in the 90s, then I went to see Blood Brothers about 10 years ago, and more recently saw Mamma Mia which was so much fun, and the music blew me away! With nippers in tow, it will be a while before we get a chance to do it again, but I’m keen to get down and see another one, maybe for a wedding anniversary in the future!
12) Go to a festival.
Never done it. I guess they never really excited me when I had the opportunity, but now I realise I’d love to have a go! I refuse to pay the ridiculous prices of the big named festivals, the obvious famous ones, but I keep becoming aware of smaller, more local ones that friends go to, some of which are more child friendly. Maybe something to consider for when Olivia and Jr are a bit older?
13) Visit a casino. DONE!
I went to one about 10 years ago with some friends on a drunk night out, but was well aware I had no idea what I was doing, and saw fit to leave my wallet in my pocket and just watch! Last year a group of us went to one for a friends 40th birthday, and I joined a poker table, and even won a little money, enough to mean my night was virtually free, even after the meal and drinks we’d had! Bonus!
14) Play an instrument. DONE!
Not a lot of people know that I actually used to own a bass guitar and be able to play it. I was even in a band for a little while. We practised each week and it was fun, I even organised a charity band night at the pub I worked at, to raise money for a local charity. As the manager was a friend of mine, I left all my equipment where I thought it would be safe afterwards. I never saw it again. I knew who took it, but could prove nothing. I never played again after that!
15) Learn to ski.
Always wanted to ski, never done anything about it. The school I work at have even sent pupils on skiing residentials, but only staff with skiing experience could go! So unfair! Will I get a chance to learn before I am 40? Unlikely, but I am not ruling out the chance of doing it one day!
16) Learn a martial art. DONE!
I’d thought about doing this for years, and never did anything about it, but then I discovered a friend of mine was a black belt in jujitsu and so joined him at his class. Five years later and I am now a brown belt in jujitsu, the next grading I take will be for MY black belt, although with each belt it takes longer until the next one, so I am still a few years away from black yet!
17) Drive down the coast of California. DONE!
Of the many options we had for our honeymoon, we picked California. There was plenty to do, it wasn’t all based around one hotel, one pool and one beach. Plus Clare was unlikely to seriously burn her pale skin on this kind of holiday! We landed in San Francisco, took in Napa Valley, drove down Route 1 to Carmel, Pismo Beach and Los Angeles, and ended our stay in San Deigo. It was everything we could have hoped for from a honeymoon! I’d do it again tomorrow if we could!
18) Go camping. DONE!
Yeah, I know, it sounds simple! Its something that not everyone has had a chance to try though. I know I went as a child, with my dad and his girlfriend at the time, although I remember very little about it. I went about 10 years ago with a friend and our respective partners at the time, it was a failure! My friends girlfriend (after being warned about the lack of home comforts and luxuries) hated it so much she cried! We went home the next day! I got to go again on our recent three peaks attempt, and actually quite enjoyed it! I had a three man tent to myself, and thats about as small as I could go! I don’t know how people cope with smaller tents!
19) Complete a Tough Mudder! DONE!
I did my first (yes, I did it more than once!) Tough Mudder in 2013, and have to concede that its name is fair… its tough! I enjoyed it though, the challenge enticed me in a second time, and I did it again last year in 2014. I found it much easier the second time around, and felt proud to wear the orange headband and also the green “2x Mudder” headband! I am man, hear me roar!! On top of which, all the money goes to Help For Heroes, bonus!
20) Attend a live Formula 1 race.
I have been a big racing fan for many years now, and even remember my dad taking me to the Birmingham Super Prix when I was a child, I must have been 10 years old at the time. I was never really exposed to football at home, so I never really got into it, it was more about the racing for me. I started watching the Formula 1 and even remember watching the race back when Ayrton Senna famously crashed and lost his life. Now I am a bigger fan than ever, and have run a half marathon around Silverstone, and have even been for a tour of the buildings. I also got to visit the Circuit De Spa Francorchamps in Belgium on a school residential a few years ago, sadly nowhere near the F1 race on the calendar! Belgium would probably be my circuit of choice to see a race at, plus its quite easy to drive to!
So there is 1-20, the first half of my list of forty things to do before forty. A number of them already ticked off, not exactly cheating, they are still valid points. In an ideal world I may have started this list a few years ago and had longer to work on it, but as I didn’t I am just going to have to plod through it like it was some kind of project I’ve been working on for a long time! Just use your imagination!
I will do the big reveal of 21-40 in a few days time, stay tuned!