30 things to do before I’m 30

It’s the first day of 2015 – I can’t believe it! Happy New Year to all my readers – I hope your Christmas and New Year’s Eve were as enjoyable as mine were. Normally on the 1st of January I write down my New Year’s Resolutions, but this year I’m doing something a little different. For in March I enter my 30th year, which means that my 20s are rapidly running out. :( To mark the end of them I’m setting myself a challenge. I’m going to try to complete all 30 of the items on the list below before I turn 30 on 7 March 2016 (so basically in a year and two months). I got the idea from Holly Brockwell, and while her list may be a bit more adventurous than mine, I think it will be a fun challenge. I can see money being an issue in completing some of these, but I’ll give it a go and I’ll blog my way along! As you can see, I’m missing a couple at the end, so your suggestions are most welcome.

1. Get married – DONE
Hurrah, this is actually going to happen before I turn 30. It’s all booked and we’re counting down the days!

UPDATE: We got married on 20 September!

2. Get my pilot’s licence – DONE
Long overdue – I now have more hours and experience than a lot of people who already have their licences. But work has been getting in the way of a concerted effort to finish it. I just need to pull myself together to get through the final hurdles: six or so more solo hours, three more exams, a navigation skills test, a solo cross-country flight landing at two other airfields, and finally a general skills test. It may not sound it, but I’m nearly there!

UPDATE 19/1/15: Passed my navigation skills test yesterday, with flying colours! I’m getting there…
UPDATE 27/1/15: I’ve now successfully passed another ground exam and completed my qualifying solo cross-country flight!

UPDATE:  DONE! I passed my general skills test on 20 Feb 2015, which means I’ve finally got my licence! Read what I did to get it here.

3. Take the Advanced Driving Course – DONE
Mainly to keep my mum happy, but also to get cheaper car insurance!

UPDATE:  I’ve booked my place on the “Skills for Life” advanced driving course from the Institute of Advanced Motorists – my course starts 26 April!

UPDATE 3/7/15: I’m nearly finished my course and I’m apparently getting close to test standard. Wish me luck!

UPDATE – 6/9/15: I passed my test, so this challenge is officially done! Read about it here.

4. Do a photography course – DONE
As you know, I love my photography. But I’m constantly frustrated at my own limitations, particularly in understanding how different settings on the camera work. I bought Lee a new DSLR camera for Christmas, so I’m hoping he’ll let me borrow it from time to time as I embark on an online photography course to learn more.

UPDATE 3/7/15: The course has now officially finished but I still have two more assignments to complete before I upload my blog post with my efforts.

UPDATE: There were a couple of assignments that I never got round to doing, but I learned enough that I feel satisfied in marking this one complete!

5. Try side saddle riding – IN PROGRESS
I started riding again in 2014, after a gap of more or less a decade. This challenge was going to be ‘get my riding back up to speed’, but I’ve since found out that there’s a stable yard near here that does side saddle riding, so that’s going to be my riding challenge for this year.

UPDATE:  I’ve been doing normal riding regularly to build up my strength, and I have now cantered for the first time in a decade. It didn’t go too well as all my muscles seized up!

UPDATE: I tried phoning, emailing and Facebooking the only stables round here where you can do it, and despite multiple attempts, they never got back to me! So I tried, but through no fault of my own, I never completed this one. I still will one day though!

6. Learn to fly a different type of aircraft – DONE
I’ve been learning in our plane, Wilhelm, who is a motorglider. I’d like to add an additional rating to my licence, when I get it, which will probably be ‘Single Engine Piston’, which is basically the standard light aircraft such as Cessna 172s and Piper PA28s. This should be a matter of simply two or three hours’ differences training, and I’ve flown 172s a lot in the past so I don’t foresee it being too difficult.

UPDATE: Conversion to single engine piston aircraft on a Piper PA28 booked for May!

UPDATE: DONE! Completed my differences training 15/5/15 in the PA28. Read about my training here.

7. Rebrand my business – DONE
I’ve been a freelance copywriter for over a year now, and it’s been going really well. But I’m still using my old blog modified into a website for professional purposes, and it looks awful. I’m changing my surname to Lee’s when we get married, so this seems the perfect opportunity to rebrand my business at the same time. So this year will see me building yet another website and battling with WordPress again!

UPDATE:  I’ve started building my new website. It’s going to be awesome!

UPDATE: I’ve now launched it – see my new freelance copywriter website!

8. Get the number of books I’ve read on the BBC 100 Books to 50 or more – DONE
I started working my way through this list a few years ago, but it’s fallen a little by the wayside of late. Of the top 100, I’d read 43 at the last count. So my mission for this exceptionally busy year is to have read at least 50 books by the time I turn 30. I’ll do a post recording my progress soon.

UPDATE:  a post on my progress can be found here.

UPDATE: I’ve now read 50 of the 100 books, so I’m marking the challenge as complete. However, I’m continuing to work my way through the list with some additions of my own.

Books read since the start of the challenge:

  • Catch 22, Joseph Heller – finished 19/2/15
  • Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens – finished 18/3/15
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee – finished 16/4/15
  • The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger – finished 14/5/15
  • Madame Bovary, Gustav Flaubert – finished 26/6/15
  • Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden – finished 1/8/15
  • The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon – finished 5/9/15

9. Get an article published in print – DONE
As a copywriter, I’ve had a few things published for clients in trade publications, brochures and so forth, but, though I occasionally get to write online blog posts and articles with my name on them, I don’t get to write things in print attributed to me. It would be great to try to get something published in one of my favourite magazines, such as Country Living.

UPDATE: I had an article published in Four Shires Magazine last February, with an author bio. Here it is.

10. Start the process of buying a house – DONE
I’m deliberately leaving this one fairly vague (as opposed to “buy a house”) as I know how time-consuming these things can be, and I don’t know what our financial situation will be like. We’re hoping to move to a bigger house at some point in the not-too-distant future, but I need two years’ self-employed accounts for mortgage purposes first. So by the time I’m 30 I want at least to be looking at potential properties.

UPDATE: December 2015 – subject to contract and everything going smoothly, we have found the dream house and are currently going through the stressful process of purchasing it, so I’ve definitely started the process of buying a house!

11. Visit Highclere Castle – DONE
I’ve been wanting to go to Highclere Castle – aka Downton Abbey – for absolutely ages, but we just never seem to get round to it.

UPDATE:  tickets booked for July!

UPDATE: Done 20/7/15 – see pics here.

12. See Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet – DONE
I can’t believe I’ve neither seen nor read either of these two most famous of Shakespeare’s plays.

UPDATE – tickets for Hamlet at the RSC booked for March, so I’m crossing this one off because even though I won’t actually see the play itself before I’m 30, I have at least booked tickets and will see it a couple of weeks after my birthday.

13. See The Nutcracker or Swan Lake – DONE
Never even been to a ballet before!

UPDATE: Done 11/12/15 – we went to see The Nutcracker at the Birmingham Hippodrome, conducted by a friend of ours! I still want to see Swan Lake, but this challenge is officially complete!

14. Eat at the Fat Duck or other Michelin-starred restaurant
The big ambition is the Fat Duck’s tasting menu, but if I can’t get a table then I will settle for another restaurant with at least one Michelin star.

15. Progress with my Italian
I’m truly hopeless at all languages apart from English, but as a great fan of Italy I really need to get better at Italian. Thus far I can order a meal, ask where something is, and that kind of thing. I think as a measure for this one I will complete my basic learn Italian book.

16. Learn to draw
I can barely even draw a stick man, so I’m going to work through a learn to draw book. I’ll post the results on here.

UPDATE:  Learn to Draw book is in the post. I will post the results when I’ve finished working through it.

17. Take my baking to the next level – IN PROGRESS
Having mastered the basics of baking, I’d like to try to learn some more complicated recipes. Let’s say five, including brioche and Battenberg cake.

UPDATE:  Recipe 1 – Battenberg cake

UPDATE:  Recipe 2 – chocolate and almond marbled Bundt cake

18. Take my cooking to the next level – IN PROGRESS
The same thing, but five more complicated savoury meals.

UPDATE:  Recipe 1 – barbecue pulled pork

19. Take a dance lesson for our first dance – DONE 21/8/15
This is the bit I’m most scared about when it comes to our wedding. I’m truly horrendous at dancing and yet everyone will be watching us! So I think it might make me feel more confident if Lee and I do a dance lesson to prepare for the big day. That’s a big deal for me. I feel so self-conscious!

UPDATE: done! We were really nervous about it but we had a lesson and we’ve learned some basic modern jive moves ready for our big day. It was fun!

20. Take part in a murder mystery evening – DONE
Ever since I first saw the concept of a murder mystery evening on an episode of Chucklevision (so that’s going back a bit!), I’ve wanted to take part in one.

UPDATE: Done, 18/12/15 at Ettington Park Hotel – and we won! Blog post here.

21. Fly a vintage biplane – DONE
I’ve never flown in an open cockpit aircraft, or a biplane, so it’s time to do something about that.

UPDATE 24/3/15:  DONE! This was originally going to be ‘Fly a Tiger Moth’ but I ended up flying a 1946 Stampe SV4, which is much the same thing. Read more about my flight here. I may still try to fly a Tiger Moth or Boeing Stearman sometime this year if the opportunity arises.

22. Fly a microlight – DONE
Same, but with a flex-wing microlight. Those are the ones with the sort of triangle-shaped wing.

UPDATE 16/6/15: DONE! See pics and a video of my flight here.

23. Apply to be on another TV quiz show – DONE
I once appeared on the BBC2 quiz show ‘Eggheads’. My team and I didn’t do very well, but the whole experience was great fun! So this time I think I will apply for something like ITV’s ‘The Chase’. You never know, I might win some money to go towards the new house!

UPDATE: I have applied for The Chase. Apparently it could be months before I hear anything back, but my application is in, at least!

UPDATE:  I’ve passed a telephone interview and have made it through to the audition phase!

UPDATE: After a successful audition, I’ve been shortlisted to be on the show! Watch this space.

UPDATE: I’ve also applied to be on a Derren Brown show. As the challenge was to have the guts to apply, rather than actually get chosen, and I’ve auditioned and everything, I’ll consider this challenge complete even if I don’t make it onto the TV.

24. Go on an American roadtrip – DONE
Hopefully doing this for our honeymoon.

UPDATE:  American road trip complete! Lots of blog posts coming soon…

25. Drive an Aston Martin – DONE
I’ve been driving for nearly three years, which means I should now be able to do a track day. I’d love to drive an Aston Martin – maybe the DB9 or Vantage.

UPDATE: Done at Silverstone on 31/10/15, and I drove a Ferrari too!

26. Eat a toffee apple – DONE
A nice easy-to-achieve one. I’m nearly 30 and I’ve still never eaten one.

UPDATE – I ate one while we were in Monterey, California. I loved it!

27. Update my image – DONE
I’m bored of my hair and it drives me mad, and I’m also bored of my wardrobe. Money permitting, I’d like to update both my wardrobe and my look to reflect the fact that I’m a bit older now (an old married woman!).

UPDATE: new specs on the way from Specsavers. They’re radically different from the ones I’ve worn for the last 12 years!

UPDATE:  new glasses can be seen here. I have since also had blonde highlights done again, and bought a load of new clothes from Joules and Pepperberry, so I’m considering this one done. The glasses were the biggest thing for me.

28. Learn to practise mindfulness – DONE
I spend far too much of my time worrying, and to combat my anxiety I’ve been meaning to learn to practise mindfulness. My sister got me a little book for Christmas to get me started, so after I’ve worked my way through that I’ll look out for a course or something that I can do.

UPDATE: mindfulness colouring books are proving satisfying and I’m making progress.

UPDATE: Well I may not be able to practise it flawlessly, but I’ve definitely learned to practise it thanks to a bit of reading on the subject and discovering the therapeutic powers of colouring, so I’m making this one complete!

29. Take part in the 365 Days of Happy Instagram challenge – DONE
Kindly suggested by Alice Little. This aims to encourage one to see the positives even when you’re having a bad day. I will start this on my 29th birthday and take a photo every day until I’m 30.

UPDATE: Follow me on Instagram to see how I’m doing. I’ll also do some monthly highlights on the blog here.

30. Explore a new town or city through geocaching – DONE
I came up with this one, as I like exploring new places and geocaching is great fun. It’s like a giant treasure hunt, and I’ve done it before but never in a new place. It’s a brilliant way to get to know somewhere new!

UPDATE – done, in Nottingham, 27/2/16

TOTAL = 24/30

But I did also see the Northern Lights in the final hours of my twenties, a lifetime ambition that I feel cancels out what’s left on the list! :-)

2 Comments on 30 things to do before I’m 30

  1. TonyOX3
    January 1, 2015 at 3:32 pm (4 years ago)

    If you do the American road trip – or even if you don’t – I’d make #29 “ride a Harley Davidson” (pillion if you haven’t got a licence). And how about “go to a [insert favourite musician(s)] gig” as #30?

    • Rachel McCombie
      January 1, 2015 at 4:18 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks, both good suggestions! I’m liking the Harley Davidson one particularly, though not sure how this could be achieved. Will add it to my shortlist for the final two! :)