The final 15 things to do before I turn 40

With my 35th birthday (and thus the end of my 35 before 35 challenge) exactly one month away, I thought it was time I posted the third and final part of my 40 before 40 list. Part one is here, with the first 15 items, and part two is here with 10 more. That leaves 15 for me to reveal today.


  1. Get a dog
  2. See the Northern Lights (rolled over from the last list)
  3. See a play on the Seebühne (floating stage) at the Bregenzer Festspiele.
  4. Make chicken Kiev – you can’t get them here and surely it can’t be that hard?
  5. Get the tattoo I’ve been planning for a while – first I have to find a decent tattooist and someone who can draw it for me!
  6. Bake and decorate a cake
  7. Read The Canterbury Tales – my grandma bought this for Jan a few years ago and neither of us has even looked at it yet!
  8. Get a new dining table – we currently have 2 IKEA cheapy ones, which are fine (except that one has been on the balcony and is looking rather weathered!) but by the time I’m 40 I want to own a half-decent table!
  9. Remove all my books from my dad’s house, either by having my dad take them to charity shops or bringing them to Switzerland. I usually bring a few over every time I visit. By the time I reach 40 I hope to have completed the process!
  10. Bring my doll’s house over from England. I haven’t figured out how I’m going to do this but it’s mine and I want it!
  11. Go whale watching – this was on my last list and I still want to do it!
  12. Take a trip to the Farne Isalands. I haven’t been since I was a kid and I’ve been meaning to take Jan for years.
  13. Get to my goal weight… but I’m not telling you what that is 😉 I will say that I am 7 kg above it right now.
  14. Take an in-person course or join a group – it doesn’t matter what as long as it’s something that makes me get out there and interact with actual people. (Scary!)
  15. … I am leaving the final one open for now. If anyone has any suggestions please tell me in the comments (not bungee jumping). Otherwise I will definitely think of something to put here at some point.

10 more things to do before I turn 40

I recently posted the first part of a list of 40 things to do before I turn 40. Today, I want to show you the next ten items, appropriately 4 months to the day before the end of my 35 before 35 challenge.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

  1. Try 10 foods or dishes that I haven’t had before
  2. Take the funicular up to Rochers-de-Naye (thought to have been the inspiration for Rochers Neiges in Agatha Christie’s “The Labours of Hercules”) – thanks to Chomeuse for this one!
  3. Cook 10 recipes from cookbooks I own – I have loads that I rarely even glance at, so it’s time I made some use of them!
  4. Try an Escape Room
  5. Eat 5 or more portions of different fruits/vegetables every single day for a week (Monday-Sunday)
  6. Take the Glacier Express
  7. Visit a new place in Switzerland for each letter of my first name – thanks to Kezzie for this fabulous suggestion!
  8. Visit Pompei – I have wanted to do this ever since we learned about the volcanic eruption on primary school!
  9. Eat pizza in Naples (this one and the previous one can be combined in the same trip)
  10. See the Rocky Horror Show in the year of its 50th anniversary – I saw the 30th anniversary show when it came to Sunderland, then I went to see the show in German in what I only later realised was its 40th anniversary year. So it only makes sense to see it again in 2023 (since that will be the year I turn 40, if the actual show turns out to be after my birthday I will count this item as completed if I at least have the tickets!)

That’s 25 so far… I will post the remaining 15 within the next few months. Please feel free to give me suggestions in the comments.

Thinking of 40 things to do before I turn 40

My birthday is creeping ever closer, and even though I’m definitely not going to complete all the items on my 35 before 35 list, I’ve enjoyed it so much that I decided to make a new list, of things to do before I turn 40 – even though the idea that my next milestone is forty makes me feel slightly sick. HOW CAN THAT BE? I am still very far from having 40 things on my list – it took me long enough to think of 35 last time never mind an extra 5! But I thought I would share with you what I have so far.

Toblerone cheesecake
Cake just seemed like an appropriate photo…
  1. Go to the festival of lights in Lyon
  2. Beat Jan at mini golf – he always wins, but just once I would like to beat him
  3. Make flour soup (a staple of Basel Fasnacht)
  4. Watch 10 films in German – I hate watching dubbed English films, so this will probably also mean finding 10 German films!
  5. Read the rest of the books from the BBC Big Read Top 200 – I’m not going to finish this by August, but I do want to read them all so I’m rolling it over to my 40 before 40.
  6. Learn basic Ukrainian – get to at least level 3 on Duolingo
  7. Visit Ukraine – this was on my original list, but I changed it due to safety concerns. I’m hoping in the next 5 years things will calm down a bit…
  8. Go out for afternoon tea
  9. Build a snowman – surely at some point in the next 5 years there will be enough snow for me to do this?
  10. Visit Auschwitz
  11. Look for dwarfs in Wroclaw
  12. See the leaning tower of Pisa – it’s probably not even that impressive, but I just want to see it
  13. Read 25 non-fiction books – apparently 50 was too ambitious last time, but 25 should be doable, right?
  14. Read a book published in each year of my life, so one book each from the years 1983 until 2023 (I don’t have to read them in order!)
  15. Give at least 100 pounds or euros to three separate charities

I do have a couple more, but I think 15 is enough for one post. I don’t havy anywhere near 40 though, so please let me know in the comments if you have any other ideas for things I could do. I will at least consider anything that isn’t bungee jumping!

Things I HAVE done before 30 – Part 2: Experiences

It’s been nearly a month since I started writing about the things I have managed to achieve before 30. The first part of the series, which discussed all the travel related things I’ve done, can be found here. Now it’s time to tell you about some of the other things I’ve done. Today’s post, which I’ve entitled “experiences” are going to discuss some of the things I’ve tried out during my (almost) 30 years of being alive. Here goes…

Tried many types of food.

I won’t include things like eating pizza in Italy or köttbullar in Sweden (although I’ve done both), because really those are pretty tame experiences. But here are some of the foods I’ve tried that are more unusual, or that some may consider the eating of disgusting/weird/cruel…

  • Frog’s legs  – bizarrely not in France (I’ve never yet managed to track them down there!), but in a restaurant in Karlsruhe. They were quite nice, and despite what people may tell you, they taste nothing like chicken! The meat is too dark for that. If I were to compare them to any bird I would say duck.
  • Rabbit – once in a pie, once at a friend’s house as a teenager (a freshly caught bunny that her uncle had brought over for them) and once in Malta. The meat tastes lovely but there are so many tiny bones! it’s almost as bad as fish! And no, I don’t feel at all guilty about eating cute little bunny rabbits.
  • Sushi – a few times now. At a Japanese restaurant, at a Chinese restaurant that does an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet (buzarre but true!) and also at a friend’s place where we made it ourselves. I don’t find the eating of raw fish disgusting per se, but I have discovered that I only really like the ones with tuna or salmon. All the white fish just taste weird to me, and the texture is like rubber. The vegetable ones tend to contain things like cucumber, which I also don’t like (in sushi or elsewhere!).
  • Squid – I’ve had this both in the form of calamari (i.e. deep fried and covered in batter) and also mini squids that just sort of lay there on a plate being all tentically. The calamari version is better, but has a weird tecture. Pure squid tastes weird and the little sucker things terrify me – I’m convinced they’re going to get stuck on my throat! As you may have guessed, I’m not a fan.
  • Caviar – my uncle had it at his 40th birthday party. Horrible salty stuff!
  • Haggis – I tried a little bit when my boyfriend was eating it in Scotland. It’s ok, but quite fatty. I’m not sure I’d manage a whole portion.
  • Saumagen – Literally “sow’s stoamch”. A speciality of the palatinate area of Germany (which isn’t far from here). It tastes much better than it sounds – quite salty though. The best description I can come up with is it’s a bit like tough gammon.

Been in a helicopter

While on holiday in Cornwall as a child. We flew from the mainland to Truro (one of the Scilly Isles). Sadly, it seems the company that did the flights has stopped them now.

Swam with dolphins

Well, swam is a bit strong for what I did. It was the Dolphin Emotions Experience at Zoomarine in Portugal – a birthday gift from my mum and siblings. The first part of the experience was a talk about dolphins, then we were allowed into the pool, where we didn’t so much swim as allow the dolphins to do tricks using us as their toys. One of the things was to tread water in the middle of the pool with both hands outstretched and let a dolphin push you round in a circle using one of your hands. It was an amazing experience! The below shows me having my photo taken with “my” dolphin, Dino. There was an official photographer to one side of the pool – this one was taken by my mum from the spectators’ area.


Been kart racing

And hated every single second of it. I can’t even drive a real car and I was terrified!! Everyone else was whizzing past and I was convinced someone was going to crash into me at any minute. Never again!

Climbed a mountain

Several actually, mostly in Austria. Not particularly high mountains, but it still counts!

Mountain view

Been to a number of beer festivals

And yes, one of them was Oktoberfest. Obviously! 😉 I’ve also been to several CAMRA real ale festivals in the UK.

A beer stand shaped like a ship, Karlsruhe Bierböse 2012
A beer stand shaped like a ship, Karlsruhe Bierböse 2012

Bathed a baby

OK, it was my little brother, I was seven years old at the time and my mum helped. Still an experience though, yes?

Cooked complicated meals for people other than myself

Christmas dinner for nine good enough for you? How about roast lamb for 11? I love doing it, but it’s sooo much work, every time.

Worked abroad

Goes without saying really, considering where I am 😉 But I really wanted to actually have it on the list.

That will do for now. I may add more if I think of any. In the mean time, look out for part 3, which will be on education type things.

I NEED to do this!

Giant barrels
Fancy sleeping in one fo these? (Photo credit: emotionaltoothpaste)

Quick post while on my lunch break.
I just randomly came across this link, while looking for something entirely different:

Black Forest Wine Barrel Hotel

B&Bs don’t come more fun than checking in for a night in a huge wine barrel. What once held 2,000 gallons of wine is now a comfy place to spend the night.

The village of Sasbachwalden is only around an hour’s drive from Karlsruhe, but that doesn’t mean we can’t spend the night there. Especially if it’s in a wine barrel.

This is definitely going on the 35 before 35 list!

For those who speak German, here is a link to the hotel’s own website: Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be available in English.

Things I HAVE done before 30 – Part 1: Travel

Venice from the air
Venice from the air

I said I was going to have a think about the things I have managed to achieve in life before hitting the dreaded 30, and since I currently have nothing else worth saying, now seems as good a time as any to start blogging about what I’ve come up with. I thought I would start with some of the travel-related things that I’ve done. Here they are…

Been to Rome – twice!
I have been to lots of places, actually. But Rome seems to be one that’s always mentioned when people talk about places  they would like to go, or think that everyone should really have been to.

The first time I went to Rome it was an 18th birthday present from my uncle. I went with him, his partner and my sister for a long weekend. I mostly remember delicious pasta, my uncle walking off in his own little bubble – crossing roads like the traffic wasn’t even there while the rest of us struggled to keep up, queueing for absolutely ages at the colloseum, but finding it was worth it once we got in, deciding Trevi fountain was my absolute favourite place on Earth, falling asleep under a tree in a park and drinking cocktails in an Irish bar. It was a good weekend.

My second trip to Rome was with Jan, my mum and step dad, my sister (again) and her boyfriend and my brother. I wrote a little about that trip here. My main memories of my second visit to The Eternal City include walking until I got blisters on my feet, finidng Trevi fountain to be just as beautiful as I remembered but much more crowded (I’m sure it must have been just as bad the first time and I’d just erased it from my memory), feeling like I was going to pass out from the heat at the Roman Forum (it’s impressive but there’s literally no shade!), creepy monk bones in the Capucin crypt (which you can read all about in the post I linked to) and queuing for ages to get into St. Peter’s Basilica.

Foro Romano: Impressive but severely lacking in shade!
Foro Romano: Impressive but severely lacking in shade!

Travelled first class
In Germany, it often works out cheaper to get the first class savings price than the regular price for second class (once the savers price for second class has run out). Jan and I did this on the way back from Hamburg, among other trips. I was also once allowed to take a seat in first class when the car where I had reserved a seat was not actually part of the train (this happens quite a lot in Germany… why?!). First class seats have more room, but other than that travelling first class on a train isn’t all that amazing.

I have also flown business class. The day we went to Rome was my 18th birthday. My uncle, at the time, was working at the airport – as was his flatmate. The flatmate was on duty that day, so he took our tickets and passports to wherever those in charge hide out when they’re not telling you what to do and had them upgrade us as a birthday treat for me. We also got free champagne on the flight. And before take off the co-pilot came to me and said he’d heard it was my 18th birthday and would I like to come in the cockpit for the landing? I was too stunned to reply, but luckily my sister said yes on my behalf – so when we landed in Rome I was in the cockpit of the plane! There’s an experience I doubt many people have had.

Lived in four different countries
Specifically England, Northern Ireland, Austria and Germany. Critics may say that, because we lived on an army base, we were technically in England, not Northern Ireland “proper”. I say that’s silly – of course we were living in Northern Ireland! And if anybody tries to tell me that England and Northern Ireland are not, in fact, countries but mere regions of the “country” that is the United Kingdom I may have to track you down and hurt you!

Feldkirch, Austria, where I lived for 10 months
Feldkirch, Austria, where I lived for 10 months

Been to the USA
Yes, I’m aware that it’s a big country, but going to the US is our equivalent of the Americans’ “go to Europe”. Where we go isn’t necessarily important, but everyone should (apparantly) have at least set foot on American soil.
Going to America had never been a particular ambition of mine, but Jan was there and I hadn’t seen him for 6 months, so when my dad offered me flights for Christmas I obviously leapt at the chance. I enjoyed my time there – my favourite of the places I saw was Philadelphia – but I have to admit I like Europe better. There’s just so much more history here! It was fun to visit a place called New Castle though – named after England’s very own Newcastle Upon Tyne! (Sorry, no photo. I have absolutely no idea where mine are!)

Seen Stonehenge
And Hadrian’s Wall, the Eiffel Tower, the Colloseum in Rome and the Statue of Liberty (from the ferry rather than up close, but still seen!).

Stonehenge on a cloudy day
Stonehenge on a cloudy day

Spent New Year in various places
Specifically New York (USA), Vienna (Austria), Prague (Czech Republic), Paris (France), Brussels (Belgium), Padua (Italy), Edinburgh (Scotland), Salzburg (Austria) and Luxembourg City (Luxembourg) – in that order. Next will hopefully be Madeira (Portugal).

The city of Brussels knows how to do fireworks! New Year 2008/09
The city of Brussels knows how to do fireworks! New Year 2008/09

Spent the night on a train
Once in the Liegewagen (couchette car) – the non-private, uncomfortable sleeping compartment where you get to smell complete strangers’ feet all night – and once in a proper sleeping compartment, which has more comfortable beds (with something resembling mattresses) and is for two people only. There’s also a wash basin in there (and the posh ones even have a shower!). The sleeping car I would recommend, the couchette not so much!

Been to all four countries of the United Kingdom
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales. Admittedly, I remember very little of Northern Ireland (I lived there for two years, but we left when I was 7), but I’ve still been!

Loch Lomond, Scotland
Loch Lomond, Scotland

Visited 30 German towns
At least that’s the plan. Hopefully by the time I reach 30 I’ll have completed this challenge! You can read all about my German travels on this very blog (check out the page on the right).

Travelled to numerous other places in Europe
The Channel Islands, Greece (Rhodes  – I would love to go the mainland), Spain, Portugal, Malta, France (not only Paris), Switzerland, Liechtenstein… I wonder if I’ve missed any?

A "living statue" on La Ramblas, Barcelona
A “living statue” on La Ramblas, Barcelona

If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading! Part two will look at some of the experiences I’ve had – such as trying different foods. Watch this space!

Some suggestions for the before 35 list

(Photo credit: Jeffpro57)

The other day, I mentioned that I’m in the process of making a list of things to do before I turn 35. I had only got as far as number 20 and was looking for suggestions for the final 15. I decided to open the question up to Facebook as well and got quite an interesting response. Here are the suggestions I’ve been given so far, plus the occasional comment from me:

  • Skydive → This one came up twice. I’m considering, but not sure yet.
  • Learn a musical instrument → From someone very musical. I would have to think of something easy to learn. The tamberine could be about my level 😉
  • Take a cake decorating class → I like this one!
  • Start a meetup club (book club, international club, young 30s group, whatever)
  • Travel first class → Done before. Not actually that exciting.
  • Run a 5k (or 10k or half marathon if you’ve done a 5k) → Hmm, I hate running!
  • Go rock climbing
  • Climb the Kilimanjaro
  • Travel down the Yangtze River in China → Probably an amazing experience, but I’m in two minds about whether I want to go to China.
  • Amazon rainforest or the place where the monks look after the tigers → From my sister. The latter would be the Tiger Temple in Thailand, I believe 😉
  • I’d put Russia or the trans Siberian there → A friend who is currently travelling the world. I have the Ukraine already – close enough?
  • Zorbing
  • Soaring → A German writing in English. I’m guessing he means gliding.
  • Australia → From my uncle’s partner. They live in Australia. This one is a possibility.
  • Dive the Great Barrier Reef → From my uncle in Australia. He also comments “one of the best things I’ve done” and he’s done A LOT. Diving though… not sure.
  • African safari → The same uncle. Before Australia, they owned a backpackers guest house in South Africa.
  • The Postojnska cave in Slovenia (click the name to view the website) → This is sooo on the list! It looks AWESOME!
  • Swim the entire length of the River Rhine → I hope this was meant as a joke. Either way it’s not happening!

I think if I actually wanted to do all these Ithink I will  need a better paid job! But one with lots and lots of annual leave… does such a thing exist? I have got a few new ideas now though. Updated list will follow in a few days.

Thinking of 35 things to do before I turn 35

35 (number)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are lists all over the blogosphere of things people want to do before turning 30 years old – it seems to be the magic (or rather opposite of magic) number that makes people panic and suddenly realise they’re getting old.

Since I’m turning 30 in only a little over 6 months (eeeeek!) and I’m already doing my 30 German towns before 30 challenge, I decided to leap straight onto the 35 before 35 bandwagon. Anything to help me feel like I’ve achieved something in my life!

I haven’t managed to complete my list yet – thinking of 35 things is actually pretty difficult! But here’s what I have so far. You may notice that some of them were taken from my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, which I failed to finish. Hopefully I’ll have better luck with this challenge!

  1. Visit the Ukraine
  2. Eat fondue in Switzerland
  3. Learn Spanish
  4. See another musical (possibly Phantom of the Opera)
  5. Get over my fear of sewing machines and learn to use one
  6. Travel round Britain again

    English: A hot air balloon in flight at the Mi...
    A hot air balloon in flight (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  7. Complete a cross stitch picture for myself
  8. Do 3 OU courses
  9. Make cheesecake
  10. Go whale watching
  11. Spend a night in a 5 star hotel and order room service
  12. Ride in a hot air balloon
  13. Read (or re-read) 50 non-fiction books
  14. Go back to Austria and finally try Marillenknödel
  15. Read 20 books in German
  16. Spend New Year on Madeira and see the fireworks display (it previously held the record for the world’s largest!)
  17. See a Shakespeare play (not performed by Oddsocks)
  18. Bake 10 different kinds of biscuits
  19. Find a recipe for garlic soup and make it
  20. Attend a world cup rugby match

So there you have it. I need 15 more. Ideas anyone? NOT bungee jumping – I will never, ever do that! I’m willing to consider most other things though. Once I have all 35 I’ll make a page where I can cross things off.

Oh, and immediately after starting to make my list, I remembered that the amazing Thoughtsy from Thoughts Appear is doing her very own 35 before 35 challenge (having previously completed 30 before 30 – I told you she was amazing!). I swear, I didn’t steal this idea from you, Thoughtsy 😉