Blog post #10: 100 things to do before you die

In 2000, when one of my best friends (lets call her Aidan), was on a sandwich year in the USA but felt like she was just ‘bobbing along’ the two of us came up with the idea to make a ‘bucket list.’ It started as a casual conversation but we became determined to make it to 100, and alongside the list there was a strict rule set:

  1. It had to be something both of us actually wanted to do
  2. It had to be something neither of us had already done
  3. It had to be ACTUALLY achievable, ie ‘reach Everest base camp’ instead of ‘climb everest’, ‘raise a child’ instead of ‘have a child’ just incase one or both of us runs into fertility problems…
  4. The list can be reviewed every 5 years with anything we both agree on removing, that neither of us has already done can be removed from the list, and new things added to keep it at 100 – this way the hope is we will always actually want to do things on the list. Although if the other person has already done it and then you go off it…. a bit of a bummer…

It was extremely hard to actually make it to 100 things using those criteria and the quality of our suggestions distinctly deteriorated towards the end of the list. Last year we had our first ‘redo’ of the list and needless to say it was even harder to fill the spaces we created with our purge. Much harder than taking off things we didn’t want to do! I think we limited to changing only 5 things but I can’t remember if we decided to stick to this rule or not.

It would be easy enough to write a similar list of things you have actually done (but quite fun to do this if you need a bit of a booster, I did this with my mum to show her she actually had done quite a few pretty cool things in her life.) And I definitely think writing a list as one person would be easier to hit the 100 but also I don’t think it would be as fun – there are things on the list that I never would have thought to put on mine but that I have really enjoyed doing/am looking forward to doing.

It might seem like a cliché or something that has become a bit of a fad, but I wanted to write this post to celebrate the positive impact making this list has had on my life. I hope that Aidan has had a similarly positive experience, although I fear she may not have been quite as doggedly attached to completing and recording our list related exploits as I have become!

This blog post is blog post number 10. Significant because on the list is ‘write a blog with at least 10 posts’. I can’t remember which of us suggested this, but I do know that it was only the fact it was now on this list that made me actually go out and pic a site to start actually writing. And for this I am very thankful, even if I am only wittering away to myself, I am enjoying blogging, and take something positive from every post (at least that is my aim, I have only had one that I didn’t feel completely satisfied with so far.)

There are quite a few other things that I wouldn’t have actually forced myself to do had it not been on the list:

  1. I ran a marathon! And I was 100% dedicated to my training schedule (mostly out of fear) despite that fact that i spent the 6 weeks leading up to it travelling around Europe. This was a bit of an inconvenience but gave me some amazing experiences such as a 16 mile run through field of sunflowers in the outskirts of Geneva, a 20 mile run doing a few laps around Lake Bled in Slovenia, and an array of runs through the countryside surrounding the stunning Plitvici lakes in Croatia. Some extremely happy memories, that fill me with a sense of peace when I look back at them.

2. I told a boy I liked that I liked him. It may not sound like much but the criteria of this were that you had to really be completely unsure of whether or not the recipient was interested or not – the aim was to be forward and put yourself out there in a vulnerable place. Not only would I not have done this had it not been on the list, I only did it because Aidan had already done it so I knew there was no way of taking it off the list and the perfect opportunity presented itself. This memory does not fill me with happiness and peace, it mostly fills me with cringyness and some pride, depending on whether i think of it in the abstract (pride!) or the details… (massive massive cringe).

Both of us were rejected. Aidan I definitely feel had it easier. Not only did she do it just before she flew home from the USA – potentially never having to see this person again, or possibly even be on the same continent… but she was also acting under the influence of alcohol. And although she was rejected, we are pretty sure the guy is gay. I on the other hand was STONE COLD SOBER, and did it when i knew i had to work with the guy for another 8 months. And i wasn’t leaving the country. And I’m pretty sure he isn’t gay.

I have to say, despite the cringe, it was kind of liberating, we both did it at the point where we had been flirting for months, many friends/colleagues already assumed that something was going on, and we just felt that we would rather know they weren’t interested so we could stop wondering and just move on. I was so proud of myself at the time that I didn’t even feel gutted about the rejection for a fair few days. Quite an achievement really and I would recommend it. Its freeing.

3. We spent an entire day making balloon animals. Totally random, but so much fun, and such epic photographs…

4. I spent 18 months trying to learn how to juggle. Yes that’s right… 18 months – which also included the time in europe. I did gain the ability to juggle for a very short about of time, very unreliable. Mostly I was just a massive liability who shouldn’t be allowed to touch juggling balls in the proximity of breakables. Or maybe humans/general objects. Or probably just shouldn’t try to juggle. Aidan was in charge of deciding when this was ‘completed’ as we get to be the judge of whether the other person deserves to tick each thing off the list, and she essentially let me cross it off for effort. Effort and the fact she couldn’t take being around me trying to juggle any longer. (See top photo…)

I could continue to ramble on about all the other things we have done, such as going to Dans Le Noir in london (google it and go, this was such an amazing experience), going on cooking classes, paintballing, hot-air ballooning, the list goes on. But I feel this is a good snippet of the positive effect of the list, and yet again it is past my bedtime!

So hope you enjoyed,



A Love of Bees

Since the moment when Donna Noble mentions ‘that thing about the bees disappearing’ to The Doctor in ‘Partners in crime’ in Season 4 Episode 1 of Doctor Who, I have felt strongly about the plight of the bees. I mean whats not to love – they are adorable and fuzzy, super super useful, you might say crucial to our survival, and way nicer than wasps. People can’t care about things they don’t know about, and are unlikely to care about things they know little about, so rather than writing a preachy blog about how we should all worry about the bees I am just going to collect some fun bee facts, possibly wondering slightly into the realms of why we should care and hope that I am spreading a little bit of Bee-love. If nothing else I will learn a fair bit in writing this blog post I’m sure!

Yes I am a massive Doctor Who fan. My gardening equipment currently lives in a ‘Tardis Toolkit’ box. I will not apologise for this. And on this note here are some other Bee references in Doctor Who:

  • The seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) whilst at a tea party with Thomas Jefferson claimed that Aristotle wouldn’t stop ‘wittering on about’ bees
  • The doctor who explanation for the disappearing bees: Migrant Bees from the planet Melissa Majoria had been living alongside Earth’s bees for a long time, and when the Migrant Bees left earth, Earth scientists struggled to find a cause of the sudden drop in the bee population.

Here are some actual (hopefully interesting) facts about bees:

  • Honey Bees are assigned jobs depending on their age – going out and collecting pollen etc is the top rung of the ladder for worker bees and they don’t get to do this until they are 22 days old (half their life span!)
  • Honey Bees communicate by ‘Dancing’ – they communicate details such as the angle and distance you need to fly out to go and find a food source. The angle calculation factors in the fact that the earth is round!
  • Male honey bees don’t do any work. They just laze around the hive and occasionally fertilise eggs – dyeing after they mate. The females kick them out in the winter to help conserve resources over the winter. Brilliant.
  • The tiniest bees are only 2mm long!!! (a type of stingless bee) – adorable! – the biggest are 39mm (a type of leaf cutter)
  • Bees like strong smelling plants like honeysuckle, whereas butterflies prefer more subtle scents
  • Bees, like us, have three types of colour receptors (trichromatic) however unlike us, Bees’ colour receptors are ultra-violet, blue and green so it is thought that bees prefer blue, white and purple flowers. However this isn’t the whole story – some red flowers have ultraviolet patterns on which guide the bees onto the ‘landing pad’ – amazing!!!
  • There are 250 species of bee in the UK and only 1 is a Honey Bee!

So are the bees really disappearing?

Yes. All bee species are in decline – 2 species of bumblebees in the UK have already become extinct. ( 20 bee species in total are gone from the UK and a quarter of our species are counted as ‘threatened species’

This fact is no longer disputable, I’m not going to list all the evidence here, if you really don’t believe me I don’t think I will be able to convince you! But here is a report on the health of 12 iconic bee species in the UK:

I’m also not going to go into the potential causes. There are many theories, probably many factors, and lots of ongoing discussion. Maybe I will talk about them another day…

If you are interested in this here is a link to a website where you can download a review by Greenpeace into the factors endangering pollinators and agriculture in Europe:

I recently took part in The Great British Bee Count, which is run by Friends of the Earth as part of the Bee-Cause. (Get it? Bee-cause? LOVE IT) Essentially you have an app on your phone and log your bee sightings including photographic evidence. Friends of the earth then use this to monitor the health of the UK bee population. The website includes many suggestions of little ways you can help Bees should you wish to… Here are some of my bee photos:

The friends of the earth website informs me that only a third of the general public can correctly identify a bumblebee and a honey bee!

So I will end with a little, extremely basic, bee guide: (I did not take these amazing photographs)

This is a bumblebee. ( There are a few different bumblebees with white-tipped. It could be the white tipped bumblebee, but it could also be a garden bumblebee or a heath bumblebee…

This is also a bumblebee. Red-tailed probably. There is also a red-shanked carder bees but they are very rare, where as red-tailed are common.

Honey Bee!

Honey Bee!

I’m gonna stick with just those two for now…

Hope you enjoyed,


Positive Beginnings

It’s all change in my life at the moment. (I’m going to ignore the political climate in this positive post) I could have referred to this period in many ways, ‘challenging changes’, ‘stressful moves’, ‘flailing at adulting’, ‘a journey towards unemployment’ are just a couple of examples that spring to mind… However, despite the difficulties associated with the practicalities of all this change I have positive feelings about this new chapter that I’m embarking on so rather than focusing on the chaos of the interim I am going to focus on ‘Positive beginnings.’

One of my changes is that I have moved house. Not only have I moved but so did my 7 house plants, the strawberries, tomatoes, wheelbarrow herb garden and my multitude of other pots. Onto a second floor balcony.

Needless to say moving a wheelbarrow full of soil with a non-functioning wheel was nothing short of a challenge. No spillages and the wheelbarrow remained intact, however I’m not sure if I can see the same for one of the bones in my finger. There was a small (well not so small really) incident of dropping the wheelbarrow, trapping my fingers between a metal bar and the rim of the moving van. There were a lot of tears and ice, and it did make the rest of the move a little challenging seeing as I could no longer grip with my right hand but, despite this, we made it.

And so starts the new beginning of LIVING WITH A BOY. He is a very lovely, extremely clean and tidy boy but it is a shock to the system nonetheless. I have moved into his flat, meaning we are currently in a period of slowly integrating my belongings and trying to make the flat feel like ‘our’ home instead of his. It’s the first time that I havent been completely in charge of my own space, laundry, shopping etc since I left home. However, I have faith that things will settle down and we will love spending time at home together 🙂

The plants have coped very well with move. Atticus II, Arthur and Adelaide got re-potted before the move into some proper indoor pots that are a bit more boyfriend friendly, with some nice stones to hide the soil. Antoine and Fizz have been looking a lot more healthy since being moved out of direct sunlight. The Tomatoes have had a growth spurt since I started feeding them with tomato food – although no signs of any flowers yet :-(. The wheelbarrow is overflowing as per usual, I am trying to keep on top of the pruning to stop the oregano flowering although this is proving quite challenge. My geranium has burst into splendid red flowers and, most excitingly, I have had some strawberries to eat!!! The birds got their hands on a few before I realised the were ready, I was very confused at finding a half eaten strawberry dropped in the herb garden! I did try, slightly half-heartedly, to take some rose cuttings from my old house, I didn’t have any root hormone which the internet tells me I need, I simply took 3 cuttings at 45 degrees and plonked them into some wet soil. 2 of the cutting wilted away within a few days but 12 days later one of them is still looking pretty alive….

The caterpillar in this photo is from a rusty tusker moth, a very funky looking specimen which I have had about 5 of so far, I look forward to having a family in the future and having an excuse to bring him inside and watch him turn into a moth! The strawberries are small and bizarrely shaped but very tasty and extremely sweet! Bizarrely my big Albion strawberry plants havn’t even put flowers out yet, I shall have to investigate if they are a late-blooming variety.

The other big change for me is my career. I have resigned from a job that I thought was a good choice for potentially a good work-life balance but unfortunately it just didn’t give me a buzz. If I already don’t feel passionate about my job at 27 there isn’t much hope for the rest of my career and I knew that I would absolutely hate leaving my children at home to go to work in a job that I felt so ambivalent about. The ability to resign is a privilege that I know can have much worse implications for different professions, or people in different walks of life. It wasnt a decision I took lightly – even knowing that I will be able to find an income resigning is a huge step, and for me it was certainly an emotional roller coaster. I am very grateful for the opportunity I now have to have a year or two of locuming, holidays, gardening, writing and generally taking charge of my own life before embarking on my next training programme. Bring on the independence, bring on the autonomy, bring on the freedom and the future!


PS Should I call it balconying now that my plants live on a balcony and not a garden?