30 Things Before 30

I’ll start by saying…I’m not having a mid-life crisis (yet). To be really honest, I’m not dreading the next big milestone birthday of 30. Sure, I’m a little surprised because, for now, I still feel like I’m 25 or something. Some days, I don’t even feel like I’m old enough to be an “adult”! But, the numbers are right, and I will be celebrating my 30th birthday in January 2022. I’m feeling positive about that. I think there’s a real gift about ageing well and appreciating every season, year or even moment. (But, ask me again at 40 and maybe I’ll feel different about how quickly life goes by!)

I’ve had quite a positive week and for some reason (probably the lighter and brighter weather, nature coming into bloom, the hope of the Easter story), the start of spring feels like new life to me — more than a new year in January or an academic year in September. I get this fresh wave of enthusiasm for reflection and goal setting, things just seem more possible in Spring, hope-filled, perhaps you feel it too? Anyway, you’ve probably guessed from the title but I decided to write a list of 30 things to do before I’m 30. It’s mainly just for fun and something positive and productive to focus on over the next 8 months. It features some very small things and some a little more challenging (I had to keep it realistic within current covid circumstances and given that I’ve already missed 3 months!)

23rd January is the deadline. That day is about 285 days away from today so I’ve missed about 80 days that could have been helpful to achieving my 30 things, but that’s partly why I’ve added a few to the list that I’ve already achieved (in blue) and some I already have planned (in purple). I’ve decided that’s not cheating because a) they were things I already wanted to do this year so would have ended up on the list if I had written it back in January and b) it’s my list so I’m pretty sure I can make the rules up. Just saying.

  1. Go Vegan for a month (or more!) 

So this one I have already achieved. I completed Veganuary but like I said, if I had written this list back then, I would have featured this because I’ve wanted to do this for a while. I really enjoyed the new options and do feel that massively reducing our meat and dairy intake is good for the environment, our health and simplicity.

2. Try new crafts

I’ve actually done a lot more of this since lockdown forced us to re-think our free time. I’ve tried scrap-booking, wreath-making, collages and embroidery… and really enjoyed all of them.

3. See a sunrise/sunset from a new place

I mean, it’s just a beautiful thing that we should do more of, right? I haven’t decided where but it will probably involve climbing some sort of mountain peak for a sunrise/sunset. Watch this space.

4. Experience cold water swimming

I’ve swam in cold seas and outdoor swimming pools before and I’ve tried to embrace cold showers as it’s apparently good for you. But I’ve not officially tried cold water swimming as a deliberate sporting activity…

5. Run further than you have run before

The furthest I have run is a 10km (6 miles) run or race, a few times. I am still tempted to do a half marathon at some point, but I think I will need to undertake a fair amount of extra training as I’ve lost some of my running fitness over the last year. So I’m going to aim to run further than I’ve ran before (probably about 10 miles, but maybe I’ll make it a half marathon at 12.whatever miles anyway.)

6. Do an escape room

I know I’m late to the party but I haven’t managed to do one of these yet. I’m also quite fussy about the type of mystery game I want to complete. I think I’ve found one I want to do fairly local so this one should be a fun one to tick off with some friends.

7. Go on a campervan trip 

Why not? We love days out, weekend adventures and trips away. So, as restrictions start lifting, we’d love to get a few days away in a campervan!

8. Taste a nut roast

Random, I know. But one of the things I really missed during Veganuary was a proper Sunday roast. However, I’m still determined to try other Vegan options so I’ll give a nut roast a go! I’m not a big fan of a nutty flavour, but maybe the other ingredients and flavours will help?

9. Re-read a story/series from childhood

I’d like to re-read the C.S Lewis Chronicles of Narnia series and I’ve recently re-acquired them from my parents but I think I’ll try to do this around November time so that it’s a wintery run up to Christmas season. Maybe I’ll sneak a few others on my reading list too!

10. Have a solo photoshoot

I’ve ticked this one off too! I love taking photos on my phone, SLR camera or polaroid, but I often feel camera-shy and unconfident on the other side of the lens. But when our wedding photographer was offering remote photoshoots (using a smart phone app) for teachers, I decided to go for it (!) and I’m so glad I did.

11. Make a will

This might seem morbid, but I think it’s important to have something in place and we can’t avoid the inevitable forever. Especially now being a married homeowner, with plans to have our own family, I think we should have a basic will as something to start with.

12. Learn about my family history

My parents are already investing a lot of time into this so I can’t really take credit for this one, but I would love to sit down with them and learn so much more about our ancestors.

13. Get a new haircut

It sounds easy enough, but I have rarely changed my haircut. And I’ll probably not change it dramatically, perhaps a fringe? Perhaps some highlights? If you know me, I have never even dyed my hair so this is actually quite a big deal for me. I’m still worried I might hate the change because my current long straight hair is super low maintenance, but what’s the worst that could happen? I could hate it.

14. Travel for a solo weekend away

I have travelled solo on day trips and weekends around the UK, and even flew across to South Africa solo (with a short stop-off at Paris) before meeting some friends out there, so I have had a big taste of it before. To be honest, I think I’ll always prefer travelling with my husband or family, but I think it’s important to enjoy your own company and challenge yourself to a little solo adventure!

15. Off-roading in a Land Rover 

My husband and his friends love Land Rovers and some are lucky enough to own or borrow one. I’ve driven an old Land Rover around some country fields and roads before, but I want to experience the full off-road experience for a day!

16. Try sushi

Some of you might think I’m crazy for not already trying sushi. But I am generally not a seafood fan other than some basic fish options, so it’s never really been on my priority list. But, I want to at least try it so that I know for sure that I don’t like it!

17. Learn at a rum cocktail class

I LOVE rum cocktails so this seems like a no-brainer for me. I’ve made many homemade rum cocktails and tried a fair few on an evening out! I’m going to try a class for some fun tasty new skills and tricks.

18. Donate blood again

It’s just a great, important thing to do! I have done this a few times, but I have not been for a few years now and I just need to get over myself and get myself booked in to donate more regularly. Simple.

19. Join a book/writing club

I never said it was a wild list! And now I’m starting to feel like a middle-aged, middle-class woman… but I do love books and writing, so I figured it would be nice to try out a book or writing club to share that with a small community.

20. See another West End show

This is usually my choice of birthday outing because I love a good theatre show! But, obviously, we have not been able to go for a long time now. However, we’ve booked our tickets for two-part, long-awaited (for me!)… The Cursed Child in London. I am so excited.

21. Get a tattoo?

This is the only one with a BIG question mark over. I like and appreciate tattoos on other people — but I’ve not personally felt the need to get one. However, every now and again, I sometimes think of a meaningful image or word, and think that I might like to have something small and symbolic to carry on my skin. But then I never settle on one idea and I’m not overly convinced, so this one may get axed!

22. Attend a photography class

I have already mentioned that I love taking photos and I really appreciate capturing memories. I regularly look back at photo albums and past photos on my phone but I don’t really know anything about photography or editing or anything, so I’d love to have a few hints and tips!

23. Sleep in a bell tent

Simple, but sounds and looks like a lovely thing to try (especially those ones decorated all ornate and quaint for a glamping trip).

24. Climb a mountain/peak 

This could probably be combined with the sunrise/sunset one earlier! It’s good to keep exploring and get out into the great outdoors. We occasionally go on long walks or hiking, but we generally prefer less strenuous activities, so I think it will be good to climb another mountain (maybe one I’ve not done before, like Scafell Pike or Ben Nevis, they would be more challenging too!).

25. Watch classic movies (Top 50!)

I love watching movies and probably watch films once or twice a week. But I often re-watch films I like and so I’m going to try and watch some classic films not yet watched. I’ve not yet decided which definitive list to use or whether I should just adapt my own.

 26. Grow my own vegetables

I have this dream of having a thriving vegetable patch or allotment, but I’m also not a gardener or a grafter (just ask my Mum or my husband!) so I think I like the idea, more than the process. But I am going to try a few beginner options to get a little vegetable harvest. I really need to think about that pretty soon given the current season…Mum, if you’re reading this, please can you help me?

27. Plan my next novel/ writing project

I’ve had a bit of a rocky patch this year with my writing. It’s just been difficult managing work change/stress and finding the right creative headspace to start from scratch again (after the highs of self-publishing back in early 2020) but I would love to complete another writing project, so I’m putting it on here to help push it forward.

28. Try a hot stones massage

It’s a good job some of these things we can do for free, otherwise I could have a very expensive year ahead of me. This one may be a little luxury but I’ve always wanted to try it, so why not?

29. Plan a ‘La La Land’ Themed Party

I’ve actually got a note on my phone with some detailed plans for this. The only issue being that La La Land (although being set across a year of all seasons) is mostly about colour and sunny Los Angeles so having a birthday party in January makes this somewhat ironic. I may need to finalise the plan before my birthday, but pull it if off in a brighter, warmer time of year.

30. Ride in a hot air balloon 

This is the big one for me! I’ve known for a while that I wanted to do this for my 30th birthday. Basically, I love hot air balloons — the colours, the shapes, the magic (or engineering, as you might call it). I am aware that I may dislike the heights once I am actually inside and up in the air though. My absolute ideal would be to see other hot air balloons whilst I’m up there, like at the hot air balloon festivals we have been to, because I love admiring the hot air balloons, but not necessarily being in one. We will have to see. I think the price tag will determine that one for me though!

And there we have it. My 30 Before 30 List. Maybe it’s inspired you to write your own list? No matter your age, you’re never too young or old to set some new goals. Well done for reading this far if you have – it’s been a long read, I know. But I wanted to document it so thanks for sharing it with me! My plan is to update you at a few points in the year…seeing as we are 4 months in to this year already, maybe I will update at 8 months and 12 months (the final countdown!).

Here we go!

When All is Uncertain

When all is uncertain,

I count the things of which,

I can be sure of.

Things I can count.

Things I can know.

Things I can see or touch.

Control is an illusion,

But today, this helps.

One.

Breath is in my body.

Two.

I will walk the dog.

Three.

We will see falling leaves.

Four.

I will touch a conker.

I love the feel of a conker.

And,

As it turns out.

Today, I only needed to count to four.

To be sure, to be certain.

When all is uncertain,

I count the things of which

I can be sure of.

The Reading List 2020

So 2020 is over… what a year it was and will always be remembered as “unprecedented” to me too.

Under the circumstances, I thought I might have read a few more books, but it seems there really never is enough time!

I managed 62 books this year which I am still very impressed with. Some have been quite sizeable too – 1Q84 is actually a trilogy and 928 pages – and I’ve also listened to a few books on audible which is a new habit for me now I’m regularly dog walking!

Anyway, here’s the list! Happy reading x

The Reading List 2020

Before the Coffee Gets Cold – Toshikazu Kawaguchi

First We Make the Beast Beautiful – Sarah Wilson

The Third Hotel – Laura van den Burg

Full – Asheritah Ciuciu

The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler

Brooklyn – Colm Tóibín

Melmoth – Sarah Perry

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry – John Mark Comer

Reappearing Church – Mark Sayers

Sweet Sorrow – David Nichols

That Glimpse of Truth – Ed. By David Miller

South America – A Lonely Planet Guide

Rules for Living – Sam Holcroft

The Heart’s Time – Janet Morley

Travels with a Mexican Circus – Katie Hickman

The Secret of Literacy – David Didau

Hotel du Jack – Dan Brotzel

A Call Less Ordinary – Rich Wilson

Unlocking the Reader in Every Child – Susan Elkin

The Names of God – Ken Hemphill

Night Theatre – Vikram Paralkar

Tin Man – Sarah Winman

The Circle Maker – Mark Batterson

The Carnelian Fox – Kay MaCleod

The Jesus Way – Eugene H. Peterson

The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

Doggerland – Ben Smith

The Bible from Scratch – Simon Jenkins

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

IQ84 – Haruki Murakami

Celebration of Discipline – Richard Foster

Toffee – Sarah Crossman

What if Everything You Knew About Education Was Wrong – David Didau

Foul is Fair – Hannah Capin

Unreached – Tim Chester

King of Shadows – Susan Cooper

Five Quarters of the Orange – Joanne Harris

The Island – Victoria Hislop

Mere Christianity – C.S Lewis

The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern

A Beginner’s Guide to Free Fall – Andy Abramowitz

Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams

Animal Farm – George Orwell

Soul Keeping – John Ortberg

Becoming – Michelle Obama

Some Children I taught and What They Taught Me – Kate Clanchy

My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante

Out of the Ordinary – Tim Morfin

Beekeeper of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri

The Gospel of Loki – Joanne Harris

The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth – John C. Maxwell

Amsterdam – Ian McEwan

The Common Rule – Justin Whitmel Earley

The Many – Wyl Menmuir

Mother Tongue: The English Language – Bill Bryson

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Career Coach – Corinne Mills

Educated – Tara Westover

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Devotions – Mary Oliver

Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney

The Big Issue Presents: Letters to my Younger Self

In The Loop Newsletter

FInal

 

Now that I have a book released, I’ve been slowly trying to reach wider audiences that might be interested in my short story collection and other works, as well as keeping current readers and supporters up to date. With the help of a friend, I’ve been working on developing a monthly newsletter.

It’s still early days but I’ve been slowly increasing my reach through social media, book swaps, reader magnets, and giveaways through my newsletter (some of these things I had no idea about and thanks to Kay, she has been willing to give me an idiot’s guide along the way! (Go check out her writing at kaymacleodbooks.com).

Why am I telling you this? Well simply because I started this newsletter back in April and I have only just added this to my blog so I suppose it’s partly delayed housekeeping and partly to see if you’re interested in signing up to my newsletter. As I’ve said, it’s montly and it includes writing updates, book reviews, flash fiction, book swaps and deals for you and more!

To sign up – go to this link: SUBSCRIBE! 

Thank you and I hope you enjoy it!

 

Day 12: Fin Del Mundo

12 Days of Short Stories DAY 12: FIN DEL MUNDO

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Thanks for following my short story previews, I hope you have had a great Christmas and a happy New Year.

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Overwhelmed and fed up of New York, Artist Gee buys a desolate ranch in the New Mexico desert to focus on her painting and other creative projects. But as solitary and peaceful as her ranch is, she must soon face up to some old fears.

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Available to buy on Kindle or paperback soon!

Follow @kpuntonbooks for more updates!

#shortstories #12daysofchristmas

 

 

Day 11: Sculptures

12 Days of Short Stories DAY 11: SCULPTURES

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Small-town man Hugo has not had an easy life. But when opportunity beckons and he is employed at an art gallery, he is drawn into a whole new world of imagination; one that he finds close to impossible to describe.

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Available to buy on Kindle or paperback soon!

Follow @kpuntonbooks for more updates!

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