Marshmallows, apples, noodles, prawn crackers…..and chopsticks!

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A group of teenagers with chopsticks and sheer determination to successfully eat is a sight to behold! I’m just back in from my 4th volunteering session of helping at a youth club where the teenagers have complex learning difficulties and tonight’s theme was Chinese New Year. As well as Chinese writing, it was genuinely funny to see them try and try and try again to eat the mini-marshamallows, chunks of apples, noddles and prawn crackers…..with one of the teenagers resorting to just stabbing the marshmallows with the end of the chopsticks! Another young lad was desperate to eat a chunk of apple and his eventual accomplishment was met with applause from everyone! We also had fortune cookies. The young people are really getting to know me and they’re such fun to be with. However, I must work on my Uno and Snap playing skills….as I seem to be constantly ‘losing’ ! 10 hours down; 40 hours to go…..and then I’ll see if I want to carry on.

I am determined to make this year count and we’ve lots of things in the diary like a cruising, having afternoon tea at ‘Downtown Abbey’, dining at Dans Le Noir in London, visiting Alnwick Poison Garden and photographing the Angel of the North. Next year? Hopefully a really cool holiday abroad to mark a very special birthday for hubby.

The Shard, London. Pretty amazing!

Having survived an exceptionally busy week with work (and I mean busy with calls from Canada and Asia, hours of hours of intensive assessing, etc.), I thought I’d treat myself and do something from my list. Whilst I’d planned to go to The Shard at some point, it wasn’t until 6.30pm this evening that I thought I’d just do it tonight! And it’s great to have done something with my evening rather than spend it in pjs watching TV (although that’s fine most evenings).

First, it’s fantastically situated right next to London Bridge so it makes for a very easy journey at least for us. It is very expensive for a quick visit but it’s an experience you wouldn’t forget. I quickly escaped the official photo opportunity where you can have your photo taken in front of a green screen (and collect the photo when you come back down at some probable hideous cost). The first lift takes you up to the 33rd floor and then the second one up to the 68th floor. From there, it’s just a few flights of stairs up to the viewing deck where you obviously have the most stunning panoramic view. Part of me did question whether this might have been best saved for daylight hours but night time is spectacular….and there is something pretty romantic about it like out of Sleepless in Seattle! There was even a large heart of flowers that you could have had your photo taken in front of to celebrate Valentine’s Day a couple of days ago. And, if it wasn’t already amazing enough, they serve champagne up there too! Truly spectacular even on a dark February evening.

 

Success! I can play the ukulele….!!!

ukulele successWell, I can play ‘Something’ on the ukulele by the Beatles with thanks to guidance from YouTube. I think the key was having the ukulele next to me pretty much most of the time over the last few days so I kept picking it up to practise and voila! So, that’s another challenge ticked off! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzKrbveYFtA

Incredibly excited but I’m ticking off a huge challenge/experience in May….a cruise! My lovey friend and I are going to Bruge for the weekend on P&O Ventura and have decided that if you’re going to do a cruise, you might as well really go for it., so we’ve got a suite. With that comes a butler (so cool!!!!!), daily canapes, champagne and chocolates on arrival, big balcony and lots of other things. I started to look at dresses last night for the black tie dinner……and I found a gorgeous one 🙂 And if that short cruise goes well, the one to Scandinavia and Russia might be next.

I do not have the fingers to play a ukulele!

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I might be a grade 8 pianist and I might have had lessons on countless other instruments like the trumpet, clarinet and violin but learning to play the ukulele is harder than I thought! My ’50 things to do before’ challenge is to ‘Learn to play something on the ukulele’ but, with a bit of Beatles influence, it’s now to ‘Learn to play ‘Something’ on the ukulele’!

So, I’ve mastered a few chords and, for others, I can see where my fingers are meant to go but how on earth do you actually move them in a split second?! I seem to simultaneously lack enough fingers to play the chords whilst having too many fingers that make it all rather cluttered…..and my fingers are fumbling over each other to get into position. But onwards and upwards, Sarah

Why wasn’t Eurovision already on my bucketlist?!

Eurovision

I cannot believe that this wasn’t already on my bucketlist…….’Go to Eurovision’!! Watching Mel Geidroyc on The One Show tonight talking about Eurovision, it’d be very much my kind of thing. Now…..what I think would be cool would be to go in 2019 to whichever country wins this year (as the winner then hosts the following year)……although hubby has just said that it might be an idea to find out who wins in case it’s somewhere like Israel (not that somewhere like Israel would put me off) but if it’s in eastern Europe, we can then build it into the road trip that I really want to do around Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, Croatia, etc.

More likely to get hurt by a coconut than being attacked by a shark. FACT!

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I have it on good authority that ‘you’re more likely to get hurt by a coconut than being attacked by a shark’! That’s the quote of the evening from my second session volunteering at a youth club for teenagers with severe learning difficulties. And perhaps it’s true. I’m pretty sure that sharks aren’t usually found on the Sussex coast! But seriously, I’ve come home buzzing from being with a group of inspirational young people and staff who are just lovely. I got crushed playing Uno (my excuse is that I’ve never played before), we played a mash-up of Jenga-Uno (very confusing!) and made smoothies. And the best thing is that it gives me the sense of being part of a team. I adore my job but I work for myself and rarely see families more than once so there’s not the continuity of asking people how they’re doing, how their week was, etc. But I’ve a sense of belonging. Hopefully I’m making a bit of a difference there but they’re making a difference to me too

Road trip coming together!

Cinnamon

It’s less than 4 months since venturing to France on my own where I managed to drive 1,600 miles in just 6 days……and I’m getting itchy feet again! So, with time booked off work in May and hubby working from home all set up to be with H&T, I’m off to explore the UK. I’m currently watching Channel 4’s Village of the Year and this is perfect for inspiration. Last week was about the south west and this helped me to firm up my plans for what I’ll do when in Devon and Cornwall in the first 36 hours of my road trip.

After the south west, I’m stopping off in Coventry as I’m SO excited to take a photo of Coventry Cathedral at dusk…completely inspired by the film Nativity although I will (probably) refrain from singing Sparkle and Shine! And then up to Newcastle taking photos of the Angel of the North and the city at night as well as going north to Alnwich Poison Garden. This takes me to the half way point of my road trip. So, where to next?

The Lake District and Peak District beckon before heading down to Hampstead Norreys. I might have just fallen in love with the village tonight after seeing it on the Village of the Year! And as well as the beautiful village itself, it has The Living Rainforest! What could get better than that! It even has a two-toed sloth called Cinnamon who apparently does everything upside down except go to the loo! https://www.livingrainforest.org/

Between this trip and our journey to Norfolk last November, I’m hoping that will be all of the UK’s counties ticked off….well, except for the Isle of Wight but I might ‘pop’ over on the way down to Cornwall….as you do!

My volunteering journey has begun!

One of my ’50 things to do’ is to do 50 hours of voluntary work and, tonight, that journey has begun! I’ve spent the evening helping out a youth club for teenagers with severe learning difficulties and I was made to feel so welcome. The staff were really kind and the young people were fabulous, each with their personalities clearly shining through. But the one and only tough bit of the night was deliberately losing a game of Pairs! There was a massive conflict between my inner drive to conquer and claim victory…..and the need to play nicely with the kids! Apparently they’re good at playing Uno. I might need to get some practice in during the next 7 days! So, 2.5 hours done…..a cool night for all!

Can’t wait to venture up north!

Alnwich

I’m really excited that I’ve now got dates in May when I’m going to be travelling around the UK to tick off a few things off my list.

First……Alnwick Poison Garden in Northumberland. I mean, what is there not to like where the gates to the gardens have a huge sign saying ‘These plants can kill’! I’d asked for a gift voucher for Christmas which my Mum and Dad in law kindly got me so after taking a few photos of the Angel of the North and a night in Newcastle, I’ll head up to the gardens and just take it all in. I’d seen it featured on some antiques programme and thought ‘well, that’s different’!

I recently asked a group on Facebook about ideas for a bucketlist and someone mentioned Hardnott Pass which is a single track hill pass in the Lake District that has 30 degree declines and enough twists and turns to make it all just a little bit exciting. As far as I know, traffic going down hill tends to have priority so I’ll make sure that I’m heading down rather than going up which must be so tricky when you’ve faced with an oncoming car. I’ve Googled it to look at images and I’m just slightly alarmed that there are a few photos with police tape, red triangle warning signs that people have put up, an air ambulance overhead…..what on earth can go wrong!

I’ve the rest of the trip to plan but I hope to then snake my way down the country ticking all all the counties as I go…..although I’m not sure whether I’ll make it St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall in this trip but you never know!

Rather falling in love with the National Trust!!!

So, another of my experiences ticked off: ‘Join the National Trust and use our membership 3 times’. Having visited Bodiam Castle on Sunday and Chiddingstone Village on Wednesday, today’s trip was to Nymans. How could I have not discovered Nymans before now?! As well as my love of water, I love old ruins and have already planned to visit Fountain Abbey in Yorkshire later this year. There are fabulous ruins at Nymans too, albeit not on the scale of Fountain Abbey monastic abbey ruins. Fabulous grounds too so it’ll be great to compare them when I return in the summer.

I’ve got a few followers on Twitter now(@bucketlistsarah) and I plan to be able to play something on my ukulele by the end of next week. Hopefully I’ll head up to London in the next couple of months and do things like visit platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross (I.e. Harry Potter), take photos of the seven noses in Soho, etc. So making good progress!!