Throwback Thursday: 4 transport-related items on my bucket list!

Did you know that I’m actually on my second bucket list?! I did ’40 things to do before I turn 40′ too and I thought it might be good to tell you a bit more about these. So, I’m starting Throwback Thursdays and today’s theme is……transport. Yes, I was lucky to drive an HGV, have a motor bike lesson, drive a tractor and even sit in a police car…..and none of these cost a penny! It took me a while to get going with driving when I was 17 as I passed my test on my 4th attempt but I now love driving, having driven to Austria twice. I also drove abut 1,600 miles around Brittany on my solo holiday there last October and I’ll be doing a road trip around England in May.

Drive an HGV!

Now, yes, sometimes it is a case of who you know and it turns out that my oldest friend’s husband runs a haulage company in Kent and owns a yard. When I turned up there, the lorries seemed even larger than I thought they should but this was no doubt due to the realisation that I was about to drive one of them! It really is a question of clambering into the cabin where you’re confronted with the most humongous steering wheel. And you look out the window and, with being so high up, you see cars looking more like Matchbox cars! With it being a yard, I wasn’t able to drive it at all far but I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to move forward and realise that you’re in control of this monster of a vehicle…..although I left it to Mark to do the reversing!

Motor bike lesson

Where I live, we sometimes have trainee motor bikers having lessons as it’s quite quiet around here and it got me thinking… do I get to have a go too? Well, it turns out that the local school offers free trial lessons for 30 minutes. Donning the helmet, leather jacket and leather gloves really made me feel quite the biker girl and ready to zoom around the grounds. Well, okay….I might have thought that riding a bike would be far easier than it really is. For someone reason, I thought that you didn’t need to balance in the same way that you do with a pedal bike although it turns out that you do and the bike is obviously much heavier. So, I don’t think biking is for me but I did do several lengths between rows of orange cones and can say that I’ve ticked this one off!

Drive a tractor!

When I was doing my 40 list, word got out with family and friends about the challenges I’d set myself, and people were very keen to help me with whatever they could. And a friend of a friend of a friend is a farmer and they set up a Saturday morning for me to go along and have a go. O…..M……G……! This was amazing! I was driving the tractor that you can see in the photo above in 6th gear around a field, zooming here, there and everywhere on my own! And I even drove it back to the barns, navigating lots of twists and turns. Am I allowed to say that it felt very natural to drive a tractor and that I was okay at it?! In my view, certainly much easier than driving an HGV and motor bike.

And sit in a police car!

It was unlikely that I’d ever get to do this as a result of any misdemeanours so I had to find a way to make this happen! One busy night in the middle of summer, I was in Leicester Square with a friend and we’d just been to the Ice Bar (which is well worth a visit). I saw a police car turn up and the passenger popped into a pizza restaurant to grab something to eat. So, thinking ‘Oh, Sarah, just go for it‘, I went up to the policeman at the steering wheel and explained ‘Hi, this is going to sound a bit weird but I’ve got a bucket list……’ expecting to be met with a quizzical look but he was SO accommodating! Although I’d asked if I could sit in the back, he told me that they had some guns there but I could sit in the front if I’d like to! Well, I RACED round to the passenger door, throwing my camera to my friend and got in. And then he asked one of my best questions I’ve ever been asked…..’Do you want to blue lights flashing?’ OH YES!!!!!! So, we’ve all these people around wondering what on earth is happening but it just goes to show that many people are more than happy to oblige when you’ve got a bucket lit. You just need to ask!

New on the bucket list: Going to sleep in a castle!

As is often the case with my bucket list, I watch something on TV, think “that looks amazing”, do a bit of research and then, ta dah, it’s on my list! Last night on BBC2 was Amazing Hotels: Beyond the Lobby with Monica Galetti and Giles Coren, and they were exploring a stunning castle on the western coast of the Republic of Ireland……..and suddenly I thought “I haven’t slept in a castle!

So, later this year, my hubby and I will celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary and I’ve booked a suite at Hever Castle which is in Edenbridge, Kent. I went there a few years ago when the children were younger just for the afternoon and it’s a super place to hang out. But it turns out that you can sleep there too. Also, you get access to the gardens after the public have gone so a great opportunity to take some special photos. You can’t get more romantic than that!

3 days until I venture down to Somerset and write my 100th TripAdvisor review from the stunning city of Wells……oh and blog!

But tomorrow, I’m going to do my first Throwback Thursday when I’m going to tell you in more detail about the ’40 things I did before I turned 40′. Many of these are listed at the very bottom of my current bucketlist: current bucket list

I’m always keen to hear if other people have ideas for my list so feel free to get in touch if you or your friends have any thoughts! xx

And my 100th TripAdvisor review will be in………..

…Wells, Somerset! Yes, this weekend, I’m going to head down to England’s smallest city which I trust will be snow-free by then! Not only am I going to work towards one of my challenges to ‘explore 10 English cities’ but I’m going to tick off another experience….’sleep in a four poster bed’. I’ve never done that and I might find that it’s no big deal at all but I guess that I’ve just never had the chance to sleep in one. So, why not! The tiny city is full of history and fascinating architecture and there are a few photos I’ve seen online which I’d like to recreate too such as Vicars Close which claims to be the oldest residential road in Europe going back to the 14 century. Weather forecast is going to be changeable but I think there should be sunny skies and that always makes for a good photo opportunity.

Wells 2Wells 1

Just about two miles out of Wells is the Wookey Hole caves which look extraordinary with their lit up walls. Now, I get claustrophobic so going into caves is a big deal for me but I made it to the Hell-fire Caves in Buckinghamshire last Hallowe’en so I can do this. And, again, the pull of photo opportunities is a big one. I am so excited!

Wells 3

Between exploring Wells, my overnight stay and going to the caves, that may take up my time but I’m also thinking about ‘popping’ along to the Avebury stones in Wiltshire on my way home which tends to be visited less that nearby Stonehenge. And, yes, this will be a tick towards yet another challenge: ‘visit 5 UNESCO sites’.

Avebury 1

So, a weekend to make progress on my bucket list and, to cap it off, I’ll be able to write up TripAdvisor review #100 (and about another 3!) when I get home! Any other keen TripAdvisor people out there? What’s your favourite place that you’ve visited and reviewed?

Learn to knit…and help a charity too!


I’ve just been reviewed my list of experiences and, as I mentioned the other day, I’ll be ticking off a few things from around May. Between now and then, I still have a few plans but nothing significant. But I’ve had a brainwave! If I’m going to be growing my nails to use the really generous gift of a manicure in May, then let’s keep my fingers busy with knitting! I’ve had it on my list for a while to learn to knit and I then changed it to ‘knit something for charity’ as it’s good to have something to aim for and if a charity can benefit at the same time, then cool. Well, I’ve found a list of charities who are looking for people to knit things, from basic squares (I say ‘basic’ even though I’ve no idea how to knit!) to following the charities’ patterns. Knitting for charities

So, over the next few days, I’ll look up to see what the charities are looking for, decide what I need and then pop along to Hobbycraft. Key is to choose something extremely basic for my first time as I can always move onto some more challenging things if all goes well. And perhaps I can ask someone very close to me in the family to see if she’d like to help. I’ll ask her tomorrow!

Last night, I was starstruck! I met Brian Blessed!


OMG, I’ve Brian Blessed! Brian is one of the few people on TV who all 4 of us here will be keen to watch if we know he’s going to appear on any programme. This larger-than-life character has a CV that beats any other. He’s climbed Everest 3 times, he’s reached the North Pole, he’s a fully trained cosmonaut, he had explored remote regions of the world, he was an amateur boxer, he undertakes work to rescue animals and return them to their original habit, he’s appeared in iconic films and TV programmes such as Z-Cars, Flash Gordon (GORDON’S ALIVE!!!!!!!), Boss Nass in Star Wars, etc., etc….and a bit more etc! And he omits this warmth that makes you want to be his best friend!

Just a week ago, I found out that he was on his tour and was coming to the Hawth Theatre in Crawley and I was lucky to get some of the few remaining tickets. As he walked on stage, the packed auditorium roared with excitement! And he spent the next 2 hours telling everyone about his life interspersed with the rudest of stories which were eye-watering hilarious! Anyone who arrived slightly late couldn’t come into the auditorium unnoticed as Brian made sure that they were jokingly ridiculed! It’s incredible that at the age of 81, he sustained such a long show and made everyone feel as if they had come to his living room for a night in!

I said to one of my children that I’d love to meet him and we should keep an eye out in case he was in the foyer afterwards. Well, we came down the stairs to find a very long queue forming…..all to meet Brian and we just had to join! We bought his book and were given a yellow post-it note so that we could write what we’d like him to scribe in the book. Being Blackadder fans, there was only one quote from his role as King Richard IV:

“Chiswick, fresh horses! We ride at once to rebellious Stoke, where it is my sworn intent to approach the city walls, bare my broad buttocks, and shout, “Behold! I honor thee most highly!”

brian 3

It took an hour to get to the front of the queue as he generously gave everyone lots of time for photos and, oh my word,  what an amazing, warm-hearted man! He was the kindest of people who loves meeting the public and in fact all the money from his tour is going to charities that support his love of animals. Truly an epic evening where my dream came true! Do you have someone you’d like to meet? Who’d be at the top of your list?

And reviewing the theatre on TripAdvisor was my 99 review on there……where am I going to go for my 100th review?!

Such motivation to stop biting my nails!

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I have to confess that I have probably the worst nails of anyone my age. For as long as I can remember, I’ve bitten them and it’s become the most awful habit. I don’t bite them when stressed, etc…….it’s just ‘my thing’. And most of the time, I don’t really think about it but when I’m with others, I do tend to clench my hand to hide my nails which are pretty much half way down the finger tip. Well, today, I have been given the most fantastic motivation to finally break this habit….a voucher for a luxury spa manicure from a friend. Whilst I’ve tried to grow them in the past, I’ve rarely got beyond one week before caving in despite trying all sorts of things but having this voucher with the July deadline is like giving me a carrot to motivate me…..and wouldn’t it be great if I could grow them for the short cruise I’m going on at the end of May. I’m going to put this voucher somewhere I look all the time. And I’ve taken a ‘before photo’ today which I’m far too embarrassed to post right now but hopefully I can do a ‘ta-dah’ moment in July when I’ll reveal all! However, I’ve just been playing around with the photos on my iPhone and, not being the most technical person, I’ve just seen that you can add text to photos. So I’ve now marked up today’s one with ‘Day 1 nails’ and I might diarise my nail journey on Twitter with a few updates on here too!

What I’m SO astounded by is that this friend, who I know through my husband’s work, wanted to do something to help me with my list and I can’t tell you how touched I am. It’s honestly so thoughtful and truly out of the blue. And, even better, I get to meet up with Claire for coffee or even in the salon when she gets hers done too….so I get to share this experience. Claire, thank you!

A new addition to my list! Lunch on a private island


Guess what just came up on my Facebook feed?! Just off the coast of Portsmouth in southern England is a private island called No Man’s Fort and you can eat there! You get taken over by a boat from the mainland and have a 3 course meal……so this is DEFINITELY something I’d like to do. Already added to my bucket list!

I don’t know whether anyone gets this but creating a bucket list can feel as if you have to achieve everything NOW! As if we have to make sure that every weekend results in a tick off the list or at least I’m working towards ones. So, whilst I’d love to go to the fort this year, we may wait until next year. What’s on for this year? The list below may not seem like a lot but these fixed dates are on top of all the other things that I’m steadily working my way through like the voluntary work (aiming for 50 hours), visiting day trips to UK cities, etc…….oh, and also be mum, a wife and run my business!


  • going on a 3 day cruise to Belgium
  • half day experience with owls
  • my road trip to do things like sample whiskey in Scotland, explore Newcastle, tour the Peak District, walk through Alnwick Poison Gardens, visit Fountain Abbey ruins and go to Saltaire.



  • going to the Lordington lavender fields in West Sussex
  • afternoon tea at ‘Downtown Abbey’
  • go to the ‘Dino Snore’ adult sleepover at the Natural History Museum, London



  • eating at Dans le Noir, London where you eat in the dark
  • start a beginner’s course in a new language



  • going to see the Russian State Ballet


So, let’s see what the year ahead is going to bring!

When Thailand came to Surrey!

Just back in having visited the stunning Kew Gardens in Richmond which has been hosting the Thailand-inspired orchid exhibition for the past few weeks. Well, what an absolute spectacle! The Prince of Wales Conservatory has different zones such as the tropical part and everywhere you turn, there are splashes of colour, Thai statues, festoon lanterns, streams, etc. For someone who’s starting to get into the whole photography thing, it’s a perfect place to get clicking! What I particularly liked was that there are lot of different paths to follow so you feel as if you’re off exploring, ducking under ginormous leaves that act as canopies over the paths. And whilst busy, it didn’t feel too crowded.

And then off to The Hive. This was featured recently on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces on Channel 4 and it’s basically a massive replica of a hive so you feel as if you’re experiencing life as a bee. And there’s an undertone in the key of C which is apparently the key that bees communicate in. Who would have ever known that?! I tweeted about it whilst there and I’ve come home to an amazing surprise….George Clarke has already retweeted my tweet! Thank you, George!

I was keen to check out the Pagoda which is a walk right to the other side of the huge grounds but it was covered up in tarpaulin but I’ll just have to go another time to see it!

And, linking it to one of my challenges, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site so that’s 1 down and 4 to go. Next UNESCO site to visit? Probably Saltire in Yorkshire which is a Victorian model village.

Tickets booked for the ballet!

So unbelievably excited! I’ve just bought tickets to see the Russian State Ballet perform The Nutcracker this October. I’ve always loved dance although my childhood memories of ballet lessons were my nan combing my hair with a metal comb which seemed to find the slightest tangle in my very curly hair! But I had a book about ballet about a teenager and my favourite films/shows include A Chorus Line which has some fabulous routines.

I’m not a particularly cultured person to be honest (more than happy to sit in watching Big Brother wearing pjs and eating Chinese!) but I’ve seen the Royal Shakespeare Company a few times performing works such as MacBeth and Taming of the Shrew, and even went to the opera once in Belfast.

I was hoping to go over to Wells in Somerset this weekend to tick off another city but I don’t think the weather forecast is going to be fabulous but it won’t be long until hubby, friends and me are ticking a few things off the bucket list with some real highlights to look forward to this year!

A very good day at the office!


I don’t know if anyone can relate to this but, sometimes, you can have a job and you get an experience that makes you feel like you’ve made it. Years ago, I got to study at the Civil Service College for a management course. Nowadays, I think it’s in London but 20 years ago, it was somewhere like Berkshire in stunning grounds that had amazing digs. There was even a gothic-type house on the grounds and on my first day there whilst exploring, I stumbled across it and found a grand piano which I played all evening with no-one there at all. The walls had lit sconces and it was pretty much like a scene from The Adams Family. I’m a grade 8 pianist so that was probably one of the most fabulous places I’ve played!

Well, yesterday, I got to study at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience in London and I got to sit with about 40 psychiatrists about diagnosing ADHD. Now, I’m not a psychiatrist but I run a consultancy firm in diagnosing specific learning difficulties ( so it was really relevant. However, it was just the buzz I got from being there and somewhere as a child that I would never have dreamt about having the opportunity to go! My plan was to be a secondary school music teacher! So last night, I was thinking, do I add it to my list of experiences? I don’t normally add things retrospectively but I think I can justify its inclusion. It was pretty special and it left me buzzing!

Anyway, I spoke to the farmer today about the half day experience with owls that my son will come on and that’s now booked in for June. And I’m off shortly to do my 5th session of volunteering which means getting beaten at Uno by a bunch of teenagers! I’m really excited about this year and once we get to May/June/July, I’ll really be ticking things off my list….. 🙂