Tag: bucket list

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!

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 http://london.danslenoir.com/en/home/
  • 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 https://sarah50.blog/about/ 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 (www.smdyslexia.co.uk) 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….. 🙂

Tickets booked to have an owl swoop onto my arm!

owlThis year is already filling up with some amazing things to look forward to but I’m trying to make sure that they’re spaced out a little bit and plenty of other things are left for the remaining years of my 40s! My bucket list should be a steady marathon rather than a sprint!

Today, I’ve booked tickets for one of my children and me to spend half a day with owls at Sussex Falconry which will involve flying them, feeding them, etc. I think there’s something a little bit Harry Potter about it all but for some add reason, my son doesn’t think it’d be cool to dress up with Harry Potter-type gowns!! Once I get the tickets, we can sort out a date so I’m aiming for April when it warms up a little bit.

And friends in Texas reminded earlier that I should add a holiday out there to my list! I do like travelling although circumstances stop us from doing as much as we’d like to at the moment (which is rather gutting as we’d been invited to a family wedding in Singapore this weekend that we would have probably gone to). So, I’ve changed a couple of my challenges/experiences to reflect that I’d like to go to 25 new countries/US states. That might sound like an awful lot but I’ve got 4.5 years to do it with some multi-country trips planned. There’s a 12 night cruise with P&O that I fancy going to: Russia, Estonia, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany (and all but the last 2 would be new countries for me). Then, there’s the East European road trip I plan to go on to include Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Italy. And if you also add, Texas, that’s already 13 places to add.

And the final thing to share today? I’ve been thinking about creating a time capsule for a future generation to find! Yes, many get buried in the ground although there’s a chance that it won’t be found. But reading online last night, it turns out there are different ways of doing it, such as leaving a box intentionally in the attic for a future owner to find…perhaps with a note on it saying for when it would ideally be opened. So, what would I include in a time capsule? I guess a little bit about us but also the world more generally. I was thinking about collecting headlines, etc. in May as no doubt Brexit will still be headlining the news along with the royal wedding, the move to eradicate/minimise plastics, etc. So, it’ll take a bit of thinking and getting ideas from my family about what to put in there.

On the lookout for more ideas for my list


So, with February almost over, there are a few things that I’ve been able to tick off this month from my bucket list: go up to the viewing deck of The Shard, learn to play the ukulele, do a snow angel and visit another UK city, Chichester.

But this month has seen a couple of really exciting new things go in the diary for later this year like doing an adult-only sleepover at the Natural History Museum with hubby in July (which looks like an action-packed night and, if we do get any sleep, it’ll be in the Hintze Hall underneath a 25-metre suspended blue whale skeleton) and we’ve also booked a table at Dans le Noir, London for September where you literally eat in the dark!

And it won’t be long until a friend and I embark on a short cruise on P&O Ventura where we’ve booked ourselves in a suite to be spoilt rotten with butler service! We’re getting SO excited about this and need to get buying our clothes for the glamorous dinners. It’ll be a great precursor to a longer cruise to Scandinavia and Russia with hubby.


I have spent way too much time today looking online at other people’s bucket lists and haven’t even made a dent on the long list of reports I need to write! But seeing other people’s ideas is a source of inspiration and I think I might add a trip on the Orient Express……with someone special in mind. And, being a lifelong Liverpool FC fan, perhaps go and see them play?

So, in March, I plan to visit England’s smallest city of Wells, continue with my weekly volunteering for teenagers with complex general learning difficulties and, in typical Sarah-style,………start some church-bell ringing training,!!!!!

Did a midnight snow angel :)

snow angel

Well, I did it! With a good layer on the back lawn, I’ve just been out there to do a snow angel. This might sound extraordinarily weird but just lying on the softest snow was so liberating. Really snuggly and comfy, and it felt like being a playful kid! I could have stayed out there all night (well, until I was soaked through) but I’m now back in the warmth without the neighbours seeing what I’d got up to!

So, whilst some of the 50 things I want to do before I turn 50 aren’t cheap (see the ‘list of experiences’ page), there are some things that don’t cost a penny. Just need a sense of fun!