30 before 30

High contrast image of camelias against a dark background with the text ‘30 before 30’ in a brushstroke style font, with ‘How much can I achieve in one year’ in a sharper font underneath.

Setting some (achievable) goals for the last year of my twenties

The time has finally come: I have just turned 29, and only have a year left of my twenties. Generally speaking, I don’t feel any fear or regret about growing older. With every year I gain I feel more comfortable in myself and better equipped to achieve my goals. Things might not always turn out as planned, but I always land on my feet. 28 has been a big year for me, with lots of travel, a new country to call home, and a new job, aside from everything that comes with living through a pandemic!

I’m not usually one for New Year’s Resolutions or things of that nature, but I’m happy to admit that turning 30 will be a bit of a milestone. I’ve achieved a lot so far in my 28 years, and feel pretty happy with where I’ve got to, but the impending end of my twenties seems as good a time as any to put together a (not so) little list of things I’d like to do to round off my third decade. So I thought a 30 before 30 list (cliched though they are) would be a fun thing to try out.

There’s a fine balance between aiming high and being over-ambitious, so I’ve tried to be realistic in my expectations for this list. As I write Melbourne is in Stage 4 lockdown restrictions, so pretty much anything outside the house is a no-go. Hopefully that will change before too long. But even free of restrictions, I don’t get a huge amount of free time, so I don’t want this list to become a source of anxiety and self-imposed pressure during my precious spare hours. So here it is: my hopefully realistic, a little bit aspirational list of 30 things I’d like to achieve before I turn 30!

1. Learn to Drive

This one is maybe a little bit of a cheat to start us off: I’ve actually already learned, and am a pretty confident driver. But for one reason or another I’ve never got ground to taking my test, let alone passing it. I think living in tiny, bike-friendly, car-unfriendly cities has just left me with little motivation to get it done. With Australia’s open roads calling I think now (lockdown allowing!) is the time to finally bite the bullet, take the test, and get that license!

2. Learn to Swim

Similarly to driving, I’ve kind of mostly learned to swim, but haven’t ever quite got over the finish line. I often joke that I must have drowned in a past life, because I’m quite phobic about getting water in my eyes and nose. At various points over the years I’ve thrown myself in and tried to master swimming (some of my hard-earned weekend job money went on one-to-one swimming lessons) but have never consistently kept it up for long enough. I didn’t learn as a child, and I think that the blind confidence you feel as a child has been replaced by exaggerated fear as an adult. But Australia is a hot country with lots of great swimming spots, so I’m sure that will be all the motivation I need to embrace my inner water baby and finally knock this one out of the (water) park.

3. Run in a Half Marathon

Another one that depends on the situation of the global pandemic, because it doesn’t really feel like a good idea to run in a crowd right now. But since arriving in Australia I’ve really been working on my fitness, and have run my first ever half marathon distances. I’ve only taken part in 10k races before, and I didn’t get great times in any of them. But I love the sense of camaraderie you get running a race, and they’re such good motivation for planning and sticking to a proper exercise programme. I’ve written a fair amount about my, shall we say complicated, relationship with exercise, and I find tangible goals that will feel like real achievements are a great way to keep things in perspective, and maintain a healthy understanding of my fitness. In a lockdown-free year I might have aimed for a full marathon, but in the spirit of being realistic, a half seems a more sensible choice. It’s the natural progression from a 10k after all, and I need to get better at learning to walk before I leap (as it were).

4. Read the complete works of Shakespeare

This is a big one – in some ways harder than the previous entries! Much as I prefer to debunk than reify canons, the Bard’s influence stretches so far that it would be amiss of me to avoid it. Between GCSE and A-level English Literature I have studied a reasonable portion of Shakespeare’s output, but there’s still a lot I’m missing. I’ve only read a smattering of the sonnets, and I am almost equally poorly versed in the plays – even big hitters like Romeo and Juliet have passed me by! So this list seems like a good opportunity to rectify this.

In a normal year I might try to see the plays, rather than just read them. They are, after all, supposed to be performed, and the experience would be totally different. However, with the world still only attempting to and not yet succeeding in emerging from a global pandemic, I think it’s fair to give myself a head start, and get reading. Hopefully by this time next year we’ll be off to the theatre again, but just in case, I’ll content myself with the books.

5. Attend an opera

Slightly contrary to the last point, but one that I really must experience in person. Despite being a lover of classical music and some time opera fan, I have never actually been to an opera performance. The closest I’ve ever got was when my mother and I went to a truly appalling attempt at The Magic Flute (in English) at our small town’s tiny theatre. I feel only slightly guilty that we left in the interval. I used to listen to La Traviata and The Marriage of Figaro on repeat in my little room at home as a teenager, so it would be lovely to hear one of those ‘for real’. Being able to play a part in the resurrection and recuperation of Australia’s classical music scene post-pandemic would be the icing on the cake.

6. Climb a Mountain

Much as I would like to heed the Mother Superior’s advice and ‘climb every mountain’, I feel I should set my sights a little lower, and try to ascend one solitary mountain before the end of the year. Fitness has been a real help to me so far in 2020, getting me through the strain of living through lockdown and a pandemic far from home. Having something positive to build towards is immensely beneficial. I’ve climbed a few, relatively small, mountains in my time, but not a single ‘famous’ one. Though fame doesn’t really matter, it would be nice to try something a little more substantial. There is nothing quite like looking down across the landscape you have just scaled, feeling you’ve earned the view. Whether it’ll be a mountain in Australia or New Zealand remains to be see. You never know, perhaps I’ll manage one of each?

7. Read Jane Eyre

Quite an achievable one in the grand scheme of things, but this book has been hanging over me for years. It’s one of the megaliths of classic literature, heralded by young and old for generations. Jane is the inspiration for so many bookish women and heroines alike who followed. And yet I’ve never managed to get very far into it. I’ve tried to read it several times, and rarely get beyond the first chapter. This is no criticism of the book – I had a similar experience with Austen’s Emma, and loved it when I finally got round to it. So this is something of a personal demon that needs slaying – the mad wife in my ‘to be read’ attic. I will, reader, finally get to the end of Jane Eyre.

8. Ride in a bike race

Another exercise one, and something I’ve never done before. When I finally plucked up the courage and took part in a running race I really enjoyed it, so I’m hoping for a similar experience in the world of bikes. It isn’t known for being an incredibly welcoming world, but I’m confident that I could make a go of it. My slightly janky and worse for wear bike might need a bit of TLC to get it race ready, but I’m already on my way to getting my body race fit. I recently bought a bike roller stand, which has enabled me to use my bike indoors (another lockdown inspired purchase). It’s been a really good find, replacing the spin classes I used to take, and helping me steadily ramp up my fitness. I’m hoping that with consistent efforts, I’ll be ready to tackle a real race, and get out and explore Victoria by bike, meeting some new people along the way.

9. Cut down my wardrobe

Nothing makes you realise you have too many clothes quite like moving country. Between cramming them into suitcases for the flight and stuffing them into boxes for shipping, it some became apparent that I have more clothes than anyone could possibly need. Like many people, I think I have found some sort of comfort in a rampant consumerism which taught me that I would be happy, if only I bought this dress/top/blazer/etc. Now, as I head towards my 30s, I think I am finally realising that I can actually be happy with surprisingly little, and it is me that makes the clothes feel good, not vice versa. If I’m not feeling great, no amount of clothing will change that. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get right down to a capsule wardrobe, but I would like to cut out clothes I don’t get good use out of. This is easier said than done: Shopping my Shipping taught me that even items I didn’t think I liked can come together into some really nice outfits. So I think I’m going to have to carefully monitor what I do and don’t wear. Anything that I don’t enjoy wearing can be passed on to someone who will enjoy it. This is, bizarrely, maybe one of the most challenging entries on this list, as it isn’t a matter of simple progress, and will require a good deal of honesty and self-reflection. But I think that makes it all the more worthwhile.

10. Get back into Art History blogging

Art history was my first blogging love, and I’ve been sharing my thoughts and impressions over at Personal Interpretations for not far off ten years. It started when I was in Sixth Form, and I’ve loved having an outlet for my ideas and research. I studied art history at university for my undergraduate and master’s degrees, and it’s a subject I’ll always be immensely fond of. I just love how art and culture express or reject the values of their times. Art is a real window into our own history (although plenty of art historians will disagree with me on that interpretation!). I think in a way my studies have been part of my problem – the more you know, the more aware you are of what you don’t know. It’s easy to feel intimidated and like you don’t have the ‘right’ to write and talk about a subject, because there’s someone out there who knows more than you. But if my Theories and Methods classes taught me anything, it’s that reception is important, and no point of view is inherently invalid. So I think I’m just going to have to buck up and give it a go. No matter how blocked I am, I am always cured by simply sitting down in front of an art work, and writing down how I feel about it. I’m looking forward to exploring Melbourne’s famous museums and getting back in touch with a part of my life that has brought me so much pleasure. And it is always fun to share our knowledge of things that we love. If you’d like to take a look back at some of my past posts, covering topics as broad as Russian Constructivism, the Pre-Raphaelites, and Ancient Greek vases, head over to Personalinterpretations.com.

11. Give blood (regularly)

I’ve donated blood a few times already in my life, but I’ve never been able to make a solid habit of it. There’s something quite fascinating about watching the little bag rhythmically fill up with each pump of your heart. More importantly, blood is always in short supply, and it can literally save someone’s life. You can only donate every 12 weeks, so you can’t fit that many donations in for each year. Related to this, I would like to try donating platelets, which there is high demand for, but is less well-known. Some people get a little faint after giving blood, but I’ve never had a problem. As long as you are well-hydrated and decently fed, there doesn’t seem to be any cause for concern. All in all it is a great thing to do, and hugely satisfying. I’m not quite sure how it is handled in this country, but I am looking forward to finding out!

UPDATE: Sadly it looks like I’m ineligible to give blood in Australia! This is on account of having lived in the UK for six months or more between 1980 and 1996. This is because of the risk of carrying vCJD, variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, the human form of ‘mad cow disease’. This is a fatal condition, the true spread of which remains unknown. Check out the Wikipedia entry on it (and the related mad cow disease scare) for some fascinating if rather grim reading. There is no way to test for it, so sadly it cannot be ruled out. It can incubate for decades before becoming symptomatic. If the UK ruled out people from this period from giving blood the pool of potential donors would be too greatly reduced, so they accept the risk. So it looks like I might have to rethink this one. If I get back to the UK in the next year I may be able to donate. Alternatively, I’m going to look into buddy schemes. In the UK gay and bisexual men are not allowed to donate (an outdated and discriminatory rule that should be abolished), so a scheme has been set up where you can volunteer to support a nervous donor. Essentially you go along and provide moral support for someone who might not feel comfortable donating otherwise. A really lovely idea for contributing to something so important. I am hoping to find something similar here. I’ll keep you posted as to how I get on!

12. Learn to ski

*TW: blood, injuries (no images)*

Ok so this one might not be so easy to accomplish in Australia, but I want to give it a try. I’ve only ever been on one ski trip before, and on I think day two I managed to injure myself. It was the tiniest fall, and I didn’t realise there was anything wrong until we got to the bottom of the mountain and I noticed that there was blood on my ski. There was a broken bit of plastic on my (hired) ski, and I’d fallen on this and stabbed a hole in my leg. It never felt very dramatic, nor did it hurt very much, but it did bleed quite a bit, and I was taken off to hospital on a snow mobile and then in an ambulance (the French paramedic having cut my trousers apart to check the wound – RIP my rather good pair of thermals). They stitched it back up and said I could keep skiing, but I was so nervous of falling and tearing my stitches that I managed to fall on the other leg and twist my knee. So that was it for my skiing ambitions, and I spent the rest of the week hobbling round the village using my ski poles as walking sticks and visiting concrete churches (which as it happens was fine by me!). The wound then proceeded to get infected and it took months to fully heal, so even though at the time it didn’t seem that big a deal, that fall did cause me rather a headache.

But I’ve always been one for getting back on the horse (often literally), so I am determined that this will not be the end of my skiing story. I occasionally have nightmares about being at the top of a steep mountain with only skis to get down. I am not happy with any memory having such power over me, so I am going to try again, and get it right this time (even if that does involve yet more falling over). Australia isn’t known for its skiing, but there is some, and with New Zealand and even Japan as possible alternatives, I think there should be plenty of opportunities to have another crack at it. I had hoped it would be this winter, but with Spring already here and Melbourne still in lockdown, my salopettes will have to bide their time in my closet for just a little longer.

13. Knit a jumper and/or vest

I’ve been knitting for years, but so far my ambition hasn’t stretched further than blankets and scarves. And that’s fine! In fact, I wrote a whole article about the joys of knitting badly. I don’t particularly feel the need to challenge myself, because I knit for relaxation, and still get a lot of pleasure from the things I make. Every time I watch TV in the winter I’m curled up under a blanket of my own creation. But as I grow more interested in both vintage and ethical fashion, it would be fun to have a go at creating a garment entirely from scratch. The freedom to chose exactly what wool and colour you want, and from literally thousands of patterns, is really appealing. I’m aware that sleeves might be a little tricky, and I don’t want the project to become too stressful. I’ve also been on the look out for a nice Hobbity green woollen vest, so that seems a good thing to aim for. Perhaps if that goes well I can graduate to a full jumper!

14. Sew a skirt from recycled materials

Similar to 13, this seems like a great next step in my exploration of vintage inspired and ethical clothing. I’m quite tall so it can be hard to find skirts that are the right length for me, and getting things to sit right on my natural waist can also be tricky. So why not just make something? I went through a phase of making clothes in my teens, first on my great-grandmother’s Singer, and then on a modern sewing machine. That stayed behind in the UK when I moved, but I did manage to make a few items that I wore out of the house. Now I’d have to sew it by hand, but I guess that’s what people did for most of history, so that can’t be a bad thing. It might also help me overcome my natural impatience, which often comes to the fore during crafting projects. For materials, you can often find great things like old curtains, sheets, and larger items for clothing, which are a good source of fabric. So when things open up I’ll be making a few trips to some op shops. Those brown curtains that have thankfully gone out of fashion make surprisingly good additions to an earth toned wardrobe…

15. Master Duolingo French

This one isn’t as big an ask as it might sound, as I have actually done this in the past. I’ve always been kind of fascinated by French, but have never studied it as part of my ‘official’ education. I’ve taken classes (when that weekend job money wasn’t going on swimming lessons it went on a French tutor) but I’ve never got to the point of being a confident conversationalist. I’ve hopped on and off the Duolingo train a few times since then. It did briefly look like I might be moving to Geneva, so I obsessively did Duolingo every day for a while. That didn’t come to pass, so it fell back off my radar. But I’d love to build back up, and work on my vocabulary. Being able to read some of my favourite authors, like Zola, in the original French would be something lovely to aim for. I don’t think Duolingo is ever going to be enough to become fluent, but it’s certainly a good place to start. Right now I’ve no idea when I’ll next be in a French speaking country, but it never hurts to be prepared!

16. Read the 100 Noels that Shaped Our World list

In 2019 the BBC shared a much-needed update to their 2003 The Big Read 100 books list. This time the books are broken down into themes: Identity; Love, Sex and Romance; Adventure; Life, Death and Other Worlds; Politics, Power and Protest; Coming of Age; Family and Friendship; Crime and Conflict; and Rule Breakers. Some of their entries are slightly ambiguous, as they’re trilogies or series (The Lord of the Rings and the Sandman Series, for instance). If I exclude entries where I’ve only read one of the series, I’ve only read 15 of these entries, which seems a woefully small number. There are some categories I’m stronger in than others; for instance, four of my entries from the Politics, Power and Protest section, versus a rather sad zero from Identity. As there are other reading goals in my list, I think I’d content myself with finishing off a few of the sections. I’d like to read all of Identity, and complete Politics, Power and Protest, and have a go at Class and Society, as these are the themes that interest me the most. The 100 novels list was compiled by a relatively diverse group of people, so it will be interesting to see if this is reflected in their choices. I think their choices seem to be on the surface, and are less boring than the original list, which is fairly straightforward. For comparison my reading has until recently not been particularly diverse, and I’ve read 36 entries on the 2003 list. So far 2020 has been a very productive year for me in terms of reading, so I hope I’ll be able to maintain momentum, and discover some new favourites.

17. Try a team sport

My fitness journey has been a relatively solitary one so far. Even before lockdown I preferred to exercise alone; I’m quite self-conscious about my body, both in terms of how it looks and how well it performs, so am quite nervous of the idea of pushing myself physically in front of other people. But I’ve certainly come a long way towards accepting my body for how it is and what it does. It would be great to join a running club, but I also like the idea of getting stuck in with a team sport. This isn’t something I’ve tried since my long-ago days in the ACF, so it would certainly be a new challenge. The collaborative aspect I think could be a really healthy thing to try, and the camaraderie of team sports is definitely appealing. Add to that it being a great way to meet people in a new city, and it seems too good an idea to pass up. The question of which sport is an open one; cricket or rugby are many my most obvious choices, but at this point I’m up for trying anything!

18. Up my film knowledge

I must admit to having a dreadfully poor knowledge of classic films. There are some iconic movies that I haven’t seen – neither The Godfather nor Apocalypse Now! But I love watching (and writing about) films, and would love to up my knowledge level. So I’ve decided to take on the BFI’s 100 Greatest Films of All Time list. This is a great selection taking in films from across the globe, although there does seem to be a bit of a bias towards Hitchcock and the like. So far I’ve watched an embarrassing 6 of these movies! It is quite a ‘high culture’ list though, so to balance things out when I’m in a slightly less intellectual mood, I’m also going to work through Empire’s 100 Greatest Movies list. I’ve seen a rather less shameful 32 of these (including Hot Fuzz), but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. These is some cross over between the two lists, and the Empire one is distinctly less international, but I think overall they offer a fairly decent survey of ‘classic cinema’. I’m looking forward to immersing myself in some new worlds. Keep an eye out for reviews.

19. Go to a stand-up comedy gig

As I’ve said of many of these entries, this is very much dependent on the state of the pandemic, but it’s a nice one to aim for. I think I’ve only ever been to one stand-up gig in my life. Completely spontaneously I booked tickets for Dylan Moran at the New Theatre in Oxford a few years ago, and it was a great experience. I booked on the day of the show, or maybe the day before, so it was a spur of the moment thing, and I’m so glad I did. He was very funny, as expected, and surprisingly insightful (although I really wish he’d do more to publicly distance himself from Graham’s Linehan). But I’d particularly like to try a gig from someone I’ve never heard of. It can feel like a bit of a gamble, but my experience of stand-up at the moment is totally filtered to the few people who make it onto TV. Just because they don’t get a TV show doesn’t mean they aren’t funny, so I’d like to broaden my experience a bit. Perhaps get an idea of ‘the circuit’. Melbourne has a world famous comedy festival (sadly cancelled last time for obvious reasons), so I’m sure it’s a good city in which to get to know some up and coming comedians.

20. See the Southern Lights

I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights, but as they are literally on the other side of the world right now, it seems sensible to aim for their lesser known sibling, the aurora australis. These can be seen in Tasmania, and I think at the very southern tip of Victoria. They look truly magical, and the fact that you have to get out into the countryside to see them is just an added bonus. I don’t know quite how likely you are to see them at any given time, and it would be a shame to plan a trip around it and not see them, so it’d be good to combine this with a hiking holiday/rural retreat. It really does feel like a ‘once in a lifetime’ sort of thing, so it would be really exciting to tick this one off the list!

21. Organise my digital life

This is a relatively pragmatic (read: dull) one, but I think it’d make a huge difference to my sense of wellbeing. At the moment I have literally tens of thousands of photos spread across numerous hard drives, USB sticks, memory cards and so on, to the point that whenever my (rather rickety) PC tries to update itself I panic that I haven’t backed it up properly. Investing in a pair of good quality solid state external hard drives (so I can have multiple copies) and carrying out a full back-up would so improve my peace of mind. It would also enable me to clean out and categorise all the files on my computer, making it much easier to use. We’ve all Marie Kondo’d our physical offices, so why not our digital ones too? Mundane though it sounds, this will be a super satisfying task to finish off.

22. Take a vineyard tour

Australia, and Victoria in particular, is famous for its vineyards. Drinking wine is something I’ve only got into fairly recently, and I don’t have a very sophisticated palette. It would be great to learn a bit more, and explore Victoria in the process. There is something so appealingly timeless about vineyards – they make me think of illuminations in medieval manuscripts, or warm summer days in the south of France. This is definitely one to indulge in, so I can make the most of the great local vineyards while I can. Not something one can do so easily in the UK!

23. Get (politically) engaged

It is really easy to feel demoralised and futile when it comes to politics. But one of the best possible ways to counter this is to get involved in grassroots political organising. Sure, it can be frustrating at times, and you’re never going to agree with everyone (even in your own party), but getting out there and doing your bit can be really satisfying. I started out doing small (but still important) things like leaflet delivery, and progressed to canvassing (calling at people’s houses and chatting to them). This can feel really intimidating, but once you’ve rung a few doorbells and got your first few “no thanks, not interested”s and “actually, now you mention it”s out of the way, it becomes quite natural. I think I’m at an advantage here in that I do fundraising for my day job, and the skills do cross over pretty well. It is so interesting to get out and hear what people are actually experiencing and thinking, and feeling that you might be doing something to help them. I’m not quite sure about how to approach politics in Australia, but even if you can’t vote there are loads of ways to be of use, so I hope I’ll be able to offer a helping hand.

24. Take a road trip

Bit of a cliché this one, and success might be closely linked to No.1. But it’s popular for a reason! Australia is known for its miles of deserted roads and wide open spaces, so hopping in the car and getting out on the road sounds like the perfect way to get to know my new country. I will have to be careful to stay safe and not become one of those scary statistics about drivers in the outback, but a little well-managed risk would be worth it for the incredible views and sense of connection with the country and its people.

25. Ride a train

Yep, this one on the face of it is *very* easy to achieve. I have of course already been on a train in Australia. But what I really mean is one of the great train journeys. From something relatively achievable like the train from Melbourne to Sydney, to a more epic journey like a ride on the Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin, trains are such a fun, gentle way to sit back and watch the world go by. You get a real sense of the landscape changing around you, and there’s no need to worry about refueling or when the next loo stop is. A proper adventure from a bygone age, and a unique way to see the world. Bonus points for being a relatively eco-friendly way to travel.

26. Go (semi) vegan

On the subject of being good to the planet, another entry, this time a little closer to home. I’ve come to accept that I may never manage to go fully vegan, but it is getting easier and easier to find great vegan swaps for everyday items. And there is absolutely no denying the health and environmental benefits of going vegan. I’ve made a lot of progress over the past year, but looking ahead I’d like to work even more vegan food into my diet. I still eat fish, dairy and eggs. But as a teenager I went non-dairy for several years (to help with some skin problems) and I’ve also been vegetarian for long stretches. So I know I can do it, and vegan food has come a long way since I was a teenager. So to pull this one off I think I just need a bit more determination – and creativity. I’m not sure I’ve ever cooked tofu for instance, even though I really like it, so I’ll have to explore some new recipes. I already use oat milk for most things, so it should be fairly simple to find cow cream alternatives for my cooking. As with most things, I think we’re not all going to be perfect 100% of the time, but if we can take steps in the right direction that can only be a good thing (and vote for parties with well-thought out, actionable green policies!). So over the next year I’m going to try more vegan foods and recipes, so keep an eye on the vegan tag on this blog for my latest efforts!

27. Buy a digital piano

One of the things I enjoyed most as a teenager was playing the piano. I had lessons as a child, but fairly quickly gave up and moved on to other instruments (the flute and then the bassoon). So as a teenager I decided to have another crack at it on the family piano, and taught myself to play from a book of Mozart sonatas. I accepted that it would be hard and I’d sound awful for a while, but my determination paid off, and it was immensely satisfying to learn pieces I loved for the sheer joy of it. Since going to university I’ve only had very sporadic access to a piano, and haven’t really been able to keep up the habit. But it turns out that it’s kind of like riding a bike, and it comes back fairly easily when it has the chance. So I’d like to build on my skills and learn some new pieces. I’ve settled on a digital piano because they’re a lot more affordable (and given everything else on this list that will definitely be a factor!) and you have the option of playing with headphones. A real piano would definitely feel a lot nicer, but living in a not-very-soundproof modern house, I think it would be fairer to be able to block out the noise of my failed attempted at new pieces! Of all the things on this list, this is one that is most likely to bring me simple, long-term pleasure, so it would be lovely to accomplish.

28. Publish a magazine article

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to have my worked featured in a few different publications. This is something I was really working on in the year up to leaving the UK, but I feel I’ve had to re-start a bit moving to a new city. It feels great to get your writing out to a larger number of people, and it can be a satisfying challenge working to a brief, and adapting your voice for different audiences. This one will take a bit of research, but it would be really fun to see my work in print on the other side of the world. Watch this space!

29. Take a dance class

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a real klutz. You could say I’m mal-coordinated, but even that would be on the generous side. My sense of balance is terrible, and even yoga requires more coordination than I am capable of. The ‘combat’ fitness classes at my old gym had me flailing wildly, desperately trying to catch up, while everyone else seamlessly glided from one well-choreographed move to another. So it seems like a good idea to have a go at improving this. I’ve only taken very loose dance classes before – one whistle-stop tour of Lindy Hop at a 40s themed party and a YouTube video on waltzing being as much as I can remember. I’m not sure what type of dancing I’d go for, but I think anything would enable me to have better control over my limbs than I currently do. Something fun and not too serious, but that has the potential to really boost my confidence levels.

30. Make a vegan pavlova

A nice light-hearted one to end on! I have an incredibly sweet tooth, so why not embrace that by creating Australia’s national dish? It’s pretty common to make vegan meringues from aquafaba (the water left over from chickpeas), so I think this should be fairly simple. There is so much delicious fruit grown in Victoria, and a big meringue piled high with berries and passion fruit sounds too tasty to resist. I’ll document my efforts and put them up here – whether or not I succeed!

So there you have it – my 30 before 30 list! It’s pretty involved, but I’ve tried to keep it realistic and relatively pragmatic. I’ve deliberately avoided things that are less tangible and more about a state of mind. Other lists I’ve read have included things like ‘learn to love my body’ and ‘master mindfulness’ but I think for me these will always be processes rather than tasks, and are long-term goals. I don’t think I’d ever really feel comfortable saying I had ‘achieved’ these things, and ticking them off the list. So my list focuses on things I will be happy to say I’ve definitely pulled off. It’s been fun putting these together as we sit at home in lockdown – it’s provided some things to look forward to, and some to keep me motivated while we wait this out. I’ll try to provide regular updates on my progress, and let you know when I’ve completed something. In the meantime, it’s a pretty long list, so I better get going!

Have you put together a 30 before 30 list, or a bucket list? I’d love to hear what you’ve included, and what you think of my suggestions! I’m not usually one for this type of thing, but it’s actually been a really nice way to sit back, take stock, and have a think about my priorities. Please do share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below! Thank you so much for reading, and making it to the end of this rather mammoth post!


  1. […] As someone with a sweet tooth, a pavlova seems a pretty good place to start. When I was a child I had a mild obsession with the gorgeously decadent pavlova that called out to be from the pages of our Two Fat Ladies cookbook, resplendent with cream and raspberries. Now I’m Down Under, it seems only appropriate to attempt what is widely considered an Antipodean national dish. I even made it one of my 30 before 30 goals. […]


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