Like the worst of list cheats I'm adding two things I've already done and can tick off instantly. That isn't as audacious as it sounds - I mentioned it in the first draft of the list as something unattainable. Thanks to my amazing parents, it became attainable; they gave me a weekend in Tromso, Norway and I could fulfil a lifelong dream to see the aurora, and do whale-watching too. I'm astonishingly lucky.
Here's how my list of things to do stands so far:
- Go fishing - Woo hoo! Did this at the end of last summer
- See the Giant's Causeway - I'm making plans, hope to do it either July or the Autumn.
- Try salsify and Jerusalem artichokes - Still not tried them. They are in season in winter, so that's one for later.
- Go rock pooling - Definitely a summer activity
- Sing in a choir - I admit, I bottled it. Was absolutely going to do it and panicked. I'm a wuss.
- Grow cut flowers - Some setbacks here - slugs had my seedlings and Mark accidentally dumped a mound of compost on my freesia bulbs, but I have a few other irons in the fire.
- See live music - I did this! With mates and neighbours, we went to the OnRoundhay festival as a family and saw James. They were fantastic. Of course they were.
- Visit Hadrian's Wall - Done!
- Spend all day at the movies - Not done this yet.
- Learn to apply make up properly - Thanks to my fantastic mate Heather-in-London, I've got a makeup look that works for me. She gave me links to tutorials and product recommendations, and was so amazing and supportive. Heather is a beauty product guru, as well as one of the best parents and most thoughtful people I know. She's as generous with her knowledge as she is with her time (Apparently, I have sexy hooded eyes, like Lauren Bacall and Ava Gardiner. Go me!)
- See the Northern Lights - TICK! Best thing imaginable.
- Go whale-watching - Also TICK! A morning watching a pod of orca hunt for herring before a night chasing Aurora Borealis. What a day.
- Learn a new range of cooking - North African, Middle Eastern, Indian or Thai would be my thoughts but I'm flexible. I've learnt to make ramen recently and I want to expand to incorporate other dishes. NOT European food, though, because I understand the flavours of that already. Learning from Sabrina to make a curry was one of my favourite days, and it's time I tried to level up my culinary skills.
- Sew something I can wear - This is all about fear and ineptitude. One day I'll manage it. I'm such a wuss. I can't even cut into nice fabric. I have an almost-finished dress I was working on when I lost my job and I just couldn't face doing it again.
- See a new ballet company - I see New Adventures and Northern Ballet regularly, and English Ballet occasionally but Id like to experience another dance company. I may seek advice on that.
- Learn to play a song on an instrument - Even if it's Happy Birthday on the recorder, I want to play an actual song on something again. I have re-strung Mark's ukulele to make it left-handed and am thus far rubbish. I can only improve.
- Go Birdwatching on the Farne Islands - This is Springwatch's fault. I'd love to see in person the remarkable sea bird colonies they've shown me on the telly.
- Return to Paris - After the holiday from hell 9 years ago when Zach and Bonnie had a stomach bug and I was washing bedding and clothes every single day of the trip, I can't think of Paris without a shudder. Mark, who was NOT the one dealing with an exploding toddler morning and night, has incredibly fond memories of the holiday. I need to nice experience to banish the vile one.
- Cook a decent roast dinner - OK, this one is scary, because I don't cook or eat big slabs of meat and I think a roast dinner is all about the roast itself. However, I feel there is a veggie alternative out there I could work with, and surely it's not The Law that the vegetables are boring. It seems a skill all competent cooks here should have and I'd like to nail this one at some point.
- Build sandcastles - because it's fun yet I never do it anymore.
Here are a few photographs from the marvellous weekend in Tromso. I had no idea I could love a place plunging in darkness quite this much - I adored it from the moment we arrived. And two days before the solstice is a very dark time of year in the Arctic! The water, trees and mountains thrilled me to my core and I could have stayed forever. Except for the cost, obviously.