Tag Archives: birthdays

Absolute Friends – updated list

So this week I’ve turned 40, which I have to say did not turn out to be the momentous occasion I thought it would be. In my head for some reason turning 40 was a huge deal. It’s half way through my life (although I have a 90 year old grandmother so I’m hoping I’m not quite there yet) and I thought this would be marked somehow. I don’t know how, maybe the Taj Mahal would appear in our garden, a troop of dancing elephants would shimmy down the Close singing happy birthday, I’d start wearing matching underwear and always carry a handkerchief. In reality, other than which box I tick on official forms absolutely nothing changed. I had a lovely day and thoroughly enjoyed myself but I didn’t change. I still haven’t brought about world peace, or done a handstand on the top of the Eiffel Tower, or anything particularly noteworthy.

This did cause me some consternation, and I was rather miserable when I woke up on my second day of my 40th year. Luckily I met a friend for lunch, who gave me just the kick up the backside I needed. She’d even bought me a book of things to do now that you’re 40. Her very good suggestion was to write a list of 40 things I want to do, and then actually do them. I’m a big list writer, although I’m not so good at the actual doing of the items. They don’t have to be big things like walking the Camino de Santiago as someone I know is doing (You can follow his blog here) They can be small things.

Another very good suggestion from a friend, was not just to write a list of things I want to do but also a list of 40 things I’ve already done that I enjoyed or am proud of. Both of these are excellent suggestions that I am going to be taking up.In fact by the end of the day I’d already knocked off one item from my list. I went to a lovely restaurant called Rattle Owl which I’d wanted to go to for ages and a friend took me as a birthday treat.

The day also reminded me that although I may not yet have found a way to stop slugs eating my cabbages or written a best selling novel, I have an awful lot of good friends which already means I have something to show for 40 years. So today after making 30 cupcakes for my party on Saturday I have begun my list. I still need lots more ideas but its a good start. Turning 40 may be just another number but doesn’t mean I can’t make this a momentous year (or at least a momentous list)

My 40 things to do

  1. Eat at the Rattle Owl
  2. Complete the TOPCWF 2016
  3. Afternoon tea at the Grand (My friend has already volunteered for that)
  4. See Orangutans in Borneo (actually a possibility as I’m going to Thailand at the end of the year)
  5. Eat a pizza in Italy
  6. Learn how to take good pictures
  7. Learn how to ride a bike
  8. Learn how to crochet
  9. Do a park run in at least 4 different cities (I was going to say 40 but thought that was rather excessive)
  10. Go on a wine tasting course and actually put it into practice (no more ordering ‘red wine, whatever is cheapest’!)
  11. Bluebell walk
  12. Horse ride on a beach (I do ride horses so its not such a long shot)
  13. Grow sweetcorn
  14. Ride in a hot air balloon
  15. Visit Blackpool
  16. Visit the Tower of London
  17. Go on a Jack the Ripper walk
  18. Visit Cromer
  19. Go on a pony trek
  20. Paint a picture
  21. Make a chinese meal from scratch
  22. Visit 4 news National Trust Houses
  23. Ride on a steam train
  24. Do an open water swim
  25. Take 4 different pictures of Roundhay Park across the 4 seasons
  26. Run 4 10ks
  27. Row a boat
  28. Visit Yorkshire Wildlife Park
  29. Go to the Manchester Sealife Centre
  30. See an Opera
  31. Go to the Horse Trials
  32. Collect pine cones in a wood
  33. Go on a bat walk
  34. Have a picnic
  35. Visit to the seaside
  36. Watch a sunrise outside
  37. Glass walk over Tower Bridge



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It was recently Hilda 1s birthday. In honour of the amount of parcels she has taken in for me, and the fact that she is better than any guard dog you could possibly have, I bought her a plant. I even splashed out and bought it from a proper plant show not just the local garage.

Now usually our entire relationship is conducted over the garden fence (yes I know that makes me sound about 90, I’ll be buying a pair of sensible shoes specifically for driving in next) I find that as long as I stick to my side of the fence its a bit easier to get away from the latest round of which neighbour is the worst. This time though as it was a special occasion I decided to make the effort and actually step over the barrier.

She was of course very happy with her plant (although this was slightly overshadowed by the present from Hilda 2 which was closer to £199 rather than £1.99) and the coffee was drinkable. But I found it quite depressing. Never mind the fact that Hilda1 had no pictures on the walls, or books on the shelves, which I find odd. To top it off her mantelpiece had a grand total of 3 birthday cards on it– one of which actually came from a four legged friend rather than a two legged friend.

I’m not really a card sender, although now I may have to start just to make sure I get some back in return! I always find cards a bit sad. You get them, stand them on the mantelpiece for a few days (unless they were from family members as these always used to go on the tv, a bit tricky now with the advent of flat screens!) I usually then get so fed up with them falling over I take them down. But what about afterwards? Throwing them away seems such a waste, you can’t leave them up of course, you can’t frame them all but if you keep them what can you do with them?

The cost of cards is also ridiculous, I bought one recently and it was nearly £5. I think there is a niche market here for novelists. Instead of birthday cards, maybe novelists could all write short stories which people then buy and give to people instead of cards. I’d rather someone spent £5 on a short story I could enjoy, than on a card that might look lovely but is really rather useless.

Of course this wouldn’t have made Hilda1 feel any better, as she still wouldn’t have had any people buying them for her. But at least she would have been able to keep the three she got for next year, and they could have filled her empty shelves. Anyway I’m off to stock up on birthday cards to send to people…I must be getting old!

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Birthday Girl

Today is my birthday, and whilst many of you may think there is no way I can link that fact to books – you’d be wrong! That means it is exactly one year today since I started keeping a notebook of all the books I have read. This started as an idea I had when (as mentioned in a previous post) I started reading a book and got almost to the end before I realised I’d actually read it previously. Therefore I thought if I started keeping a list of books that I’d read hopefully that wouldn’t happen again.

What began as a little ‘aide memoir’ for myself seems to have caught on as a proper hobby with family and friends. (Plus whilst I can’t prove that Moleskine stole my idea and turned it into a journal its obvious they did!) I think it’s interesting to see how different people record their efforts though.

My sister unsurprisingly has an alphabetised book, and diligently records them by authors surname, whilst a friend bought one of the Moleskine journals I inspired and has a neat page per entry again listed by author surname. Mine unsurprisingly is a rather haphazard affair. Its a list starting with the first book I read last year, and simply numbering them as I go along with a brief synopsis and a score out of 5. I have of course spotted the flaw in this plan, that both my sister and friend had already pointed out. To find out if I’ve read a book already I have to trawl through all the pages to try and find the entry. Personally I think this just adds to the fun and again like Magnus Magnusson, I’ve started so I’ll finish it, next time I buy a new notebook I may alphabetise.

I think my inbuilt dislike of alphabetising things is down to the fact I don’t like waste. Lets be honest neither my sister or my friend are likely to have many authors to include under X or I so it just seems like those sections will be wasted. What do you do when you’ve used all the space in S and R but still have whole sections not used? It’s a big dilemma as then you end up having to cross reference the end of S over to X and its all too out of control. Maybe the 80s had it right and a filofax system is best so the pages can be moved around?

I do wish I’d started this list many years ago. I think it would be great to have a record of every book I’ve ever read (again that’s where my non alphabetising could cause problems, imagine having to go back through hundreds of non organised notebooks, I’d never actually have time to read anything new!) It would be interesting to know how many books I’d read. I can do a bit of extrapolation of course, which discounting the first 10 years or so of my life would give a figure in the thousands. That’s a lot of words and stories to have got through.

For anyone interested in the maths according to my notebook I’ve read 56.5 books this year (.5 as I’m halfway through one), which is slightly more than one a week although it does mean its not looking hopeful for completing the TOPCWFC. I was asked at lunch yesterday how many books I had to do in total, I think its best not to count them up. I’ll forget how many I’ve got to do by lunchtime anyway so no point in wasting the time!

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Filed under Crime writing, Reading