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Monday, July 26, 2010

50 things to do before you die (Part 2)

 I’m still alive and still inching up that leaderboard (I wish there was a comprehensive leaderboard, by the way: a full list of the names of the people on earth, in order of age. It’d be a nice record and useful for me to know who my closest rivals are).

Meanwhile, because I did survive another week I’ve been able to write up the second half of that BBC list which advised us to do 50 things (no more, no less, just these fifty please) before giving up on life. Here are the final 25:

26. Climb Mount Everest. NOT DONE. This is a biggie (the mountain and ‘thing to do’). My normal ‘to do’ lists mainly feature buying milk, not climbing the tallest mountain in the world. But I do have a plan. K2, I’ve heard, is actually catching up with Mount Everest (or Mount Everest is getting smaller – I can never remember). So I’m going to wait until Everest is only the second tallest mountain in the world, and then climb it. Should be easier, at a mental level at the very least.

27. Wonder at a waterfall. DONE. There’s a waterfall quite near my house. Recently I was standing by the waterfall and I wondered what I was going to have for dinner. I have, therefore, wondered at a waterfall.

28. Travel into space. NOT DONE. I think this one should really be ‘travel to the moon’, not just into space. I saw Prof. Brian Cox travel into space in the course of his brilliant Wonders of the Solar System but I didn’t really envy him that trip (I’d have preferred to see the eclipse in India). The thin blue line of our atmosphere is only about 350km away but because it’s straight up it’s tricky to reach. If I’m going to the trouble of that trip I’d prefer to set the satnav for the moon, thank you very much, and whether or not I make it, I’m bound to at least tick this one off.

29. Explore the Galapagos Islands. NOT DONE. Yes, this would be in my own top ten, I think (alongside eat a lovely steak). I mainly want to see the long-living Galapagos tortoise close up, and maybe get a signed photo for Rosie.

30. Trek through a rainforest. DONE. I remember thinking on day one of the trek (this was in Peru) that I trek through rainy forests quite often at home. I wasn’t impressed. But then we saw snakes and frogs and monkeys and our guide cut open a branch and we all drank from it and I began to see what all the fuss was about.

31. Gallop a horse along a beach. DONE. Gallop is a strong word. I went horse-riding about eight years ago in France and I’m almost certain we went via a beach. Unfortunately I had diarrhoea at the time so don’t remember everything (I’m hoping this will be the only one of the list which involves diarrhoea).

32. Ride a camel to the Pyramids, Egypt. NOT DONE. It doesn’t say where the starting point is for this one. From Chesham? Where do I find a camel in Chesham? How do I mount it? From a bench? Still, I’m up for the pyramids so will find out. I always like visiting large things that are simply shaped – like the Dome or garages.

33. Take the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok. NOT DONE. Will probably wait till my son is a little older. He’s not great on planes or trains and I have a feeling this one’s a long trip. So yes, I’ll wait until he’s at least six, or till I really really have to get to Vladivostok.

34. Catch sunset over Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia. NOT DONE. I haven’t even seen sunrise over Uluru yet so I really have got some catching up to do on this one. The thing is, Australia is massive; so large, that if I walked non-stop for a hundred years in a straight line west, starting on the east coast, I wouldn’t even get a quarter way across (this is completely made up but it’s definitely big). Maybe I’ll move there for a year or two when I’m a hundred. Is it harder or easier to get a visa at that age?

35. Go wing-walking. NOT DONE. Do we have to be airborne? If so, I suppose I’d do it, even though my brain (which is me, really) would be telling me I’m an idiot the whole time. I don’t really understand the thrill. I’ve never even fancied climbing out of my sunroof when I’m driving a car.

36. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa. NOT DONE. Lots of my friends and relatives have though, and they all say it’s exhausting. I’m sure at least one of them said it’s nice too, but mainly – exhausting. Luckily, I quite like being exhausted. It makes me feel like I’ve achieved something (eg climbed Mount Kilimanjaro).

37. Fly over a volcano. DONE. An actual live volcano too, not one of the numerous dead ones. It was in Costa Rica and it spat at us as we gawped down. It was an awesome sight, making me realise how much I take for granted this country’s stability – our football team might be perennially disappointing but at least our hills aren’t full of boiling lava.

38. Drive a husky sled. NOT DONE. There’s a man in Chesham, where I live, who has two huskies. I’ve never spoken to him but will now do so. The trouble is he always walks with them strapped to him via a harness so he’s normally doing a fair old speed. Perhaps I’ll approach him on a moped.

39. Hike up a glacier. DONE. New Zealand. I didn’t like it. Too cold and white and hikey. Sure, it was worth doing but on balance, I’d prefer to just eat a some sausage or have a bath.

40. Ride a rollercoaster. DONE. Of course, done. Who hasn’t? And I quite liked it. I’m not an adrenaline freak (which is lucky for this record attempt) but I liked certain aspects of the experience. In fact, thinking about it, I think I liked the queue best: the people watching, the etiquette, the anticipation. Everything – EVERYTHING – should involve a queue.

41. Fish for Blue Marlin. DONE. When I was ten I used to go fishing with my friend Ben. I didn’t like it because I always dreaded what I’d have to do if I actually caught a fish. Thankfully that never happened. So I don’t know what I was fishing for. It may well have been a Blue Marlin. Almost certainly a Marlin of some colour.

42. Go paragliding. NOT DONE. This is one of the ones I’d love to do after I’ve hit three figures. I always like stories in which a very old person does a very exciting thing, so one day I’m going to be one of those stories. Meanwhile, I’ll get on with things like:

43. Play a round of golf at Augusta, USA. NOT DONE. Yes, I’d like to do this now, please. And then again when I’m 80. I’ve just got into golf, mainly because I’ll need a sport I can keep playing in the fifty odd years between my retirement and my death.

44. Watch mountain gorillas. NOT DONE. Where are these mountain gorillas? Can I nab them on the way up Everest? No. I’ve just checked. They’re in Central Africa and they’re enormous. I think the one who played the drums to the Genesis track in the Dairy Milk ad is a mountain gorilla. That sort of thing, anyway. They live for about fifty years, in case you’re interested (which I hope you are).

45. See tigers in the wild. NOT DONE. The TV station Animal Planet, did a poll of 50,000 viewers from 73 countries and discovered that the tiger is the world’s favourite animal. So I really must go and see a tiger in the wild. The dog came second, by the way. I’ve seen them before. Much easier (even seen some in the wild, in Africa; makes you look at poodles with a bit more respect). The next most popular animals are dolphins, horses, lions, snakes, elephants, chimpanzees, orang-utans then whales. On a related note, I went to the zoo yesterday and saw an okapi. This is now my favourite animal. I’d never heard of or seen one before. They’re either new or have very bad PR.

46. Do the Cresta Run, Switzerland. NOT DONE. I didn’t know what this was, to be honest. I thought it might be something to do with nicking toothpaste but it’s actually a ¾ mile long skeleton racing sled track. Will probably do this the day after my paragliding, just to ensure some press coverage (take note, okapi).

47. Visit Walt Disney World, Florida, USA. NOT DONE. Half. I’ve been to Eurodisney (my wife and I camped nearby and I was so nervous – or maybe just ill – that I was sick in a plastic bag just before entering the park) and I think that’s me done. At least until my son finds out about the popular mouse (I’m going to try to keep the two apart until he’s at least 18 – wish me luck).

48. Visit Las Vegas, USA. NOT DONE. ‘Visit’ seems a bit of an understatement. I don’t there’s much point merely visiting Las Vegas. If, no when, I make the trip, I’m going to ‘do’ Las Vegas. And I will have many regrets.

49. See orang-utans in Borneo. NOT DONE. So many of these trips are so far from home. Why isn’t there ‘see gannets on Bass Rock’? I’ve done that and it’s great. Or ‘see the pigeons in Trafalgar Square’ or ‘see the tortoise in your garden’. I shall start saving up right away.

50. Go Polar Bear watching. NOT DONE. The phrase ‘go Polar Bear watching’ makes this sound like something you can do on a whim on a Tuesday morning: ‘I’m just popping out, love’. ‘Where?’ ‘Oh, just Polar Bear watching.’ ‘Ok then, have fun’. But then I guess if it was that easy, it wouldn’t make the list. But should the list only be full of once in a lifetime things? I really like eating Soreen malt loaf – could that make the list? Perhaps near the end of my life I’ll make my own list and see if there’s any overlap. So stay tuned for that (in about a hundred years).

There we go. I’ve done 7.5 out of this 25, so a total of 19 out of 50. And if I’m (roughly) 2/5 of the way through my life I’ll end up living to (about) 80. This is not nearly good enough. I have to slow down or else I’ll burn out too young. I need to pace myself. I’m in the lucky position of having time to do all these things. And I must remember to keep one or two till the very end. It’s important to always have something to look forward to.


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This is a very planet-destoying list isn't it? Unless you can count some of the "see x" ones if you see them on TV. What about a 3D cinema? Would that count?

I think I've done 1 of the 50. But I have visited a high security prison in america and I'm halfway through knitting a hat, which I think should both be on the list.

I was slightly concerned for your life last night watching you running with that big pole but it was okay because I knew it wasn't live TV.

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