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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Been There, Done That.

I am writing this on January 1st, 2013. This means that I have four months and eleven days left to complete my Thirty@30 challenge. It also means that I am well on my way to being 31, which, all things considered, is a little disturbing.

I´m just over half way through the challenge, with only a third of the time left. In order to prevent panic, I have decided to look over a bunch of challenges that would probably have made it onto the list, if it weren’t for the fact that I’d already done them before turning 30. Aside from the pleasure of reminiscing, it was a LOT of fun looking through old photographs in search of the pertinent evidence. For NO other reason that that it made me weep with laughter for a good five minutes, I´d here like to include this utterly inexplicable photograph of my mother. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

Anyway, now that I have my breath back, here goes the list, in a very ragged chronological order. Some of the things have a story to go with them, some have a photograph. All of them brought a memory, or several memories, into sharp focus in my mind.  I remembered family and friends that I haven´t seen for a long time, and to everyone who features somewhere in this blog post I send my love, and my thanks for being part of my life. If you’re planning a bucket list of your own, perhaps you’ll find some inspiration

Get a piercing.
My mum is from Venezuela, country of seriously beautiful women. If you’re in need of evidence, take a look at this picture of my mum in her youth. HELLO.

In Venezuela, as in many Latin countries, little girls get their ears pierced pretty much before the umbilical cord has been cut. It’s just normal. How else is your daughter going to wear her first pair of gold earrings? I, however, was born in London, where a succession of nurses, doctors and midwifes looked at my mum like she was a child abuser when she asked who was going to pierce my ears. It took her six months to finally locate someone who could be convinced to do it. The day she did, she was a happy lady. My father’s reaction, when he got home, was “YOU’VE DEFILED MY DAUGHTER WITH GOLD.” Oops.

Aged 17, I had my navel done too. I like this slightly incongruous little detail about myself.

Become a Domestic Goddess
Mum trained me to wash up at an early age. To this day, it is one of my finest skills.

Perform on stage
There are SO MANY photographs of me in various costumes, at various dance shows and plays, that I have decided not to include any. Everyone already knows that I´m a show off, there´s no need to enhance the perception. However, I can honestly say that I always did find being on stage to be an enormous rush, and I miss it.

Oh go on then, just for fun, a few pictures of me showing off...

To this day, I still have no idea how to apply lipstick.

Was this entirely appropriate for a school production?
I really have no idea...

Drive a vehicle in a swimming pool.
OK, this might just be an excuse for another silly picture.

Fake an illness to get out of school
Well, you see, the Chicken Pox was going round, but I didn’t have it. This seemed somewhat unfair, since it meant I was going to school when most of my friends weren’t. I decided to remedy this. The scheme must have been schemed well in advance, as when I rose in the deep dark depths of the night, I already had the equipment to hand, and there is no way mum would have let me keep a permanent marker in my bedroom.

To her full credit as a good sport, I seem to remember mum keeping me off school anyway. I do believe that my father (a consummate actor) actually managed to get his appendix whipped out, just so that he could get out of games… Like father like daughter.

See the Taj Majal at sunrise
There’s not much to say about this other than, erm, do it. That is one heck of an extraordinary building.

Me and the Taj. And a puppy I found.

Ride an elephant, a camel, and a horse. Have henna tattoos. Break a bone.
If you go to India, the chances are that at some stage you will end up hitching a ride on an elephant, it’s kind of the done thing. As is having henna tattoos on your hands.

I have this idea that I might secretly be an amazing horsewoman if only my dad would do the right thing and buy me a pony. But I also secretly know that I’m wrong. I love horses, but am useless astride one. My thus far one-and-only broken bone (left clavicle) came courtesy of a white mare that decided she’d had enough. Does anyone know where I can go to ride an ostrich?

Me and the broken bone. And a truly terrible fringe.

Have a radical hair cut
I was in my early teens. I went to visit my brother in Copenhagen. I let a mad Danish hairdresser cut off all my hair with a razor. It was NOT a good look. I will NOT be doing it again. Yes, there is pictorial evidence, but NO, I am not going to show it to you.
Scuba dive
You’re under water, but you can breathe. There are fish. It’s ace. Here’s me early on in my sub-aquatic career.

And here’s me having the correct breathing technique explained by my uncle Federico Cabello,  underwater photographer extraordinaire. Oops, I have inadvertently given you a glimpse of the HAIRCUT OF DOOM.

Play a saxophone to a goat.
There actually IS a photograph of this, but I can't find it. Which is sad. And also probably a good thing.

Drive a jet ski, a snow mobile, and a quad bike.
I shall never, in all my life, forget the sound of my father howling with laughter as I drove the quad bike, full speed, up a bank and into a large bush.

Bungee Jump
My friend Jane and I went camping in France when we were 17. She was determined to do a bungee jump at the local funfair. I thought she was nuts, but when we got there I realised that if I let the opportunity pass I was going to spend the rest of the holiday feeling like a wet blanket. So I stood up in the queue with her, trembling with terror. When the man asked us if we wanted separate jumps, or a tandem jump, the answer was obvious. So up we went together, in a rickety old crane, Jane’s parents standing complacently below with the camera. At the top of the crane, the man holding on to our harness asked if we were ready. My answer was a definite and decided no. He let go anyway. Jane whooped with a combination of fear and delight. As we were falling, I was completely and utterly silent. It was a strange and profound moment.  I knew that I was definitely going to die, smashed on the concrete of a French funfair. I had nothing to say about this imminent death. I was going with dignity. On the first bounce, Jane asked me if I was OK. I regained my senses and started screaming like a madwoman.

Yes! Do this! It is amazing! I have never given so many thumbs up in all my life. My face in the moment just before I fall from the plane is absolutely priceless.

What a rush. I don’t want to gush on too much about this, but I still get an adrenaline surge when I describe the experience, or watch the video. It was a fantastic experience, and I highly recommend it.

Crash a car
A mile or so outside Biggleswade South, Jane turned to me and said “Biggleswade South” what a funny name, wouldn’t it be horrible to crash there? So, erm, I crashed there, neatly parking my biscuit tin of a Fiat Seicento right in the middle of a raised roundabout on the A1. A friendly policeman happened by a few moments later. After leaning close to check my breath, and realising that I was not drunk, but rather a moronic and inexperienced driver, he kindly informed me that I wasn’t allowed to park there. Everyone’s a comedian.

Jump off the high diving board.
Scaring my father half to death in the process.

Perform at the Royal Albert Hall
Schools Proms, circa 1997, I think. I danced.

Go to Disney World
Epic waste of money. I was way more interested in the lizards on my hotel balcony than the people in the giant costumes.

In a tent, and everything.

Go to Glastonbury music festival
Right at the front for David Bowie, I was.

Get a university degree.
Trust me, I've been to college...

Ride a tandem bicycle.
I mostly remember this because I ripped my favorite jeans in the gear mechanism.

Ride on the back of a motorbike
Back when my dad still thought he was Paul Newman.

Get actually-off-my-face drunk
Once, and never, ever again. True story.

Touch a stingray
Is it cheating if this was in the SeaLife Centre in Boulogne? Well, even if it is cheating, I got an almighty rash. Leave the rays in peace, people.

Sleep in a castle
Amberly Castle, to be precise. Another extraordinary and beautiful building. I particularly appreciated the giant bath.

White Water Rafting
I’ve done this twice, once in India and once in Costa Rica. As far as I am concerned, this is the most fun it is possible to have with rubber. Bring on the rapids. But also be prepared for a 20 minute safety briefing that leaves you utterly convinced that you’re unlikely to make it home alive.

Still rocking the neon life jacket, twenty years later.

Skinny dip
Happily, no pictorial evidence of this. Feels nice, though.

I worked two seasons in a ski resort in the French Alps just after university. I have little technique on either skis or a board, but I love them both.

Drive a dogsled

Aside from raising money for charity several times, with sponsored activities and bake sales (I once baked 150 fairy cakes in one session) I have also volunteered my time, working in a homeless shelter on Christmas Eve. The impetus for this was all mum’s though, and I am thinking that the time has come to do something else along these lines. Any ideas?

Shoot a gun
At clay pigeons, I hasten to add. And, whilst I am not a vegetarian, and part of me feels that it would be a valuable life experience to kill something and prepare it to be eaten, I am such a lousy shot that I would undoubtedly cause unnecessary suffering. So I shall pass on that one.

Catch a fish
Obviously, the same boyfriend who was captain of the clay pigeons also had a lake in his back garden. That’s normal, right? The fish went back in the water unscathed. Actually, I have to say that I quite enjoyed fishing, and would like to try it again. It was kind of peaceful and meditative.

I showed aptitude for fishing from an early age. I also make a pretty good gnome.

Watch live sports (rugby, football, ice hockey.)
There was even a streaker at the ice hockey. Seriously, if you´re going to streak, you may as well streak on ice, right?


Whale and Dolphin watching
Whales and dolphins make you feel good. It’s just a fact.

Climb a mountain
Kilimanjaro was certainly the greatest mountain climbing challenge I’ve ever undertaken, and it beat me right at the end, with a healthy dose of altitude sickness. However, I have been to the top of Borneo’s beautiful Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia. Oh, and Cader Idris, in Wales.

Buy a house
As with so many of these challenges, there’s no way I could have done it without tremendous help. The deposit is part gift and part loan from my mum, but the mortgage is all me, paid with my own fair hands. It can be a burden, but it feels good.

Soak in a natural hot spring
What's not to love about this?

Go on Safari
Well, it’s only polite to visit the Ngorongoro Crater whilst in Tanzania…

Convince a tortoise to make sweet love to my shoe.
No, I´m not proud of this. But I did laugh. A lot. OK. I might be a little bit proud of it.

I feel there’s no better way too end this reminisce-a-thon than with the delightful image of a tortoise making love to a Birkenstock, so that’s all for now. Except to say that I’m STILL looking for ideas for my final fourteen challenges, so if you have any, please do drop me at email to:

Ohh, and also, for my next post I’m going to be writing about uploading my first ever video to YouTube. I’d love to get a few more page views before I do, so please go and check it out, if you haven´t already. 

Happy New Year everyone! May 2013 give you the opportunity to have a lot of fun and take a lot of silly pictures.

1 comment:

  1. My god, I now feel like the most boring person in the world...