11: the ‘before I turn 30’ to do list

Somewhere, in a box or a bag, in a cupboard or the loft of my parents’ house, there’s a list I made when I was a student, in the pub one night, after finishing our finals, of things we hoped to do before we turned 30. I can’t remember everything on the list but some things stand out – I had hoped to live in Dublin for a year, and on Orkney (for some reason which escapes my memory now, but which I think was likely to be linked to wanting a creative retreat a la the Romantic poets of the 19th century…) for a year. And I was going to write a book.
I read today that a guy I knew of from the CU at university, the academic year above me, has done just that.
He quite his job as a geography teacher after three years of teaching in 2004, and then spent the next four years of his life cycling from eastern Siberia back to England, via southeast Asia, Australia and Afghanistan. It’s called, appropriately ‘Cycling Home from Siberia’ and is getting really good reviews.

I am trying not to feel the doom of my unfulfilled youthful ambitions in this and instead be glad that I have had and still have the fortune to meet and know, both tentatively and intimately, some extraordinary people who are doing remarkable things.


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