11 3/4 things to do before you’re 50

Yes, I am now utterly my parents and drag my children to more than their quotient of National Trust sites per year, but with this scheme, why wouldn’t I? And the children are already utterly us. They were heard screaming this week in Durham and refusing to go to a cafe when they realised we were trying to trick them out of a visit to a museum. Without any dinosaurs even.

Today we visited one of my childhood favourite places: Cragside. If you haven’t been, make plans to. There you will find the first room to be lit by hydro-electricity. In 1880. Also a ridiculously early dishwasher, patented as the Washer-up. Hydraulically-powered lifts. State of the art nineteenth-century technology in a glorious, beautiful pocket of Heaven. There is even a waterfall, an iron bridge and a button to press to learn the most efficient way to pour water over a wheel. My son was rapt. My husband and I were confused. My daughter discovered a timeline and therefore we were all happy. There was even a great place to eat, an adventure playground and a digger. A real, twenty-first century one.

And all through, the NT undercurrent of ensuring all children of primary age have enriching and rewarding experiences of the small, joyful elements of Life. Or else – woebetide -great things will be missed. Things like rolling down a hill, climbing a tree, baking mud and eating bees. Something like that. I’m having a tricky mind day today. Not that these activities will appeal to all, or even be possible to all. So I had another thought today. I give you:

11 3/4 things to do before you’re 50* **

*although you have every permission to do these things beyond 50, and I would encourage you to should the opportunities arise

**all these things have, in one way or another occured to our family this year

1. give treats to people you do not know, just for fun;

2. make water-wheels out of old lego;

3. book a ridiculously early flight (and get on ridiculously early flight just in time);

4. learn some words in a language you may never need again;

5. take time to look around at a view with no buildings for 360 degrees;

6. actually explain in great detail whether or not we are nearly there (and regret ever thinking that would result in the end of the questions);

7. meet up with at least one cousin/sibling/old friend each season;

8. do something a little bit dangerous, just to create great memories;

9. listen to wiser people;

10. express creatively in a way which relieves fear and tension;

11. don’t be afraid to love;

3/4. don’t put things off to the…


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