Updated on July 30th, 2020
Some call it a Bucket List. However, the idea of “things to do before you die” was a little too close to home for me. It contains 117 things and if you would like to see the full list see my post What’s on my Life List. If you would like to know more about my reasons for compiling this list, please see About Me. Here, I give you the Life List – My First 12 Months (2016)”
My Life List
At the start of 2016, I felt it was time to refocus on what I wanted to achieve & where I wanted to go so I came up with my Life List.
What have I achieved so far?
In the first year, I ticked 12 things off my list, so its clearly working – here are some details on the more interesting ones…
24. Learn Spanish
The one continent (apart from 45. Antarctica) that has always been on my list to visit is South America. To do this & enjoy it more I felt it was important to learn Spanish (as well as to challenge a long-held self-belief that I’m not good at languages). I started by taking a one hour class with a teacher once a week at home in the UK. This was enough to give me the (very) basics.
But I always had the ambition to combine learning a language with my passion for travel & tick another thing off my list. Due to the timing (everyone saying constantly that it has changed so much & will even more soon), I plumped for Cuba. Here I lived in Havana for 2 weeks & had 3 ½ hours of 1:1 Spanish lessons every morning. It was intense but hugely valuable & my Spanish came along so much in that time, enabling me to travel for the rest of the month on my own & effectively communicate (most people seemed to understand me anyway!). I have since followed this up in the Dominican Republic. To read all about the experience check out my blog post.
To learn more about travelling to Cuba see The First-Timers Guide to Cuba. If you’re interested in learning Spanish in Cuba or any other language anywhere else in the world I organised my trip through Apple Language School.
25. Visit Cuba (also ticks off 96. The Caribbean)
See above for my reasons for going but I will never regret my decision to go to Cuba & it was one of the most challenging & rewarding experiences in my life. I loved the country, I loved the people & I would love to go back & keep an eye on how things are changing on the ground (I left about a month before the death of Fidel Castro).
To read more about my experiences in Cuba see The First-Timers Guide to Cuba
47. Learn to dance
And while I was in Cuba what better place to learn to salsa?
On my first day in Havana, a woman asked me if I dance salsa. When I said “No”, she responded, “In Cuba no salsa, no boyfriend!”. I wasn’t interested in getting a boyfriend. However, at least it gave me an understanding of how important salsa is in the country! Be aware that after that practically every conversation started with “Do you dance salsa?” & if I said “No” or “Poco!”, every Cuban man is a salsa teacher – so you’re in good hands(?!).
After 3 ½ hours of learning Spanish every day I used to go & lie in a darkened room for an hour & then walk to salsa lessons for 1 or 2 hours. I never became very good at it but loved every minute & it was a fantastic way to exercise my brain in a very different way. The casa where I stayed organised what was effectively 1:1 lessons for us. If you fancy a laugh at a very tall woman (with a much smaller man) & many more arms than everyone else appears to have, you can see the (not very impressive!) fruits of my labour on video…Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Sue Does Salsa!
60. Learn to meditate
I ticked these 2 off over 5 days of Easter in 2016 by attending a detox retreat in Devon. It turned out to be less yoga (although we had at least an hour every morning), more hiking (2 ½ to 3 hours every day on the beautiful moors or along the coast) & detox but I have to say I felt amazing afterwards.
In terms of meditation – I wouldn’t say I was an expert & I don’t practice unless I am in a yoga class (or focus on my breathing to try & sleep) but we had the chance to experience a lot of different types of meditation & relaxation.
I visited Yeotown which is definitely not cheap but well worth it if you are looking for a full detox experience. Since then I have had some amazing experiences practising yoga in …you guessed it, Cuba! You can read all about it HERE.
A fascinating country with a tragic history – I visited on my way back from Australia. I have lots to share on my time in Cambodia but for starters here’s my First-Timers Guide to Cambodia.
It has been pointed out that this is a huge area for 1 point. I visited Stockholm for a long weekend to shop the Christmas markets in November 2016. The weekend was fantastic but if you’re looking specifically for Christmas markets I would go elsewhere. There is a lot more to see before I feel I can truly say this is completed & it remains on the list!
111. The Bahamas
I felt it was a good idea to tick somewhere else off “on the way home from Cuba to the UK”. While looking into this it became evident that there aren’t many places you can go to on a direct flight from Havana. One of those you can fly in to is Nassau, so this is where I chose to spend 3 weeks island hopping. Why not check out my guide to the best off the beaten path spots in the Bahamas?
What else have I done?
40. Learn to take better photographs
I took a 10-hour webinar course on how to improve my photography (£25 bargain through a Time Out voucher) & take the camera off Automatic via Shaw Academy. My photography has improved as a result but still need to work on changing the settings more often!
In early 2017 I took an 8-week beginners course locally. I really enjoyed it but not sure my knees would say the same!
76. Outdoor Cinema
86. Make my Grandma’s Pavlova
My Grandma made an amazing Pavlova & when I found we still had the handwritten recipe I was keen to try it. I recreated the magic on Christmas day 2016 in a team effort with my sister & my nieces. As you can see we were very proud of ourselves (even though we forgot the cornflour!)
I’ll continue to give regular updates on how I’m doing against my list so please watch this space!
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