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My Life List

My Life List, the things I want to achieve during my time on earth, is far from exhaustive. I don’t expect to accomplish everything because I just keep adding more and more! For me though, the point isn’t to cross everything off (what would there be left to strive for if you achieved everything?), but to create a life of adventure. There is no greater joy to be had than a life lived well.

With that in mind, here is my Life List.

Travel/Adventure

General

  1. Camp in the dessert
  2. See every wonder of the world
  3. Go hiking in the rainforest
  4. Go on a helicopter ride
  5. Swim with dolphins
  6. Stand on a glacier
  7. Fly a plane
  8. Visit every continent
  9. Go couchsurfing
  10. See the Northern Lights
  11. See the Southern Lights
  12. Go on a cruise
  13. Go on a volunteering trip
  14. Shower in a waterfall
  15. Go scuba diving
  16. Sleep under the stars
  17. Spend a night in the jungle
  18. Spend time with wolves
  19. Snorkel with turtles
  20. Snorkel with Tropical Fish
  21. Visit a panda sanctuary
  22. Go somewhere remote
  23. Spend time in a Buddhist Monastery
  24. Go on a photography trip

Europe

  1. Go hiking in the Alps
  2. Go the Norwegian Fjords
  3. Drive over 120mph on the autobahn
  4. Go dog-sledding in the Arctic
  5. Go to Oktoberfest in Munich
  6. See the ice tunnel at Mutnovsky volcano
  7. Explore the ruins of Pompeii
  8. Go to the Venice Carnival
  9. Go to a masquerade ball at the Venice Carnival
  10. Visit Plitvice National Park
  11. Take train journeys around parts of Europe
  12. Go to the salt mine at Krakow
  13. Travel on the Oslo to Bergen railway
  14. Visit Orkney
  15. Relax in the Blue Lagoon
  16. Visit Neuschwanstein Castle
  17. See Fingal’s Cave
  18. See the crystal cave in Iceland
  19. Hike in Jotunheimen National Park, Norway
  20. Go to Sicily
  21. Go to Capri
  22. Go to Santorini
  23. Go hiking in the Cinque Terre
  24. Go to the Uffizi Gallery
  25. See a German Christmas market
  26. See a Christmas market in Paris
  27. Gamble in Monte Carlo
  28. Explore Garajonay National Park
  29. Go to Siberia
  30. See Lake Baikal
  31. Attend the Beer Floating Festival, Finland
  32. See Alberobello, Italy

Asia

  1. Hike through the Bornean jungle
  2. Go to Nepal
  3. Go hiking in Nepal
  4. Walk the Great Wall of China
  5. Go on a boat trip down the Yangtze River
  6. Holiday in the Indian Ocean
  7. Lie on the beach in Goa
  8. Explore the backwaters of Kerala
  9. Go to the Maldives
  10. Go to Bali
  11. Go on a boat trip on Halong Bay
  12. See Wulingyuan, China
  13. See Jiuzhaigou Valley, China
  14. See Yingxi Corridor of stone peaks, China
  15. See Kuha Karuhas Pavilion, Thailand
  16. Eat at Fangweng hanging restaurant in Hubei Province (near Yichang and Sanyou Cave)
  17. See Angkor Wat
  18. Stay in a retreat in Thailand
  19. Hike to Everest Base Camp
  20. See the Danxia Landform, China
  21. Climb Mount Fuji
  22. Hike in the Yellow Mountains, China
  23. See the Longsheng Rice Terraces, China
  24. See the Forbidden City in Beijing
  25. See the Yungang Grottoes, China
  26. Go hiking in Tiger Leaping Gorge, China
  27. Visit Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan
  28. Go to Ladakh, India
  29. Go to a lantern festival
  30. Spend Chinese New Year in China
  31. Go to the Harbin Ice Festival
  32. Attend the Full Moon Party, Thailand
  33. Attend the Holy Colour Festival, India
  34. Go to the Jaipur Elephant Festival

North America

  1. Hike the Appalachian Trail
  2. Go to the Grand Canyon
  3. Hike in Yellowstone National Park
  4. See the Florida Everglades
  5. See Yosemite National Park
  6. Trek in Banff National Park
  7. See Niagara Falls
  8. Go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando
  9. Go kayaking in Glacier Bay, Alaska
  10. Go to Glacier National Park
  11. See Multnomah Falls in Oregon
  12. Explore Antelope Canyon, Arizona
  13. Go to Hawaii
  14. Trek in Zion National Park
  15. Visit Texas
  16. Stay in a Texas ranch
  17. Do a road trip in America
  18. See a jazz band in New York
  19. Go to a Native American Reservation
  20. See rural Canada
  21. Go to Alaska
  22. Trek in Tombstone National Park
  23. Go to Oregon
  24. Attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
  25. Go to Coachella
  26. Go to Burning Man
  27. See Sirmilik National Park
  28. Attend the Floating Lantern Festival, Hawaii

Central/South America

  1. Hike through the Amazonian rainforest
  2. See Iguazu Falls
  3. Go hiking in the Andes
  4. Visit Torres del Paine National Park
  5. Go to the Carnival in Rio
  6. Walk on the Bolivian Salt Flats
  7. Go to the Galapagos Islands
  8. Go to Costa Rica
  9. Go to the Caribbean
  10. Go to Mexico
  11. Go to Cuba
  12. See the Atacama Desert

Africa

  1. Go hiking in the Atlas Mountains
  2. See the Pyramids
  3. Explore the markets in Marrakech
  4. Go to Madagascar

Australasia

  1. See Ayers Rock
  2. See some of the Lord of the Rings locations in New Zealand
  3. Go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef
  4. Go to Bora Bora
  5. Go to Tahiti
  6. Go to Fiji

Relationships/Personal Development

  1. Take my mum on holiday
  2. Take my dad on holiday
  3. Take my papa out to dinner
  4. Have dinner with Anthony Robbins
  5. Quit smoking
  6. Read 50 books in 2015
  7. Read all of the books on my Big Book List
  8. Have afternoon tea with my mum
  9. Have afternoon tea with my mum at the Plaza
  10. Take up mindfulness meditation
  11. Research my Orkney family history
  12. Become proficient at yoga
  13. Create a picture book of my Life List
  14. Become an accomplished calligrapher
  15. Get a tattoo
  16. Publicly protest against something
  17. Fall in love
  18. Get engaged
  19. Kiss in the snow

Learning

  1. Learn Mandarin
  2. Learn French
  3. Learn to drive
  4. Learn a martial art
  5. Learn the cello
  6. Learn the guitar
  7. Learn the piano
  8. Learn how to draw well
  9. Become a proficient salsa dancer
  10. Learn German
  11. Learn Russian
  12. Learn Japanese
  13. Get to know classical music
  14. Learn to shoot
  15. Learn Italian
  16. Learn more about ancient Egypt
  17. Learn more about physics
  18. Learn more about photography
  19. Learn more Old English
  20. Learn how to do calligraphy
  21. Learn how to do Chinese calligraphy
  22. Learn how to walk in heels
  23. Learn Tai Chi

Study/Career

  1. Be in a film
  2. Make money from acting
  3. Make money from writing
  4. Make money from photography
  5. Win an Oscar
  6. Write a book
  7. Be a published author
  8. Get a DSLR
  9. Become a successful actress
  10. Have an exhibition of my photographs
  11. Have an exhibition with my mum
  12. Go to Comic Con as a star rather than as an attendee
  13. Open a jazz bar
  14. Open a gym
  15. Win a literary award
  16. Get a PhD
  17. Write a best seller
  18. Be in a play
  19. Look through a very large telescope

Physical Improvement

  1. Lose 50lbs
  2. Complete Insanity
  3. Be physically strong

Money/Lifestyle

  1. Be a multi-millionaire
  2. Live in Paris
  3. Live in New York
  4. Have a library
  5. Stay at the Dorchester Hotel, London
  6. Stay at the Plaza Hotel, New York
  7. Be able to shop at House of Fraser’s without reservation
  8. Own a yacht
  9. Own an Aston Martin
  10. Own a Ferrari
  11. Own a Maserati
  12. Own a Lamborghini
  13. Have a collection of original artwork
  14. Have a collection of Eddie’s art
  15. See the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  16. See the Moscow Ballet
  17. See the Bolshoi Ballet
  18. Go to Fashion Week in Paris
  19. Go to Fashion Week in New York
  20. Be in Vogue
  21. Have a paper published in a scholarly journal
  22. Have an open fireplace
  23. Complete Insanity
  24. Make a difference/be influential
  25. Buy a piece of original art
  26. Be asked for my autograph
  27. Have a private gym
  28. Eat in a Michelin star restaurant
  29. Fly first class

Cities/Towns

I’ve kept cities separate from general travel because there are so many I want to see!

Europe

  1. Paris
  2. Munich
  3. Barcelona
  4. Prague
  5. Budapest
  6. Riga
  7. St Petersburg
  8. Rome
  9. Venice
  10. Siena
  11. Florence
  12. Gothenburg
  13. Copenhagen
  14. Salzburg
  15. Vienna
  16. Gdansk
  17. Oslo
  18. Bergen
  19. Berlin
  20. Bruges
  21. Rothenburg ob der Tauber
  22. Innsbruck
  23. Brussels
  24. Amsterdam
  25. Moscow
  26. Tromso
  27. Oxford
  28. Bern
  29. York
  30. Bath
  31. Sorrento
  32. Dubrovnik
  33. Krakow
  34. Warsaw
  35. Pompeii
  36. Santorini
  37. Helsinki
  38. Monte Carlo
  39. Hallstatt
  40. Reykjavik
  41. Zurich
  42. Heidelberg
  43. Stockholm
  44. Kotor
  45. Lisbon
  46. Tallinn
  47. Mont St Michel
  48. Bremen
  49. Monteriggioni
  50. Montepulciano
  51. Perugia
  52. Bologna
  53. Split
  54. London
  55. Cambridge
  56. Cannes
  57. Nice
  58. Freiburg
  59. Hamburg
  60. Bratislava
  61. Zermatt

North America

  1. Los Angeles
  2. San Diego
  3. New York
  4. Charlotte
  5. Charleston
  6. Savannah
  7. Orlando
  8. Miami
  9. Jacksonville
  10. San Francisco
  11. Las Vegas
  12. Phoenix
  13. Boston
  14. Austin
  15. Vancouver
  16. Quebec City
  17. Toronto
  18. Montreal

Asia

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Beijing
  3. Tokyo
  4. Kyoto
  5. Guilin
  6. Yangshuo
  7. Shanghai
  8. Bangkok
  9. Phnom Penh
  10. Kuala Lumpur
  11. Xi’An
  12. Chengdu
  13. Kathmandu
  14. Suzhou
  15. Wuzhen
  16. Hangzhou
  17. Hida Takayama
  18. Luang Prabang
  19. Jerusalem
  20. Istanbul
  21. Jaipur
  22. Chiang Mai
  23. Pokhara
  24. Lijiang
  25. Dali
  26. Fenghuang
  27. Tianjin

Africa

  1. Marrakech
  2. Luxor
  3. Cairo
  4. Alexandria

Australasia

  1. Cairns
  2. Adelaide
  3. Perth
  4. Sydney
  5. Auckland
  6. Wellington
  7. Christchurch
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How to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

In the past few years, I’ve been having trouble achieving my new year’s resolutions. This year, I decided to examine why.

For one thing, I found that my resolutions were too grand. I overestimated what I could achieve in a single year, and so no matter how much I did that year, I never managed to hit my goals. I was frustrated, because when I looked at my resolutions at the end of the year it looked like I hadn’t achieved anything.

Another problem was that once I wrote them down, they were put aside and never looked at again.

A lot of people have these problems with their resolutions, and it’s surprisingly easy to fix.

I realised that I had been focusing too much on the end goal, instead of all the little goals and achievements that lead to it. It’s the equivalent of having ‘Be in a movie with Johnny Depp’ when you haven’t even done a small local production yet. I was setting myself up to fail. So this year, I still have the ‘big’ goals, but I also have all of the smaller ones that lead up to it. You’re not going to win the Nobel Prize overnight, but what’s important is that you’re making strides in the right direction. Resolutions should reflect that, and as you tick off each stage you will feel a sense of accomplishment. At the end of the year, you can look back and see how much you’ve progressed towards your goals. You might not be in a movie with Johnny Depp, but you’ll have done a lot towards it!

For example, instead of just having ‘Lose 20lbs’, you can divide it and cross out each stage as you achieve it. So it becomes:

Lose 5lbs

Lose 10lbs

Lose 15lbs

Lose 20lbs

It’s important to have the big goals on your list, but it’s equally important to have the small ones.

As for the second problem – your resolutions gathering dust on a shelf – I found a workaround that’s really easy. I got a slim notebook to write my resolutions in and started carrying it around with me. It’s small and light, so it doesn’t take up room or make my bag heavier, and it means I always have them with me to refer to.

Another solution for this problem is writing a monthly to do list at the start of every month. I choose resolutions that I want to focus on and write them down. I tend to choose 1 or 2 from each category (I’ve divided my resolutions into categories so it’s less intimidating and easy to reference, it also gives a nice structure to your goals). It keeps your mind focused on what you want to achieve.

For categories, you might want something like the following:

Home

Career

Health

Learning

In addition to this, I’ve made my resolutions more engaging by choosing inspiring pictures for each category and sticking them into the notebook. So each page has a list of goals, from small to large, and a picture that embodies them.

Hopefully this will help some people with their goals for the year. I’ll be uploading my own list of 2017 Resolutions soon!

See the Forbidden City in Beijing

One word: Overrated.

I hate to say this because I was so excited to see it, but it was quite underwhelming. It’s big, very big, but there’s no context.

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Every courtyard is exactly the same as the one before it, and all the buildings are the same as the ones next to them. This in and of itself isn’t bad, but there’s no information on what the buildings were used for, no context on what life was like, where the Emperor and his family lived, nothing. So the effect is just a series of identical buildings and courtyards that you aimlessly wander through and know nothing about.

Ultimately, it’s boring. At least until it gets to the beautiful gardens at the end.

It was also 40 degrees (104F) when I was there, and with very little shelter. The endless repetition combined with the almost unbearable heat made it quite an unpleasant experience.

This was just me though, I’ve known people to go to the Forbidden City and love it, so this is far from an objective opinion!

Walk the Great Wall of China

This was an…interesting experience!

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It was one of the toughest climbs I’ve ever done, and it was at times so steep and high that it gave me vertigo! Maybe that’s just the part of the wall I was climbing though (the Huangya Pass near Tianjin). It was exhausting though, really exhausting. I basically hiked over several mountains in the height of the Chinese summer!

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The steps are so steep that each one came up to my thigh, and so climbing down a hundred of them, with a sheer drop and nothing to hold onto, was terrifying! There were several parts that were particularly dangerous, including a very narrow corridor with a sheer drop on one side and no railing – the worst part about this was that it was very slippery and I kept nearly sliding off!

In the end though, I was glad to have done it. I can’t see myself doing it again, but it was an experience well worth having!

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway…

Why is it so much easier not to pursue your dreams? Why does fear of taking action paralyse people? I suppose doing great things with your life was never going to be easy.

And yet, I wish it was. I am pushing myself in the direction of the life I want, but not confidently and not without dragging my heels, because as uninteresting as my life is at the moment, it’s comfortable. Comfort is the enemy, it stops you from pursuing better things, it whispers in your ear that your life is fine, it might not be great but it’s not bad.

Comfort will tell you that putting yourself out there is a bad idea, because it could change everything. It makes you scared of trying for more in your life, because heaven forbid you breach that comfort zone. It keeps you mired in mediocrity when you could be achieving amazing things. The only thing that separates the great from the rest is the determination to push beyond it.

It’s always easier to do nothing rather than something. It’s always easier to stay where you’re comfortable than to feel scared putting yourself out there. And yet, no one that ever did anything worthwhile went with the easy option.

The Jewel in Tuscany’s Crown

Siena… It’s one of my favourite places in the world. It has the gothic, winding streets of Venice, but without the heaving crowds. Instead of canals, it has dark cobblestone alleys that turn the town into a labyrinth.

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Each of the town’s areas, called contradas, is a separate community with it’s own people, and even their own flags. The population is only 50,000, and yet intermarrying between the varying contradas is still taboo. They take their history very seriously, and you see this more than ever during the Palio.

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The Palio, the famous bareback horse-riding contest, really brings out the people’s pride. The Piazza del Campo, the main piazza in Siena and where the race happens, has thousands of spectators filling it beyond capacity to watch the show. And afterwards, the people of the winning contrada take to the streets to have an enormous party. They’re not shy about letting their victory be known either, they walk through the other contradas, replacing the flags with their own, taunting and jeering and sticking posters of their winning jockey all over the doors and shop fronts!

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I found myself in the midst of their celebrations and was carried along for the ride. It was certainly an experience!

Studying in China!

That’s me back at work after 2 weeks studying in China. I can’t believe how much I miss it already! Learning Chinese has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and it’s already led to amazing new friendships and experiences. Going around Tianjin and Beijing, I could actually speak to the locals and be understood (most of the time, anyway), and hold conversations with people in their native language. It was an incredible feeling!

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I sat my first ever Chinese language proficiency exam, the HSK 1, and I passed with 100%, and there’s also quite a good chance of me winning a scholarship to do part of my PhD in China.

A small decision like which language to start learning has opened up so many doors I didn’t even know existed!

Snorkel with Tropical Fish

When I found myself on a cruise of the Caribbean last year, one of my stops was St Barths. Aside from adoring the island itself, I decided that it would be a good opportunity to go snorkelling!

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It was a wonderful experience, made better by the massive rainstorm that decided to unleash itself whilst I was out in the water! The sea was choppy because of the storm, and it gave the whole experience a wild edge it would have lacked on a normal sunny day.

Idyllic Hallstatt…

Hallstatt might not be the easiest place to reach, but for a few hours of extra travelling you will find yourself in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

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After a flight to Salzburg, a bus from Salzburg to Bad Ischl, a train from Bad Ischl to Hallstatt train station, and a ferry from Hallstatt train station to Hallstatt village, we finally arrived!

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I don’t think words can really do it justice, but I believe everyone should go at least once in their life. It’s small and quiet, without a huge amount to do, but the tranquility is a kind of paradise. Sit by the lake and watch the sun dapple across the water, wander the winding Austrian streets, and appreciate the serenity the place offers.

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