What is it about a birthday that makes you so reflective? I was doing ok until the chocolate cake ran out… After that I spent the whole night panicking about all the countries that I might not get to visit if my cancer returns.
When I was first diagnosed, someone asked me if I was going to write a Bucket List. To be honest, I hadn’t thought about it. Why would I? I’d never faced a battle with a horrendous disease before. The whole idea puzzled me. How do you quantify life experiences? Is visiting an exotic island any better than watching your children dance in the rain?
Still, I wouldn’t mind travelling on horseback across Mongolia, following the music trail through New Orleans, Nashville and Graceland or drinking rum on a beach in Jamaica etc… But thanks to a wanderlust in the my 20s I haven’t done too badly so far.
So here’s my alternative. My Reverse Bucket List. Here are my top 18 experiences that have opened up my eyes to this beautiful world that we live in. These are the ones that have carved out everlasting memories for me. 18 Happy Places that will remain with me always.
* Watching the sun setting over the Sahara Desert.
* Following the Wildebeest migration across the Serengeti.
* Counting shooting stars on a clear night in the South of France with my father.
* Caving in New Zealand, guided only by the light of a thousand glowworms.
* Watching my children demolish their first plates of Italian pasta in a small village in Umbria.
* Dancing my seventeen year-old feet off all night long in a cheesy club in Fuengirola with three girlfriends.
* Driving along Big Sur in a soft-top convertible.
* A candlelit dinner on the beach of a Paradise Island just off the coast of Mozambique.
* Sitting around a pool in Nairobi writing my first book.
* Losing myself in the spice markets of Marrakech.
* Snorkelling with sharks in The Maldives.
* Watching the sunrise over The Grand Canyon.
* Swimming in the crystal clear waters around Santorini.
* Seeing my daughters’ faces light up as we took a stroll down Main Street, Disneyland, for the first time.
* Watching Jurassic Park at a drive-in movie theatre in Bakersfield, CA when I was thirteen.
* Drinking far too many shots of vodka in a small bar in Krakow.
* Sailing around the San Francisco Bay area whilst humming Otis Redding.
And best of all?
* The man I love asking me to marry him in Piazza San Marco, Venice, at midnight. After one too many Blinis at Harry’s Bar of course…