The general parent category for most of the things I write about on here.

One of the more interesting Louisa-centric sub-categories is biodata (where I explore my personal history with graphs, maps and whatnot), and if you’re that way inclined, you can read about the wonderful felines and canines with whom I’ve shared my life too.

“Before I’m 40 goals” update

TL;DR In 2015, I set myself a whole bunch of “before I turn 40…” goals. Well, I turned 40 last Saturday! I feel healthier, both physically and mentally, than I did at 30, or even 20 – and I think this goal list has helped with that.

Of the 175 goals I have put on the list over the last four years, I’ve completed 51 of them, with another 47 “in progress” (and of them, 10 are more than 75% complete so should be finished soon). I’m super chuffed with all the things I’ve done – including how hard I’ve smashed some of them and how additional goals have grown from small acorns.

But almost as interesting are the goals that I have consciously – or unconsciously – left by the wayside. Some of these have been because my interests have changed but others illustrate what my priorities really are, and the gap between who I am, who I want to be and realistically, who I can be.

This time last year, I wrote a post asking for help with ticking off some of the (many) goals from my “Before I’m 40” goals list.

As I explained last year, the list started a few years ago when I was coming out of the depression which engulfed my early 30s and I needed a push to start living my life again. The goal hasn’t been the goals themselves really, but to get me up and doing stuff, almost no matter what it is. Because of that, over the years, the goals have stretched and morphed – and been added to extensively. Some of the later goals, I couldn’t have imagined completing when I started the list back in 2015; some of the original goals I have less interest in now. It’s been a fascinating journey for me.

The 51 goals I’ve completed


A good chunk of these are language or cycling related.
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Help me achieve my goals!

A few years ago, when I was coming out of the depression that engulfed my early 30s, I decided to put together a “101 goals in 1001 days” list. My friend Tom has sworn by them for a long time and I needed a bit of motivation to do things so thought I’d give it a try. Then I realised it wasn’t that much longer until my 40th birthday so I decided that would be my end marker instead.

For the first year or so, I mostly focused on the low hanging fruit – mostly the ones that I could do without leaving the sofa – then at the start of last year or thereabouts, when that Tom inspired me to actually start doing the things on my To Do list, I’ve started ticking off the bigger ones – and adding new things that I wouldn’t have dreamed about when I set up the list in 2015. (“Cycle 100miles in a day? Are you crazy??”, is what 2015 Louisa would have said about the thing I did fairly trivally at the start of this month.)

The list has evolved considerably since I started. Back then, I was addicted to pottery so there are a lot of goals around improving my throwing skills. The early ones also indicate how closed down my life was then – there is literally a goal that was to have a conversation with someone (not John/family/closest friends) every day for a week because that’s not a thing I did very often. (It still took me until April this year to do it.) I add ideas whenever I think of them so there is way over 101 on there now, even with a bit of mild pruning every once in a while when I think my interest has moved on too much (eg, I think it’s unlikely that I’ll put time into learning how to doubleweave on a rigid heddle loom any time soon).

I also stretch goals sometimes when I think I’ve achieved it too easily – or add another goal to say “do that X more times” – because the main aim for me isn’t to tick things off a list like I’m collecting Panini stickers; it’s to be doing stuff, to be living my life – because for a long time, I wasn’t. With that in mind, I won’t care too much if I get to 40 without ticking off a swathe of them as long as I’m making some progress working towards them. That said…

It’s my 39th birthday today. I have a year and a whole lot of “to do” items left on my list. A lot of them are things only I can do – eg, read five of my favourite novels in French (I’ve done two and a half so far) or finish writing another of my own (in English, because that’s hard enough) – but it would be great to have a bit of help with some of the other things. I could do them alone but it’ll help me prioritise them and they’ll be more fun with other people. And who knows, maybe they’ll help other people tick things off their lists too.

So can you help me?

Here’s some of the goals I think might benefit from a bit of assistance:

  • Organise a scavenger hunt
  • Produce and release ten episodes of a podcast
  • Spin yarn starting from raw fleece, ideally having helped shear the sheep/animal first.
  • Make mozzarella
  • Learn how to dive – I don’t mean fancy high board stuff, just regular swooping into a pool from the side.
  • Research & hide 5 local history themed geocaches
  • Go coasteering/surfing/kitesurfing/sea-kayaking and/or paddleboarding again
  • Walk or cycle both the Leeds & Bradford city boundaries – I’ve done Bradford but Leeds is a bit longer
  • Give a talk or teach a class/workshop on something I love
  • Travel Coast to Coast, by bike probably (possibly this autumn) but maybe walking?
  • Meet 2 internet buddies in person
  • Ride a roller coaster
  • Visit 5 prehistoric sites (large or small) and 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites (not counting Liverpool and Saltaire for obvious reasons ;))
  • Publish 3 more zines, including at least one factual one
  • Swim in all the swimmable lakes in the Lake District, and maybe a tarn and the sea too.
  • Visit 25 different islands around the British Isles – 12 down already, not counting the mainland
  • Climb 5 big hills – Hewitts/Munros/Wainwrights or whatever
  • Complete another personal mapping/location project (ie, using location as a way to explore memories. I already have a couple of these, for example, a map of everywhere I’ve ever spent the night in the UK.)
  • Top my longest ever walking day – then beat it again (longest day to-date = 19miles)
  • Learn to turn wood on a lathe and make something specific

Can you show me how to do these things? Do you know of relevant courses/workshops or other people that could help? Can you recommend locations or routes? Would you like to join me for any of these things?

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(It’s been an amazing year. I’ve exceeded my main hope from the end of last year – to keep taking babysteps to improve my mental and physical health – and have had some fantastic adventures with John and our wonderful friends. Daisy-dog came into our lives in February too and it’s been a pleasure watching her slim down and return to springing. I can’t be bothered writing a fuller account so I’ll let this – originally posted to Twitter a few weeks ago – stand as a record of my year.)

If @TIME was actually Tom magazine (“for Toms, about Toms”), I’d nominate my friend @thattommyhall for their Person of the Year award. He has had a HUGE impact on my life this year.


For 17 years, since I moved from there to here, I’ve wanted to travel along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. For 17 years, I dithered. Then Tom (& @AdrianHesketh) suggested we cycle the whole 127miles in a weekend. I didn’t even have a bike but haha, why not? This is us at the Albert Dock.

At the Albert Dock

I am NOT the sporty type. Before this year, my cycling daily best was, maybe, 5miles – and that was 2+ decades ago. This summer, 100km+ (60mile) days became “yeah, easily doable”. I’ve cycled all over the north of England and made memories that’ll last a lifetime.





(This last pic is of Steven, not Tom, in Skipton. Steven & Megan have also been amazing adventure encouragers this year – thanks and love to them too :) )

It’s not just cycling. In Jan, Tom arranged a walk on the Sefton Coastal Path, from Southport (my hometown) to North Liverpool, about 20 miles away. It was about three times as far as I’d ever walked in a day and @johnleach & I were sure we’d bail en route .. but we made it.


As on the canal & my first 100km day, the walk made me see that I was capable of things I previously didn’t think were possible. Yes, there’s much room for improvement – but for the first time in my life, I feel confident as a walker, as a cyclist. All thanks to @thattommyhall.

But the most important thing that he showed me was if you want to do something, you can … just do it. Such a revelation!


It sounds obvious but as I said, I’m a ditherer. I treated to-do lists as just lists of arbitrary goals, not stuff *to actually do*. But Tom wanted to walk the Sefton Coastal Path so he set up a Meetup group and a few weeks later, a dozen randos (+ John & me) walked it together.

This *totally novel* concept has inspired me so much this year. Despite being naturally lazy people, John & I (and Daisy-dog) have got up, gone out and walked all over the place. Every single walk has been a gem, and generated so many excellent memories.





Looking forward, 2018 is shaping up to be absolutely smashing. Cycling tours already booked in, walks already planned, but most importantly, I now look at my ‘before-I’m-40’ bucketlist as an actual to-do list. I can’t thank @thattommyhall enough. I really can’t.

Following the popular 2017 meme, I should end this with #BeLikeTom but I don’t think there is enough gorgonzola in the world for us all to really #BeLikeTom. But if you haven’t already got a Tom in your life, find one. I can recommend an ace one. :D

Ainsdale Beach


Can I have a lick?