50 LIFE be­gins at

There’s a big birth­day around the cor­ner, so how best to mark it? Maybe by tack­ling all those things you have put off for 49 years…

Surrey Life - - Lifestyle - WORDS: Julie Lu­cas

Ac­cord­ing to re­search, Brits that have reached 50 should have seen the North­ern Lights, gone skinny dip­ping and said no to their mother. As we near the mile­stone of reach­ing 50, many peo­ple are set­ting them­selves a ‘bucket list’ of chal­lenges.

“It struck me as be­ing a great way of mark­ing such a mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion,” says Jenny Lowe, who with the help of her hus­band set her­self 50 tasks to com­plete in her 50th year. “They were very personal to me. Some of the ac­tiv­i­ties may have seemed usual for some peo­ple but to me they were ‘long lived need to do’s’; places I’d never vis­ited, dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties I had put off do­ing and chal­lenges I had al­ways set my­self.”

The first chal­lenge was sim­ply to make mar­malade. “I bought loads of Seville or­anges and set off with a recipe. Hav­ing put all the in­gre­di­ents into a large pan, it didn’t seem to be set­ting. I was up un­til 2.30am still stir­ring the mar­malade. The next day it was per­fect and 20 jars were made and shared for break­fast on my birth­day week­end.”

She found that the phys­i­cal chal­lenges were the hard­est. “Although I was an ex­pe­ri­enced hill walker, sleep­ing on top of Hel­lve­lyn moun­tain, Eng­land’s third high­est moun­tain, felt like a dan­ger­ous ac­tiv­ity”, she says. “It was won­der­ful watch­ing the sun set­ting across the beau­ti­ful Cum­brian hills and then wak­ing at 4am to watch the sun­rise – a mem­ory I will al­ways have.”

She also al­ways wanted to be a model: “I was work­ing as a pal­lia­tive care tu­tor at a hospice and they were putting on a good-as-new fash­ion show. I vol­un­teered to walk the cat­walk – it was fab­u­lous watch­ing the faces of the women en­joy­ing the clothes I was wear­ing. I then went on to be­come a por­trait model for an artist who ran por­trait paint­ing courses. I found I could sit very still, which I didn’t know be­fore that!”

For dad-of-three Paul Goss, his year of chal­lenges was a com­plete sur­prise. It be­gan when his wife, Karen, pre­sented him with an en­ve­lope on his 49th birth­day. She had asked friends and fam­ily to come up with 50 ideas. Some were sim­ple – his grand­chil­dren wanted him to roll down a hill with them and have his face painted as a mon­key – an­other was to send a mes­sage in a bot­tle, which they launched in Hol­land.

“We hap­pened to be on a cruise in Rot­ter­dam. I thought it would be the last I would see of it but lit­er­ally seven days later I got an email from a lady in Bel­gium whose daugh­ter had found it – she sent a note and a pic­ture of her hold­ing the bot­tle,” he says. “It was my dream as a kid to find a mes­sage in a bot­tle.”

Paul says the ex­pe­ri­ences brought home the im­por­tance of friends and fam­ily; es­pe­cially his last chal­lenge – per­form­ing the tra­di­tional Maori cer­e­mo­nial dance, the haka. “I hate per­form­ing so left it to last,” he ad­mits. “I stood up to do it. Then my daugh­ter stood next to me. I then found out the whole fam­ily had learnt it.”

He says he most en­joyed pho­tograph­ing 100 things that make him happy. “I tried to find some­thing each day that made me smile, a photo or some­thing sim­ple like a sun­set,” he adds.

A study by in­surer Sunlife of 2,000 over-50s found buy­ing a house was top of the list of things to do by 50, fol­lowed by hav­ing chil­dren and get­ting mar­ried. Fall­ing in love came fourth, with eat­ing fish and chips on the pier at num­ber five. One ad­ven­tur­ous re­spon­dent also de­scribed how they got a ferry to France with just a sleep­ing bag and spent three years trav­el­ling around Europe, while an­other got en­gaged the day they met their part­ner. Re­searchers also re­vealed 47 per cent of over-50s feel they still have much more to achieve in their life.

So what was the over­rid­ing re­sult of set­ting chal­lenges? “What I have learned from the chal­lenges the most is if I have an idea or de­sire to do some­thing then do it now,” Jenny says. “Don’t wait. None of us know what the fu­ture will bring and we need to do the things we want to do now.”

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