So, it has finally happened. The last year of my twenties.
Ahead lies the prospect of dodgy knees, weak ankles and an increasing penchant for gin.
Behind me lies a glorious decade of champagne, adventure and the beautiful memories which come from meeting good people.
Because that’s what my years on this earth have been so far to me – epic.
I’ve already ventured though desert dunes on a camel, hung on for dear life on the back of an ostrich in southern Africa and, on one memorable occasion, raced down the hills of Scotland on a large potbelly pig.
I’ve dug under the vast burning sands of the middle east for rare desert roses, dived for crayfish off the African coast and on several nights I will never forget; sat under the dark, diamond strewn skies of the Arctic Circle and caught the acid green glow of the Aurora dancing.
Thanks to my adventurous parents, the world has always been an open door of exploration for me.
Perhaps my magnetic attraction for danger zones and adventure in general, stems from my dad’s accidental decision to drive my mum and six-month-old me through Belfast during the blockades for a holiday. It was possibly the fastest U-turn a Scotsman has ever made.
But they continued to take me across the world with them; to the secret lands of Saudi Arabia where heat turns the air as thick as soup. Right down to the coastal towns of Southern Africa where I found sunset chasing, the song of whales, friendship and lessons in humanity which I know will last a lifetime.
For me, the moments that are most poignant are the ones that have been shared.
I remember standing with my family at Victoria Falls, the roar of cascading water in our ears and the dampness of the air twirling tendrils in our hair. When the sun moved, the spray turned up hundreds of little rainbows that fluttered like butterflies in the mist.
That was the holiday where I saw my brother David’s grin stretch wider even than my own when we got to play with the lion cubs and creep up on rhino on safari. He was always so gentle with animals, a mutual love for that special kingdom which we both shared.
Between the four of us children we’d have Lady the sheep dog, ‘Lady’ would be the first word we would all speak as babies, then Skye a labrador along with a menagerie of hamsters, birds, guinea-pigs, fish, tortoises and a parrot.
I loved them all.
My school friend Ruth, who I’d played with since we were nine years old, came with me to the Arctic Circle for another great life moment. To this day I’m not sure who first decided we would go there, but I remember it was spontaneous and we sort of just winged it, surviving on microwave rice bags and brown cheese.
But it was unbelievably spectacular. We saw the land of the midnight sun. We rode husky sledges through valleys of powdered snow, and trekked up hills in the coldest of temperatures to see the northern lights dancing.
We also ate reindeer stew which is something everyone should try at least once. For the record, ostrich pie and kangaroo are equally as delicious. Snails I still reserve judgement on. There’s just not enough garlic in the world that will compensate for snail taste.
One of my favourite adventurees, Sarah, would escort me through all sorts of wonderful trouble in Paris, Monaco, London and throughout France. Sixteen and in Europe? We had the time of our lives. Fresh calamari off the French coast fishing boats and catching the wild white horses galloping alongside our route was a moment in a million.
Teaching me to sail will always remain memorable too – Sarah, I owe you for that and for my first sailor hat. The next time we’re up the Eiffel Tower I’ll stand you one.
Which reminds me of every raft adventure, canoeing trip and campfire I ever had with Sammy, Lindz and Kyla.
Last year I had a burst of travel which invariably led to more great adventure. They go beautifully hand in hand, and you simply cannot have the one without landing head first or arse first in the other.
I became smitten with Central Park in New York and am determined to go back there and shuffle through its Autumn leaves. I fell in love with the cold jewel lights and glass towers from my skyscraper window – something I never thought would happen as a deep at heart hippy nature lover.
I loved Boston too, especially the harbour at night and even the trawling urban streets of Berlin at the cool end of summer.
I ventured to South Africa twice and re-ignited old friendships which I now doubt could ever burn out.
And explored too, the country I was born in – from its mirrored lochs and sunrise beaches of palest blue, to its incredibly strong people. A people of iron, the only thing strong enough to contain the heat and warm generosity of their hearts.
It’s here that I discovered Irish dancing and with it some truly fantastic friends.
And it’s one of those friends, a beautiful soul named Jennifer, who has set me on my path to 30.
For my birthday last week she gave me a wonderful handmade calendar – a checklist of ’30 Things To Do Before I’m 30’ to make sure I fill this last year of this great decade on this glorious earth with amazing and wonderful memories.
Starting from June 19th 2014, I have 365 days to fit in 30 great moments to bring in my 30th year in style.
A dear friend once told me to ‘live, laugh and love’ so this is my attempt to keep that promise and seize each of these days and fill them with fun.
I’ll keep updating you all on how it goes, because that’s the only way I’ll stay determined to finish the list.
And because truly great moments are the ones that are shared, I hope each of you will take part in at least one of these 30 things. Because turning 30 would be dull and meaningless without you.
So Carpe Diem! Let’s get cracking on number one…