I have always been an animal lover, growing up I wanted to be a vet. Although this was not to be, I did study Animal Science at university and have gone on to become a Science teacher, specialising in Biology. This truly is my platform to share my passion for, particularly the living side of nature. It therefore seemed fitting that the first 50 items on my bucket list centred around increasing my interactions with the natural world and some of the Earth's more fascinating creatures.
Read and enjoy my brushes with nature and do feel free to add anything to your own bucket list if it inspires you!
Key: Incomplete = Black Completed = green
1. Adopt an animal from a rescue centre.
This pretty girl is Raine, the kitty we adopted from the RSPCA and mine and Ben's first pet as a couple. On the left was taken on the day we met her in October 2015, the right is her curled up on her blanket in my scrapbook room in December 2019.
2. Take care of a pet for a friend.
There is definitely something rewarding about pet-sitting. I took care of Penny, who belongs to my friend Lisa for a few nights while they were away, she was pleased for food and cuddles and it was really a nice opportunity for me to bond with her.
3. Take a dog for a walk.
Being a cat owner taking a dog for a walk is a novelty and I never pass up the opportunity to do so just because they are so full of energy and so much fun, plus it's a good excuse to get some fresh air and light exercise. This handsome chap is Vernon, my friend Gracie's dog (in the foreground) who we took out for nice a walk where they lived in Southhampton as well as their other dogs Ned and Sid (not pictured).
4. Own pet zebra finches.
5. Try dog sledging.
6. Ride on an elephant.
7. Ride a camel.
8. See a duckbilled platypus.
9. Hold a bird.
I rescued this baby goldfinch as he flew into our bedroom window and stunned himself. I ran down in my dressing gown and scooped him up to make sure he didn't become a cat's breakfast and he just sat in my hands for a few minutes, long enough for my friend Emma to snap this lovely photo before he flew off.
10. Ride a horse.
I'm going to count this one as I used to go horse riding regularly on a Saturday when I was a girl. Technically this is a Shetland pony, Sonic, as I was too small to ride horses at the time but it's definitely something I'm keen to do again as an adult as I used to love riding.
11. Go on a pony trek.
12. Perform a jump on a horse. So technically I have done this, we used to earn awards and rosettes at my riding school working through grades which included certain skills like little jumps (Shetlands are only small ponies) although again, I've not performed a full jump on a horse so it's something I'd like to work up to.
13. Go on a safari in Kenya or Tanzania.
14. Have an animal from it being a baby and grow old with it.
Now this is definitely something I've done, Harry the rabbit was my graduation present from my parents and I got him at just 3 months old - on the left, taken July 2012, the picture on the right was taken in July 2019 aged 7. He will celebrate his 8th birthday on 8th April 2020 which makes him approximately 80 years old in human years! I love my grumpy old man.
15. Hold a snake.
Again, something I've had the pleasure doing on a number of occasions both as a child and an adult. First picture is probably one of the first times I held a snake with my surprised Nanna just behind me on the right. Since then I handled snakes as part of my Animal Care course at college and I got to hold one last year (January 2019, pictured). I really like holding them because they're soft, smooth and you can just feel the power in them, they're quite enchanting.
16. Hold a tarantula. I've definitely done this before as a girl on one of our many visits to Bristol Zoo, however since there's no photo evidence I will go back and do it again as an adult!
Update 15th April 2020 - I knew I'd done this, I found a photo yesterday while looking through my photography for my DeviantArt account! This was taken at Longleat:
17. Swim with dolphins.
This was taken in August 2019. I've been lucky enough to swim with dolphins on two separate occasions, both at Discovery Cove in Florida. Dolphins are fun and exciting creatures and I did not smiling during either encounter. The first time was April 2012 on our family holiday, second time pictured above. The real joy from doing it again was watching my Mum (who is scared of water) conquer her fears and enjoy an experience she never thought she'd have, she shed a few tears of happiness that day.
18. Pet a shark.Again, this is something I'm certain I've done in one of our past holidays to Sea World, Orlando, however I'm nothing but a perfectionist so I'll just have to go back, do it again and snap some photo evidence this time.
19. Swim with manta rays.
I became photographer and videographer for our family holiday to Florida in 2019, which meant that I really didn't get to be in many photos. This footage was filmed by me swimming and snorkelling with my smartphone carefully tucked into a waterproof case. It was my fiancé, Ben's favourite bit of our day at Discovery Cove, just watching him gasp and beam was almost more rewarding than swimming with the manta rays (although don't get me wrong they are majestic and adorable creatures).
20. Milk a cow. I've done this by hand as a girl at a little local theme park, Crealy, I even got a certificate to say I'd done it. I also did some work experience on a mechanical dairy farm when I was working towards becoming a vet although again, I was busy working and it was the days before smartphones.
21. Feed a crocodile/alligator. We visited Gatorland in Orlando during my very first visit and I remember feeding the alligators there, I'll have to rummage through Mum's photographs from the holiday as I certainly don't have one.
22. Feed a koala bear.
23. Have fish manicure/pedicure.
Me and my friend Emma did this on a whim in a shopping mall in Derby when I was visiting her. On reflection it wasn't my brightest plan because I am inordinately ticklish, especially in my feet. I spent the first 10 minutes of the treatment squirming and laughing although eventually I became used to the tickle sensation and it actually became quite enjoyable. (I've also had a manicure from little shrimp in the aquarium in Alton Towers which was a really pleasant experience).
24. Swim with a school of fish.
Another of my videos from the time spent in the manta ray lagoon, which happened to be full of fish too!
25. Help a farm with lambing season.
Another item I completed as part of my work experience during college, I even stayed over and did an overnight shift. It was really remarkable helping another animal give birth, pulling a tiny slimy lamb out and watching it get to it's feet. I even got to help a cow too, a much bigger task and one I couldn't do by myself (cows are bigger than they first seem). Again, my hands were busy and blood covered so I think I'm excused from a photograph on this one!
26. Help out with sheep shearing.
27. Take a falconry class.
28. Go to a cat café.
My friend Becca lives in London and she took me to Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium when I went to visit her. It completely combined my favourite things, tea, cake and kitties. An experience I'm eager to share with Ben too as he loves all of those things.
29. Go to a rabbit café.
30. Learn to keep bees.
31. Volunteer at an animal shelter.Yes, another work experience venture, I helped out at the RSPCA in West Hatch back in 2008 for a week. Little did I realise I'd return there 7 years later to adopt our gorgeous cat Raine. I got to do a whole host of things there, cleaned out the small animals on my first day, discovered that ferrets take an instant dislike to me (thank goodness for steel-toe boots), walked dogs and sat and cuddled cats. I loved my time there and would happily do more volunteer work once I am retired and don't need my income to survive.
32. Go to see the horse racing. We went on a work outing to the horse races at Taunton Racecourse in 2012 and I had a really fun day - it certainly helped that at the time me and my sister worked in the same pub so both got to go on the trip and experience it together. I realised I'm a lousy gambler and lost all my money (all £7 of it) but we had such a good day choosing horses purely on which names we liked the sound of.
33. See dog racing
34. Go to a zoo.
Bristol is probably my most visit zoo purely because it's fairly local to me, but I've been to Twycross Zoo, Longleat Safari Park, Paignton Zoo and also Jungle Park Zoo in Tenerife!
35. Visit an aquarium.
Mum and Dad used to take us to aquariums fairly often as both myself and my sister Em were keen animal lovers. This is one I went to as an adult with my friend Emma in Scarborough the day after our friend Amy's wedding.
36. See the northern lights.
37. Watch the Sunset and wake up to watch the sunrise with a loved one.
38. See an active volcano up close.
39. Witness a meteor shower.
40. Witness a solar eclipse. I've seen a couple now, I remember being in the living room with my Grandad and Em in August 1999 as he was taking care of us during the Summer Holidays since both Mum and Dad were working. I also remember a partial eclipse in the first school I was teaching in March 2015!
41. Name a star.
42. Roll in a huge pile of leaves.
43. Have a leaf fight with friends.
I'd completely forgotten how fun this was until I was looking for the photographs that went alongside this. We had a flat "Christmas Day" at university before breaking up for the Christmas holidays and we went for a walk just enjoying some downtime and a leaf fight.
44. Hug a redwood tree.
45. Find a four-leaf clover.
46. Jump on stepping-stones across a river.
47. Walk on a black sand beach.
48. Walk on a white sand beach.
I'm lucky that where I live has lots of beaches and coastlines a stones throw from me to get my sea air fix. This picture was taken in Tenerife however, while on holiday with friends from University (Aimee in the foreground, me in the back). There's nothing quite like feeling sand in between your toes to truly feel in touch with nature.
49. Walk along a rocky coastline and search for fossils.
My friend Emma is a bit land locked in Derby so whenever she visits I take her to the coast. Kilve is a rocky beach so we went fossil hunting as we walked along the coast (and were delighted to find some!)
50. Paddle in the sea barefoot.
I love the beach and paddling in the sea just helps me clear my head. The first photo was taken in the North of England, the second two in Tenerife with my friend Jayne (the one I had a leaf fight with).
51. Swim in the sea.
So technically we were bodyboarding, which is why we're wearing wet suits but we had a bit of a swim in the sea too. The fresh salty air is exhilarating and in my opinion takes some beating.
52. Have a fire pit on the beach or in my back garden.
The beautiful back garden of our house is one of the very things that sold it to us. We sat right under our willow tree, by the river, watching our fire pit and talking the evening away. Certainly a peaceful way to forget any lockdown blues (these were taken in April 2020).