39 things a gentleman simply must do before he dies

We’ll all end up on our deathbeds eventually, but it would be nice to make it there with no regrets. Here are Victoria Marston's 39 steps to living your best (gentleman’s) life.

Here at Country Life, we pride ourselves on our ability to know a gentleman when we see one, which makes putting together our annual Gentleman’s Life supplement — our essential guide to all things chivalrous — an absolute treat for us as well as, hopefully, our readers.

Among our usual pearls of sartorial wisdom, you’ll find this aspirational bucket list of all the experiences we believe a true gentleman should have before he breathes his last in order to live a life less ordinary. Because after all, this is still Country Life – you can’t expect us to take it all too seriously.

1. Have a child named after you. Or, at the very least, a former flame’s dog

2. Learn to foxtrot

3. Open an expensive bottle of Champagne for no real occasion – with a sword

4. Make an anonymous donation

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5. Learn to pilot a plane or fly a helicopter (or both, if you’re feeling flashy)

6. Plant a tree

7. Take part in the father’s race at your child’s sports day

8. Shear a sheep and help to deliver a lamb, calf or foal

9. Learn another language (and seduce someone using it)

10. Have a bespoke suit made on Savile Row


11. Run a marathon

12. Write a letter or give a speech that moves someone to tears

13. Train a dog – properly

14. Cook a meal entirely from produce you have either caught, killed or grown

15. Dye your hair an outrageous colour

16. Buy (or, at least, bid for) an entire barrel of Burgundy

17. Quote a poem, both spontaneously and in a relevant situation

18. Climb a mountain or sail an ocean

19. Design a piece of jewellery for your beloved

20. Hit a six

21. Break up a fight using your wit, not your fists

22. Have one of your children admit you were right about something

23. Risk a month’s salary on a bet

24. Buy a one-way ticket to an exotic destination

25. Collect a library that requires a ladder

26. Ski a black run

Skiing in The Rockies - Aspen and Winter Park, Colorado

Credit: Matt Power

27. Construct a Lego Batmobile (or a castle, depending how you roll)

28. Plough a field, preferably on your own tractor

29. Write a song for someone

30. Make the news for something non-scandalous

31. Read War and Peace – and the complete set of ‘Harry Potter’ books

Hadrian's Wall from the top of Hot Bank Crags; in the distance is Winshield Crags.

Hadrian’s Wall from the top of Hot Bank Crags; in the distance is Winshield Crags.

32. Walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall

33. Buy a very silly car (we’ll let you define silly)

34. Rescue someone, be it a fair maiden or a lost child

35. Own a pair of smoking slippers

Long exposure of a train passing over Ribblehead Viaduct, whilst the incredible Milky Way rises above.

36. Take a godchild to their first Michelin-starred restaurant

37. Demolish something substantial, either with a JCB or with explosives

38. Sleep beneath the stars

39. Get married – at least once

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