Christian Payne is staring middle-age in the eye, but this is no ordinary man. He’s a blogging sensation, a one-man inspiration machine determined to hit his fifth decade with a slew of achievements under his belt. And we’re along for the ride.

The best year of his life? Christian's certainly going to try

Christian Payne is staring middle-age in the eye, but Christian is no ordinary man. He’s a blogging sensation, a one-man inspiration machine determined to hit his fifth decade with a slew of achievements under his belt. And we’re going along for the ride.

Known to most as @Documentally, Christian is a prolific tweeter, audiobooer, photographer and blogger and over the first 12 months of his forties he’ll undertake an ambitious project. He calls it ‘40 at 40,’ challenging himself to tick off a raft of once-in-a-lifetime tasks before the next set of birthday cards land on his doormat. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, with a list jam-packed with excitement, danger and even a bit of Morris Dancing.

We've helped Documentally out with a Vodafone SIM

To help him out, and to make sure he documents his escapades for others to see, we’ve sent Christian a Vodafone SIM card with 12 months worth of data for use all over the planet. He’ll use it to Tweet, blog, and upload details of as many of his adventures as possible. In previous excursions he’s made didgeridoos in Australia, busked through Europe with a harmonica and taught English for food in Thailand, so we’re expecting big things.

“I think I’ve already had a midlife crisis over the past ten years,” he says. “And now that I’ve hit 40, I wanted to make sure that I don’t let the number bother me, or make me slow down in any way.

“I don’t want life to stop being fun, so by writing a list of 40 new things to try and then doing as many of them as I can in a year, I will be constantly experiencing exciting new things all year long.”

A killer list, and still time for dancing

The project started back in February, and he’s already notched up an outing dressed as a Stormtrooper, a ride on the Orient Express and customised a motorbike.

With kite surfing, a trip onboard a submarine, witnessing the Aurora Borealis and even learning how to hot wire a car – all in the name of education, of course – in his sights, it’s going to be a year he’ll never forget, especially as some of the challenges were a complete surprise.

Christian tackled the Orient Express with the help of a 3G connection

“Half of the list was crowd-sourced”, Christian says, ”and was put together with the help of my friends, who all chipped in with their own suggestions.

“The other half were just little things that I’d never done and that I’d thought would be fun to try.” That explains the inclusion of Morris Dancing and baking the perfect sourdough loaf.

And Christan’s not called Documentally for nothing. “I have different kit bags for different projects”, he told us when we asked how he records his adventures and shares them with the world.

“Normally I can work quite comfortably with just the iPhone 4S. But if I want to work more on media editing and uploading, then I’ll use an iPad and iPhone combination.

Never without a smartphone, tablet or laptop, Christian's a one-man blogging sensation

“But when I go away on more serious work trips, I’ll always take my MacBook Air with me. Straight away that makes three devices that I need to connect, so Mobile Wi-Fi devices like Vodafone’s R205, are great for keeping everything connected.

“Since I recently started working with super high-resolution images, a fast and reliable data connection is now more important than ever, to help me upload high quality audio and pictures, to share and back up content online.”

Uploading photos is one of the largest strains on Documentally's mobile web connection

Keeping constantly connected

Devices like the Vodafone R205 Mobile Wi-Fi are key to keeping Christian connected, and showed their worth on his recent trip through Europe to Venice, on the Orient Express.

“It was truly a once in a lifetime experience and by far the most amazing rail journey I’ve ever taken”, he told us. “I really felt like part of a timeless era and it was like going back in time just stepping on the train, thanks to the amazing 1930’s atmosphere.

“But it was incredible to have 3G coverage most of the way from Venice to London”, he explained. “It meant I was able to sneak a quick photograph on the train and instantly share the experience with everyone, via the 3G that was just sitting there waiting for me through the Vodafone SIM.

From Venice to London, Documentally was almost constantly connected

“Having this access to data has revolutionised how I’ve travelled”, he said. “To be able to open Google Maps or use any of the multitude of guide book apps that I brought with me, anytime I liked, was incredible.”

Ghosts in the machine

One of Christian’s next challenges is to spend a night alone in a haunted house, where his 3G connection will come in more useful than ever, keeping him connected and reassuring him in case anything goes bump in the night.

Devices like Vodafone’s R205, are great for keeping everything connected

“When I do that one, I don’t think I’ll feel so alone if I’m connected to my friends on the Internet”, he said.

“I might live stream the experience. If something happens, or if I get too scared and have a heart attack, I won’t be worrying about tagging, naming and uploading my content. I’ll just want a bit of quick help from my viewers.”

You can keep up to date with all of Christian’s exploits at his 40 at 40 website. He’s got a year to out-run that bodyclock, and at this rate, he’s going to have time to spare. Let us know if he’s inspired you to undertake an adventure or two this year in the comments section below.

Images by Christian Payne, aka Documentally