To Do List #1

The 'Things to Do Before...' List

I've had a very long and varied list of 'things to do' for more years that I care to remember and have slowly but painstakingly worked my way through an exhaustive list on a five-yearly basis: Things to do before I'm 40, then 45, then before you know it...

I am now at the stage (or should that be age?) that my current list is almost 80% of the way through  'Things to do before I am 50', so, without further ado, here's what was on that list:
  1. Become (and stay) completely debt free: my journey towards debt freedom was a long and arduous one. From that light-bulb moment in 1999 it took me until 2007 to finally get into a situation that allowed me to start some serious moneysaving. DONE
  2. Sail on the MV Balmoral to the Isle of Man: Managed this in 2008 with a day trip during the TT, so I can now say I have witnessed that spectacle, too. DONE
  3. Sail on a SeaCat or high speed catamaran: Sailed to Belfast from Stranraer on the HSS Voyager and had a fabulous day site seeing in and around the city in an open top double decker bus! September 2009. DONE
  4. Buy a house without a mortgage: This is the challenge thread from MSE summarising the journey that brought us here in April 2011. DONE
  5. Have a garden with a stream running through it, an orchard, a pond, ducks and chickens: We had to dig the pond and plant the orchard first - June 2011 DONE
  6. Walk to the top of the Merrick (highest point in Dumfries and Galloway). August 2012 DONE
  7. Walk to the summit of Ben Nevis (highest point in Scotland and the UK). May 2013 DONE
  8. Visit the Giant's Causeway - August 2013 DONE
  9. Walk across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge - August 2013 DONE
  10. See the Aurora Borealis (A friend gets a mention in this video) -
We had a fantastic trip on the Balmoral, cruising out from Garlieston Bay in southwest Scotland and crossing to the Isle of Man for a day trip exploring the island and watching motorbikes taking part in the annual TT races. This was my first visit to the Isle of Man - little was I to know back then that I would, one day, own a cottage with a view of this island from my front door! (Sadly, this boat stopped sailing in 2013)

Another great day trip, sailing to Belfast on board the HSS Voyager. Once in Belfast, we did the open top bus tour of the city - this was my first visit to Northern Ireland. Again, at this point, I had no way of knowing that I would, one day, be able to walk half a mile from my front door and, on a clear day or evening, see right over to the Mountains of Mourne in County Down. (Sadly, this boat was scrapped in 2013 - is it just me or am I a jinx to boats?)

Last year, we happened to be driving past the Galloway Forest Park and decided to visit what's known as Bruce's Stone, which overlooks Loch Trool. Coincidentally, this is also a starting point for walking up the Merrick, so that is exactly what we did. The rain beat us on the way back down but the sun shone enough to get the views from the top and bag myself the highest trig point in the British Isles.

I'd never been hosteling in my life before now, so this was an experience and a half! A weekend's hosteling at Fort William Backpackers and a walk to the top of Ben Nevis. My share of funds raised accounted for over £500, which was donated to the local Lifeboat in nearby Port William. I called this challenge the McGonks Port (William) to Fort (William) Challenge and took a McGonk with me to the top.

The half century will be upon me before the end of 2014 and, to date, I have somehow managed to achieve 70% of this 'to do' list, but I class all of the items as achievable and will have a whole new list prepared by the time I reach 50. If I can't catch sight of those Northern Lights before then, I'll substitute with something else and move the elusive lights onto my 'Things to do before I'm 55' list. :)

Recently, I took part in a bloggers' competition where about 150 of us had to write about our bucket lists. This was my entry.

Amidst this eco-renovation, I am still confident that I can complete my list before I reach 50, but that tenth item is going to be a real challenge. I have now begun planning my next trip to Northern Ireland to tick off numbers 8 and 9 from my list, with a challenge budget of £100.00, so watch this space...

Thursday 22nd August, a friend and I sailed from Cairnryan to Belfast on the 0730 Stena Superfast VII. Once there, we got a bus into Belfast city centre and then transferred onto a mini-tour bus to make the trip to Carrick-a-Rede, where we walked over the bridge and made the most of our short time on the tiny island before heading a few miles further along the coast to the Giant's Causeway - now recognised as a world heritage site. En route home, we stopped in at the Bushmills Distillery, which is said to be the oldest (legal) whiskey distillery in the world. (Note the letter 'e' is included in Irish spelling of whisky.)

You know what this means... I have only one item left on this list and will now need to begin putting together another one.


  1. Just discovered your blog while looking for other frugal bloggers with a budget plan like me ( I have just started my blog -The Thrifty Magpies Nest ) and your achievements are so similar to my dreams- build a house, low impact, sustainable, no mortgage, and have a stream at the end of the garden with chucks. We (my bf and I) have begun saving for this dream and determined to make it happen. My parents did it and seeing blogs like yours proves others can do it too so I sure hope we can! I look forward to being your newest reader and thanks for proving that it can be done! Jenni x

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. Might I be so bold as invite you to take part in our moneysaving challenge for this very purpose? We have a brand new one starting on 1st October called 'Octavius Frugalus' (our frugal October adventure into moneysaving). There's an introductory blog post about it and that links through to the challenge.

      Good luck with everything! It can be done, all it takes is determination, preparedness and knowing your needs from your wants. :)

  2. Hi, sorry for the late reply just seen your response. Am I too late to join? Please can you give me the link to the post?
    Thanks so much for the words off encouragement. I'm looking forward to the ride. Jenni x
    The Thrifty Magpies Nest

    1. We have our moneysaving challenges in the free forums at

  3. Thanks I shall check the forum out :) It will be great to have a challenge to aim for x
    The Thrifty Magpies Nest


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