I first thought about creating my Never Ending Life List back in 1999 when I had the chance to sleep in a Castle. The conversation went along the lines of ‘that’s something I can cross off my list’ even though I didn’t actually have a list at the time, just a few wishes and ideas that floated around in my head. I started to write them down in notebooks, things I wanted to do, places to go, things to try, I didn’t call it anything at the time, it was just a collection of long-term ‘to do’s’. I hadn’t heard the terms bucket list or life list back then so it was just my list. Technology has raced ahead since 1999 and now people all over the world (including me) are posting their bucket lists and life lists online.
There are a lot of sites that collate people’s lists and give you a chance to see what they are aiming for and what they have achieved.
Life lists have become a popular theme for bloggers, some people have even started to monetise them, publishing books and charging for coaching and advice on how to write your list and achieve your goals. I started blogging about my list so I could keep a diary of the things I’d done and when I’d done them and a blog seemed the best format. A blog doesn’t take up physical space like a pile of notebooks would, it’s easier to add photographs, I can add to it from anywhere in the world without having to remember to take a notebook with me, share it with friends and I never forget where I left it.
When I look at some people’s lists they are full of amazing things, grand quests like Chris Guillebeau whose goal was to visit every country in the world, which he achieved and wrote about in The Happiness Of Pursuit. My goals seem a little tame compared to some but I stopped comparing myself to anyone else a long time ago, or caring what others thought about me, so I’m happy with my list, which is always being added to. I’m not setting deadlines, there’s enough stress and pressure in my working life without adding to it in my own time, I’m just working my way through it and enjoying life.
Which brings me back to the wish that started the whole list. Sleep in a Castle.
Two friends of mine from New Zealand, Leslie and Randall, had been traveling Europe and we met when they came to the UK. They stayed with me in my flat in Tooting for a few months before landing a job as cook/housekeeper and general handyman at St Michael’s Mount in Marazion.
I have to admit I hadn’t heard of St. Michael’s Mount or its counterpart in France Mont Saint-Michel at the time and when they said it was a Castle I imagined it to be a very grand stately home but not an actual Castle. They moved to Cornwall and were allowed to have guests stay so a month or so after they started their new jobs I headed down to Cornwall for a weekend on the Mount.
I remember driving down to see them and getting to the first point where I could see it from the road and pulling over and parking, I got out of the car and stood there for a few minutes and just thought ‘wow – it’s a Castle, a real Castle’ I was in love with it before I ever stepped foot on the Mount itself.
We had some amazing times on the Mount and there were more than a few reanactments of The Holy Grail when we sat out on the top, near the turrets watching the tourists below. The St Aubyn family part owned the Castle and it was bequeathed entirely to the National Trust on the death of the 4th Lord St Levan in April 2013. Lord and Lady St Levan were lovely people and always made sure that Leslie, Randall and their guests were well looked after on The Mount, providing boats and an old WWII Amphibious Vehicle , to get us to and from the mainland when the causeway couldn’t be crossed.
(Lord St Levan c 1999 launching a new boat on the Mount)
(The Causeway – from the Mount)
I was even lucky enough to fly down in a helicopter owned by my boyfriend at the time and we spent the night in the Prince’s Room, in the beautiful four-poster bed, as ways to tick off a quest it doesn’t get much better than that.
All the photographs I took were taken on film (remember film) otherwise I’d probably have thousands of them but there are enough to be able to remind me of the many happy times I spent with friends in one of my favourite places in the World.