Is there an ideal tripod, is there such a thing, and can I afford it ?..........
Luckily for me, right place (on the computer, on ebay), right time, the short answer is yes, and perceiverance helps too. Don't be tempted to buy the first one that pops up, like everything else, a bit of homework pays off, and in my case big time. Manfrotto tripods are amongst the best you can get, arguably Gitzo and others are better, or at least as or more expensive, but on two occasions i've managed to get my ideal tripods, and at LESS than half price, as new or new, and one with more bits included than you can shake a stick at, (well OK, several accesories !). Both magfibres, the 055MF3, AND the 055MF4 and just about the best you can get. So effectively with both tripods, the cost together was LESS than one alone from a discount supplier (by quite a margin), now i'm a novice in photography, at least in current times, but I reckon these to be an interest free loan. Taken that all new things go up in price, seldom down and rarely by 60%+, even if in the long term I give up on photography as a hobby pastime, both will return a fair bit on their original outlay, if not all of it.
So what i'm saying is, go for the very best one you can, the one you can afford and really want, bide your time, (unless as the second one did, popped up on ebay, and nine minutes after it was listed, I bought it), do your homework, check the various suppliers and their prices, i'm constantly amazed that you can buy on ebay as a "buy it now" from sellers and shops, here and abroad, CHEAPER than the same items go for at auction whilst that exact same item is listed. Be prepared to "google" it whilst looking at the item your considering, and don't go past the price you know it's worth, just like buses, there will be another item along (on ebay) sooner or later. Remember, that being lucky is only part of the game, being prepared is the important bit, prepared not to go beyond that limit or worth that you set before you started bidding, prepared with pre knowledge of costs, and prepared to grab that bargain when it appears.
Good luck with your endeavours, you will get that bargain, I did and i'm the unluckiest person I know !