With onward travel to the UK on Thursday and no idea, as yet, if we will be returning home in between, we have packed for the next few days away and also our tiny little hand luggage cases for taking to the UK.
Not to mention, my husband’s kilt attire in a suit bag, yet to be decided as to whether he will wear it for travelling in, on our Burns night flight, or wear EVERYTHING else he needs to take and cram his kilt and accessories into his hand luggage bag.
I did my best when packing yesterday, to remember everything I would need but I find it difficult to pack for several stages of travel so I would be very surprised if I hadn’t almost certainly forgotten a few things.
I checked once, twice and thrice that we had the most important things, passports, boarding passes, travel tickets, car hire essentials, purse/wallet. Everything else, I guess we can muddle through without.
We got up very early on Monday, well very early for me since anything pre 9 am is to be considered an early morning as far as I am concerned. With a strict departure time of 8.30am set, a 7 am rise was necessary. An ungodly hour if I may say so, how I used to be at work for 6 am when it was called for, beats me, that is practically the middle of the night.
We travelled the seemingly endless five-hour journey up to Lorient with me impatiently flicking through the thousands and thousands of songs on the mp3 player moaning that there was nothing I wanted to listen to. Finally, we arrived in Brittany to spend anything from one to three nights here.
Impossible to say at this stage.
As my husband went off to see a customer for the rest of the afternoon, I settled into our room.
The first thing I discovered I was missing was my phone charger or at least the bit that made it work in France since I had been so very organised and packed for the UK that I had only brought the UK charging adapter.
The second thing I realised I had forgotten was my laptop so that I could do some writing whilst I was at the hotel. Bugger!
The third thing I had forgotten was my gym gear, in order to make use of the hotel gym and hammam (steam room), a genuine enough oversight but if I’m honest, it was the least bothersome of my forgotten items.
So here I now am, sat on the bed, writing the first bit of this blog post, using a draft email as my word processor, my Android phone with its tiny little touchscreen keyboard whilst using my husband’s charger that I purloined from his bag,
After all that planning and packing and forgetting of necessary items and the uncertainty of where we would be, we ended up spending just one night at Lorient, my husband having fixed any issues at the customer site with time to spare and thus at midday on Tuesday we departed to travel the five hour car journey home again, cutting short our travelling adventure.
I use the word ‘adventure’ in the loosest term possible because regardless of when or where we found ourselves, we would simply have been at another identical Ibis somewhere in France before either heading directly to the airport on Thursday or heading home in between.
So, we ended up back at home and I’ve ended up unpacking everything, even though I had been through each item at least four times before we left and effectively was ‘prepared’ to go straight to the UK from wherever we were in France. I think the opportunity to change my mind, made me want to change my mind, so now I am rethinking everything again.
Once, I went away for two days and apart from what I travelled in, I took just a white dress and a cream dress to wear but made the unfortunate mistake of packing only black underwear! I know it’s not exactly a situation of ‘extreme survival’ but rather inconvenient all the same.
Another time I was busy packing at home in August, in sweltering 38 degrees C for a trip to the UK. So unimaginable was it that it could be anything other than sweltering in the UK too, that I ended up packing only summer clothes and flip-flops. I, therefore, looked a complete berk when meeting my friend for lunch on a grey, very wet and unseasonably cold (even for UK standards) day in the coastal South East of England in leggings with a dress over the top, flip-flops and a black pashmina. It was the only warm outfit I could assemble out of the ridiculous collection of absolute junk I had decided to pack.
If you’ve never experienced the misfortune of trying to carry off a look of flip flops with any kind of outer coat, then you should be very grateful you have been spared this particular fashion faux pas.
I can assure you the two look utterly ridiculous together, or at least they did on me.
You would think that I would have packing down to a fine art by now, I do it so very often, but you can pretty much guarantee that wherever I go and whatever I take, it will always be wrong. I think I get fixated on one particular forthcoming event and forget about the many hours and potential other activities that may occur. For instance, if we go away for a weekend with the main feature being an evening out, perhaps a Michelin star restaurant in a Chateau or a trip to the theatre, I would of course pack all the essentials for a glamorous night out, a suitable dress befitting of the occasion, jewellery, a clutch bag, some heels, I would never forget to take my makeup or perfume but it’s quite possible that I would not even consider what else I might need for the other 42 hours! Might I need a proper coat? Some flat shoes perhaps?
Sensible attire is not really my thing and those that know me and have witnessed my spectacular attempts at hiking in heeled boots and a camel coat or scrambling around on the rocks in a mini sailor dress and flip-flops will know that I utterly detest ‘outdoorsy clothing’. If there is the slightest possible chance that it might have come from Millets or is emblazoned with North Face then I absolutely will not want to wear it! This can make many outdoor activities quite difficult to achieve as I do genuinely love to go exploring, but I loathe the idea of wearing anything that rustles or is bright yellow or turquoise, or waterproof. Even if everyone else will be wearing it, there is something about this type of clothing that physically repulses me. Unsurprisingly, I spend a lot of time outdoors, being cold and miserable or just plain uncomfortable, whilst everyone else is wrapped up warm in their 24 tog fleeces, with their windproof flaps, and waterproof macs. I will be there in a faux fur jacket and a chiffon scarf adamantly refusing all offers of bobble hats whilst trying desperately not to get any mud on my designer suede boots!
Sometimes, though perhaps more often than you would imagine and seemingly for no other reason than it just comes to mind, either myself or my husband will suddenly blurt out
“Oh, poor old Sir Anthony Strallan”.
It could be morning, noon or night and we could be doing nothing at all deserving of such an exclamation, but happen it will.
It doesn’t help that the very affable Robert Bathurst who was indeed poor old Sir Anthony Strallan, also portrayed the rather feckless and unfortunate John Le Mesurier in the TV drama ‘Hattie’ with the wonderful Ruth Jones as the lead.
Sometimes the exclamation is instead “Oh, poor old John Le Mesurier”
I’m sorry if that paragraph seems rather out of place just sat here in the middle of my packing monologue, but as I said, it is often just blurted out so realistically it makes as much sense here in this blog as it does in actual life.
I’m attempting to give you the genuine experience.
So here we are, the eve of our trip to the UK. I had previously decided to take/wear just my trusty Tommy Hilfiger boots and then, of course, only outfits that will be suitable to wear with said boots.
I’m fairly confident that with it being the UK and January we won’t suddenly find ourselves amidst a sweltering heat wave and these boots will be perfect for trudging around London.
I do own other black boots of course. I’m a woman after all and as such, I have a veritable army of boots and shoes to choose from but nothing vaguely sensible or faintly practical. I have a beautiful looking pair of Guess boots, but like everything in the Guess range, their sizing must have been taken from the 1940’s as they are teeny-tiny and I can only bear to wear them for a crippling couple of hours at a time, no good for a six-day visit. My Fendi shearling boots are the polar opposite in that they fall down around my ankles every few minutes and drive me insane so they remain unloved in a box under our bed, despite the inordinate amount of begging I did to have them for Christmas a few years back.
So you see my Hilfiger boots are about the most practical that I own, but then, of course, platform, wedge-heeled, black boots are perhaps not quite dainty enough for an Afternoon Tea at Tylney Hall. They would be more at home in a Terminator or Matrix sequel. Heels would certainly be better but will only be worn for that one event and I have six days of outfits that I need to plan, not to mention that a pair of heels will take up almost a quarter of my already too small case.
Then a genius idea struck me; if I am to wear a black dress, tights and a tartan sash for this Highland Tea, then surely this is one genuine occasion that I could get away with wearing flat shoes, like little ballet pumps. To be honest, I never ever wear flat shoes with dresses on account that apparently I look like Hamble from Play School when I do, with my shortness in height and my little stocky legs. Heels are always the way forward, but just this once, it might be the compromise I need with my lack of space and my need to take something other than my Bovver boots!
I dug to the back of my wardrobe and found a pair of black Ted Baker Jelly shoes with a cream bow on the front that I have been meaning to throw away but just can’t bring myself to do so, then arming myself with a black Sharpie pen and a Red permanent marker I set to transforming the cream plastic bows into a tartan pattern of sorts. They actually came out pretty well and trying everything on and showing my husband he deemed that they were perfectly admissible and that I didn’t look like Hamble at all, in fact to all intents and purposes, I looked like I might be about to break into a bit of Scottish Reeling or the Highland Fling.
And finally having removed any ridiculous items of clothing that I definitely would not be wearing and trimmed it down to essentials only, I’ve even managed to find space for a little present for our three-year-old niece.
You just can’t go visiting a three-year-old niece without taking at least a kilo of sweets and chocolate. Turning up empty handed is no way to remain a firm favourite in their eyes! Yes, she may not thank me in the long run for the resulting loss of all her teeth or the early onset of Type 2 Diabetes but she’ll love me now and since we do not exactly live around the corner and visits are few and far between, I guess she’ll have to have a three month supply of sweets all in one go!
So, until my return, I will bid you farewell and wish you all a lovely weekend.
The Virtual Recluse