Holiday packing is an art form that I have never mastered and wherever I go, whether for a weekend or a fortnight, I always come back with one third of my suitcase not touched.
The shoes are always a big challenge as we ladies need so many: sandals for day, sandals for evening, trainers in case you go for a run (unlikely but it feels good to pack them), slip-ons for travelling and then, if you feel the need, some heels – but I ditched that fashion mode long ago! This seems like only four pairs of shoes, but does only one colour in each work with all outfits? I won’t even mention handbags!
Then I get out all the clothes from last summer and see whether I fit into any of them or whether, over the winter, they have all mysteriously shrunk. Some of the white items look distinctly grey – it must be the bedroom lighting.
Of course if you are leaving grey skies, rain and wind chill factors and going to heat, humidity and ozone-punctured blue skies, it is quite impossible to work out what to take. Layers, everyone says, and Australians are very casual, but we are going to the Sydney Opera House one night so should I take something smart? Of course every item of summer clothing looks ghastly when exposing English legs and arms in February after four months with no sunlight, and all moisture sucked out of them by central heating and wool clothing, so they are pale and scaly – how attractive!
Even if I could get my head around the holiday-packing there is the long to-do list which OH ignores and so my packing happens about one hour before I depart:
Firstly and most importantly I must sort out the dogs – leaving full instructions of how to clean the smaller one’s ears, who their vet is and what to do in an emergency. More detailed instructions than I ever gave anyone when I left my kids with them!
Inform neighbours that the strange man in our house is the house-sitter looking after our dogs.
Give all our travel information and contact details to children who only want to know so that they can get the invite up on Facebook for the house party they have planned. (This reminds me not to tell neighbours our contact details and to turn off mobiles at weekends so we cannot receive complaints from them when party is in full swing!)
Give children contact details of all house maintenance men, handyman, plumber etc so that the house can be returned to original state after their house party and before we return.
Go to Boots and buy toiletries, suncream and medicines because Australia is third world country that won’t have the brands my body likes!
Research on internet all jet lag cures but since all of them say don’t drink alcohol during the flight I am going to ignore this impossible-to-adhere-to advice.
Get all body hair waxed, cut, trimmed, coloured – would hate our friends in Australia to think I have let myself go!
Visit elderly mother (with Alzheimer’s) and try and explain that I will be away for a very short time and again buy up Boots so that she does not run out of anything. (Interesting fact: not allowed to buy Steradent any more as an elderly lady ate a whole tube of Steradent and died of a heart attack so the tube I bought for my mother I am using to clean all my vases out!)
Cancel the newspapers. Make sure all bills are paid. Set Sky+ to record all TV I will be missing.
Check that all windows and doors are locked even though they never are when I am in England so no idea why I think I am more likely to be burgled when I am abroad.
Next blog will be from Down Under!