My beloved has departed until tomorrow evening, and not a moment too soon. I like to leave more than adequate time to arrive at the airport while my beloved thinks I can get him there, whatever the time of day or the condition of the traffic, in 10 minutes. He thinks he operates “just in time”. But as soon as we’re in the car, en route to the airport, he’ll remember (too late) that he’s forgotten something. I, who place great faith in planning and preparation, would have had everything (including printing off my boarding card), ready the night before. My regular readers will know that my beloved never learns from his mistakes. It’s like we’re locked in a perpetual “Groundhog Day” scenario every time he leaves the country.
Having dropped him at the airport, just in time, I drove home, leapt on the bike and sought solace in the surrounding countryside. I don’t attempt to put the world to rights while on my bike, I just enjoy the moment: me, my beloved bike and the open road. I returned feeling so much calmer and set about clearing my lengthy “to do before I leave for Oz” list.
I have sorted out what clothes I am taking with me. My long-term mistrust of all airline carriers means that I only travel with hand luggage. Having flown extensively, I now have this down to a fine art. My sisters would do well to heed my advice. I take less luggage for 3 weeks than they would contemplate for an overnight.
Here’s my basic guidelines. First, ditch the small sub-branch of Boots. You can’t take much in the way of toiletries in hand luggage, so buy them on arrival and use samples on the plane. Second, stick to a limited colour palette so that everything matches and you can manage with one handbag and one (comfortable) pair of shoes, aside from the training shoes (necessary for walking, standing to watch the cycling, running, gym work and bike riding). Lastly, accessorize with scarves, they take up so very little room.
So what have I packed? Two sets of running and cycling kit, 3 pairs of black trousers, 5 t-shirts, a nightdress, 3 scarves, underwear, a swimsuit and a pair of black ballerinas. I shall travel in cream trousers, trainers, cream short-sleeved cashmere sweater and black fitted rain jacket. In my spacious handbag, I’ll have my cashmere shawl, as I always find planes a little on the chilly side, laptop, iPod, two books, camera, Blackberry and charger, adaptor, notebook, pen, sample toiletries, passport, paperwork for the trip (you don’t think I’d entrust it to my beloved, do you?) and a couple of cycling magazines. I’m all set, but you can bet my beloved isn’t.