I didn’t intend to start blogging until Friday. But I had my first go at packing on Wednesday, and when I had finished I was struck by how many things I am taking that were gifts from friends and family. And this matters to me: it’s as though those people are giving me their love and support on my journey. So, in no particular order …
My sketching set. Kit gave me this one Christmas and it always travels with me when I’m away overnight or on holiday. I don’t always use it, at least half the pencils are ‘H’ pencils anyway, and it has proved impossible to find a replacement sketch pad that will fit inside it. But I won’t leave it behind. For this trip, I have packed a separate sketch pad, and put a pack of blank postcards inside the sketching case. It’s been ages since I did any cartoons.
Large black shawl, from Auntie Gill and Uncle David. This is the single most useful article anybody has ever given me, and I rarely go on a journey of any length without it. Rolled up, it makes an excellent pillow (although I have bought one of those inflatable neck pillow things for this particular journey); spread out, it makes a superb blanket; and if I throw it over a dress, I can go out for the evening looking dressed up and without needing a coat. This means my travelling coat will be …
… my tatty old denim jacket. Not the one I had in the sixth form and at uni, which did eventually give up the ghost, but a dark blue denim one with lots of useful pockets, which Ally passed on to me about fifteen years ago. It’s the pockets in particular that make this jacket so useful – there are two large inside ones, useful for documents and purse, two breast ones (phone and cigs) , and two side ones (tissues and tickets). Note to self: do not forget raincoat as well.
My watch, 30th birthday present from Mum and Dad. I know I have a clock on my phone, but I don’t care – when catching a train, only a watch will do. And I will be catching a lot of trains.
Black crocheted shoulder bag, from Wendy. In actual fact, Wendy gave me a black and white crocheted shoulder bag, but when it wore out, I replaced it with the black one. This is like having a transferable pocket, and it travels absolutely everywhere with me – often as a bag inside another bag – containing all my ongoing ciggie supplies, and usually also my phone. So it serves as an evening bag too.
Tiny tube of super amazing hand cream. Linus gave me this, as part of a huge box of the most luxurious beauty products I have ever seen.
Earplugs, a gift from Rachael when I hosted a guide sleepover for the patrol leaders.
A little box of love, from Toby. In my overnight bag, this has a special pocket, and I take the little box of love that was once a matchbox, and now contains (in addition to the love) little sparkly beads and sequins, which Toby chose especially for me. This is far too precious to be bashing around on the outside pocket of my rucksack, or squished up inside it, so on this trip I am taking the other little box of love, which is a gift-wrapped, fun-sized Smarties box.
‘Mum’ and ‘Love’ key-rings made by Rose and Penny.
My silver Rennie Mackintosh earrings, a gift from Cheryl on her wedding day. They always make me feel terribly elegant and I can do with all the help I can get in that respect.
Fold-up scissors and sewing kit, bought with a gift voucher from Katie and Rachel for my 40th birthday.
A fold-up multi-tool, another gift from Kit. This also usually lives in my overnight bag, because a hotel surrounded by staff is obviously the place I am most likely to need a pair of pliers or an unidentifiable pokey thing.
My red flower necklace. This wasn’t actually given to me by Phillip and Alison, but I bought it to wear at their wedding, so it’s as if they did, because I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise.
Many thanks to all of you. It’s astonishing, really, that I have managed to fit everything in. But that’s a story for another night …