A few days ago, I alerted the throngs of readers (well two, it seems, anyway) that Marius and I would soon be escaping for a short respite to the land of breakfasts. Tomorrow we are off, which means today I am faced with the unavoidable packing job. Not simply packing, but the wrestle with myself: I don't want to go. I would rather stay put. I hate suitcases and passports and taxis and queues and airports and airport security and changing currency and telephones and ... all of it.
I hate saying goodbye to my cats and entrusting their care to someone else, even if that else is trusted. I hate leaving my books behind, and my garden, and I always end up bringing the wrong shoes (or no shoes at all) and the wrong weight of coat and fear I will forget my medicine chest of drugs.
Which is all ridiculous of course. I can't wait to be at the baggage carousel at Heathrow, counting black suitcases and making little jumps of excitement. Or on the tube, seeing trees and sky when we pull out of the endless tunnels, or hauling myself up the steps at Gloucester Road, or fighting the temptation to kneel in worship when I go into Waitrose to buy my PG Tips and my pint of milk for the early morning cup of tea in bed.
Packing. Which reminds me to get down my travelling teapot (I can't bear tea made in a mug with a jiggly bag and the worst horror - milk added before the bag is removed) and my travelling picnic set (as opposed to my proper picnic set), my fold away cooler bag for transporting picnics and er contraband on the return journey, a knife for cheese, a corkscrew - all the essentials. Forget make up and socks, these things are procurable, but how many travelling picnic knives can one justify replacing?
I always pack two small tea towels as well. I would drive a lesser man than Marius mad, luckily he is used to me now and knows it is far less stressful to give in to my peculiarities than try to reason against me.
I have to dig out the book suitcase. This is a carry-on size bag I pack empty into my suitcase on the outward journey, in order to accommodate the books on the backward journey. It is a mistake to pack books into a large suitcase as it will quickly become dangerously heavy. I always carry two other fold-up bags (Longchamps if you must know) for overflow - dirty laundry at the end of the trip, spare shoes and other awkward objects.
Once coming here to Exile-land from a visit to Malaysia, I carried three Buddhas in my 'overflow' capacity. I live in a nation of shoppers, so naturally the national airline has very generous baggage allowances for frequent travellers, even if they are flying cattle class, as we will. I think our combined allowance is 80 kgs - and we usually manage to put it to good use. Vegemite can be quite heavy in quantity.
I have nearly encouraged myself to start discovering where I've hidden the Oyster cards and the London sim card for my phone, and the left-over-from-last-time sterling ...
I hope to be able to tell you tomorrow about the Nonya food we will have enjoyed for dinner.