Friday, 22 August 2014

Final travel preparations. Woo hoo!

Today marks seven days to go. Well, six in reality, as this time next week we'll be in the air. That means next Friday, no blog post. In fact, probably no blog post for a wee while. I do hope to do some posting while I'm away, but … well … given the choice of exploring a foreign city, sipping wine, nibbling on tasty morsels, seeing splendid sights or sitting at a computer, I know which will win. So, keep watching Instagram and Facebook for snippets when I do have internet and my regular blog posts will resume when I am home again.

So, where am I at after last week's little SIPA revelation?

Progress has been made. Reader tips have been put into action. Clothes packing has not begun … yet … but, I've been thinking. The mind has been sorting through what will be taken, what won't be needed, what is still a maybe. Some further purchases have been made.

Remember my concern about the crochet hook and scissors? Well, I had a thought, children's scissors. Their ends are rounded. They are less than four inches long, apparently that's the magic measurement. And they cut.

So, off I went to Big W in search of children's scissors and found these little cuties. Mr green bunny rabbit scissors.

MLP was with me and his sage suggestion was to check that they do cut. Mmmm, good idea.

So, I fumbled around in the bottom of my trusty shopping bag and found an old receipt, folded it a couple of times and tested out the scissors.

Yep, they worked. I was a happy camper, well, almost-traveller, well, almost-travelling-crocheter.

That night, I thought, I'll test these on my thread. Good idea? Definitely! 

Snip. Snip. Nothing.

Then after wrenching the thread back and forth across the erroneously-named-blades, nothing. Still nothing. NOTHING. Not even a hint that they were going to cut my thread. 

Mmmm. What now? How can I cut my thread on the plane?

I could try to cut it with my teeth, but I can hear my father's voice saying, "Don't use your teeth for that!"

So, what now? 

Somewhere from the depths of my patch-working-days-memory comes a vision of a thread cutter that isn't scissors. Maybe they still exist. If they do, they'll be in the aisles of Spotlight, lurking, hiding, somewhere on those millions of shelves.

Spotlight here I come. And, after more than some time, I found this little lovely.

The only reason she caught my attention is because she is a lady beetle. I have a soft spot for lady beetles. So does my sister.

Anyway, tiny as she is, she has a nasty bite. Not the real ones … just this one.

See that sharp tongue. It cuts my thread! Oh yeah! 

And, I don't think it could be classed as a possible-probable weapon by Mr and Ms Airport Security. I hope.

So, now all I have to do is find a bamboo crochet hook in the size I want. Yes, I know Big W have them, but, guess what, there's none left in the size I want.  

Keep looking.

Finally, after much searching here and there, I find what I need at my-almost-local knitting shop.

Wooden, the right size and, apparently, also suitable for Tunisian crochet. Well, that's good! I haven't tried Tunisian crochet. I have heard of it. So, there's a little Mr Google project for me.

I think a wooden crochet hook should be okay with Mr and Ms Airport Security. But, I suppose I'll have to let you know.

Also, thanks to Poppy I have the heads-up on TSA locks for our suitcases.

Tick, bought them … K Mart.

These can be unlocked by the UK and USA security prior to your suitcase arriving on the carousel and your lock isn't destroyed.  

I didn't know about these. Thanks Poppy.

I've bought the travel guides. 

I love these ones. They have great maps and info and tips and and visuals. And for the five to six days we're in each city, they'll be fabulous.

I know they're not digital, but I wanted books, with pages, and maps I can hold on to. Real books. I do a lot of things digitally, but I couldn't do the digital guide books. Sorry.

Look at that fold-out map. 

Don't you just love it? I do.

Finally, the compression socks. Ivor says they're a definite yes. So, I'm trusting his knowledge.

Buying them was a little bit tricky.

Off we went to the chemist.

"Yes, we do have them. Do you know your measurements?"

"Huh? We know our shoe size."

"No, you need to measure the circumference of your ankle and calf, first thing in the morning, and those measurements determine the size of the socks you need."

Okay. So, back home we go empty handed until our morning measurements are done.

But, eventually, ta da, we have them.

There will be no DVT for us. We hope.

So, I think we nearly ready.

I know, I know. I still have to pack, but I am feeling better about that.

I have a reasonable idea of what's going into Mickey.

I am putting the sheet down in the garage.

The house-and-Ralphie sitters arrive soon.

All is well.

Any final tips before I hop on the plane?

I'm ready for that glass of champagne.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Photography … up close.

I'm trying to learn how to use Aperture Priority, Av, on my camera. So, in this batch of photos, I've set the Aperture as low as the camera would allow me and used manual focus to see what I could produce.

My first subject was relatively co-operative.

These are all shot with ISO 100 F/5.6

He likes to munch on grass. I'm sure he was a cow in his previous life.

Lawn weeds, prior to MLP mowing.

These are shot at ISO 100 f/4.5

Rosemary flowers.

And my lovely orchid that tends to move around the house depending on my mood.

I think I'm making some progress.

I think the weeds are my favourites.

What do you think?

Which one is your favourite?

Any tips to help me improve?

Friday, 15 August 2014

Packing anxiety.

I have a disorder which sends me into a frenzy each time I have to pack for a trip. I'm sure it's not a medically recognised disorder. There's probably no such thing as SIPA, Suitcase Induced Panic Attacks. But, if there were such a diagnosis, I'm sure I have it. At the most severe end of its scale. 

It's not my suitcase that's the problem. I love my Mickey Mouse companion and he always creates conversation at the bag drop point and baggage carousel. It's the packing of Mickey that sends the stomach into little conniption fits.

There he is still snoozing at the top of the wardrobe, recovering from his last adventure, waiting for me to take him down to start packing for this one.

Snooze away Mickey, I'm not ready to get you down just yet.

There was a time when I would happily pack away, free of all concern and stress. Oh, but those days are gone. Seriously GONE.

It's now exactly 14 days till MLP and I hop on board something called an Airbus A330-300 to KL followed by something called an A380 to Paris. 

Those "A" numbers are very important to MLP. He even knows which one means the wing tips have a little turned up bit on the end, which one has a bump on top, which one has three aisles. All important boy stuff.

It was vital for him that the A-3-8-0 combination was somewhere on our journey. But not me, for me it's a plane. A plane I have to pack for.

I can feel the stomach starting its gymnastics even as I type.

It's not the flying. I'm not one of those scared-to-climb-on-a-plane-to-fly people. I love flying. Love travel. Love that glass of champagne at the International Airport prior to departure ...  no matter what time of day.

It's the packing.

Making sure I've got everything. But, more importantly, I worry about taking too much.

Do I REALLY need this? 

Will I wear this? 

Will these things work together?

Do I really have to take my trusted hair dryer?

Crazy, I know.

I worry about taking things I won't use, more than forgetting something important. 


MLP has learnt the hard way. He no longer tries to help me. He knows I will crucify him for any well meant advice. He knows to pack his own bag and retreat to some far corner while I work my way through my SIPA.

Occasionally, I'll peep my head out and ask a vital did-you-pack question. Even sometimes a do-you-think-I'll-need question. But, he knows he has to be very wary of those. They can be trick questions, loaded with dynamite. His answer must be well considered. And he knows not to ask questions, unless they are REALLY important, as that will lead to crucifixion too.

So, with 14 days to go, it's started. The SIPA. 

Even though I've done this many, many times, travelled to many, many places, the SIPA is now creeping through my system.

I have organised piles beginning to appear.

Medical supplies pile. Oh, and those foreign power point adapters.

Yes, I've been to the Travel Doctor. Had the flu shot. Asked all the questions. Gained all the answers.

Travel documents pile, neatly organised in my new travel wallet.

Weird-bits-and-pieces-necessary-for-21st century-travel pile. Charges free credit card is in the mail.

I've read the tips. 

I bought a new backpack handbag because I read the tip that said women are allowed a handbag AND a carry-on AND that we should make the most of it. So, my new backpack-handbag converts. Handbag while boarding plane (Other trusty backpack on back. Not the one whose zip decided to misbehave last adventure.) Fancy backpack while strolling the streets of Paris, London and KL. Big enough to carry my camera and necessaries ... and fancy. Fancy is important.

I've bought the packing capsules. I had some, but not enough for both of us.

I've read about the compression socks, spoken to the Travel doctor about them. They're on my to-buy list. And those weird shaped little neck pillows, we think we're going to get them too.

I'm investigating if I can take my crochet hook and children's scissors on board the plane. Important girl stuff.

But the clothes I haven't dared to think about. That's when SIPA really kicks in. 

In a previous house, I had a spare bedroom across the hall where I would lay everything out on the spare bed, add to, take from, and, for some bizarre reason, I was calm, controlled, stress free …  well, relatively. Maybe this gave me more time to process and visualise. Maybe I need to find a spot like that in this current house?

Across the hall is … the garage. Maybe that would work? Maybe I could put down a sheet and make my organised little piles. Add to. Take from. Be calm, controlled, stress free. I'm sure PT, the Cruiser, won't mind spending a few nights out in the cold.

I think that's worth a try.

Meanwhile, while he's away from home on work, MLP has been thinking.

Tentatively, he suggested we spend the night before we leave at the hotel at the International Airport. Then left me a few nights to mull over that thought. I know he's trying to avoid the departure morning SIPA. And the why-did-we-book-a-taxi discussion that ensues when the booked taxi doesn't arrive ...  again. And the train travel with suitcases in peak hour. Clever man.

So, yes, I think, great idea. Let's do it. In this household there will be no departure morning SIPA. We will have a lovely hotel breakfast and casually stroll across the pedestrian crossing to the airport. 

Booked. Done. Dusted. 

14 days to go and counting.

SIPA yet to fully engage.

Garage organising space option seriously being considered.

What about you? How do you manage packing?

Stress free?

Or SIPA engaged?

Know whether I can take my crochet hook on board?