Archive | October 2015

A roof over your head…

I’ve noticed a few comments on forums recently from people who are either in favour of going for four-five star luxury accommodation or who are totally against it.

With caravans, flats in attics or out of the way cottages being parental choices whilst I was at school (along with tents, youth hostels, converted village halls or huts when I was doing my Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award), the thought of staying in a four or five star hotel was never on the agenda.

Until the mid-1990’s that is when a magazine owner put all of the main freelancers or staffers from his trade and consumer publications up in The Majestic Hotel in Harrogate.

Luxury? Oh, yes, even though I had to be up early in order to drive back to Sunderland for a 9am lecture, the subsequent seminar and then drive back to Harrogate to cover the rest of the outdoor trade show I’d been attending.

After that brush with how the other half have nights away., it was back to guest houses, B&B’s, hostels, Travel Inns, Travelodges, bothies, tents, Gore-Tex bivvy bags or bright orange survival bags as a means of spending a night out.

Whilst Caroline and I have stayed in some good places in the UK, Norway, Austria and Portugal, there’s also been a few places where you needed to wipe your feet as you leave the premises…

Not saying that such places were grotty, but they were (and then some!).

We did have a little bit of luxury for one night only a couple of years ago when we stayed in a hotel back in my old stamping ground of the North East.

Big room, big bed, pricey drinks beside an open log fire – you get the drift.

Enjoyable? Yeah, not bad as it took the mind off going to a family funeral the following morning.

Since then it’s been back to guest houses, cottages, hostels and the tents for weeks or weekends away (apart from two nights in a Portuguese Pousada in Sagres back in 2013).

Things have changed a bit this year though…

Yes, we’ve stayed in hostels and guest houses with ‘character’, but we’ve also had nights in boutique B&B’s, Hampton by Hilton Hotels along with small hotels and the rather decent Aveiro Rossio Hostel in Aveiro, Portugal that put quite a few other gaffs to shame thanks to its comfort, facilities, location and lack of pretentiousness.

Have these experiences upped the ante on what we’re going to be doing over the next year or so? Might do..

Will they be encouraging us to head to posher places on a regular basis? Could do…

And may such places be making a dent in the trip budgets? Not necessarily…

Surprised? So were we when I put together a few suggested itineraries and costings recently for trips here in the UK and elsewhere.

By using sites such as http://www.booking.com, http://www.expedia.co.uk and http://www.skyscanner.net I’ve been able to come up with budgets for trips and then compare them with what’s on offer from holiday companies or those airlines that offer holiday packages alongside their budget flights.

Yes, there’s been a fair amount of tracking going on to see what the various sites have to offer on any given day, but it’s been worth it as the research has ensure that I’ve looked and booked when the price is right. It’s also become apparent that you can holiday cheaper in Europe than you can in the UK!

In some cases it’s been cheaper to book rooms via booking.com than it has to use the hotel in question’s own website whilst in other cases it’s been cheaper to use a flight and hotel ‘package’ combination from the likes of expedia.com and get a few extra Nectar points to help reduce the food bills at Sainsbury’s (other supermarkets are available folks!).

Yes, I’ve checked the prices out for anything involving flights by looking at what the costs are by using a different airport or taking an early flight that has no supplement rather than one later in the day that does have a supplementary cost.

I’ve also cleared the cookies and the websites visited history off the computer before I’ve moved onto another site to do some price checking.

It could be seen as a pain in the neck by some, but if I’m looking for the best deal that I can for a trip then I’ll do it in order to save some money that could be spent on another part of the trip.

Once recent search showed that by flying later in the day, there was a £43 per person supplement to be added to the cost of the trip.

By taking the earlier flight that doesn’t have a supplement, we’ve gone for a posher place to stay, even though the chances of having any meals there other than provided breakfasts are less than zero.

We’ve looked at the hotel’s menu, seen the prices and decided to eat out in the evening.

Why? Because we’ve visited the town before and know that there’s a few good eating places to choose from (we’ve also spotted said eating places names in the hotel review section on expedia.com so we reckon that others have done the same thing).

It’s going to be good to have some luxury on our travels, but we know that there’s also going to have to be a balancing act too.

Fortunately we have a good set of camping gear and a list of potential destinations to visit here in the UK that should give us time away at a reasonable cost – providing of course that the 10 day BBC weather forecast isn’t a bad one.

This happened to us a while ago and we ended up swapping a week in what turned out to be a very wet Wales for a week of sun, alfresco dining and more sun in downtown Paphos. The decision to head for Cyprus was made just three days before the flight out…

D’oh!

It should have been oh so simple…

Give Caroline a lift to her sister’s house and then head off to take a look around for a new desk.

Simples? You might think so – but…

I forgot Keith’s Rule 51a (the rules aren’t written down anywhere so I do keep forgetting them from time to time).

And what does Rule 51a state?

Don’t even think about going to IKEA when it’s the half-term school holidays!

I did manage to get into the car park, but couldn’t find a space.

One thing did spring to mind though – why do the drivers of 4×4/SUV vehicles insist on trying to get them into gaps that aren’t there?

Mind you, when I went to the supermarket after finally exiting IKEA’s car park, I did see one bloke trying to park a gunmetal grey Aston Martin in one of the supermarket’s parking spaces.

My little hatchback got into its parking space in one move – the Aston took a few more.

Now if the driver had been called Bond, he may have done it at the first try!

Time travelling…

Well, there’s been a lot in the media recently about the subject of time travelling and most of it has been prompted by the date Marty McFly ended up in during the course of Back To The Future II.

Whilst the news crews have featured this story and the trilogy has been back in cinemas for one night only or screened back to back on TV here in the UK, the subject of time travel also came up in another film screened over here on Film 4 during the last week.

I’ll let you know what it is at the end of this post, but the concept of time travel mentioned in the film is so simple that you have to roll the dice and try it out!

How many of us have taken a flight from our home country and ended up in a different time zone?

See – time travel!!!

Okay, it doesn’t work if you’re going from the UK to say Portugal as it’s in the same time zone, but if you’re heading into other parts of Europe for instance, then yes, you’re a time traveller.

It even works if you’re crossing time zones in the States (which is the cinematic criteria highlighted in that film I’m going to mention…).

So, you can time travel in a silver 1980’s sports car or in a plane, train, bus, ferry or even by hopping from one side of a time zone to another – unless you’re going from the UK to Portugal. Go from Portugal to Spain though and yes, time travel!

It’s daft, it’s frivolous and it’s Monday morning,but what the heck – anytime is good to be silly and hopefully put a smile on someone’s face! And looking at the places mentioned in the wisepacking.me stats list, we’re being checked out by people in several different time zones.

And the name of that film – Paul.

Written by and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, it’s a road trip movie with a difference – there’s an alien that’s phoned home, curses like crazy and likes the odd smoke too. Yes, you can spend a lot of time spotting the cameos, the voices and the references to other sci-fi movies or you can leave the brain at the door and simply enjoy a film that takes the mickey out of life, society and the establishment.

Passport 2 anywhere!

Yes, it arrived on the doormat this morning – just one week after the paperwork and photos were handed over and checked at the local main Post Office here in the UK.

It’s a biometric one too, so it’s going to be interesting to see how things go with it.

Although there are separate lanes at some airports for biometric passports, there is still the option of standing in the main queue to get checked into a country – which is good as Caroline doesn’t have a biometric passport yet (and also because the longest queues at Lisbon Airport in mid-September were at the biometric lanes!).

Now then there’s only one thing to do…

Bring me that horizon!

Passport II somewhere

I only applied for my passport to be renewed on Friday 16th October and guess what?

I got a text this morning to say that the new one is on its way to me and will be with me in the next few days!

Already waiting for it as there’s a destination and a specific hotel that are waiting in the wings for a potential visit in early 2016.

Passport to somewhere…

Yes, it’s that time again – time to renew the passport.

It doesn’t actually expire until January, but it’s a bit battered after being stashed in my pocket during the three weeks we’ve spent in Portugal this year (there’s a need to keep ID or a passport on you at all times when out and about).

So, I looked everything up on the appropriate website, got an application form that covers renewal proceedings and asked about photos. I got the answers I needed, filled the form in last night and went to do the deed today.

Eventually! Went to get photos and wasn’t happy with what I was being told about them. Gave up and went to another town (well city actually) and was told the same thing – that I shouldn’t wear my specs when having the photos taken.

Which was news to me, especially as I’ve been wearing specs for around 52 years… Apparently it’s to do with the eyes.

Got the shot taken and approved by the photo shop doing the deed and went up the road a bit to get the renewal form processed.

Everything was done and dusted, checked over and paid for.

Then it was pointed out to me that the background used by the photographer may not be appropriate as it’s a white one.

So I may get my new passport in three weeks time – or a letter asking me to submit some photos without a white background.

Time will tell whether the eyes have it or someone decides to do a background check!

Big bags? Where we’re going, we don’t need big bags…

So, how big a bag do you need for a couple of nights away?

If your accommodation is a hostel, guest house or a hotel, then the answer is definitely a small one, even when your chosen transport is a five door small hatchback that can take enough stuff for a week’s camping in the boot area alone.

Last weekend wasn’t the warmest one or the driest one that Caroline and I have encountered over the last six weeks.

It was also a weekend of two halves – one night and some time on the Northumbrian coast and then one night and some time in one of my old stamping grounds for both work and play. Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The whole trip was a bit of a mad idea really that was formulated at very short notice – i.e. last Thursday. The initial idea was a one night only hit and run exercise to the Northumbrian coast to see whether we could see The Northern Lights. Things changed though on Friday when Caroline’s schedule unexpectedly changed and we could have another night away – hence the visit to Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

As the dress code for the weekend was destined to be a relaxed casual one, there was no need for either of us to have a big bag full of clothes to cover all eventualities.

In Caroline’s case, her bag was a large size Healthy Back Bag (15 litre) whilst mine was a 10 litre man bag bought when I was staying at Imperial College in London back in August.

Were they the right bags given that we were in was to be a reasonably posh guest house in Seahouses and a Hampton by Hilton hotel in Newcastle-upon-Tyne? Oh, yes, they were right.

As ever, the heaviest stuff was worn. The Peter Storm soft shell trousers that were too warm for storms in Portugal were perfect for daytime and nighttime (we spent around 3 hours outside on Saturday night waiting for those pesky Northern Lights to appear) as were the t-shirt, Craghoppers Corvus zip neck fleece and The North Face Nuptse Vest (down filled).

Caroline’s weapons of choice included a Rohan Ultra Silver Camisole, a Rohan Stria crew neck long sleeved shirt, a Rohan Pathway Cardi fleece cardigan, a Tog 24 down vest and a pair of Rohan Troggings.

Respective footwear choices? Salomon ventilated approach shoes in my case and a pair of The North Face Hedgehog GTX approach shoes in Caroline’s.

And in the bags? Rohan Progress polo and the wardrobe’s latest addition (a Rohan Stratum Polo Long Sleeve) plus a pair of Rohan Goa trousers, a couple of pairs of Rohan Cool Silver Trunks, a couple of pairs of M&S trainer socks plus the usual wash kit and a Snugpak travel towel, just in case.

Caroline’s bag was also Rohan filled – couple of long sleeved tops, another Ultra Silver Camisole plus her wash kit and her Ecco Blom Lite Ballerina Pump shoes.

Did everything work? Yes, it did. Not everything was from Rohan this time around, but the items that didn’t carry that brand name were chosen because we know they work and they have been repeatedly used over the last five years or so.

The choices were also useful in both the coastal and urban situations and allowed us to layer according to the prevailing weather conditions, so whilst some items have been used out in warm climes, they also proved their worth as part of a subtle layering system for a couple of Autumn days out.

Had we used public transport as we do on some of our travels, the choices of clothing, shoes and bags would have been ideal.

Did we need anything else? Well Caroline had her umbrella with her to combat the rain showers on Monday morning.

As my pound shop umbrella had popped its clogs in Portugal, it was time to head into Poundstretcher and bite the bullet as the replacement brolly cost the princely sum of £1.99.

Did packing light work once more? Oh yes and it was worth it to see the look on the face of the receptionist at Hampton by Hilton in Newcastle-upon-Tyne when we checked out and I said ‘Yes, this is all of my luggage…’.

Portugal Packing v3.0 – the verdict!

So, how did things go with the items listed on Portugal Packing v3.0?

Very well actually (and everything bar the worn stuff did go into our respective Osprey Farpoint 40 packs). Virtually all of the clothing taken along earned their place in the pack or on me in the case of the items worn on the plane.

The only mistake I made was in taking along my pair of Peter Storm Soft Shell trousers.

They’ve been worth their weight in gold since I bought them last year, but they were too heavy an item to take along and wear in Portugal, especially given the temperatures encountered (even on the couple of wet, windy and generally stormy days).

When the storm hit Porto on the Tuesday of our trip, I ended up wearing one of my Rohan Cool Silver t-shirts, Rohan Goa trousers and the same brand’s Silver containing socks and trunks. The top layer was my HyVent jacket from The North Face. On my feet were one of the two pairs of Salomon ventilated shoes that I’d taken along.

Despite the conditions, everything worked well. Yes, I was wet from the bottom of the waterproof to the pavement and the inside of the jacket’s sleeves were damp, despite the pit zips being opened to provide some ventilation.

The rain was teeming down though and as it was still relatively warm, I’d expected some condensation in the sleeves as the linings were solid rather than mesh and also because I was wearing a t-shirt rather than a long sleeved shirt so my bare arms were helping raise those condensation levels.

Now the Goa trousers may be lightweights and meant for tropical use, but this combination worked in their favour once I got out of the rain and into the photography museum we were aiming for during the storm.

They were soaked when I entered the museum, but as I wandered around, they dried out.

So much so that I was able to sit down and partake in one of the many espressos imbibed over the course of the trip. The vending machine coffee was fine, but it wasn’t going to stop the rain, so after a while it was time to get back out there and try and find some lunch.

And yes, the Goas got soaked once more, then dried out again whilst waiting and eating fodder and then got soaked once more as we left the cafe, went to do some food shopping and headed back to the hostel we were staying in at Porto.

End result? Worn/soaked/dried/soaked/dried/soaked and you get the picture by now. Not only did they perform well under the challenging conditions, they also coped well with the heat encountered later in the week and over the time we were in Coimbra plus the lower temperatures and breezes when we were on the Atlantic Coast.

Washing and drying wasn’t a problem with the Goas either. Once we had a decent sink and places to dry kit out, then there weren’t any problems with the washing and wearing of any of the kit we’d taken along.

Caroline’s storm days kit worked as well as my own – the Rohan Thai trousers worked well as did the selection of tops used on the days and her somewhat elderly Berghaus PacLite Gore-Tex jacket. Her Ecco Blom Lite Mary Jane shoes did get a soaking, as did my Salomons, but they did dry out relatively quickly and were usable a couple of days later (something we’d anticipated, hence the decision to take two pairs of shoes each rather than lighter or flimsier items).

All of our tops performed as expected, especially the Rohan Stratum Polo Long Sleeved which came into its own on the nights when we could sit outside restaurants to have a meal.

Caroline was also more than happy with the couple of Ultra Silver Camisoles and the matching briefs that she’s taken along. These were used on their own or as part of a low-key layering system on cooler days, but washed and dried like crazy every couple of days, as did her Serene vest tops.

One thing that we did forget (okay, one thing that I forgot!) was our Lifeventure travel sink plug.

The sinks in three out of our five different lodgings in Portugal didn’t come with sink plugs, so necessity was the mother of invention. I plugged some sinks with socks whilst Caroline found that the top from her Nivea roll-on deodorant did the job in one place.

Other than that, it was make do and mend with the plastic top off a Pringles tube or the plastic top from a small tub of Hagen Daaz ice cream. Needless to say, a small amount of food consumption went on before these tops were used in the sinks…

Anything else? Yep, the tea tree oil worked well on the insect bites, as did the tube of gel that was bought in Porto to help combat the results of unexpected encounters with mosquitos.

The lavender oil had helped to keep the flying nasties at bay, but some had got through, resulting in 10 bites on my back, legs, arms and face, even though I had kept myself under the bed sheets on even the warmest nights in Portugal.

What I wasn’t expecting was for one of my pairs of shoes to deteriorate. One of the fabric lace retainers came away and as the two weeks wore on, it became apparent that the shock absorbing materials were breaking down inside the sole unit.

Although the shoes weren’t that old, they had done around 400 miles or so. Given that I have gait problems and also have trouble with my left leg as a result of that stroke a few years ago, I knew that it wasn’t something that I could put down as a problem with the shoes as I’ve been wearing Salomon shoes and boots for years now and not had any problems.

As a result, they were left in Portugal – not in a bin, but with someone who was going to repair the lace retainer and hand the shoes over to a local homeless charity.

On a lighter note, the umbrella that I’d taken along didn’t last either. It went inside out a few times in Porto and ended up being left in a guest house somewhere in Portugal.

It had served its purpose though in Somerset, London and Porto and as it had cost me the princely sum of £1, I wasn’t going to complain about being ripped off by a pound shop…

Portugal Packing v3.0

See – told you that it would be along shortly!

One of the reasons why there’s a Portugal Packing v3.0 rather than a Portugal Packing v2.1 is that our road trip in September 2015 was two weeks long rather than one week and the predicted weather conditions for the first part of the trip were dire…

Had the weather forecast been warm-hot and dry, then there wouldn’t have been any problems as all I would have done is swap a couple of t-shirts for a couple of polo shirts or smarter short sleeved shirts to ensure that there was an element of smart casual rather than just casual when eating out.

But the weather wasn’t destined to be warm-hot and dry over the first week. I’d taken the precaution of adding each of our locations to be visited on the Weather section of the BBC website so I could track a set of ten day forecasts for each town or city that we were visiting.

Every town or city showed the same prognosis for the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the first week. Something was coming and it did not look good – heavy rain and high winds.

So our packing lists were thought about and adjusted accordingly to take into account of potential weather conditions that were more reminiscent of Blighty on a bad day…

The heaviest stuff was worn for the flight, a good move as the weather at Liverpool John Lennon Airport on Sunday morning as we crossed the road from the hotel to the terminal wasn’t wonderful (and we were aware of the fact that we had to walk to the plane in order to board it – none of this bus to the plane nonsense here!).

In my case the Rohan Goa trousers were packed not worn and a pair of Peter Storm Soft Shell trousers took their place. The Rohan Stronghold shirt was worn again (plenty of pockets to keep passport, camera, reading specs and change bags to hand) over one of Rohan’s Core Silver t-shirts, but the top layer was a HyVent waterproof by The North Face.

Footwear came courtesy of Salomon once more, but rather than take sandals, flip flops or espadrilles as a second item, an identical pair of Salomon ventilated shoes were packed, just in case. Yes, it was tempting to take a pair of Gore-Tex lined shoes with me to counter the potential weather conditions, but these would have added more weight to the bag and ensured that my feet could sweat buckets if these shoes were worn on warmer days (prefer Gore-Tex lined footwear between October and March in the UK rather than in warmer months).

So, that was the worn line-up, but what was inside the usual Osprey Farpoint 40 bag? Another Rohan Core Silver t-shirt, two blue and one white Rohan Element t-shirts, two Rohan polo shirts (one Progress Polo, one Stria Polo) and a Rohan Stratum Polo Long Sleeve shirt for wearing on its own or as part of a layering unit if eating outdoors on an evening.

Packed trousers were not one, but two pairs of Rohan Goas tropical trousers. I’d liked wearing these during our Lisbon stay in July as they were cool to wear in hot temperatures, had good pockets to help deter thieving bar-stools and dried quickly after washing in Lifeventure Fabric Wash.

Rohan Silver trunks came into their own once more as did a few pairs of the same brand’s socks. New to the equation though were a couple of pairs of M&S trainer liner socks – easily washed/dried, but also useful enough to deal with my feet being encased in approach shoes after several months of padding around barefoot at home or in sandals when leaving the house.

The clear bag to be examined by security contained a couple of travel size Nivea Factor 30 bottles of sun cream, the bottle of King Of Shaves shaving oil that I’d bought for the last trip, a travel tube of Colgate Total toothpaste, small bottles of tea tree oil and lavender oil (tea tree to deal with insect bites and lavender oil to help prevent them – the latter didn’t always work!). Also in the mix was a disposable Gillette razor and the Slim Sonic battery powered toothbrush.

Techie stuff was the usual Kindle and Nikon Coolpix digital compact camera plus respective chargers and one three pin to two pin plug adapter. A Petzl e+Lite was packed as a light source, a Moleskine paper notebook for notes/accounts and a Fisher Space Pen to make the notes with.

I’d also got a new set of specs for this trip so one was worn, the reacting to sunlight specs were packed and the reading glasses stayed in my trouser pocket or day bag until needed.

I’d had reacting to sunlight specs before and found them useful, but the new ones are back with my opticians at the moment as the lenses started to work their way out of the frames after being used twice on this trip – apparently it was known problem with this type, but hadn’t come up in conversation when I was buying them… Ooops!

Owt else? My usual meds and back-up literature plus a small umbrella and a copy of Rough Guide To Portugal as I’d forgotten to copy the relevant pages before we left.

A new travel wallet came into play as a means of keeping my £’s separate from my €’s and to help avoid card details being skimmed by no-gooders with scanning devices. After July’s day bag problem, the chosen one was a nylon drawstring shoe bag that I had at home. It lasted three days and was replaced by a more substantial bag bought in a sports shop in Porto.

Caroline’s bag contents included Rohan’s Thai trousers (comfortable, light, good for hot weather and easily washed and worn again).

Other options included the same brand’s Linen Plus Tunis trousers and a dress that also used their Linen Plus fabric, a couple of Ultra Silver Camisoles and a couple of Ultra Silver Briefs (the camisoles were good for layering when needed and were also easily washed and worn again).

Oh, and her Rohan Serene vests and Malay top also proved their worth once more.

To cope with the rain, Caroline also took her Berghaus PacLite Gore-Tex jacket. Two pairs of Ecco shoes (Blom Lite Ballerina Pump and Blom Lite Mary Jane) were used over the course of the trip and a newly acquired two-piece swimming cossie was used for the obvious and as spare top and knickers if needed.

And her tech? Kindle, Pentax camera, her smartphone and the necessary adaptors. Both of our sets of adaptors were stored in IKEA wash bags – small, sturdy, zipped and cheap too. As ever, Caroline’s day bag was her Rohan Stowaway Daybag 3.

Now you may be wondering why there are so many mentions for Rohan products on our packing lists…

I’ve been using Rohan clothing for around 30 years now and Caroline’s been doing the same for around 10. The items we’ve been using on our travels have usually been bought in the sales or when there’s been specific offers on items instore or online.

Heck, we’ve even paid full price for stuff on a number of occasions, because when we’ve looked at other items from competitors, they’ve not always been what we’ve wanted for one reason or another…

So what are the verdicts on items mentioned in Portugal Packing v3.0?

They will be along on Friday!

Portugal packing v2.0

Why v2.0?

Because we’ve undertaken two visits to Portugal this year and our bag contents were changed from our original Portugal packing list to contend with the very different weather conditions encountered in July and September 2015.

v2.0 covers the stuff that was taken along in July when there was little chance of rain, but a very good chance of high temperatures and top of the charts UV levels, even in Lisbon – our destination and base for the week away. Fortunately, the weather conditions at home were approaching those in Lisbon.

The drive to Liverpool John Lennon Airport and a pre-flight night in the Hampton by Hilton hotel was a late one as Caroline had spent virtually all day at a family wedding. A swift change was made when she arrived home and the car was taken off the drive and pointed towards the M62 in search of the airport.

Baggage choices? Our trusty Osprey Farpoint 40 packs as usual as yes, we were travelling hand luggage, but on an airline that neither of us had used before – easyJet.

And the contents of the bags?

In my case they included a security friendly travel size wash bag that had been bought for the journey. It was originally full of predominately Gillette products aimed at travellers, but a little pruning and replacement ensured that the new contents covered all eventualities.

The disposable razor and small tube of toothpaste were retained, but in went a plastic cased Dove roll-on anti-perspirant instead of the smaller capacity metal aerosol.

That was followed by the Slim Sonic Toothbrush I mentioned a few posts back, a bottle of Lifeventure Fabric Wash for the clothes, a 100ml bottle of Lush’s Flying Fox shower gel for me, a small bottle of tea tree oil, a similarly sized bottle of King Of Shaves shaving oil and two small bottles of Nivea Factor 50 sun cream (Tesco had them on a 3 for 2 promo and they were worth the investment of buying a couple of deals each on Factor 50 and Factor 30 creams…)

Did they work? Oh yes and even though we were keeping the protection topped up, we still came back a little browner than we were when we left the UK.

As before, my usual prescribed meds, yellow Warfarin book and repeat prescription forms went in along with a pack of indigestion tablets and a few sachets of recovery powder (just in case there were too many glasses of vino collapso or local lagers imbibed over the course of a day…

Worn items included a pair of Salomon ventilated trainers, a pair of Rohan Goa trousers, one of four Rohan Core Silver t-shirts (the rest were in the bag along with a couple of Rohan Element t-shirts).

Why so many t-shirts? As good as all of these shirts are, expectations of 30+ C meant that for once I was playing safe and wearing two shirts per dayrather than one a day. I did however regret not having a polo shirt or two as a smarter option as we were eating out so much over the course of the week.

Rohan Cool Silver trunks and suitable socks completed the worn outfit and yes, there were spares in the bag of these. Other packed items included another pair of Goa trousers, my Nikon Coolpix digital compact camera and charger plus my Kindle and charger, a newly purchased Rohan Stowaway Daypack 20 packable day sack and a travel towel. Oh, and a copy of Rough Guide‘s Pocket Rough Guide to Lisbon plus a pair of Next espadrilles for sock free days or nights out…

Caroline’s clothes packing wasn’t quite a mirror image of mine as she packed a couple of Rohan Serene vest tops, a Rohan Malay Linen Plus top and a few other items from that brand’s travel linen range too.

Footwear choices were a pair of Ecco Blom Lite Mary Jane shoes and a pair of Merrell sports sandals. Her day bag was a Rohan Stowaway Daybag 3 packable handbag to hold her passport, camera, travel wallet, tissues, sun cream and a small bottle of water.

Was everything used?

Yes, it was and the washing and wearing processes also worked well too, even when washing out trousers. Washing was typically done on a morning before we went out and left to dry on hangers next to the windows once the clothing had been rolled up in a travel towel as a means of squeezing out any excess water.

The Rohan Goa trousers were just right for the trip thanks to a lightweight fabric that washed and dried quickly, two zipped pockets to take wallet, camera, reading specs and guest house keys and protect them from thieving bar-stools.

We knew that there is an ongoing problem with pickpocketing in Lisbon, but the owner of the cafe we ate in when we first arrived was quite forthright in his views when he warned us of the dangers of losing stuff (we did meet a lady who had had her smartphone stolen on a tram in Lisbon when we were in the queue for the flight home a week later…).

Out of all the things we took along with us, there was only one piece of kit that required a rethink. I’ve no doubt that the Rohan packable day sack will come into its own in the UK over days out and periods away over the coming months, but I have to admit to making a personal wrong choice by using it over the first few days in Lisbon.

It was a bit too big for what I wanted to carry around with me and I ended up buying a small cotton bag that sufficed for the rest of the week. The Rohan item won’t be wasted though, because there’s at least one trip coming up soon where it will be in its element, so it will be used again and again. The cotton bag purchased in Lisbon will be inside to use as a shopping bag…

And v3.0?

Along soon!