Poshpacking required for this hotel! Pic by Keith Rickaby, Nikon Coolpix S3100
Yes, it’s Rohantime once more as my recent Poshpacking post is currently being featured on the Rohantime website.
Thanks as ever to Sarah Howcroft for picking up on it and publishing.
Watch out for something completely different regarding clothes and packing as wisepacking goes rocking all over the world!
The cloisters at Pousada Convento da Graca, Tavira
Keith Rickaby, Nikon Coolpix S3100
It all began in October last year when Caroline’s workplace approved a week away in March and then Expedia came up with an offer that we couldn’t refuse – flights from our local airport, private transfers from and to Faro airport and a week in a hotel in Tavira on the Algarve.
Not just any hotel you understand, but one that Berlitz Algarve described as “one of the most desirable places to stay on the entire coast” – Pousada Convento da Graca, a converted 16th century convent complete with cloisters and its own church.
We knew that Pousadas had special rates for those of us who are over 55, but as the offer we were made beat a few of the prices we had last year for stays in guest houses or boutique hotels, it would have been madness to turn it down…
Which left a couple of problems.
The first was what to wear during our stay, given that Lonely Planet Portugal‘s comments on the Pousada started with “If you can get past the front door (there’s a bit of an attitude here)”…
The second was packing to cope with any potential dress code, given that we were flying with hand luggage and that our airline – Monarch – had a 10kg weight restriction on hand luggage.
In the end, we needn’t have worried, even though the temperatures encountered during the first full week of March were below expectations after reading the ten day forecasts for Faro and Tavira.
We packed by taking our cue from these forecasts and perceptions based on looking through the photos in the Pousada Convento da Graca section of the website dedicated to the Portuguese Pousadas.
I ended up packing virtually all Rohan kit once more. Four Progress polo shirts, a couple of Stratum long sleeved polos, two Merino t-shirts, two pairs of 2015 Goa trousers, a selection of Cool Silver trunks and a few pairs of M&S silver containing socks.
Wash kit had the usual contents – factor 30 Nivea suncream, disposable razor, King of Shaves shaving oil, Via Sonic battery toothbrush, travel size toothpaste, Lush shower gel, and Sanex roll-on anti-perspirant. Spare shoes? One pair of espadrilles.
Caroline’s choices were somewhat similar and yes, most of it was also from Rohan. Ultra Silver camisoles and briefs, a couple of Serene vests, a brace of Malay tops, a pair of travel linen trousers, a pair of Trailblazer trousers bought during the Rohan sale at Trek & Trail Saltaire and a Malay dress – just in case. Oh, and a couple of Stria long sleeved tops, again just in case.
Our choices coped admirably with both the expected dress codes and the changeable weather conditions encountered. We’d layered up in readiness for the early start to the airport (3am departure from the house with a car thermometer reading – 1C), so these warm layers (Rohan, Peter Storm, Lowe Alpine) came into their own on the cooler nights during our trip.
We didn’t have any problems once we checked into the Pousada or in fitting in whilst wandering around Tavira, eating in family run restaurants such as Bica, Casa Simao and Churrasqueira O Manel or on the local buses and trains used to get us around the Algarve and the ferry used to have a few hours in Spain.
Yes, there was a bit of washing and wearing going on during the week to keep things sweet, but we stayed smart and our bags came in at 8kg each so no worries on the plane!
And we weren’t the only ones using Rohan in the Pousada either as fellow Brits were sporting Rohan trousers or shirts in and around the hotel.
An account of our visit to Tavira will be posted here soon!
Caroline, Sunday morning, 7.15 am, waiting for the car to Faro Airport.
Keith Rickaby, Nikon Coolpix S3100
The time has come to lighten the load.
Many start the process on January 1st, but I decided to be different…
Given that my birthday falls on January 3rd, it’s around anniversary time and the fact that the stash of food we’d bought in for the holiday season had hardly been touched, then a decision had to be made – to postpone things until February.
So, it’s time to do the deed now that there’s just a few crackers left in the cracker box and that the cheese to accompany said crackers is almost gone (along with the rather good homemade birthday cake).
The respective stashes have been gradually reduced rather than thrown in the bin and whilst we’ve refilled the cupboards, fridge and freezer, there’s little in the way of convenience foods and no ready meals either..
Not only that, there’s no chocolate left in the hidey hole in the kitchen and no biscuits leapt off the shelves and into the respective trolleys in Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Lidl last week either. I do know that there’s one box of RNLI fudge in the office, but once that’s gone, that’s it!
Yes, it time for some weight loss here and if the Hairy Bikers can do it, then so can I.
It will be done sensibly and it will be done without resorting to paying to attend any meetings or spending money on online resources.
So the sensible head is on, the calories are being counted and it’s bye bye to ready meals and regular takeaways. It’s Subway instead of burgers or fried chicken when out and about and the takeaways will be a treat rather than a regular occurrence.
And lightening the load may also occur on another level too – a lighter travel bag as any new trousers or jeans will be a smaller size (and a smaller packed size/lighter in weight too) whilst any footwear doesn’t need to be so sturdy.
The tops however will stay the same as I’ve taken the same size for years – it’s only the war on the waistline spread that I’ve lost!
It’s not often that I’ll dive in and take advantage of an offer regarding cheaper guidebooks on Lonely Planet’s website, but after seeing one of their emails a few minutes ago, I just have.
There’s been a few offers on recently, the latest being a 30% off promotion, but when a 45% off promotion rears it’s head, it’s very, very tempting to take advantage of it, especially when it’s also got a free postage offer attached to it as well (providing that you spend over £25 of course). And yes, I have ordered paper guidebooks again!
The books in question are the Lonely Planet guides to Andalucia, India and The Trans-Siberian Railway and guess what? They’re all the latest editions of these guides and they’ve been chosen because each one relates to places of interest.
At the top, this collection of titles should have cost me £50.97…
What did I pay? £28.02… a saving of £22.95 which effectively meant that the India guide was free as it normally retails at a full price of £20.99 here in the UK.
And the moral of the story – it’s worth signing up to company newsletters and emails as the news that sometimes comes your way can sometimes be to your advantage!
Especially when it’s a secret deal and it comes just one day after Caroline and I took advantage of some substantial savings on Rohan kit thanks to their email about final sale reductions.
The Rohan sale finishes on Sunday 24th January by the way…
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…’.
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…
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!