Only one week until Elizabeth and I fly off for our long hoped for, and finally happening, trip to England. I say “long hoped for” because we wanted to make this trip, hoped to make this trip, years and years ago, back in the nineties. But something always got in the way. And now, just when it finally is about to happen… I seem to be having difficulty getting psyched up. I’m having particular difficulty getting psyched up to plan my packing. You know, making lists of what outfits I might wear, and what pieces I might pack. And that, my friends is not like me at all.
Maybe it’s the heat. We’re having a steamy, humid, uncomfortably hot spell just now. Temperatures in the thirties, with humidex readings of 40° C. Maybe I’m feeling a bit drained after an emotional spring and summer. Or maybe I’m just suffering from planning, packing, and unpacking fatigue.
misty sunrise, and a river
Steamy, foggy dawn on the Rideau yesterday

It seems as if it’s been nothing but plan, pack, unpack, repeat for months. So far this year I’ve been on one extended trip to South America, three pretty emotionally fraught trips down east, one to Toronto, and two week-long camping trips. In the past few weeks Hubby and I travelled to Fredericton, then drove home to Ottawa two weeks later, only to turn around and go back down for my brother’s funeral two weeks after that. Trust me, we won’t be making that thousand kilometre drive again for a while. Then, not wanting to miss our fall camping trip, we had three days after we arrived home from our second New Brunswick trip to unpack, and then plan and pack for our camping trip. And now, back home from camping, I’ve spent two whole days doing laundry from the camping trip, and packing away for the winter all the clean camping things (bedding, towels, fishing clothes etc etc). And today was to be my planning, trying on outfits, making possible lists for what to pack to take to England day. But… this morning I opened my journal to a fresh page, duly inscribed the page with “Packing for England,” underlined it nicely, and sat down. “Meh,” I thought.
mist covered bog
Steamy, misty morning in Algonquin Park last week.

I just could not muster any enthusiasm for concocting outfits. For imagining what I will wear to do which activity. For dreaming up the perfect jeans and sweater combination that will make me happy while we are walking about London, or touring Chatsworth, or scarfing back fish and chips and a pint. And I couldn’t begin to think of trying on sweaters and tees and jeans and jackets in this heat. Of course I shouldn’t be complaining. I know. All this travel is a privilege. And I still get to go to England. I know that after a couple of days, I’ll come around. Rise out of my funk, out of the emotional trough I seem to be in. And in a day or two my capacity for getting excited about packing and outfit planning, will begin to flow instead of ebb. I’m pretty sure about that.

sun reflected in a river surrounded by trees
Steamy, hot day fishing on the Bonnechere River in Algonquin Park.

And although it was a rush to get there, our camping trip was good. Helpful. Fall camping time is the best time for thinking. Sitting on a bench beside the deserted beach with my cup of tea and a book. Or in the canoe, dipping my paddle in the water, listening to the lapping of water against the bow, and the thunk of Hubby’s paddle on the gunnels. Or sitting around the campfire at night, watching the sparks disappear into the darkness, counting stars. All these things are conducive to wrapping one’s head around life. Like a brain re-boot. And I was in serious need of a brain re-boot.

man portaging a canoe down a dirt road
“Mr. Canoe-Head,” aka Hubby, portaging the canoe to the access point in Algonquin Park

So, all will be well in a day or two. I did make a start, even if it was a somewhat uninspired start, to my packing planning this morning. And I did some research on-line. I always find Sue’s packing posts over at une femme d’un certain âge to be most helpful. A good place to begin. And this trip should be relatively easy to plan compared to some. Fairly short at two and a half weeks. Same climate throughout. No hiking or cycling or swimming or skiing gear required. And after I get my back and neck tweaked at physio tomorrow, and my hair cut on Thursday… well… I’ll be raring to go.

All ready to start planning and packing in earnest. Again. But I’ll get back to you on that later.

And… and… I hear that the weather is about to change too. Sigh. Now, that would be wonderful.

How about you folks? Do you ever suffer from a dearth of enthusiasm? Unable to muster energy to get ready for an event? Even a much anticipated one?

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From the archives


Summer Closet Rummage

I had a good summer closet rummage this week. Looking for new outfit combinations. And not exactly achieving what I’d hoped to achieve.


Christmas Journeys

I’ve made a few Christmas journeys in my time. I made a video of my Christmas Journeys so far this year. Hope you enjoy it.


Ski Chic or Not

For someone who loves clothes and make-up, and who stresses over my hair, I’m strangely not worried about being ski chic, or not.

80 thoughts on “Plan, Pack, Unpack, Repeat”

  1. I think your packing funk is perfectly understandable. Have to say it's my least favourite part of travel. I'm sure you'll get over it in a few days and the excitement of your trip will get you motivated. It seems to have come around very quickly. No fears of humidity in England and if you forget something shoppiness is always an option! Exciting times ahead. I'm sure it will be wonderful. Iris

  2. Gorgeous photos. It's been a busy and fraught year for you, no surprise you are where you are, especially with your glorious weather and knowing that what you are wearing over there will NOT be what you need over here, rest assured!
    I'm having to pack and I'm struggling to get a case together. I'm back home for one full day for a repack during a month of UK'ing. But one thing I know, I will not be packing for UK humidity, it doesn't exist!
    Good luck with your packing, Sue, I'm sure you'll get it just right and as Iris says, you've always got shoppiness to fall back on! Hugs and bon voyage, x.

    1. Thanks, Mary. So glad to hear that you won't be having our weather over there. The humidity here is really awful. I'd much rather have cool temperatures.

  3. "First world problems"
    You do get a bit whingey sometimes! Most of your travelling was done by choice, you can afford to do it, you can afford new clothes each season, just pack some stuff and get on with it! Mostly, other people won't be paying attention to what you are wearing, they wont know or care if you wear the same thing every day and nor should you. If the thing that fills your mind most is your clothes, then you are travelling for the wrong reasons! If it makes you miserable, you don't have to do it.

    1. That's rather harsh . If you follow Sue's blog you'll realize she has worked hard for her lifestyle & her traveling is most certainly not about her wardrobe . She has had some hard knocks recently & I think most of us can understand how she feels . Most unkind of you .
      Wendy from York

    2. Crikey, that is indeed harsh! This is a community and Sue is merely sharing her thoughts with friends – and she admits herself that all the travel is a privilege. As Wendy says, Sue has been through a rough time lately, writing is her way of processing some of it, that's all.

    3. Ah well, "Another Sue"… where to start in replying to your comment? I am aware that I was whingeing a bit, as I think I said in my post. Sorry if that pissed you off. Of course travel doesn't make me "miserable," which is why I do it. But much of my travel this year has been back and forth to New Brunswick where my nieces and my mother were coping with what turned out to be my brother's last few months. He died two and a half weeks ago after many years of struggle. That's really why I'm a bit of an emotional wreck this week, if you want me to be perfectly honest. Because he fought what we all knew would be a losing battle, and then when it's all over I am able to come home in time to still go on my trip to England. It seems unfair. And kind of pointless to be worrying about what I will pack on my trip. But I didn't want my post to be too morose. I have after all talked about him and his battles quite a few times on the blog. I usually write my posts about what is going on in my life in one way or another. So this week I am trying to pack for my trip. And yet I couldn't bring myself to write a chirpy post about packing. Especially when that's not what I was feeling. "First world problems" … yep. But never the less, they ARE my problems and if writing about them offends you…well…I can't do much about that.

    4. I hate it when people say 'first world problems'. Unless you are being shot at by soldiers or attacked while going to the well to get water, it's all a first world problem. Worrying about how to pay your mortgage? Not coping with your chemo? All first world problems. People who say it are basically saying 'shut up' and telling you not to be honest. And then complain about people pretending to be happy and perfect. So yes she is lucky and rich enough to travel but she is also human and can have crap days that she wants to vent about. Scroll and move on if you don't like it.

    5. Sue Burpee, what you explained in your reply was exactly what I got as the unspoken message in your post. Of course you can't muster enthusiasm right now – and anyone who reads your blog regularly already understood why without your having to be explicit. I for one appreciate how candid you are with us about your feelings. Anyone who feels differently can go read something else, right? — Catbird Farm

  4. I'm hardly surprised you can't get energised. Have a day off and lounge about for a bit then hup-ho! and off you go! We are having a beautiful autumn time of it here at the
    moment, lots of green and gold, quite cool but not cold. I am sure it will be balm to your frazzled soul. Which is, after all, the point.

  5. Don't worry , we aren't posh here , all very casual now & there'll be shops for anything you need . I can see why your enthusiasm will not be what it was but I'm sure you will have a great time & it will give you a lift . Your friends here can understand why you aren't your usual upbeat self just now .
    Wendy from York
    PS maybe I could mail you about a possible meet up ?

  6. Wow "Another Sue" someone got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning! 🙂 You probably feel it's none of my business but you didn't need to read this and you certainly didn't need to comment in such a mean spirited way …
    I think Sue, as in Sue B as written a perfectly honest post, talking about how she's feeling in a way that I, for one, certainly identify with. I don't feel she's "whinging" at all, just being genuine. I've felt like Sue when packing for travel and it doesn't mean we're any less grateful for the opportunity and realise how lucky we are.
    I hope no one takes offence at this comment …

  7. My 2 cents: its tiring to be really sad and upset and reflective about days and people who are gone. You need a break, a rest, the chiro and hair cut sound like great ideas. Maybe also a feet up day or days reading something fun set in some of your travel destinations to get in the spirit.


  8. Excited on your behalf for the trip. I live just outside London and would love to give sensible climate/wardrobe advice, but I'm afraid I don't know what I'll be wearing the week after next either! This week has been sunny and too hot for a jacket at lunchtime; next week, who knows? So long as you have a waterproof jacket/sensible shoes, jeans, thin jumpers because it really isn't that cold yet (you can always double up if I'm wrong) … and remember what my friend above says about "we're not posh here" … you'll be fine. Look forward to seeing the trip through your eyes … welcome to England. Esme

  9. A summer like you have had can certainly take the wind out of your sails. We have had several seasons like that in the last years, and it does wear you down. I am so glad that you and Elizabeth are finally getting to take this long awaited trip. Take a breath, make a cuppa, and if the inspiration to pack doesn't hit until the last minute, it's ok. We look forward to your pics of the two of you having a blast. From a long-time reader, seldom commenter, bon voyage!

  10. Hi Sue
    Be kind to yourself. Saying good bye to a love one, long distance travel, sadness & grief… takes it toll and grief decides when it going to hit you! Your good friend will understand!

    You are very honest and I appreciate your real life stories.
    Hugs…..Robin T

  11. It's not a dearth of enthusiasm. It's exhaustion, emotional and physical. Push yourself through and enjoy the trip. There are plenty of long winter nights ahead for reading and sleeping.

  12. Dear Sue,
    It is more than okay to feel a bit uninterested in making packing lists and sorting through clothing options to take on this long anticipated trip to England. You have had an extremely busy and emotional time of it this year and you are understandably feeling drained. Heat and humidity don't help either. I too am taking a trip to England in 3 weeks and while I have begun the list making process there are so many other details to arrange as well….insurance, car rental, hotel accommodation, meeting up with family and friends…my packing list has been changed and rearranged several times but it will get done. I am certain you will pack the perfect pieces for your adventures in England too! Cheers, Alayne

  13. Thanks for the mention! I can certainly understand the feeling of travel fatigue, when packing feels more like a chore than a happy anticipatory task. Your camping trip sounds wonderful!

  14. I think many of us are kinder to others than we are to ourselves. Grief is a very physical process. It is exhausting- bothy physically and mentally. The great thing about your destination is that should you forget/need anything- it will easily be available there. So, throw a few things in a bag, leave a little extra room and be kind to yourself. You have been through a great deal. The time in a different environment might be just the thing to soothe.

  15. I totally understand your position at the moment. As others have said you have been through a lot this year and you need to be kind to yourself. I always appreciate your honesty about the challenges of life that you portray and that life is not always a bowl of cherries. You will have an amazing time in the UK and there will be lots of opportunities for shoppiness if required!

  16. "Do you ever suffer from a dearth of enthusiasm? Unable to muster energy to get ready for an event? Even a much anticipated one?"

    Absolutely! Feeling a bit like that right now. And end to one season (with family challenges) and another season beginning (that will bring harder family issues). All that said, though, I do hope that your upcoming trip to England will bring you pleasure and restoke your fuel for winter.

    Loving your posts of late, by the way.


  17. Sue, we just got back from our trip to Europe and now I need a rest! I know that you will rally round and even if you don't, there's still all that "shoppiness" to look forward to! But seriously, like everyone else I do hope that the trip will help you rest and refuel … and please go visit Wendy! ?

  18. Sue — have a wonderful time. We are not posh or dressy in London (except for the occasional party which I guess you are unlikely to do in a short trip). Smart casual is the most you will need anywhere in the UK. So, as has already been said, comfortable shoes and a waterproof. You are more likely to be chilly than too hot here now although the odd day will be pleasantly warm around lunchtime.
    I will cheerfully give you up to date weather news, shopping or other suggestions for making the most your visit if that would be helpful.
    Packing for a different climate is always tricky — you can't imagine ever being hotter or colder than at present!
    I'm sure you will have a wonderful trip.
    Ceri in London

    1. Thanks, Ceri. Smart casual is what I'm bringing for dinners etc. For days: jeans, sneakers or boots, and sweaters or tees. I'm finding that I don't have an abundance of "city" clothing since I've pared down my closet. Maybe I'll rectify that with a few new tops. Andy suggestions for best areas to shop in London?

    2. Don't bother with Oxford Street! Or Regent Street although there is a new shop there called Arket which is a new brand from the H&M stable and is getting very good reviews. I'm going to check it out tomorrow so will let you know if its worth a visit.
      I always find Selfridges just too bewilderingly big.
      Bond Street (Fenwicks) and South Moulton St and the streets around New Bond Street are worth wandering around if that is the area you are in.
      Depends where you are staying but I imagine you will want to stay fairly central in town so won't have much time for travelling to the suburbs for shopping — thinking Hampstead and Richmond which are good — so if you want a wide range of good shops from the big chains to more independent I suggest starting from Sloane Square and just walking down the Kings Road as far as you want and then cutting north and walking back along the Fulham Road — plenty of interest and lots of nice cafes and coffee places.
      Another great area with lots of interesting independent shops is is the area between Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Park Road and Chepstow Road. Its the Portobello Road area which is a bit touristy particularly on a Saturday but the shops and cafes are all worth wandering around.
      Let me know if you have any specific questions whilst you are here.
      Good luck and travel well.

  19. After the series of emergencies with my mother, I barely wanted to do anything. I wonder if some part of you is in seclusion recovering from you brother's death? It wouldn't be surprising at all. Take care of yourself, and have a wonderful trip.

  20. Here is an odd London shopping opportunity for you: do you need a new "bathing costume"?

    There's an entire Speedo store on Neal St. in Covent Garden. It had 4 times more styles than I've seen in the US, including several "Kneesuits" ideal for lap swimmers of a certain age. I know I can find those online, but it was great to have a try-on opportunity.

  21. Makes perfect sense to me that you're dragging your heels on the packing. I almost always have a period of doubt before we travel — why are we going again? is it worth the hassle? — but after the loss you've just suffered, there's a natural urge, I think, just to "go to ground" and sort out the new landscape. Once you overcome that inertia, I'm guessing you'll have a great time travelling with your friend and the completely different focus will be welcome. Don't be surprised if you're really tired at various points though, and do try to give yourself some rest whenever you can.

    1. Thanks, Frances. I think that Elizabeth and I will travel at a very different pace that Stu and I do. We made very sure that the other one understood how we liked to have downtime each day. Phew. It's hard to travel with someone who has a different internal clock than you do… unless you also happen to be married to them:)

  22. Hi there

    Have a wonderful trip in the UK. Hope you have lovely weather and can relax and enjoy yourselves.

    Sue R.

  23. Staying Covent Garden is a good choice; check out the new Petersham Nurseries shop that just opened there. I haven't been yet, but the original (in Richmond) is heavenly. Marylebone High Street has many shops you would like, but without the crush and bustle of Oxford Street (which is miserable and mostly trashy). Regent Street, however, has Cos, Other Stories, Arket, J Crew, Anthropologie, Uniqlo … (esme)

    1. I second Marylebone High Street but would make a stop for John Lewis and perhaps Selfridges. If they are a nightmare you can always run away to Fortnums and go for a delicious cup of tea. Or the Ritz for a cocktail. Yes, do that anyway.

  24. First of all what book are you reading. Then, I think you need at least two people helping you like the royals. People to pack and unpack you. It really is a pain doing all that work. I want a detailed post about your trip to Chatsworth. Once you get to London all this will fade away and you'll have a ball!

  25. Hello
    Thank you for sharing your "meh" days. They are totally understandable given your recent history. As another commenter said, we are sometimes too hard on ourselves. Even though you are not enjoying the "anticipation phase" of your trip I think you will have a great time especially sharing time with your good friend!
    On a related note and not sure if you need another one….. I was recently in a local travel store and discovered a multi-converter plug adapter that includes a USB port – brilliant!
    Take care, Suz from Vancouver

  26. Soooooo looking forward to hearing about your England trip! (As for concocting outfits… Keep Calm and Keep… Packing? ��

    Doooooo have a great time!

  27. Hi Sue,
    I think packing for cooler weather can be a bit more of a brain drain. I remember starting weeks before our Greece trip to plan, and buy some things, and I laid them out on the spare bed. Everything was chosen for a reason, and I felt good about what was going in the suitcases. But for a trip to a climate where layers are required, it's always so difficult to make a decision on what finally not to bring, because by the end of the pretend pack, all of my closet and drawers is on the bed, it can be even worse with shoes, boots, runners, sandals, etc. I'm rolling my eyes thinking about it. You have had so much going on! I cannot imagine doing that much travelling. I'm sorry about your brother. i've read your posts about his service, and all the people you spoke with, it was lovely. So that and now another trip on the horizon — i can see where packing is not a joyful experience right now. Love your blog, I always look for your reading suggestions, i think we are similiar, I adore Elly Griffiths as well. xx Nancy

    1. Packing for summer weather is so much easier. But this will be easier than packing for South America which involved hot weather clothes, cool weather clothes, hiking clothes, rain gear etc etc. My plan always involves wearing the bulkiest and heaviest things on the plane. But it was really uncomfortable standing in the immigration line in tropical heat when we first arrived. England will be a snap compared to that.

  28. Late to the party here, but I can totally relate. We're having family issues not unlike yours and sadness really drains you physically. Adding travel on top has kind of flattened me, too. We have a bucket list trip coming up at the end of October and I'm struggling myself. I will say having our weather cool off (I hate hot/humid!) has helped. And of course, your physio and haircut appointments will help…I always find those uplifting.

  29. No matter how excited I am for a trip I also dread the packing! I put it off until I can't put it off any longer! I know once you get on the plane you will get your excitement back and I am sure you will have a great trip. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  30. I hope when you get here you've got the right clothes for the weather, if you have you'll be doing better than those of us who live here! We've been hot, windy and cooler all in the last few days – no idea what to wear! But I hope you have a lovely visit. Am new to your blog so don't know if you've been here before.
    (From Yet Another Sue at The cottage at the end of a lane blog)

    1. Thanks, Sue. There sure are a lot of us around, aren't there? Sues I mean. Hope you are able to enjoy your new tress at your cottage for a long time!

  31. Sorry,I'm very late for the party,connected with the reason why I'm understanding how you could feel right now,exhausted emotionally and physically.
    I've missed a really ugly comment and a lot of nice and helpful ones
    So,follow your basic list (I'm sure that you have it :-)),take care,have it more easy than usual,do what makes you happy…..I wish you a really nice trip!

    1. Thanks, Dottoressa. Hope you're feeling better. I'm trying to take it very easy for a couple of days. Seems by back does not like the changing temperatures. It's always something. But if we let every "something" hold us back we'd never go anywhere, would we?

  32. Glad you are slowly but definitely looking forward to your trip. Like you, I have traveled down east this year for sick family members and just returned from the UK where I attended a family funeral.
    It is draining and takes time to get your joy of life back so be gentle with yourself. Having understanding friends is a big help and it looks like you have a good few of those. I enjoy reading your blog for the fashion tips, travel pointers, but mostly for your honesty and humour. So enjoy those fish and chips, have a pint for me and be sure to tell us all about it when you get back.

  33. I can totally understand the feeling of not wanting to plan / pack – but then I'm an extremely last-minute packer myself. I'm a firm believer in not pushing yourself too hard and taking a break when you need it!

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