Monday, October 19, 2015

A Little Bit About a Lot of Things... and a Special Offer!

Back from vacation!

The view from the tower of Orford Castle

I thought about you all A LOT, and have all sorts of odds and ends to share...

My Packing

  • First off, 2 suitcases are 5 times the headache of 1 bag... But we did run A LOT, so I didn't regret having my running gear with me. However, I'm seriously going to think about how to whittle down packing every more - maybe do laundry even MORE often? We had laundry done on days 5 and 10...
  • I should have used MORE packing cubes - to segregate dress from casual from spectator sport from running. No excuses on this - I have the cubes, and just didn't use them!
  • Economizing on the number of socks one packs is just silly...
  • Ditto lingerie...
  • I used to pack a plastic vacuum bag, that you could roll, or sit on, and squeeze out all of the air. It was genius for dirty laundry, and it would have been very useful with damp running gear, or clothes that we had worn in the drizzle. Next time, for sure.

Computers, Phones, and WIFI

  • Never assume that you will be able to get an internet connection. If it seemed that I was radio silent for a few days, it's because I WAS. 
  • Always make sure that you've got international roaming included on your phone service. We've had it for years and never regretted it.

GPS and Maps

  • Listen to your GPS, but use your brains, too. At one stage, our GPS (named Leigh, with an Australian accent) told us to "proceed point two miles, then go off-road". And this was giving us directions to a Hilton Hotel! 
  • His maps weren't up to date, even though we had refreshed them with the most recent available. One night, when we were parked behind our hotel, the GPS showed us parked in the Deben River.

  • If you like old abbeys and castles that are often in ruins, get a Michelin Map of your destination, and look for the little triangle of dots that are scattered in out of the way places. We found some scenic detours that we would never have known of, except for this.
  • And when the GPS went completely daft, a paper map is not a bad idea!


  • Recently converted pubs with rooms can be a WONDERFUL place to stay. We had brilliant luck with these:
  1. The Angel Hotel in Abergavenny, Wales (more of a traditional hotel)
  2. The Grazing Goat, New Quebec Street, London
  3. The Crown, Woodbridge, Suffolk


  • We ate a couple of amazing meals in Wales - one, at a Michelin starred restaurant that was located in the middle of a rural area, with no other buildings in site! If a restaurant comes highly recommended, don't discount an out-of-the-way location...
  • Ask the recommendations of your server. One night, in a pub, Belovedest asked our server what her favorite dish on the menu was, and she recommended a vegetarian beet and cheese and whatnot tart. It was a dish we would never have ordered, and it was the high spot of our dinner!
  • High tea!!! The only meal that we ate to real excess was tea at The Angel Hotel. Beautiful quality, meticulously presented, with warm but very correct service, and a memorable meal.
Yes, I paid close attention to how people were dressed, too! In the countryside, everyone wore perfectly lovely classic attire - lots of corduroy, waxed cotton, heavy sweaters, plaid scarves and Barbour boots.

London was a study in black. More about that - a LOT more - tomorrow.

If I get my sleep schedule back on track...


p.s. Isn't this a gorgeous scarf?

Berlin Illuminated Manuscript scarf from Image Diary
My friend Scottie has ONE left, and is willing to discount it for a reader of The Vivienne Files. A 20% discount is nothing to sniff at when you have the chance to own one of her works of art... Click here...

NORDSTROM - Shop New Jeans Under $100


  1. Welcome back. I enjoyed reading the posts you left for us while away; it was like a scrapbook of jewels. Looking forward to reading about your adventures while away. Cheers!

  2. Posts that you left were wonderful and so interesting to read. Talking about meals... in Australia we have roasts any day of the week and the pubs have 'Roast of the Day' but in UK you have to wait until Sundays to have roast. Grrr. After a five week trip to UK I finally had a roast (great) in one of Inn chains near Heathrow airport the day before we flew out home. Glad to hear you had a great time. Carol S

    1. If you go to a carvery you can have a roast dinner any day of the week. We have some good ones where I live in the North West UK.

  3. From Margie in Toronto - enjoyed viewing all your Pinterest photos (although couldn't manage to become a follower) - and so glad to hear that you had such a wonderful time.
    I'm always ready for more packing tips - it's an ongoing process isn't it?

  4. Sounds like it was fun, despite the challenges....and this scarf is gorgeous!

  5. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. So happy. May your adventures continue to live on in your heart :)

  6. We ate at the Grazing Goat recently on a trip London -- it was lovely!

    (I have to say that one nice thing about visiting London at a mature age is being able to afford taxis when you want them...on a previous trip years back, my husband and I walked everywhere to save money -- in the dead of winter between Christmas and New Year's -- and I thought I'd just replace my feet with hooves and get it over with.)

    1. Absolutely! But we went sort of nuts, and took a taxi from the airport into the city. Don't EVER do this, unless you're willing to hand your cab driver a month's rent...

    2. Ouch! Been there, done that. Traveling teaches us many wonderful lessons, and some expensive ridiculous ones, too. : /

      Welcome home, and thanks for the lovely flashback columns while you were away.
      Sue G

  7. Welcome back. So glad to hear you had a wonderful time. Can't wait to hear more of your experiences and advice.

  8. Janice,
    Welcome home ! I'm looking forward to hearing all of your tales --the GPS one was a hoot, but not for you at the time ! I have recently started to acquire Eagle Creek's Specter cube line of travel tools. Light as a feather nylon cubes and folders in various colors and sizes , so that one type of clothing can be stored in one color, and another type in another. The only problem with these cubes is that the zipper arrangement is such that you can't quite open the cube all the way around, like in the older, heavier cubes. However, if you roll your clothes, and place them the length of the cube instead of stuffing them into the bottom, there's no problem. I found that some dealers in eBay are even cheaper than Amazon, and some also have free shipping. I'm leaving this week for 11 days of house and teen sitting, so I'm trying these out. My suitcase ( carry-on size, thanks to your packing posts ) will be even lighter now for DH to load into the car. Hope you had a fabulous time --I'm a Britt in spirit !

  9. Hello, Janice! Welcome back! Thanks so much for the packing tips. I am planning a trip to London next spring.
    Do you know what brand your vacuum bags are? I have never tried them but I like the idea of using them for dirty laundry. Thanks!

  10. Michelin maps and guidebooks are simply genius - I've planned many a great trip with them. They include a lot of small but very interesting places.

  11. Thank you Janice, these packing and travel tips are gold. I enjoyed your lovely Instagram photos as well as your 'care posts' - looking after us while you were away. But do you never rest? Straight back to work it seems ... You spoil us!

  12. Welcome home! Can't wait to read about London and black clothing!

  13. Welcome back! Your trip sounds wonderful! Can't wait to hear all about it!

  14. Long-time reader, first-time commenter. You are one of my favorite bloggers. :) I'm finally learning how to shop / dress. I'm too old to be this ignorant!

  15. Sounds like you had a fabulous trip. Woodbridge is only a few miles away from where I live! :)