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I've forgotten how to pack

And three other things I learnt when I left the country for the first time in four years...

Joan Didion is relaxed because she's nailed the art of packing

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I'm writing this from Reykjavik. TBH I didn't plan to, but I forgot to book this week off in last week's newsletter (!) and I didn't get a chance to do it before we left, so here I am. Sitting in an eyrie above Reykjavik city centre (see my pretty fabulous view below), having packed too much technology, and pondering the fact I haven't left the UK since November 2018. And then it was to the same place for the exact same reason: combining J's birthday and Iceland Noir, possibly the best book festival in the world IMHO, where I'm doing some chairing.

View from the hotel window at 10am this morning, just as the sun was coming up

After decades of taking international travel for granted and being fortunate enough to be able to call it work, plus having family halfway round the world for several years and more Mediterranean holidays than is decent, I've notched up a carbon footprint to match. So it's salutory to think that I haven't left the UK in four years. FOUR. In fact, last time I did, I had a dinky little burgundy passport. (Sob.) The recallibration is partly down to the pandemic, of course, plus a radical change of lifestyle and circumstances. Apart from travelling down south to see family and for work, I haven't packed a suitcase in that long either. And – surprise! – I no longer know how to.

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