Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Random things to take to/acquire in Europe

I will be taking stowed luggage this time, so I have the luxury of taking more than the bare minimum. (I'll need stowed luggage because I'll need to take textbooks and a full-size laptop, and so on.)

I'll also be staying in the halls of residence, which come with a single bed, a desk, a chair, a wardrobe, and a (VERY compact) ensuite. For €25, you can get a starter kit of bedlinens (two sheets, pillowcase, pillow, duvet), but nothing else is provided. So there are a bunch of things I'll need, and I need to decide what I'll take with me, and what I'll source locally (given I'm doing this on the cheap).

So this is intended to be a list of things as I think of them, and whether I'll buy in France, or bring from Oz, and why. (Much of my information is from a fellow UNE student Sue, who spent the first five months of 2016 at Angers.)

If you can think of anything else I should add to one or other of these lists, would you please let me know?


  • A towel - and not just because the Hitchhiker's Guide says so. Also because the hostel I'm staying at in Edinburgh doesn't supply towels, and I'll need one in Angers too. A travel towel just isn't the same thing.
  • A decent laptop computer, and possibly a full-size wireless keyboard - the French keyboard layout is different to what I learned to touch-type on, and that's not a pain worth going through.
  • A small alarm clock - the Ikea Klokis or equivalent will probably do fine.
  • My good gamer headset (SteelSeries Siberia), plus adaptor, so they'll work via a single jack
  • Aus power board and adaptor(s) - I picked up a really good one from Aldi a few years ago, it includes four USB charger points too.
  • Textbooks - I'll have half a semester plus exams for my UNE course while I'm away
  • Stationery? - apparently it's nigh on impossible to get regular 7mm feint lined exercise books etc. All their notebooks are in this weird grid format.
  • Laundry bag - lightweight, not always easy to find
  • If I have the capacity (weight, volume), I'm hoping to take the quilt I made for Malachi with me. It will be a comfort if I'm feeling cold or homesick.
  • Mouthguard - I don't expect to be doing any contact sports, but it's custom-made, small and light, and the kind of thing that would be hard to borrow/get locally.
  • Champagne stopper - always a travel essential!
  • Travel clothesline - excellent thought from Sue!


  • Kettle - bulky. Will need to order online, as the French (like Americans) don't seem to do electric kettles. 
  • Coathangers - yes there's a wardrobe, but no hangers
  • Second towel, bathmat, handtowel - because none of those are supplied either.
  • Two sets of cutlery/bowls/plates/mugs etc - I'm sure there'll be a kitchen starter kit type thing at the equivalent of Kmart
  • Rudimentary cooking equipment - frying pan, saucepan, knife, chopping board, wooden spoon, egg slice, ?rice cooker (also works well for pasta, risotto, etc, and hot plates are a rare commodity)
  • Other stationery items - stapler, hole punch, ring binder?
  • External DVD player? - Sue ended up watching a lot of DVDs. If I can get tolerable internet, I might go for Netflix or similar.
  • Hot water bottle (if needed)
  • Waiter's friend/corkscrew - I generally drink sparkling not still wine, so this may be less critical.
  • Suction-cup soap dish - I use solid shampoo, conditioner, and cleanser, so a simple wire soap dish is essential.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Next adventure: 10 days in Scotland (and then a semester in Angers, France)

Ok, so I'm now starting to waste time, um, I mean, research what I might do with the ten days I'll have in Scotland starting 20 August. I need to be in Angers, France by the morning of 1 September 2017, as my semester at the University of Angers will begin very soon afterwards.

So, ten days in Scotland in late August, starting and ending in Edinburgh, and I need to work out what I'm going to do. I will be hiring a car (and need to get my fantastic travel agent Emma onto that as soon as she returns from her own holidays in Canada).

Things to note:

The Edinburgh International Festival (and Fringe Festival) will be on, which might make it a little trickier to find accommodation (but I really hope not!). I'm not really a theatre-goer, but I should try to get to at least one show!

I will need to go via Oban, as my something-great grandfather was the postmaster in Oban when the postage stamp was launched. (My paternal line descends from the McGregor clan, whose patronym became Whyte during proscription.)

I loved the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, so I will need to go to Inverness at a minimum, and possibly Craigh na Dun (which doesn't exist). However, Clava Cairns may well be worth visiting.

I prefer grand architecture over grand landscapes, but trust that I will see plenty of the latter while travelling between examples of the former.

But what else should I make sure I include?? Give me your suggestions, please!

Buenos Aires

For various reasons (mainly ease of publishing photographs taken on my phone), I recorded my experiences in Argentina on Facebook. You can easily find them by searching "AB in BA" or navigate directly there at https://www.facebook.com/ABinBA2016

At some point, I may transfer them here, but it won't be this week :)

You can also check out my other blog called The Ivory Bower, where I play around with words and their histories. (That's why I'll be posting as "Ivy" from here on.)