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Summer diary - Kristina Chetcuti

Packing

Does the thought of having to pack a suitcase make your heart sink to the pits or does it cause a flutter of butterflies in your tummy with joy?

Do you pull out your empty suitcase from the bottom/top of the wardrobe with a heave and a huge sigh or do you magic wand it out and start filling it in with absolute delight? In short, are you a slacker-packer or a cracker-packer?

I’m a slacker. I even find packing for an overnight stay in Gozo daunt­ing. If only I could blink and all the right stuff would find its way in my battered carry-on, if only it could zip itself up, lock and all.

The anxiety mostly stems from the fact that I feel I have to de­cide a priori what mood I’ll be in when I’m away. How do I know if I’ll feel like wearing navy blue? What if I wake up really fancying wearing my only pair of high-heeled shoes which I wouldn’t have packed?

Apart from the outfits there are the toiletries, which every time I try to cram in 100ml bottles and make a veritable mess; there’s a multitude of electronics – chargers, converters, tablets, wires, sockets; there’s books (argh, what kind of fiction mood will I be in?); the rain jacket (do I pack or not? After fretful weather app checking, I always leave it behind, and the minute I land it rains).

I have now mastered the art of packing by leaving it more or less to the last hour before I’m due to leave for anywhere. The less time I have to think about a holiday mood board, the quicker I am. When pressed for time, I just chuck things in. Which means the ride to the airport or the ferry is usually a frantic mental checklist.

I also have this inexplicable need to take with me the top that I’m wearing while sweat-packing. “I’m sure that if I’ll wear this, I’ll feel great all holiday.” Which means I fling it in the machine for a quick wash, then try to tumble dry it in five minutes which doesn’t work, then I get the hairdryer to blow-dry it. The said top always ends up damp-packed in a plastic bag, never to be taken out until the return.

Does the thought of having to pack a suitcase make your heart sink to the pits or does it cause a flutter of butterflies in your tummy with joy?

My friend The Organiser is reading this while hyperventilating and asking for a brown paper bag to breathe in and out of. She’s a cracker-packer and kits her suitcase three weeks before a holiday. Three weeks! You think I’m exaggerating but I’m not, promise to Jesus. She even writes a list of all the things that are lining her suitcase neatly and compactly, so she checks against it when packing to come back home. “Like that I never forget anything behind me,” she says, by way of giving me a packing tip. Forget it!

Obviously, as a slacker I don’t have any packing tips to give, apart from always taking a cotton scarf: it can turn into a hat, sunshade, a nose mask, a blanket, a pillow, or even a towel. It also serves as comfort teddy that I twist and twiddle when I’m thinking of all the things I’ve left behind.

Walking barefoot

Shoes make me feel imprisoned. The first thing I do at the first possible chance is kick them off. The minute I’m behind my desk at work, ‘slide’, and the shoes come slipping off; the minute I get home, ‘fling’, and they’re given the boot.

So summer to me is all about barefooting. Don’t you just love it when you’re walking around the house and suddenly you feel the warmth of the patch where the dog would have been sleeping? That’s something you’d never feel with your shoes on.

Alas, at home we have a bit of a battle between the barefooters (the girls) and the shoefooters (the boys). I’ve tried to argue my way to victory in various ways:

1. The It’s-What-We-Did-For-Millennia Way: around 40,000 years ago we all walked barefoot and it took millennia before we thought of the shoe concept.

 2. The Alternative Medicine Way: in China, reflexology paths paved with stones have been used for thousands of years every day to help physical and mental health.

3. The Western Medicine Way: barefoot walking strengthens your back muscles and improves your posture.

4. The Germans-of-the-Great-Angela-Merkel-Know-Best Way: in the 19th century, a Bavarian monk called Sebastian Kneipp discovered that wading barefoot through wet grass stimulated the internal organs, strengthened the immune system and helped the body to heal itself.

5. The Scandinavian Studies’ Way: Scandinavian children stay shoeless in classrooms, and studies show that this has incredibly improved their academic standards and their behaviour.

Unfortunately, none of the arguments work because the boys at home are framed by the 1980s dictum that bare feet are not to be seen or heard, and that toes can wait to go on holiday where shoes can be taken off on a beach.

I’ve given up on converting the household to barefooting – but that doesn’t mean I cannot try and convince you, dear reader, to give it a try. Nothing like barefooting makes you feel young, alive and free. Try it this summer.

krischetcuti@gmail.com
Twitter: @krischetcuti

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