Sunday, 11 May 2014

Annie Get Your Gun - Excess Baggage!

It's official. I am utterly useless at packing. Don't mistake me, I am excellent at jigsaws. Thoroughly talented when it comes to fitting, as my dad would say, a quart into a pint pot, but when you're heading off on tour for five months, I'm not certain this is a particularly helpful skill.

This is my very first tour and the prospect of packing, unpacking and repacking every week is pretty daunting. Add to that mixture some lengthy train journeys with multiple changes, throw in a soup├žon of flying and a healthy dash of
changeable weather for good measure and stir well. At the moment it's still a little chilly but we'll be away right through summer until autumn and you can see some of the challenge ahead. If you aren't going to be able to keep returning to a base somewhere and changing your wardrobe with the seasons, how do you compress your life in a 20 litre case?

In front of me sits a zipper-mouthed suitcase, yawning cavernously. He's been borrowed from my parents, as the two that I own are either carry-on size or can-literally-fit-myself-and-a-friend-inside size. Positioned relatively neatly around me are stacks of categorised necessary accessories - Tech (chargers, phone, Kindle, iPad), Show (script, score, notebook, stationery), Personal (hairdryer, straighteners, washbag, make up), the list goes on. These items alone could fill a decent sized case, and as I sit cross-legged in the middle, surveying the task before me, I'm desperately wishing I were the sort of girl who only ever wears jeans, jumpers and Converse. Sadly I'm not and the various clothing piles, stacked precariously on my bed, are threatening to engulf me.

Ready and waiting!

We actually have a week off between Manchester and Sunderland, so my mum quite rightly suggested I should only pack for these next two weeks. However I'm the girl who once took 12 pairs of shoes for a 5 day holiday, this basically IS my packing for two weeks! But Manchester's
two weeks are possibly the trickiest to pack for. We'll be spending several days teching in costume, with limited time in our own clothes - you want something comfy, cosy and easy to throw on between tech session. We also have our gala and press nights, so nice frocks, smart shoes and a bit of jzush are required. Then there are the PR things to do - smarter day wear, plus our One Show outfits for when the BBC visit us for a catch up. Not forgetting warm up kit, work out kit, trapeze practice kit.... it's understandably difficult.

Plus.... shoes! What to do about shoes? I love shoes, I mean seriously LOVE shoes. I have a rather good collection, despite my cat mullering over a dozen pairs last year (better not to ask!). Selecting just a few pairs to take is really hard. Obviously I need my running trainers for training, and a pair of fabulous heels for party night but after that point I'm struggling. I need footwear to cope with lots of travelling, footwear that works with jeans and dresses in a myriad of colours and that same footwear also needs to cope with hot/cold/wet/dry weather. I'm rather proud of the fact that by the time I've finished packing, I've managed to cull them down to only four pairs. It's a decision I will probably later regret.

Following much denial-based procrastination, involving de-packaging various vitamins and medicines into ziplock bags to minimise required space and watching episodes of the Gilmore Girls, I finally set-to folding and packing. After three failed attempts to get even the clothes inside, I remove everything, discard any item of clothing that's thicker than it really needs to be and try again. With the main compartment filled I begin utilising the pocket areas. Shoes are stuffed with socks, gaps are filled with underwear and in a fit of pique I decide I'll just buy certain items of toiletries when I get there. After three hours of coffee and quarrels, sitting atop the case, I finally zip it shut. Lifting it to it's wheels, the weight hits me (and my back) with aplomb. I shrug it off deciding it's just because I'm tired and at 1:30am I crawl into bed, remembering to allow extra time before I leave in the morning as I'll need to heft it down the stairs. When I finally sleep my dreams are filled with Tetris-esque packing problems, and I waken totally unrefreshed with the mild panic that I've forgotten something vital.

Mr Borrowed Suitcase in all his weighty glory

If hauling Mr Borrowed Suitcase (as he will henceforth be known) down the windy staircase to the entrance hall wasn't hard enough, the difficult drag to the tube station only 8 minutes walk away is enough to convince me that I have packed too much (I mean, there are three pairs of glasses in there for heaven's sake) and I need a new case. Truth be told this a rather good case and a nice size, but it weighs close to 5 kg without anything in it and that's just a little too much excess to be hoisting on an off trains each week. Thankfully the rest of the journey to King's Cross is a relatively smooth one, with lots of lifts to help me along the way. After a little unladylike grunting, Mr Borrowed Suitcase and I have made it onto the train and we are now speeding northwards to Leeds. Yes, I know we start in Manchester, but today is Sunday and my mum makes a bloomin' good roast dinner. I can think of no better way for this Yorkshire pudding to start touring than with some homemade Yorkshire Pudding. Plus hopefully my mum can help me cull my packing a little. Don't tell Mr Borrowed Suitcase, but I don't think he's going to make it to Manchester!

King's Cross Station in the morning - Northward Ho!

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