So what clothes should I pack for my forthcoming West Country holiday? There are two obvious approaches to that question.
First, what will the weather be like? It's mid-September. Here in Sussex the daytimes are still bright and warm - if the sun is out. But nights are getting cool, though not yet chilly. However, further west I should expect breezier conditions, more cloud, and probably much more rain. By early October, when I'll be heading for home again, any fine weather will be an unexpected bonus. All this suggests that I should take clothes suitable for damp and windy days and chilly nights. Which largely rules out dresses.
But three weeks of leggings? Even for shopping or cultural trips into biggish places like Exeter or Plymouth? It may be sensible, but it's unappealing.
Ah, but there's the other approach to the packing question. What social events will there be? Potentially several. I'm in North Devon for every day of the Appledore Book Festival, and in connection with that, some lunches and evening meals may arise. There will be at least one semi-formal evening drink with Terry Waite, the humanitarian who went to Lebanon in the late 1980s, to secure the release of several hostages, and then found himself in captivity, enduring four years of it, sometimes under threat of imminent death. A brave man with immense inner resources. I also get to see Vince Cable, and I'd like to be well-dressed for that.
There's more. Two of the friends I made in Appledore last year (Jayne and Sara) have remembered me and are talking about catch-up lunches. In the case of Jayne, I expect it will actually be an evening meal, and I'll get to meet her Special New Man. Now there's a lady who has found Someone Else, and has dared to make a go of it. And if there's to be a candlelit dinner, I'll need something decent to wear. Leggings with sand or mud clinging to them will not do.
I will do informal, of course, where posh might be over the top. There's a lady called Danielle, who runs a busy flat-letting business in Appledore, and whose 'office' - the front room of her home - faces The Beaver pub. Last year, on impulse, I said hello through her half-open front door, while on an evening Ghost Walk. A couple of evenings later, on my way to the pub for an evening meal, I made a point of saying hello to her again, and she invited me in to drink a bottle of red wine with her while she worked (sort of). It was a pleasant way to spend an hour or so, and she trusted me to hold the fort while she dealt with a tenant who had locked himself out of his nearby flat. You could say that I 'earned' my couple of glasses of wine! But I'm sensitive to hospitality, and never take it for granted. I felt I should make a reciprocal gesture. So this year I'll take her a nice bottle of red as a present, and I hope it'll be a complete surprise for her - especially as I'm not going to tell her I'm coming.
Anyway, I've now packed - that is, transferred from a wardrobe in the house to the wardrobe in the caravan (there's no messing about with suitcases when you go caravanning!) - six dresses, seven skirts, and three posh women's trousers. Plus a choice of five stylish jackets to go with them. I've also packed my black padded winter coat and my aqua-coloured hooded all-weather jacket. I shall take (mostly folded, to go into drawers) a large number of good tops, and all my best footware. The Skechers shoes and the new Gumleaf wellies are also coming - who knows what the weather will be like?
You know, whatever the weather, I'm sure I'm going to enjoy this holiday very much!
Fiona is still making a humming noise by the way. She had her engine-management and differential software checked yesterday, but it hasn't provided a cure. I still think it sounds like a wind-based hum, and not a mechanical drone. So this afternoon I got underneath my car and had a long look, taking photographs as well. I was looking for loose or flapping bits - anything that might catch the slipstream and resonate if the speed were sufficient. I paid attention to the exhaust, but it seemed in pretty good condition - so presumably the hum was not from that. Nor could I spot anything else showing signs of corrosion, fluid leakage, or too much wear and tear.
However, the photos showed what seemed to be an electrical component next to the rear differential box, and there was something odd about it in the pictures, as if part had been pulled away, and I could just make out what might be exposed electrical contacts. I will get under the car again tomorrow, and try to examine this closely. If it were part of the differential control set-up, I'm guessing that any non-functioning would affect the way the differential worked, with excessive noise as a possible result. (Maybe! What do I know? Besides, how could the workshop technicians miss anything this obvious?)
Meanwhile I have been advised by the Service Manager that I'm not taking a silly risk if I go off on holiday. I'm willing to accept this assurance, and will trust to luck.