Friday 13 September 2019

Who Needs Luggage Anyway?

It's been a busy year with the publication on my two novels What She Saw and We Were Sisters (not to mention writing novel three) so my husband and I decided to sneak off for a week in Croatia for some much needed recharging of batteries.

As always, I spent way too long deciding what I should take. Asking myself the usual questions as I looked through my drawers and wardrobe:

What if it's extremely hot?

What if the evenings are chilly?

What if there's a thunderstorm?

What if the place is smarter than I thought?

What if it's scruffier than I thought?

What if I go walking?

What if the tops I've chosen don't go with the bottoms?

What if no one wears long skirts in the evenings?

What if my shorts are too short?

What if my bikini makes me look like mutton dressed as lamb?

As my husband often says... it must be very tiring being me.

So, with half my wardrobe squashed into my medium sized suitcase, and a fraction of my husband's wardrobe folded neatly into his own, we checked our luggage in at Gatwick. Then, in blissful ignorance, we flew to Zadar where we patiently awaited the arrival of said baggage on the carousel.  Some bags came out (not ours). A few more came out (also not ours). We waited some more. The carousel continued to circle... bagless. Then it stopped.

People were starting to look worried but not as worried as when a baggage attendant walked towards us, a frown on his face. Twenty five people's luggage hadn't been loaded onto the plane due to technical problems at Gatwick. We were two of those people!

Desperately, he tried to volley the questions fired at him:

Did he know when we'd get the bags? No. It could be one day, two days or even three days (in the end it was seven).
Why hadn't we been told we were flying without luggage? He didn't know.
What were we supposed to do? Fill in a form with our address in Croatia and (the next day) ring the number he gave us.

My husband and I stared at each other. We had the clothes we were standing in, our phones but no chargers, money, passports, travel documents and our kindles. That was it! I felt panicky. My blood pressure was probably sky high. And that's when I remembered my medicine was in my case!

We were on a three-centre holiday (Plitvice, Primosten and the island of Vis) and had planned on spending the afternoon in Zadar before driving to Plitvice National Park for our first night. Now the rest of our first day would be spent hunting down medicine and shopping (did I mention my husband hates shopping?). Thankfully, a nearby pharmacist sent us to a local ambulance station where a prescription was written for me so task one could be ticked off... but there was still the dreaded shopping. I thought of all my carefully chosen clothes in my case and could have cried, but I had to face facts. What we needed was a list of holiday essentials to get us through the first few days.

Flip flops
A couple of sleeveless tops and T-shirts
Toothbrush and paste
Phone chargers
Sun cream

We found a shopping mall (hurray) but everything was geared for autumn (boo). Eventually, we found a cheap shop that sold basics and we managed to get everything. Incredible, considering how choosy I am at home.

And then we started our holiday. To begin with, it was frustrating not having our own things. It was even more frustrating when the phone number we'd been given wasn't answered, when the link we were sent gave no information and when our bags eventually arrived in Croatia but were sent to the wrong island. But, then something strange happened. After a few days we started to relax. What was more important? The fact that in every photo I was wearing the same colour top... or the stunning scenery? In any case, having less choice made dressing for the day and evening a whole lot easier. When we eventually got our bags back (on our second to last day) I continued to wear the little black Croatian shorts as I'd grown to love them.

So the moral of this story is that in future I will pack my medicine and phone charger in my hand luggage but will also think carefully about what I really need to take with me.

Here are a few photos from my holiday to prove that, despite #luggagegate, we still had a wonderful holiday.

And tomorrow I'm off to York for the RNA Joan Hessayon Awards... now where's that list?