Baggage contd. (Q+A)

Thanks so much for all the detailed questions about my last post! I'm amused and touched by your fascination with my kit!

AGHJ: I can hear your voice as I read! Tell me where you were when you wrote this post. In detail.

havingmycake: This post was a while in the making. As I said, I catalogued and weighed everything in Lisbon in September after off-loading a bunch of stuff to MJB. I then wrote the post inside my tent one mild October evening, on a run-down but relaxing campsite in Corsica, while drinking a can of delicious Corsican beer. I think it was Pietra (made with chestnut flour), though in fact my favourite was Colomba (flavoured with maquis herbs). I then uploaded the post the next day at a little café in the hills.

AH: When you cycled through Europe in 2011 you carried this massive book about European history with you. As well as the audio-books you've mentioned, do you have an e-reader? Thinking of getting one?

havingmycake: Ha! I never did actually read Norman Davies' EUROPE in 2011 but I'm still dying to! I have the Kindle app on my tablet and have started one novel, but yes I am tempted to get an actual Kindle as well because I think I'd read more that way. My technical adviser (my brother) thinks I should make do with what I've got and not get more gadgets.

AH: You didn't always have an alcohol-burning stove if I remember correctly. What made you switch from gas to alcohol?

havingmycake: Actually I suspect an 'any fuel' stove would have been an even better choice (I believe there is such a thing), but so far in Europe every supermarket has sold 90% alcohol cheaply in 1 litre bottles, so fingers crossed. Trangia stoves are designed to work in windy conditions.

AH: You mentioned that you've had to adjust to not being able to take a shower or bath every day and that you've had to downgrade (?) to alternatives like baby wipes, but when there's no opportunity to wash yourself is there to wash your clothes? I'm puzzled by the logistics of this endeavour; I would have to wash my (cycle) clothes every day, I couldn't bear the stink.

havingmycake: Well, obviously if I cannot wash myself then I also cannot wash my clothes. But just as one does not actually need to wash oneself every day, so one does not need to wash one's clothes every day. I suspect we are socially conditioned to believe otherwise, perhaps especially those of us who were AFAB? Also, I have two full sets of cycling clothes. And finally, you do not stink (I've checked) and neither do I.

KR-M: How come you have separate mugs for tea vs. everything else? When you hand wash clothes what do you do if they are still damp when you need to set off? And what do you do with your food shopping if there is stuff left over e.g. the rest of a bottle of wine?

havingmycake: I've often wondered why you never worked for McKinsey, Mx. Attention-to-Detail!... On receptacles: Back home I carried around a small Keep-cup for coffee (because smell/taste) and a larger one for my - usually redbush - tea. After getting the little beaker I mentioned in my post I noticed the smell of coffee starting to impinge on my wine, plus I happened to see a cute set of six plastic tumblers in rainbow colours so, um, now I have seven. For when my friends come round. (No jokes about dwarves, please.)

On soggy laundry: Good question. This does sometimes happen. I fold and stack it on top of my rear panniers and secure it under the bungee. It doesn't get dry en route, but at least it doesn't get smelly. Then I re-hang it at the earliest opportunity. The other day I hung a bunch of stuff along a railing in front of a café I stopped at!

On left-overs: After knowing me for 20 years you must surely know there is rarely such a thing as left-over food! I sometimes save half a courgette to use the next night, but that's about it. I often make a bottle of wine last for two or three evenings by simply re-corking it and carrying it upright in 'the kitchen'.

GW (my mum): Brilliant to see it all displayed (via Facebook) so methodically! I share someone else's fascination about where all that laying out happened. And when you get stuff out like that, do you end up with little travelling companions in your panniers? Ants and the like?

havingmycake: I took the photos (which, at the moment, I don't seem to be able to upload here) at the same campsite where I wrote the post. I haven't found any insects inside my bags yet, I supposed because there's not much that would be of interest to them.

GW: My response when seeing just how much there was on the washing-lines*... wow, a LOT of clothes!! But then I reminded myself this is for weeks and months of travel, so not really that much.

havingmycake: Yes exactly. When Z and I travelled in SE Asia we had only quick-drying, polyester 'travel garments', in which we felt hideously frumpy. This time I have with me off-bike clothes I feel 'myself' in, which is a priority for me.

*Note: Don't ever hang laundry to dry by its shoulders. I only did that for the purposes of a photo (above).

GW: Have any local felines befriended you on overnight stays, particularly when you were cooking fish?

havingmycake: A couple of campsites have had a resident kitten or two, one of which was very friendly, but I've not had any creatures attracted by my cooking yet! I wonder if you remember a photo I took in Macedonia in 2011 of a cat that had somehow got up between the two layers of my tent and gone to sleep above my head as if the tent was a cat-hammock!

GW (again): And the audio-books - does it cost a lot to download them? Is there a specially economical way?

havingmycake: A friend introduced me to a site called Audible. You can subscribe, which is more economical than buying titles separately. Though a purist might argue it's not actually 'reading', I've certainly consumed a good deal more fiction in the past two months - by listening while cycling, cooking, trying not to be scared in my tent, etc. - than I would have done otherwise. In fact, it's become a bit of an addiction as I mentioned before!

KR-M: How you manage to fit all this into your tiny bags is amazing!

havingmycake: I know, it amazes me too!

Thanks again for all your questions <3