This was my quandary. I’ve budgeted to travel for at least a year. The start of my journey begins in the winter, in Northern Europe. It’s cold so, I need warm clothing. I then go south and end up in North Africa. It’s going to be warm so, I no longer need winter clothing. From North Africa, I come back into Europe and travel through the South European countries along the Mediterranean coast. By now it’s Spring. All through the Spring and Summer months, I’m in warm climates. Ergo, I don’t need cold weather clothing. Especially when I reach the Middle Eastern countries that I want to visit. However, the return leg of my journey is through the Eastern and Northern parts of Europe and, I’m into Autumn and Winter again. So, back come the cold weather clothes.

Now, I know all about layering but, if you don’t have something that’s reasonably warm as a final layer, what do you do? You put on more and more layers which means, more and more items to carry around. That’s before one takes into account a jacket of some sort. Preferably of the waterproof or, at the very least, the water-resistant sort. And yes, I can wash my clothes frequently. But, how do I know how easy that is going to be in practice. This time, in Calais, it was a doddle, but will it always be thus?

And there’s the rest of the paraphernalia. Cameras, lenses, laptop, misc. cables, and on and on and on de dom dom (yeah, I’ve been listening to 8 Mile by Eminem quite a bit recently) the list goes.

By the time I left Hertford, I had a fully loaded Lowepro backpack, a fully loaded rucksack and, a bursting at the seams Eastpak 61ltr duffel bag.

It’s this last piece of luggage that’s been giving me sleepless nights. What if the seams did actually bursts? I’d be buggered, right? That’s when I had a brainwave. Vacuum storage bags!

Why didn’t I think of this before? I used them, very successfully, back home before I left. Problem. How do I get my hands on some in Calais? Sure, I could order some from Amazon, but how would they be delivered? There’s nobody at La Citadel until after 04:30pm.

I asked people. I was advised to try Auchan, a massive supermarket. There’s a big branch on the outskirts of Calais. Turns out, it’s the biggest supermarket chain in France, who knew?

18th December was a bright sunny day. Perfect weather for a stroll and a bit of shopping. Two miles later, that’s two miles there and two miles back, I had them. Only, not quite. These are not the type that you use a vacuum cleaner on to suck the air out. These are ones that you roll to PUSH the air out.

Total rubbish. Don’t be fooled people, they don’t work.