Some how the art of packing quickly and lightly seems to have passed me by...

I must endeavor to embrace, rather than distantly admire, the habits of people who use dedicated pouches for each type of clothing, who create five any-climate outfits from three carefully chosen items of clothing and have it all pristinely packed a week prior to take-off.

I somehow always seem to veer towards the same tortured routine: a week of thinking-about-it-but not-actually-doing-anything, followed by at least three hours of deliberation relative to how much of my wardrobe I can squeeze into my trusty, old-fashioned suitcase. Which is so old no one is likely to steal it! Its best redeeming feature is a brilliant non-creasing separator, which holds dresses and skirts apart from the rest of my 'might-need-this-depending-on-the-weather' travel wardrobe.

Phil’s packing is done and dusted in an hour. It is Thomas (our early-20s minimalist son, who is driving us to the airport) – at a rapidly-approaching-appointed-time, who starts calling up the stairs – in a concerned, slightly exasperated manner to check if perhaps he can come up and carry something down to the car. Since I still haven't finished packing – obviously he can't!

So you can imagine Phil's surprise when this trip, once we finally got to check-in my unfashionably old, weighty style of suitcase did not for once attract that bright orange 'heavy' sticker it always carries throughout my travels. Hah!

The reason being, our darling daughter Helen, who is enjoying the delights of living in London, has advised me that both London and Barcelona (two of our destinations) are enjoying warmer temperatures than normal for the season, which resulted in me unpacking at least two heavy skirts.

So, off we head on our latest journey of discovery and adventure, which by definition also includes large amounts of research into food and wine, this time without Phil suffering from a badly broken wrist and frozen shoulder. It should be a breeze!

First stop Madrid...

Bellota