Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Days 34 and 35. Homeward bound – plus souvenirs for light travel.

Here am I at Market Harborough station, waiting for my train to London.

The morning was spent trying to get my carry-on case to close. It took me ages to cram everything into the tins and around sculptures and artwork lying flat. For a few minutes it looked as if my beloved flannelette pyjamas were going to have to be sacrificed, but some creative packing saved them. (In fact, I’m wearing them right now as I type.)

After I checked out of the hotel, I wheeled myself over to Scott and Mark’s, where I spent the next few hours having lunch and getting my tarot read. I’m never getting my tarot read again because this reading foretells a future that’s so TERRIFIC. Scott kept turning over the cards and saying, “Oh my god, Frogdancer!” and I’d be like, “What? What?” and it would always turn out to be good.

Well, except for one card, but you can’t have a life without something going wrong at some stage, so that’s ok.

Ruby came and lay on the cards for a while, just to be involved. Fortunately, it was on the section that we weren’t reading yet, so by the time we got to it she’d moved away.

We walked to the station and Scott stayed until the train came, which was nice of him because he has his brother from NZ arriving tomorrow so he must have had a million things to do.

I’d booked a room, on Scott’s recommendation, at Heathrow terminal 2. It was a little exxy but so worth it when the alarm went off at 5:30Am and al I had to do was walk across the car park to get to the airport.

My flights went flawlessly and I was able to bring all my souvenirs home in my slightly heavier than allowed carry-on case and handbag.

So what did I bring home?

Keep in mind that I only had carry-on, so my space was limited. Weight was also a consideration. They don’t tend to weigh carry-on, but if I was unlucky and was asked to pop my bag on the scales, I would have been in trouble. For most of my trip, I reined myself in with regard to size and weight, but in the last few days I went. a little crazy.

I could have bought a bag and checked it in, but to be honest, I didn’t want to clutter up my wardrobe with another bag. Plus, I was already really enjoying the sensation of simply walking off the plane without having to wait for luggage.

My souvenirs from Kinsale in Ireland. I’m calling them Molly Malone and Sean. Molly had airport security in Dublin wanting to go through my bag with a fine-toothed comb. She was wrapped up in bubble wrap and a tea towel and they couldn’t make out on the x-ray what she was. I had to describe her before they’d let me through.

For the rest of the flights, I just had her in my handbag so I could unwrap her if they wanted. She was easily the heaviest thing I bought.

Note to self: steer away from pottery items in future. She made my handbag pretty heavy.

When I travel, I like to bring home art and also practical souvenirs. Here’s my soap holder from the Tiptree Jam museum. It’ll stop my soap from sitting in a pool of water and so it’ll last longer.

This is the huge framed print I bought at Windsor Castle. It’s now hanging at the end of my hallway. I had to pay duty on it before they’d let it into the country!!

This is the little Toby jug that Deana’s friend Kathleen gave me on the drive into Stansted airport before I flew over to Ireland. It fitted snugly into a tin and is now in my china cabinet.

My Belfast earrings. I wanted to buy a pair of earrings that were small enough to wear every day. I ended up buying 2 pairs. Oops.

A few days later I bought these. They have Connemara marble in them.

A sketch of Yates.

I bought this little card – and it’s tiny – at the town where they shot “The Quiet Man’ movie with John Wayne and Maureen O’Sullivan. It’s off getting framed.

I love it so much.

This little one comes from Wimpole House, along with a couple of garden ornaments. He was surprisingly light for his size and I just love the shape of him.

Postcards and magnets.

These are excellent souvenirs to buy when you’re worried about size and weight. The magnets fit into tins and the postcards are stored flat with your artwork.

Every day I can see souvenirs from my trips to Europe, Antarctica, Ireland and England.

An ironing board cover from Maldon. Hey – it provided handy wrapping for a breakable item in my case!

I saw this in Cork and had to buy it. This was the only tin that kept its contents because I was curious as to how shamrocks taste.

Spoiler alert: these teabags just taste of green tea.

These are two flat garden ornaments that I’ll be nailing up somewhere in the backyard. These came from Wimpole House, along with the rabbit. Really easy to transport. I just popped them in with the artwork.

A coffee mug. I loved this place!

I’ll be showing all of the Christmas tree decorations but this one deserves its own photo. It’s so intricate, so silver and so expensive. The buyer’s remorse is still struggling with this one…

Christmas tree decorations!

My Blarney Stone hat! The cowl I’m wearing around my neck travelled with me the last time I was in England and Europe in 2015.

I went home with this fully-framed and glassed print in my case. I was worried that the glass would break but it came through unscathed. It was nearly the straw that broke the camel’s back though — I only just managed to get my case zipped up after I put this into it!

Ken the climbing man. Not too sure where he’ll go, but it’ll be somewhere that hands won’t make him chip my newly-painted walls. Again, he wasn’t too heavy and his rope was folded up so he could fit in the case.

Tea towels! So handy for wrapping around breakables and stuffing into corners.

I bought the bright yellow one because 3 of the boys have names that are on this tea towel. Maybe Ireland is my spiritual home because I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in me, yet I named them Irish names.

Anyway, more useful souvenirs.

Speaking of useful souvenirs, look at these babies! These were great for fitting smaller souvenirs into and also for providing a flat base for me to lay all of my artwork down so it wouldn’t get creased. I didn’t think of that before I left, but it soon became evident that it was a smart way to go.

When I’d pretty much covered the bottom of my case with tins, I decided that I was finished. Until Scott pointed out the tin with the three Westies on it in the last few days of our trip. This tin travelled home in my handbag with my wallet, cough lollies and tissues in it.

I ate the shortbread for dinner on my last night in England.

My rescued Cavaliers. I’ve always had Blenheims and one tricolour. Maybe this is a sign that I should get two whole colours for my last pack?

My Antarctica souvenir that I found in Ireland! Being framed and will live in the Man Cave along with the other pictures.

I love this for two reasons. The first is because my friend James told me about fairy trees when we were driving around and the memory makes me happy. Secondly, the fairy tree that we saw when I was on the bus a week later looked almost exactly like this.

This print of Derry isn’t as pretty but look at this:

This is the view from the bridge. I found the walking tour around Derry deeply moving. It’s not something I want to forget. The stories of a city tearing itself apart over something as stupid as religion were searing.

Especially with what’s going on in Gaza and Israel.

And finally – the little sheep in the Irish colours that James gave me.

All I want to do now is to post something separately about the experience of wearing the same dress for the whole trip – and the two months before it. Yes, I wore the grey sack for 100 days.

I’ll send it, along with my selfies for the whole time period, to the company who made it. They run a 100-day challenge.

But now? Time to get showered, get dressed and get to Bunnings.

I want to buy a fuschia as another little souvenir from the trip. I saw them everywhere along the streets and gardens of my trip.

Thanks again to Scott, Deana, James and Corinna. What amazing friends you are to me and I love you all. There’s a spare bedroom here in Melbourne… just saying!


  1. Margaret

    I’m off to a five week winter holiday in Japan at Christmas and wondering if I could manage only a carry-on. What bag did you use?

  2. Margie

    Thank you so much Frogdancer for sharing your holiday with your readers. I’m sure it took a lot of time and effort to write up your really interesting and entertaining blog posts and I for one really appreciate your efforts! I love history and you taught me a lot!

    • FrogdancerJones

      Thanks for saying this. I enjoy writing the posts and yes… they take hours to do. I’m glad you enjoyed the ride. (I just booked my next trip!)

  3. sandyg61

    Thank you for taking us on your journey and the history lessons. The UK and Ireland are on our future list once all things medical are under control and we want to travel the back roads. I’ve also loved the angles and details in many of your photos. You will have a hard time choosing album shots.
    I’m in awe of the one bag. I know I couldn’t do it.

    • FrogdancerJones

      I don’t know that I’ll be able to do it on my next trip. Cold weather clothes are pretty bulky.

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