Not a Sheila Travelling Alone

Amongst the usual collection of maps, pens, moleskins and computer there is now a little glowing gem of a book. Hard covered, turquoise in colour, square  in shape and perfect for single hand holding Lillias Campbell Davidson’s ‘Hints to Lady Travellers..At Home and Abroad ‘  is an absolute cracker.

 First published in 1889 it is a practical guide to travelling ‘girl’ style, this in a century  when railways whisked off day trippers to coast and lakes, steam boats crossed the Atlantic and more intrepid types, the likes of Helena Blavatsky, Lady Anabella Blunt and Kate Marsden  were variously  travelling by horseback and sledge to Siberia, discovering the caves and jungles of Hindostan and  following the Euphrates on horseback.

Though this trio may not  have had the space on their journeys of discovery  for such essentials as baize covered copper  foot warmers , Asprey and Sons Luncheon Baskets and a travelling bath, Lady Florence Caroline Dixie travelling across Patagonia discovered their accumulated luggage, including a vast number of sporting guns, rifles and necessary cartridges would require 12 horses to carry it..or a lesser number of mules, sturdier and less prone to fits of the vapours.

 Being a terrible packer and nowhere near ruthless, or confidant enough, to carry only a change of socks, undies and t shirt I can but agree with LCD’s amazement that ‘..there are some people so curiously constituted as actually to enjoy this ghastly preparation for the journey..’ as opposed to the discovery  ‘.. at the very last available second that all one’s most cherished possessions have been left out of the trunks, which have been carefully locked and strapped, and are ready for instant departure.’

Hand luggage, another teaser in the weight, size and volume department  is well covered by LCD … as ‘ all those smaller articles of the bag class which accompany the lady traveller, and contain all her trifling needful for the way’. Once again Asprey and Sons offered for a tenner a little classic ‘especially fitted up for ladies with writing and work materials.’ Sounds perfect for the would be travel writer and adventurer. Along with two silver topped scent bottles the bag contains the following: an ivory hairbrush and clothes brush,  ivory glove-stretchers and paper-knife, tortoiseshell comb, Russia writing-case, Russia ink and match-boxes and Russia housewife fitted with good work instruments.

 How Qantas would have reacted early one Friday morning to assorted  trunks arriving at the now automated  check in, the majority of booths not functioning and the baggage drop conveyor exclaiming in capitals to ‘ move away from the belt’  one can only imagine. In fact they would probably have been no reaction at all as there was barely  a uniformed soul to be spotted amongst the luggage totting, paper wrestling, bag re-packing tormented souls.

How security check would have gone with hand luggage stuffed with  assorted liquids, flammable and sharp objects one can also only imagine though a response would no doubt have been swiftly forth coming from the lolling lads and lasses by the x ray machines awaiting the laptop unpacking, steel cap boot removing and pocket emptying souls fresh from check in.

 LCD writes disparagingly of lady’s maids the majority of whom she describes as ‘weak and impotent things in travelling…they are generally helpless in the moment of action, and worse than useless in an emergency’.

Not much use then at 6 am in Perth airport. Now where did the well fitted  ‘Russian wife’ vanish to? Last seen at security perhaps reluctantly giving up the good work instruments.