Travel broadens the mind, they say. However, one of the less delightful aspects of travel is making sure you haven’t forgotten anything. I’m not talking only about essentials such as passport, documents, etc., but rather about the myriad other objects you have to have about your person to cover every, or almost every, possible contingency, mishap or disaster that may befall you on your travels.

Like the MoominMom, I generally have a fairly capacious handbag (what our American cousins amusingly call a ‘purse,’ which in my UK parlance is reserved purely for cash money). But since travel involves so many more of those potential misfortunes, the resulting increase in essential items requires a proportionately larger bag. After all, how can any self-respecting wife, mother or woman leave the house without an ample supply of dry and wet tissues, liquid for washing hands, spare underwear, basic makeup requirements, notepad and enough pens to make sure that at least one always surfaces when you thrust your hand into the darkness within to find one? Not to mention the secret zip pockets a bag must have for other utility items of sanitary hygiene, sticking plasters in case of accidental cuts and bruises, pills against headaches or other unidentifiable aches and pains, lists of medicines and/or addresses (OK, I’ll admit that in this day and age the smartphone can take the place of some of those lists, but the battery might run out at just the crucial moment, so it’s best to have a paper backup), chequebooks and, of course, two actual purses (for money), one for the currency of the country you live in and one for that of the country, or countries, you’re visiting.

And that’s not everything, but I don’t want to bore you quite to death. My story goes as follows: I used to have a large, white leather handbag for travelling, with dividers, pockets, zip compartments et al, but it eventually fell apart, and I invested a rather large sum of money on a genuine leather capacious black bag which looked as if it would fit the bill (see photo). However, when I started out on my latest journey, the black bag failed the ultimate test. It did not close neatly with a zip, but hung open, displaying its innards to all and sundry, and exposing my multiple weaknesses for all to see (and potentially take).

The situation required urgent remedy, and I decided that I would keep an eye open for an adequate substitute while in France, and to hell with the cost. To my delight, at the very first ‘brocante’ in the nearby village in rural France I came across a stall manned by a cheerful African gentleman displaying colourful bags of some woven fabric. A colourful woven bag had not been contemplated previously, but it suddenly seemed like a good idea (see photo). Upon inspection, the innards of the largest one proved to have a wealth of dividers, compartments, zip pockets and, best of all, a hearty-loooking zip to close the whole thing up to my satisfaction. After parting with the very reasonable sum of twenty euros, the bag was mine, and when put to the test easily ingested all the contents of the big black bag, which now languishes in hideous solitude. Sorry, old bag, but this old bag now has a new bag.