Travels with a capsule wardrobe

We are currently in the UK and will be here for nearly two months, which is a long time to manage a smallish suitcase of clothes in a potential variety of temperatures.

Already I can see that I brought too much underwear (I have a long standing fear of running out of clean underwear) and perhaps not enough light clothing as we’ve arrived during a “heatwave” of 25°, which is just a lovely temperature.

We took the direct flight from Perth to Heathrow and landed at 5.30am. By 7am we were in Oxford and I was freezing. Luckily at the last minute I had tossed in a fisherman’s jumper I’d knitted for Mark and so it was very accessible. I threw it on and my Pattern Union Beverley cape just went over it without flinching.


My grandfather won a scholarship to Oxford, but went to the war instead. Such a shame, but he had a family by the time the war was over and I’m sure other responsibilities took over.

We went from Oxford to Blenheim Palace at Woodstock and I began shedding layers as the weather warmed up. This is a flower bed of jonquils, the smell was unbelievable.


and still the layers kept coming off…


We have stayed here before, but this time I was able to see my cousin and his family who live in the next village of Bladon. It was so lovely to catch up with this branch of my family and with all the carry on I failed to take a single photo.

We stayed in a beautiful 700 year old coaching inn called the Bear, which is really charming. Imagine this facade when the wisteria is in bloom. It’s apparently haunted by two ghosts (well documented apparently), and I didn’t know this when, in the middle of the first night, the toilet lid suddenly fell down. I like to think we had a visit!


I had tried to time our trip for early spring to catch all the blossom; we were a bit early for the wisteria, but lots of the trees were in full bloom.


As we were staying on the very edge of the Blenheim Palace grounds we were able to walk around them on our morning walks. We tend to walk at 6 o’clock and I think there is no better time. Have a look at some of these photos to see what I mean:

The column erected by the first Duke of Marlborough in his own glory (from what I could see) looks as though it’s floating on the mist.


The grounds were designed by Capability Brown and they are truly spectacular, especially when the sky looks bruised like this.


I couldn’t resist making a movie to record the sounds of the birds. It’s a bit quick I’m afraid.


There was much excitement about the beautiful weather, but this early in the morning we were dressed for the freezing cold, although we did see people in shorts!



Our afternoon walks were just as splendid and I could not stop taking photos. Sorry. Not sorry!


The lake is about to be dredged and they are very excited as the bottom of this bridge will be exposed and they are expecting to find artefacts in the rooms contained within.

I’m currently doing an Instagram challenge with @sewover50 called #so50flatlay where the day’s outfit is laid out flat. It’s such a fun challenge open, but even more challenging when travelling with a limited capsule wardrobe. On day one I wore the Pattern Union Phoebe Bibandtucker overalls, a madder dyed silk shirt  made with Vogue 2634, and a leather bag I made myself. IMG_2931

I also threw in the Stitch Diva Anais Tunisian crochet jacket and I was grateful as I didn’t find it as warm as predicted.


After Oxford and Woodstock we drove to Cambridge. We were rather struck with the differences between the two cities. Oxford is a beautiful city full of historic architecture, but it seems as though the town planners have sold out to the developers. There are many truly ugly buildings inserted in between the magnificent ones, and shop fronts have been modernised and branded and there is a clutter of fast food and fast fashion outlets. In the middle of the beauty is an enormous, and very modern, shopping centre. I find it incredible that in these more enlightened times such buildings receive planning permission. Cambridge on the other hand, has managed to preserve the integrity of its heritage and the shops are integrated into the buildings very tastefully. I think it’s safe to say that it’s much richer for it.

My outfit for this day is pretty simple. I added a hat as a nod to the sunny weather, jeans which I made from my jeans block so they fit perfectly, The Anais Tunisian crochet jacket again, and a new Vogue 2634, this time made from some divine indigo and mustard printed cotton from Fabulous fabrics.


Vogue 2634 is from the early naughties if I remember correctly and is a really nice pattern.


However, my pattern is for a 32″ bust, which clearly wouldn’t fit me, so Sarah from Workspace Fashion and Design School adapted it to my shirt block and now it fits beautifully. The sleeve is a two piece sleeve, but Sarah joined the two pattern pieces into a single shaped piece with the seam running down the back instead of the side. This makes it sit beautifully. I have decided that I’m going to make all the different versions of this pattern eventually. I did cut the collar down slightly to update it a bit

The cherry blossom was everywhere in Cambridge and I had to stand under every tree.


This round church is rather splendid.IMG_2870

and more blossomIMG_2875

This is a doorway in the centre of Magdalene College, which was not actually accessible to the public but my husband is an anarchist and strolls right past the no entry signs. I live in fear of being arrested but while I wait for the heavy hand of the law on my shoulder we take photos! This sign means that food is served in this part of the building, I think. I noticed a bar inside the door.IMG_2900

This is the library, every bit of which is exquisite!



and who can resist a massed bank of yellow tulips?


We also visited Kings College, probably illegally!


We had an apartment in Cambridge, with lovely views of the Cam, but right on the edge of Midsummer Common. Isn’t Midsummer the most dangerous place in England? Don’t they have multiple murders every week? The reality is actually a lovely green parkland full of dogs and joggers, with the river running through it with barges moored alongside. IMG_2934

There are rather a lot of buskers in Cambridge, but I think the man playing the guitar in the rubbish bin was the most interesting, although probably the one with the least talent!




18 thoughts on “Travels with a capsule wardrobe

  1. I always enjoy reading your posts which are so often filled with inspiration but this travel one in particular calls to me as for many years we lived not far from Cambridge and it is still one of my favourite cities. Lots to explore and always new surprises. There are some lovely gardens tucked away in the colleges which are occasionally open to the public and if you spy one get in right away!

  2. I am following this with interest as I plan 6weeks self drive in the UK next May June and want ideas for a capsule wardrobe as well as sights! Notebook to hand I devour your blog so enjoy your travels and keep up the good work 🙂

    1. I’m not sure how you’ll go with the capsule wardrobe ideas as I’m not too good at it. I shall discuss how we plan our trip in the next blog post, which might give you some ideas. Thank you for following!

    1. Thank you Vicki, I’m doing ok at the moment but if the weather gets really bad I might be in trouble, that wind can be really bitter!

  3. I enjoyed your journal. If you want to look at lovely fabrics and if you get to Birmingham …… Guthrie & Ghani would be a treat.
    169 Alcester Rd. Enjoy your holiday.

    1. Thank you so much, I have been to that shop on previous trips! I have never managed to make the rag market though. I’m amazed at how many fabric shops I find without even looking, even in small places.

  4. Please don’t diss the temperatures – we in the UK are very happy with our ‘heatwave’ 😎.
    Enjoy the visit to the uk . Your photos are lovely (as always) and I thank your anarchist for supplying the shots that we wouldn’t usually see!
    It’s always interesting to see how other people pack for a long trip. I would like to think it would improve my own skills but I’m probably deluding myself. The crochet jacket is particularly of interest this time so I’m off to check it out.

    1. I can see that I am going to become obsessed with the weather – I’ve been watching the sky all day! I finally worked out that it’s daylight saving that causes the day to stay cool for so long – correct me if I’m wrong! I am a really hopeless packer. In the past I’ve turned up with all tops and no bottoms, and all bottoms and no tops! I’m hoping that this time I’ll be a bit more successful but not if the weather goes really pear shaped!

  5. Your photos are fabulous Sue! Thanks for sharing aplenty. These buildings are truly majestic and impressive, and their lawns! How do gardeners manage to mow such perfect tiles of different green shades, I wonder? I enjoy seeing your capsules too. You certainly how to pack!

    1. Thank you Hélène, my Dad used to do this – using a roller mower going in opposite directions. Getting a stripey lawn is a matter of pride!

  6. Welcome to the UK! I hope you enjoy the sightseeing and the lucky spell of “heath wave” (lol). Have a great time!!!
    PS If you’re in London and have spare time for a tea, I’d be happy to meet you

    1. I did enjoy the heat wave and today we had a very loud thunderstorm which I loved. I will be in London, but not yet sure of my movements. I will be sure to get in touch if I get time. Thank you Judith.

  7. Fabulous photos and definitely worth getting up early. We did that in Australia, walking at 6am otherwise we ran out of time! Enjoy yourselves. xx

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