Stuff matters – packing pitfalls

Charlotte age 5 in ‘the hat’*

I am currently packing my own stuff to send out to France. I was saddened recently to read a fellow blogger’s account of receiving her damaged belongings. This lady had paid for professional packing, so hopefully her insurance will cover the damage, but monetary value is of course only part of the story

I certainly don’t mean to patronise anyone reading this, but after 20 years (and counting) in the freight industry I know that people often do not realise what is involved in the journey their goods take. Just today, a large national courier delivery driver brought in some items and we saw him literally chucking boxes around in the back of his van. Don’t be despondent – thought and planning can save heartbreak if you are packing goods yourself, so this may just help someone else in blogspace:

  1. THIS WAY UP   The journey usually involves changes of vehicle along the way, meaning that various people will handle your goods. Markings alone cannot protect your goods. Your packing needs to be tough enough to withstand repeated handling, changes of orientation and being stacked with other goods
  2. Keep it Original    Where possible, keep things in their original packing – particularly for electrical items etc
  3. Nice and easy    When packing small items, try to make each box easily manageable for one person (rule of thumb is 30kg). For example, mix heavy books in a box with bedding to spread the weight
  4. Is it FRAGILE?    Only mark fragile items as such, because if you mark everything the same way people tend to ignore it
  5. Movement and Impact    It may sound obvious, but the aim is to ensure that individual breakables have adequate padding to stop them moving around and to protect them from knocks. Line strong boxes with bubble-wrap or similar where available, and use smaller padded boxes within outer boxes to separate and contain items in transit. If your stuff moves around or rattles when you shake the box, it will probably not survive the journey
  6. Soggy bottoms   Sometimes people close the top of a box beautifully, but neglect to put enough tape underneath. A box is only as strong as its bottom. If in doubt, add more tape!
  7. A solid top  Cut boxes down in height if they are not full. Boxes with empty spaces are weak and can collapse when things are put on top so you need to make the top surface firm
  8. Be creative   Re-use packaging wherever possible, for the sake of the environment and your purse too. I keep an eye open for useful packing materials, and stash these to one side for later use. These are typically things like strong postal tubes, protective padding, small boxes and anything ‘squidgy’ that can be re-purposed, however unconventional. If you are sending bedding, it makes excellent packing when packed into plastic bags inside an outer box

Now that’s quite enough. I don’t pretend that this is an exhaustive guide, but I have tons of packing to do and a sick chicken in my living room, so I wish you all a wonderful (breakage-free) Christmas!

*more about ‘the hat’ another time, perhaps…

Rough Seas at West Bay

‘Rough Seas’ hangs over our bed

The wind was howling around the building, and yet we slept brilliantly. There is something strangely comforting about a storm (especially since the roof was renewed!). We grabbed an hour in the morning to take the cameras down to the harbour before packing up the flat to go homeIMG_7304


The sea is possibly the most dramatic reflection of rough weather, and the landscape at West Bay changes completely when a storm hits. Last weekend the waves were hitting hard and herring gulls were out in force, riding the air currentsDSC_0132

It would have been fun to look for fossils as the tide was higher than we have seen for a while, but we couldn’t wait for the tide to turn. I love that there are still always people out walking (and plenty of runners) on the harbour and promenade, whatever the weather


It amazes me that the face of East Cliff remains so golden, even in a storm. Despite its elemental beauty it demands respect, and due to this weather there are likely to be further cliff falls in the next few weeks

seeking shelter

Wild Portland Bill


The great thing about having a camera is that there is always something to do. Before we were parents Baz and I loved to jump in the car and head for wild weather. Clovelly in Devon was always a favourite spot. We’d park the car uphill from the high waves on rough nights, and the sea-spray would hit the windows of the seafront hotel. Our Dorset-based plan this Saturday was to take a bus to Charmouth and walk home along the cliffs to West Bay, lunching at the Anchor at Seatown. Storm Desmond made this too risky so we drove along the coast road and across the causeway to the wild and legendary Portland Bill


It was not a day for pin-sharp outdoor photos – not with all that salt and spray in the air – but there was no shortage of atmosphere


Baz laughed at how many pictures I took of the interior of Trinity Lighthouse, but the staircase was beautiful. Anyway, he took just as many





In bed at night I can see the beam from the lighthouse, so it was amazing to see the lens, which can apparently be seen from up to forty miles away

Baz spotted 'the saddest meter ever'
Baz spotted ‘the saddest meter ever’

Outside, Baz was caught by a wave. The day grew rougher and he said how terrible it must be for the people in Cumbria who have been flooded by this same storm and lost so much, while we were unscathed



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