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Tag: travel

Fen Rivers Way Walk, Part 1

We skipped Thanksgiving this year in favor of another walking holiday. We didn’t have much time, because the semester is not yet over (*cries*) but we were able to put together a week and go to England. Given it was late November and therefore likely to be cold, rainy, and dark, we looked for a path that would be doable under a variety of conditions. We settled on the Fen Rivers Way, which runs from Cambridge to King’s Lynn along the Cam and Great Ouse rivers.

We’ve spent quite a bit of time in Cambridge (TheH has lived in or near there for stretches of time since he was a teenager), and we’ve visited Ely and its magnificent cathedral, as well as surrounding villages. And we’ve even walked part of the river path from Cambridge. But we’d never been to King’s Lynn or that corner of Norfolk. It is very flat, but the Fens are beautiful in their own way. Efforts to drain the Fens and make them agriculturally productive began in the 17th century and there are some impressive feats of engineering. In addition, people live in narrowboats along the rivers, so you have that culture as well. It can be very windy, but that part of southeast England gets less rain than a lot of the country, so we decided to chance it.

The path itself is 48-50 miles, and we allotted three days. These would be longer days mileage-wise than we averaged in Wales, but with no elevation and slightly lighter packs, we thought we could manage it. The main constraint was going to be the light: there would only be about 7 1/2 hours of sun a day at this time of year, and sunset would come by 4pm. The temperature was forecast to be in the 40s, with low 50s a couple of days, and the rain was supposed to be intermittent and rarely heavy (unlike the Midlands and the North, where there had been significant rain and flooding the week before).

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#Onebag conference report

My first attempt to attend a professional conference in #onebag mode was a success. It made life much easier when I was to-ing and fro-ing and I didn’t wish for anything I’d left at home. I definitely think this is doable on a regular basis for a 3- or 4-day meeting.

What I took:

Photo of everything that I took to the conference, laid out on a bed.

I know it looks like quite a bit, by everything packed down very compactly. I took more than I would have if I had been traveling for pleasure because I knew I’d be seeing the same people repeatedly. They probably wouldn’t notice if I were wearing the same thing two days in a row (most of them are guys and political-science guys at that, so fashion sense is not their comparative advantage, to put it mildly), but I would have been somewhat self-conscious. So I made sure I had different looks for each day and took one dress to wear to dinners in nice restaurants (different people and restaurants so I felt fine repeating the dress).

Clothing, from right to left, bottom to top:

  • 1 black & white patterned jacket
  • 2 pairs of trousers
  • 1 sleeveless black dress
  • 1 patterned dress for evening
  • 2 silk, 1 merino short-sleeved t-shirts
  • 1 dress shirt in a slightly crepe-y cotton blend
  • 1 leather belt
  • 1 tunic-style t-shirt for sleeping
  • 3pairs underwear, 2 bras, 1 shaper, 2 handkerchiefs
  • 2 footies
  • 1 camisole with built-in bra (not pictured)
  • 1 pair casual loafer-style sneakers
  • 1 pair black nubuck sandals with a low wedge heel

Electronics:

  • Samsung Galaxy S8 phone (not pictured)
  • Battery pack
  • Nook Glowlight Plus ereader (the old aluminum model, not pictured)
  • Short charging cable with USB-C adapter
  • Samsung charger and cable
  • Wireless earbuds in charging case (not pictured)
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The National Book Festival

I abandoned the political scientists for a few hours on Saturday to visit the National Book Festival, which is sponsored by the Library of Congress. Like so many public institutions in the capital, this is free and open (and welcoming) to the public. It used to be held on the Mall in tents, but this year it moved to the Washington Convention Center.

I had late afternoon commitments but my morning and early afternoon were free, and the panel that interested me the most was at 11am. This was a discussion with Aminatta Forna, R.O. Kwon, and Valeria Luiselli. It was in the Poetry and Prose stream and titled “Fiction Through A Different Lens.” Forna turned out to be the chair so she posed the questions and didn’t read from her own work. The panel was very well attended and the discussion and readings were engaging. I got a better sense of Luiselli’s approach and it made me want to read Kwon’s novel, The Incendiaries.

Of course the big draw that day was on the main stage, where Ruth Bader Ginsburg was doing a Q&A with Nina Totenberg. One of my friends who is a judicial politics scholar wondered if she’d make it given her recent treatment for cancer but she was there and good as ever. Or so I heard. The audience to get in was huge and the seats filled up in the session which preceded hers with RBG fans.

I had thought about going because it was an interview with Richard Ford and he was receiving an award, but 15 minutes after it started it was maxed out. Poor Richard Ford. I’m sure the audience was polite but he was reduced to being the warm-up act.

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#Onebagging a conference

OK, not quite one bag, but the purse could go in the backpack in a pinch.

I haven’t tried this before but after our UK trip I was so taken with traveling light that I decided to try it for a conference. That pack holds two dresses, three tops, one pair of trousers, a sleep shirt, and the relevant undergarments. And a pair of sandals. I’m wearing trousers and a jacket and a pair of walking flats. The sandals went down at the bottom and the clothes into packing cubes, which left plenty of room for toiletries and other travel odds and ends.

I’m not the one presenting our paper so I left my computer at home and will rely on my phone and a small notebook. I could have fit it in but I wanted to try traveling without it again. Most of my work stuff is meetings anyway and there’s an app for the conference so I don’t need to haul the giant program around.

I did bring my ereader though. Of course. Some things are non-negotiable.

I’ll keep you posted on how it works out and tell you more about the clothes, which are all travel-friendly.

Lovely day in DC and we’re on time!

Home

Vigilant monitoring of stairs and front door.

We are back. We avoided the various storms. Still so much flooding in southern Iowa and northwestern Missouri along the river.

Normal posting will resume shortly.