In the months leading up to my move to England, I spent hours and hours reading and researching about what sorts of things I should pack. A lot of Australia doesn’t experience four proper seasons a year, so the concept of having both a summer and winter wardrobe is a little foreign. I was due to arrive in mid-autumn, and while I had some years of living in an area with a distinct winter and summer, I still was nervous about how I would cope with the U.K.’s much talked about ever-changing weather.
Two years on and back on Australian soil, I’m a lot more aware of what English weather is really like. It’s less than four weeks until Adam and I fly back to England for our wedding and going into this trip, I’m much more confident about what I’ll need on hand…
The other day I started writing out a bit of a rough list of non-wedding related items I plan on taking with me. As I jotted a few things down, I realised they were all items I wore excessively while I living in the U.K. This was the list I needed all those months ago, when I preparing to leave Australia! So, to aid other intrepid antipodeans who may be venturing into cooler climes for the first time, here’s what I found useful as an Australian living in England.
Layers are lovely, but make sure they’re light
When I first arrived in Worcestershire I made the same mistake, over and over again. I’d check the forecast, see it was due to be cold and then proceed to put on half of my closet. Within 10 minutes on setting out on my walk/running errands/settling into a cosy seat in the pub I’d be too warm and feel ill. I kept on forgetting that a) when you’re moving about your body heats up and b) just like Australia is full of air-conditioners to cool rooms down in the summer, England is full of radiators to warm them up in the winter. I found three layers were ample most of the time – an under-layer like a camisole, a middle layer like a merino wool knit (merino is light and soft, but exceptionally warm and odour resistant) and a long-line ‘puffy’ coat was ample most of the time. Inside I was fine with two layers and then if I needed to be outside I could count on my coat keeping me more than warm enough. Of course, if the weather was particularly icy or if I knew I would be standing around outside for extended periods of time, I might swap my camisole for a thermal top and my knit for a heavier jumper.
Waterproof is wonderful
It rains a lot in England. While there is the occasional heavy downpour, much of the rain I experienced when I living in the U.K. was misty, constant drizzle. If you’re looking for a good winter coat, make sure it’s waterproof, or at the least shower proof. You won’t regret it. I bought myself a light-weight, hip length hooded waterproof jacket from Kathmandu (similar here) before I moved to England and it was one of the hardest working items in my wardrobe. I probably wore it at least once a week. I was able to wear it over virtually everything I owed and it never failed to keep me dry. It lived on the coat stand by our front door and I took it with me anytime I left the house, even if it was sunny… because it is England! I found the jacket much easier to have on hand than an umbrella, which can be annoying if it’s windy, you’ve got shopping bags, or are out on a morning stroll. I’d also recommend a pair of waterproof boots. (these are the ones I currently have) They’re a much better option than nice leather dress boots on particularly damp days and essential if you plan on joining in the great English pastime of ‘going for a walk’. I find they also generally have much better grip than dress boots, which is important on slippery cobblestone pavements.
Frozen feet aren’t fun
My feet are constantly cold and Adam almost jumps out of skin most nights when I climb into bed and sidle up beside him. For me, wool socks were the answer to keeping my feet warm in England. I had a combination of wool, merino and cashmere socks and found they were far more effective than anything cotton. Merino socks in particular, generally cost significantly more than your standard cotton socks, but I’ve found they’re worth the money and wash and wear exceptionally well. On really cold days I will ‘double sock’ – sounds silly but works a treat!
Scarves and gloves are an easy way to add extra warmth on chilly days and generally don’t take up too much room in your suitcase. I also found I wore my beanie, or ‘woolly hat’ a lot, particularly on days where I was planning to be outside more than inside. Mine has a polar fleece lining around the band which was super-useful for keeping my ears nice and warm. I know the dreaded ‘hat hair’ can be a bit off-putting, but to be honest pretty much everyone wears beanies in the cooler weather, so you won’t be the only one with slightly dishevelled hair. Plus there is nothing worse than cold ears.
This is by no means an exhaustive packing list, but hopeful it might offer a little help if you’ve got a cool-weather holiday on the horizon.
Have a wonderful weekend. x