I am currently writing this column in a coffee shop in Banff, Canada, and the weather outside is 6 degrees with the promise of snow.
I am headed for Calgary tonight, which the warning is for minus-3 with snowstorms, and all I have is a Scanlan Theodore cashmere sweater, some T-shirts and a Uniqlo puffer.
The two pairs of jeans I brought with me to ride the Rocky Mountaineer train from Vancouver no longer fit for some mystifying reason (I blame the altitude for making me puffy, not the copious blueberry pancakes, bacon, maple syrup and cheese toasties I have had along the way). I am rubbish at packing for cold weather.
When I checked the Canadian weather predictions before I left, there was everything from 23 degrees and sunny, to rain, to snow, to hot tubs. So in went a swimsuit, some trackies, a lovely beige wool cropped cape/jacket with velvet trim which has proved to be entirely useless when you have most of your meals in diners, some silk blouses for no earthly reason, and a couple of thin sweaters. And a baseball cap.
I was prepared for literally nothing. But I did include one very crucial item. I was gifted a pair of knee-high white rabbit snow boots by Bally about 12 years ago. They are absolutely beautiful and have only been out once, when I was clinging with terror on a ski lift in Thredbo. (I am not a skier, people).
But if they were ever going to be perfect anywhere, wouldn’t it be Canada? That whole ski bunny, rich bitch, ‘Let’s have a bourbon at The Fairmont in Lake Louise shall we?’ thing, let’s do it.
They took up half the suitcase but I felt they were a Canadian train trip essential. And so I set off with the most insane wardrobe ever packed.
On the first day in Vancouver I wore cropped jeans, sneakers and a thin spray jacket in the chilly, pouring rain and caught a cold. In Kamloops, which was grey and raining, I wore the T-shirts, sweaters all at once and the puffer over my head which may have been the only appropriate note I struck on the whole trip.
Arriving in Banff, an absolutely charming town at the foot of the Rockies, it started snowing. Yes! Thrilled, I pulled the boots out of my suitcase and went down to reception.
“Oh wow, look at those boots,” said the Canadian journalists who were also on the trip. “They’re certainly something”.
“Yes, I thought they’d be perfect for Banff,” I replied as we headed up the mountain and I noted that everyone was wearing plaid shirts, fine merino Smartwool long-sleeved T-shirts and Patagonia parkas with hoods. And Blundstone boots for heaven’s sake. From Australia.
“Would you like to borrow a beanie?” said one of the group kindly, noticing that while my toes were obviously very cosy in their pristine white fur, I also had snow clinging to my face and hair.
“Those boots are awesome,” said the handsome young guy opening the gondola door.
“Thank you” I said, trying to retain some dignity. “And where are you from?”
He was from Darwin. I wonder what he packed.