Travelling used to be so easy before I became a healthy person. Packing was as simple as throwing a few clothes in a suitcase, stashing my makeup, toothpaste and shampoo in a toilet bag and away I went. Through customs, no questions asked, Bob's your uncle.

But these days my toilet bag is full to the brim with white powder. I make my own tooth powder, so in goes the jar of what is basically baking soda. I also make my own shampoo, which is another powder (you wet it in your hands before putting it on your head), which is basically baking soda. I carry with me at all times little vials of Chinese medicine perfect for stomach upsets and hangovers.

Then there are the essential oils of lavender and eucalyptus to ward off any nasties in the bed, and the must-have herbal tonic.

You can see where I am going with this. I am the customs guy's dream customer. Powders, herbs, oils. I am a surefire hippie throwback, guaranteed suspected drug smuggler.


By the time you read this I will hopefully be on a tropical island. I will be taking with me my usual toiletry bag full of jars and bottles, their labels handwritten with "tooth powder: ingredients baking soda" and I'm hoping those dogs that sniff your luggage know the difference between baking soda and heroin. Or pseudoephedrine. Or whatever people are smuggling these days.

However, if I make it through customs I have several other holiday killers lined up. That's the way I think. I imagine every possible impediment to my enjoyment of a week in the sun on a tropical island. It's good to think ahead.

First, there is the ex-boyfriend who lives on the island. He's an archaeologist and does great work. I went out with him when I was 16. I really like him. Under other circumstances, such as running into him on the street at home, I would love to sit down and have a wine and go over old times, like sitting School Certificate and having UE accredited.

But I haven't had a holiday in months and I just want to lie like a soft sea slug on the sand and bake in the sun while snoring softly and dribbling saliva. I don't want to be as charming or as lithe as I imagine I was at 16. You can guarantee I will run into him.

Then there are the crabs. While I was researching our beachfront accommodation my husband glanced over my shoulder as I was reading the review posted on about crabs walking into your room and living in your shower.

"I don't do crabs," he said emphatically.

"I'm sure they're just little tiny ones like you find in rock pools," I said reassuringly.

He had been to this island before. He had eaten crabs which climb coconut trees and feast on coconuts. We haven't mentioned crabs since. And finally there is the prospect of another ex-lover - note, not boyfriend - who is about to get married and will no doubt have a honeymoon.


"What if he's in the same resort we have chosen?" I said to my husband. "Right next door!"

He looked at me long and hard. I could tell he was thinking about the ex-boyfriend (whom he quite likes), the crabs (that he hates) and the ex-lover (whom he hates more than crabs) and was quietly coming to some form of reassurance.

"It's a holiday. We'll cope."

And, thanks to my doctor, I will. Along with my powders, oils and herbs I now have a little bottle of pills. If all else fails I can take a sleeping pill and dribble in the sand without caring who or what might see me.