There is something both exhilarating and terrifying about packing a bag - be it a 65-litre rucksack for a 6-month exploration or a miniature duffle bag for a weekend at the beach with friends. Packing, unpacking, repacking - it means you are going somewhere, or coming home, or making somewhere new home for a little while. There is something about it that fills your stomach with butterflies, it is a feeling that I am addicted to.
Words: Athena Mellor | Photography: Annapurna Mellor
Perhaps when you have been a traveller once, it never quite leaves your heart; living fleetingly, constantly on the move, only carrying the essentials. When I was bike-touring in New Zealand, packing and unpacking was a daily ritual. Every day, two legs, pedals and wheels took me somewhere new and two pannier bags were filled and unfilled in a very specific order, to maximise space and time; tent in the base of the left pannier, camping stove in the top of the right, camera in the handlebar bag for easy access. I packed those panniers mechanically every day, my stomach fluttering with the anticipation of going somewhere new.
Now I have a base, a home, and I am no longer ‘moving house’ every day. But I am still on the move, constantly on the move - be it walking to the supermarket or catching the train into the hills. That yearning for movement never disappears, and it requires a few companions; boots, camera, backpack. I am not a materialistic person - I want my life to be filled with experiences to look back on - and therefore the physical ‘things’ I want are merely to facilitate these adventures (currently on the list is a mountain bike and snowboard). But every adventure girl needs an adventure backpack; my Millican rucksack has become a part of my adventures, moulded to my back, a key statement in every photo.
For the days when I wake up and need to escape, Smith the Roll Pack couldn’t be more perfect for packing the essentials (and a few little luxuries). An emergency raincoat sits in the bottom (this is England after all), on top of which I’ll pack a sandwich for lunch and some snacks. Maybe a beanie and gloves if its cold. My map goes in the front compartment, easy to reach (though I probably use it less than I should). Then the front pocket is filled with a notebook and pen - for the thoughts that only come when out somewhere in the wild - lip balm, keys zipped away, a spare film for the 35mm film camera that’s usually hung on my shoulder. I have a bottle of water in one side and a flask of coffee in the other. I squeeze into my brown leather walking boots and pull the laces closed, throw my backpack over my shoulders and I’m ready to go. Somewhere, anywhere. It doesn’t matter, as long as I’m going.
I will always be a free spirit at heart; it is a gift my parents gave me. I get restless when trapped within the city too long, three days is about as much as I can handle these days. Now my Millican Roll Pack sits in the corner of my room, waiting for an adventure. Often it will return at the end of the day with an added little memento, like a rock or a pine cone. A collected memory, packed and unpacked with the excitement and anticipation that only an adventure brings.