Packing the right clothes for a weekend in the country can mean the difference between a relaxing break and utter misery. Whatever the season, you’ll need to be prepared for any sort of weather from blizzard to heatwave, and almost certainly a spot of rain at some point.
The first item on most people’s lists is a pair of boots. These can be proper walking boots or a faithful old pair of wellies, but they should be waterproof, easy to clean, and comfortable enough to wear all day without producing a bumper crop of blisters.
Any mountaineer will tell you that the key to warmth is lots of thin layers, rather than one big thick woolly jumper. Layering wisely will keep you cosy without making you look like the Michelin Man, and you can always remove a layer or two if all that exercise warms you up, or the day turns out to be a scorcher.
On that note, unless you actually are going up a mountain, or camping in midwinter, it’s probably best to steer clear of thermal underwear. An ordinary T-shirt is much less embarrassing if you do end up stripping down to the bottom layer.
These days, the chances are at least one of your layers will be fleece. This modern miracle fabric comes in all weights and warmths, from sleek microfleece to big hairy yeti, and is wonderfully soft and warm.
Top everything off with a jacket big enough to do up over all those layers and keep out the elements. As an alternative to a coat, a padded or fleece gilet is warm and lightweight, and gives your arms freedom of movement for holding dog leads, picking sloes or whatever else you might be up to. Do pack an anorak to go over the top if it rains, though!
If you’re considering a hat, think about what you want it for: keeping the rain off, keeping the sun out of your eyes, or keeping your ears warm? If you can’t decide, you could always bring three.
Beware of dressing too smartly; wearing your latest designer acquisition can be dangerous in a world of mud, water and brambles. Besides, donning a shabby veteran of many expeditions has a certain cachet. Plan an outfit that can stand up to the rigours of a day spent walking in the countryside, but won’t get you kicked out of the all-important pub at the journey’s end.