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Gentry does it

As you read this, I'm sitting in a holiday cottage in Norfolk either feeling smug because I packed a woolly hat and a pair of gloves, or wondering why I didn't bring my flip-flops and the customised sunhat with the beer-can holder attached.

That's not to say I didn't put a lot of consideration into my holiday wardrobe. I did. It's just that the vagaries of the British weather can throw even the most precise sartorial plans into disarray.

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Because it's Norfolk I've headed to – home-from-home to the royals when they're in residence at Sandringham and a favourite weekending spot for well-heeled Londoners – I've opted for the city-slicker-on-holiday look. Or the city-slicker-on-holiday look as filtered through the pages of the Boden catalogue I retrieved from the recycling box.

I started planning my holiday wardrobe on January 16. That was the day I took my Barbour in to the Edinburgh Barbour shop and asked them to rewax it. I thought it would make for an appropriately Norfolkian garment.

I was going to rewax the thing myself but after watching a how-to film on the internet – shot by some backwoods hipster in British Colombia, weirdly – I decided that, while the £36 fee was considerably more than I paid for the jacket itself, it was worth trusting the professionals with the job. And boy, were they professional: eight weeks it took, from collar to cuff, and before the Barbour folk even sent it off I had to provide a potted biography and a full service history.

"How old is the jacket?" I was asked.

"I'm not quite sure," I replied. "I inherited it, you see. But I've had it at least 10 years."

That last bit is true, but I made up the rest to sound posh and to add an air of mystery. I actually bought the jacket in a charity shop for £20.

So what else have I packed? A moth-eaten Guernsey sweater. A striped Breton top. The thick white fisherman's socks I bought in the chandlery in Tarbert and, last but not squeezed into the side pocket with the toothpaste and the train tickets and the other things we nearly forgot, a pair of corduroy trousers. Not claret-coloured, though. There are some lines even I won't cross.

I've brought my trackie bottoms, too – there's only so long a fellow can go without home comforts.

I tried on my holiday wardrobe before we left and – to me at least – it screamed country squire heading home to his crumbling Norfolk pile for a glass of burgundy and a rubber of whist. Just the ticket, then.

Mrs Didcock wasn't so sure. "You look," she said, as she shoehorned a 6kg bag of the kids' Lego into an already bulging rucksack, "like a poacher would in a Mike Leigh film. Oh, and don't think you're taking that beer-can sun hat on holiday again."

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