Well Begun is Half Done..channelling Mary Poppins


When I was a wee girl, an impressionable young thing, I fell in love with the magic of Mary Poppins. If I were to ask around, I think most women of my generation have at least one Mary Poppins memory, probably similar to mine.

For me, it was a breezy afternoon, at the age of ten or so, when I climbed to the highest heights of my brother's tree fort, stood tall, holding onto my umbrella and my Mary Poppins carpetbag and jumped with every expectation of floating away, amidst the clouds. Instead, I landed with a big thump.

I am not sure which surprised me more, my aching bones or that I could not fly. The moment is etched in my memory, a mixture of high hopes, adventure and defeat. It taught me a lesson...I could not waltz through the clouds with a magic umbrella but I could still believe in magic.


Fast forward 46 years and here I am, flying through the clouds in the safety of an airplane and still believing in Mary Poppins by trying to pack my own version of her carpetbag...if only.

When I fly to America from Vietnam, I fly Business Class via Tokyo with JAL (Japan Airlines).  I am allowed two carry on bags allowing for a total weight of 10k/22lbs and three check in bags, 32kgs/70lbs each. If you travel frequently, from one world to the next, you will appreciate how generous JAL is with their allowances. Add additional family travellers into the trip and it is a major bonus. Mr. H will visit twice this summer and his bags are nearly packed.

On my packing list, I have the usual lotions and potions and essential clothes and accessories. Fortunately for us, most of our clothes are already at TF, being too warm for Vietnam but perfect for New Hampshire. All the more space for travel treasures..of which there are many.

Last year I managed to bring along cow bells and fans from Myanmar, Buddha head statues from Cambodia, a drum bell from Vietnam and a few Vietnamese linen essentials for the kitchen.

When I look at my current list, I wish more than ever that I had Mary Poppins magic bottomless carpetbag. A coat rack, lamp, plant and mirror would suit me perfectly...throw in a chair or two and it would be golden.

View on You Tube here

I have to think small, light, unbreakable and more importantly, each item must hold special memories, for that is what is needed to make our house a home. Whenever my family comes to visit, I want them to see familiar things around them. It makes all the difference.

For my suitcase...

Ok, it is possible that I have been a smidge over zealous in my packing expectations ..

Cookbooks from New Zealand, England and Vietnam..family favourites
Collection of hand fans from Taipei..for hot days on the porch
My Little porcelain teapot form Taipei..just for me.
Gifts for family and friends
Vietnamese linens, for the kitchen and bedrooms 
Favourite Vietnamese delicacies...fish sauce, rice paper sheets, Vietnamese coffee and teas
Mrs Beeton's Garden book..just because
Fortnum & Mason recipe book for Tea..for when friends come to call
A collection of unframed Vietnamese paintings...the more the merrier
Walking sticks..the ones we bought for hiking in the English Lake District and forgot to pack
One silver breakfast butter dish..for the breakfast tray
One ceramic Vietnamese coffee cup and strainer to make cà phê đá, iced coffee...my daily ritual
Two opium pipes from Myanmar..for the fireplace mantel (really)
Two brass bells, one from England and one from Myanmar..for guests to ring on arrival (we do not have a door bell and I can never hear the yells from the other side of the house)

I am not certain what will stay and what will go,
Mary Poppins would say well begun is half done.
I am going to ride with that one!
Wish me luck!!

Sending you wishes for a wonderful weekend 
from the woman with Mary Poppins in her heart.

How about you..any attempts to fly away
with a magic umbrella in your past?

Jeanne xx

PS.. the mystery plant 
on my last post has been identified.

It is the "Mai" flower also known as Birds Eye Bush 
and in Vietnam as the mickey-mouse plant (really)
In Vietnamese: mai vang integerrima ochnaceae
Otherwise known as Ochna integerrima
A tree species of the family Ochnaceae.
It is a popular plant around the Lunar New Year
in Vietnam which is when I bought it.
Mystery solved! 
Thank you Narainras of Instagram!

Mary Poppins
Mickey Mouse
Walt Disney
It is a sign! 


  1. When I went Googleing last night, the Mai flower is what I came up with, but I couldn't be sure. My conclusion was, however, that it must be something native to tropical Vietnam.
    I know you're anxious to get to Tahilla Farm and see first-hand the work that has been done since you were last there. Will be interested to see how long it takes Mr. H. to settle in and become a real New Hampshire gentleman farmer. Hopefully he will take to it like a duck to water. :-)

    1. I agree Judy...it will be interesting indeed! Don't mention water..it is the only thing he wishes he had. He wanted the ocean, I said...we will build a pond instead. Duck's like ponds. ;)

  2. I think the aesthetic of Asian artifacts mixed with a NH farm will be absolutely stunningly beautiful. Jaw-dropping. Awe-inspiring, almost religious for those of us who love beauty.

    1. Thank you Lisa...it means so much to me, to read your words. ;)

  3. The Mai plant! Hooray for the discovery.
    Having an assortment of artifacts and travel treasures make for an interesting home ....I think you will be able to decorate by surrounding yourself with these beautiful items in such a way that you will enrich your everyday life in your new home. You must be over the moon with excitement.

    1. I am Leslie..thank you. Phew for the Mai plant, that was trickier to find than I thought it would be. ;)

  4. Out of interest what were you favourite cook books from New Zealand?

    Love your blog.
    Melissa from Wellington, New Zealand

    1. Hi Melissa...the one I am travelling with is a school cookbook from my daughter's previous school in Auckland, the Diocesan School for Girls. It is a compliation of family recipes. Other NZ cookbooks that are on my shelf but to heavy for me to carry in my luggage are by Jo Seager and Annabel Langbien. :)

  5. Beautiful treasures to start a new home! You must be sooo excited and happy! It sounds like you have a great team in place that will make your summer quite productive in terms of accomplishing your dream and vision for Tahilla Farm. In your previous post about Tahilla Farm, I see that you will be tearing down the right wing. Is this the wing that has the screened-in porch? If you are planning on having another porch, might I suggest that you think about a fireplace at one end? We have a covered porch off our living room and really enjoy the wood-burning fireplace that we have. It is really wonderful on cool spring evenings for relaxing, during the summer for cooler late night entertaining and I really love to sit on the porch during the fall enjoying the crisp air. It doesn't have to be an expensive brick fireplace. Ours is a Martin Hearth & Heating factory-built wood burning unit. We built a niche on one side to store the wood and did a floor to ceiling stone veneer facing over plywood and used a granite hearthstone. The facing looks like the picture of the restaurant shown in the slideshow on this website: http://www.cutriverrock.com/ Wishing you safe travels, Jeanne!

    1. I had to smile Roxane, yes, the porch is coming down and another will go in it's place with a stove, just as you suggested. Great mind think alike! Thanks for the link, your porch sounds fab! ;)

  6. Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down, the medicine go down! My sister and I sang that song for days and days and days after watching MP. My mom didn't agree though. :(
    Happy days to you, Jeanne. xo Carole

    1. A bar of chocolate works for me Carole...I have to say, some things never change. It's a good thing. ;)

  7. OH< you make the BEST MARY POPPINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Did you see me on INSTAGRAM with my MARY POPPINS HAT?I think you may have been typing away as I was being snapped!I think we are all so excited for you!So, you will be here for the summer?The entire summer?How exciting is that!Your daughter must be delighted........as YOU are too I would imagine!Welcome back to the STATES........for a little while anyway!

  8. Just wanted to say that if you love Mary Poppins, you must wee Saving Mr. Banks with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, if you haven't already seen it. I didn't really expect to enjoy it, but streamed it one night to help me relax. I LOVED the movie and came away with that good feeling of having shared in something special. Quite a nice surprise. :)


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Can I just say....that I so enjoy what YOU have to say. If you would like to write to me directly, I would love to hear from you... jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

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