PACKED LIVES

Dianne Coles's company has installed libraries and multi-media centres on 61 cruise ships and also provides celebrity speakers
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The Independent Travel
When installing a ship's library I often find myself sitting in a shipyard surrounded by anything up to 7,000 books needed for, say, the QE2's library. Then I need dirt- and wind-proof clothes and strong shoes.

When not on ships I attend conferences, meet celebrity speakers - at the moment I am dealing with P D James and Christopher Lee - and hold meetings on both sides of the Atlantic, which necessitates a business wardrobe. Trouser suits are my answer. Fine wool trousers look reasonable after a 6,000-mile flight in economy.

I never have the chance to iron, so I crease test everything before buying. Fine wool, silk carefully rolled in my luggage, quality polyester and Marks & Spencer's new non-iron cotton blouses, but never linen. I travel in Mondi, Armani and Donna Karan bought from US outlet stores where I never pay more than about pounds 300 an outfit. M & S's Collection range is classic and the fabric unbeatable. I never buy suits in strong fashion shades so they last more than one season. Beige looks good in both cool and tropical climates and I also take grey, brown or navy suits to mix and match with fashion-coloured round-necked blouses enlivened with belts and silk scarves. A gold necklace and matching bracelet take me through all occasions plus my constant travelling companion, a large round silver Aztec calendar on a chain bought in an Acapulco market, now my "signature" jewellery. When working on my ship libraries I wear jeans and different weight tops according to climate. Trainers are essential. Invariably the new ship is a jumble of cables and building materials and getting on to it may involve climbing a rope ladder.

In contrast, for formal evenings on board I take a sheath-style black dress worn alone or with a silver jacket, which also teams up with black silk evening trousers. With a maximum of three formal nights on most trips, that's all I need with unusual ethnic jewellery I've collected during my travels.

My handbag acts as an office on the move. My favourite is a huge soft leather sack from Mexico that I take as hand-luggage on flights and contains jewellery, a change of underwear, make-up and a note-pad. Flying is perfect "thinking time". Extra files and documents go in my memorable brilliant- green eelskin briefcase bought in New Orleans.

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