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June Wish List

It’s that  time of year when I am thinking about holidays, and while I now days always venture further afield than what good old England has to offer, I do love spontaneous road trips to out lovely seaside-resorts with my friends… when I stick around for long enough to arrange them, of course. For those of you who have never stopped by an English seaside town, all of the picturesque stereotypes are true: colourful beach huts line the sea front, from whatever spot of the beach you stand on, I can guarantee that you’ll hear an ice cream van singing merrily, and seagulls will try (and usually succeed) to steal your ice cream/fish and chips/mug of coffee. Here in England, we’re mad about pinstriped deck chairs and colourful wind shields (a necessity here, I’m afraid), and as lovers of beach-side co-ordination, these colour schemes can’t help but seep into out clothing, our accessories and the unnecessary clobber that we simply must take to the beach with us, in case we get bored (or is that just me?)june-wishlist

1. Sunnylife Ipanema. Beach Towel. £39.95. Available here. A great place to start on the beach-side wish list, is of course, a beautiful beach towel. Because yes, it really does matter just how cute and fashionable the piece of sand-covered fabric on which you lie, is. Most of the time, your choices are either bland, bright or childish printed towels, or those striped wicker mats that cut into your elbows when your trying to read on your front. It’s nice to finally stumble across something pretty that doesn’t scream ‘I’m a beach towel’, because of course, no one wants that.

2. Preen by Thornton Bregazzi. Flo Stretch Dress. £940. Available here. Again with the yellow… it seems to be my clothing colour of choice lately (though I wear it surprisingly rarely). This is a beautifully cut dress is so flattering for big-bummed, small-boobed ‘pear shapes’ like myself (always a challenge.. no one wants to balloon the pear!), accentuating a tiny waist.

3. Topshop. Red Square Stone Studs. £6.50. Available here. These earrings would look great with the yellow Preen dress above, don’t you think? Unfortunately, I have never been lucky enough to find a metal that does not cause a reaction if worn in my ears (not even gold, sadly), and so earrings are a big no no for me, but perhaps… they could be turned into clip-on’s? I think I’ll have to start searching Pinterest for that particular DIY blog post… or of course, I could risk failure and attempt to figure it out for myself? Hmm…

4. Dune. Celia Peeptoe Wedge Court Shoes. £59. Available here. A beautiful pair of elegant, sleek white wedge shoes. These can be worn with any summer dress, which I adore (and in terms of packing your suitcase, it’s so much more practical). Not ideal for walking along sandy beach fronts, but stick to the esplanade and you’ll look great.

5. Kate Space. Cuba Street iPhone Case. $45. Available here. Kate Space… one of my favourites. Get your phone ready for the beach (and have planned a carefully sand-and-sea-free environment in which it can enjoy your holiday) by ‘dressing’ it in this illustrated ‘Cuba Street’ phone case.

6. Prada. Cat Eye Acetate Sunglasses. £230. Available here. This year, sunglasses trends are all about colour, pattern and drama, and Prada are, of course, leading that trend with their stylist new collection, my favourite being these cat eye, red-and-tortoiseshell glasses. Great for adding a touch of old Hollywood to your look. Think of Marilyn Monroe’s beach style.

7. Michael Michael Kors. Hamilton Saffiano Leather Shoulder Bag. £218. Available here. New wish list, new handbag. Usually, I prefer for my handbag to go big – out of necessity, obviously (is it just me who can’t read the word ‘obviously’ without Alan Rickman’s Snape temporarily commandeering my usual brain voice?). I generally need a bag that can hold my camera, laptop, kitchen sink, several layers to accommodate for our fickle weather, make up supplies, pen and paper, and other ‘essentials’ of a photographer/writer/art-and-gadget creative, but when there is sand involved… no. Key, phone, a novel (which can be tucked under my arm, along with my beach towel), are all I need… ok, slight lie, there is always the canvas tote beach bag, but that doesn’t mean that there is not also room on my shoulder for this little red Michael Kors bag.. you know, for my house key and phone. And literally nothing else.

8. Newgate Clocks. The New Ritz in Sleepy Blue. £25. Available here. Perfect for that seaside wake-up call at the start of a long drive (if you’re from the Midlands), to the sunny south coast. Or that was a typical start to the annual seaside holidays of my childhood, anyway. I’m a grown up now. My parents aren’t going to drag me out of bed anymore – not that they ever had to, as far as a holiday was ever concerned.

9. France-Tastic Voyage Travel Bottle $34.99. Available here. I know that flasks are more of a winter travel necessity, but for me, as a coffee addict (it’s been two hours since my last cup of coffee.. the cravings are strong), the need for a constant supply of caffeine is very real, and so road trips and long drives (short drives, a nip to the corner shop, crossing my hallway.. anywhere, really) without a drop is simply impossible.

10. James Read. Gradual Tan for Body. £24. Available here. I’ve never really been one to delve into the world of fake tans, being far too fearsome of the dreaded Tango TOWIE look to try, but I’ve heard good things about James Read’s Gradual Tan collection. Great for those who, like me, can’t sit still for long on a beach and would prefer for their skin to remain pale and therefore healthy, youthful and melanoma-free.

11. Mischa. Continental Wallet. £85. Available here. An alternative to the tiny Michael Kors handbag, I suppose (a house key could easily fit in a wallet… but a phone?), this gorgeous blue and white print purse would look great used either as a wallet or, when possible, a clutch bag. Imagine, this purse with the Dune shoes and yellow Preen dress… it works, yes? Or the dress, shoes and red Michael Kor bag, for that matter… choices, choices.

12. Zara. Blue Mini Skirt. £35.99. Available here. This skirt would look so cute with the white Dune wedge sandals and Prada sunglasses above… though a shirt would of course have to be found to complete the look. I should have added a shirt to this wish list.

13. Urban Outfitters. Berlin Boombox in Pink. £60. Available here. When I was about six, I wanted a pink boombox almost identical in my imagination to this one. A few years later, I wanted one of those stereo bags. I never gave into either of those desires (or rather, my parents never did), and I’m quite glad about it really. I mean, they are both equally ridiculous inventions. Nevertheless, this one is adorable, and so a small part of me can’t help but think that maybe I could somehow make it work… no, no, definitely not, but it’s here nonetheless.

14. Chan Lu. Wrap Bracelet. £128.73. Available here. Nothing screams backpacker chic more than a wrap beaded bracelet. Especially if they are handmade. I can guarantee, however, that no true backpacker would ever be seen wearing a £130 bracelet when one could be made from a bit of twine and some plastic beads instead… imagine just how many hostel nights could be paid for with that money! Still, it’s beautiful, and I would wear it all summer long… probably forgetting to ever move it onto the other wrist, resulting in unfortunate wrap-bracelet tan lines.

15. Hope & Greenwood. Tuck Box. £40. Available here. For £40, this is an overpriced extravagance if ever I saw one, but being an item on sale at Selfridges, I suppose it’s to be expected, I suppose. Still, there’s plenty to go around, so shared between a group, this could become a cute little addition to any beach-side summer picnic. Just throw in some Pimms, and your picturesque English picnic is complete.

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Lagos Water Sports

This is the main reason that I came to Lagos; the water sports.

Surfing and jet skiing especially. I also tried my hand at water-skiing, but I’m not going to pretend I was any good. In fact, imagine Bambi water-skiing (to my uni friends, that’s Bambi the deer, not Bambi the person… though I imagine Bambi the person would have looked at clumsy just as ridiculous while water-skiing too!) That was me. Bambi on water. Surfing on the other hand, I can do. And jet-skiing.

In fact, the first thing I did on arriving, was head out surfing. Actually no, that’s a lie, I arrived at 1am and so the first thing I did was sleep (this was the night after I’d climbed the mountain-hill to Pena Palace in Sintra), but the first thing I did when I woke up was head out surfing. I almost took my camera, thinking I could ask someone to grab some shots for me. And I regretted leaving it in my locker safe in the hostel… until I heard the cries of a girl who had arrived to hire a board at the exact same time as me. She had bought her camera, her entire handbag in fact, and asked the staff to keep it behind their desk for her, exactly as I would have done. And it was gone within an hour. Some sneaky bugger took it, and so for that reason, while I’m sorry that I don’t have a single photo of me surfing, or (because it spooked me), jet-skiing or bambi-skiing, I’m rather glad, because there’s a good chance that I wouldn’t have any photos anyway – because I wouldn’t have my camera any more.

However, I do have photos of me while I was grotto-exploring and snorkelling.

You see them all over Lagos, people standing around at little advertising tables. Do you want to go dolphin watching? Boat tours, anyone? And – the offer that I accepted: Cave and grotto tours – with snorkelling, miss?

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I admit, after two hours in rather rough waters, I did feel somewhat seasick for ten, maybe fifteen minutes. As my bucket list includes things like ‘Sail around the world’, I need to work on that…

So after an hour of looking at the various caves and grottos and being shown ‘the elephant’, ‘the second elephant’, ‘Michael Jackson’s face’ and ‘Titanic and the Iceberg’, we were given the chance to snorkel – definitely the best part of the entire trip!

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I couldn’t see a bloody thing (hence I’d given up on wearing the mask by the time someone grabbed my camera for me). But still, having a dip in the sea was lovely in itself. I’m kind of funny about swimming in the sea; if I’m on a beach, I’ll maybe dip my feet, but unless I have a surfboard, I won’t go for a swim. I don’t like seaweed and little fish that swim around your ankles and wading into the water. But when I’m standing on the edge of a boat, and everyone else is tentatively lowering themselves into the water. Fuck it, I jump.
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Two hours, including snorkelling and a quick 20 minute trip in a separate speedboat to be given a tour of the harder to reach caves, came to €15 – and I saw another company offering the same for €12, so definitely worth every penny.

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Don’t make the same mistake as me though; they promised we would be back for 8.30, and didn’t dock until nearer 9, and silly me had arranged a date with the Brazilian Ice Cream seller from the marine for 9.30… boats are not punctual! And sea-water will leave your hair looking disgusting; and you’ll smell bad. I’ll have to remember that next time.

P.S. yes, I managed to just rush back, fix my hair, and meet Monsieur Ice Cream for our date. Thankfully there was a breeze to dry my hair as I ran/skidded over those damn cobbles!

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Beach Days and Princess Castles

Firstly, sorry for the biggg delay. I’ve had all of my posts ready and waiting, but they just wouldn’t post while I was in Spain! So here they are now in one big fat chunk. Sorry about that.

As I was saying…

12th July:

It’s been a lazy week. There have been a lot of lazy beach days this week. I’m in Lagos, and I think everyone who knows me is surprised to find that I’ve been here for almost a week now. Originally I thought ‘ok, one night, that’s all I’ll be able to handle in Lagos, one night and I’m out’. I’m not a party scene girl, I hate being drunk and worse still, I hate clubbing while sober, which makes it a bit of a lose-lose situation for me. I came to Lagos purely for the scenery and the water-sports. (Ha! If only my old P.E teachers could hear me say that! Emma? Sports? Hell no.)

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I can’t say anything here that most people don’t already know, Lagos is full of enough English tourists, everyone knows that it’s incredibly beautiful, to the point that in this week alone I swear I’ve developed arthritis in my shutter finger. I did put the camera away though eventually after I’d fallen over for the thousandth time. What is it with the whole of Portugal choosing the slippiest, shiniest white cobbles for their pavements?! An arthritic finger and bruised bum has definitely been worth it though.

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Before arriving here in lovely Lagos, I made a quick day stop in Sintra, having heard so much about it’s stunning princess castles; yet another of the 1000 apparent light bulb moments of inspiration for dear Walt when Disneyland sprung to his mind.

Take my advice. Do not do what I foolishly did and decide to walk to Pena National Palace; the most beautiful of them all (yes, there is more than one Palace in this tiny town!) I was walking for over an hour up long, winding roads. And the palace is atop a very, very high, steep hill. Take the bus, it’s worth every cent of it’s €5 return ticket.

Luckily, I wasn’t the only one who had been silly enough to walk, and I met three girls from New Zealand on my hike. Crazy uphill hikes in 38C heat are always so much easier with company! But again. Worth it.

ImageMy first thought when I caught sight of Pena Palace was honestly ‘I shall bring my sisters here one day’, as soon as they have a passport (small hiccup). It’s the ultimate princess castle.

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Once I reached the entrance, I happily paid another €2 for the craziest bus ride of my life. Being English, sometimes I forget that other countries don’t have the same OTT health and safety regulations that smother my country. At Sintra, once every seat of the rickety, vintage-chic bus is full, they just start perching people wherever they can. The passenger seat next to the driver’s had been ripped up, and so I was sitting on the metal bar that was left. A kid sat awkwardly at my feet, and another little boy and his sister, who couldn’t have been older than 14 were seated on the steps at the door – or rather, doorway. There was no door.

Still, the driver was very careful, and was constantly looking back to check on the two kids in the doorway. I don’t know if that should have made me nervous as he therefore only spent about 20% of the time looking at the road, but there you go. Crazy Portuguese bus rides. I found it much too enjoyable, thanks to years being wrapped in cotton wool by England’s health and safety.

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ImageI need to go back one day and see the other two castles; The Moors Castle (which is exactly what little English me pictures when you say castle), and Sintra National Palace, which is the easiest to reach, being central in Sintra town, and not atop a hill, but when I arrived it was covered in scaffolding. I could still have gone inside but I’d rather come back one day and be able to see it properly, in all it’s beauty!

One day.

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