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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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Wanderer

Quirky Corners of the World: Tasmania’s Totem Pole

How amazing would this spot be to climb?

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Found in Tasmania (I bet you’d never have guessed with a name like ‘Tasmania’s Totem Pole’!), which for those of you who are utterly rubbish at geography, is a state island 150 miles from the southern coast of Australia, and a part of its commonwealth. To be honest, you say Tasmania, I think devil:

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The totem pole is in fact, a stacked rock, and, you guessed it, the result of years, and years, and years, and years of erosion stripping away layer after layer of rock, etc etc. Basically from erosion, the cliffs and rocks become arches similar to this one:

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More erosion…. blah blah blah, the top of the arch crumbles away, the sea smooths out the stack, and one day… you have a totem pole. And lo, where you have interesting vertical rocks, soon enough you get a load of skinny, taut-muscled, free-spirited travellers (or you know, Aussies), with dreadlocks, a van full of climbing gear and the same climbing itch that I get – little old dreadlock-free, skinny, invisible-muscled English me.

I don’t really know why I get such an urge to climb any rock I see. Especially big ones like this one. I’m terrified of heights. Skydiving did not cure that fear. Nor has climbing. What is even more unnerving is the fact that the constant base erosion of the waves beating against it, means that sooner or later, the Tasmanian Totem Pole will collapse. Even now, its base stands at just four metres wide. Not something you’ want to topple mid-climb, right?

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I suggest, if any of you are getting the itch to skip on over to Tasmania (or in my case, a whole ten thousand, five-hundred and seventy-one, according to Google Maps), i’d be quite quick about it, because who knows for how much longer this amazing, adrenaline-inducing climb will even be an option!

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Wanderer

Joie de Vivre… Part Two

Budapest
 
I admit to took me a night to warm to Budapest. When I arrived it was already dark, the train station was full of the types of people who only seem to emerge at night, the sort of people who you don’t want to bump into at night! Everywhere I turned people were trying to convince me to ditch my host Vanda and come and stay at their hostel instead, or they were trying to offer me lifts and bundle me into their car. I managed to catch the right bus to Vanda’s home but in the wrong direction, gave up, headed back to my starting point – the train station – and caught a taxi. On learning I was English, the taxi driver’s reaction was ‘ah! England! Manchester City! Liverpool! Arsenal!’ He didn’t seem to care that I have no knowledge or interest in football, I just let him ramble on about Wayne Rooney and David Beckham, and I think he felt pretty proud of his knowledge of English football clubs and players.
Vanda was a darling. She greeted me with pizza, which by this point I so needed. She pointed out places to go – and places to avoid – on a map, and just generally she was really lovely.
Budapest is a completely different city day to night. That first night when I arrived I really wasn’t sure if I could like Budapest, but when I woke up the next morning, I swear I didn’t even recognise it. I walked with Vanda into the centre of the city, and everything was misty and already it was far too hot for my then still pale-as-milk English complexion, and I ended up rather sun-burnt – the only day of the whole trip that I burnt.
Once she had finished work, Vanda showed me around the city, firstly showing me this amazing bar:
And then taking me up to Budapest Castle.
And finally to the city’s Statue of Liberty, my photograph of which can be seen on my ‘part one’ post.
Because I’d decided to spend an extra day in Prague and I had my flight to Venice booked, I could only stay in Budapest for one and a half days, but despite the rough start, I have definitely decided that I will be returning to Budapest to see the rest of it ASAP.
Especially as I spent my final morning before my flight at one of Budapest’s famous baths, but I only had time to spend about an hour and a half there – definitely need to come back and explore those little gems further!
Venice
As much as I loved pretty much everywhere I visited, I think Venice just about scrapes it’s way to the top of my ‘Favourite Cities’ list… if only it wasn’t so damn expensive!
When I arrived I had no map, no idea which part of Venice I was in, no idea where I could find internet access and no idea where I was sleeping that night – and only about two hours left of sunlight. I ended up in a fit of giggles that made everyone stare at me because I could just picture all of my friends in a complete panic and I felt like I should be a bit more anxious about things rather than casually strolling around, refusing to use a map (I mean it’s Venice  – the whole point of Venice is to get utterly and hopelessly lost) and just trusting that I would internet access eventually so that I could find a place to stay.
And I did, of course. Eventually I stumbled across a tiny internet cafe – or rather it was a normal newsagents-style shop with a few computers in the back room. I started chatting to an English teacher who was trying to arrange for his girlfriend to meet him in Paris, and she didn’t seem to be very organised.
My hotel was on the island of Giudecca – which I think is why it was so cheap – no one wants to have to cross the water on a ‘waterbus’ twice a day. These people chose wrong. By being on Giudecca rather than ‘main Venice’ (Dorsoduro, San Marco, S. Polo etc), it meant that I had an incredible view to wake up to of the ‘main islands’ – especially as my hotel was right on the waterfront, so in the evening we would all sit directly outside the hotel’s front door and watch this sunset:
which quite literally stopped me in my path when I first arrived at the hotel, dumped my things and coincidentally decided to go for a walk, not realising the time of day.
The view that greeted me first thing in the morning was damn beautiful too:
I sat around in the shade for hours, listening to this guy place the same piece of music over and over all day long – but it never got boring. I don’t know what the piece was, but it was beautiful ♥
I admit I didn’t go on a gondola – they’ve become too touristy and I tend to avoid anything horrible touristy. I did however enjoy listening to snippets of the gondolier’s stories about Venice’s history and their songs while sitting on the various bridges of Venice – especially the ones that lead to blank walls because then you can’t possible be in anyone’s way by sitting there!
I did, however, spend a lot of time in – for my first day – water buses and taxis, and after that, my friend’s boat. He even let me pilot it, but that nearly ended in disaster when I came far too close to crashing into a 500 year old building that already looked to be on the brink of collapse. After that I just sat back with my camera and enjoyed the view.
When I took this photo below, I was laughing because just on the opposite side of the canal was a very expensive restaurant, the sort where you have a musician – in this case an accordion player – serenading you while you eat. I laughed because they had paid an awful lot of money for, yes, good food, yes, enterainment, yes, shade from the sweltering heat, but I was sitting cross legged on the other side of the water, shaded from the sun by the buildings of Murano, I’d spent 7 euros on a delicious lunch of bread, cheese, ham, wine and – my favourite – raspberries, and I could hear the accordian player’s music just as clearly as them, but I didn’t have to feel obliged to pause my eating to clap, tip him, or just generally be polite and show him that I am listening to him.
I’m sorry but even if I had all the money in the world, I’d still choose to picnic in the shade alongside the canal, eavesdropping on the accordian player, any day.
My last photograph in Venice, which I took while waiting for my train. I found Venice almost impossible to leave. Definitely need to go back there ASAP. And no, to everyone who has asked me, Venice does not smell bad at all – it smells like the sea.

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