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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

And so it begins…

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Porto. Second city of Portugal after Lisbon, with a population of 238,000, and famous of course for port wine. I’ve been here before; last September, for just a short 4 day trip to end last summer’s adventures. It was a lazy holiday to end the chaos, and I was too poor to do anything much at all, having spent all of my money in Italy and France and the various other countries that I had wandered into last summer. But this time, Porto is the first stop…

I do still love Porto, but that fuzzy haze of last summer has faded; last summer I could compare the row after row of derelict shabby chic buildings to beautiful, crumbling Venice, but now they seem very much apart to me. Maybe the fuzz will be back by morning, and it will turn out that it was just the less than perfect Ryanair flight that has clouded my opinion for now… we’ll see.

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Of course, I feel like I shouldn’t bother to complain about Ryanair; you get what you pay for and for a £50 flight (and 100000000 Ryanair flights under my belt already), I really couldn’t have expected much. It was all very same-same; they don’t even consider opening the gate for boarding until the plane was due for take off, then we are all prodded and poked like bad tempered cattle up the narrow staircase with our as-heavy-as-we-dare case, and into any available seat, while we are then stripped of our luggage and watch cautiously as it is launched from one end of the cabin to the other and following a brief game of catch between crew members during which I swear they earn points as to how many heads they can clobber with each case, it is finally placed in a luggage rack miles away. None of that bothered me in the slightest, I’m more than used to Ryanair’s typical passenger treatment by now, I’ve learnt how to just breeze by, which I think is quite impressive when I’m wearing as many layers as I can get away with without looking like the Michelin Man’s self-combusting wife.

Still, I honestly think I was the cheeriest person on that flight; everyone let the 15 minute delay get to them far too much, or maybe they were just naturally a bad-tempered bunch. Even my meagre lunch of overpriced sweaty cardboard chips and soggy salt which fell in clumps onto my food couldn’t put a damper on my mood. They tasted as if they had been re-heated at least twice. In fact, I’d swear that they had been, as they tasted exactly like a bowl of chips that I ate last year shortly before we caught the freezer out on it’s infamous game of sneak-a-defrost. Sneak-a-defrost was an irritatingly secret game played by the household freezer during which it would switch off just long enough for everything to thaw, and then magically repair itself, leaving us oblivious. They tasted exactly like sneak-a-defrost chips. Still, I’m off on my big adventure, so I can forgive a short delay and a dozen re-heated chips.

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As soon as I stepped from the metro at Sao Bento, I just so happened to bump into an old acquaintance (of sorts), Scary Mary, a local homeless woman who despite a pretty serious limp and her feeble remains of a pair of sandals can chase after you at about 100mph, jingling coins at you and shouting in Portuguese about lord knows what… my bets are she’s either shouting at me about her unfortunate living conditions as one of Porto’s homeless or a detailed fantasy about the various ways she’d like to kill me; batter me to death with the sandal remains. I bet it’s one or the other. If she wasn’t so terrifying, I’d buy her a McDonalds and a coffee, but I just don’t dare to linger when I see her charging towards me, filthy, wild-hair flailing all over the place, even wilder-eyes burning through me, limping away in her shit-stained trousers and those damn sandals scraping across the cobbles. She’s truly terrifying.

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Don’t get me wrong, Porto isn’t all homeless people and crumbling buildings (though sadly 70% of the buildings here are derelict, so I’m told). It’s a beautiful city which is a strange mix of being loud and lively and full of dancing and music and people congregating in squares and at the river to laugh and talk, and equally you can walk down eerily quiet, deserted streets moments later, which is perfect for someone like me; I like my me-time, and I like my space, which of course can be impossible to find when travelling. I find it pretty admirable how happy people are here, despite buildings around them quite literally falling down around them. It’s just one of those infectiously cheery places.

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Tomorrow I will probably head to the beach, and make the most of this lovely 30-35C heat! Are you jealous my lovely friends back home in England? I hope so.

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