What I wore in Greece: Holiday Clothes Haul

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So this year I decided that instead of throwing 99.9% of my entire wardrobe in my suitcase and hoping for the best I would actually put some thought into my holiday attire.

And while it was tempting to just, you know, make like I always do and pack whatever the hell I fancy approximately 2 days before I travel, I kind of also really wanted to be organised for a change. See, the problem with taking everything is that more often than not it makes you feel like you’ve got nothing; too much choice always makes it harder for me to make a decision, and I just didn’t want to waste time thinking about clothes when I could be sunbathing/sleeping/eating/drinking gin/reading utter trash on the beach whilst drinking gin, etc.

Obviously I took more than the above. But, in all honesty, it wasn’t much more – just another pair of shorts, some comfy camisole tops, 2 other dresses and a silk shirt. And really, it was all I needed. The only thing I did find was that because I took so little, I didn’t have a clean outfit for the journey home, so I caved and bought a kaftan while I was there. And a high waisted skirt. And maybe a crop top to go with it. I mean, there were only so many times I could walk past H&M in one week and not go in. I’m merely human. (Turns out, FYI, Greek H&M is exactly the same as English H&M, so there you go – I did you all a favour.)

I also wished, on many occasion, that I had a bikini – while I felt less self-conscious in a swimsuit, going to the toilet was a pain. in. the. ass (literally), and there were days where we went out and it would have been so much easier to just not be WEARING A GODDAM SWIMSUIT. You live and learn.

On the whole though, packing light seemed to work out well, so when we go back in September I’m definitely going to be doing the same (with a few new additions, of course), safe in the sweet knowledge that not only is H&M is ten minutes down the road, but the local supermarket sells 7 Euro kaftans. Ace.

L-R: Blue and white dip hem dress: Primark // tan belt: Primark // gold chain: Primark // gold heels: Primark // black hat: Primark // floral kimono: Primark // black vest: Primark // pink and gold necklace: Matalan // tan sandals: Primark // cream hat: Everything Five Pounds // geometric swimsuit: Primark // mono striped swimsuit: George at Asda // gold bangles: H&M // black and gold sandals: Matalan // pineapple print skirt: Primark // studded tan clutch: Everything Five Pounds // blush tie front crop top: New Look // navy pleated maxi skirt: Primark

Holidaying in Greece: Rodos

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So, let’s talk holiday…finally. 

Way back in May (I say ‘way back’ because it feels like it was about six months ago now, not a mere four weeks. Seriously.) we decided to book a last minute deal and grab some sun before the summer kicked in. And as it goes, last minute was an understatement. There we sat, five days before we flew, simultaneously glued to our laptops, desperately trying to find something…anything; because let me tell you, booking last minute is absolutely fine if you’re a laid back, I-do-this-shit-all-the-time kinda person. If you’re borderline type A with a penchant for organisation then DO NOT do this. I think it aged me at least five years, if not more.

Mostly, our criteria for booking a holiday was Mexico. We really wanted to go to Mexico. We really wanted to go to Mexico on a budget of less than £2,000. If you’re laughing out loud then a) you’re correct and b) you obviously know more than we do because you absolutely cannot fly to Mexico and stay all inclusive for less than £2,000…unless it’s £2,000 per person. Or, you know, you’re happy about sleeping on the beach (no judgement).

Anyway, I digress. From Mexico we slowly worked our way West, burning every single option that nearly every package holiday website had to offer. And then up pops Greece. Because obviously. Now, I love Greece. And I mean LOVE. I’d only been there once before but it just struck such a chord with me – the people, the food, the atmosphere, how god darn happy everyone is 24/7. It’s an infectious place to be. Unfortunately, Mr. B didn’t share my enthusiasm. Once had been more than enough for him, and he was quite prepared to file it under the ‘been there, done that’ section of his travel reportoire and move the hell on. Until he saw this place, however. And then we sat and pored over the reviews on TripAdvisor and before I knew it credit cards were flying about all over the place and I was swiftly checking my suitcase for the fifth time (a job which had been in the making since I booked the annual leave in March, I kid you not).

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Aside from the fact the hotel was actual a-mazingness, what really swung this holiday for us was a) the 10 minute transfer time and b) the fact that it was a further 10 minutes into Rhodes town centre. Because if all else fails, especially the food, then at least there’s a plan b.

Not that we needed it here, of course, but you never know.

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First thing’s first after checking in (and being given welcome drinks…you know you’re onto a good thing when they get thrown about like confetti), the balcony and said view from it were given a once over. Aside from thinking this was the actual pool and being all like ‘but where are the sun loungers…oh wait, where are the people’ first impressions were good. And they were about to get better.

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As we sat there sipping our cocktails/beers, our only mutual regret was the fact that we’d only booked to stay for a week and not two. Because this place was so good. I mean, there’s an 80% chance that wherever I was in the world at that point with 2 bellini’s inside me and no prospect of work for at least 9 more days (we flew Friday-Friday) I would have thought it was the best-place-ever, but this really was. It had been nearly two years since I’d felt proper Mediterranean sunshine on me, and been within walking distance to crystal clear water.

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For the first couple of days, we literally did nothing. Which for us meant sleeping, eating, sunbathing, eating, more sunbathing, a bit more eating, reading and drinking gin. Then we’d take a nap and the whole routine would just start all over again.

You know when you go on holiday and you can’t even get close to a sun lounger unless it’s 5am in the morning? Yeah, that didn’t happen once here.

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After a couple of days, we decided to venture out. Well, by ‘out’ I obviously mean further than the supermarket that we discovered on the first night. Because that mini fridge ain’t gonna stock itself, right? Although the little strip just outside of our hotel was pretty cool – plenty of bars, tavernas, classic gift shops and places to get Greek chocolate. We walked up here nearly every night, and if I’m honest I’m a little sad we didn’t at least go for a drink or have a quick bite to eat.

It’s also painfully obvious once you leave the confines of five star luxury, just how deeply Greece has been affected by its recent economic troubles. It broke my heart to see so many derelict, abandoned buildings that had obviously once been thriving shops or hotels next to the tavernas and mini markets that were hanging on in there. The contrast between the rich and the poor, the new and the old, the past and the present is so very black and white here. I just wanted to reach out and make things better somehow. But the spirit and determination of the people is so strong – there’s a smile for everyone and always some conversation to be had. You would never know from the outside that the people are struggling; their happiness and determination is so infectious.

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Rhodes Town is amazing though. Ten minutes by taxi from our hotel, this was what I wanted most from the holiday; a bit of culture. Some new places to explore and become familiar with and just a taste of a different life for a while. We always play a game when we go away, whereby we picture ourselves living in the country we’re in, but this time I didn’t have to pretend. I felt right at home.

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The town is divided into the New part (with the likes of H&M, Zara, M&S etc) and the Old part. They sort of merge into one, and as the streets are winding and intertwined you never really know which part you’re in. But that’s part of the charm. And this is how we came to stumble across what is now known in our house as The Best Restaurant Ever. And if you think that’s an understatement, just wait until you see the steak. Man ALIVE it was good.

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See what I mean? It was so good that we ate here twice in one week, despite being all inclusive. The decor was just amazing – every last detail was thought about and I definitely took some inspiration for our future Kitchen of Dreams away from eating here. Didn’t hurt that the gin was about 50x stronger than what the hotel were serving, either.

Because the taxi service was so good here, we didn’t rush to get back. Most of the shops in the Old Town by the marina stayed open until around 10 or 11pm, which was amazing – because there’s nothing better than a drunk tourist with a penchant for buying novelty gifts after a day on the gin, is there?

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The other amazing thing about Rhodes? It’s a 50 minute boat ride to Marmaris in Turkey. We were walking along the marina one afternoon drinking slush puppies and when we discovered the tour guide offering boat rides there we both actually laughed out loud. Our first ever holiday together had been to Marmaris and well, holiday is a slight exaggeration. Adventure would be more to the point. So we thought, to hell with it, let’s go back. No, seriously. It was such a great day – the coach picked us up from the hotel in the morning and after an hour on the boat (and various security/passport control checks) we were taken by coach…to a gold centre. This was all a bit weird, and there was a moment when I thought I might actually be in one of those movies where they, like, kidnap you or something by enticing you into some fancy jewellers (is there even a movie where that happens?!), but as I’m still here to tell the tale I can vouch for the fact that it was none other than a pleasant little detour/way for the tour guides to get commission on sales. But whatevs.

Next we were dropped off at the Bazaar. Now, if you’ve ever been here before then you’ll know just how mental it is. Literally hundreds of shops, all crammed with what the Turkish call ‘Genuine Fakes’. We had about three hours to look around before the coach picked us up again, so we just wandered. The people here are slightly more aggressive (albeit in a friendly way) than they are in Greece and there is no such thing as just being able to walk around a shop in the leisurely fashion you might be accustomed to. It’s all about the hard sell here, and while it’s fun to have a bit of banter and haggle in the first five shops you go in, it all gets a bit much after that.

So we did what all the other sane people were doing. We sacked off the shops and went for kebabs.

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And then we ate ice cream. By the time we got back on the coach we’d basically spent the whole afternoon eating, but man was it worth it. But it didn’t end there, because before we went back to Greece, the coach stopped at a Turkish Delight factory. This was another strange experience, one whereby we listened to a scarily enthusiastic (but again, friendly) man talk us through the wonders of Turkish Delight, before we were then ushered into a gift shop, where naturally we all bought the obligatory gifts for people back home (soz Mum and Dad).

For the rest of the week, we mostly spent the mornings at the hotel, sunbathing (and robbing any free wifi we could get our hands on – hello Daily Mail stalk of Michelle Keegan’s wedding dress) then after lunch we’d go into Rhodes Town, or just wander the strip with no real plans.

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And before we knew it, the time to think about going home was upon us. I dealt with it in the only way I deemed acceptable; by planning a kick-ass airport outfit and drinking my body weight in Greek coffee (that shit is addictive).

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Needless to say, we had the best time here. That’s not to say I’d ever chance such a last minute holiday ever again. Or that Mexico 2016 hasn’t got my name written all over it. But I couldn’t fault a single minute of this holiday. And, much to my surprise, neither could Mr. B. So impressed were we that we’ve gone and broken our ‘never go back to the same place twice rule’ by booking ourselves in for another stay in September (I know right, who even are we). And this time we’ve got so many more things planned.

Anyone else off to Greece this year? I’m looking into travelling further around Greece and exploring more of what it has to offer, so if you have any suggestions please give me a shout below!

Travel Link Up: Holiday Souvenirs

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As you may have gathered if you follow me on Instagram, I’ve just come back from the most amazing week in Greece (more on the specifics in another post coming soon!).

Any excuse to venture out into the big wide world is good with me, but this holiday was particularly good as it was the first in almost two years. And we booked it totally on a whim –  a whim that paid off spectacularly and gave us the best. holiday. ever (no exaggeration). But more on that later.

I was casually browsing Twitter today, my eyes glossing over everything that didn’t involve the words ‘holiday’, ‘sun’ or ‘prosecco’ when I stumbled across this post by the lovely Angloyankophile.  And it really struck a chord with me – one that I felt I just couldn’t ignore and totally wanted to get involved in.

You see, I’m quite a sentimental soul. If you give me a birthday card, it’ll stay up for the entire month of my birthday (and then probably sit in a draw forevermore. Especially if there’s a cat on the front of it); if you get me in a Secret Santa you can guarantee I’ll keep the keep the present; wherever I go, whoever I see or whatever I eat I need a photo to remember it by. You get the picture – I find it hard to part with things that mean something, in some kind of way. So when it comes to holidays, I can’t help but always want to come home with a gift that I can keep long after the post-holiday washing’s done and my tan’s faded (which is, in my case, approximately 2.5 days).

As well as being sentimental, it seems I’m also a creature of habit. Because on every holiday I’ve ever been on, the one thing that always comes home with me is a piece of jewellery. In Turkey it was garnet earrings. In Greece (the first time) it was a turquoise ring. On honeymoon in Malta it was a silver Maltese cross. And this time? Well the picture above says it all.

I bought the necklace above on our last night in Rhodes. We’d spent the evening in our new favourite restaurant, eating steak and drinking beer. After that, with no agenda, we wandered the streets until we came to a bar on the corner. We sat outside, in the warm evening air, drinking gin and tonic and eating the free slices of orange we were given. We literally watched as the world went by, just chatting, drinking making plans for the future – the kind that you can only make in the comfort of your holiday world after a few too many gins.

As it got darker, we decided to wander the streets one last time, stopping at the gift shops near the marina. I don’t know whether it was the gin, the fact I had 30 Euros burning a hole in my wallet or the regret I STILL felt over not buying one on holiday in Turkey five years ago (gin, most likely) but as soon as I saw this necklace I knew I had to have it.

Everywhere you go in Greece you see the nazar symbol; a talisman which is said to repel the evil eye. Greek people adorn everything in it, from their homes to the rear view mirrors of their cars, and you know what? I think it must work. Because Greek people are some of the friendliest, happiest, most relaxed people I’ve ever met. So if I can have a little piece of that with me every day and remember to live in the moment, just like they do, then I think this was worth every single Euro.

Hometown tour: Rye in Spring

One of the things I am constantly told by people whenever I tell them where I live is just how lucky I am to live there. And I really am. Rye is so beautiful. I just don’t always have the time to appreciate it in all its beauty.

However, last week in an attempt to help with one of the many projects I’m currently working on, I took to the streets of my hometown, camera in hand to capture Rye in all its mid-spring glory. I crept out early; the streets were quiet, with just a few early birds going about their daily business.

I knew I had to be quick – the sky was thick with the threat of rain and the wind was picking up with every corner I turned, filling the air with the sight and scent of cherry blossom in full bloom.

It’s in these quiet moments that I appreciate where I live the most. I should really get out more often…

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Where does the time go?

Is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. Because in between working, watching Eastenders and drinking the odd G&T or two, life has been slipping by at an alarming rate.

There has, of course, been more to life than the above – but trying to explain it all in words would take too long so I’ll keep it short and sweet and show you what’s been happening around here for the last few weeks instead…

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Celebrating my lovely nan’s 82nd birthday. I wish I’d captured more of this to be honest, but the 3 glasses of post-dinner Prosecco did me in and we all ended up asleep. // Alfie, the only 10 year old dog I know that still thinks he’s a puppy // Easter treats from my mum // And Easter drinks with the girls // A little Hema haul. Y’all know I can’t resist one of those at least once a month! // Styling a super colourful wedding. That cake was something else in real life. // Random Thursday night dinner and drinks in town. Something we don’t do often enough! // A hand tied bouquet for a best friend’s birthday – more on that coming soon! // Healthy food – I’ve always loved eating this way but been trying to find some new recipes recently and this one was inspired by possibly the BEST M&S salad I’ve ever had // Styling the Inspired Bakes stand with Jenny from Bellaboo and Beau, as well as holding styling sessions for brides at the Excel Wedding Fair; a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun // Some well deserved post-wedding fair champagne! // Styling a very simple and sophisticated wedding in London last weekend // Updating the kitchen for Spring/Summer with some bits from Asda – more on that in another post soon // Super pleased that my wild flower seedlings are doing so well – can’t wait to see what comes out of the mix soon! // Yeah, more cushions. I’m not even sorry.

Nearly all pics, bar the very first few, have been taken from my Instagram account which you can find here.

Monthly roundup: January 2015

Looking back over these photos makes me realise just how long this month has really been. When I get to the end of each year I can never really remember what happened all the way back in January, and it’s little wonder; it feels like it’s been about 9 weeks long.

I think this year it’s felt particularly drawn out though, because for the first time in about 6 years I’ve been struck down. Yep, the plague I was boasting about avoiding all over the Christmas period finally got me and I spent a very sorry week on the sofa drinking tea and snivelling. I think I got dressed a grand total of once that week, and that was only because I had to drag myself out of the house for a blood test.

Anyway, here are some of the highlights of the month, as captured by Instagram (mostly):

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(1) I always get sucked into buying Christmas decorations in the January sales. It kind of sets the tone for next year’s tree/house decor. These were from Matalan and Wilko’s and cost less that £10!
(2) Working at a wedding fair. I love meeting brides and grooms and chatting about their wedding plans.
(3) I love pink tulips. These were just the pick up I needed after a week of being ill, and reminded me that Spring is just around the corner.
(4) The first thing I do every morning is check my Timehop (anyone else loving that app? I’m completely addicted!) and this week it reminded me that this time three years ago I was trying on wedding dresses for the first time. This one obviously didn’t make the final cut, but the temptation to put it on and pretend to be Kate Middleton for five minutes was just too great.
(5) So last week I finally started my course in wedding floristry. I booked it back in July 2014 and have been itching to start it ever since. Hands down, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and will hopefully add another string to my bow when it comes to wedding and event styling. Last week we made wired corsages, next week it’s bridal bouquets!
(6) Dressing a wedding yesterday with the snow coming down outside. It didn’t last, but looked magical while it was there.
(7) Ending the month on a high at a Great Gatsby themed 21st birthday party. You can tell you’re getting old when you spend more time at the chocolate fountain than you do at the bar.
(8) Starting a new month in style: with home made egg and bacon muffins and tea. Partly because I’m trying to cook more when possible, but mostly because we were too hungover to actually drive.

Christmas 2014: Scandi style all the way!

I can’t believe there’s just a little over a week until Christmas day is upon us. I feel like the whole festive season has just crept up on me this year, even though I spent most of November thinking about it!

We’re hoping to move house next year, so this Christmas is extra sentimental for us as it’s the last one in our current home – the one we’ve lived in together for nearly seven whole years. I’m sad to go, but equally excited for a new beginning; it’s a strange feeling. With that in mind, I’ve been soaking up the festivities and going all out with the decorations this year. I mean, I always go way overboard anyway, but this year is something else. And, of course, this year I’ve gone for another new theme when it comes to Christmas decor (does anyone else do this? No? Just me?!) – Scandi style has won my heart this year, so much so that I think it might be my favourite EVER Christmas theme (until next year. I’m fickle like that).

So here’s how Christmas 2014 looks in our house at the moment:

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Apologies if you follow me on Instagram, because you’ll already have seen these pictures. But if not, here’s the lowdown on where everything comes from:

1. DIY Christmas baubles. The easiest things ever – the clear baubles are from eBay, the mini baubles inside from Paperchase and the labels made with my new obsession: the label maker. I wrote a little tutorial on this in more detail over on the Bellaboo & Beau blog last week.

2. Our tree. For the first couple of years we lived together we had a fake tree, but it just wasn’t the same and now we always have a real one. Granted, it’s slightly messier – especially with two inquisitive little cats running around – but I can’t imagine not having a real one now. Even when it does droop after two weeks and I constantly have to rearrange baubles that are sagging on branches (number one pet Christmas hate right there).

3. Presents all wrapped under the tree. I’ve gone with gold polka dots alongside my usual kraft paper this year. The star shaped labels are from eBay, and the tags all made with my new best friend, the label maker.

4. A selection of this year’s wrapping items. The gold polka dot paper was £1 a roll from Sainsburys and although it looks good, it was a nightmare to work with. It’s so thin that I had to double wrap some presents as they were showing through the paper after one layer. Awkward. The silver sequin ribbon is from eBay, as are the rubber stamps, and the craft strips were bought in PoundLand back in the summer (on a total whim – I had no idea what I’d actually use them for at the time I bought them!)

5. Styling up the dining table in preparation for some festive drinks last night. Not that we actually used the dining table, but you know, any excuse to buy flowers and sequins. The silver sequin runner was from The Sweet Hostess, the flowers from my local florist and those adorable little hexagonal candle holders? 50p from a local charity shop. Steal of the year.

6. Leftover flowers that wouldn’t fit in my table arrangement. Flowers (much like cake. And biscuits) never go to waste in our house. The paper star (my absolute favourite new Christmas item this year – why did I only by one?!) was £4 from Primark and the silver stag tealight holder was a Christmas present from my Mum last year. Tempted to keep it out all year though, what’s the deal on that?!

7. Our living room this week has been my favourite place. It’s so cosy and warm and I’m going to miss it when we move. Especially our little balcony – where the hell am I going to hang all of those again next year?! All of the paper snowflakes and honeycomb balls are from eBay. The wicker stars are from Dunelm Mill (last year, unfortunately) and the baubles are just from my ever-growing and slightly obsessive collection.

8. The kitchen looking cosy last night before some serious Prosecco drinking got under way (headache central today – I’m eating Twiglets and praying for the best). The blue mercury style fairy lights were £5 in the Wilko sale a couple of years ago and the wicker stars are from eBay. I’m hoping our next kitchen will be big enough to house a second Christmas tree – slightly wishful thinking there though I think!

 

How are you decorating this Christmas? Do you love Scandi as much as I do? Are Twiglets the best hangover cure ever?!