Currently coveting

30 Jul 2016

Bucket List | Travel

I probably have the likes of Instagram and Pinterest to blame for this, but I am forever wondering/researching/thinking about where to go next. Sometimes, a bit of daydreaming is the perfect cure when the 9-5  routine blues kick in and finding myself trawling through Skyscanner for hours on end is one of my most frequent activities. All the way from Iceland to Asia, it was very hard to narrow the list down to only six beautiful destinations..

Reykjavik - Iceland

Looking at photos of Reykavik seems almost like looking at another world. Once in a while, a beach holiday isn't on the top of my list and Iceland is the perfect alternative. It has become such a popular destination over the last few years and the spectacular views and experiences that Iceland offers leaves me wondering why haven't I been already. I'm desperate to go to the Blue Lagoon and smear a Silica mud mask all over my face, as well as exploring the hot springs, volcanoes, glaciers, infact everything that the country has to offer (which is more than I can list..!)

Venice - Italy

Probably not somewhere I'm going to go for another few years as it is on the pricier end of the spectrum in Italy, but undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It has been described as resembling a theatrical, outdoor museum; with gondolier rides up the canal on your doorstep, colourful buildings lining the narrow, winding streets and so much historical background to learn about, who wouldn't want to spend a dreamy few days there. The fantastical and fairytale-esque atmosphere that the city exudes is calling to me -although I don't think my camera roll would be able to handle the sheer amount of photo opps! 

Stockholm - Sweden

Stockholm is such a beautiful-looking city and I think perhaps quite underrated. I haven't really explored Scandinavia at all so where better than to start with Sweden's capital, famous for it's sophisticated and up-to-date culture. It's one of those cities that is beautiful all year round regardless of the season and surrounded by water, every angle is photogenic. 

Hoi An - Vietnam

Located on Vietnam's coast, this riverside town is very high on my wishlist to visit in South East Asia. The colours of Hoi An are so vibrant and enticing, and I love the idea of spending hours cycling the town's streets, taking in the atmosphere and be immersed in a culture very different from home. I definitely think a few weeks here would be worth the long-haul flight.

Cape Town - South Africa

These pictures epitomize the natural beauty that this country offers - from desert island paradise to scenes that David Attenborough would be proud of. Hiking up Table Mountain to overlook the city of Cape Town I imagine would be more than worthwhile and be at the top of my to-do list. I worry that I'd go to South Africa and never want to come back. 

Budapest - Hungary

It is not only the beautiful, wide variety of serene spas and baths that are drawing me to Budapest, but the views, culture and ambiance are what I look for in a city break and I've been told on multiple occasions that I'd love it here. Hungary's capital city boasts two beautiful districts, Buda and Pest, to explore by day and night  separated by Danube river and connected by  breathtaking bridges. The pictures below are making the urge to book flights difficult to ignore..

Where is on your travel wishlist?


Photos via Pinterest


29 Jul 2016

Italian Inspiration | Lake Garda

It's just under three weeks now until I head off to Northern Italy with a few friends to the beautiful  Lake Garda. I have only previously been to Rome and Trieste in Italy, so to explore a region out of the city and with such dramatic natural scenery will be amazing and I am SO looking forward to it. Inevitably, a looming holiday has got me thinking in holiday wardrobe mode, leading to lots of ASOS browsing and Pinterest-scrolling. Due to the (groundbreaking) hot weather occurring in England at the moment, I have quickly come to realise that in hot, muggy conditions, comfort is key. Since Lake Garda is verging on the 30 degree mark at the moment, I'm thinking floaty, lightweight and neutrals are what I'm going for. Here's a roundup of a few things I've bought so far and a few I have my eye on.. 

Lake Garda


Lace Up Striped Body | Topshop £18

Ray-Bans Hexagonal Flat Lens Round Frame Sunglasses | ASOS £125

Birkenstock Arizona Two Strap Sandals | Office £59.95

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer | Space NK £29

Straw Hat with Raw Edge | Similar here ASOS £18

Topshop Moto Ripped Denim Rosa Shorts | Topshop £28

Straw Woven Shopper Bag | Similar here ASOS £17.50

Nars Bronzer in Laguna | Space NK £28

Scallop Bikini Top in Black | Matches Fashion £115

Mango Lace Up Sandals in Black | Mango £12.99 

Culottes | Similar here ASOS £24.50


27 Jul 2016

Clutch Essentials | Summer Edit

I don't know about you, but come summer, there are way more occasions, events and parties in comparison to the rest of the year in my diary. Whether it is a birthday, wedding or fancy dinner, all these calendar dates require an outfit, and more importantly, a bag full of essentials that are going to keep you beautified all night. Here's a selection that will be making it into mine..

Dry Shampoo | Giving lifeless hair a boost halfway through the day/evening can make a huge difference

Hydrating Mist | In humid weather, a spray of this feels amazing - not only on your face, but hands and feet too

Power Bank | For self-confessed phone addicts like myself , these are a god send (when you remember to charge them before..)

Moisturizer | Freshen and revitalize your body, face, hands on the go, especially  lovely if it has a strong floral scent

Lip Balm | This is probably a given, but lip balms (especially with SPF) are essential during the hot weather and ones like this can double-up as a gloss

Pocket Mirror | A necessity for every bag, when your phone's died at the front camera is not an option for mirror-usage, a pocket mirror won't let you down.

Shadow Stick |When you don't have time for the blending eyeshadow business, for ease and lack of effort, shadow sticks are perfect for emphasizing eye colour. 

Touch Up ConcealerFor on the go, ideally you need a touch-up kind of concealer that doesn't require much faff. Concealer pens are ideal as you can apply straight from the tube as liberally as you want. 

Clutch | Something simplistic that can take you from day to night. 

21 Jul 2016

The Girls by Emma Cline | Book Review

An insight into the culture of the era, in 1960's California, we are found inside the head of a teen who is longing for attention from just about anyone. Her parents are recently divorced due to her father's cliche affair with his secretary, and her mother now trying to recover with a series of new boyfriends. Her disjointed family life leaves her vulnerable and angry, leading her into the arms of a rogue group of girls and the dangerous aura that surrounds them. They are living an undefined commune-esque life on a ranch in the hills; a life which Evie immerses herself into. Evie's involvement in the cult intensifies and begin to spiral out of her control. Reminiscent of a gender-inverted  A Clockwork Orange, the 'girls' replace the droogs, and rather than dystopian fiction, this is loosely based on historical events of the Charles Manson cult. 

 The alluring nature of danger is tangible through the novel from the beginning, creating an atmosphere of disturbance and unease from the word go. The sinister events that take place create a can't-look-but-have-to kind of atmosphere, which is both unsettling but makes you want to read on. Cline has been praised for her accuracy in depicting the psych of a young, vulnerable girl at 14, struggling through the rights of passage and life lessons that this age inevitably sets forth. I think this praise is just  as her depiction of Evie is entirely relate-able, The need to be accepted is a reality for any generation, but particularly poignant for teen girls for whom self-validation is a must. 

Written in prose, the poetic style of the language renders the first couples of chapters slightly inaccessible without perseverance and requires a certain amount of re-reading to get your head around and eventually get into. However, it is worth pursuing and pays off in it's ability to build tension to an unbearable point. The novel jumps between Evie as a girl in 1969, and her as a middle-aged women, reflecting on her life. This anaphoric structuring does allow Cline to hint to the atrocities to come and the immensity that it will take by describing how tragic Evie's life has become as a direct result. I also found echoes of Wilde's Dorian Grey resonating in Cline's language; the beautification of violence is created using her poetic prose, emphasizing the grotesque and gore as something to behold. After all, glamorizing that what is not actually as pleasant as it seems is a human way of dealing with it and as Evie finds, although something is alluring, it is not necessarily a good idea. 

I would say, there is a very startling, almost hard to believe, jump from runaway teens living a carefree, promiscuous life, away from the regiment and order of society, stealing from garbage bins and local shops where we first meet them, to becoming cold-blooded, ruthless killers. As a reader, you have to just go with it. Is this a comment on the extremities that one will go to if it means  they belong; Suzanne and the girls way of showing Russell their worth? Or simply an accurate portrayal of the actual events.  Although the murders do not come as a shock, alluded to throughout the novel and especially if you are aware of the Charles Manson story already, this transition is rather shocking. Perhaps, as narrated from Evie's perspective (although she wants to be, her exclusion as one of them is continuously alluded to), Cline may be referring to Evie's denial from the reality of the atrocities the gang were capable of, until it made the news. 

The novel also covers similar themes to We Need to Talk About Kevin; the nature vs nurture debate is alluded to by Cline in the consistent subplot of her father's affair and consequent breakdown of the family unit. Is this the cause of her desperation to be accepted, regardless of what it takes to get there? Are they to blame?

On the surface, the novel is gripping, satisfying and immersive. It is easy to get carried away in the deeper themes, analyzing Cline's motives as the author, especially given the context, but it is undoubtedly worthy of all the attention it has received thus far. The more reviews, perspectives and research I read on Cline's topic for her debut novel, the more I understand why she has chosen this fascinating backdrop. 

19 Jul 2016

The Algarve's Prettiest Town | Tavira

Considered one of the Algarve's most charming towns, Tavira is one of those places you can spend hours happily wandering through the cobbled streets aimlessly with nothing in particular planned. Unsurprisingly, it echos the beauty of Lisbon in the colourful, azulejo tiled buildings and the ability to wander upon a breathtaking viewpoint at every corner, but Tavira lacks the hustle and tourism that overwhelms the capital city in the height of summer. It is a short drive from Faro and only a few minutes from the coast, and it is a perfect location for a morning spent away from the beach. 

Undoubtedly, the attraction that you can't miss is the Ponte Romana. A seven-arched bridge dated from the seventeenth century, it is beautiful to look at and if you're lucky enough to be walking over it with live music playing, very atmospheric. 

You can't go to a Portuguese town/city and not come home with your Camera Roll overloaded with pictures of the iconic Portugese tiles that decorate the streets. 

The castle ruins are also a must-see, with gardens of beautiful flowers and arches, the attraction offers some of the best views over the town. 

You also can't go to Portugal and not indulge in the customary Portugeuse custard tarts (or pastel de nata as they're known), so naturally after a few hours of exploring, we had one or two alongside an iced coffee.

Visiting on the day before a festival, the streets and plazas were decorated in colour for the festas and they did nothing but add  to the town's charm. The central Bandstand Gardens are worth wandering through and the bandstand itself is home to a lot of very cute turtles.


12 Jul 2016

IT Shoes | Leopard Print Mules

This is one of those trends where I find it impossible to see why they haven't been fashionable forever. Effortless, bold and comfortable, the rise of the mule has taken the high-street by storm as there is no easier way to update your outfit than with a pair of these, heeled or flat. The simplicity of the design allows both designer and high-street dupes to look just as chic as the next. As someone who is just incapable of walking in any kind of heel without stumbling around uncomfortably, but could really do with the extra height, the mid-height block heel allows both stability (despite the lack of ankle strap) and those ever-so-important extra few inches. I am forever looking for a solution to my high-heel intolerance so I was more than happy to jump on this bandwagon and invest in a pair or two. Their versatility is also a big USP; you can wear them from day to evening, paired with either a pair of denim cut-offs or to give an edge to a floaty summer dress. 

These ASOS mules sold out in no time and it took a lot of website-checking and page refreshing to finally nab them in my size last week. The leopard print is different yet understated; the heel the ideal height to wear them all-day, all-night and for just over twenty pounds, you can't find better value for money. 

Top | ASOS £12

Culottes | Boohoo £15

Sunglasses | Primark

11 Jul 2016

The Muse by Jessie Burton | Book Review

The ability to read, I'm realizing, really comes down to your state of mind. When I've got a lot going on in my head, I can go a four-hour train, car or plane journey just staring out the window to pass the time. Yet, on holiday, I can devour the best part of a novel in one sitting and move straight onto the next without wanting to pause for thought. Perhaps this is why summer is typically renound as reading-season and the amount of books you can get through in just a week alone rises exponentially in comparison to the rest of the year. Whilst on holiday in Portugal recently, I picked up Emma Cline's The Girls, having not read a book beginning to end in a while, and quickly remembered the necessity of getting lost in another world once in a while and the pleasure you can derive from it. 

As soon as I put it down, I moved onto Jessie Burton's The Muse. Having read The Miniaturist last year, Burton's debut novel which was hugely acclaimed, I had high hopes for this one and was not disappointed. The narration interchanges between 1960's London and 1930's Andalusia; two entirely polarised contexts seen through the eyes of two young girls; Odelle and Olive, respectively. A world away from from the claustrophobic setting of Brandt's puritan walls in Amsterdam, Burton offers two realms for her story. The girls' lives share huge parallels; the most poignant being their artistic talent which is somewhat repressed.  Olive, a talented painter recently accepted into a prestigious Art school, yet made to feel unworthy by her father, is similarly adjusting to new surroundings in Southern Spain as a means of alleviating her mother's depression. Locals, Isaac Robles and his younger sister Teresa come to help the family, both whom play a pivotal part in Olive's future. 30 years on, we meet Odelle, an aspiring writer and an immigrant from Trinidad who traveled to London five years previous, adjusting to life in a city that is less than warming to her presence. She eventually accepts a typist position at the Skelton Art Gallery, introducing her to Majorie Quick; an intimidating, self-assured business woman that takes an immediate shine to Odelle. It is a mysterious piece of art ties the lives of Odelle and Olive together; it's origins ominous and opens the reader to a series of mysteries and tales of love, lies and deception ensue. 

An investigative, quick-paced air of The Da Vinci Code in 1960's London, but the cultural richness of a Garcia Marquez novel, the pace, plot and language on the surface is enough to obtain your attention until the very end. Both narratives have a romantic sub-plot weaved into the stories, but there is no 'happy ending' as such in either. Burton's approach to relationships is far more realistic, as is her approach to human nature in general. Perhaps due to the historical influence of the novel, the emotions of the characters seem raw and not over-dramatized; there is authenticity in the actions of her characters and with this, not all her characters are likable or meet the end you will them to

Beyond the relationships of the characters, Burton uses the genre of historical fiction to add a further dimension to the novel. The undertone of war, be it the remains of London's recovery after WWII, or Olive's life set amidst the brutal atrocities of the Spanish Civil War, set a very dark backdrop to the novel, bringing into question the superficiality of art through the presence of the two, side by side, in the novel. To think that Peggy Guggenheim is setting up galleries and auctioning paintings at a time when cities are being destroyed to the point of nonrecognition is a jolting contrast. Is this wrong or does the world need art? The fact that the two happenings can starkly co-exist says a lot about the world, then and now. After all, what use is a painting if there is no longer a building in which to hang it? The novel raises a lot of questions beneath the surface that you could spend hours pondering on. 

It reminded me of female novelists, amongst the likes of George Eliot, who have used gender-ambiguous pseudonyms for centuries to publish their work, restrained under a patriarchal society. I suppose it is poignant that Burton lives in a day and age where she can freely release her work into a society that will accept it's genius for what it is, regardless of the creator's gender - she is able to do freely what her protagonists are challenged by. Yet, do the demons that come with success still linger in this day and age? 

My only real qualm of the novel itself is the revelation that Majorie Quick is, in fact, Teresa Robles. As far as I could see, there are no textual or characteristic clues that would, even subtly, indicate that this would be the case. Although it works as a plot twist that Teresa met Reede on the boat to England and began her new life from there, stumbling into a life where she coincidentally will meet the girlfriend of her brother's alleged masterpiece, I found it tenuous that this business-orientated, almost fearsome women (who reminded me a lot of Marin from The Miniaturist in characterization) could be the same girl who we meet in Azazuelo at sixteen, foolish and naive. Granted, over thirty years have passed, but I would like to think that her characteristics would still transpire in her identity in some way, at least for continuity. If these clues do exist, perhaps it would take a second read to make them visible. I am also not sold by the cover - to me it screams Christmas and tradition..?!

Regardless, I loved the book and cannot sing it's praises enough. There are so many avenues to explore with this text and it is rich with meaning, observation and reflection on such a vast variety of themes. It is extremely easy to forget that you are reading historical fiction, partly down to the mysterious twists and turns of the story, and partly due to the effortless flow of the writing and it's ability to captivate you and draw you in, as a novel should.

Tragic, rich, mesmerizing; it is a beautiful, mysterious story that will keep you page-turning with urgency until the very end. 
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