AN #OOTD EXPLAINED

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img_9997Outfit of the day 1.jpgoutfit of the day 2img_0029Top: ASOS, Jeans: Topshop, Bag: Zara, Shoes: Converse, Sunnies: “Ray Ban” (Bangkok market)

I’ve been slightly off the blogging track as of late. It’s been a pretty busy couple of months but I’m now settled back at home in London and I’m excited to start sharing outfit posts again – along with brunches, recipes and whatever else I think will tickle your fancy.

The sun is out, my Winter coat is already gathering dust at the back of my wardrobe (or “floor-drobe” as my Dad described it just yesterday…) and I’m feeling excited for brighter warmer days!

The Smock Top

With just 11 items listed on ASOS at the mo (and that’s 11 items I need in my summer wardrobe), “I Love Friday” is my newest and cutest ASOS find.

Frilly, floaty and fabulous.

The Jamie Jeans

“What Topshop jeans are you?”

The biggest debate amongst girlfriends – or is that just me?

Well (after years of hopping from Leigh to Baxter to Jamie to Lucas – yes, I’m still talking jeans here), the super stretchy cotton Jamie jeans have become my “go-to”. Five pairs and counting.

The Backpack

Tassels galore! My new baby.

The Converse 

I wore them at two and I’ll be wearing them at 92 (I hope). Converse will never get old. I have my eye on a yellow pair this Summer.

Have a lovely week & don’t forget to keep posted with what I’m doing on Instagram

xxxx 

MILAN

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img_9513Jeans: Zara, Shirt: Levi, Bag: New Look, Shoes: Nike, Bandana: ASOS, Shades: Ray Bans

I was home in London for two weeks (after four months of gallivanting) before it was time for my next trip.

Ridiculous?

Yes.

Necessary?

Absolutely.milan, blog,With previous experience of the “travelling blues”, my best friend Nat whisked me away from the cold and rain to spend the weekend in beautiful Milan. Milan, style blogTo make the most of the sunshine (and so we wouldn’t feel so guilty about all our feasting!) we avoided the metro and spent our days exploring Milan by foot. Milan, Travel, Quirky Chickenmilan, quirky chicken.jpgMilan, quirky chicken, fashionMilan’s infamous square, the”Piazza del Duomo”, is a great place to wander. With parades of designer and high-street shops, bakeries and gelato bars, we had found our very happy place!

And after taking a peak inside and then climbing to the top of Milan’s iconic Cathedral (and enjoying the awesome view), we treated ourselves to a delicious meal at Fresco & Cimmino – recommended to us as cooking up the best pizza in town. Fresco & Cimmino .jpgOur food was so good we couldn’t resist a second visit just before our flight back to London!milan, fashion, foodOn day two we found the artsy Brera district. Made up of cobbled narrow streets, boutique shops and authentic Italian restaurants.Milan, BreraMilan, Brera, Quirky Chicken(You know it’s authentic when there are red and white tablecloths, right?) Milan, Quirky Chicken, FashionJumper: ASOS, Jeans: Zara 

In the evenings we ventured to Navigli. Busy, buzzy and vibrant, whether you’re after a “posh” sit down dinner, drinks and live music or (as we were after a few gin and tonics) a slice of pizza bigger then your face for just a few euros, Navigli is the place to go. Navigli, Quirky Chicken, MilanNote: If you want a proper dinner, it is definitely worth booking a table as everywhere was super busy. milan, blog, quirkychickenMilan, you were fabulous and I’m definitely coming back! 

xxxx

 

A SLICE OF PARADISE

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Fiji ParadiseFiji paradise, travelFrom the moment we began organising our backpacking adventure last June, we had our hearts set on a visit to Fiji.

We decided it would be the last hurrah of the trip!

Before we left I would daydream about the greenest palm trees, the calmest blue sea and spending day after day lying on hammocks in the sunshine, kindle in one hand, mojito the other. fiji, travel, paradiseMy Fijian fantasy wasn’t wrong.fijian paradiseWe spent 12 days cruising a handful of Fiji’s islands with Awesome Adventures, a company that offers quick and easy transfers between resorts located on the Yasawa and Mamanuca islands. fijiWe hopped off at South Sea Island, Mantaray, Barefoot Manta, Blue Lagoon and Coral View (the latter being the only place we wouldn’t recommend to fellow travellers).

Everywhere else was breathtakingly beautiful, the people working there were some of the coolest and nicest people I met throughout my travels and the food was all utterly delicious.fiji, food, travelOn the rare occasion we became restless from our cycle of sunbathe-dip-sunbathe-dip, we could go paddle-boarding, kayaking, sunset tubing, snorkelling or hiking around the islands. fiji, travel blog, travel, paradiseEvenings were filled with activities like a trivia quiz or games night. We were even lucky enough to experience  a traditional Fijian Kava ceremony!fiji, drinks, cocktailsFiji was the perfect end to the most crazy fantastic four months of travelling.

Bula!*

*Fiji’s national greeting and the only word you’ll ever need.

Australia: The Highlights

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Our time exploring the East coast flew by. We travelled by coach from Melbourne all the way up to Darwin, stopping off to explore both cities and teeny tiny beach towns along the way. The further we climbed up the coast, the hotter it was and the only way to escape the sweat and humidity was to hit the beach for the breeze – it was a hard 7 weeks!

Australia beach life

With way too much to say about my awesome Oz trip and way too many photos to share, I have been brutal and picked just a small handful of my favourite East Coast must-see’s and do’s, the rest you’ll have to discover one day for yourselves, I promise it’s absolutely worth the trip!

Chapel Street, Melbourne

Totally edgy, Chapel Street is my top Melbourne hangout. Miles and miles long and bursting full of boutique shops, delicious foodie finds and quirky bars, it demands a full day of attention. Absolutely head to Journeyman Cafe for an eggs-ellent breakfast to fuel your morning wander.

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Botanical Gardens, Sydney 

The perfect place for the perfect view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Grab some picnic snacks and relax the day away in its beautifully kept grounds.

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Foodcraft Espresso & Bakery

Mmmmm! Have you ever seen something so tasty? Discover the most out-of-this-world shakes at Sydney’s Foodcraft Espresso & Bakery and when you’ve finished slurping, devour that donut and enter food coma heaven for the rest of the day.

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Byron Bay

Getting up at what felt like the middle of the night (5am)  to power walk to Byron Bay’s Lighthouse -the most Eastern point in Oz – to watch sunrise was hands down one of my favourite Oz experiences.

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Fraser Island 

Spend three days cruising around Fraser Island in 4×4’s, stopping off at beautiful fresh water lakes to sleep off your hangover from the previous night. We booked our trip with Dingos’ tour; the scenery was epic, the people were awesome and camping out under the stars was a real adventure.

2016-02-03 10.30.052016-02-01 18.05.57.jpgWhitsundays Islands 

The new way to cruise the Whitsundays Islands is with Ride To Paradise: a new trip aimed at backpackers wanting to escape hostel life to enjoy a little luxury for a couple of days! Spend two nights in an amazing resort, partying poolside and socialising around a campfire. During the days, the Ride To Paradise speed boat will take you to the best snorkel spots (we found nemo!) and beaches – it’s truly paradise.

Next stop: Fiji.

THE SOLO BACKPACKER

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After two months of backpacking Japan, The Philippines and New Zealand with one of my oldest and closest friends Phoebe, it was time to say goodbye. It was the most amazing eight weeks of crazy adventures, beautiful views and a lot of laughter, but sadly Phoebe had to return home to begin law school (I told her I wouldn’t blame her if she temporarily deleted me off all social media) and it was time for me to tackle the art of the solo backpacker…well for 10 days until my new travel bud Alice came flying out to meet me in Sydney!Despite feeling like a fully-fledged backpacker by now, the thought of going at it alone was a little daunting. For starters, what if I didn’t make any friends?

That, along with my terrible sense of direction and my dislike for eating alone in public was filling me with little excitement for the next chapter of my travels. 

Fortunately these worries quickly disappeared within an hour of arriving at my first solo destination. Just hanging out in the hostel’s communal area (secretly eying up what group I could inflict myself on), I got chatting with a girl who happened to live just 10 minutes down the road from me back home – it can be a very small world. 

Equipped with google maps (which I learned doesn’t need wifi to track your location – ideal), I managed to navigate myself with more ease than I had predicted around both Auckland and later Melbourne, stopping only occasionally mid-fluster at McDonalds to abuse its wifi to help me find my way. (Top tip for backpackers: there is always free wifi at Maccy D’s). Most excitingly, I only ate alone once. Armed with my kindle, it really wasn’t so bad.  The solo part of my travels might have been short-lived but it was definitely an experience I would recommend, if only as a gap to pass the time between fabulous travel partners!  

 

New Zealand 

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It’s been a month of crazy fun adventures here in New Zealand.

I’ve travelled both the North and the South Island with help from the Kiwi Experience, a tour I would definitely reccomend to backpackers seeking an easy, stress-free trip. Your route, activities and hostel accommodation can be easily organised by your driver en route and the hop-on-hop-off nature of the bus service is so simple to navigate. You’re welcome to stay in places for extra time and leave the bus to veer off the beaten track whenever you please. 

But the best thing by far about the Kiwi Experience is the people you’re bound to meet along the way who will make the memories of your trip ones to treasure. 

Struggling to put the past month into words , I thought I’d share some of my favourite moments with you in photos. 

So, here is my New Zealand story, beggining with a scenic kayak (and totally blog-worthy outifts) to Cathedral Cove.     The Tamaki Maori Village overnight stay was so special. Providing an insight into traditional and modern Maori culture, it was a fantastic evening of exciting performances and great food!   Jumping out of a plane  from 15000 FT in Taupo ticked a big weight off my bucket list. I’ll forever remember the terrifying feelings of free-falling through the air and my huge relief when the parachute was up – so awesome!  The view from the top of the mountain was well worth the  gruelling 12 mile hike across the Tongariro National Park. I promise the pictures really don’t do this scene justice.  The South Island’s Lake Wanka is breathtakingly stunning, my favourite place in all of New Zealand.    If you go to Queenstown and dont make a trip (or three) to Fergburger you’re making a very very big mistake.  A relaxing valley walk with a great group to admire Mount Cook, just a short bus journey away  from Lake Tekapo.   Swimming with wild dolphins in their natural environment in Kaikora was surreal. We were lucky enough to see hundreds – including the sweetest little baby dolphins too.  New Zealand you’ve been full of awesome adventures, I am so lucky to have spent a month exploring your beauty, Ki Ora! 

Next stop: Oz! 

THE TRIALS & TRIBULATIONS OF A BACKPACKER

Its been 28 days since Phoebe and I left home, since we traded our 9-6 jobs, peaceful bedrooms and clean bathrooms for life with little schedule, dorm rooms where hens cluck outside at 6am and showers where flip flops ought to be compulsory. 

So far we’ve covered parts of Japan, The Philippines and have just begun the Kiwi Experience in New Zealand. Each day brings new stories I can’t wait to share with my family and friends back home. 

It’s funny how easily we’ve become used to living life out of a backpack, eating out every meal, bartering the fares of trikes and taxis and feeling overly excited when we stumble upon free wifi.  We’ve learnt the hard way that toiletries left in the communal showers are fair game; to always check the loo before sitting incase there is a mouse trying to climb out (yes, this really did happen) and that when you pay less than £3 for laundry, you can’t expect to receive anything but more snug fitting clothes. 

Through these moments we have learnt to find the funny side, no matter how sleep deprived. 

Like the time we lucked out on Tokyo’s metro by bagging seats in its first class area. With a long journey ahead of us we settled in – chairs reclined, snacks opened, iPods and kindles sprawled – only to be asked to show our tickets moments later. Playing the innocent “we’re just young English girls who don’t understand” card didn’t fly with the straight-faced lady and we were escorted to the end of the carriage and shooed over to the jam-packed, sweaty neighbouring one where we clambered in red faced (a mixture of embarrassment and hysterical laughter at our poor effort) and unavoidably knocking commuters with our bulging backpacks.   Just last week our luck was tested again. We were in Cebu (The Philippines) and decided to go to a recommended beach an hour away. Upon arriving we scurried out of the taxi to make the most of the sunshine. As we strolled through a sea (pun intended) of people who were not so subtly staring at the two tourists crashing their private party, we found the ‘beach’. Only there was no soft beautiful white sand nor jaw-dropping surrounding scenery we have become so used to on this side of the world but a small and unkept area that makes South-End-On-Sea seem like paradise. With no nearby food or water, we were stuck in the middle of nowhere and decided to cut our losses and sneak into the nearest hotel. Little did we know it was a Shangri La hotel. Putting on our best voices and rehearsing our sob story, we somehow managed to blag our way in and enjoy an afternoon at its poolside bar. Disaster successfully averted. 

The hiccups in our journey are what keep our diaries interesting; they provide great conversation starters with fellow backpackers we befriend and (and please excuse the somewhat soppy ending) they make us appreciate all the great times even more. 

After all, a totally smooth adventure would really be no adventure at all!   

THE PHILIPPINES

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It has been the most beautiful couple of weeks.

Part two of my travels flew me to The Philippines for an island-hopping adventure. After a fantastic time in Japan (catch up with that here), I wasn’t expecting to fall so in love with another country but it seems each destination we explore, I leave wanting to return and (after speaking to fellow backpackers) having added several new places to my ever-growing bucket list.  What is refreshing about The Philippines is that it’s pretty new to the typical Asia backpacker trail. The beaches are paradise (often we’ve been the only people on them), the sea is the clearest blue I’ve ever seen and yet to be damaged by tourists, and apart from the occasional thunderstorm in the middle of the night, we’ve had the gorgeous sunshine.   While accommodation, food, activities and transport are inexpensive (we are spending about £5 a night on dorm rooms), getting around to different islands takes time and often it’s easiest to fly. 

With only two and a half weeks here, we chose to explore Palawan, Cebu, Oslob, Dumaguete, Apo Island and Siquijor. If time was on our side we would have fitted Coron and Boracay into the plan too.  El Nido, Palawan, has been my favourite spot. Full of idyllic beaches, secluded lagoons, delicious restaurants and a couple of buzzy beach bars to visit in the evenings. We stayed at OMP hostel, the perfect place to meet fellow backpackers. The staff are so friendly and breakfast is included, a huge treat for all backpackers!Cebu was our stopover before heading to Oslob to swim with whale-sharks (sharks that aren’t tempted by human flesh, or so we were told!). Though bombarded by tourists and over quite quickly, I would definitely recommend the experience – if only for the picture…We had a whale of a time!We also made a pitstop at Dumaguette so we could go to Apo Island, which is just a short boat ride away. Apo Island is the place to go to see giant turtles as they freely swim in their natural environment. They swim quite close to the shore and are easy to find, definitely one the coolest things I’ve seen all trip! We stayed at Kav’s beach resort and though it’s a little way out from the main town, its the nicest place we’ve stayed so far. We spent 3 nights in Siquijor. The island is fairly small and while we were there it was pretty empty of tourists. The best thing to do in Siquijor is to rent scooters. There is one main road around the whole Island, the views are amazing and there are some pretty waterfalls and beaches to enjoy on the way around. Baha bar in San Juan is a must-visit, happy hour is frequent and we had one of the best meals we’ve had all trip! For any fellow travel bugs, The Philippines (if it isn’t already) needs to be on your radar. 

Next stop: New Zealand. 

JAPAN

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Welcome to my first musings as a fully-fledged traveller. (Maybe not, but I do have a backpack and a ton of mosquito bites) 

We’ve now found our way to The Philippines where we plan to relax and soak up some sunshine, so I’m back with weekly posts clueing you in on all of our adventures – there’s already so much to say!

 A week in Japan rocketed past. We were super busy, squeezing as much as we possibly could into each day. We spent three days in Tokyo and from there headed South to Kyoto. It was awesome. 

Especially the people, so friendly and welcoming – just remember to always leave your shoes at the door!  There was so much to do in both cities, I could ramble on for pages. Must visits are Japan’s numerous historic national parks, shrines and temples. With Yoyogi park in Tokyo and the Gold Pavilion Temple in Kyoto being two clear winners. 

A highlight of Tokyo was its famous Fish Market. Full of hustle and bustle, it is an absolute treat for foodies! Offering the freshest fish, with delicious samples for passers by. As backpackers, free tasters are very exciting! We tried everything we could from delicious tuna sashimi to seafood crackers to the sweetest dessert ever, strawberry daifuki. So good, we had to go back for seconds.       A must visit in Kyoto is the monkey sanctuary, so cool! Found at the top of a mini-mountain, you’re greeted by a host of squawking monkeys (it’s a little terrifying at first) and an incredible view.   From the tasty food to the beautiful sites to the special people, Japan you were amazing and I have no doubt I’ll be returning to explore more. I absolutely recommend Japan finds a spot on your bucket list.   Have a great week. Should you need me, I’ll be sipping coconuts on a beautiful beach in El Nido. 

Xx 

& SO IT BEGINS… 

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backpacker, traveller, bon voyage

Hello! 

When you read this I will (fingers crossed) have made it to Tokyo. By now I suspect I’ll be fast asleep, exhausted from the plane journey and time difference. 

I hope we went for a good wander this afternoon and gorged ourselves silly on delicious sushi for dinner. 

I am pretty positive I am already worrying about the bits of my wardrobe that have been left at home and no doubt I’ll have plotted where we will be going ‘window shopping’ tomorrow. 

It has to be window shopping as my backpack is absolutely jammed full! 

These last few days, I have been absolutely spoilt by my friends and family. From a surprise dinner with my nearest and dearest to a Sunday brunch feast to cards with special farewell wishes, I was even showered with some thoughtful and very backpacker appropriate pressies I thought you might like to see! 

Backpacking, travelling, passport holderBackpacking, travelling, holidayBackpacking, travelling, diary, journaltrivia cards, Backpacking, travelling  

Eeeeeeek, I am so excited! 

And I look forward to keeping you updated along the way! 

xxxx 

Ps. How fantastic is the Patisserie Valerie cake my Mum surprised us with? I wish that could come with!