Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Family celebrations & holiday in Ljubljana

Faced with the challenge of packing for six days in the UK plus five in Ljubljana, with one day in Alicante both before and after my holiday, I tried not to panic. I had the advantage of a suitcase in the hold, which meant I wasn't limited in the number of clothes I could pack, however my trip was going to include a visit to north-east England as well as Slovenia. The solution, you won't be surprised to hear, was to create a travel capsule with plenty of layers.

My new summer skirt
Regular readers know that I'm a "jeans and t-shirt" fan, so I only have a few dresses and skirts in my wardrobe, however I discovered this skirt recently in a local shop. I thought I would only wear it in Ljubljana when going out for dinner, however it was lovely and sunny in South Shields for my cousin's Golden Wedding Anniversary celebrations, so I wore it there too.

There be dragons!
 My two daughters, Vicky and Kate, came to Ljubljana with me, so my birthday holiday was extra special. We did a walking tour of the city, which included tickets to the Castle, where we found out about the famous Ljubljana Dragon.

Having lunch in Bled Castle, overlooking the lake
Another highlight of our holiday was a trip to Lake Bled. We walked up to Bled Castle, but splashed out on a taxi for our return trip (our excuse being that it saved valuable sight-seeing time!)

Apart from my green skirt, I packed a pair of jeans (for the UK), smart navy trousers, beige cotton trousers and a lightweight navy patterned pair. I took the tops I had worn for my 10 x 10 challenge, plus a couple more, making sure that they would go with all of my bottoms. My colour scheme was neutrals of navy and beige (plus my olive skirt) with accents of red, orange, coral and blue. I also packed my favourite red trench-coat as well as a short-sleeved coral jumper and a navy cardigan in case it was chilly up north (it wasn't!)

We all loved Ljubljana (even though it was full of other tourists!) as it is a beautiful city, plus the locals were very friendly and spoke good English, though they also appreciated our attempts to speak some Slovenian. We rented an apartment close to the city centre, with the idea that we could cook for ourselves, but there were so many good restaurants beside the river that we ate out most days. This time I had packed some dressy tops for changing into in the evening, so there was no need to do any hand washing!

Although I'm not a travel blogger, I thought I would share some other photos from our holiday in Slovenia.

We enjoyed a boat trip along the Ljubljanica river

One of many lovely squares, with the castle in the background

More like a country scene than a city view!

View from Ljubljana Castle

Ljubljana Castle

View of Bled Castle from the lake
Our boat was driven only by manpower!

We went by boat to the island in the middle of Lake Bled

Bled Castle

View over Lake Bled from the castle

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

10x10 challenge - the outfits

The first five days weren't going to be too difficult, as all I had to do was select five different tops to go with my three pairs of trousers. However over the next five days I would need to repeat some of the tops and ensure that I wore them with different trousers, which is when I realised that patterns weren't necessarily a good idea. One to remember when packing for my next holiday!

Yes, I had two patterned trousers and two patterned tops in my ten  items, which definitely won't go together. My three plain tops though are more versatile.

A practical problem arose because of the hot and at times muggy weather, making me a bit sweaty over the ten day challenge (Sorry, too much information!). As I was at home and not on holiday, it was easy enough to wash my clothes when necessary during the ten days, however I cheated when I went out one evening to an event in Jumilla Castle and wore a different outfit that wasn't in my original selection.

I'm now planning an eleven day trip to the UK and to Slovenia.  That's definitely going to be challenging (though I've paid for a case in the hold on my flights) however I've learnt a few lessons from doing this challenge. I'll be packing more than ten items but I'll still be creating a capsule that will mix and match.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Summer 2018: 10x10 Challenge.

I thought it was time that I tried out another challenge and this one is only for 10 days so hopefully it won't be too - er - challenging!

The idea behind this challenge - in case it isn't patently obvious to you! - is to choose 10 items of clothing to wear over the next 10 days, ensuring that you don't repeat yourself and that you create 10 different outfits. I guess that if you have 10 dresses in your wardrobe that you can wear each day it would be quite straightforward, but my wardrobe mainly consists of separates and my "go-to" uniform is trousers and tops.


I chose seven tops as shown above and the following three pairs of trousers, so clearly I need to wear a few tops more than once. The items I selected are mainly cotton and linen and most are loose-fitting, as temperatures in Spain at the moment are in the mid to high 30s (that's degrees Centigrade), so being cool and comfortable is high on my list of priorities

Having chosen my ten items, I immediately realised that I had limited my options a bit by choosing two patterned tops and two pairs of patterned trousers, which clearly won't go together. If this was a holiday capsule I'd make some changes, but as I'm at home and can wash things over the next 10 days it won't really matter.

My plan is to post photos of my outfits, probably in two lots of five, so you can see how it worked out. If you decide to take part in this challenge please let me know how you get on.

The inspiration for doing this challenge came from Leanne of Classy Yet Trendy, who writes about capsule wardrobes and creates many different e-books. If you click on the above link you can find out more. So - anyone want to join me?

Monday, 30 July 2018

Wedding in Florence & sightseeing in Rome

The wedding in Florence was absolutely amazing, and I am sure that my friend Callie thinks that in the end it was worth all the angst caused by her dealings with bureaucracy both in the UK and Italy! In the photo below you can see the beautiful Villa le Piazzole where the wedding reception and evening celebrations took place, after the wedding mass in the lovely Chiesa dei Santi Apostoli in Florence. I have shared some beautiful photos of Callie and Emilio's wedding on my Facebook page.

My wedding outfit
How did my travel capsule work for sightseeing in Florence and Rome? It proved very versatile, however I hadn't quite allowed for how hot and sweaty I would get walking around the two cities and that I would feel the need to change my outfit every evening after showering, so I needed two outfits per day!  Luckily I was able to wash a couple of tops plus a dress (after a waitress spilt my glass of prosecco over  it in Florence!) I bought the red striped top shown below in the sales in Rome and the one in the second picture was bought in the sales in Alicante, so I had plenty of clothes to wear. The only item of clothing that I never wore was my blue jacket, which I had taken "just in case".

La Bocca della Verità
I wasn't as nervous as Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in "Roman Holiday" when I put my hand in La Bocca - but there again, I hadn't been telling any fibs!

Sight-seeing in beautiful Florence

The Colosseum - where else?
I had booked a tour of the Colosseum on-line, with tickets for entry at 08.45. It was definitely worth arriving early, as it wasn't too hot while we were walking about plus it wasn't very crowded when we entered, though it became a lot busier later on.
I couldn't miss the Spanish Steps!
 It is impossible to see everything in Rome when you're only there for 4 days, though I did visit the Trevi fountain one evening and throw in a coin, so I'm definitely returning some time! I had also booked a tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, which was amazing. A shame, though understandable, that you can't take photos in the Chapel.

Another highlight for me was the Galleria Borghese, which is set in lovely gardens. I rather liked the Rules for the Villa!

I am very grateful to my daughters for joining me on my first holiday without John. Kate came to Florence with me for the wedding (travelling via Rome) and then she flew back to London while Vicky kept me company in Rome. They made it a lovely memorable holiday for me.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Planning a holiday wardrobe

When you're going through hard times it's good to have something special to look forward to, to help you feel more positive. What could be more special than the wedding of my dear friends Callie and Emilio in Florence, Italy? 💕I'm flying to Italy on Friday 6 July, so it's time to plan my holiday wardrobe.

If you're going abroad for a wedding too, or planning your summer holiday in a hot climate, no doubt like me you are wondering what to pack. There are plenty of blog posts to inspire you, however I've found that many of them are talking about beach holidays and packing lots of swimwear. I'll be in Rome as well as Florence, so I don't think swimwear will be appropriate, do you? 😎

I also hope to fit in some sight-seeing, which may include visiting churches, so I need to have suitable clothes for these activities as well as the actual wedding. Apart from the wedding outfit, my holiday wardrobe will be casual, comfortable and hopefully chic! I am looking at mostly natural fibres, with linen trousers (yes, I know they will crease!), cotton tops and a few mixed fibre items. As usual, I will decide on a colour palette that should let me mix and match my clothes to create different outfits.

This blue and white top is so light and cool that it's a must for my holiday wardrobe! I am
also taking the two pairs of linen trousers shown: the slightly cropped dark grey ones in the middle and the full.length navy ones on the right. As you have no doubt guessed, my neutrals will be
navy and grey.

 Tianna Linen Crop Trouser

Here are the tops that I plan to take, which will add a touch of colour. I am also going to pack the turquoise and striped dresses shown on the bottom row.

No prizes for guessing my favourite accent colours: turquoise, orange and red. I will pack my navy and coral Decathlon shoes for walking, as they are so comfortable, plus two pairs of ballerina shoes for a slightly smarter look in the evenings.

I love Decathlon's ballerina pumps for walking!

Orange ballerinas. I'll take red ones too.

I am adding colour with accessories too. A totally neutral outfit isn't my best look and I need contrast in my outfits. I will also include a wrap and/or lightweight scarf to cover my shoulders if I enter any churches when sightseeing.

How about you? Are you planning a holiday in a hot climate and, if so, any tips to share?

PS I hope to have a photo of my wedding outfit to share with you on my return.

Monday, 21 May 2018

My husband John

Regular readers may have noticed my long absence and wondered why. I'm heart-broken to have to tell you that my beloved husband John died on 24 April after a short illness.

John and I enjoying a hike in the countryside near Jumilla
One reason that I'm sharing this with you is that I hope you will talk to the men in your life (whether it is your husband, partner, father, son or someone else) and ask them not to be brave and strong or to suffer in silence as so many men do. Tell them to share any pain that they feel, to be honest about nausea, weakness or any other symptoms that indicate they may be seriously ill. I will never know how many days it was until John told me he wasn't well, though I don't think it was that long as I could usually sense these things. All I do know is that, when he first mentioned his symptoms, I told him to tell his doctor when he went to renew his prescription for statins a couple of days later. On his return, I asked John what the doctor had said and what he had prescribed. Nothing!

I wasn't happy with this response so made another appointment for John and this time I accompanied him, having written down the many worrying symptoms in Spanish (we live in Spain and our doctor doesn't speak English), so that the doctor would be fully aware of the seriousness of the situation. I also emphasised that John had been ill for at least 10 days and that this was very unusual. This time our doctor prescribed three different medications and told John to come back the following week. Sadly, John never made that appointment. He collapsed on the Sunday, so I rang for an ambulance and he was rushed to hospital. John died a couple of days later.

I don't want anybody else to have to go through the pain that I've gone through, when my fit and healthy, seemingly indestructible husband died so suddenly. That's why I'm telling you this, in the hope that lessons can be learnt from my heart-breaking experience.

I would like to end on a more positive note though. I was fortunate to have spent over twenty six years with John, having met in London through the running club when we were both in our forties. We packed so much into those years, including travelling around the world twice. The first time was when John was best man at his friend's wedding in New Zealand and the second time was to compete at the Masters Track and Field championships in Australia. As well as sharing a love of travel, we had similar tastes in art and music and have been to many concerts in our local theatre since moving to Spain nearly ten years ago. We both enjoyed athletics (though John was a far superior athlete to me!) as well as watching other sports.

We adopted our dog Lisa not long after moving into our own apartment here in Jumilla, and I must say that she has been an enormous comfort to me. I also have so many precious memories of life with my kind, fun-to-be-with and loving husband. I am fortunate too in having so many lovely supportive friends here in Spain, as well as my wonderful family and many good friends in the UK.

Finally, I am flying to London on Wednesday to see family and friends, but will be returning to Spain on 8 June. Lisa will be staying with a friend who lives in the countryside a few miles away and hopefully will enjoy her holiday there. Once I return home, I plan to resume blogging, as John always encouraged me in my writing.

¡Hasta luego!

Monday, 2 April 2018

Start with a scarf - month 4

My William Morris scarf

The scarf that I chose to base my capsule wardrobe on is the William Morris daffodil print shown above. My first three months' pieces were a mixture of neutrals and bright colours, so for month four I decided to add some lighter colours, including my second neutral of camel. It's still cold here in Spain, so I haven't been wearing any of my short-sleeved tops or lightweight trousers as you can see in this month's selection. They will definitely be appearing in May though!

A reminder that the posts in this series have been inspired by The Vivienne Files, who has chosen six different Hermès scarves to base her capsules around. Do take a look at her post for lots more ideas from her beautiful capsules. My budget is slightly less than Janice's!

Here I've created a collage of the pieces so far.

Looking at all the pieces above, I can see that the grey shoes don't really go with the camel trousers, the gold shoes aren't ideal with the navy trousers and the cobalt shoes aren't suitable for everyday wear.  Clearly I don't have the expertise that Janice does! However looking at the collage as a whole, I feel there are still lots of possibilities in this capsule - after all most of the tops and bottoms go with each other and you only wear one pair of shoes at a time!