Coffee and Me

Credit: Snapbythree- va Unsplash

 

About a month before we went on holiday in June I decided to give up milky coffees.

 

I drink at least three or four coffees a day, two mugs before work and then one at nine and the other around 11 am.

 

Not only do I like the caffeine kick to help wake me up I love the taste.

 

That said, it was causing me two problems.  I was full before even thinking about breakfast and I think the dairy was leaving me bloated.  I’m not a doctor, but I’ve taken an intolerance test (Cambridge Nutritional Sciences) and know that cow’s milk and sady, cashew nuts, should be avoided.

 

Leaving the intolerance aside, not eating breakfast was leaving me with low reserves of energy to keep me going through the latter part of day, but also, I would eat most of my daily food intake during the evening, erm, and then go to sleep on a full stomach.

 

I was basically enduring a famine during the day, when I needed to nourish my body with energy-giving food the most, and then rewarding myself for getting through it at the end of the day.  What is she doing, I hear you cry?!

 

It’s amazing how you can pick up bad habits and live with them for a long time, without realising the harm they’re doing.  Perhaps these habits had been okay during my twenties and thirties, but not in my forties when I need all the energy I could get, and this pattern was obviously not helping.

 

So, my day needed a better start, but should I cut the coffee?

 

According to the British Coffee Association drinking coffee can have a positive effect on an individual’s alertness and concentration.  Well known for containing caffeine, a mild central nervous system stimulant, it can aid a better performance and benefit when an individual is feeling tired or lethargic.

Credit: Devin Avery pic via Unsplash

 

Keeping coffee in the equation was therefore a necessity and in truth a part of my daily routine I was keen to keep, so first off, I dropped the milk and went straight for an Americano (black coffee), using the same instant coffee, but to be honest without the milk is was a bit bland.

 

Luckily, we do have a Nespresso coffee machine that my mother-in-law bought us when we got married.  At the time we made lots of cappuccinos, but it hadn’t been regularly used for a while, so off I went to my nearest store at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway.

 

The assistant sat me down and asked me what type of flavour I was looking for.  Not being a connoisseur, and giving a poor description “uh, something quite strong please” she began pouring a few samples.  After a few that were too light and a couple that were too intense for me I ended up choosing Roma, which offers ‘a balance of lightly roasted south and Central American Arabicas with Robusta beans, giving it sweet and woody notes and a full lasting taste on the palate’.   Roma is an intensity level eight in flavour.

 

I have started enjoying two espressos in the morning, along with drinking lots of water throughout the day.  At first, I thought I would suffer a headache or two, but no those two small cups were enough to get me started and keep me going for some time.  I would then have an Americano around 11ish.

 

A new habit has been formed and because I’m not full of the milky mugs of coffee I have started to eat earlier in the day.  Breakfast is now fruit and yogurt or at the weekends a cheeky crumpet and peanut butter, or a lean bacon butty (with the fat cut off and no butter).

 

At least I’m starting the day better.

 

Since getting stuck in to the espressos I’ve also tried the Nespresso pod dupes from Aldi.  I love the Colombian Coffee Pods

which have an intensity flavour level of 6.  Perfect!

 

I really kind of love the mornings now.  I’m getting the hit, starting the day off stronger and I don’t have a bloated tummy from all the milk I was drinking.  I can also choose different coffee tastes to suit my mood, so I’m building a selection of choice rather than reaching for the same jar every morning. Yep, I’m really enjoying all the benefits. I think this new habit is going to stick.

 

Hope you had a good weekend folks.  Here’s to a great week!

 

 

Gail xxx

Three Reasons To Wear A Belt

 

I haven’t really worn belts for a while. Hadn’t really thought they were necessary to be honest.  My jeans were staying up or if they needed a hoist it didn’t seem to bother me that much.

 

The lack of belt love became more obvious when I ventured in to the wardrobe to look for a belt for my holiday and I found a number a low slung wide belts from the 2000s and a couple of elastic/plastic numbers that I can’t believe are still hanging around.

 

Obviously people do still wear belts.  This Gucci belt is THE belt to own right now, but at £315 and my past history with belts to keep my head in check, my hard-earned cash was safe.

So why did I want a belt anyway.   I’ll give you three reasons:

 

  1. I wanted it to appear as if I have a waist.  Sometimes denim and in this particular case, denim shorts, need something to help give you a bit of shape
  2. Accessories, when done right, turn a plain outfit into something way more stylish.  A great belt can be just the finishing touch you need
  3. I wanted to switch up the look of several outfits.  See dress below.

 

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I think I actually prefer the dress worn with the tan belt, but it’s great to have the option.

 

So without having over 300 hundred quid for a Gucci I looked around for some dupes and ended up with the double circle tan belt from Miss Selfridge (via ASOS) for £10.  I didn’t want to go mad now did I!!  It could end up in the drawer with all the others.

 

But I absolutely love it.  I wore it loads on holiday and I’m still wearing it back in blighty.  I’m chuffed to bits with it and to be honest I don’t need to swop it for a more expensive version.

 

If you fancy belting up (couldn’t resist), here’s some options.

Have a great weekend!

Gail xx

A Week on the Amalfi Coast

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Visiting the Amalfi Coast was a long-held romantic dream of mine. I had wanted to spend my honeymoon on a beautiful clifftop hideaway, but we ended up in Vegas.  I know, go fgure.  So for our 10th wedding anniversary I was taking no chances, the flights were booked well in advance.  Whatever it cost (and to be honest it didn’t break the bank) I was going and him indoors was coming with me.

 

Getting there…

 

Again, as we do with most of our flights, we booked with Easy Jet.  Tickets were around £150 return, per person, and I booked about 10 months in advance.  Flying out of Bristol, the flight to Naples took just under three hours and for this flight it was an early alarm call of 3.00 am, which I normally try to avoid, but sometimes you just got to go with it.

 

Arriving in Naples just after ten we looked out for someone holding a card with The Painters across it and off we went.  Traffic in and around Naples is super busy and arriving during a rain storm didn’t help, but we were soon winding along the Amalfi coastline and it took around an hour and 40 minutes at a cost of around £100 to get us to our hotel.

 

You can train it to Sorrento and get a taxi or ferry to various destinations, or of course hire a car, but from what we witnessed, someone else driving along the narrow clifftop roads where you’re squished into awkward spaces as vehicles manoeuvre to get by, was preferable to the other options. You need bags of patience and nerves of steel for that journey and SP and I bickering wouldn’t have been the idyllic start to the holiday I was aiming for.

 

Where to stay…

 

When it came to choose the perfect place to stay I asked my sister-in-law who had honeymooned in the Amalfi Coast the previous year.  I knew I didn’t want to stay in a big resort like Sorrento and reading reviews of Positano led me to think it was over-priced and over-crowded (I was right), so when she said to look at Praiano, a quieter spot with a 10 minute boat ride into Positano, I knew I’d found our holiday home.

 

A bit more digging around on destination websites and I found Hotel Le Fioriere, which offered the one thing I know SP loves (aside from being near water) a rooftop terrace.

 

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Run by brother and sister, Luigi and Rosalia, who made us feel immediately welcome and at home, we stayed on the first floor in a large sea-facing room that included a double and sofa bed.

 

Aside from the great location (in between Positano and Amalfi), breakfast was plentiful and served buffet-style with plenty of fresh coffee, our room was clean and tidy with a balcony, and the restaurant, Voce e Notte Grill and Sunset Bar, was an absolute treat.

 

We couldn’t believe our luck to find such a perfect view that we could enjoy every night.  The menu isn’t lengthy but offers plenty of delicious choice.

 

As for drinks, Steve worked his way through a number of Italian craft beers and I enjoyed refreshing gin from Tuscany, thanks to Federica the bar manager, who was always on hand to talk us through and pour some of the country’s quality drinks.

 

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Where to visit…

 

Positano

 

A must-see, Positano is picture postcard perfect.  I wanted to come in to the town from the sea, so that we could feel the effect and it didn’t disappoint.

 

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Plenty of restaurants, naturally serving all the classic Italian favourites with a good selection of seafood dishes and a side order of chilled Peroni.

 

The beach has plenty of beds, roughly costing 20 euros each with parasol and little table and bear in mind that you’ll find few sandy beaches here, it’s all pebble-based so we took our aqua shoes.

 

We just went the once and to be honest that was enough.  It is heaving and I’ve read gets worse in July and August, when really it’s best to avoid if you’re not a fan of crowds

 

Ravello

 

A ten-minute bus ride can take 30 on the Amalfi Drive and luckily on our way to the town of Amalfi I found a seat.  Steve had to stand.  Public transport is slow, but it does get you from A to B for just two euros each.  With crowds already building in the day, once we got to Amalfi our first step was  straight on to the next bus to Ravello, the hilltop town with the most amazing views.

 

A large village some 335m up, the climb is steady on a full bus, but the views at the top are fabulous.  However, I didn’t capture any of it on camera as we grabbed a table in a café on the square on arrival and as we went to walk around the heavens opened, so along with everyone else we got the next bus back down to Amalfi.

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If you visit Ravello, I have heard that Villa Rufolo is a must-see.  With cascading gardens high above the coast, the views are spectacular.

 

Back in Amalfi, we just stopped for a quick ice cream, before getting back on a bus to Praiano.

 

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One Fire Beach

 

There are two small areas to catch some rays in Praiano and the one closest to us (signposted the beach, next to the church) was Lido, One Fire Beach.

 

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There are 300 steps to get this spot, but once down there two beds and parasol costs 40 euros for the day and you can jump in and out of the water to your hearts content, knowing that bar service, a shaded restaurant and clean loos are to hand.  Staff are young and friendly and there is a good energy about the place.  You can also catch water taxis from here to reach Positano.

 

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Where to eat and enjoy a Limoncello

 

There are two main areas in Praiano, Vettica Maggiore and the Marina di Praiano.  We stayed in the former, which is the first stop after leaving Positano, so we ended up eating and drinking around this area as the walk to the marina didn’t appeal.  We did it once during the day and it took around 40 minutes, but with no pavements, I didn’t fancy doing it again, on an evening.

 

Voce e Notte Grill and Sunset Bar

Our hotel roof-top restaurant and the reason why I booked our stay here, was the nicest spot we found in Praiano.  Friendly service, modern surroundings, great food and a choice of drinks with an absolutely stunning view, it was the easiest choice to ‘stay home’.

 

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Trattoria San Gennaro

Next up is the first place we visited as it was opposite our hotel and was featured in my copy of Rough Guide to Italy.  Trattoria San Gennaro is garden-based with white plastic chairs, but don’t let that put off.  You overlook the square where local kids kick a football around every night blowing off steam after a hot day and the view over-looks Positano.

 

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The food is fabulous.  I went for home-made pasta with prawns and courgette – scialatilli con zucchini e gamberitti and Steve had seafood.  Delizioso!

 

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We tried our first Lemoncello Spritz here and absolutely love it.

 

Tramonto d Oro

This restaurant is upmarket and boasts panoramic views over the coastline.  We dined here for our anniversary, so it was lobster for SP.  Gorgeous food and a fine dining ambience, where we felt completely looked-after.  Pricier than the others, but worth it.

 

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Café Mirante

The best thing about walking up 300 steps from the beach is stepping in to Café Mirante at the top, where the shades are up, the vibe is relaxed, and the drinks made to order.  They also come with free snacks.  We loved the Café Mirante Mule that specially made for us as we (I mean me) like gin.

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What to know…

 

  • The Amalfi Coast is busy in June and gets busier July to August
  • SITA buses (orange) are regular and cheap. You buy tickets ahead in shops, hotels, etc.
  • Small resorts like Praiano have little or no pavements and if the Amalfi Drive runs through it then you will spend a bunch of time pressed against a wall
  • There is a hotel in Praiano that has a lift to the beach Le Grand Hotel Tritone
  • SP and I agreed we came at the right time, with kids or walking issues the trip wouldn’t have been so successful
  • The church in Praiano has a gorgeous square in front of it. If you’re running out of cash, grab a bottle of wine and snacks from a supermarket, sit and enjoy the view with the locals.  It’s the same view as every restaurant nearby.

 

The last word…

 

In another lifetime, as a millionaire, I’ll go back to the Amalfi Coast by Super Yacht.  I do think that’s a great way to see it and I can totally see why cruises around this area are so popular.  It is simply stunning and jumping off and spending the day in Positano is a day well spent.

 

 

We loved it.  We also really enjoyed the last night of our holiday in Naples, getting back into the bustling city was great fun. It was alive and bursting with energy and we were advised to visit Antica Pizza Fritta Da Zia Esterina Sorbillo for one of its famous pizzas.  We queued for around 50 minutes to enjoy that pizza, but was super delicious.  Steve ordered the famous fried pizza, but in truth mine was better.

 

Visit my Instagram page and click on Highlights to see videos and more pics.

 

Have a great weekend folks!

 

Gail xx

 

Have you visited the Amalfi Coast?  Please share your thoughts below.

The Long and The Short Of It

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Our trip to the Amalfi Coast was everything I hoped it would be.  Picture postcard scenery, beautiful weather, delicious food.  It was a real treat and I’ll write up a blog post with all the details of how we got on soon.  In the meantime, as I know a lot of people have their holiday plans ahead of them, I wanted to give you feedback on the clothes situation and in particular what I felt I didn’t have.

 

Obviously, I had done a little bit of shopping before I went away and had focused on dresses and swimming costumes mainly.  However, when I got there I found that the most worn item, apart from two blue dresses, was my trust pair of denim shorts.

 

They’re just the easiest item to pack and perhaps the pair above are getting a little short for me now (!), but I still reached for them nearly every day.

 

To be honest I wished I’d taken more pairs.

 

I didn’t expect that to be the case, but for sightseeing, general trudging to and from the beach, having a pair of shorts was the handiest, simplest and coolest item to pair up with T.shirts and strappy vests in the day and dressed up with light flowing blouses or crisp cotton shirts and piles of jewels in the evening.

 

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Daisy dukes aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.  I understand that. But I’ve taken a look around and retailers this season have taken this on board and introduced longer length denim shorts.

 

If you don’t want to reveal your thighs to the world then a length that ends just above the knee can give you a more flattering silhouette.  Takes me back to the cycling shorts of the eighties!

 

Marks & Spencer has even introduced a Sculpt and Lift Denim Short. Made in cotton, the denim has added stretch so that it is kind to your curves and helps accentuate your figure.  See the red pair in the reel below.

 

It’s worth trying on shorts with a nice pair of wedge espadrilles. The perfect summer shoe, they generally are easier to wear than strappy heels and can elongate the leg.

 

What do you think?  Fancy trying some on?  Here’s a selection of shorts on the high street.

 

Have a great weekend.

 

Gail xx

Summer Holiday: Part 2

 

Who doesn’t want to look nice on holiday?  However it can be tricky finding the right outfits and taking all the things you ‘need’ in a 20 kg suitcase.

 

At forty nine I’m also treading a fine line trying to find new pieces to add to my holiday wardrobe while avoiding pieces that only the girls on Love Island can wear (they really need some diversity on that show, not all women, young or older, look like that).   I don’t want to look frumpy either.

 

There are certain parts of my body I want to keep cool, but don’t want to have on show (chubby top half) and that is causing me a few issues, but ultimately I do just want to look and feel nice.

 

In last week’s post I wrote that I was finding it really hard to get what I needed, but on Friday, determined that I wouldn’t head off to foreign shores with a face like a slapped ass, I headed back to the shops.

 

Perseverance paid off and I came home with three new pieces that I’m delighted with.

 

First off is this Mango dress for £49.99.  I love the fine stripes, pale blue colour, midi length and belt, which I can pull in for added shape.  Also thankful for the sleeves, for a bit of arm ‘armour’.  I think I’ll be wearing this sightseeing and dressed up for dinner.

 

 

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I bought this top, also from Mango (£29.99), which I originally thought would look great worn with my daisy duke denim jeans in the day.  Then I remembered I had a pair of linen trousers in the wardrobe, which are from Marks & Spencer’s Autograph range.  I bought these over 20 years ago, when M&S was a client of an agency that I worked for.  The office joke was I got paid by them each month and would then spend my hard-earned cash in their stores.  I loved the range though, still do.

 

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Lastly, I’ve gone out of my comfort with this linen button through dress from Warehouse.  I don’t like showing my chest and top half, but the colour of this dress drew me in.  I love yellow and this dress is super cool with large pockets.

 

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I think that’s it on the holiday shopping now.  Just a swimsuit to get and I’m heading straight to M&S.  My friend recently urged me to sign up for a Sparks card and it’s paying off, I’ve got 20% off on my card for swimwear this weekend.  Who doesn’t love a bargain?

 

Here’s some of the designs that M&S has in store and online.  I have my eye on the first one.

 

We’re heading off this week, so I’ll see you on the other side, unless you follow me on Instagram.  The next Not Givin In blog post will be on June 30th.  Until then, have a fab few weeks.

 

 

Gail xx