Summer Holiday Packing Tips


The holiday had been planned a year in advance.  I had booked our flights in February, spent hours researching various places to visit and finding the right accommodation.  So how come, with all the preparation under my belt and time in hand I found myself on holiday with a badly packed suitcase?  Not planning my suitcase properly was a harsh lesson and one I didn’t enjoy, but it did re-focus my efforts going forward.  Now I’m sharing my Summer Holiday Packing Tips so you won’t make the same mistakes I did.  Please read on and have a great holiday.

Note: this post has been updated from its original posting Holiday Wardrobe Wars, May 2016.


So what went wrong?

Back in 2016, I had, or thought I had, quite a good wardrobe of holiday clothes.  Built over many years, I had gradually got rid of items that were passed their sell-by date, didn’t look as great as they once had, or were so out of fashion it aged me.  In my head I had what I  thought was a decent number of pieces that were perfect for a summer holiday.

So when the time came around for our trip away I gave shopping for new stuff a miss.  I just bought one gorgeous cover up in River Island and an on-trend one-piece swimsuit, like one of these  for those stylish boat trips, oh and a new hat.  That was it.  A busy period at work meant that I didn’t have the head space or energy to give it any more thought and anyway ‘I had a wardrobe full of clothes to get me through the holiday’.

I was also trying to lose a little weight.  However, I hadn’t got to grips with The Body Coach 90 Day SSS Plan that I had been following (review of that plan here) and was struggling to drop the pounds. I’m sure I’m not alone in looking to lose half a stone before a summer holiday (don’t leave me hanging here girls!) so I simply doubled down my efforts to watch what I ate and hoped for the best.


There Was Trouble Ahead


You don’t have to be a fortune-teller to know what happened next. Yep, I went on holiday with a bunch of stuff that I would literally carry on my back (sadly in a backpack) for the duration of the holiday and not wear.  It either wasn’t what I really needed, unsuitable for the trip, or worse still, didn’t fit properly.  Over the next two weeks I would curse my lack of planning and attention to detail on a daily basis.


Back home I vowed that this would never happen again.  I had a big wardrobe reboot (I can help you with this too) and made a list of items that I keep pinned in my closet which I refer to each and every time I am going away.  It gets altered to suit each trip and with new additions, but I know all the items I can choose from depending on whether its a city break, long haul exotic destination or a week in Europe.


The Not Givin In No-Nonsense Summer Holiday Packing Tips

Since the experience I’ve also studied as a personal stylist so I can add to my original list of tried and tested summer packing holiday tips.  So here’s my 2019 Summer Holiday Packing Tips.  I learnt the hard way so you don’t have to…




  • Don’t take the same colour garment that’s cut in three different ways.  You don’t need five pairs of beige shorts in varying lengths.  Don’t pack for just in case, pack for what you need.


  • Don’t take something you have in the wardrobe and always pack, but never wear. (I’m the Queen of this).   If you take it each year, but don’t wear it, you don’t really like yourself in it, so pop it in the charity shop and use the space in your suitcase more wisely.


  • Don’t take a suitcase full of heels if you can help it.  At 5 ft 3 (and a bit!),  I do wear heels constantly, but they can take the joy out of relaxing and aren’t great walking across sandy beaches.


  • Don’t bother buying a hat before you go. It’s a pain in the bum carting it around.  Particularly in departures when you need 12 pairs of hands.  There will be plenty of hats at your destination, that can be worn and left to a new owner.


summer holiday packing tips



  • Make sure you get your holiday wardrobe out for ‘investigation’ at least three months in advance.


  • First off, take everything you didn’t wear last time that you went on a similar trip to the charity shop.  Chances are it’s been building up dust for years.


  • Give some serious thought to where you are going and what you will be doing.  Look at your itinerary and think about how you will spend your days. If it helps I would write down what you will be need for each day. Or simply write down what you can wear under headings, such as day-time, beachwear, night-time and sightseeing trips.


  • Check that everything fits, comfortably (cause that holiday gelato-a-day habit will bite you in the ass).


  • Take a mix of holiday classics and perhaps buy a few new on-trend pieces to go with them.  You don’t have to spend a fortune to update your look so that it’s current yet sophisticated.


  • Plan how each outfit works together, include shoes and accessories.  You can see how these overlap and reduce items like (heavy) shoes as much as possible.


Help Is At Hand


So that’s my top tips for making sure you start your holiday on the right foot.  I hope it’s helped.  If however, you’ve still got concerns, I can help more with a Holiday Wardrobe Reboot or we can go shopping together to find the pieces you need.  Simply drop me a line


Wouldn’t it be dreamy to arrive at your destination, unzip your suitcase and have the best holiday wardrobe of your life?  Trust me, you can.



Gail x




A Week on the Amalfi Coast


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.

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.


Where to visit…




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.

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




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.


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.


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.


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.


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’.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.

Summer Holiday: Part 1


Summer is here, she says, as rain washes over the garden!


May was fab, but it’s ended as a wash up, so I hope anyone who has managed to get away for the half term school holidays is having fun, either here or on foreign shores.


I can’t wait for my summer holiday.  SP and I are off to the Amalfi Coast in two weeks, for our ten year wedding anniversary.  Cue early morning runs and shopping like a madman, trying to find some things to add to the summer wardrobe, because the ten year-old stuff surely needs to be replenished now (any excuse).


I haven’t had much luck in the shopping department to be honest.  I spent two hours in town this morning and came home with nothing.  Maybe it was an off day, but my usual haunts aren’t inspiring me and I’m struggling to find pieces for me in other people’s favourites, like Mango.  That didn’t work either.


However, I am loving good ole M&S at the moment and bought this dress (£45) for my hols a few weeks back.  I had seen it on Instagram and ordered it straight away.


I love it Bardot-style, but also listened to another blogger, The Fashion Lift, who is wearing this style of dress as a one shoulder option too, copied by me on the home page.  If you like this dress, click here for more details.


Here are a number other dresses that I’m keen to try on in Marks & Spencer.  Some of which might be in a re-stock phase as they’re proving so popular.




Yes, I’m going for blues and neutrals for my holiday wardrobe this year.  Inspired by the new dress and loving the shades of blue around this season, I’m trying to include some more, and I’m trying to find more cotton and linen options as they’re both cool for when it gets hot.


After my poor performance this morning there is obviously more work to be done.  Follow me on Instagram to see how I get on and I’ll be back next week with an update.  I have to give myself a deadline or it won’t happen and I’ll end up in jeans in Italy!


Have a great weekend folks!



Gail xxx

A Long Weekend in Iceland


Last weekend, to avoid the severe weather, Steve and I went to Iceland.  Oh, how we didn’t laugh as we butted against minus double-digit temperatures after leaving a snowy, but warmer Bristol behind.


In truth, visiting Iceland had been a long-held dream of Steve’s (I really must stop that Lonely Planet subscription before we’re bankrupt) and I was taking him to see the Northern Lights for his 50th birthday.


Getting there…


Flights to Reykjavik are pretty reasonable.  I paid around £200 for two return Easy Jet tickets from Bristol and you can fly from most airports in the UK.  Our flight was early in the morning, which suited us as a band of bad weather that forecasters had predicted was due to blow in within hours after us.  As it was, our flight was delayed, and I did feel a bit nervous as I watched men de-ice the wings.  However, as soon as we got above the clouds the flight was smooth and in under three hours we had landed at Keflavik airport.


Where to stay…


My husband loves being near water, so I secretly booked the Icelandair Reykjavik Marina Hotel at the old harbour, which is the far side of town when you drive into Reykjavik and had received good reviews on Trip Advisor.  It was middle of the road cost-wise, around £860 for three nights bed and breakfast.  A trip to Iceland isn’t cheap.  You’re not in Kansas anymore Toto!


We loved this hotel. It doesn’t look much from the outside, but inside it was stylish, warm, friendly and clean.  The reception, concierge and dining facilities were on a par with a UK boutique hotel and Slippbarin, the restaurant and bar was good.  It wasn’t an extensive menu and certainly not cheap, but the food we had was delicious – pizza-style flatbreads, one-pot fish of the day dishes and a cheeseboard we can thoroughly recommend.  The gin was good too 😉 and Steve enjoyed his beer.


Our room was contemporary in design and big enough for us.  If you don’t like frosted glass en-suites then this might be a problem for you, but we didn’t mind and the bed was super soft and freshly-cleaned.  We were snug-as-a-bug.


The breakfast buffet had everything you can think of from continental choices to crispy fried bacon and bright yellow wedges of omelette and herbs.  Icelandic options (fish and salads) were available to tuck into and we finished our breakfast each day with a wedge of seeded bread, toasted and topped with honey.  We were set for the day.


Where to visit…


Blue Lagoon


The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is halfway between the airport and the capital and a friend advised us to visit as soon as we landed to make the best use of time.  There is a locker building at the entrance to the spa where you can drop off large hand luggage and then mosey on down to the spa itself.


Buy tickets ahead of your visit to Iceland and you can include travel to the spa and then on to your hotel, to make your journey seamless.  Our tickets included a small locker in the spa itself (you pay extra for the locker room I mentioned above), towel and a mud mask to enjoy while in the water.  It also includes a drink at the swim up bar, which was a lovely way to toast our arrival and the beginning of our weekend.


Whale Watching


SP loves sea life so going on this trip for us was a given.  I also spotted that blogger Best Before End Date had been and read up about this trip on her blog.  We ended up going with the same company, Elding Whale Watching, which was based just along from our hotel.


We had to arrive for a 9.00 am start, were offered a sea-sickness tablet and asked to get on a bus when we arrived as a shawl of fish that whales like to lunch on had been spotted in another area off the mainland.


There are no photos of the two hump-backed whales that we saw as I was one of many who didn’t fare well on the waves.  Do not decline the tablet when offered is all I can say.  You are out searching and following whales for three hours and once you feel poorly it doesn’t stop until you get off.  Many were absolutely fine, and I think I would have been worse if I hadn’t taken it.


The boat was big, with lots of space inside and outside and we were given bright red waterproof fishing overalls to protect our own clothes.  Like everything else you do in Iceland in winter, wear lots of layers, the wind is even more biting on the sea.


As for the whales there were lots of ooh and aahs as we watched them come up for air and a flash of tail was even seen.  If you enjoy a boat ride, don’t miss this.


The Northern Lights


Be prepared for a late, but fun night chasing the Northern Lights.  Our guide with Sterna Travel was very informative and talked about the history of the Aurora Borealis, the region we travelled through and shared some Icelandic ghost stories as we drank hot chocolate late into the night.


We really shouldn’t have seen the lights as there was a 0% chance the night we went out, but we were very lucky, and a smattering of the mystical green lights came out for us.


It wasn’t much I grant you and if you don’t see the lights you will be offered a return visit out to chase them the next evening.  Some companies keep the offer open for several years, free of charge, until you do.


For reference, we were picked up at 8.30 and dropped home at 11 to midnight, so make sure you don’t have another trip booked for early the next day.


The Golden Circle

This half-day trip leaves around midday and includes stop offs at three key locations in Þingvellir National Park in the south west of Iceland.  You will see the gorge at Almannagjá, which marks the eastern boundary of the North American tectonic plate, a Geysir Geothermal Area and the beautiful Gullfoss waterfall.


Again, another really lovely trip, that you must do.  Let me simply share with you the breath-taking views we enjoyed.


Where to eat and enjoy a beer


Icelandic Street Food


When you’re cold and hungry the Icelandic Street Food restaurant is the perfect place to take refuge.  Offering re-fillable bowls of Lamb’s Soup, Shellfish Soup and Fisherman’s Fave – a warming dish of fish and mashed potato, the young owner here has hospitality down to a T.  With his grandmother’s wishes close to his heart, no-one is allowed to leave this casual dining restaurant with an empty tummy.  Therefore, you can sit, take a break from the cold, and eat to your heart’s content. Service even includes free sweet treats.  When we visited there were mini macaroons, brownie squares and slices of carrot cake to tempt and make sure you had some sugary energy to carry on with your day.  Worth a visit.

Micro Bar

A small bar and you need to get on google maps to find it, but worth it.  I had researched best venues for beers ahead of our trip and this one was 10 minutes’ walk from our hotel, so we had to pay a visit.  We visited on a Thursday night and it was busy, but with plenty of places to sit.  In a cellar with lots of candle lighting the room, they offer a ton of different beers and you can grab yourself a sample tray and work your way through a number of good craft options.


What to pack…


Don’t skip over this bit, it’s important.  I cannot stress enough how frigging cold -15 can be.  Single layers will NOT be enough.  Therefore, keep an eye on the forecast and be prepared to pack this little lot:


  • Thermal vests
  • Base layers
  • Thin jumpers, hoodies, cardigans (that you can layer)
  • A padded/quilted coat (long if you have one)
  • Opaque tights or leggings you can wear underneath trousers
  • Trousers (jeans should be fine, but consider what you’re visiting, they’ll be horrid and cold if wet)
  • Waterproof boots and/or hiking boots
  • Hats (bobble, trapper, bean with earflaps just cover your head and keep your ears warm
  • Scarf
  • Gloves (take extra pair as back up)
  • Flip flops are handy for the outdoor spas
  • Lip balm
  • Hand cream



What to expect…


I’m not going to sugar coat this bit.  SP loved this trip, me not so much.  It’s rare that I want to come home from a holiday, but after three days of cold, wintry weather, the kind where you get on a warm coach and promptly fall asleep like nana, you might do too.


I am so glad that we went.  I loved the spa day, whale watching (I’ve forgotten the puking already), the Northern Lights and seeing the beautiful Gullfoss waterfall.  Our hotel is even up there with some of the nicest we have ever stayed in, but at times I was too cold to really enjoy it and it felt like a school trip.


I think trying to fit in all the ‘must-sees’ into three days was probably a bit too much.  We had high expectations and there wasn’t much down-time, which when you sandwich a weekend away in between two busy weeks, you probably should allow for.


I would say go but be prepared.  I will leave you with the birthday boy’s take on the holiday, who said “It is a once in a lifetime trip that I’ll never forget”.


I’m happy he’s happy, now where’s the brochure for Mexico….


Have a great week folks!


Gail xx


Have you visited Iceland?  What was your experience?  Please do share your thoughts and comments below…

Tripping Over Sydney

I think I bought SP the Lonely Planet Guide to Australia, Christmas 2009, not long after we got married.  I had visited the country solo in 2005 and fell in love with the sun, people, its beauty and most importantly, the lifestyle. Obviously my intention for the gift was to sell-in the idea of a return visit with my new ‘travel companion’.  Eight years, and a lot of saving later, we made it.


Our trip, billed as a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Oz, took in Sydney, Melbourne, Uluru, Cairns and Byron Bay, involved a night stop in Kuala Lumpur and five internal flights across the country itself.  We booked out three weeks holiday and planned to be in Sydney for New Year 2017.


The holiday was far from boring, but I know time can stand still when someone reels off their holiday highlights moment by moment, so here’s a photo diary of the some of the highlights and below are a few of our favourite places in Sydney.  You should go, by the way.



-Catch the ferry to Manly and watch the surfers with some frozen yogurt

-Visit Watsons Bay (by ferry) and enjoy a few cocktails at the outdoor bar of the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel and pit-stop at Doyles Take Away for delicious fish and chips, before you catch a ferry home

-The Bridge Climb.  I didn’t want to, but it was definitely one of SP’s highlights. He did the 1 1/2 hr option, which was enough

-Visit The Rocks for weekend drinks.  We love the craft beer and dining options at the Tap Rooms

-Stop by the Sunday market at The Rocks and pick up gifts for loved ones

-Walk or jog through the Botanical Gardens and make sure you go as far as Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for stunning views over the water and the Sydney Opera House


As we began and ended our trip in Sydney, we stayed in two hotels.  The first was the Challis Hotel in Potts Point.  I had stayed near this area before and loved the local restaurants and bars.  This time we enjoyed Wholefoods Department (for breakfast), Monopole Wine Bar for early evening drinks and Fei Jai, which offers delicious Cantonese dishes and cracking cocktails. We also loved Yellow, a vegetarian restaurant across from the hotel, where we enjoyed drinks in the back bar on New Year’s Eve.


In stark contrast, we stayed at the Ovolo 1888 Hotel at Darling Harbour on our return to the city.  We loved walking around the harbour and finding our way (bit of a schlep) to the Harbour Bridge, The Rocks, etc.  The hotel had an arty, youthful vibe and every amenity you would ever need and more, with nice touches such as free refreshments in the lobby (you never know when you’re going to need a handful of sweets), complimentary mini bar in our room, and a Loot Bag with free goodies to take home.






Anzac Memorial

City Life

Finger Wharf


Harbour side

New Year’s Eve


Central Quay, from the ferry

Sydney Opera House, by night


Manly Beach


Breakfast at Manley Beach


Doyles Take Away, Watsons Bay



What’s not to love, right?  And although we’re likely out of the desired remit to be welcome, permanent guests, what was billed as a once in a lifetime trip, will probably be repeated down-the-line.  If not, we have great memories.


Have a fab weekend.


Gail xxx