“Four weeks from today we’ll be on holiday, ” were SP’s parting words as he left for work this morning.  Cue a scramble for trainers while shoving last night’s bed head into a semi-smart workout ponytail and heading outside for a pre-work run.

No joke, we all want to look our best on the  yearly vaca, don’t we?  Last week I talked about what not to pack in your pull-along (or in my case, backpack).  So this week I’m turning negative into positive and thinking about what to take on those hotly anticipated few weeks of the year when we don’t have to wear our daily uniform.

Next month  SP and I are heading for a week by the sea in Croatia and I can’t wait.  So the starting point for my holiday, as it will be mainly pool-side, is what to wear to and from the water’s edge.

Cover ups can be tricky.  I used to be a dress down kind of gal in my youth.  You know long/old T.shirt over short shorts.  This was not my best look; I dare say it wasn’t for many.  The late 80’s were cruel years for fashion.  The boxy shape of a T.Shirt does not lend itself to a woman’s figure, hell no, even men wear slim fit nowadays.

No, I’m relieved to say that when I got married I found my way into an Accessorize store looking for honeymoon garb and came out a (new) woman, realising that a) you could look feminine if you didn’t have a pronounced waistline and b) I could look feminine …. if I tried.

Pool-side, no make-up, hair slicked back and wearing a two-piece is, dare I say it, a challenge for anyone, but a cover up, now that’s a girl’s best friend.

Have you ever noticed that girl who looks like she’s just thrown herself together in a millisecond?  She’s likely to be wearing what appears on first glance a man’s shirt.  It’s cute, it’s wearable on anyone of any age and now you can copy this sexy little look with the help of Next.  See below, a lovely white shirt in 100% viscose, so it offers a gentle drape and doesn’t crisp up in your suitcase. Bingo. Here’s your chance to be that girl.

Next - Photo from Pinterest

Next – Photo from Pinterest.  White Shirt £25

Sticking with white and incorporating the trend for dresses that are off the shoulder, here’s another pretty option.  Great for the pool bar too.

Next - Photo from Pinterest

Next – Photo from Pinterest. White Dress £35

Personally, I spotted this cover up in one of Next’s ads and I love the design.  Though on closer look it’s quite thin material, so I’m not sure whether it’s for me.  I’ll need to try it on, but it’s a nice mix of colours, which could pick out the colour in any number of bikinis or one-pieces.

I could include lots and lots of ideas from Next here.  It’s definitely worth checking  them out this season.

Next - Photo from Pinterest. Multi Geo Print Kaftan £26

Next – Photo from Pinterest. Multi Geo Print Kaftan £26

Talking about see-through, this kaftan from Matalan is a gorgeous blue and on trend with the cold shoulder design.  Great choice if you have the confidence to carry it off.

 

Matalan - Photo from Pinterest

Matalan – Photo from Pinterest – Cut Out Shoulder Kaftan £10

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Matalan of late, particularly when it comes to beach wear.  They have tons of designs, including the following dresses, all at bargain prices.

Matalan - Photo from Pinterest. Floral Print Kaftan £14

Matalan – Photo from Pinterest. Floral Print Kaftan £14

 

Matalan - Photo from Pinterest - Printed Sequin Kaftan £14

Matalan – Photo from Pinterest – Printed Sequin Kaftan £14

Last, but by no means least, we have Accessorize. It has been my go-to store for beach wear many times (though Matalan might pip it to the post with their prices this year).

Accessorize, Xenia £59

Accessorize, Xenia £59

Accessorize, Harika Floral Lace Insert Kaftan £29

Accessorize, Harika Floral Lace Insert Kaftan £29

Accessorize, Rose Lee Ombre Dress £27

Accessorize, Rose Lee Ombre Dress £27

Accessorize, Lace Insert Beach Maxi Dress £37

Accessorize, Lace Insert Beach Maxi Dress £37

 

That last dress!  Just add large hat, straw beach bag and go…

I have to say that I absolutely love a long maxi dress, but it does bring me back to the issue of needing a heel, so this year I’m going thigh-skimming kaftan all the way.  My legs haven’t given up the ghost yet, so with a drawstring or nipped in waist it will give me some definition and show off my, erm, best bits!

Here’s hoping!  Happy holidays ladies.

 

Gail x

 

Photo from Pinterest

Photo from Pinterest

 

The holiday had been planned a year in advance.  I had booked our flights in February, spent hours researching a route to visit various islands in Thailand and finding the right accommodation.  So how come, with all this preparation time in hand I had packed my suitcase so badly?

Yeah, this is not a post that boasts about how I got it so right, au contraire, it’s how I got it so wrong.  Hopefully by sharing I can literally pack up my troubles and not make the same mistake again.

I had, or thought I had, quite a good wardrobe of holiday clothes.  Built over the years, gradually wheedling out items that were passed their sell-by date, didn’t look as great as they once did, or were so out of fashion it aged me.

So when we got to Summer last year I thought I’d give shopping for new stuff a miss.  I bought one gorgeous cover up in River Island and an on-trend one-piece for those stylish boat trips (!), and a new hat.  That was it.  I didn’t give it any more time.  I was having a busy period of work and just didn’t have the brain power or the energy to go looking for more.

About a month before we were due to head off I remember saying to myself that I would get my summer clothes out and see what I could fit into. It wasn’t a fun afternoon!   I hadn’t got to grips with The Body Coach 90 Day SSS Plan that I had started in June (bad school report here) and hadn’t lost any weight.  In fact I’d gained and would continue to have a fight with weight gain right up until the day we left for the holiday.

I didn’t venture back to the wardrobe until the day after Boxing Day.  The day before we were leaving.

Which is how I went on holiday with a bunch of stuff that I would literally carry on my back (backpack) for the duration that I either didn’t really need, couldn’t fit into, or plain hated the sight of.  Gradually, over the two weeks, I would ceremoniously dump said items in hotel bins before moving to the next stop.

I left three pairs of shoes, tops that had passed their sell-by date, unflattering dresses and a hat that I had carefully carried over from England, which for the amount of times it was ‘in the way’, I could have purchased for thru pence ha’penny anywhere in the world.

So this year I’ve made some new simple rules and having learned the hard way, I will be sticking to them.  These are:

 

  • When relying on a holiday wardrobe that is put away until you need it, make sure you get it out at least three months in advance and first off chuck out everything you didn’t wear last time, cause chances are it’s been building up dust for years.

 

  • Check that everything fits, comfortably (and not when you’ve lost a few pound on holiday cause that gelato will bite you in the ass)

 

  • Take a mix of holiday classics and buy a few new on-trend pieces (they don’t have to be expensive, see H&M for great holiday wear bargains), so that your look is current yet sophisticated

 

  • Don’t take the same colour garment that’s cut in three different ways.  I once stopped a friend from packing five pairs of beige shorts for one holiday.  You will only want to wear that colour once.  And let’s not forget going on holiday is the one time you can wear a rainbow of colour that you wouldn’t normally be seen dead in

 

  • Don’t take something you love and always pack, but never wear. (I’m the Queen of this).   Perhaps it’s a look that you love, but secretly don’t feel confident wearing. Or, see point 2, bought it thinking that it would look great if you lost a few pounds, but never do and therefore never wear

 

  • Don’t take heels if you can help it.  At 5 ft 3 (and a bit), I wear heels constantly.  I’ve spent years running around London in them, but leave them for city life.  Heels aren’t for walking around resorts and worse still across sandy beaches.  I didn’t see one woman wearing heels in Thailand, not one. I left my only pair of heels in the first hotel bin

 

  • Don’t bother buying a hat before you go. It’s a pain in the bum carting it around on the journey.  Particularly painful at the airport when you need 12 pairs of hands and wearing the hat looks like you’re trying too hard.  There will be plenty of hats to buy at your destination, worn and left with a new owner at the end of your hols in you’re feeling generous

 

Photo from Pinterest

Photo from Pinterest

Mmm, just making this list has me out in hives, but I’m really (really) hoping that next time around I will pack more efficiently.  Wouldn’t it be dreamy to arrive at your destination, unzip your suitcase and have the best wardrobe of your life?

 

Over the next few weeks I’ll be tackling what to pack!

 

Til then have a lovely sunny weekend.

 

 

Gail x

 

 

 

Hi

 

How’s it going everyone?  I can’t believe we’re into February already.  I’m pleased.  I know that we shouldn’t wish time to pass, but I find January and February the hardest months. I hate the darkness that creeps in early in the afternoon and the wet weather, that right now doesn’t feel like it’s ever going to pass.  We’re now that bit nearer to March and I will be happy to see the longer days of sunlight begin.

 

This week’s post is my final instalment of our trip to Thailand.   Our third and final stop, I was hoping that Railay Beach would be a fitting end to a wonderful trip, but the truth is it was far from what I had hoped for and we were’t the only ones disappointed.

 

I don’t always get it right of course and I do take full responsibility for the choice.  I had chosen Railay Beach because it looked as pretty as everywhere else, had a hotel on the beach perfect for us and was located on the Krabi mainland, which meant that the long trip home would be easier.

 

What I hadn’t appreciated is exactly how busy it would be, or indeed how built up it was.  You can’t see from aerial shots that appear on the net, but the strip of land between Railay Beach West and Railay Beach East is full of hotels; they’re literally wall-to-wall to each other.  And where there isn’t accommodation, it’s shops, bars, etc.  It’s full-on.

 

I knew that the area was popular with backpackers, but I didn’t realise how much.   We arrived on a packed ferry that landed on a beach strewn with long-tail boats (taxis).  The beach was beautiful, but it was as busy as a British beach on a bank holiday.  Our hotel, located on the beach, was lovely but again busy, and where we had enjoyed the hotel at Ko Lanta pretty much to ourselves, there wasn’t a dog’s chance of getting a sun lounger by the pool unless you were out there before breakfast.  What a bore!   Luckily, there was a second pool within the resort and it was right by our room so we made the most of that one, otherwise we would have had to endure the beach and it’s daily ‘serenade’ of motorized boats to-ing and fro-ing.

 

After the initial disappointment wore off we got stuck in and found a couple of nice places to enjoy a decent drink, eat snacks (had really good pizza for a change from Thai cuisine) and have a bit of fun.  During this time unfortunately I had a stomach upset for 24 hours. I don’t know what caused it, but it did curtail the fun somewhat and after a rough night had to spend a day in bed.

 

Relief came in the form of our friends arriving from Phuket and a trip to visit them in Ao Nang.  They were staying at the fabulous Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas, set on a private bay.  We hired a boat to taxi round the bay and joined them for drinks on the terrace and a walk into Ao Nang, which was really lovely.    And if you’re thinking, did I wish we had stayed there? Damn straight.

 

I wouldn’t recommend Railay Beach for families, though there were plenty holidaying there.  I think it’s a great stop-off to move on to other places.  Perfect for backpackers with lots of reasonably-priced places to stay, but I don’t think it’s that great for a 40 + couple looking for a chill out. Well, it certainly wasn’t our idea of heaven.

 

You do have to be careful when going to Thailand.  Do your research as best you can, get as much advice as is available.  There is something for everyone – you just have to make sure you find it.  For us the islands are where it’s at.  Mainland always seem to disappoint. I think it’s because we want to get away from it all, find some space, peace and beauty, that let’s us recharge.  Phuket and Krabi haven’t been the answer.  We love Ko Phi Phi, Ko Yao Yai (visited in 2013) and Ko Lanta.

 

SP says it’s his favourite place in the world yet.  I guess we’ll be going back there again then, but not for a while, the rest of the world beckons.

 

Til next time.

 

Gail xx

Railay Beach

Poolside view

Railay Beach

Nice Touch. Beach mat and bag provided by hotel.

Railay Beach

Bath-time treats

Railay Beach

Pretty hotel grounds

Railay Beach

Not my feet. Obvs.

Railay Beach

Walking Street. A sandy walkway from West to East with shops, bars, etc. A bit difficult at night with low to no lighting in some places

Railay Beach

The No1 Takeaway. Super popular snacks with delicious fresh food. Run by an Australian. Expect to queue, it’s as good as they say.

Railay Beach

Italian treat from Joy’s Bar on the East side.

Railay Beach

Possibly the No 1 activity in Railay is rock-climbing.

Railay Beach

Mangroves on the East side

Railay Beach

Tide out on the East side

Railay Beach

Tide’s out on the East side.

Railay Beach West during the day.

Railay Beach West during the day.

Railay Beach

Longtails on Railay Beach West

Railay Beach

Beautiful scenery at Railay Beach West

Railay Beach

We went nuts for these. So good.

Railay Beach

Sunset on Railay Beach West

Railay Beach

Too pretty to move.

Railay Beach

Still working

Railay Beach

Picture perfect way to end the holiday

Hi

 

This week’s post features the second leg of our trip to Thailand and a four night stay on the island of Ko Lanta.  Having had a wonderful five days in Ko Phi Phi (did I mention that our friends got engaged a few minutes into the new year?  Yep.  Magical.) it was time to say good-bye and get on a boat.

 

The ferry ride to Lanta isn’t that long from Phi Phi, just an hour, so no sooner are you boarding a boat than you’re off again.  A very different looking island greeted us.  Where as Phi Phi is all craggy cliffs and sharp corners, Lanta is long, open and flat and there are proper roads.  We didn’t rent bikes, but you can do so easily and it looked very pleasant to drive around (didn’t spot any erratic tuk tuks).

 

We stayed towards the southern tip of the island at Kantiang Bay, which turned out to be just perfect for us.  It was our first visit to the island so I did do some research.  We aren’t the type of people who want to hole up on a resort, so as well as researching where to sleep I always look at the social scene and surrounding area.  I knew we were not far from the Mu Ko Lanta National Park, a marine national park (SP and his fishes) and also The Drunken Sailors and The Why Not Bar (the former being a coffee shop/evening cafe known for serving some of the best loved food on the island)!

 

The accommodation we booked was in a small boutique hotel, with a colourful exterior and interior.  With individually-styled rooms that overlooked the beach and a pool that led directly on to it, Phra Nang Lanta was a great find.  It offered us lovely breakfast al fresco with fresh smoothies made to order, golden omelettes and those delicious slices of hot French toast that I love to smoother with honey  – oops, diet post to follow, obvs!   (I did go for a run along the bay, twice.  No, doesn’t count?  Mmm, I suppose not.)

 

As for the bay we practically had it to ourselves.  Yes, there were plenty of others holidaying, but there was so much bay to share and it was beautiful.  Lazy, long days in the sun turned into lounging nights listening to reggae, drinking Mojitas.  It was pure bliss and we totally found our zen.  Informal dress prevails in Lanta, so don’t go with a big bag of clothes suitable for Marbella, it’s relaxed wear only.

 

If I could sum up Ko Lanta in a few words, it would be – unspoilt, green and tranquil.  Beautiful is a given for most places in Thailand and we love being next a big blue sea, but this island offers something very special – peace.  Even the air is calmer.

 

Below are my photos from this second instalment of our Thailand trip.  If you missed last week’s Ko Phi Phi Photo Diary click here.

 

Til next next time

 

Gail x

 

IMAG0245

Kantiang Bay

ko lanta

Taking my life into my own hands. But as I got into the darn thing I thought I’d share the photo!

ko lanta

Great for a spot of lizard lounging

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Pretty breakfast spot

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This would also look nice on MY coffee table

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I like a hotel that caters for everyone!

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I spy

Ko Lanta

Berry Lassi from The Drunken Sailors

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Snoozing at the Sailors

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Equally as happy

IMAG0316

Kantiang Bay

 

ko lanta

My fave book of the holiday. Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood. A great read which I got totally lost in.

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I’ll take the little big one

IMAG0283

Sun beginning to set on the bay

IMAG0247

I could think of so many worse views couldn’t you?

IMAG0358

Bye bye Lanta. We’re off to Railay

Hi!

 

How are you?  It’s been a while since we last ‘spoke’.  I hope you are well and had a good/happy/restful Christmas and New Year.  I had a lovely Christmas at home with family and friends and then SP and I went on holiday.

 

Jetting off to somewhere hot is the just tonic to start a new year, and, as we are both self- employed, a good opportunity to take a break when we generally are not required to work.  Of course the utter indulgence of being in a warm country when we could be chilled to the bone is a big draw!

 

This year we headed to Thailand.  We visited this beautiful country in 2013 and SP particularly fell in love with its laid back approach to living.  Spread over two weeks, we decided to island hop across three destinations in South Thailand and see a little more of the country.

 

Our first stop was Ko Phi Phi, which we had visited before and stayed at Phi Phi Relax Beach Resort.  This charming resort offers accommodation recommended by the Lonely Planet guide books and we had such a fabulous time here before, it made sense to book it again.

 

There are several islands that make up Phi Phi and we stayed on Ko Phi Phi Don, which is the largest.    Most are uninhabitable. The islands are bang in the middle of the Phuket and Krabi mainlands and are undoubtedly some of the prettiest islands to visit in the Andaman Sea.   The islands can easily be reached by boat, it takes around 1 ½ – 2 hours from Phuket and 1 hr 45 mins – 2 hrs from Krabi.  There are several ferries that leave the ports each day and you can easily buy tickets at the airport, in hotels, or at the piers.

 

If you fancy island life then this is the place for you.  It truly is a get-away from the daily drudge.  You wake up to dreamy azure-coloured waves splashing against bright blond sandy beaches, can enjoy snorkelling and diving, or even hike to the View Point, which we did and nearly collapsed  LOL.  There are some delightful boat trips around the islands stopping off to several great snorkelling locations and if you like great food, which we do, then our resort offers some of the best food in Thailand and we loved imbibing delicious-tasting cocktails with sandy-covered feet at the beach bar.  It really was a tonic.

 

So, without further ado, here is a little photo diary from the first leg of our Thailand trip.  I hope you enjoy them.  Perhaps you might like to go here yourself?  If so, and you have any questions, please do add them to the comments below and I’ll try and help or point you in the right directions for information.

 

Next week is a photo diary of our next stop, Ko Lanta.  Another island that’s perfect for those a little world weary and one we hadn’t visited before.  We’re so glad we did.

 

Til next time…

 

Gail x

 

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Ko Phi Phi

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