‘We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection’ said author Anais Nin – a musing I can strongly relate to.
I have a penchant for documenting things; I wrote a diary daily when I was a little girl and am always snapping away on cameras and iPhones – tendencies that undoubtedly led me in later years to blogging.
But in the age of online, photos tend to stay predominantly on screens and never make it to the print stage.
It’s been two years since our wedding and I’d still failed to collate any kind of album, which left me with a certain element of guilt given that it was hands down the best day of our lives. But finally I pulled my finger out. Being quite heavily pregnant combined with the shift towards autumn I'm naturally feeling an inclination towards hibernating: the ideal time to sink your teeth into a project like this.
Here I’ve road-tested the photo book by Papier. Needless to say there are a few options on the market when it comes to this kind of thing, but Papier is a brand I’ve come to trust. The notecards have been my weapon of choice for letter-writing for a couple of years now and, if you follow me on Instagram Stories, you may have spotted my current sea turtle pack. You either appreciate stationery or you don’t and these bring me a disproportionate amount of joy.
DESIGNING MY PHOTO BOOK
Full disclosure, I spent an unhealthy amount of time on this: swapping photos in and out, looking for a balance of close-ups and group shots on each page and offsetting black and whites images to colour. It doesn’t have to be as labour-intensive as I made it – the process is fool-proof – but I loved scrupulously going over it all.
It’s actually a low-key high-impact process. Start by choosing a template; I went for ‘minimal’ to keep it clean and let the photos do the talking. You can opt for hardback or paperback and there are various layout options to choose from for each page design, though I had so many photos I wanted to fit in I stuck mostly to the grid of four squares per page. Add and remove pages to your preference. To preview your photo book add it to your cart and there’s an option to do so there, with the opportunity to edit in and out last minute changes.
It’s as simple as that. And voilà!
Our wedding is storied beautifully within these pages serving as a mood-boosting window to the umpteen happy faces, the dress of my dreams, the wild flower arrangements – a touchstone to the best day of our lives, which now cohabits my coffee table alongside glossy mags and other treasured books.
This post was created in collaboration with Papier. As ever all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can create your
My Movers + Shakers series faced a tumultuous start after I kicked it off earlier this year then was immediately taken down by morning sickness. However it’s back with a vengeance and a serious dose of travel inspo...
One of the most calm-inducing Instagram accounts I follow – think turquoise Balinese plunge pools, shady palm-fringed nooks and shells unearthed whilst combing white sandy shores, Anna Chittenden of Lost Guides leads an enviable life where she seemingly appears to be on holiday round the clock. Though this is all the smoke and mirrors of an Insta-perfect life and there's as much work as there is play; Anna's simultaneously published three travel guides during her travels.
Anna was my neighbour at uni in Newcastle and first London flatmate – back then she was on the marketing team at Ben & Jerry’s and I was navigating the glossy floors of Vogue House. We used to happily while away evenings at home eating tubs of Phish Food whilst leafing through the pages of Traveller and Vogue. A few years later Anna’s itchy feet took her to the other side of the world to far-flung shores and set up home in Singapore. From here she launched Lost Guides and has written a book on the island she now calls home, as well as two on Bali.
I talk to Anna about life behind Lost Guides.
In one sentence, how would you describe Lost Guides?
Unique, stylish offbeat travel guides.
What inspired you to start Lost Guides?
I decided to start Lost Guides after becoming increasingly frustrated with trying to find trustworthy and useful travel recommendations. I say the books are for those that don’t require over-the-top extravagance, nor have the budget of a backpacker – but are in search of those special places in between.
What’s your typical 9-5?
It can be so varied, which is what I enjoy! I released the second edition of my book, Lost Guides – Bali & Islands, a couple of months ago so I’m making sure that the word is getting out there through PR with traditional magazines, bloggers, influencers and that the book is available to buy in shops. When creating the books, I work closely with my book designers to think of interesting layouts, fonts and colours and I’ll spend ages editing and swapping photos in and out.
I'm now working on my next book project, Lost Guides – Tokyo, which will be out in 2019 in time for events going on there over the next couple of years like the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics. I’m planning my next trip to Tokyo, my fourth visit there, for the end of August, timing it so I'm there for the sumo wrestler tournament, which happens in September. I’m also going to include areas around Tokyo that are easy to get to, such as ski resorts around Nagano, around 1.5 hours north of Tokyo.
If I’m not travelling, the day can be filled with anything from writing and editing text and photos for a new book, chatting to my distributors, replying to customer emails or researching for a new book. As I work from home, on my own, I try and get up and about as much as I can do so I’ll do yoga for an hour in the afternoon and arrange to meet a contact for coffee, or attend a talk. When I’m travelling for research work, obviously my day-to-day will be completely different. I’ll be out and about meeting people, exploring, taking photos, doing interviews and running around like crazy!
How has your experience from previous jobs contributed to
My first job was in advertising and then I moved to marketing where I worked in Brand Management at Ben & Jerry’s (you remember all those free tubs in the freezer in our flat!). Everything that I learnt in my previous jobs I use everyday with Lost Guides – that could be managing the design process for my new book to organising or running a launch event. I think the design and brand skills that I learnt have definitely helped the most.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
You’re going to laugh but this is actually a note that I got in a fortune cookie after lunch at my friend’s house in Singapore; it says ‘little strokes fall great oaks’ and for some reason it has stayed with me! Big projects, be that launching a business, website, book or whatever can seem overwhelming but when you break them down into small steps they're more realistic and manageable.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Travelling is always so inspiring – from the food to the art to the people. But if I’m at home and in a rut I’ll go locally to art galleries and independent book shops to re-spark creativity.
What are your tips for staying motivated?
Set deadlines and announce them. For each book I’ve had a strict deadline and have announced launch dates, so I can’t procrastinate otherwise I’d have lots of angry customers!
How do you unwind?
In the last year, I’ve found cooking to be the most relaxing thing, while also listening to podcasts. I love The Guilty Feminist and The High Low and binge-listened to Dirty John.
What do you never travel without?
Big bulky noise-cancelling headphones – a game-changer for long-haul flights.
I’d love to do something adventurous. Maybe hiking in the Himalayas, and exploring North India.
Sand or snow?
Snow! I have the fondest memories from skiing holidays as a child. I love the mountain air and the adrenaline from racing down a steep run!
Town or country?
I grew up in the country (West Sussex, UK) so I’ll always be a country girl at heart, but right now I love living in a city (Singapore).
Favourite swim/beachwear brand?
Missoni bikinis are classic!
I love re-reading Paulo Coelho’s, The Alchemist
Boat magazine is an amazing travel and culture magazine that focuses on a different city for each issue. For the interviews I love The Gentlewoman.
There’s an incredible little hole-in-the-wall dim sum stall at the end of my road called Tiong Bahru Pau & Snack. I can’t walk past without ordering lots of BBQ pork baos and siew mai!
Huge thank you to Anna for taking time to be interviewed for my blog and sharing her wisdom. Images supplied by Lost Guides.
This very long stretch of sandy coastline in the south is one of Ibiza's most famous beaches. It can be a little 'sceney' and very busy but it's also home to the Jockey Club (food, drinks, music) which is surprisingly unpretentious. There's also a great little shop at the back where we picked up a colourful Ibiza beach towel.
Cala Xarraca, Ibiza
As you approach Xarraca, which lies in the more peaceful, greener north of the island on the way to Portinatx, you'll spy the most beautiful turquoise water. There's a seafood restaurant here too, though we didn't settle as we were dying to check out nearby coveXuclar (two down in this post).
Cala Molí and Bagatelle Beach Club, Ibiza
This is a beach club with a pool and its own private stretch of beach. We spent the day here with friends and their two-year-old – pretty much everywhere we visited in Ibiza is very relaxed about children. While I would normally opt for a more rustic vibe, this certainly has an ease and comfortableness about it; my friend we were staying with is also pregnant and due at a similar time, so having shady daybeds and a pool in the immediate vicinity actually suited us very well.
Last week we headed to Ibiza for our babymoon. Babymoon is probably a loose term since we were staying with friends and actually were on the go the entire time we were there. But nonetheless, as I move into my third trimester, it’s the last time we envisage escaping to salty shores for the foreseeable future whilst we have bigger things on the horizon. (We’re looking at more low-key, going-off-grid options in the UK for the rest of the summer to lap up the eternal heatwave – any suggestions welcome!)
I wasn’t initially going to cover this on my blog since it was for the most part a non-working trip, but it’s such a hotspot and a few of you heading off to the island in August and September have got in touch to ask for recommendations – and seeing as we ended up exploring so much I have plenty to share. I’m putting together a post of the restaurants we visited too but, for now, here’s a lowdown on the beaches we went to (part 1!):
Nestled in the South of the island, Cala d'Hort was one of our favourite beaches and the best place for swimming. The clear, warm, turquoise water combined with the magical and calming view of the mighty Es Vedra drew us back for a second visit – one of the few beaches we returned to. Must be something to do with the fact it's the third most magnetic point on the planet. It has a couple of beachside restaurants and a boutique too.
This is a tiny, unspoilt cove in the less-busy north of the island, with a more in-the-know feel about it. It isn't about the glossy, sceney lifestyle here, rather relishing a rustic slice of natural beauty. A rickety beach shack restaurant with an easy charm serves the freshest fish we experienced on the island. (FYI you pay with cash only here as there's no phone signal and booking in advance is necessary.)
Our local beach in the south of the island and ridiculously one we didn't visit for about four days of arriving. This is a pretty cove lined by dramatic red cliffs. There's a brilliant restaurant with a friendly ginger cat and adjoining canopied garden where we tucked into fresh sea bass. The beach isn't hugely sandy but Olly still found a good sunbathing spot whilst I got comfortable with a book on an outdoor sofa in the shady garden.
Enjoy an amazing boat-strewn seascape as you wind down to this sandy beach situated on the west of the island, with a few of boutiques and restaurants lining the edge. It was quite busy when we were there so we only stayed for a walk along the seafront before our inner explorers moved us on (it was day one and we were desperate to know what else was around the corner). Given it's location it's meant to be a killer sunset viewing spot too.
If like me you have a knack for ordering the wrong size when shopping online, listen
up: the crinkle trend is your friend. Hello stretchy, one-size-fits-all styles – music to my ears. Even more so the case whilst I'm pregnant, changing shape
daily and frankly have no idea what size I am.
Brands like swimwear hero Hunza G have been responsible for paving the way to the crinkle redux, showcasing a rainbow collection of late eighties/early nineties Pretty Woman inspired designs. ASOS has followed suit with its own line of bikinis, swimming costumes and beachwear. Here are a few that have made their way into my summer wardrobe... and guess what, they fit! (Sidenote: I ordered a mixture of the regular and fuller bust options where my preference wasn't available and both have worked fine.)
If aggressively high-waisted bikini bottoms leave you feeling more Borat than Love Island super-bod, don't bother with them. Virtually all these designs are either block colours or simple stripes, meaning you can mix and match your bottom halves with any shapes you feel comfortable with (or in my case here even just a pair of shorts). At least those are the rules I'm playing by...
My new go-to and now worst-kept secret is online boutique Studio B, which is where I tracked down dresses for two of June’s biggest events, Royal Ascot and Masterpiece. Eagle-eyed founder Beth has sifted through the most covetable names out there and curated a collection of current, on point beauties from brands like Rixo (my Under the Sea dress pictured), Baum und Pferdgarten, Paradise Row, Stine Goya and Gestuz. And it's an eye-poppingly lust-worthy line-up.
I wore this to the preview night of Masterpiece, but Studio B is not just about dressy vibes. Scout out slogan tees, pom pom shoes and knitwear too in this cyber treasure trove.
I can't remember when I got more excited about, or had more fun wearing, a dress. I mean look at it; its ankle-sweeping, moves-like-liquid, spirited design is a sartorial dream. Not to mention that metallic mermaid green and gold. I have to confess I hadn't heard of the brand, Dhela, but it's now firmly on my radar thanks to Baar & Bass who are stocking it this season. And discovering and supporting new, upcoming names is definitely something I've always endeavoured to champion.
I wore it to see two of my oldest friends tie the knot in the sparse and dramatic scenery of Morocco's Agafay Desert (camel-riding and belly-dancers included). These images were shot on the doorstep of our eco-lodge, home for the night after being whisked out of Marrakech Medina a couple of hours before. As you do.
basically skirted around addressing our unbelievably exciting news on here. Absolutely over-the-moon to say Olly and I are expecting our first baby this autumn – which brings with it emotions of complete joy and utter disbelief every day!
This was the first project I shot (with jewellery brand Kiki Mcdonough) on crawling out of my morning sickness cave and whilst, at most angles, there are no telltale signs of a bump at this stage, the overriding feeling I remember was the sheer relief of being up and about, talking to people, and feeling a bit more like myself again.
I'm now well into my second trimester and feeling not just like a human again
but pretty great. Though I thought I'd share a few of the feelings I went through back when everything was still underwraps. We made the decision to keep it entirely to ourselves and harboured our little secret for two months before even breaking the news to our families.
Don't get me wrong, nothing can usurp the dizzying joy of discovering you have a baby on the way (I read somewhere it's the happiest reason for feeling like crap which rang true). I'll never forget calling Olly at work and his disbelieving reaction when I broke the news, which just sounded like I was joking. But the first trimester can be a cruel mistress and it wasn't long until she took hold; here are a couple of the things she had in store for me
– Intense fatigue. I quickly gave into the fight and surrendered to the uncontrollable urge to go 100% off grid. In bed for a month day and night; progressed to the sofa for two weeks after that
– Permanent hunger that trickily came hand in hand with a complete aversion to all foods; the thought alone of meat, fish, vegetables, eggs or anything with a remote idea or sophistication or flavour had me curling my toes. I remember thinking Asian food – ordinarily a firm favourite – sounded like the pits. So it was bananas and bread round-the-clock, including many a 4am pitstop
– Nose of a bloodhound: Olly eating supper in a separate room with two doors closed between us became a hard-and-fast rule. Also not welcome: dirty tube smell, dirty dog smell, shower gel, shampoo... and pretty much every other smell under the sun
– Lack of drive and generally not feeling myself
I'm writing this several weeks on and, while it can feel relentless and like it'll go on forever (especially when you're not sure if and when it will stop), once it starts to subside it's actually quite hard to remember what your symptoms even were. So to all you brave women out there also nurturing your secret, hang onto that excitement, there's a bright and beaming light at the end of the tunnel. There'll be a lot of opinions and voices but do things your own way.
As a print I've completely fallen in love with my star-smattered blue dress. But there's more to Kapara London's line than meets the eye; this is fashion with a heart.
A foundation launched by the brand improves the lives of children in Jaipur, where the clothes are made. Through buying Kapara pieces, the programme employs women from the slums and teaches them how to sew. Better still, these women are stitching uniforms for Jaipur's children: one purchase = one uniform sewn.
Images shot at Petersham Nurseries on my very spoiling birthday day out on June 12th. I can't work out whether the tumbling bougainvillea or the melt-in-the-mouth food was more impressive. And scroll down for the teeth-clenchingly sweet three-month-old schnauzer puppy we met there.
Oh yes – and introducing the bump!
(Don't worry I didn't eat all the delicious food photographed, but I'll be looking forward to tucking into things like that again post bump.)
I know a hotel is going to be right up my street when I make friends with a spoilt and well-loved animal within the first half an hour of arriving. Regardless of a place having all the details executed to a ridiculously high and stylish standard, which Villa des Orangers undoubtedly does, it’s the extra money-can’t-buy ‘feeling’ that gives somewhere the true X factor. So when Bagera the smiling, purring and probably luckiest cat in Marrakech rolled over for a tummy tickle as soon as I spotted her on a sofa by the pool I knew I was somewhere special. (If you follow me on Instagram you'll understand my excitement was elevated further still by the fact I also have a cat from the Jungle Book clan called Mowgli at home, who recently celebrated his 19th birthday – what a babe). While I (try to) appreciate cats aren’t for everyone, it’s also the staff’s kindness and character that really shine through when you chat to them about less run-of-the-mill things like this.
We arrived at Villa des Orangers straight off the back of a magical wedding in the Agafay desert where we stayed in electricity-free eco-lodges. And, if I’m honest, we were in an exhausted heap. Happily, on coming back into Marrakech, awaiting us was a lush, cool oasis of calm – a stark contrast to the bustling, hot, sticky and at times pretty overwhelming streets of the Medina we'd become so familiar with. Over-tiredness and Medina mayhem was immediately pacified with birdsong, unexpectedly leafy gardens and sunlight dappled nooks beneath shadow-throwing awnings.
We ate breakfast beneath theaforementioned awning accompanied by tiny Disney-like birds hopping around the tables. We tucked into tagines poolside for lunch – I'm sure it's not where most people opt to have piping hot food served but the staff were ever-accommodating for the weird Brits looking to soak up the last of the North African rays. And come nightfall we were happy to surrender to tiredness – cue indulging in room service whilst wearing
fluffy white robes with tassels on the hoods before turning into a bed that my high-standards husband described as the comfiest ever. I'm a true pillow snob and am 100% with him on this. Kudos.
Befriending the small army of animals:
I've already filled you in on Bagera. In addition to this, two tortoises roam wherever they please and are surprisingly a) friendly b) speedy. I nearly tripped over one on my way back to our room so rerouted to the hotel kitchen to ask for some breakfast for him. Apparently he frequently turns up there himself so he's more streetwise than I gave him credit for.
Swimming slow lengths in the silky pool:
There's something about the water here, it doesn't feel like other pools. It's generously heated too – I'm often still shivering in other so-called 'heated' pools. Plus it's one of the prettiest set-ups to admire as you bob up and down.