WHERE — London
PHOTOGRAPHY — Jessie Bush & Sam Flaherty
IN COLLABORATION WITH — Mytheresa
What to pack for your next summer vacation. Consider this a check-list of all you’ll ever need to feel cool when it’s hot out.
The truth is most of us pack more than we’ll ever need for a summer holiday, completely ignoring the majority of the contents of our suitcase and simply living in the same dress and sandal combo all week long. So consider this a quick check list to avoid over-packing and taking pieces that you have the best intention of wearing, but never actually will. And more importantly, the key pieces that are destined to become staples this summer, and will make you feel cool, even when it’s 32 degrees out.
So I’ve complied an edit of the coolest pieces from Mytheresathat will legitimately take you from city to beach, day to night, and ensure that you get maximum mileage out of your summer wardrobe and avoid those excess luggage charges.
The coolest bags this summer come in teeny proportions that is made for lo-fi holiday dressing (since you can pretty much only fit your phone, bank card and lip balm) and is super space efficient when it comes to packing.
Sunsmart and chic; win, win. The trick is to either opt for a floppy hat that you can roll up and store in your suitcase or basket bag (without mis-shaping it) or be cool with carrying it on the flight.
The yin to the mini dresses yang, I totally get that a floral maxi dress may not be everyone’s jam, but I challenge anyone to pull one on and not feel good. If you’re worried about feeling too girly – tone it down with ugly dad sandals (a staple this summer) or your favourite trainers. It’s the kind of dress that will have total strangers telling you you look amazing.
In-case you missed the memo, if you buy one shoe this summer, make it a strappy sandal. Super flattering on the foot and pretty much goes with anything – although don’t go for a super high heel; walking is always the best way to explore somewhere new on holiday.
A quintessential summer-time classic that looks as good in the city as it does on the beach. Make sure it’s roomy enough to fit sunscreen and a book – it’s form and function in equal measure. It’s also the perfect plane bag – you can fit plenty for your flight (plus you don’t want to squish this into your suitcase).
A staple of holiday dressing is any dress that you can pull of during the day without looking over-dressed, yet with a pair of heels and a red lip, is also perfect for a night out. I always find a slinky slip or a figure-hugging knit dress is just the ticket.
Otherwise known as ugly dad sandals, these sandals are both practical and comfortable – yet somehow make an outfit cooler. Consider them the antidote to the myriad of dresses you’ll be wearing all summer long. Plus you can walk all day in them without limping from blisters.
My go-to Friday night beauty routine feat. dewy skin, bold red lips and a touch of highlighter in less than 10 minutes flat.
After what feels like a lifetime of relying on the exact same make-up routine, I’ve finally stepped up my beauty game in the quest for more dewy, flawless skin. Although rather than spend half an hour in bathroom on a Friday night, I prefer to use a few reliable products that will not only make my skin glow but keep glowing all night long.
They do stay it’s all about the base – and whoever they may be, is right. I like to use a heavier night cream before applying my makeup to really replenish the skin. At the moment I’m using Estee Lauder’s Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Transformative cream. Then because I tend to find that my foundation after disappears throughout the course of the night (especially if I only apply a light layer) I actually double up on primers. I use Dr Brant Luminizer Primer Base Lumiere to create an even skintone, followed by MAC Strobe cream which adds a subtle glow-y boost underneath your foundation.
I’ve been using Dior foundation for almost as long as I can remember. And although it requires more of an initial investment than some of the more budget-friendly options out there, I actually find because the coverage is so amazing it lasts me better in the long run. I usually end up replacing the bottle every 7-8 months which I think is pretty good bang for your buck. Dior Beauty actually just released a new foundation, the Dior Forever Skin Glow and I love it. It leaves a super dewy, natural complexion, coverage is amazing and most importantly for everyday use, it includes SPF.
Okay that was quite a ramble but honestly who doesn’t love faking a flawless complexion? Next up I use NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer under my eyes and anywhere else I need extra coverage – this product is pretty heavy duty so less is definitely more.
Once I feel like I’ve covered up any redness or tired eyes (while still keeping a super natural complexion of course) I apply NARS Skin Deep Eye Palette to my lids to make my eyes pop ever so subtly.
I’m pretty late to the illuminator and highlighter game, and I have no idea why I ever hesitated adding a shimmering boost to help define the jaw line. At the moment I’m using NARS Super Radiant Booster as a kind of bronze and highlighter in one to both define the fast and give that I-just-came-back-from-holiday glow.
If I was going to single out one beauty product I couldn’t do without, it would definitely be a brow gel or pencil. On the days I don’t wear makeup, then I just apply SPF and do my brows. I alternate between Glossier Boy Brow in Blondewhich is great for full, bushy brows and Dior Brow Styler in Blonde which is the best tool for creating a natural, feathery shape.
Then I add a quick sweep of mascara with Glossier Lash Stick which has become a firm favourite because it defines and boots the lashes sans any gross clumping.
And finally, I finish off with a bold red lip, which is my preferred ‘going out’ beauty look, especially when paired with a relatively natural base and eyes. A red lip is also my favourite secret weapon when I don’t want to feel overdressed. When in doubt, dress down, but add a bold red lip. I’ve had a few favourites over the years, although right now I love Aerin Beauty x Johanna Ortiz Lipstick in Cali Aji and Kosas Weightless Lip Colour in Thrillest.
Make it a cool pair of boots. Ideally with a low heel so you can easily transition from casual-by-day to going-out-on-a-whim tonight. Comfort is king, especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet or walk to work. These are my favourite go-to boots that always make me feel cool.
Nothing says put-together like a great suit. Wear it with heels and a red lip on a fancy night out or pair with trainers by day, a well-made suit is an investment and should last you a lifetime and always make you feel perfectly put-together.
When you want to feel dressed up, but not over-done a printed dress is your best friend. The printed dress has come a long way and so many brands do super cool options that has you covered for pretty much any occasion; a midweek party, a date, or a wedding.
Wear yellow. It may sound simple, but it’s hard not to feel just a little bit sunny on the inside when you’re wearing sunshine on the outside. A slinky buttercup dress, a fluffy lemon knit or a pale yellow shirtdress? Yellow is having a moment so make the most of the endless options.
A great pair of trousers make all the difference, so find yourself a pair that makes you feel great. Whether it’s bum-lifting, leg-lengthening or just super comfortable (although all three wouldn’t hurt) once you find your favourite pair of pants you’ll find yourself wearing them again and again.
Classics are classics for a reason, and a beautifully cut oversized shirt and a great pair of jeans will always be a winning combo. The devil is in the details, but if you invest in one or two beautifully made shirts they should last you a lifetime and always make you feel effortlessly cool.
The March edition of The Hit List: a few of the best things I read, listened to, watched and loved over the past month.
WHAT I MADE
So this may not be a Netflix recommendation, but I designed a shoe! With the Scandinavian, Spanish-made footwear label Flattered. She’s strappy, minimal, eternally comfortable and comes in four colours. I’m super excited to share that it has just launched online at Flattered, as well as in-store at Harvey Nichols in the UK. So if you need a chic sandal that looks great with pretty much anything and and won’t give you blisters after a long day of walking (scouts honour), you can shop them here.
Okay technically it’s not even an app, since it’s built into the iPhone and magically appeared when I updated the software earlier this year, but I’m currently bowing down to the ‘Screen Time’ which has helped me both track my over-zealous phone usage as well as curb the amount of screen time I engage in each day.
You can find it under Settings on the iPhone, although I’m sure there are a hundred and one similar apps out there if you’re an android user.
Like many people, I have to admit that constantly having my face in my phone does not make me happy. So my goal is to truly change my relationship with my phone and social media – there’s nothing wrong with using it as a vessel to be inspired, informed and creative – but the endless scrolling at 9pm does no-one any favours.
You can set a daily limit on how much time you wish to spend on your phone overall, social media and specific apps, and once you’ve hit your own personal limit, your iPhone will let you know before opening up.
This may not be everyone’s jam, but if you are looking to cut down on screen time and generally be more present, I can’t recommend this handy new function/app enough.
WHAT I’M WATCHING
The second series of Derry Girls has just come out on Netflix, and if you haven’t seen season one yet, you are in for a treat. It’s a sassy comedy following a group of teenagers in Northern Ireland during the Troubles in the 90’s. And while what is happening politically may be very heavy indeed, the show itself is straight up comedic gold. Plus I’m a sucker for those excellent accents.
WHAT I’M READING
After ready The Corrections and Freedom last year, I finally got around to reading Purity by Jonathan Franzen. It’s true that Franzen is an incredible writer with a unique approach to story-telling, but I have to say I always struggle with how much he indulges his male protagonists’. This is an author who loves to write male characters which are incredibly flawed yet women can’t help but love, which let’s just say, I’m not a fan of. But all is not lost, if you’ve been living under the same rock I was and haven’t read any of his work, definitely go grab Freedom, which was dubbed The Great American Novel and really is an amazing story.
WHERE — Milan
PHOTOGRAPHY — Jessie Bush & Flaherty
IN COLLABORATION WITH — Armani
WEARING — Emporio Armani
No-one knows a city like a local. And there are few people that are more synonymous with Milano than Giorgio Armani. So this may just be THE ultimate guide to Milan; where to stay, eat, shop and explore as recommended by none other than Mr Armani.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Milan multiple times, but it’s not an easy city to wrap your head around. For example, you’ll be hard-pressed to find somewhere to eat between 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Flagging a taxi down is a flat No (you’ll need to find a taxi rank instead). However, it’s also a beautiful city — replete with romantic cobbled streets, impressive architecture and impossibly-well-dressed locals. Essentially, it’s a city worth getting to know.
I loved exploring Milan through the eyes of Mr Armani; not just because he has impeccable taste and is Italian as they come, but because I often explore a new place with my own preferences in mind. So, rather than hunting down the best vege spots or coffee shops (what can I say; I’m predictable), I spent my time in Milano like the locals do.
Another local favourite of Mr Armani’s, and home to the infamous Last Supper, Santa Maria delle Grazie is a museum and church truly worth a visit. Naturally, given that it’s home to one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings, it pays to book tickets to visit online first – otherwise you probably won’t be seeing the work up close.
Santa Maria delle Grazie, Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, 20123 Milano
At the Armani Hotel Milano for unadulterated luxury, impeccable service and conveniently close to pretty much all the best spots in the city. This is the kind of hotel that you book for a special occasion, so make the most of the incredible bar on the top floor with some of the best views of Milan (where the slatted windows shift as the sun shifts for the most impressive light) and the super chic spa, which includes a heated pool that you can soak in whilst looking out over the city.
Armani Hotel Milano, Via Alessandro Manzoni
^ One of Mr Armani’s favourite restaurants, Antica Trattoria della Pesa, serving up traditional Milanese fare
At the Armani / Libri, which—despite the name—is not a heavily-branded experience. Instead, it’s easily one of the most thoughtfully curated bookstores I’ve ever explored, with many cool titles I’ve never come across elsewhere. Be warned, you’ll leave wishing you could fill your suitcase with books.
Armani / Libri, Via Croce Rossa
^ Looking up at Galleria Vittorio
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, a 19th century art museum—a calm, quiet sanctuary in the middle of the city which is one of Mr Armani ‘s favourite spots to visit. The museum has some pretty incredible collections spread across two beautiful floors (the building itself is pretty incredible), and is the perfect place to escape from the hustle of the city for an hour or two.
The Armani/Silos, which is a fashion and art museum dedicated to an impressive retrospective of the history of the Armani brand. The building itself is actually an old grain store (hence the name), which makes for an impressive structure in itself. Viewing a retrospective of a brand isn’t like walking through a store; instead, it’s a little more like a beautiful glimpse of history, seeing iconic pieces worn on stage or the red carpet in the 80’s and 90’s right through to today. A must-see for anyone interested in fashion through the 21st century.
At one of Mr Armani’s favourite restaurants in the city, Antica Trattoria della Pesa, a chic spot serving up traditional Milanese fare. It’s worth visiting for the homemade pasta alone, although the antiques furnishings and friendly staff don’t hurt either.
Antica Trattoria della Pesa, Viale Pasubio, 10
^ Getting some culture at Museo Poldi Pezzoli
Pinacoteca di Brera is the main public gallery in Milan which Mr Armani recommended that we visit. Wander through the courtyard then head inside for a feast of impressive Italian paintings.
Pinacoteca di Brera, Via Brera, 28
At the Caffe Fernanda, the recently renovated bar and cafe on the top floor of Pinacoteca di Brera. The interiors are in the style of old 50’s glamour, making it arguably the chicest museum cafe of all time. Although, if the weather is nice, the sun-filled terrace outside does steal the show. Head there for an espresso or spritz after you’ve explored the museum.
Caffe Fernanda, upstairs at Pinacoteca di Brera, Via Brera, 28
At the Armani/Ristorante, on the top floor of the the Armani Hotel, although remember to make a booking. Grab a drink at the Bamboo Bar next door first while the sun is setting, then settle in to enjoy a creative approach to modern Italian cuisine.
Armani/Ristorante, Via Alessandro Manzoni, 31
Grab an espresso and croissant and the newly renovated Emporio Armani Caffe’ Milano, with slick interiors that are as chic as they are Instagram-friendly. By day you can pop in for a quick caffeine hit at the bar or a long lunch in the light-filled dining room; then swing by for an aperitivo at the end of the day as the place really gets going. Regardless of when you go, it’ll always be filled with locals.
WHERE — Lanzarote
PHOTOGRAPHY — Jessie Bush & Sam Flaherty on 35mm
The Lanzarote travel guide—an island where you can dine inside a vast cave system, enjoy your coffee espresso with panoramic volcanic views and visit an artist’s residence built into lava bubbles.
A friend once described Lanzarote as a little like visiting the moon. And she was right; if the dark rocky surface of the moon was also lined with palm trees and cacti and surrounded by an impossibly blue ocean. Sam and I visited at the very beginning of the year—a little vitamin D to soften the blow of post-New Years blues if you will.
Some people complain that it’s super touristic and full of Brit’s Abroad. But while that may be true, particularly in the height of summer, the most overwhelming element of Lanzarote is it’s gritty, out-of-this-world beauty. Volcanic landscapes stretch as far as the eye can see. Impressive cacti seemingly grow everywhere, like amazing weeds. And rugged rocky beaches hug translucent waters begging for a swim. It’s a pretty surreal island – one you really need to visit yourself to get a sense of just how different it is from almost any other place on earth.
^ The surreal Jameos del Agua
WHEN TO GO
Lanzarote has a pretty bad rap when it comes to tourism, and the massive resorts that line Puerto del Carmen definitely suggest it’s a popular spot. We went in January for a mid-winter dose of vitamin D—which meant that when the sun was out it was a balmy 22 degrees, but the second the sun dipped or the wind picked up it became jacket weather.
To avoid the crowds but still get the kind of amazing weather you want from an island holiday, I would go either March-May or Sept-Oct (and if you go early autumn the ocean will be nice and warm after a long, steamy summer).
HOW TO GET AROUND
Hire a car as soon as you arrive. The island itself is pretty small – you could drive the length of it in a hour. But there are lots of spots – especially the more unknown beaches – which you’ll need a car for. Plus it’s pretty amazing driving around with dark volcanic rock lining the roads.
^ Mirador del Río, where the views are otherwordly
COFFEE WITH A VIEW
Drive up to Mirador del Río in the north of the island—a truly unique building built into a clifftop, with a chic cafe and viewpoints for impressive (volcanic) panoramic views.
Mirador del Río, Carretera de Yé S/N HARÍA, 35541
^ The sunset from Charco Verde
VISIT AN EXTINCT VOLCANIC CRATER
Head out to Charco Verde—a large crater open to the sea— just by El Golfo, ideally just before sunset for some pretty mind blowing views. The green crater backs onto black sand, red rocks and the blue ocean which makes for a pretty unlikely surreal landscape.
Eat at Jameos del Agua—a pretty incredible natural cave system that also features a restaurant, and an art and cultural center by local artist and architect César Manrique (if you haven’t heard of Manrique before you come to Lanzarote, you’ll hear his name several times a day while you’re here—he’s firmly part of the cultural fabric of the island). It all really has to be seen to be believed. You can visit Jameos del Agua without eating at the restaurant, but if you do want to have lunch or dinner there, it pays to book.
Jameos del Agua, Carretera Arrieta-Órzola, S/N, 35542
^ The pool at César Manrique’s residence
SLEEP IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
At Buenavista Lanzarote Country, a chic minimalist country house with expansive views across a semi-barren volcanic landscape and rocky craters. This spot feels totally removed from anything, yet it’s only a quick 15 minute drive from the airport and beach (the perks of being on a small island).
At the unspoiled Playa Papagayo, a turquoise cove found at the end of a long dirt track. Golden sands back onto rugged cliffs which make for a pretty unique landscape. However—like all dreamy beaches—apparently it can get pretty overrun with people in summer, so this spot is best enjoyed in spring or autumn.
Playa Papagayo, 35580 Yaiza, Las Palmas
VISIT A LOCAL ARTIST’S RESIDENCE (AKA INTERIOR HEAVEN)
The César Manrique Foundation is the former residence of local artist César Manrique—as mentioned above—and has been lovingly maintained so that visitors can stroll through his incredible house which was actually built into old lava bubbles. This one is a must-do while on Lanzarote.
César Manrique Foundation, Calle Jorge Luis Borges, 16, 35507 Tahiche
WHERE — New York
PHOTOGRAPHY — Sam Flaherty on 35mm
The second installment of The Hit List: a round-up of the best things I read, listened to, watched, cooked and generally enjoyed over after the past month.
WHAT I’M READING
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. I first discovered neuroscientist Matthew Walker via his interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast – honestly, say what you will about Joe Rogan (my main beef is that he constantly speaks over his female guests) – he has some incredible people on his show. The podcast in question is basically a two-hour deep dive into the most up-to-date science about sleep and how it affects the brain (which you can listen to here).
Unsurprisingly, Why We Sleep covers the exact same subject, but delves even deeper and will really open your mind into the importance of sleep and how it effects long term health, dreams and a lot, lot more.
I also read Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things, a novel about race, prejudice and power in the USA. It’s the first book of hers I’ve read in years, and as always she manages to find the line between an incredibly heavy subject matter and an easy-to-read page turner.
I finally got around to buying (and trying) CBD oil. I’m almost reluctant to share my experience, since it feels like it’s become such a fad—largely due to the various CDB ‘organic’ drinks and beauty products which are nothing more than a millennial marketing exercise.
To give you a super quick background (if you haven’t already heard this a thousand times), CBD is typically derived from hemp and contains no THC (the compound that gets you high). CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, so many people take it for everything from period pain to anxiety and insomnia. The truth is that there haven’t been enough conclusive studies – particularly in regards to dosage – on whether it actually works. Buuut there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence, and I have to say it’s been a real game-charger when I’m feeling stressed or anxious.
It calms me without making me feel drowsy. I’ve also tried it for insomnia, although the recommended dose for insomnia is so high it makes it a super expensive sleep aid (high quality, high dosage CBD ain’t cheap). To be honest I found it great for stress and anxiety but less effective for insomnia.
I don’t feel comfortable (or qualified) recommending it to anyone willy nilly, but I would 100% recommend reading up on it yourself and making some informed decisions if you suffer from any kind of chronic pain, anxiety or sleep disorders.
So if you are interested in trying it out, make note of the dosage because you can buy every strength of CBD (I use a 1000mg oil which you drop under the tounge), and ensure that it’s derived of natural ingredients from a reputable company.
PODCASTS I’M LISTENING TO
I’m a big fan of Love Stories by Dolly Alderton, a podcast about love, passion and heartbreak. Dolly manages to have real, heartfelt conversations about love (without being cheesy) with some pretty incredible guests. It’s the kind of podcast that delves into the human experience and reminds you that you’re not alone – which, let’s be real, is always a rather lovely thing to hear on a weekday morning.
WHAT I’M WATCHING
It’s not new, but on the off-chance you missed Please Like Me when it initially came out a few years ago, it’s time to rectify things asap. Please Like Me is an Australian series about a group of twenty-somethings – but I promise it’s so much more than that. It’s sad and hilarious all at once. And if you need further convincing it also stars Hannah Gadsby of Nanette fame.
Also, it would be wrong not to mention that Steve Coogan’s brand new series, This Time with Alan Partridge has just come out this past week. I haven’t actually watched it yet, but I’ve always got time for Steve Coogan’s slightly-painful-to-watch sense of humour. If you’re not familiar, he’s kind of like the British Larry David (minus the Seinfeld cash cow).
Good skincare doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny. The face creams, masks and serums that are not only budget-friendly, they actually work.
Yes, there’s a lot of skincare out there. Some works. Some just smells good. Others are served in teeny tiny tubs with big prices tags. And then some get that good skincare need not cost the earth. So I thought I’d put together a quick round up of my favourite drugstore skincare products that I use, love and swear by.
Okay Amorepacific’s Treatment Enzyme Peel isn’t the cheapest product out there, but they sell their enzyme peel in a 20ml tester size, which is actually enough to last a few months minimum, and get your skin looking brighter, tighter and more youthful.
Finally a legit eye cream that doesn’t cost as much as a small car. Mario Badescu’s Hyaluronic Eye Cream contains hyaluronic acid that plumps skin and helps you look all round more fresh-faced.
Cattier’s Green Clay Mask is my all-time favourite clay-mask and has been for years. It’s deeply purifying (so don’t use too frequently or you may dry out your skin), it removes toxins and almost entirely organic. They also do a yellow mask which is great for dry skin.
The star of the list is The Ordinary’s Retinol 0.5% Retinol, which really does what you’d hope – gently resurface the skin and keep it looking longer – without the crazy price tag. If you don’t already use The Ordinary’s products, now is the time to deep dive into their impressive range.
Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish is hardly a drugstore secret, but if you’re not already on board, now is the time. The cotton cloth it comes with ensures you get every last lick of makeup and dirt off, and it really does cleanse the face without stripping it of it’s natural oils.
How The Ordinary’s Vitamin C Suspension Cream is 1/10th the price of every other vitamin C cream out there is beyond me, but it is, and it’s amazing. To be honest this list could easily be a breakdown of every Ordinary product they do, let’s just say I’m a big fan.
I recommend Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen to anyone who will listen. It’s actually dry touch, not a lick of oil whatsoever, plus it comes in a range of SPF factors (I usually opt for factor 50 or 75 on my face) and it’s great for both beach days and under make up.
It’s no secret I love an eye mask. But single use eye masks can get pricey if you use them often (which I do), and in all honesty,Sephora Eye Masks are just as great as any others out there. Store them in the fridge for an extra freshening wake up.
Introducing The Hit List: aka a few of the best things I read, listened to, watched, cooked and generally enjoyed after the past month.
I’m forever on the hunt for tips from other people about what they are enjoying right now. Whether it’s jotting down notes on my iPhone, or screen-shotting recommendations I see online, I’m all about compiling lists of things I need to check out. Be it a great book worthy of putting to the top of the reading pile. A Netflix series that will have me hooked. A gritty podcast series. Or even an amazing hotel/store/restaurant to store in the memory bank should the tip come in handy.
So I thought I’d start sharing a few of my favourites each month, from what I’m reading to cooking (and occasionally buying). So hopefully, if you’re ever in need of a recommendation next time your fresh out of ideas on what to watch/listen to etc, these lists can come in handy.
I devour podcasts like a hungry child, so hopefully these recommendations can become a two-way street. If you have any favourites I should check out, I’m all ears.
I discovered NPR’s Believed, which explores one of the largest sexual abuse cases in US history. You may have read about Larry Nassar, an Olympic gymnastics doctor when this story broke in 2016, but this podcast delves deep, taking listeners more than two decades back. A powerful series that had me in tears.
Griefcast with Cariad Lloyd is another favourite, and I’m now realising both are quite somber topics. Although technically this is a podcast about death and grieving, Cariad is a hilarious comedian, so I promise it makes for great listening. She has a huge back catalogue, so perhaps start of with a guest you’re familiar with to sink your teeth in.
WHAT I’M READING
If these lists serve to highlight one thing, it’s that I tend to read older books (as opposed to brand spanking new releases), one because I usually buy second hand books, and two because I still have a reading list I’ve yet to complete from ‘09. Not that new books are better or worse than old, it’s just my style! But hopefully it means if you want to pick up any of my recommendations you can do so easily.
The One-In-A-Million-Boy by Monica Wood. A unique tale about friendship that spans many generations. More elderly characters should be depicted as their witty/sassy selves. Good for the soul without being the least bit cheesy.
Teacher Man by Frank McCourt. Angela’s Ashes is one my all-time favourites, so after re-reading it last year (along with ‘Tis), I discovered Teacher Man, which is Frank McCourts memoir about his time teaching in New York. Honestly he is such a great story teller, he makes even the bleakest of moments real page-turners.
Corn fritters are a brunch staple back in New Zealand and much like flat whites, I feel like they are pretty much everywhere now. If you haven’t had corn fritters (have you been living under a rock?) I get that it may sound odd, but trust me, corn fritters, avo and poached eggs is up there in all time best breakfast dishes (which we also have for dinner to be honest). So while it’s nothing new, I have just recently re-introduced them into my weekly repertoire using the recipe from A Simple Table. The best kind of meal when you’re feeling a bit lazy. Also can’t recommend A Simple Table enough, so many great recipes with a focus on local, seasonal produce.
Although Bill Granger’s corn fritter recipe is pretty dam great, plus the recipe is conveniently online right here if you’re in the mood for fritters stat. Don’t forget the avocado salsa.
WHAT I’M WATCHING
I’m currently re-watching The Sopranos for the millionth time, because it’s definitely my all-time favourite show. If you’ve never watched it, please do, it’s HBO at it’s finest; the character development is so good that you don’t even have to be a fan of mob shows.
And if you like a British crime drama, Safe on Netflix is an intense murder mystery without the usual over the top dialogue and picture perfect characters.
It’s hardly an internet secret, but if you’re looking for really great facial sunscreen (aka oil-free, lasts on day, glides on under makeup, doesn’t cost the earth), Glossier’s Invisible Shield is SPF35 and is the bees knees. Perfect for both city days and beach vacations, wear it 365 days of the year.
WHERE — Mauritius
PHOTOGRAPHY — Sam Flaherty and Jessie Bush
DISCLOSURE — Our stay at Salt of Palmar was complimentary collaboration in exchange for social content
If Mauritius isn’t on your radar, it should be. Think impressive volcanic mountains surrounded by impossibly turquoise seas, brightly coloured villages, rich curries and an endless supply of coconuts. What more could you want?
For whatever reason, I feel like Mauritius is largely overlooked as the ultimate holiday destination. People dream of going to the Maldives. Similarly, so many put Bali, Positano or Santorini at the top of their summer get-away bucket list. So since our recent trip to Mauritius was our second, and I feel like we’ve explored a pretty decent chunk of the island (hire a car if you can, it’s the best way to see the island at your own pace), I wanted to share my very favourite spots to stay, eat, lounge on the beach and explore.
At Salt of Palmar, one of the newest spots on the island. SALT is a boutique, sustainable hotel totally unlike any of the luxury resorts dotted along the coastline. The focus at SALT is about minimising the environmental effects of tourism; the hotel is entirely free of single-use plastics, the bathroom features locally made products free of nasty parabens, and they are in the final stages of building their farm and greenhouse, which will enable their restaurant to be truly farm to table style dining.
Their focus on eco-tourism isn’t just token (which unfortunately I feel is the case for so many hotels are right now); everything from the sourcing of their meat for the restaurant to supplying drinking water is done with sustainability in mind.
Hike up Le Morne Brabant, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Make sure you start as early as you can manage in order to beat the heat. We started at 5.30am, which at the time felt ridiculously early, but when it was 35 degrees Celsius by 8.30am (the mountain is mostly rock, which heats up quickly under the beating sun) I was pleased to have started before sunrise.
A lot of people told us that you need to be an experienced hiker to do this climb, but in all honesty it was much easier than we expected. If you’re fit and steady on your feet, it’ll take 2/3 hours to get up and down. The most important thing is to wear sensible shoes, take a lot of water, wear sunscreen (!!!) and just go at your own pace. The incredible views make it all worth it!
Go snorkeling near the reef. Mauritius is unique in that the reef almost outlines the entire island, which means there’s great snorkeling spots aplenty. You can take a quick boat ride out to the reef for the best snorkeling (many of the beaches have ‘boat sheds’ where you can hire everything from a SUP board to a glass bottom boat).
Go to a local market. Mauritians love their local market, and for good reason. There’s delicious fresh fruit, plenty of unpronounceable vegetables and piles of coconuts on coconuts. These markets are dotted around the island, so check out Google for the closest one to you.
At Dewa & Sons, the master of dholl puri (i.e. Mauritians favourite street food) which is basically the most delicious savory pancake you’ll ever eat.
Dewa & Sons, Rue L’homme, Rose Hill, Port Louis
For street food that you can eat right on the beach (and a stones throw from Salt of Palmar), La Cuisine Mama serves up authentic curries, fresh seafood and delicious noodles that’re a favourite with the locals (which means you know it’s the real deal).
La Cuisine Mama, Public Beach, Quatre Cocos
WHICH BEACHES TO VISIT
Mauritius has a lot of glorious coastline, which makes it slightly intimidating when looking for a nice area to book. We found the Le Morne peninsula on the south-west corner to have an array of beautiful beaches, lots with public access. This area can occasionally get windy – it’s where the kite surfers congregate – but on a calm day it can’t be beat.
Belle Mare was another coastline that we enjoyed (and walking distance from Salt of Palmar); a winding array of perfect bays with some beautiful protected swimming water.
Blue Bay Beach is a winner as well – a picturesque cove dotted with simple private houses running along the coastline. Go for an evening stroll and pretend that you live there.
After your hike up Le Morne, make your way to Emba Filao Restaurant, a simple restaurant serving local fare right on the beach. Order a fish curry (only £3.50) or grilled fish with creole sauce (caught locally that morning) and a local craft beer on tap, then find a pew on one of the plastic chairs on the beach. Often the best meals are uncomplicated and authentic, and this spot is exactly that.
Emba Filao Restaurant, Plage, Le Morne, Le Morne
Usually hotel restaurants are nothing to write home about (especially when you can have fresh curry right on the beach), but Salt of Palmar’s menu is possibly the best I’ve ever experienced at a hotel. They offer healthy, locally made cuisine (rather than the usual all-you-can-eat buffets many resorts favour), all meat and fish is caught sustainably, and there’s enough vegan and vegetarian options to rival a cafe in LA.
WHAT TO PACK
A generous amount of SPF 50 – obviously we should always be sun smart, but the sun here is a lot harsher than Europe & the US, so you’ll turn an unpleasant shade of tomato red in a 1/4 of the time you think you would. My suitcase was filled with simple sandals that are beach-friendly, button up shirts, loose fitting dresses that work as well for a lazy breakfast as a nice dinner (just add heels). Pack one more book than you think you’ll read (Mauritius is a read-all-day-on-the-beach kinda place), and don’t forget a good sunhat (I never head to the beach without a wide straw hat for maximum protection, plus a bucket hat in-case the wind picks up).