Summer is without doubt my favourite time of year. I was made for long summer days in the sunshine, for sandy toes and sun kissed noses, for salty skin from the ocean and fresh fruits. I felt my happiest when travelling in tropical countries, in the depths of Asia, and I put that down to soaking up endless Vitamin D and bathing in a whole lot of Vitamin SEA. It makes perfect sense that when we are made up of two thirds water, that being close to the ocean should heal us in some way, soothe our souls. Well ever since I was a kid, I was a bona fide water baby, and even now, I miss the ocean now living a few hours from the coast, but that doesn't stop me from making the most of every second of this summer. After arriving back in the UK in time for Christmas and the worst winter I can remember in Europe, with temperatures hitting -10 and even lower, it has really made me appreciate every second of sunshine we are getting now. I'm so happy to see if isn't just Germany that is getting the most amazing weather, the UK actually seems to be getting a heatwave too! So I thought this post was right on schedule – let's talk about all the ways I love to celebrate summer and make the most of every second.
My favourite way to celebrate anything is with food and what better excuse than a sunny day for a good old barbecue? We actually had our first barbecue since Australia this weekend and it was amazing, we went to a gorgeous park in Hamburg and set out our picnic blankets and fired up the BBQ ready for our feast. We've actually gone vegetarian, the pair of us, so this was our first attempt at a fully veggie BBQ and I can confirm it was delicious! I'm a big fan of the veggie burgers and sausages, and love throwing veggies on there too. We've previously done stuffed mushrooms, veggie skewers and baked fish on the barbecue before and all of them have been amazing. I love how creative you can get with what you barbecue and how quick and easy it is to do. We picked up a great little disposable barbecue for a few euros and it was perfect for us, and even better, didn't leave scorch marks on the ground. We don't have anywhere to store a BBQ at the moment, so a disposable works best for us. My top tip for BBQs, take the time to whip up some good sides, perhaps minty potatoes with butter or a fresh salad with quinoa or cous cous and veggies, and don't forget the sauces!
There's nothing quite like getting out on the water and feeling that cool breeze wash over you when it's hot outside, I love being anywhere near water when it's a hot day whether it's the beach, river or even just a swimming pool. In Hamburg, we have the river Elbe right on our doorstep which is great if you fancy a boat trip with ferries crossing from one side to the other and countless harbour boat tours on offer. Back in Australia we would take a friend's boat out on the lake or the ocean for the afternoon, here in Hamburg, I'm happy to hop on a ferry from one side of the river to another, or even to head to the parks where there are some lovely lakes to chill near, such as Planten Und Bloomen. Last week a friend and I caught the ferry from the Elbphilharmonie to Landungsbrücken, just a short ride but it was heaven on a very hot day, saved our legs the walk and was included in our day ticket for the public transport in the city, so great value for money. You can read all about my experience of punting in Cambridge here.
I hold my hands up, I am a total sun worshipper and always love laying outside soaking up the sunshine. I sometimes question whether I was a cat in a previous life, because I have a knack for finding the most sun-soaked spots and lazing in them all afternoon. However, one thing I am always really careful of is sun damage and protection against UVA and UVB rays, I've seen first-hand the worry and the devastation cancer can cause and I don't see any reason to take risks like that. People might be surprised considering my tan, but I always wear factor 30 or even 50, and I am obvious proof that wearing sunscreen does not stop you from tanning. So for all those people wearing factor 5 tanning oil, please stop, and realise the unnecessary risks you are taking. I've been testing out Altruist Dermatologist Sunscreen which has been specially formulated to provide a sunscreen which offers the finest UV protection in a fragrance free and non-sticky cream – great for those of us with sensitive skin. It's such a refreshing change to find a sunscreen which is so budget-friendly and non-greasy, I hate the way they usually make my skin feel so oily and shiny, so Altruist was such a lovely, light cream to wear on your skin.
Best of all, it is budget friendly and puts the focus on the importance of everyone having access to sunscreen. Altruist founder Dr Birnie said: "Cost should never be a factor when deciding whether or not to wear sunscreen, or how much or how often to apply it. Everyone should have a basic right to take the necessary precautions to reduce their risks of developing skin cancer." As someone who spent years travelling Asia and living in Australia in 35 degree heat every day, I know exactly how important wearing sunscreen is to protect your skin, but I also know how expensive sunscreen can be. There have been plenty of times when buying it in both the UK and Australia when I have been shocked to find I'm being charged £15 for one bottle! Those who simply cannot afford to regularly buy sunscreen at these prices now have the option to pick up a spray sunscreen for just £5 for 200mls for both SPF 30 and 50 thanks to Altruist, and for those who prefer a cream, these are available for just £4, with all available exclusively from Amazon.
An absolute favourite of mine and something I'm loving about living in Europe is how popular it is to have restaurants spilling out on to the streets and the pavements filled with diners making the most of every second of summer. These long European evenings are bliss after travelling in Australia and Asia where darkness fell every evening at 6pm, and how better to enjoy this extra time than to take your dinner outside? The boyfriend and I have really discovered a love for hitting the Sternschanze area in Hamburg where every restaurant has a huge outdoor area filled with tables and chairs, even tv screens showing the World Cup and lots of delicious food. It's such a great, festive atmosphere and you can feel the happiness in the air at being able to experience moments like this, together. Can't afford the restaurants? No problem, why not pack up a little picnic and hit the parks or the beaches? My mum and I always used to pack up a lovely dinner and then head to the beach to breathe in the sea breezes and enjoy a relaxed evening. Here, I love that we have parks at either end of our road and so many huge ones in the city, when I was in one the other evening there were loads of people rocking up with their hampers filled with snacks, takeaways from the nearby shops and bottles of bubbly or cans of beer. Join the fun!
Truly English and something I haven't really found in any other country, I love that we Brits have this attitude that as soon as the sun is shining, it calls for a cheeky Pimms and Lemonade in the beer garden. It's always so much fun to get a gang of mates together, or meet up with your bestie for a lovely long evening catch up in the beer garden mid-week. Brits always seem so happy when the sun hits and you can see how the old seasonal affective disorder affects us all the rest of the time, well it's always so lovely to take that friendly, happy attitude outside for a drink in the sunshine. My fave place to hit the beer gardens has to be Cambridge, nearby where I am from, which has the best pubs and beer gardens overlooking the river – especially The Anchor pub which is a personal favourite of mine. Over here in Hamburg, there are lots of great bars with lovely sunshine-filled outdoor spaces to enjoy, but it's not the same as the UK. I do love all the cute little beach bars along the river Elbe though, check out StrandPauli and Dock 3 Beach Club for some lovely river views and tasty cocktails.
For me, summer is all about getting outside and getting active. When I was living in the UK, I would head out for morning and evening runs along the river near my house, or would head out to the beach for a sunset beach walk and picnic. Norfolk is such a fab area for getting outside and making the most of the countryside. When I was in Australia, weekends were filled with camping trips to national parks or the beach, evenings were filled with hikes and trails, I loved the outdoorsy lifestyle that came with the territory. Now, living in Hamburg, I'm filling my evenings with strolls to the parks, walks in the woods or along the river, and even the odd run in the sunshine. I like to use this time to clear my head, to lose the stress of the day and any worries, either listening to a good playlist or just the sounds of birdsong. Its amazing how quickly a good dose of nature will wash all your cares away. Even if you don't live somewhere surrounded by beaches and forest, why not just take a walk to a nearby park or stroll through a neighbourhood you haven't visited before, sometimes just a change of scenery can work wonders.
What are your favourite ways to celebrate summer? How are you making the most of the sunshine?
*This sunscreen was gifted, but my opinions remain my own and I would never share a product with you guys unless I really loved it!
This one is a little later than the usual Monday morning post, but I make no apologies - I was off having far too much fun at the weekend and that's what this blog is all about! My weekend was filled with festival fun, barbecues and sunshine - the perfect English summer weekend and a great excuse to be reunited with a lot of old friends I've missed so much since I disappeared off to the other side of the world. After a ridiculously long two-and-a-half years since we last saw each other, I was finally reunited with five of the six girls who made my university experience incredible. Each one of these special humans, and one more who sadly couldn't make it along, were with me through every high and low, through every horrible exam and every drunken night - we started together and we finished it together. This might not sound that incredible to you - I know what you're thinking, everyone makes friends at university and goes through the same things - but the difference is we graduated five years ago. We're scattered all over now working different jobs, living different lives and following different dreams, and with me travelling the world, it's not easy to keep this friendship going. We work hard at making sure we stay in contact, at being there for each other when times are tough and at organising reunions when we can, but it's not easy to see each other as often as we would like. So when we finally do get to meet up, it's a whirlwind of a weekend filled with catching up, dancing the night away, making beautiful memories to carry us through to the next reunion and maintaining the connections that make this group special. Why am I writing about this? Because I used to know so many groups of friends at university who I know no longer keep in contact, I too have friends from school who have fallen by the wayside as our lives grew in opposite directions. It's hard to keep friendships alive when you're on the opposite side of the world, heck it's hard enough to keep them going when you live two hours down the road from each other let alone in a different time zone. We all grow up and we all create this amazing life for ourselves but it's often difficult to make space for everyone, so it's important put in the extra work to keep it going with those special individuals. It is actually possible to still keep those university and school friendships going five, ten, twenty years down the line and to preserve what was special about them from the start - it just takes time, patience and a lot of love.This weekend's reunion was at Wireless Festival - we went along for the Saturday when Chase and Status were set to headline, with the likes of J Cole, Wilkinson, Krept and Konan, Craig David and many more performing. With a few of the girls living in London, it was a perfect opportunity for a girly sleepover and to bring along some other old friends we hadn't seen for a while. It was also a good excuse to relive some of the fun we had when we organised a huge weekend trip to Parklife Festival in Manchester a few years ago - any excuse for good music, ciders in the sun and a lot of fun. I was really excited because I hadn't actually been to Wireless Festival before and you all know how much I love my festivals - this would be my first one in almost two years as I didn't manage to squeeze in any during my travels! Our hostess lived not far from Finsbury Park so we stopped off there to glitter up and get ready - there's nothing more fun than getting ready with your girls - then headed to the festival grounds. Despite the masses of people attending the festival we easily found our friends and made our way into the park without having to wait more than a few minutes. A well established festival, I was impressed at the speed of service on the gates and at the bars later on, it was clear the organisers knew what they were doing and had made every effort to ensure everyone had a great day and didn't waste time in queues.We were excited to see Chase and Status, I've lost count of how many times I've seen them live now but they never disappoint, and I couldn't wait to see Wilkinson again. After spending the last two years travelling Asia and Australia, one thing I had really missed was good drum and bass and the fantastic UK electronic acts, they just have a much grittier sound than the house I hear everywhere over there. I more than got my fill after about ten minutes of standing near the Smirnoff stage which had some incredible music coming from it from the very beginning of the day. I meant to head back there later on but completely forgot as we stumbled across more great acts. It's always tricky trying to manoeuvre your way around a festival and several stages when you have a group of around 10 people to keep track of, but we did a pretty good job. We made it to all of the performances we wanted to see - for me Wilkinson and Chase and Status were the absolute highlights, both dropping their classics Afterglow and Blind Faith to ecstatic screams from the crowd. But I know my girls were also seriously loving J Cole and Krept and Konan earlier in the day. We were a little disappointed that Craig David was just doing a DJ set instead of performing, but at least it meant we didn't mind when we couldn't get inside the tent because there were so many people crowding the entrances.Wireless is a fantastic festival, if you're not really into camping and don't want to venture far out of the city, it's a perfect event to try. It was really easy one for all of us to get to despite coming from all over the country and it was great being able to get day tickets so you could choose which acts you wanted to see and fitted around work. Also, despite attracting so many people to Finsbury Park, the festival never once felt overcrowded or too busy, which I have previously found at other events where there wasn't enough toilets or space to accommodate people in some of the tents. We also managed to get a great spot in the crowd for every single performance except Craig David, which was a huge plus with so many of us and so many shorties in the gang - there's nothing worse than not being able to see over the crowd! There was also a much better selection of food on offer and much cheaper drinks than I had expected - ciders were just £5 each - which made a huge difference to the day. I can't stand when you go to an event and have already forked out a lot of money for a ticket, then have to spend a fortune on bog-standard drinks and mediocre food.Wireless is also a great event to go people-watching at - I spotted one of my favourite rainbow bloggers, Lulutrixabelle, there looking fabulous as usual. Lots of my girls bumped into random friends they hadn't seen in ages, and I know there were quite a few celebrities in the crowd that I completely missed. The day finished with an amazing show by Chase and Status rounded off nicely with fireworks, we managed to escape the crowds and make our way home easily which was great, we didn't fancy getting stuck on the tubes as thousands wandered out of the gates. It was a perfect weekend and was made all the better by the fantastic weather - I had been worried I would be forced to wear wellies but the rain stayed away and it was so warm the whole time. The next day, after the long drive home, I even spent the evening at a barbecue with some other old friends before finally making my way home to my bed. There's no better feeling than your own bed after a festival whether it was a cheeky day one or a full weekend of camping. For someone who much prefers the full weekend festivals, I was glad to ease myself back into them with a cheeky one-dayer, especially when it was filled with some of my favourite people.
How was your Wireless Festival experience? Which was your fave performance of the weekend? Are you going to any other festivals this summer?
I'm taking a break from the travel posts today to cover one of my favourite topics - festivals! Anyone who knows me will know I'm a bit of a festival queen and that I can never turn down a chance to party on a beach, in the woods or in the beautiful English countryside. I love festivals and everything about them, but it is UK festivals that really hold a special place in my heart. So you can imagine how gutted I am not to be attending any this summer - I know, I know, I'm travelling the world, how can I be gutted about missing a rainy festival? Well trust me, if you've ever been to a UK music festival and completely lost yourself in the bizarre, the magic and the music for four days - you'll understand. Becoming editor of This Festival Feeling gave me an amazing opportunity to attend as many festivals as I wanted, to experience them behind the scenes and to write about and review them. I'm a lucky girl to have this chance and it took me from being a girl who had never been to a festival to one who have been to around 15 in three years. After managing to fit five in last summer (including the amazing Secret Garden Party, BoomTown Fair and We Are FSTVL) you can imagine I feel a bit lost getting all these email updates as announcements are made and knowing I won't get to see any of this amazing live music, I won't get to cover myself in glitter and I won't get to see all of these crazy things this summer.But you guys will get the chance! So as many of you have been doing with my blog over the last four months, I will now be living vicariously through you as you party your way through the UK festival scene. One of the fun things about festivals is the complete freedom to be creative with the way you look and dress - I often find a stray piece of glitter while sitting at work weeks after a festival and find myself longing to be back in the fields covered in sparkles again. I love clothes anyway and am a bit of a shopping addict - don't ask how heavy my backpack has become - but you'll notice this is a my first fashion post! I never end up writing about fashion because I don't really consider myself an authority on it, but New Look thinks otherwise and they have asked me to join their festival fashion campaign by picking out some of my favourite festival outfits from their new collection. In my book, New Look are a great source for affordable and cute outfits for festivals - I always refuse to spend mountains of money because let's face it, festivals are messy and there's no guarantee those outfits will still look good by the end. You want fun patterns, cute accessories and lots of glitter!
So, just to help you guys out, I've already checked out the collection and put together two outfits I love so that you guys don't have to do the legwork and deal with stuffy changing rooms. All of these can be ordered online from the comfort of your sofa, so you don't even have to get dressed! My first outfit choice is this cute purple Ethnic Print Playsuit (£12.99) - I love playsuits because they're cute and cover your modesty when you get a bit drunk, plus the pattern would look great with a tan! Team this with the Light Brown Leather Fringed Sandals (£27.99) because a sturdy pair of sandals is a must for me at a festival - I know the weather is supposed to be rubbish in England but out of my 15 festivals it has only rained at two of them. Wellies are hot and sweaty to dance in and even trainers can be a bit much - it gets hot in those tents! So why not embrace the sunshine and get your tootsies out? Do what I do and wear these in the day to let your feet breathe and then don the trainers for nighttime to keep warm. This summery combo would look great with lots of quirky jewellery, maybe a body chain or headband like the ones below - I always prefer the feathered or chain ones to the flowered. Plus plenty of rings - they are my weakness!
My second choice of outfit is something more for nighttime because quite frankly it gets bloody cold when you move out of the hot sweaty tents and into the winds that whip across the fields in the UK. It's always good to have a couple of cover ups - a cute jacket or kimonos are my personal favourite because of the flowing material. I love the colours in this White Tile Print Dip Hem Kimono (£19.99) and would definitely team it with some denim shorts and a bandeau crop top, which are both available from the collection. But it would be the Gold Linked Bar Body Chain (£7.99) that added the detail to the outfit along with the Gold Jewelled Drop Tikka Head Chain (£6.99) for some added fabulousness. Both of these outfits only come to around £40, as I'm sure you already have basics like denim shorts, and you could easily wear them after the festival as well which is great - if they survive! Make sure they are both teamed with lots of glitter, a dash of face paint and a hell of a lot of fun. Then load up the car with ciders, grab your mates and get to that festival!
I've been super lovely to you guys and linked all of these pictures to where you can find the clothes on the website so you won't even have to search for them if you just love them! To check out the rest of the collection, click here head to the New Look website and get that bank card ready.
Have you got any festivals planned this summer? What is your favourite festival fashion combo? Can anyone recommend any music festivals for me to check out in Australia and New Zealand?
*This was a sponsored post but all opinions are my own