Tag: summer holiday

“I can’t believe you’re still wearing a bikini at 40!”

So said my husband as I tried on a multitude of options for our impending holiday and asked his opinion a couple of weeks ago. Not in a rude way (at least I hope it wasn’t!) More in an incredulous way. As though women of 40 don’t wear bikinis.

(Sidenote – the postman could have also chipped in to this conversation, because I was in the lounge modelling my new bikini. And the postman has to walk past both of our lounge windows to get to the front door. The husband told me to hide behind the sofa. Maybe he did mean his comment in a rude way after all.)

Here’s the thing – I don’t like swimsuits. I find them claustrophobic. They cling a lot. They don’t dry quickly enough when you’ve been in the pool or the sea. They make your skin feel clammy while they’re still damp. They’re a pain in the ass to pull up and down to go to the loo. They generally have too many straps and are too high at the front and back leaving tan marks where you don’t want them.

I like a tan on my stomach and my lower back. It freaks me out a little bit if my middle bit is completely white and my arm/face/shoulders/legs are brown (I don’t mind white bum and boobs, that’s the norm, unless you’re a nudist). And I like the feeling of the breeze on my stomach at the beach, or the cold sea as I ease myself in, or the first freezing hit of the pool when I jump in. And yes there’s a bit more of my stomach to experience those feelings than there used to be. And no I’m not as young and lithe as I once was (although nothing seems to be drooping so far!) But I still prefer a bikini.

Why is it that we’re so keen to put women in boxes when they reach a certain age? Shouldn’t wear short skirts, shouldn’t have long hair, should dress in classic neutral colours. I’ve been guilty of it myself in the past. I probably didn’t think I’d be wearing a bikini at 40, because that’s not what 40 year old women do, is it?

Well fucksticks to that. Neither my age or my “less slim” stomach is going to shame me into wearing something just because other people think I should. Whether that be the husband, the postman or the media.

This is not (misplaced) body confidence, by the way. I know I don’t look as good as I’d like to. But I refuse to be uncomfortable just to suit society.

Last time we were in Greece there were two Greek women on the beach. Both large ladies, both probably in their 60s, and both wearing a bikini. Not a skimpy tie sided, triangle top affair, admittedly. There was a decent amount of fabric and underwiring going on. But they were there and they were chilling and they were talking and sunbathing and swimming. I assume they were comfortable. I do notice a lot less body consciousness in non commercial Europe (hence the male budgie smuggler not being extinct!)

I’ve blogged about this subject before, 2 years ago, post holiday. I talked about the difference between my early 20s self in a bikini and my then late 30s one in one. And I stand by what I said then:

“My body looks how it does because of the life I lead. I enjoy life. I enjoy food. I enjoy drinking. I don’t enjoy exercise!”

Anyway, here are my two new bikinis, both from George at Asda. And I will be coming home from our late summer holiday with a tanned tum, so there!

Asda ombre blue bikini

Asda melon bikini with straps

What’s your approach to swimwear? Are you a cover up or stuff it kind of person?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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A week in Greece

Last week I flew to my happy place in Greece, a small village called Stoupa; nestled in the base of the mountains on the Mani Peninsula. I first blogged about Stoupa here. Whilst I’m not usually a fan of going back to the same place multiple times (it’s a big wide world out there, after all) there’s something to be said for finding a place in which you’re completely at ease, completely relaxed in an instant, with incredible food, scenery and people.

That place, for me, is Stoupa. Which is why I’ve been there 5 times.

It’s testament to the village that it’s hardly changed at all since I first went there around 16 years ago! And that’s the appeal of the place. Whereas holidays, for me, are often about exploring and finding where everything is, the beauty of Stoupa is that you already know everything there is to know. It’s like putting on a comfy jumper and cosy slippers.

I first went with my Dad, then my Dad and his wife went, then my husband and I went and so, after my Dad died last year, it seemed fitting that his wife, me and the husband would all go together, as we all love it so much.

With no further ado, here are my pics!

Do you have a favourite place in the world where you feel instantly relaxed and at home?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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A week in Greece

I’ve finally just about emerged from the fuzzy fug surrounding my week in Finikounda and the inevitable readjustment to real life so I thought I’d tell you all about it.

If you read my last “first of the month” post, you’ll know that I love Greece.

If you didn’t read it, here’s a précis. I love Greece. The people, the pace of life, the food, the climate. All of it. It’s probably my holiday destination of choice for a summer break.

This time we chose a new (to us) destination; a small Greek village on the Messinian Peninsula called Finikounda. We chose it knowing it was tiny, with one supermarket, one cash machine and a handful of restaurants. We chose it knowing that there were no loud bars or crazy watersports. We chose it knowing that the village is little more than one main street with a few shops and the demographic is largely Greek families holidaying and older people relaxing. And we loved it for all of those reasons.

We stayed at a relatively new aparthotel called Tsokas Hotel which was about 5 minutes walk from the beach. Unusually for Greek accommodation it was very modern; with large open plan bedrooms fully stocked with a small kitchenette, air conditioning, a power shower and a large balcony. With only 15 apartments overall the feeling was intimate and relaxed, with no fighting for sunbeds or noisy guests. The hotel has a lovely kidney shaped pool which was a godsend in the incredibly hot weather (it was 35 degrees wen we arrived on Sunday lunchtime) and by late afternoon it was like dipping into cool bath water. Bliss.

So, what did we do? Pretty much nothing! We I had hoped to go and visit a nearby town with venetian castle ruins, but in truth it was so ruddy hot that that the thought of doing full on sightseeing was too much to bear! So we settled into a delightful routine of breakfast in the apartment, lounge by the pool, walk to the village for lunch, an afternoon nap for me, a spot more sunbathing and then dinner in a different restaurant in the village. It was the perfect antithesis to the real world and, because every day was something of a mirror image, the time lapsed slowly in a delightful blur of nothingness – a feeling of complete escapism where the only thing that mattered was what to eat for dinner and whether to have a quarter or half litre of wine at lunch. We weren’t back at the hotel later than 11pm any night, and were fast asleep by midnight at the latest!

If you follow me on instagram you’ll have already seen a lot of these pictures, but in case you don’t (you should, by the way!) and also to indulge myself and relive the delightful memories, here are some snaps from our week.

Would I go back? In a heartbeat! There’s something quite comforting in knowing you have a destination in your travel bag that you can 100% rely on when you need a certain kind of holiday. Plus there are still all the things and places that we didn’t manage to visit last week to bring a different dimension to the trip when we go again.

Do you have a favourite country to holiday?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Leaving on a jet plane…

…don’t know when I’ll be back again…

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Actually that’s not true, I’ll be back next Sunday!

By the time you read this I’ll be in fabulous Greece for a (hopefully) fabulous week of relaxation. I can’t wait to eat Greek food, soak up the sunshine and chill out with the husband.

I wish you all a good week, whatever you’re up to, and fingers crossed the country doesn’t descend into any further chaos while I’m gone! (although if it does, send a carrier pigeon to let me know and I won’t bother coming back!)

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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My first…part 5

It’s the first of the month again! Aren’t these long hot summer days amazing? (huge amounts of sarcasm). Grrrr….

Anyway, as I’m off to Greece in just 10 days time (woo and hoo!) I thought I’d talk about my first ever time on the Greek Mainland, in my early 20s.

I love Greece. Adore the place. The people, the climate, the food, some more of the food. Mmm…food. Greek cuisine is right up there with the best in the world, for me.

Greece is my first choice of holiday destination if I’m looking for a chilled, relaxed break with guaranteed enjoyment.

The first time I ever visited the mainland was with my Dad. After my parents separated things became fraught between me and my Dad for a while. I hadn’t taken sides in the split but I was living with my Mom, and she had a new partner which my Dad found difficult to deal with, especially my acceptance of it. In an attempt to build bridges I suggested that the two of us go on holiday.

Both having a love of Greece from previous visits to the islands, Dad suggested calling the travel agent (as you did in those days, before cheap airlines and hotel comparison websites, god I’m so old!) and finding out what was available within a few days; somewhere “typically Greek”. The travel agent suggested a place called Stoupa, which neither of were familiar with. It was described to us as being a small village on the Mani peninsula, with a mountainous backdrop, a handful of tavernas and bars and a very relaxed atmosphere. It sounded perfect.

And perfect it was. We arrived at Kalamata airport at around midday on a hot Sunday afternoon, after a 3am start from home. I hadn’t been to bed the night before as I was still packing so I slept all the way to the resort. On arrival we were shown to our apartment, which was a 2 story house, split into 3 apartments. We had loads of space, two balconies, 2 bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen. It was very much a home from home.

After changing into shorts we wandered down towards the direction of the sea, passing small tavernas and shops. As we reached the end of the narrow street the whole of Stoupa opened up in front of us. A horseshoe shaped bay with a sandy beach and sparkling blue sea. Stepping out and looking backwards we saw the mountain backdrop promised by the travel agent. We fell in love with the place immediately.

It was a week of lounging in the sun, reading books, sleeping and eating amazing food. We took an organised trip to the Diros Caves. We walked to Agios Nikolaos. And we overcame our difficulties and had a lovely Dad and daughter time.

Years later my Dad took his now wife, and she also fell in love with the place in the same way that we had years previously.

I never once suggested it to the husband, as he tends to get bored easily on holiday and I thought Stoupa would be way too quiet for him. I think he felt left out, because my Dad and his wife and I used to talk so fondly of our times there, and the husband had never been. So, eventually, and under some duress, I agreed that we would go. I warned him before we went that if he hated it he wasn’t to tell me, because he would spoil it for me!

But guess what? He loved it too! Absolutely adored the place, immediately. Such is it’s magic! And what did we do? Exactly the same as my Dad and I had done over a decade previously – eat, drink, sleep and read. We didn’t even leave the village because we were so content. Not only that, he was so taken with it that we went back 6 weeks later for our 5th wedding anniversary.

Here are some pictures of the bay.

And the mountains. Can you see the tiny villages? At night they look like little patches of sparkles in a sea of blackness because they’re so remote.

Stoupa mountain villages

And there are the most fabulous sunsets. Every. Single. Night.

Stoupa sunset

I very much want to see more of the world – all of the world – but I think I will always return to Stoupa. It holds such happy memories and is everything I could ever want in a relaxing holiday.

We talked about going back again this year, but I vetoed it because my Dad is ill. He was supposed to go last year and had to cancel because of his cancer treatment, and I don’t feel right going when he can’t.

So, this year, the husband and I are off to the other side of the peninsula – a place called Finikounda. I’ve read reports from some people that say it makes Stoupa look overly touristy, so I’m intrigued to see just how quiet it is! And of course I’ll be blogging all about it when I get home.

10 days to go!

Do you have any summer holidays planned? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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A massive sigh of relief, “I-tal-you”

From what, you might ask?

(or might not!)

Is it relief at having passed my job probation? Relief that the weather forecast in Wales has improved since my last desperate post? Relief that the Foo Fighters have rearranged some dates after cancelling Wembley due to Dave’s broken leg?

Nope. None of those things.

It’s relief that finally, at last, after weeks of deliberation and stress…

…we’ve booked a summer holiday.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a predilection to being dramatic, but in this case rightly so. I truly believe that we have never struggled to agree on a week away as much as this year.

Timing was an issue; we have so much on over the remaining summer months (I know, diddums) that we were struggling on when to go (and no point shoehorning something in for the sake of it). Realistically we don’t have time until mid October, by which point many of the traditional resorts in Europe are too cool temperature wise to guarantee a great holiday (not that it’s all about lying in the sun, but for what we were originally looking at that would probably have been the case).

Expectation was also an issue, because neither of us would commit to what we actually wanted from a holiday – was it just lying around doing nothing at all, or maybe with some sightseeing thrown in, or total sightseeing? We’ve danced around each other nervously, with husband eventually telling me that he would go along with whatever I wanted to do (probably because I was getting this wild woman of Borneo look in my eye and started twitching whenever a week off was mentioned).

Egypt was on the list; Sharm el Sheikh for late season sunshine and a day trip to the Pyramids as we’ve both always wanted to go. But recent horrors in Tunisia made us rethink that plan. Even if we scrapped the pyramid visit and just stayed in the resort, where there’s increased security, Egypt is a bit too close to the conflict for comfort; especially when attacks have happened from the sea. And do I really want to be sunbathing and watching an armed security team from the corner of my eye. Er, no.

Hong Kong was also on the list, but then with even more things popping into our calendar that require time off here and there, we don’t really have enough annual leave to do it justice. And it’s a bloomin’ long flight to only have 5 real usable days once you take travel time into account. Plus it would be full on doing and seeing stuff, which I don’t think is what husband really wants (although he’s too scared to say anything – negative or positive – by now, in case it finally tips me over the edge!!) So that was shelved.

Greece was a real contender, as it’s still warm into October and they really need tourist investment right now. But we’ve been to Greece for the past two years and weren’t sure if we were just considering it because we didn’t know where else to go.

And then I came across an amazing deal in Italy. Flying into Naples, staying just outside Sorrento in a cliff side hotel. Free minibus to Sorrento multiple times each day. Excursions to Vesuvius and Pompeii. A boat trip to Capri. A drive along the Amalfi coast. All options that are open to us, if we want them. OK, it’s not going to be scorchio in October. But it will, at worst, be t-shirt and shorts weather in the day, perfectly nice for sitting outside overlooking the sea and reading a book. Ideal temperature for sightseeing. And should the worst happen, and it rains, we’re staying at a fabulous all inclusive hotel so we can sit inside and eat and drink all day long.

I’m thrilled. Beyond thrilled, actually. I’ve been wanting to visit the Neopolitan Riviera and always just assumed we’d do a city break. This way we get the best of both worlds – relaxing AND sightseeing, It’s a really economical way to do it as well, which is always good (OK, that’s all relative, but cheaper than a city break and a separate chilling holiday, and also great value due to being all inclusive, as food and drink in Italy is expensive). We’ll probably eat out a couple of times, and obviously spend money on some excursions. Pompeii!! I come over all Frankie Howerd (oo-er) just thinking about it!

(and now my poor attempt at humour in the title of this post makes sense as well, no?)

Meanwhile, to get me even more excitable, here are some pics. Just wow!

Sorrento Sorrento 2

Pompeii

Vesuvius

Green Grotto of Capri Amalfi Coast

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