It’s a beautiful day

A quick post to share my OOTD as the dress is currently on sale at Madewell and I don’t want you to miss out! I absolutely love it – it is so easy to wear and it has pockets too! The perfect summer dress which can be worn on the beach or out in the evening. It is reduced from $168 to $59.99 and then there is an extra 30% off this weekend using code YESANDYES. I’m wearing a medium.

Enjoy!

MadewellDress – Madewell // Sandals – Cyprus (available here in different leathers) // Bag – H&M

July 20th.

We headed off to our favorite beach at Salamis today.  I’m sure everyone finds their ‘perfect’ spot when they are on vacation.  Salamis is ours – not too far to drive, very few tourists, and a great beach bar that I hope no one else ever discovers.  On the way there the children were bickering like mad in the back seat of the car – no wonder – it was hot and they were tired.  I told them to ‘grow up and act their age’ – an oxymoron if ever I heard one.  It dawned on me that yep they are only 5 and 7 so go ahead and bicker like children.

The irony was that we were driving through Lefkosa at the time.  The Northern side of Nikosia.  Turkish flags were flying everywhere, and the Turkish military were flexing their muscle.  With choppers overhead and jeeps with machine guns flying by us, I began to worry my Husband would develop post traumatic stress.  July 20th 1974 is the day Turkey invaded Cyprus to ‘liberate’ the Turkish Cypriots.  I’m not going to tell the story here – but if you’re interested you will discover that the Turks were maybe heavy handed, yet provoked and left with few other options.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no bias.  Unlike many here I have no allegiance to either the Turks or the Greeks.  They were both crap to each other, and continue to be so in many ways.  It just saddens me that 39 years later, neither side is prepared to compromise to the extent that even a diluted recognition of the Northern territory looks feasible.

So as I told my kids to act like grown ups – I also wished for the Greeks and Turks to act like grown ups.  It is wrong that this beautiful island full of history, love, incredible stories, and kind people be divided.  Can’t we just all be friends?

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Shorts – DVF The Outnet // Sandals – Zara // T-shirt – Zara (old)

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My spiritual home.

So I’m not normally one to get deep, so bear with me.  I believe that everyone has a ‘spiritual home’ – where you feel that sense of calm, along with a stirring sense of excitement.  Like you’re where you belong.  If you’re lucky enough to travel often you may have encountered several places that give you this feeling of elation, or you may be even luckier to experience it right where you call home now.

15 years ago my Husband and I journeyed down the Karpaz – the peninsular or ‘pan handle’ of Cyprus.  It was barren, poor, and occupied by farmers.  It was, and still is, one of the few places on the island where you find Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots living side by side.  It is also home to fabulous hidden ruins, sea turtles and wild donkeys.  Today it is much the same, though the western Karpaz now has several holiday villages bringing in much needed business and money to the area.  I’m not sure the photos do it justice but I hope they convey some of the reasons why the Karpaz is my spiritual home.

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BIG holiday hair!:

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Not sure I’ve ever seen clearer water – no wonder the turtles love it!:

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Lunch was a picnic in a ruined chapel – not a bad spot:

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Just call me Aphrodite:

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So I want to be a goat herder when I grow up:

 

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Excuse me mate!:

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The beach behind me is Turtle Beach where we spent a night of our honeymoon at the bar, and then slept in a beach shack.  It was a very drunken night – I still remember how rough I felt the day after!  Hasan, the owner, who poured the brandy in 1998, was still there today.  Amazing memories:

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My paradise:

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Güzleyurt and Salamis.

It’s been a busy couple of days here.  Over the weekend we headed to a ‘real’ Cypriot town where we were the only tourists – I stuck out like a sore thumb with my Nikon hanging round my neck.  It was market day in Güzleyurt so off we went to stock up on some fabulous fruit and veggies.

We also made sure we beat the heat with a glass of strong çay.

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This is a New Look dress that I bought on my trip back to Bury back in February.  This is a similar one in navy and now just 7 GBP in the sale!  I love it – but Hugh asked me if I had a baby in my tummy – so maybe not the most flattering on me.  Comfort wins every time here though in the heat!

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Today was an amazing day.  When my Husband lived here from 1971 to 1974 they lived in Famagusta.  The city is now home to a ‘buffer’ zone where only derelict, war torn buildings remain, patrolled by the Turkish army and the UN.  It’s sad to see this part of the city crumbling away, but they obviously think a buffer zone is still needed to separate the North and the South.  We drove around the barriers trying to pick out my Husband’s old apartment, where he lived as a child, that sits in the middle of the buffer zone.

Earlier in the day we visited what is probably my Husband’s most favorite spot in the World – Salamis.  Imagine having ancient Greek ruins by the beach as your play ground when you were 7!  He told me he had his 6th birthday party there and even wore a red toga for it – a lot of things are becoming clearer to me on this vacation:)  I’ll be asking my FIL for the photos.

The Med is crystal clear here – almost too clear for me as I could see what I was swimming with – lots of tiny fish!

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The obligatory photo on the headless statue.

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Another fantastic lunch.

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The neon beach cover up is from Target.  I can’t tell you how hot I was standing here!

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Who knows where tomorrow will take us!

 

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Sightseeing.

There is so much to see and do here in Cyprus, including doing absolutely nothing but lounge by the pool in the heat, and fortunately we are here long enough to do a little of everything each day.

On Wednesday we started the day with a trip up to St. Hilarion – one of the three castles that are perched on the mountains around Kyrenia.  The children loved it and did great climbing the steep access to the Royal quarters.  Poppy was spurred on by her desire to be a Princess for the day.

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Up and up we went with lollipop rewards at the top.  Well worth a visit for the views alone.  The drive up there is interesting too – through a Turkish military zone with shooting ranges on the side of the mountain.

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For this trip I wore my J.Crew Factory shorts (only $19.50 in the sale right now!!), Gap t-shirt (just $15 in the sale with another 35% off today using GAPMORE) and M&S sandals – though as you can see the Newtons were required for the climb.  (Sorry about the blurry photo I was being rushed out of the door!).

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Yesterday we hung out at the pool until the heat subsided in the early evening.  We then headed off to Bellapais Abbey which is just stunning, if a little touristy due to the many people searching for the Tree of Idleness from the book Bitter Lemons.

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We had some fun amongst the ruins.

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Yes that sign behind her says ‘dangerous stairs’ – she’s a rebel and will do anything for the right shot.

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I wore harems from Next, T-shirt from Zara (old) and sandals from M&S, and Poppy is wearing a t-shirt from Target, harems from Zara (similar here) and Havaiana flip flops.

After Bellapais we drove into Kyrenia for another wander along the harbor.  We ate kebabs and lamaçun with the locals, and then I had my brandy sour at The Dome as I did 15 years ago.  Apparently Kyrenia has some of the best forgeries in the World – there were a couple of ‘Birkins’ that caught my eye.  Might be time to do some bartering tomorrow.

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Why Northern Cyprus?

In 1974 the Turks invaded Cyprus and the landscape of the island changed forever.  The South, ruled by the Greeks, is buzzing with resorts, tourists and night life.  The North, ruled by the Turks, is rural, lacking investment and still unrecognized by most of the World.  1974 is also the year that my Husband and his family were evacuated from Cyprus, and his father’s posting here with the British Government came to a sudden end.

My Husband’s love for Ancient History must stem from his time spent in this amazing country, which is filled with stories of Aphrodite, and ancient and medieval ruins.  The North is home to castles perched on the mountain tops where the wind howls and creates magical playgrounds for adventures and exploration.  Salamis, on the East coast, was one of the richest cities in the Mediterranean and is now a well preserved site where you can wander back in time.

It’s an emotional place for my Husband to visit.  As he tearfully told me when we were landing yesterday, the last time he flew to the South of the island he was with his Mum and Dad.  My Father-in-law has been back a few times since to visit.   My Mother-in-law sadly passed away in the first few months of our courtship, more than 20 years ago, she was far too young.  My Husband and I last came here for our honeymoon in 1998, so I have a good understanding of why this island has such sentimental meaning.  You can’t help but fall in love with it’s beauty and mystery.  I am hoping that this, our first trip here with the children, will be somewhat cathartic for my Husband, and encourage him to share some fabulous memories of his Mum with her grandchildren.

It’s already been an adventure.  After a long flight via Schipol we arrived at Larnaca where we were then driven North, over the border in Nicosia – the only city to be divided by an international border.  Who knows what adventures we’ll have today!?

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A new obsession.

So I like to work out.  I also like to ‘dress the part’ and ‘look cute’ while working out – if possible when sweating buckets, huffing and puffing and as red as a beetroot – I don’t do ‘low impact’.  My favorite brand of work out gear for some time has been Lululemon.  They do fabulous fabrics for wicking and support, great colors, cute prints, and I LOVE their skorts.  Over the past few months though there has been some concern over their colors ‘bleeding’ in the wash.  There have been LOTS of comments on their FB page and their CEO even addressed quality issues.  I have noticed the trim on a couple of my beloved skorts that have changed color:(  Now I’m not ready to abandon Lululemon, but the quality concerns and their more mainstream presence i.e. seeing everyone in the same gear, has made me question whether the extra cost is worth it at all.

So I ventured out the other day to Atlantic Station to investigate the Athleta store.  I always receive their catalog and to be honest haven’t paid it much attention till now.  Flicking through it, what really appeals to me is the variety of clothing they offer – not just capris and tanks for gym wear – but they also have – dare I say it – ‘lounge wear’ and ‘travel attire’.  Don’t shoot me, but here is why I love it.  Sometimes I do just want to hang out at home in sweats – BUT not sweats that have a brand emblazoned across my butt, or elsewhere for that matter.  I still want to look cute in my, here we go again, ‘lounge wear’.  As for traveling – there is nothing worse than sitting on a 9hr transatlantic flight in skinny jeans, no matter how stretchy they are.  But I refuse to wear sweatpants and Uggs.  Plus on my trips abroad – especially for summer vacation I love to have something easy to throw on that can be packed rolled up, and will not reach it’s destination completely creased.

They don’t have too many bricks and mortar stores right now (though owned by Gap I expect real estate will be no problem, and they seem to be popping up stores where ever there is a Lululemon close by!).  The one here at Atlantic Station is HUGE.  It is beautifully merchandised, has great spacious changing rooms, and the staff are fabulous.  Nothing was too much trouble.  No pretentious yogis here.

These Allegro pants were what I really wanted to try.  They are super light weight, have a great stretchy waistband and I walked away with a black pair.  Ideal for travel and at home.  I love them.  As a note I got in a US 4 bottoms and size small tops so I suggest they fit on the larger side!

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I also love these capri skorts – the ‘seamless skirts got legs‘ –  and will be trying them as soon as they are in store.

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Their dresses are also great – especially for hot Atlanta summers and for summer vacations.  I have my eye on this ‘Twist and Turn maxi‘ for Cyprus this summer.

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On another note – my paranoia about the sun is growing annually.  I’ve heard too many horrifically sad stories recently and so I plan to be more guarded on the beach.  I have completely fallen in love with their rashguards.  Perfect protection, and also pretty darned cute too!

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As for today, well it seems a long way to go till beach weather that’s for certain.  I’m wearing the Boden velvet trim blazer from 2011, Boden Must Have Jumper in blackberry layered over an H&M tank, Hudson skinnies and my Newburys.  The scarf is also Boden from 2011.

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Boden are currently having a Spring Trim – 15% off selected items – and this stacks when you use my banner ads!  Enjoy:)

 

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A visitor from afar.

The children are very excited today.  Grandpa arrives this evening.  Mike is my father-in-law and it’s odd to realize I’ve known him for over 20 years.  It shouldn’t seem odd as that’s how long I’ve known MM* and Mike has been a constant in my adult life, and a tremendous influence on me.

Firstly I am entirely indebted to him for raising the fabulous man that I married.  His curiosity for the world at large and his fearlessness have certainly rubbed off on both his sons.  Secondly I owe him much for helping MM and I retain our sanity while we were impoverished in London.  He often visited us and filled us to the brim with indulgent meals at London restaurants that we could never have afforded on our own.  He even took us to France a couple of times, along with my brother-in-law, where we wined and dined.  From day one he has always included me in the family clan and showed no hesitation in introducing this bird from Bury to the rest of his family.  I certainly felt welcomed into the melting pot of eccentricity that I married into.

Mike makes me feel like nothing is impossible – another trait inherited by his sons – and probably one of the reasons MM pursues his entrepreneurial projects.  None of them like to conform and it is that maverick style that I adore in all 3 of them.  It’s odd to think of Mike as a maverick when he spent most of his working life in the British Civil Service.  He can’t tell me what he did – he’d have to shoot me – but I’ve guessed it must have been pretty important stuff that allowed him to travel and raise his family for a time in Cyprus before it was divided in two and they were airlifted out, and then later in Hong Kong.  Mike’s generosity was again displayed when he gifted us with tickets to Northern Cyprus for our Honeymoon to allow MM to show me why this beautiful place is so important to them.

Mike’s wife and soulmate, and my would have been mother-in-law, Pat, passed away after a short illness back in 1991, about a month after I met MM.  I never got to meet her but I often imagine us getting on like a house on fire.  I like to think I am like her in some ways – maybe not, I’ll never know, but I do know she liked a party and was extremely social.  After all these years we talk about her more often especially when the children ask why they only have one Nana.  I love listening to MM tell them stories of his childhood that include her.  I no longer feel like I’m walking on eggshells and I always learn something new.

When Mike retired early instead of tending his garden and picking up his pipe and slippers he decided it was time to see more of the world and he put his backpack on and set off on his own.  Inspiring stuff especially considering the countries he traveled to.  I often imagine, like some le Carré novel, that he already had contacts around the globe.  What I know for sure is that when he returned he had made friends in places as disparate as Japan and Bali and he still travels often now, though he is probably a little more cautious.

So although I don’t always agree with his opinions regarding politics or football I am eternally grateful to Mike for opening my eyes to a world full of opportunities and excitement…it is what you make of it and regrets are pointless.

Mike and MM celebrating Mike’s birthday last year:

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Mike in his seersucker with sherry:)

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This post has turned into something I wasn’t expecting and it seems frivolous to talk about clothes now!  But I have a photo and I’m going to use it!  After saying summer is here to stay I jinxed the weather and it is flipping freezing here today.  Time for a jumper again in fact so I reached for my Boden Must have jumper in radish over my Boden Breton, along with my faithful Hudson Collin jeans and Tory Burch Eddie flats in Tory navy.  I love this radish color more than when I first bought it.  Maybe it is the fact I have a bit of color now after the beach, but I’m definitely going to trawl the site to see what else they have in radish.

Boden Must have jumper and Breton

*MM – My Man