Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A Traveller's Christmas Tree

A couple of years back, I started collecting Christmas decorations on my travels. Pretty, small and easy to transport, they are the perfect memento.

The collection is still small, some of the ornaments are back in New Zealand, but I think they add a little something a little special alongside the more traditional lights and baubles.

Vernazza, Cinque Terra, Italy 

August 2012: It was a stinking hot day when we travelled from our apartment in Riomaggiore. Vernazza was my favourite of the 'five earths' that make up Cinque Terra. I would love to go back one day, but maybe not at the peak of summer.

Mykonos, Greece

October 2012: My second journey to Greece and my first visit to the famed island of Mykonos.
Travelling in the last week of the tourist season, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this wasn't the party-crazed island I'd always imaged, but a naturally beautiful place with friendly locals, pretty whitewashed towns and delicious food. When can I come back?

St Paul's, London, UK

April 2013: An overcast grey London Saturday found Nick and me atop my favourite building in London - St Paul's Cathedral.
I love everything about this place, the history, the calm, the beauty and the view - even the climb to get up there!

Dubrovnik, Croatia

June 2013: After escaping the heavy midday sun in my favourite place to sit and people watch in front of Town Hall and the Marin Držić Theatre, I bought this cute leather heart off a woman selling trinkets just outside Dubrovnik Cathedral. 

Belfast, Northern Ireland

July 2013: On what was one of the hottest days in Belfast ever, and on the weekend on the infamous Twelfth, we explored the incredible Titanic Belfast exhibit. 
It's everything a museum should be, informative yet very human and touching. It also manages to go beyond the Titanic and explore the impact shipbuilding had on Belfast as a whole.

Barcelona, Spain

November 2013: The newest addition to the collection, this little beauty was picked up at Casa Batlló. 
Is there anything more appropriate than a Gaudi-esque decoration from Barcelona?

Berlin, Germany

February 2013: The iconic traffic light men of East Berlin, I found these little Ampelmännchen after cycling through the snowy streets of Berlin and not being able to feel my fingers.

Reykjavík, Iceland 

December 2012: Though we spent most of our Icelandic Christmas in Akureyri, I had to buy this little guy in Reykjavik as there were no shops open in the north.
He reminds me of snow, thermal pools, huskies, snow and long nights.  

New York City, USA

August 2010: The classic Statue of Liberty. NYC was the last stop on our epic two month road trip from LA and this was the first official piece in my Christmas decoration collection. 

The Tree

Merry Christmas everyone reading this - I hope you have a wonderful time with your friends and family - or a relaxing day on your own is good too.

See you in the New Year.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Barcelona by Instagram

In November, Nick and I headed off for a nice little mini-break in Barcelona.

Our first time in Spain, and while the weather was certainly on the chilly side, we were greeted with brilliantly blue skies and a soft warm sun.

One bonus of travelling in the cooler months is you get to enjoy most of the famous sights in relative quiet.

Before I tell you more about our trip (I promise I will), here's a little pictorial roundup courtesy of my Instagram account...

Sunday, 1 December 2013

I think I finally love my hair

After two and a bit years in London I finally found a hairdresser I could work with.

Her name was Mel. She was lovely, she was Croatian, and unlike many a hair dresser in this city she was able to cope with my mane.

The problem I had with many British hairdressers is they seem reluctant to thin hair. It's as if they have never heard of the magic of thinning scissors.

But Mel did her best - she thinned, she layered and seemed to understand the needs of a my giant head of hair and I trusted her to do her work.

And then, a year into our relationship, she was gone. 

About three months ago, I headed back to the now Mel-less salon and placed my locks in the hands of another, surely equally talented, stylist, but it was not to be. Sure, she was nice enough, but it was back to a world where thinning scissors cease to exist and I left as big and bouffy as I went in - minus a few split ends.

For a first 20 or so years of my life I guess you could say I had a put-up-with-it/hate relationship with my hair.

Reddish brown (auburn I would remind anyone who suggested it was ginger) thick, unruly and slightly curly with a good dose of frizz. If I were a teen in the 80s I would have been at the forefront of fashion. 

As a child and a teenager the only people who had anything nice to say about it was hairdressers and old people. To this day every time I visit a new hairdresser they will say the same exact two things "you have such lovely hair" and "is that your natural colour?" occasionally followed by "some people pay a lot of money to have hair that colour" - oh really, then why don't I see more people with this colour hair then?

In my last year of high school I started dying it  - mainly dark brown, but I also experimented with jet black, pink and blue strips and blonde. After that I tried highlights, low lights and tinted shampoos.

It was around this time that I also stopped brushing my hair and what a difference that made! My frizzy red afro was gradually replaced with big waves. Still largely out-of-control, but at least if wasn't so terrible.

Add to this various experiments with hair straighteners (I'm far to lazy to commit the hours needed to make this a regular habit) and you have many years spent fighting nature.

However, somewhere during the last three years of living in London I have come to a place of acceptance. 

It's been nearly four years since a piece of foil or dye touched my head and in that time I think I've reached a place of acceptance.

Three months after my last disappointing hair appointment, I ventured out on Saturday to try a different neighbourhood salon on for size and what can I say, I think I've found a winner.

Layers, layers and more layers, plus she did this weird thing where she twisted my hair up and then made three little cuts along the strand and brushed it out. Instantly lighter. Bliss.

In conclusion, the secret to loving my hair: no brush, a spot of well placed thinning and embracing the ranga. 

What is your hair relationship?