‘Don’t forget’ – summer holiday packing list

As you may have observed/mildly judged, in the ‘About me’ section of this blog,  I like to ‘make a good list’. I really mean it. I get a deep sense of dorky personal achievement from ticking actions off a list. So much so, that I will sometimes  retrospectively add things I have done to lists, which weren’t on the original list, just to tick them off and get the buzz.

I wanted to put out into the universe, for the good of mankind, my ‘don’t forget’ holiday packing list – which is basically a list of things I have forgotten on holidays over the years or blindly  assumed others will bring.

Suitcase full of stuff

Great British packing list

Practical things:

  • Local Currency – I always assume the pound is accepted everywhere. No. Wrong. And come home to find frustrating envelopes of old useless Euros from previous holidays in drawers everywehere
  • Phone Charger. Adapter. Travel Battery.Various crucial, but irritating cables for Ipad/Kindle.
  • Beach Towel. People always get particularly irritated when I forget this
  • Map/Guide book – v. retro but a godsend when data roaming is zillions of pounds
  • Insurance/hotel details – numbers and directions
  • Decent bags for sight-seeing/beach
  • Gym Kit. So annoying when you end up in a great hotel, with a great gym and loads of time to actually go but no trainers, socks, sports bra etc.
  • Teabags/instant coffee. I mock my Mother for bringing her little bags of PG Tips on holiday, but do resent buying continental Lipton (eughh).

Toiletries and skincare:

  • Sunhat and sun protection spray for hair. Always burn my scalp.
  • After sun. Oh the best made plans.
  • P20 suncream. Doesn’t come off all day, come sea or sweat, and is the only thing I don’t burn with. Not for face though.
  • Facial Mist. For hives and just general fun. Sprtiz. Spritz. Spritz!
  • Neon lipsticks/nail-polishes . Otherwise what is the point in having them? You can only wear on approx 3 days in UK
  •  Hay-fever tablets, eye drops, blister plasters, prickly heat cream, immodium and tissues – spend 10% of every holiday desperately trying to locate a pharmacy with pink, streaming eyes
  • Travel size toiletries and samples – shampoo/conditioner, shower gel, shaving cream, body lotion, facial cleanser, serums, moisturiser, perfume, deoderant and razors –  all the samples taking up space in the bathroom – this is your moment!
  • Toothpaste and Toothbrush. Once forced to buy aniseed toothpaste for 6 Euros in Italy which tasted like Sambuca
  • Cotton pads, facial wipes/flannels.


  • DVDs/Player or Ipad with films/box-sets downloaded. For rainy days, flights, holiday ‘can’t switch off’ twitch
  • Games – Playing Cards or the best Ipad game of charades ever – Heads Up
  • Good books – pre-downloaded onto Kindle. (In Portugal, recently, I ended up panic downloading the most incredible trash).
  • Speakers. Beach side tunes.
So much more relaxing when you haven't forgotten your pants

So much more relaxing when you haven’t forgotten your pants

Totally obvious stuff:

  • Jacket, jumpers, jeans for cool days
  • Loads of shorts and T-shirts for the day
  • A million swimsuits/bikinis, plus beach covers
  • Skirts, playsuits, dresses, tops for evening
  • Underwear – including NEUTRAL tones as there will be a surprising opportunity to wear white
  • Converse/trainers
  • Flipflops/sandals
  • Nightwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Passport…Printed boarding passes…

Ironically I was more organised when I traveled less, but over the years I have become so ‘Generation EasyJet’ that I complacently believe holiday packing ‘just happens’. But it doesn’t. In fact, last month it happened at 11.45 before a 6am flight from Gatwick to Faro, leaving no time to sleep and a pretty disappointing holiday wardrobe when I arrived. So fingers crossed that getting organised for my next holiday will help…

Happy Travels x


Hanging out with the England Team at Portugal’s Brazil World Cup Training Camp

I have touched on my family’s obsession with the Liverpool football team before.

So while our decision to holiday in Portugal at the time of the England training camp in the Algarve was *not* deliberate, once this happy accident was discovered everyone was BEYOND THRILLED and turned swiftly to the serious business of genuine stalking. Wannabe WAG style.

Shot of Steven Gerard on the putting green at Vale de Lobo golf club

Big cat safari sport sighting – England team world cup Brazil training camp golf break– Gerard and Milner

My parents made a strategically planned, regular morning beach walk to the training camp in Vale de Lobo, where they stood next to the heavily guarded perimeter fence and waited for signs of life. Nothing. Other people would have moved on and given up, but not us.

On ‘pure instinct’ – their next move was to head to the nearby Vale de Lobo Golf Club, following a vague, voodoo sense that the players might fancy a club sandwich and a put on the green.

And it was there that we had our Bridget Jones moment (you know, that scene when she ballses up outside the Old Bailey, but Mark Darcy saves her by hooking her up with an exclusive interview?).

We discovered that the England team players would regularly ‘lunch’ at the golf club. Discovering this, my Mother brazenly circumvented security to gain access to the ‘members bar’ and got a selfie with Phil Jagielker (or a ‘Facie’ as Dad calls it).

On the second day the members bar was now understandably barricaded. But we prevailed and hung out in reception where we spotted Frank Lampard in heavy conversation (and decided on completely no basis he was talking to his psychological coach).

Needing an appropriate ‘cover’, we headed for drinks outside where we saw James Milner chilling on the putting green. This was followed by….the big man himself Steven Gerard. It was like seeing a secret animal in the wild. Literally everyone around the golf club took a sharp intake of breath and purred.

photo 4 (2)
















And THEN Stevie sat next to us at lunch FOR HALF AN HOUR. Naturally nobody spoke as we intently listened in on his conversation, which consisted of disappointment/pride at Liverpool’s latest run and er…his love of audio books.

Poor Stevie – he must have felt so awkward as we all silently stared at him and I took really obvious creepy photographs like the one above.

While I’m no hardcore football fan, I was star struck and shy, so I held back from taking loads of pap snaps in an effort to play it cool. Dad was the same and one of my biggest regrets now, in life, is not running onto the putting pitch while he made small talk about the world cup with Gerard to take a picture of them together.

Oh well we have the memories. Now bittersweet from Brazil. In fact – superstition held me back from writing this post until England had gone and er…gone out. At least this post reminds us they set out to do well.


The man who makes the best G&Ts in the world

Gin. Mother’s ruin. But is it weird to say that I started to drink gin because of my Dad? Yes that does sound weird, like I grew up not getting enough cuddles.

But the truth is my Dad taught me to appreciate the art of a decent G&T. Like he taught me to never buy a new car, install decent anti-virus software and appreciate the Rolling Stones.  As I got used to how it made me feel; relaxed, un-phased, off the grid, I learned to respect the solid, British, masculine heart of an ice cold G&T. (Not saying gin is a man’s drink, but all objects do have a gender and I’m pretty certain that at the bottom of a gin bottle lies the soul of a disillusioned man).

Potentially the best G&T world? But I won't know until I drink them all

Potentially the best G&T in the world? But of course I won’t know until I drink them all

I made bad gin and tonics at university. Sometimes I made them without ice, with tepid tonic water and always, always with too much gin. So much gin that people would physically shudder and look at me like I was ‘mental’  .But you know what I never did? I never descended to using lemon. ALWAYS LIME.

Hell hath no more contempt than me and my Dad, faced with a waiter who thinks its acceptable to put a slice of lemon instead of lime a G&T. And bloody fair enough. This is 2014. No one needs to live like the cast of Only Fools and Horses.

I don’t drink as much gin these days. I’d go as far to say I don’t drink nearly enough. But then again, I went through enough Bombay Saphire at university to put me in a workhouse (if we’d been in Dickensian times). I limit my gin intake now to only sinking 1-2 in a row, after I linked it with a bout of unexplained crying on nights out. The number of concerned looks I’ve had from people when I’ve admitted that is countless: ‘What you didn’t know gin is a depressive? You need to get on the voddies girl!!”

So anyway, the point of this post is to say that bearing all of this in mind, when a  mixologist in Portugal had the audacity to suggest he made the best G&Ts in the world, I’m sure you can imagine the arched eyebrows I exchanged with my Dad.

But I’m a big enough girl to admit when I’m wrong. This barman  – of the Heinz Beck restaurant at The Conrad hotel in The Algarve – actually did fulfill his promise in unexpected ways. A bit like the Walt White of drinks.

Talking about his formula – this man, whose name I never caught – explained how some of the secret is to melt and freeze juniper berries into ice cubes (which turn ‘antifreeze’ blue), so that the taste of gin never dilutes, even when your ice-cube melts. He also pats the glass with a lime, so the taste stays on your fingers as you sip. He has thought of everything – except how to mass-produce this.

The drink was inspirational, iconic, magic. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Since then, I’ve been sinking gin like crazy, like a woman trying to replace a good lover . In fact, I had one earlier tonight, before I wrote this. Although the restaurant ‘didn’t have lime’…Fascists.