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My holiday to Sorrento

12 Jun 2015

Long time no blog! My doctorate is manic at the moment, but I managed to find time for a holiday! Today's post is long and photo heavy!

We went to Sorrento in Italy. It's somewhere I have wanted to go since I was a little girl. My Nanny and Poppa used to go frequently and talk about it as a really glamorous, beautiful place which sparked my interest. I also really wanted to go to Pompeii and see in real life all the interesting things I saw on documentaries. This year, my boyfriend and I decided to go finally!

We stayed in Sorrento at an AirBnB apartment in the historic centre which was beautiful. It was a really great price, and perfectly located down a small lane off the historic centre. We had a small flower shop right outside our flat door

On the first day, we were tired from travelling so we stayed in Sorrento. We walked around the lanes and went to the harbour. As Sorrento is built into a cliff, there aren't any beaches sadly, but the harbour is beautiful.

All throughout the lanes are little alleyways with interesting things to see

There was an abandoned mill at the bottom of a valley, with a casual main road living next to it! 

That night we went out for dinner at Ristorante Da Gigino which was amazing! We had a carbonara and a traditional Pizza which had barely cooked mozzarella on. Delicious! 

I wore a necklace I'd bought from a market in Sorrento, my Long Tall Sally palazzo trousers and my New Look crop bardot top

The second day we explored Pompeii. We booked a tour which was fantastic, and then spent some time on our own exploring after.

In the brothel there was a menu of rude images! Can you believe these are from around 70AD!

The casts of bodies were so surreal and sad.

According to our guide, all the animals in Pompeii ran away just before the volcano erupted (something to do with them sensing it) so there aren't many animals. This dog was chained up and couldn't escape. It was incredibly sad to see him so contorted.

The streets were amazing. In many places there were deep grooves in the stones from the chariots, which were all standard sizes.

Vesuvius eerily looking over the city.

We then walked across the city to the large amphitheater where there was a special exhibition of the casts.  I hadn't realised that the bodies weren't found like this. Apparently when excavating, archaeologists found hollow sounding areas. Someone filled one with plaster and chipped away to find the hollow left from a body (which had decomposed, leaving bones). there are skeletons within the casts. 

I found it quite frustrating that some of Pompeii was closed and not kept properly. It left me wondering if Italy has so much history, maybe it's not that important to them in the scheme of things! 

That night we came home and again napped, showered and got dressed up for going out. 

I'm wearing a lace crop top from TFNC and gingham Capri pants from Peacocks! That night we went to Tavernallegra because it was high on Tripadvisor. It was nice, but I'm easily embarrassed, and the staff are not! The manager was singing almost all the time, then they brought out this "love volcano" for a couple on a date and sang them a song about being married for a long time and gave us all tambourines! The manager and guitar player were going table-to-table serenading, so we wolfed down our food and legged it before it was our turn! It all felt very surreal! 

The next day we went to Herculaneum, which is a smaller town ruins near Pompeii. Due to the way the volcano erupted, Herculaneum was coated in a thick layer of boiling mud rather than pumice, meaning the wood and food was preserved!

 This amazing mosaic was on the wall of an office. Mosaics were always on the floor, so this was impressive

When initially excavated, archaeologists thought the people of Herculaneum had been successfully evacuated because they didn't find bodies like in Pompeii. Then the most recent excavation found the old boat house which was on the shore (until the eruption caused a few more km of land to exist!). There were 300 skeletons huddled up in the arches of the boat house, waiting for rescue. It was haunting. You can see them behind the ropes. 

Herculaneum is tiny and very quiet compared to Pompeii. The main reason is because it's less well known, but also because it was harder to excavate. Furthermore, the modern city of Herculaneum has been built on top of most of the ancient city so will probably never be uncovered. 

On our second last day, we went to the island of Capri, which was super easy by boat from Sorrento. 

Leaving Sorrento

Capri is absolutely stunning. It's really mountainous and gorgeous. As it was a hot day, we dived into the nearest bar for a drink or two before adventuring from Marina Grande to the main town of Capri

We then got a bus up the winding roads to the rival town of Anacapri which is up a steep cliff. In a packed bus, going round the winding cliff roads at high speed was terrifying.

From Anacapri you can get a chair lift to the highest peak. It was fantastic! It was quite scary because I am scared of heights, but I was distracted from my fear by the amazing view and peace. Being in a noisy town, it was glorious to be swinging around in the warm air, ankles grazing plants in people's back gardens and only being able to hear birds singing. 

I don't think I really wanted to leave Capri but we came back to Sorrento that afternoon for dinner at Meating Sorrento - a fantastic steak restaurant. Sadly the red wine, hot sun and limoncello shots got to me and I was a little sick. It was very embarrassing! 

On the last day we went to Naples by Circumvesuviana train to see the Archaeological Museum which housed all the treasures raided from Pompeii and Herculaneum. It was amazing to see and really worth the trip, although again sections were closed due to staff shortages, as my Lonely Planet book suggested they would be. Naples itself I found to be quite rough and I was relieved to get back to Sorrento at the end of the day. 

Overall the holiday was FANTASTIC! I want to be back there now. It was so incredibly beautiful and there was so much to do and see. I would have liked to do an Amalfi Coast tour on top of what we did but we didn't have time. I would definitely use AirBnB again and I would highly recommend Sorrento to anyone who wants a lovely holiday with delicious Italian food. It has really sparked a passion in me to learn Italian and how to cook Italian food (even if we did have the best kebab ever there at Kebab Ciampa!) Go, have lots of gelato in interesting flavours and just sit in the open air people watching! It's brilliant! 

I knitted the Pandora Diamond Lace Sweater!

23 May 2015

As most people know, I love knitting. I find following a pattern, counting stitches and thinking about the process really relaxing and it takes my mind off a busy day. I guess it's like mindfulness in a way - when I'm knitting I'm in the moment, creating something which gives me a sense of pride!

Anyway, my recent projects have been little fiddly things like this bride and groom for my BFF Becky

So I decided to make something a bit bigger. I normally knit things and give them to other people (whether they want them or not) so it was a big deal that I made something for myself. Becky and I have a shared knitting pattern Pinterest board and she pinned the pattern for this jumper which was called "diamond lace sweater". It was posted as a free PDF from Prima magazine (the link is here), although I have since discovered the pattern was called Pandora and was from Rowan Seascapes.

The suggested wool was Rowan Savannah, although to my dismay they stopped producing this yarn a while ago. I couldn't find enough in the colour I wanted, so I had to find an alternative. I have discovered in my years of knitting that alternative yarns are fine for small items or things you don't have to wear, but when it comes to clothes, it really matters (I knitted Sam a cardigan for Christmas this year and it came out tiny as I used the wrong yarn! It doesn't matter that they were both called chunky, the one I used wasn't chunky enough. I get to wear it though!). I found Ravelry  a good source of information on the weight and texture of the yarn suggested so I could compare it to other yarns, and I also found Yarnsub - a fantastic website which scours the databases to find close matches to the yarn you are asked to use! I ended up using Sirdar Cotton Rich Aran in Double Denim which I got from Hobbycraft! I thought I'd need 6 balls, but for the small size I actually only needed 5. The yarn is 60% cotton and the way it is spun makes it light, comfortable and soft. It's also not shiny which I think makes it look a bit more expensive.

The pattern is really chunky, in garter stitch with the lace motif. It knits up really quickly and would have taken me about 2 weeks to knit if I hadn't have started a new project in between! The jumper is so light and airy which will be perfect for the evenings on holidays! I am really proud of it and it's knitted up to a good size. I can't wait to wear it! 

The Holiday Shopping List 2015

21 May 2015

EEK!! It's just over a week until I go on holiday to Sorrento! I have wanted to go here ever since I was a little girl and my Nanny would tell romantic stories about going out in the evenings, the gorgeous shops and having coffee in little shops. We're planning on going to Pompeii and Vesuvius but don't know where else to go yet so if you have any recommendations please let me know! 

I've started shopping for my holiday and I thought I'd take you through what I am buying


I got some glitter sandals for walking around in the day around Pompeii. They were £20 from a shop called Zig Zag in Chichester but these ones are similar from New Look 

I got this plunge swimming costume from ASOS for £30. There's no real beach for sunbathing but we can go jumping off cliffs and boats so I need a proper swimsuit. This one is beautiful and has a low back.

I am big into my sun protection so a big brim hat is necessary. This floppy hat was £12.99 from New Look

I like a little handbag for holiday and have been watching this mint bag on The Cambridge Satchel Company website for months. They recently had a huge student discount event and I finally got my hands on it for less than the £75 it currently is. It's been sitting on top of my wardrobe, taunting me for about a month and I can't wait to wear it!

I'm going to be smothering my face in Clinique City Block SPF 40 in the day (which my mum really recommended) underneath Clinique CC cream which also has SPF25 in.

I find denim shorts really hard to buy - I want something short but not TOO short so I've bought two pairs and I'll return the one which don't fit me.

I got these ones from Boohoo which were £15

and these ones from New Look which were £17.99

I also got this crop top from Boohoo which was £8 to go with the shorts


I got these palazzo trousers from Long Tall Sally which I will wear in the evenings with a crop top

This stripy one is was £7.99

and this tropical one was also £7.99. I got them both in a 2 for £12 offer.

I also got a couple of day to night dresses

This Boohoo Nina dress was £20

And this Boohoo Libby backless dress was £10. 

We'll see how much I keep and how much I send back when I get them all delivered this week! If you have any holiday recommendations or any ideas of things to do when in Sorrento please let me know! 

Review: Imperial Candle (with a hidden ring inside!)

19 May 2015

 When I heard about Imperial Candles I needed to try one! Imperial Candles are scented candles which contain jewellery! You burn down the candle to find a little jewellery package embedded in the wax. Each piece of jewellery it worth between £10 - £2,000 and you can choose between earrings, necklaces and rings.

I tried out the Wild Passion Fruit candle which is £28.99 for a huge candle

The candles are made with soy wax and have two wicks for an even burn. The scent is a mixture of peaches, strawberries, pineapple, orange and coconut with vanilla and smells really strong - the scent can fill a large room within about 15 minutes of burning. The candle is £28.99 but burns for 150 hours. You can see how big it is compared to the other candles. 

I burnt mine most days for about 3 weeks to get to the ring which was halfway down the candle. Soy wax is meant to be better than traditional wax as it burns without soot, for longer. It's also pesticide  and additive free. 

The ring I got was a Stirling Silver, Gatsby style green gem and diamond ring. It was meant to be £30 and is so sparkly! I was absolutely thrilled with it, I love the style and it definitely made burning candles a more exciting experience. 

Overall, I'd totally buy another candle! I love the idea of getting a ring inside a candle, the element of surprise is very exciting! I also think although the candles are quite expensive, they're on the same level as a Yankee candle and are massive so will last a long time! I'm really pleased! 

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