Sicily Day 2: Discovering Taormina

Taormina was a 20 min bus ride away from us. It was recommended that we go either before 11am or after 3pm, because in between, the half-hourly bus would be so full that it would just drive past.

I had read in advance that Taormina is a shopper`s dream or nightmare, and I must admit that I wanted to buy at least 10 dresses at dizzying prices (and therefore treated myself to just one, which fully consists of midnight blue lace). I still don`t know when to possibly wear this, but I`ll sure find an occasion for it! (as Truth of the Matter was once again: I found the Italian women incredibly well dressed, but on second thought, I had to admit that almost none of their outfits would be suitable for me to wear at home without getting weird looks, as in Britain, I would just stand out too much.)


Me, posing on the piazza (from here, you could see Mount Etna, which I will show in my next post):


Of course, the G7 Meeting had taken place here just 2 weeks prior to our arrival, and we still saw some of the remnants:


Prettier things in other corners:


A nice break in a wonderful beer garden, were “proper” seats were rare and nibbles complimentary:


And no, no amphitheatre for us. But been told it`s worth it.

Edinburgh: A Sunday out in Town…

There was a Vintage Fair on the Grassmarket on Sunday, and we took the opportunity to go out and visit my beloved Edinburgh again. Sadly, I don`t have enough reasons to go there these days. The fair was nice, a good mixture of clothes and jewellery, bric-a-brack, vintage cars and bikes, performance and some (obviously not vintage!! :-)) food stalls.


I took the opportunity to take out my “new” “velvet” coat in sea blue (courtsey of a friend who bought and never wore it) and bought a cute little red polka dot dress for a fiver. Dita von Teese, eat your heart out!! I bet ou wish you`d seen it first! And yes, I totally wore that to work!!


The Royal Mile – that`s cobbled streat exactly one mile long that`s leading to the Castle…


A gorgeous little coffee stall under a cherry tree opposite Waverley Station


Lisbon Part III

And now, I have a confession to make. Part of me feels guilty for complaining about anything regarding something like a holiday, but I have to be honest about one thing: first negative experience with Air B&B.

It first turned out that we were sharing the small flat with our hosts (watch out for the term “private room”!), and while our room was clean, the kitchen and bathroom were not. (We didn`t get a review, as we didn`t want her to retaliate, which is probably wrong – advice appreciated…)

Anyway, while I love my coffee soon after I get up, and even on holiday breakfast is usually something we have at home,  we didn`t want to on this occasion, so this meant two more visits to one of Lisbon`s beautiful cafes:

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Oh, the hardship of it…

After that, we went on to explore the city – which, for us, basically entails walking our favourites of the roads we know already and happily be distracted when something else looks more interesting.

On the top of Bairro Alto, where Carreira 28 turns, there was a fleamarket, where we tried some delicious olives and where I bought this cute little bum bag which is just large enough to hold my phone, keys, lippy and some lose cash – ideal, if you don`t want to carry a large handbag:

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The following is a photographic technique which I probably got from Instagram, and which I still need to improve, but this was the first time I tried it, and I think it`s got a potential which is definitely worth working on: photographing myself in a mirror, camera forward, so my own selfie becomes part of a picture of the foreground:

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Lifestyle Post: on Dying one`s Hair

I`m a dyed red head. My real colour looks like this

July 2013-Dec 2013 138

and this (profile pic from January 2016)


is courtsey to that:

2 packets, 3 weeks apart, were necessary to get me to this colour, but after that, the result was indeed pretty close to the model on the package. Typically, I had to re-apply every 5 weeks or so if I wanted no roots at all, but I ended up regretting this over-processing in the past and eventually died it back to my natural colour.

Last year though, I succumbed to red again. While testing how long I could go without re-dying, I discovered this product here (available at Amazon in various colours):

It is non permanent and ammonia free, and it`s designed for reviving dyed hair (does not cover roots!!) between “proper” colours to avoid it becoming dull and lacklustre. Indeed, my hair looked freshly done again – the colour is rich and glossy, and it  just washes out over time, lasting 2-3 weeks depending on my tolerance levels.


It`s now about a year and a half since I last dyed, and while I did have to go through a really difficult stage of getting used to the every growing and increasingly noticeable roots, those have now grown down to giving a nice dip-dye effect, which just does not seem to go out of fashion at the moment.


After I was seriously considering going back to dark, I now feel I found the perfect compromise, particularly as red is also notorious for being difficult to change. What I particularly like is that the roots are now long enough for all to look dark again when I wear my hair up:

Bianca Culbert

So I can have both and don`t need to decide!

I now moved on to another shade of red, which is this semi permanent one:

This says it lasts for a month, but I re-dye after three weeks, when I usually find it`s getting a bit dull. I only dye the bits that have been processed before and leave the roots alone –  a perfect compromise between staying red and not overprocessing. The fact that I managed to grow my hair so much in one year (between the second and the following picture) proves that neither of those products have caused any damage – and the colour is pretty cool, too:


PS: I do not receive sponsorship from the manufacturers of either of the mentioned products

Lifestyle Month: Wardrobe Boredom

As my longer term readers may remember, I was on a lengthy no-shopping mission last year. Nevertheless, I get bored, which is when I`m usually looking to adding a few items. After some generally unsuccessful visits to charity shops, I finally came up with the following two cheats:

1. Dyeing my old Clothes

Suitable for things which still fit and are in a good condition. Works best with natural fabrics which are light in colour – it is not recommended to dye an item lighter than it was originally, as you cannot anticipate the outcome (other than that it`ll not be as advertised).

Seams don`t always take the new colour, because they are synthethic – I like the contrast as in the red skirt below, which still has its original blue seams, but this may not always desired. Also, you may not always get exactly the colour you bought if it`s so different from the original colour (same item – was hoping for plum, but still ended up happy:-)).

The white blouse had become just a bit too grey over the years but was otherwise still in good condition, and dying it makes it feel and look like new again.

White items, which may have become a bit too grey (as the blouse pictured below) are great to dye, as they take on any colour really vibrantly.

I particularly like the fact that I`m not adding to or taking away from the size of my wardrobe, but still getting one new thing for each old one for about £5.99. I wish I could be motivated to change buttons, but right now, while writing this line, I think I may give this a go… watch this space…


2. Design my own

I was looking for some more T-shirts but couldn`t find any at all that I liked. Eventually, I remembered this shop here: Their T-Shirts are so customisable I felt overwhelmed by choice (style and colour of T-Shirt, colour, font and direction of text, size of picture, border or not, where is the motif going to be placed and will there be something on the back and arms as well?), and it was a project which fitted in beautifully with my desire to start doing a bit more with my own photography. I even designed my own logo, which I placed on the back of each creation, between the shoulder blades.

For the highest available quality, I paid just over £20.oo each, they kept their colour, print and shape after a lot of wear, and apart from being unique, the Siamese cat T-Shirt especially is a great talking point – I feel properly proud to tell people that`s my own cat, and on the back, it actually says #catenvy underneath the logo.



Lifestyle Month: Wardrobe Audit

I `m always trying to cut my spending, but I also really like my clothes. It used to be a ritual every new season to set a (large) budget, go to town and shop to my heart`s content.

As I entered what is probably my third wave of a more solid interest in sustainable living, I started going to second hand shops more, but I still rarely find things I end up buying.

It was inheriting a large part of my friends` wardrobe that made me sit down and list every single item I own. I never thought I had a lot, and most importantly, I was kidding myself that I was wearing every thing I own at least once a year.

What I however found shocked me:

Shoes Boots – Black 1 smart, 1 biker
Shoes Boots – Grey sheepswool
Shoes Boots – Brown tan, chocolate
Shoes Boots – Blue sheepswool
Shoes Boots – red wine red
Shoes Boots – half aztec tan
Shoes Shoes – Trainers lilac
Shoes Sandals – Fitflops cream, yellow, red
Shoes Sandals pink, grey, brown, cream, red, blue, yellow, black
Shoes Shoes – Pumps blue, teal, black, green, lilac, pink
Shoes Shoes – evening gold, silver
Bottoms Jeans – short light blue and dark blue
Bottoms Jeans – long next, gap, shredded, dark
Bottoms trousers – relaxed 1 long, 2 medium
Bottoms trousers – short cord plum
Bottoms skirt – casual orange, blue, green, brown – all cord
Bottoms skirt – work winter black pencil, lilac short, lilac long
Bottoms skirt – work summer black, stone, brown, burberry style, floaty black
Dress Dress – maxi blue, colourful, stewardesses uniform, vietnamese, burgundy
Dress Dress – Casual Winter leopard, psychedelic autumn colours, psychedelic wine
Dress Dress – interview navy
Dress Dress  – work Winter RL leopard, wine
Dress Dress – Casual Summer daisies, black, cream
Dress Dress – work Summer stone, green, 2xblue, black and white
Dress Dress – occasion RL Blue, long black, short black, Cavalli black, chinese, tartan, gold
Dress Dress – holiday white, yellow
Tops Tops – T-shirts 3 cream, 2 white
Tops Tops – long blouses 3x black, 2x white, leopard, yellow, stone, lilac, blue mix, brown cord,brown, green
Tops Tops – short blouses stone, blue, 2x teal, white, black and gold
Tops Tops – winter pullovers lilac, grey, white, stone, orange, brown
Tops Tops – Summer Pullover 2x stone
Tops Tops – evening orange, orange mix, corset, black
Jackets Jackets – winter black, fake fur, leather
Jackets Jackets – summer jeans, black, grey, weather, poncho
Jackets Jackets – vest blue, yellow
Sport Sport – Bikini 2x black, pink, orange, green, white, multi
Sport Sport – top 3x football, pink
Sport Sport – Bottom 2x blue, 2x black, pink

I spare you the entries concerning my underwear and coloured tights, but all put together, I owned 198 clothes and shoes, not counting at all accessories. How on earth, I ended up with 13 long sleeved blouses, 11 pairs of sandals and 7 bikinis (I live in Scotland!!) I do not know.

Fact is – I do not need new clothes. Not for a long time. Or, let`s say, not until I stumble upon something I really like and that`s hard to get again. And since this list was done in May, I really only bought one more thing which definitely belongs to this category:


A Parisian Street Cafe motif from a boutique in Porto! That`s definitely one of the exceptions that should always be allowed.

I can really recommend making a list like that – it`s a real eye opener, but last month, I took my little project a bit further still: When I started my new job, I “downgraded” a few things to spare time only, and after I also just gave quite a few away, I  was getting concerned that I was wearing the same stuff all the time. So in order to find out how long it would take me to run out of outfits, I vowed to wear something different every day for the whole of December (same things were allowed, but not the same combination or acessorisation) and also took notes of them (one extra page in my planner, which I was simply moving along with me:

image(Hearts indicate compliments, and dark hearts mean many of them)

And I could do it. Despite my much reduced wardrobe. I still don`t need new clothes. I`ve got enough to wear a different outfit every day of the month. And there are still things I have not worn at all.

We all know that a lot of our reasons for shopping are more want than need, but I for my part still do it, and I feel the occasional reminder does me a world of good.

More Jerusalem Photos and a note on Travel Posts in general

I still haven`t quite finished my blog about Israel, but I deliberately spaced this out a bit recently, as I was quite conscious that this blog was starting to look like a travel blog. My intention was always (and still is!) to write about quite a varied range of topics, but I`m pleased about and flattered by the unexpected interest in my humble holiday snaps.

I would like to (at last!!) take this opportunity to extend an especially warm welcome to over 120 (that`s one hundred and twenty!! :-)) new followers, who came since I started blogging more about travelling, and while I was not going to post more pictures of my 4th stay on Crete and 5th visit to Lisbon, you have changed my mind, and I will! I may even start posting more about Edinburgh, which is where I live. Not all at once, but that`s actually a good thing as it means I`ll not run out of material any time soon. In any case, I herewith promise to please 🙂


… and here come some more pictures of Jerusalem (and I hope you`ll forgive me for posting them on a day where there is so many sad pictures of this country as well, due to the wildfires. But what this blog never wanted to be is the BBC). It`s Friday now, and, after a rather brief revisit of the Jewish Food Market (NOT recommended on Fridays when everyone is coming to stock up for Sabbath!), I went to have a look at the more modern part of Jerusalem:

Those pretty ornaments here have been photographed and put online numerous times before, and apart from being pretty, they`re also rather useful to provide some shade in this hot climate:


The headscarves of the Jewish women have been fascinating me ever since I started to notice them. I didn`t even know there was a dress code for girls, and while their actual clothes are rather plain (which is the requirement), their headwear is a piece of art. It`s meant to look modest (because it conceals her hair), but to me, it looks regal, elegant and sophisticated. Sadly, I have not been able to ask anyone to teach me, but I bought a little headband for myself, which is… just a band rather than a proper scarf but, at least in, as well as on, my own head, able to replicate some of the glamour. Sadly, not entirely appropriate for the office. I almost envy those women for wearing them absolutely everywhere.


Even though this was the modern part of Jerusalem, there was a different feel to it. I can`t quite tell whether this was because of the buildings or because people still did things like selling vegetables and fresh bread in the street…


At the end of the day I had a less pleasant surprise. Bandora told me, but I had forgotten. When I arrived at the bus stop at 5.30pm, there was no one there but me, and the electronic timetables which reliably told me on all other days when buses were due, were out of service. A passer by reminded me that Sabbath actually starts at 5pm on a Friday, and as the buses were operated by Jews, they were already finished until Sunday morning. Obviously, (Christian) taxi drivers were used to people being caught out, as it did not take long for one to arrive and take me home.

Someone else`s garden:


BTW, Muslims stop working at lunch time on Fridays (I desperately wanted to visit the Islamic Arts Museum but didn’t watch my time). Jews don`t work a Saturday, and Christian shops are closed on Sundays, so my souvenir shopping had to be rather well planned. Being from Germany, I know differently, but here in Britain, we are spoilt: Everything is open every single but two days of the year, which is Christmas Day and New Year, and we now expect it. They are currently trying to pass a law banning winter sales starting on Boxing Day with a view of extending family time that once a year.

Not exactly chronological order, but I saved the best thing for last: lunch in a Jewish Restaurant near the Jewish Food Market. I`ve been stuffing my face with delicious Middle Eastern things all week, but so far, had not had anything which was decidedly Jewish.


What caught my eye was the last item listed under “first course”, because it said Fridays only. So I asked whether this were vegetarian, and the waiter grabbed my arm and took me to the kitchen to speak to the chef. What I saw there was probably the highlight of my rather full day:


Isn`t this incredible????? I`ll leave it for another post to show you what happened to my own kitchen after I revisited the idea of mosaic tiles in Portugal a couple of weeks ago (not quite ready yet…)


Airbrush apps and thoughts about beauty and perfection

Below, a fab post about a topic which I was wanting to write about, too, for some time.

It`s about apps which beautify your selfies, and about what they do not only to our own self esteem, if we cannot keep up with our own selfies or if they show you “imperfections” of your natural self, which you never cared about before.

I also think it raises expectations which are both unrealistic and dangerous. As Paleica writes, social media became so popular, because it was authentic. But is it still?

There was that rather catty remark from a colleague about a friend, whose facebook photos were always looking so  much better than her real self: “I saw her in the street last week, and she looks nothing like that!” My initial thoughts were to defend her – if you are really that plain, but once in a while, you get a really good photo of yourself, of course, you`ll want everybody to see it.

On thinking a bit deeper however, I don`t think it`s all that cute. The woman who saw her in the street was now, in other words, telling everyone she was an imposter. And imagine she was invited to a class reunion and felt she could not live up to her own selfies. Would she still go, or would she find an excuse? Even though we all know about the apps, we kind of expect each other, and ourselves, to look like that in real life.

What I often think is that there now seems to be an expectation that you photoshop yourself. Everyone can do it, the tools are for free – there is no “excuse”. If you don`t you stick out for being mediocre – not only don`t you look good enough, you also cannot possibly value yourself, otherwise you`d at least try. It`s the same phenomenon which has been raised numerous times in relation to cosmetic surgery. The sheer availability of it has raised standards for everyone.

BTW, apparently, the selfie culture has significantly increased demand for facial surgery…

Heute stelle ich euch eine App vor, die mich selbst sehr zwiegespalten hinterlässt. Auf der einen Seite finde ich sie genial, auf der anderen Seite aber “horrifying”. Warum stelle ich sie euch dann überhaupt vor? Weil ich selbst bis vor kurzem nicht wusste, dass es diese App gibt und ich denke, dass es nicht schadet, wenn man sich dessen bewusst ist, dass es heute kein Photoshop und ausgefeilte Retusche-Kenntnisse mehr braucht, um entweder das Beste aus sich rauszuholen oder im Kleinen und auf die Schnelle ein sehr unreales, halbwahres Bild von sich zu erschaffen.

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Jerusalem: Temple Dome (Dome of the Rock) and Dress Codess

Today, I`m going to show you the photos I took of the breathtaking, and very important, Dome of the Rock.

I don`t usually spend much time photographing things that have been snapped and seen million times before, but this monument was so amazing, I don` t think any picture will ever give it justice:


Unfortunately, you cannot get in, but it is hard to imagine that it can be even more stunning than on the outside. The whole bottom bit seems of solid marble, an the top half has been designed from what must be millions of small mosaic plates, with some beautiful writing right under the roof.

The square around the dome is huge and inhabited by at least two cats, there is a mosque (which is in use, and which I could look into) and some nice views over the city, as it is indeed located on a rock.

One thing I found rather embarrassing was that I was asked to cover up. Of course, I checked in advance and felt that I looked quite acceptable in my long dress that also covered shoulder and upper arms, but I was taken aside as soon as I arrived and send to a “clothing station” where I was, for a small fee, appropriately kitted out with an even longer and thicker skirt and a shawl. My own skirt, I was told by the men who were very obvously there to enforce the dress codes, was not opaque enough and still revealed my legs. I never felt so naked as I did when I was walking the walk of shame to the clothing station, and that feeling stayed with me all day.

It didn` t take me long to discover that I felt safer in more fabric on me in this city. I didn` t bring anything too revealing, anyway, but on my first day, I was wearing a short skirt and felt everyone was looking at me. I once even made a u-turn, because I felt I had all eyes on me (although noone ever said anything apart from the men at the temple dome). When I was wearing more fabric, on the contrary, I felt very pleasantly invisible – I could go whereever I want, not draw any attention to myself and merrily enjoy my day without having to be mindful about who I was speaking to.

I` m very much someone who likes to feel the sun on her skin and get a tan when on holiday, but experiencing such an environment first hand made me appreciate a lot more why women may chose to dress in a way that does not draw any attention to their bodies. And, contrary to my preconceptions, I was not getting too hot either 🙂


Why I Wear The Same Thing Every Day

Could you imagine wearing (just about) the same clothes every single day?

I love the theory of it and agree with every single point of this blog (below), but right now, fashion is too much part of my identity and far too enjoyable for me to give it up unless I absolutely had to.

When I was at school I wished we had a uniform so we`d all be alike and noone would be bullied. Another situation where I would want a uniform (for all or just me) would be if I was very old or very big, in short – where I felt I could not partake in the competition I`d rather there was none. I`m not one who needs to win, but I wouldn`t like to come last every single day.

Right now, I`m grateful that I can afford great clothes in terms of budget, body and age, and yes, I do get a buzz from getting positive comments on my appearance.

Im also in my 40ties now and realise that the days where I can wear most things will come to their natural end in about 10 years` time, so I want to make the most of that freedom for as long as I still possess it.

Half Banked

I wear the same thing to work every day, and it’s the best. It’s also turned out to be a hugely frugal decision, even given that I bought five new shirts to kick off the experiment.

A few months ago, there was a resurgence of those articles about powerful people who have a “work uniform” of their own choosing. Whether it was Mark Zuckerburg and his grey t-shirts or Barack Obama and his blue or grey suits, everyone featured in these articles in some way credited it with reducing their daily stress and decision-making, allowing them to focus on the bigger picture and save their decision-making power for things that really mattered.

The articles also tended to feature a lot of men, which is why when I saw the feature in Harper’s Bazaar about a woman, working in advertising, who had adopted the work uniform strategy, I was…

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