24 August 2016

How to pretend you're on holiday (when you're stuck in Blighty)

This year, the most exotic place I've been (and will be), is Lake Windermere. It was a lovely week spent with my family. But it rained. Nearly every day. And it was cold. And it's meant that everyone's far-flung holiday snaps of Mykonos, Bali, Italy and the like have gotten me down...

More than I care to admit. Or rather, cared. Because I guess I'm admitting to it now.

Thanks to a spot of rhinoplasty at the end of last year, London's unmerciful renting environment and, well, my love for food and wine, I'm living in my overdraft, and simply cannot afford a holiday.

But I got to a point where I thought, screw this... if London is going to rinse me for all I'm worth, I'm going to rinse it too - and live the stay-cation dream.

This is how I did it. In three steps. But there are many, many other opportunities to "pretend holiday" which I'll share - because I'm just nice like that.

1. The Tan.

Ohhhh, how I crave the golden glow of a real life tan. Despite being half Greek-Cypriot, my skin remains an unsavoury pale with a hint of olive/grey all year around. I don't tan particularly quickly, and I'm never one to baste in the park because I get too hot and just want to cool off in a non-existed pool.

Sienna-X have recently launched a 1 Hour "HIT" Express Tan. I've used the St Tropez "1 Hour Tan" before and even though it says 1 hour, to achieve a bronzed result, you need to leave it for three before removing.

However, the Sienna-X tan continues to develop even after you've washed it off for up to 4 hours. So it's great if you apply in the evening, shower it off then go to bed.

This (lol), is my "before"...

I still had weird patches (lovely) from my previous fake tan attempt, my skin was a bit dry, and yes, pasty.

I left my tan on for EXACTLY 1 HOUR (to provide an accurate review), and this was my skin the next morning.

It wasn't dark, but there was definitely a glow about me - one that meant I felt way more confident wearing a dress. It was streak free, and had miraculously hidden my heinous foot/ankle patches. Thanks to the moisturising formula of vitamin E, Aloe Vera and avocado extract, my skin was also super soft. Admittedly, I did have a bit of a "fake tan" smell, but it wasn't overpowering. It's also important to note that the tan can be built up, and the tan I used was the "light/medium" version.


2. The Beach.

Even though London is about an hour and a half's train/car journey from the coast, sometimes it feels like a world away. What with the relentless traffic; looming buildings; and, of course, the mysterious contents of the Thames (seriously, I dread to think what's in there), I feel like I'm never going to feel the sand between my toes again.

But the good old smoke - it delivers. There are a wealth of manufactured city beaches designed to transport you to somewhere slightly more tropical... even if there is a high-rise in the background. 

We were super cool and arrived when it opened at 6pm on a Friday (yep, super keen), but we were the ones laughing because guess who got the best seats in the house?

The novelty of having real sand (!) beneath our feet didn't really ever wear off, and the vibe was just so much fun. The music was on point, the drinks weren't ridiculously expensive, and the food on offer was pretty darn good - I had a chicken burrito from Lucha Burrito, and one of my friends had the most incredible looking steak sandwich courtesy of Lucky Pierre

The best seats in the house, just under the marquee

Things gotta hella busy at around 9pm, and we were told at 9:30pm that the "Club" had opened. Said club looked hilarious, literally like one you find in a European holiday resort. We didn't stay to enjoy it, but it looked pretty poppin. 

I've just heard that Brixton Beach Boulevard closes after the Bank Holiday - noooo! - so get down there ASAP. If you miss it, I've heard good things about Camden Beach and Roof East.


3. The Cocktails

Last year when I went to Turkey, we stayed at an all-inclusive resort. Which basically meant we could eat and drink until we couldn't move. It suited me down to a t. 

Over the course of ten days, my Mum and I quickly developed the tradition of an 11am Pina Colada.
So I equate cocktails with holidays... or at least a bit of respite after a hectic day.

I checked out Shoreditch newbie Old Street Records (the same people behind Northcote Records and Venn Street Records) the other week and considered it my duty to find the most holiday-esque cocktail on the menu.

A novelty umbrella through a raspberry and wedge of lemon? Hello, holiday.

It was called the "Achilles Heel" - vodka shaken with orange and pineapple juices, green melon liqueur and coconut syrup. So basically the closest to a Pina Colada sat by the pool in Turkey I could get in, 'y'know, Shoreditch. 

I just wish it had an outside area. There are loads of amazing rooftop bars in London (I love this article from The Nudge which covers each area of the city), and La Terrazza and their frozen margaritas would be just divine on a sunny day overlooking the canal.


If you tan, visit a beach, have some novelty cocktails and you're still sad about being in Blighty, I suggest the following: put on some reggae, work your way through IMDBs "100 Summer, Vacation and Beach Movies", buy yourself a charcuterie board and pretend you're eating tapas in Spain. Done.

**I received the Sienna-X 1 Hour "HIT" Express Tan in exchange for review, but all opinions are my own. Ditto food, drink & destination recommendations.

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