Thursday, 28 July 2011

beach visitors

beach babes

beach life

I am so happy! We all are! My grandad dances round the aisles of Waitrose in Dorchester with utter joy. Our days are filled with swimming, catching crabs (and throwing them back again, of course) and spending ten plus hours at the beach. From sunrise to sunset all that fills our thoughts is reading and swimming and sandcastle building and what to eat for lunch.  Some days it is quiet and peaceful at the beach, our visitors have left and the clouds arrive. Though I adore that too, these pictures of raucous days with as many people as possible crammed into our little beach hut make me happier than anything. I love my family beyond imaginings!

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Beach!!!

how I miss this place
The Isle of Purbeck

So our duffel bags are packed, my suitcase of books is bursting at the seams and ready for some last minute early morning revisions, and tomorrow we shall be on our way to the beach for two weeks of swimming, book reading, ice cream and happy family time. I cannot wait to swim in the icy cold sea, gain a few more freckles, spend time with my grandparents, have spontaneous dance parties with my sister, write dozens of postcards and go crabbing with my cousin on the pier. I have been visiting the beach every summer with our grandparents since  I don't really remember how old. I just know that for as long as I can remember the end of July has always been reserved for wonderful beach times with my grandparents, for re-connecting and revitalising, for reading countless books and spending as many hours as possible in the ocean (my favourite. place. ever.) I am so grateful to my grandparents for installing this tradition in our family since childhood. Our trip is something I look forward to all year round and it is the memories of our family and friends spilling out from the beach hut onto the sands and into the Solent that I recall on days when winter cold or stressful essays are getting me down. The beach really is my happy place. I am so excited!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

One reason why my friends are the craziest gals I know....

...and why I love them so!


Also for spontaneously breaking into a can-can in public, never saying no to ice cream and shrieking 'Opa!' (the wrong language, but oh well...) at the top of their lungs to ward off Croatian men. I am so lucky to have these girls in my life.

P.S. Can you figure out which words we are trying (and failing?) to spell?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Hotel Belvedere

Hotel Belvedereexploring

Visiting the Hotel Belvedere* was one of the most eye-opening experiences of our trip to Croatia. The hotel was devastated during the 1991 Siege of Dubrovnik and though the basic structure remains intact, the windows are without glass, the swimming pool without water and the building now utterly deserted. I possessed only a vague notion of the conflict that led to its destruction - which I now understand was called the Croatian War of Independence - before visiting yet the experience was far more informative than a museum. The war museum we visited presented only propaganda and anti-Yugoslav language; the bombed out hotel, however, was haunting and sincere in the truths it portrayed. Wandering through the vast concrete hollow and navigating the crumbling spiral staircases, the futility of violence seemed more apparent than ever.

Hotel Belvedere amphitheatre

The shattered teacups littering the floor, the hotel notelets trodden underfoot and the shards of glass on every surface conveyed the horrors of war in a way I have never experienced before. What shook me so much was how calm the place was, eerie in its silence, only the gentle lapping of the Adriatic against the shore in the distance. I could hardly imagine how anyone could bear to attack such a beautiful place - and in my lifetime too. I often forget, cocooned in tranquil England, the world's more recent violent history. It seems somehow appropriate that the building has been left untouched, an unadorned and honest tribute to the country's tragic past.

discarded hotel notecards

*The Hotel Belvedere was one of Dubrovnik's most exclusive hotels, popular with film stars and the affluent, and enjoyed its heyday in the 1950s. It sits just outside of the city, its fifteen storeys cascading down the cliff and looking west to the Old Town. The hotel suffered severe damage during a 1991 naval bombing and has been abandoned ever since.

Monday, 11 July 2011


Today I love

more roses

- spending time with my mother
- the summer heat
- my new dress, so blue it reminds me of the ocean
- strawberries with chocolate ice-cream
- our friendly street
- evening bicycle rides
- the flowers blooming throughout the neighbourhood
- silly videos made by my best friends
- having a book in one's bag for a long tube journey
- our darling cats
- last minute beach shopping
- being at home with my family

I am so grateful for the plentiful small but beautiful things in my life which make me so happy. It's the little things.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Our very own sisterhood.


The sisterhood, Dubrovnik's old harbour, 'C-A-S-T-L-E', dinner by the sea, shuttered windows and a best friend, sitting on the dock of the bay.

This past week felt as if I were living in my very own Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants fantasy....six best friends, one Adriatic city, numerous occasions where we jumped into the ocean from a clifftop. Okay, okay - so we lack a magical pair of pants which fit all of us perfectly, but we more than make up for that with our friendship, endless giggling, shamelessness, our closeness which brings us together even when we are apart. We spent the week in Dubrovnik, occasionally venturing by boat to several islands which sit like a necklace on the Croatian coastline. We ate life-threatening quantities of ice cream, enamoured many a Croatian waiter, danced down the Stradun in the dark, explored an abandoned hotel, tried to spell out various words in photographs with little success and went about our way without a care in the world. Everything was magical in its own way: the laughter, the fact we lost all sense of time and the crystal clear azure of the sea. Really, who needs a pair of pants? 
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