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July 29, 2016

The Colosseum, Palatine Hill & Roman Forum

If you caught my last photography post about my trip to Rome, I said I had a lot of posts to share with you guys and trust me, there's a lot. Because there's so much I want to share, I've tried to organise stuff into themed posts so I can get across the content quicker and share most of my photos from the trip. I thought my first post should share with you some of the most popular sites of Rome - The Colosseum, Palatine Hill & it's Museum, and the Roman Forum. We hit all three sites in one day (and Capitoline Museum but that will be in another post!) and it was tiring because of the 36+ degree heat, but seeing these sites were worth it. They are tourist hot spots so they're super busy and crowded but for good reason - they truly show the history of Rome and the condition the sites are in is absolutely amazing. If I haven't bored you to death already, carry on scrolling for some of my favourite photos from the day and some information about each spot - including prices/touristy info too!

The Colosseum
So firstly we headed to The Colosseum/Flavian Amphitheatre as you can pick up your tickets there that will get you entry into the site but also Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum (which is why we decided to tackle all of them in one day). These tickets cost just 12 euros which means you're seeing an awful lot of stuff for around 4 euros each - that is nothing. And if you're a student, a teacher, or under the age of 25 and get yourself a ISIC card, you're looking at the whole ticket costing only 7.5o - absolute bargain. This ticket will last you two days so you don't have to be crazy and hit each spot in one day - the only reason we did it was because we were staying near Vatican City so we were pretty much at the other side of town and as we decided to not use public transport unless absolutely necessary, one jam-packed day was all we needed. The Colosseum is busy with tourists whether you go during the morning or afternoon but I would recommend going for the opening times to try and miss larger tour groups or families.

Roman ColosseumInterior View of The ColosseumThe Colosseum InteriorColosseum in Rome, ItalyArchway near the ColosseumCross in Roman ColosseumView from the Colosseum, Rome

You'll probably pass the Roman Forum on your way to The Colosseum, but I would recommend hitting up the Colosseum first just because it gets so busy and is a smaller site that the Roman Forum to walk around and explore. I won't give you all the historical details of the place because it might not interest you and there's plenty of websites that can give you that information far better than I can, but it's a lovely site to visit just to say you've ticked it off the list or if you're into Roman architecture or history. There is also an archway monument right next to it which is worth a look too which was built in AD 315 to mark the victory of Constantine over Maxentius at Pons Milvius.

For this site, I'd recommend just turning up and buying your tickets - don't book in advance. We almost did but after we sailed past a pretty big queue who had prebooked, we were pleased we hadn't. The queue to get tickets was next to non-existent but you will have to deal with a lot of shuffling through endless amounts of selfie sticks and snap-happy people. All in all though, it's definitely worth seeing. If you are planning to use public transport if you visit Rome, the metro will be your best friend and the Colosseum has it's very own stop opposite it in the heart of Piazza del Colosseo.

Palatine Hill & Museum
Now, although I just said I would recommend going to the Colosseum first, Palatine Hill is by far the quietest site if you're considering queues and just the amount of tourists it attracts. Bizarrely it was pretty much empty when we went there and only seemed to be a little busier when we started to move onto the Roman Forum. Although you can pick up your tickets here then go elsewhere, I would recommend you hit up Palatine Hill second if you're doing it all in a day. The reason I say this is because of the quiet. I don't mind the hustle and bustle of tourism especially in a city that is never going to escape it, but the quietness and stillness of this place is a welcomed thing part way through a busy day.

Palatine Hill RemainsDeath of the Monument - Palantine HillPalantine Hill RuinsPalatine HillPalatine Hill

Less than a 5 minute walk from the Colosseum, Palatine Hill is part of the Seven Hills of Rome and is the most central of the seven to the city. It is also one of Rome's most ancient sites so if you're into your Roman history, it's a great place to go. The hill site overlooks and connects to the Roman Forum so it's a good second stop if you're trying to see all 3 in one day. This is also a great place to get some much needed nature injection. I loved my time in Rome but it's a city - it doesn't have a great deal of nature around every corner but you get enough of it and some superb views whilst walking around Palatine Hill.

There is also plenty of natural spring water fountains around the site so even if you're there during the midday heat like us numpties were, you should be on track to keep hydrated. The Hill currently has lots of modern art instalments amongst the ancient ruins (including chickens who have a wooden space rocket - I kid you not) which personally? I didn't like. None of it had any real links to the site and those that tried to have links were very minor. If modern art is your *thang* though, there's plenty of notice boards in both Italian and English so you can read all about each one. Another reason this place is great to visit second is because of its museum. Sorry to sound uncultured for a minute but I've never been so happy to step into an air conditioned building as I was when we found it. The museum isn't extensive, but it does have some lovely artefacts in it, some of which I've photographed below! It's a welcomed stop-off from the heat but also a nice injection of art and if you're not a big fan of walking, it can be a nice rest stop too.

Busts in The Palatine Hill MuseumAngel Wings Sculpture in The Palatine MuseumBust in The Palatine Museum

Roman Forum
Lastly we wandered to the Roman Forum which you can access via Palatine Hill (helping you beat the dreaded entry queues!). Another expansive site for you to wander around, the Roman Forum is just insane purely because it's surreal that it's just there - in the middle of the city, surrounded by contemporary buildings. During Roman times, this site was used as a centre for public life so it would have seen markets, elections, speeches, business, trials - all sorts of political and social affairs. This site is another busy one so again, expect to battle through the tour guides and selfie sticks everywhere. There is a lot of architectural ruin to soak up here if that's your thing, with the most ancient monuments dating as far back as the sixth century BC.

Forum RomanumView of Roman ForumView of Roman ForumRoman Forum ViewArchitecture of The Roman ForumColumns in Roman Forum

Some of the temples and buildings in the site were converted into churches as time passed and so they have been better preserved and can still be seen today. If you don't want to read up on the site in your own time, this is probably the only site I would recommend you have an audio guide for as the mismatched and jumbled up architecture will no doubt confuse the best of you (as it did me!) but its all down to how the site was used and reused over time - but an audio guide would clear up a few things.

They've recently opened up an exhibition of the Santa Maria Antiqua church within the Roman Forum and I would highly recommend it. I'm a sucker for Christian and Religious art in general but you get a great feel for how the space was used and some of the artwork remaining is beautiful. Walking through the church is great and take it slow - some areas have made clever use of the space and used lights and projectors to make the history of the space come alive and inform you further of its function. Heading around this area, you can also get up to a high-point of the site and look out across the whole Forum. It really gives you a great idea of how the place might have looked back in its prime being able to see it from this birds eye vantage point.

Artwork in Roman ForumSanta Maria AntiquaRoman Forum FrescosSanta Maria Antiqua, RomeRoman Forum, Santa Maria Antiqua

So there you have it! Although heading to Rome I wasn't that bothered about seeing some of the more touristy sites such as these, I'm really pleased I visited each one and was pleasantly surprised by the likes of the Palatine Museum and the Santa Maria Antiqua. Unfortunately because they are so soaked in history and so cemented in the history of Rome, they are bursting at the seams with tourists at every given hour of every day, but if you really want to see some key, worldwide known sites, a day in Piazza del Colosseo and the surrounding area is so worth it. If you've enjoyed the few snaps I've included in this post then please feel free to head over to my Flickr account to see so many more photographs (so many) and get a sneak look at some of the other places I'll be talking about in future posts!

- A.
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July 27, 2016

Tokyo Milk / Dark

When it comes to fragrance, I'm a hit or miss girl. I tend to hover around those sickly sweet scents you should only wear in your teen years (I'm looking at you, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton *shakes fist*) or I'm at the other end of the spectrum and soaking up the scents of the borderline masculine fragrances. So with that being said, you can imagine the ordeal I have when wanting to try something new but not having the first clue about where to start.

A brand I've always been intrigued by is Tokyo Milk. The brand specialises in the alternative - the fragrances are made up of curious notes which shouldn't work on their own let alone mixed with others but they're somehow delightful, the stationary boasts vintage prints with sassy slogans, and the range of bath & body products and candles would no doubt help you unwind with ease. The brains behind American-based Tokyo Milk, Margot Elena, is the face behind a few different brands of perfume and beauty so you know it's a rightly-ran ship. I've been desperate to try their weird and wonderful perfumes for years now but could never take the plunge due to limitations of ordering online. As the brand is not stocked anywhere locally for me, I could never settle on what scent to try and didn't want to order something nose-blind for it to turn up and for my nostrils to not like it. But then I discovered an opportunity for this to not be an issue.

Tokyo Milk has its original range of perfumes however they also have a more recently released range called Tokyo Milk Dark. This range has the sleekest design of minimalist bottles with gorgeous slightly Victorian, slightly curiosity shop-style illustrations on them and oh boy, the scents. Reading about all the unique scents just meant I had to try them, whether it was taking a plunge or not. So whilst I was furiously trying to decide which scent to purchase, I realised they had this: a sampler "fragrance wardrobe discovery" set of six of the eight eau de parfums available in the range which retails at $42 dollars - so just over £30 here in the UK for six 7ml bottles.

This sampler set gave me the opportunity to test out six of the eight available fragrances and truly see which one I'd love to buy in full size. The set includes: Tainted Love No.62, Everything and Nothing No.1o, La Vie La Mort No.9o, Bulletproof No.45, Arsenic No.17, and Excess No.28. The scents included are a range of varying fragrances for a range of tastes but guess what? I actually love them all. They're all very different and I can assume that each one won't be for everyone, but I was pleasantly surprised to see I actually liked the whole set (although I do have one or two favourites!) so let me give you some more details about each one:

Tainted Love No.62 - Okay so I have to start will my favourite of them all. I believe this scent is pretty popular as it seems to be an "out of stock" item from various stockists/retailers at times, but I can certainly see why. With a blend of dark vanilla bean, orchid, white tea and sandalwood, Tainted Love creates an almost sickly sweet scent but the sandalwood and white tea give it an almost masculine edge at the same time. I knew I would love this for the sandalwood and vanilla bean elements, but this was also a hit with Matt as it is something that could almost be unisex. I would love to just bathe in it. Sweat it. Just stink to high-heaven of it, it's that good.

Everything & Nothing No.1o - There's something about Everything & Nothing that screams summer. This one is a much more citrusy offering with notes of sweet orange, pressed petals, desert moss and tea leaves. When I first read the notes on the back of the bottle, "pressed petals" filled me with dread as I had flashbacks to making "perfume" as a child in my grandparents garden (anyone else used to throw a shit tonne of rose petals/sunflower petals/whatever else you could find that looked vaguely stinky into a jar of water to make 'perfume' or was it just me?). However this stuff smells lovely. It's a fresh and zingy perfume with a definite girly edge and I find it quite strong and long lasting. I tend to use this one sparingly as I've realised the zestiness and floral notes give me a wee headache if I whack it on like some of the others, but its a sure winner for summer days or holidays to hotter climates.

La Vie La Mort No.9o - La Vie La Mort is another firm favourite and is pretty much all I wore during my recent trip to Rome. With a mix of white tuberose, cardamom, hibiscus leaf and jasmine, there's no denying it is a floral attack on the senses but it's a mighty pleasant one. This one strangely reminds me of old lady perfume (hear me out). We all know what I mean - that scent that your grandma has worn since you were old enough to recall smells or to be honest, I'm pretty sure all grandmas wear the same perfume as they all have that sort of nostalgic floral scent. La Vie La Mort is like that but a modern, younger twist on it. Although I like sickly sweet scents, I'm sometimes put off by floral perfumes but this one is just gorgeous. I realise I totally haven't sold it to you by saying you'd smell like a grandma wearing this but trust me, you'd be the greatest smelling under 60 year old that's out there!

Bulletproof No.45 - Another pleasant surprise was Bulletproof. This blend of smoked tea, coconut milk, crushed cedar and ebony woods gives a mix of a woody yet slightly spicy scent to the skin. This one is definitely a one I would personally reserve for an evening out for a meal etc. as it has that heady mix that I would personally find overpowering throughout day to day wear. Again, it's a lovely unusual scent which whilst sultry, it also has a masculine edge to it like Tainted Love and I would suggest it is a good one for both guys and girls.

Arsenic No.17 - When this wee parcel arrived and I saw the bottles and studied the notes in each perfume, Arsenic was the one I was most curious to try. With notes of vanilla, sea salt, cut greens, crushed fennel and absinthe (?!) I couldn't wait to give it a sniff. This perfume is like nothing else I've used and is by far the most unique one out of the six in this set. The vanilla is barely detectable but still gives a tiny bit of sweetness to an overall clean but spicy scent. It sometimes smells distinctively girly to me yet other times it smells like men's cologne so again, this one could be used by either or. I really like this one because it's so different to anything I've ever tried or owned and it reminds me of exotic market smells you might have experienced on holiday but also those exotic woody/almost spiced plants scents you may have come across. Definitely a one to try if you like your perfume to be stand out and unique.

Excess No.28 - Lastly, Excess strikes a nostalgia cord for me because it smells like something one of my Aunty's used to wear when I was younger. As soon as I opened the bottle, I was transported back to weekends at my grandparents house, sitting beside my Aunty watching her put her makeup and jewellery on for her girls night out and I'd try and copy (and no doubt ruined every product she owned). This smell just smelt like her and her bedroom on those evenings so I instantly liked it just for that reason. However the notes of amber resin, oak bark, blood orange and patchouli helped seal the deal as I'm quite a fan of patchouli notes in perfumes, but the blend is also a pleasant sultry woody effect which is wearable for daytime but can be layered up to create a more intense level for evenings out.

I love this little sample set as it has given me a chance to test (and like!) six new fragrances and it has also been ideal for this summer as I have been/will be travelling quite a lot so they're handy travel-sized bottles which take up next to no space in my travel luggage. These little bottles not only look lovely alone, they're packaged up beautifully too and would make a fantastic gift for any fragrance aficionados you may know whose tastes you can't predict or judge. After trying this set, I can confirm I will be snapping up more Tokyo Milk perfumes as soon as I run low on my current supplies as I imagine I won't be disappointed with any others I try. The "Dark" range of scents also comes in rollerball perfumes for on the go application, lip balms, hand creams and candles which give you the chance to experience the scents in a multitude of ways. I will without a doubt be snapping up a larger bottle of Tainted Love and La Vie La Mort in the near future - which retail at $36/£27 for a just under 50ml bottle - and I'd love to get the candle versions of them too! I also can't wait to get my mitts on some of the original scents (catching my eye in particular is Sugar Sugar, Honey & the Moon, Let Them Eat Cake No.11, and Poe's Tobacco No.1!).

Have you tried any of Tokyo Milk's or Margot Elena's other brands' fragrances?

- A.
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July 25, 2016


How hot has it been eh?! We've had a heatwave in the UK which is all good and all but it has meant I've been melting. I like a happy medium of sun but not too much heat (I guess what I really want is for it to be very sunny but cold all year round because I'm an odd bob). This lightweight Zara jacket is a favourite item of mine and it's seeing its fair share of rain and shine this year - it's particularly nice when it's *this* hot because the cheesecloth material means it's breathable and it has a little tie-up front meaning if I'm *really* hot, I can just tie it up and not wear a top underneath so my skin can actually breathe. I know. So rude.

Zara Embroidered Jacket (similar) | New Look Jersey Culottes |
Topshop Barrel Bag (old) | Office Peep Toe Clogs (similar)

- A.
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July 22, 2016

Rome Photo Diary

Mountain View

As most of you will know if you follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram, I went on holiday to Rome, Italy earlier this month and had a swell time. Despite my health not being the best and having a raging flu for a few days whilst I was there, I still enjoyed myself and saw plenty of great things (not to mention ate a shit tonne of pizza - but more on that in another post). This was my first holiday with Matthew and it didn't disappoint - we both agreed we wanted to go somewhere hot and I really wanted to head to Italy as I previously had never been and I wanted to go somewhere where there was a lot of things to see and do - and good food wouldn't go amiss! So we settled on Rome and that was that.

I have so many posts lined up for you guys about my time there; from where is good to eat and where to avoid like the pitiful pizza plague, to a review of using AirBnB for the trip, to what sights to go and see depending on various interests (museums, shopping, food, art etc.). But to start off these holiday/travel posts, I figured a photo diary would be best. I took a disgusting 798 photos whilst away and although I came home and managed to get rid of a few, I still have a lot I would love to share. So let me start this series with a collection of my favourites or some that just don't fit into a particular post "theme" and hopefully it will give you a taste of what's to come over the next few weeks - enjoy!

Trastevere, ItalyLemon TreeFountain CarvingTrastevere, RomeBridge Statue, RomeRiver view, RomeRome ArchitectureRoma Architecture

As you can probably tell, I fell in love with the architecture. I'm a sucker for a good building anyway (yes, I genuinely just said that) but every corner I turned and every terracotta-coloured winding side street we scooted down made my jaw drop. I absolutely loved wandering around - if there's one piece of advice I would give anyone intending to visit Rome, I'd say go on foot everywhere. Sure, the buses, trains, metro, and tram services are efficient, air-conditioned, pretty cheap, and get you from A to B quickly, but you totally miss out on what's going on around you. You might have to dodge the odd speeding scooter down a narrow pathway and yeah, the pedestrian traffic light system is there but both pedestrians and vehicles ignore it (you get used to it trust me), but it's all worth it to soak in the art and vibe of the place. It's a truly beautiful city.

Rome ArchitectureRoma Street ArtRoma Shoe StoreCastel Sant'AngeloBridge ViewStreet LizardStreets of RomeStreets of Rome, ItalyThe Papal Basilica of St. Peter

Rome is far from a sleepy town. It doesn't matter what time of the day you head out, you will see lots of people out and about, going about their business. It's a busy, bustling place but its got such a relaxed attitude. Don't expect to get served super quickly in a restaurant - the waiters will take their sweet time, don't expect people to politely move out the way if they stop in the middle of the path to talk to someone - you will need to go around them... It's so relaxed you'd think it would be frustrating but somehow, it just works. It's a vibrant place with so much culture and history to absorb, but the general personality of it's people and its modern mix of lifestyle between the old and the new, Rome hits that sweet spot where it all works harmoniously. I can't wait to show you guys what I got up to.

- A.
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