I finally had some film developed that I shot awhile back when I was on holiday in Biarritz France. Biarritz was one of those kinds of holidays where I hardly had my phone on me and refused to carry my Canon 5D around, instead I opted for a simple disposable camera. I was way too preoccupied with baguettes and red wine to be chasing that perfect insta moment.
Our week in Biarritz followed pretty much the same daily routine. Wake up around 12pm, (Who was I!? I usually never sleep past 8am) eat a croissant, a pain au chocolat and some baguette, head down to the beach while the boys surfed and us girls caught the last of the summer rays while either gossiping or devouring our summer read, laze around the house or go for a motorbike ride along the rocky coast, head out for dinner, paint the town red and return home around 4am.
We were invited to Biarritz by two of our nearest and dearest friends, Kelly and Sylvain. Their holiday house is something out of a French 70’s seaside digs, surfboards and wetsuits scatter the front yard, there’s a silver airstream trailer our front and a Buda with a wreath of flowers around it’s neck. Enough beds to sleep 10 of us and there’s ALWAYS a baguette somewhere in the house, a fridge full of rosé and litres of Get 27 on the go.
One of the highlights of Biarritz is the food markets, I’ve never before seen quality like that. The freshest of fresh groceries from juicy tomatoes and delectable cuts of chateaubriand to bottles of aged red wine and freshly caught octopus. It’s any foodie’s paradise.
If there’s 3 words I would use to sum up our stay in Biarritz they would have to be:
SURF, FOOD & WINE.
So where exactly is Biarritz? Well it’s “an elegant seaside town on southwestern France’s Basque coast and has been a popular resort since European royalty began visiting in the 1800s. It’s also a major surfing destination, with long sandy beaches and surf schools.”
A popular symbol of Biarritz is the statue of the Virgin Mary on the rocky outcrop of Rocher de la Vierge which you can reach via a footbridge and has sweeping views of the Bay of Biscay.
As far as where to eat my mind draws a complete blank! Pretty much anything and everything is delicious in France and when staying with 10 frenchman you kind of just learn to fall in step and follow the pack because you bound to end up somewhere exceptional down some quite street where someone in your group knows the owner and food is simply ordered in a flurry of words and placed in front of you. Oh you don’t eat liver, oh well, everything’s in French and you only realise afterwards you just ate some but it’s ok because it’s delicious and the wine keeps pouring and the night becomes alive and you end up in some cheesy gay bar singing french karaoke, dancing till you can’t breath anymore and drinking pacharan to the early hours of the morning, you order a cab home or ambitiously attempt the 45min walk home and eventually fall into bed as the sun begins to rise and think to yourself damn, if only life was always this carefree.
Thanks for the sharing your spirit with us Biarritz.
All photos snapped on disposable camera by myself and Justin Polkey
Poros is comprised of two small Greek islands, Sphairia and Kalavria, in the southern part of the Saronic Gulf with a surface area of 31 square kilometres and only 3,780 inhabitants. Sphairia is a volcanic rock and Kalavria is covered with pine trees.
We set sail from Hydra in the early morning with the sun beating down on us. Halfway to Poros the wind picked up which meant one thing – yacht race! The skippers lined us up at the starting line and the race was on. Skippers were only allowed to assist us verbally, otherwise all the hard manual labour was left to us. We were in first place with 5 minutes till the finishing line when we made a huge mistake and slacked our ropes loosing all the momentum we had built up. There was oohing and aahing but luckily we had built up a big enough lead that we still came in second. I was so proud of our team.
Once we docked our yacht at the Poros ports we heading down to the beach for an afternoon of water-sports. We tried everything from banana boats to parasailing. My all time favourite is still being dragged behind a speedboat on a big rubber tube holding on for dear life. Anyone tried it before?
Sun kissed and exhausted we walked back to town with a big bag of cherries and a couple of beers. (Mediterranean lifestyle is true bliss I tell you.) We watched the sunset from our yacht before heading to a small local spot near the docks for dinner.
The next morning Justin and I were the first to rise so we headed out to explore the small town of Poros. Ice coffee and baklava in hand. We missioned up to the famous clock tower which was built in 1927 and had the most breathtaking views of the town and the harbour.
We didn’t spend that much time on Poros as our sail to Agistra was a bit longer then our usual sailing times. So we headed back to the port to set sail for our next stop…
The clearest blue waters you ever did see!
Tie dye dress – Zara
Brown slides – H&M
Olive sunglasses – Persol
Sarong – Poetry
Black sunglasses – Ray Ban
White shirt – Mango
Red trousers – Mango
Basket bag – Bohemia
All photos taken by myself and Justin Polkey.
I know it’s been a bit of a break between my previous Greece post (Summer Sailing in Spetses) but I’m back and this time I’m sharing the fourth stop on our incredible sailing holiday – the island of Hydra.
Hydra was by far the most grand and photogenic of all the islands we visited during our time in Greece with a population of 2000. Know for it’s small marble-cobbled lanes and beautifully preserved stone architecture the island allows no scooters or vehicles of any sorts (except for two small fire trucks and a miniature rubbish truck) but rather you will find donkeys roaming these narrow winding paths.
The island remains endearingly time-warped as a listed architectural reserve, all new construction is banned. Over the years Hydra’s beauty has attracted all sorts of celebrities, from Leonard Cohen to Sophia Loren.
Once we docked our yacht it was a scorching (42 degrees) 30min walk into town but absolutely breathtaking. Blue waters, ancient stone walls with wild olive trees growing amongst them, white abodes with bells outside and the sound of cicada’s (Christmas Beetles) filled the air.
We spent the afternoon exploring this incredible town, hiking it’s hills, stopping to grab a beer here and there and eating all the ice-cream stuffed baklava we could get our hands on. (Best summer treat ever!) Hydra is know for one of the best destinations in the world to watch the sunset. So, of course, as the sun began to set we headed back down to the sea to enjoy the magical treat of colours the sky held in store for us.
For dinner we went back to the same restaurant we stopped at for lunch. A cute family run (as it usually is in Greece) restaurant off the main streets with the sweetest service and attention to our hungry stomachs. We stuffed ourselves with Greek tapas and spent hours drinking ouzo and Retsina till eventually we paid our bill and were gifted with bottles of extra ouzo, Retsina and a big bag of ice to take back to our yacht… free of charge! You see why I love the Greeks? I wish I could remember the name of this restaurant to share this magical spot with you, but alas, my memory fails me.
We caught a water taxi (last photo of this post) back to our yacht where we spent the rest of our evening drinking our gifts, sharing our favourite memories and laughing into the early hours of the morning. What a magical island Hydra turned out to be.
… till next time…
tee – OAK NYC
shorts – H&M
sandals – Jane Sews
hat – Mango
basket – Bohemia Design
sunglasses – Persol
belt – Witchery
necklace – Country Road
bangle – Country Road
*All photos taken by myself and Justin Polkey.
Casa Mãe is by far the most design savvy hotel I’ve ever stayed in. From the moment you step into the hotel lobby a sense of relief and relaxation washes over you. It’s the combination of the use of raw materials, the friendly faces that guide you to your room and the fact that Casa Mãe embraces slow living with everything they do.
The hotel is situation within the old city walls of Lagos and surrounded by a 7000sqm organic vegetable garden and a 10 minute walk to the nearest beach.
Combining old and new traditions through modern architecture Casa Mãe has a total of 30 rooms throughout three different houses on the farm.
We stayed in the 19th century farm house Casa Mãe, which the hotel happens to be named after too, in room Poço (meaning well in Portuguese). It is situated on one of the highest points of Lagos and boosts spectacular views of both the old city and the blue Atlantic ocean.
The space has been renovated yet still maintains it’s original character and has been furnished with an electic selection of Portuguese vintage pieces and contemporary furniture that immediately inspires your thoughts.
It’s the little touches that make this place so special. From the old school vinyls playing as you enter your room, the offering of organic fruits handpicked from the garden waiting on your table to the no-wastage homemade shower gel and shampoo. The design team behind Casa Mãe have thought of everything in true Portuguese craftsmanship.
Once we had settled into our room we headed to the pool to catch some last minute sun before dinner. A triangle shaped pool surrounded by greenery of all sorts and plenty of lazy lounging space.
There is also a causal fine dining pop up restaurant with a romantic terrace tucked-in between the house and the old city walls to enjoy and a mercearia (a grocery store) stocking some of Casa Mãe’s latest natural wine discoveries.
As soon as the sun left we went back upstairs to get ready for dinner but found that we had some time to kill before making our way to Orta, Casa Mãe’s onsite restaurant, so we headed downstairs to their communal living space.
An incredibly stylish art deco space filled with 2 metre high palms, lazy leather armchairs and delicious eye candy coffee table books.
Can I stay forever please?!
Dinner was an absolute dream. I felt like I had stepped on set for the Portuguese version of Lala Land. Fairy lights and palm silhouettes set the scene while the chefs busied themselves in the open plan al fresco barbecue.
We had oysters to start (the freshest oysters I’ve ever had!) and for mains I opted for the grilled squid with roasted egg plant and potatoes. Everything was cooked to absolute perfection and you could taste the farm to table mentality.
After dinner we took a stroll around the vegetable garden then headed back to our room where I took the greatest pleasure in drawing myself a big, steaming hot bath. With the current water crisis in South Africa and no bathtub in London I haven’t had a bath in almost a year!
I left the double story french doors open so I could enjoy the light summer breeze that was coming in through the windows and emerged myself in the water so that only my nose and eyes were sticking out. I stayed in the bath for so long that by the time I climbed out the water had gone cold and my toes had turned into prunes.
I wrapped myself in a fresh white bath robe and climbed straight into the tightly pulled cotton sheets of my king size bed. Utter bliss. It truly is the little things is life that bring the largest amounts of joy.
I fell asleep to the calm bustle of the Lagos streets outside.
If you book a stay as Casa Mãe I highly recommend adding breakfast to your stay. Everything is healthy, fresh and filled with ‘sunny’ flavours.
We ordered a table full of food and devoured it all! Everything’s organic with craft coffee (the first I’d come across in Portugal) to boast.
Breakfast highlight was definitely the boiled eggs with toasted soldiers.
(All of Casa Mãe’s chickens are fed kale and oranges!)
Casa Mãe also has a cool concept store next door to their lobby, LOJA, which stocks non-touristy but curated goods all about craft and Portugal. Everything in the store is either a collaboration piece or a limited edition piece from a project with a Portuguese designer or artisan.
All in all our stay at Casa Mãe blew my mind and I can not wait to go back to Lagos for a second visit. I think next time I want to try book a room in the modern section, Jogo da Bola, and hopefully catch one of their outdoor cinema experiences & perhaps a yoga class too.
If you ever happen to be passing through Lagos Portugal I can not recommend Casa Mãe more highly.
P.S Did I mention that it hasn’t even been open for a full year yet! Can’t wait to see what they create next.
All photo’s by myself and Justin Polkey