GRACE NOTES returns with a special edition bumper-packed with holiday snaps, which, in the past hour I've spent editing and uploading them, have already filled me with nostalgia, wanderlust, and a deep-rooted yearning to turn back time and relive three weeks of sun-soaked fun all over again.
After a year that has been nothing short of crazy, three weeks of off-the-grid relaxation, a lengthy reading list, good food, and increased exposure to Vitamin D has been just the ticket; I feel completely re-energised [which is just as well because I have a crazy week/month/year ahead, and have already hit the ground running]... My arrival back home was immediately followed by a rather draining head cold, a lengthy blog-related to-do list, some exciting freelance opportunities, and an [immediate start!] job offer, alongside all of the usual 'life admin' that follows in the wake of a holiday - mainly emails, emails, and yet more emails.
If you follow me on Snapchat [that-gracegirl] or Instagram, you'll have been privy to real-time photo updates, so I've tried not to duplicate too many below. The following are just a portion of the results of my snap-happy activities in France, Spain, and Portugal.
I spent a week in a beautiful chateau in Gers, where temperatures rising into the mid-thirties kept me tied down poolside [I'm certain that I read more books this week than in the rest of the year combined!]. The pool was heated and salt-water, so was a joy to swim, refresh, and relax in [and also rendered my bottle of surf spray quite unnecessary].
On cooler days we explored ancient bastide towns [above] and visited the famous cathedral at Auch [below]. I put my rusty high school French to use for the first time in years, and upon realising just how rusty is has become, have downloaded the Duolingo app in order to revive it [thanks for the heads-up Lilly]!
The northern coast of Spain sees picturesque coastal fishing villages and elegant resort cities dotted between miles of untouched beaches and peaceful woodland. The region's infamously perilous windy roads took us tight along the coastline, with sparkling clear blue waters to our right, and forests thick with eucalyptus, pine, and beech trees to our left.
I joined the pilgrims in the beautiful sun-soaked square of Santiago de Compostela [three images above], and in the once bustling but now tranquil resort city of San Sebastián [above left], a place rich in riviera vibes and Belle Époque architecture, before journeying inland [accompanied by rapidly rising temperatures] to León. Here I stayed in the beautiful Hostal de San Marcos, one of the country's most famous hotels and one of Europe's most important and intact Renaissance buildings. Once a monastery, the building is now a Parador [Spain's government-run program that has been rescuing many of its most historically and architecturally significant buildings since the early 1900s].
After dipping into Portugal, my final few days in Spain were spent hiking in the Picos, one of Spain's most iconic mountain ranges, before catching the overnight ferry from Santander to Portsmouth. The photos don't do justice to the sheer height, enormity, and beauty of the peaks.
I was blown away by the stunning scenery which welcomed me to Portugal; it's clear to see why the north of the country is known as the Emerald Coast, I don't think I have ever visited somewhere quite so green. Every day dawned hot and clear, I camped in a vibrantly scented pine forest, fell asleep to the sound of wolves howling, climbed trees for oranges [the sweetest I've ever tasted], and swam amongst tiny glittering fish in shady lagoons.
The locals of the area famously move locations twice a year, each town and village has a summer location and a winter location, meaning the landscape was peppered with ghost towns, many of which have remained empty for decades as residents have increasingly chosen to remain in one place. The strange buildings in the image below [right] are ancient grain stores from one such village. I was loathe to leave this beautiful country, and cannot wait to return.
- Whilst I was away, Lucky Magazine featured TGG in their '10 Under-The-Radar beauty Blogs You Need To Be Reading'; what an honour.
- Sali Hughes details her recent experience of adopting a rescue dog.
- An in brief architectural history of nineteenth-century Manchester.
- Anna asks, are we doing minimalism wrong? Such a refreshing and thought provoking post.
- I couldn't have been more proud of my lovely friend Jen after reading this post on how she got out of debt and moved forward with her business.
- Factoids to celebrate National Lipstick Day, from Man Repeller.
- Bridie extolls the virtues of the heated eyelash curler. I'm addicted to my old-school Nars ones, but sure as hell tempted...