Break to Beijing, China: the Great Wall and Beijing

A long overdue sequel to the first post of my Beijing trip back in October (!) You can check out the write-up on the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square here.

While in Beijing, we knew it was imperative to make a trip to one of the seven beauteous wonders of the modern world – the Great Wall.

Hailed as the manmade structure that can be seen from outer space (well, not without magnification and, even then, only under perfect conditions), its near 22,000km length was built in stages and throughout multiple dynasties, taking more than 2000 years to complete. It was designed as a defence mechanism to keep out invaders.

We were whisked along as part of the tour highlighted in my previous post that took us to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, arriving by bus to the Mutianyu section of the Wall in just under two hours.

A stop along the way provided us with a delicious lunch and a visit to a jade factory and boutique, where I bought a figurine of my Chinese zodiac, the dog.

According to our impressively knowledgeable tour guide, if you put jade in the southeast corner of your house, it’s supposed to promote love (both romantic and platonic).

To get to the wall itself, we clambered into a bright orange cable car that took us high above a valley, canopies of trees winding their way up the mountain. Shrouded slices of the wall peeped through the greenery, giving us a glimpse of what awaited us.

A short distance from where we alighted the cable car at the top, and we were standing on the Wall. Sunshine so bright that my friends and I were squinting smiles at each other, we draped our jackets and coats over our arms, the 5°C earlier that morning in Beijing forgotten in the light and warmth.

Pictures don’t do the wall’s view justice (sadly, they’re all I have to show you) with the vibrant shades of green and panoramic views of streaky blue skies, mountain peaks, and rustling leaves. Between each stretch of wall was a watch tower with a maze of short, serpentine corridors within and windows looking out at the spectacular view.

Walking those stone paths that so many before us have tread was a surreal feeling and one I’m so glad to keep within me now as a memory.

Striped centipedes crawled along the surfaces, basking in the cold October sunlight – though some lay on the ground, crushed into the stones by careless passers-by.

Unfortunately, as our tour had many stops to make in the single day, we were allocated just two and a half hours at the Great Wall, which frankly unraveled my heartstrings. I wanted so much to take my time and stroll along for as far as I could down this historic monument, taking both literal and mental snapshots. With so little time to savour it, I felt too rushed.

But I hope to be back and give it its deserved time.

So, that’s it for the Wall! As you can see, the area is gorgeously photogenic and truly a wonder to behold.

As for the rest of Beijjng, below are some pictures taken in and around the city, near our hotel and beyond.

Break to Beijing, China: Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square

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Since moving to Shanghai, China just seven months ago, a lot has happened. I’ve started teaching, met a thousand and one people I’d never known existed, and seen a bit of the city in-between one weirdly, wonderfully, stressful week and the next. In the beginning of October, I went to South Korea – a trip I adored and shamefully took perhaps just four photos. Oh, well – the memories, if not their physical counterparts, are embedded in my mind.

Last week, I went to Beijing, which is the *main* focus of this post! Though we stayed for just three short days, we packed them to the brim with site-seeing and getting our 10,000+ steps in.

Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square

We arrived to Tiananmen Square in central Beijing (just off of which is the Forbidden City) at 7am on a Tuesday morning, and already it was crowded.

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The Forbidden City houses the Palace Museum, and the palace itself.

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The latter was active from the Ming dynasty (13th-14th century) to the Qing dynasty (20th century) and it took apparently 14 years to build the 980 buildings still standing within. The architecture is beautifully detailed and almost delicate in its extravagance. Rich colours and intricate carvings breathe regality in structures where time seems to stand still.

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It was home to all the emperors of those 600 years, and – as you can expect – there are some fascinating tales to be told.

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Though it was crowded, the spacious grounds (over 180 acres) made it seem like nothing at all.

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Palace Museum

The museum houses carefully preserved and looked-after artefacts and antiques.

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Apparently, the dragon is a symbol of masculinity and the emperor, and the phoenix, of the empress.

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A separate post will up soon about the Great Wall!

Caramel and Burgundy

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I am loving Autumn so far: the pumpkin spice, the rain, the turtlenecks and ankle boots…what’s not to love? Being a September baby, Autumn has always been my favourite season, and everything about it makes me happy.

Fashion-wise, I like to bust out the warmer tones – the mustards, the hunter-greens, the ambers, and – hence the title of this post – caramel and burgundy!

 

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Brown and red don’t go at all, but their warmer, fall-appropriate shades complement each other.

To make sure, I used black as the base colour and gold accents throughout. Then, the pop of caramel, and the burgundy clutch to add a berry-bright element.

 

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What’s really great about this outfit is that it’s day-to-night transitional! So, you can go to work on Friday morning, with the shirt-and-jumpsuit combo, plus a tote. Come 6pm dinner-and-drinks, you swap the tote for the clutch, remove the shirt, and add a pair of statement earrings!

 

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Which brings me to the jumpsuit: I bought this to wear at my graduation ceremony in July, and I’ve worn it pretty much everywhere ever since: during the summer with sandals, on the airplane, and out to an evening dinner!

 

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It’s so multi-functional, and with the right accessories or even using it as a pair of dungarees and adding a shirt underneath, it makes the perfect closet must-have!

Plus, the layering aspect is great for Autumn and Winter when you need the extra warmth!

 

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OUTFIT: TopStradivarius / JumpsuitNew Look / ShoesTopshop / ClutchWhite Rose / WatchPierre Cardin / Earrings & RingsNew Look

Prep Early for Christmas With My UncommonGoods Gift Guide

*This post was sponsored by UncommonGoods

One good thing about starting a blog is that I can slowly but surely introduce myself to you! And one thing you should know is that I ADORE the different seasons and special occasions! Spring and the flowers; Summer and the beach; Autumn and the apple-cinnamon-pumpkin everything; and, of course, Winter and CHRISTMAS!

With still 82 days to go ‘til the big day, you might think I’m getting seriously ahead of myself. But here’s the thing: I don’t wait for the winter holiday rush to buy Christmas presents. I keep an eye out during the year, and that way, come December, instead of running around like a headless chicken, I can kick it back with an eggnog latte and mince pie!

Somewhere you can go for a shop is UncommonGoods! A little bit about them: they’re an online-only, Brooklyn, USA-based retailer and they sell everything from jewellery to stuff for the house. Sustainability is their main focus with handmade, organic, recycled, and cruelty-free products – they don’t use leather, fur, or feathers. As a vegetarian, this is right up my street!

So, without further ado, I’ve chosen three gifts for the three different people in your life!

1. Your Sister or Best Friend: Birth Month Flower Earrings, £30.08.

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As you can tell by my blog name, I love anything to do with horoscopes (my birthday month and sign) and flowers! And these are the perfect gift! (*hint hint* haha) Filled with actual dried flowers sourced from around the world, each month has a different flower! April (pictured above) is the Daisy, June is the Rose, and so on! There are even matching necklaces you can get!

Click here for more UncommonGoods girly gift ideas!

2. Your Mum: My Family Cookbook, £26.32.

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If your family is anything like mine, we’ve got recipe clippings from magazines and faded pages from my grandmothers and great-grandmothers’ cookery books! This customisable book has enough room for over 80 recipes and you can keep it for future generations!

Want more gift ideas for your mum? Check out your options here!

3. Your Dad: the Driftwood iPhone Charging Dock, £51.14.

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Handcrafted from driftwood collected on the beaches of Maine, USA, you can use it whether you’ve got an iPhone 5, 6, or 7! It fits in seamlessly with most home decor surroundings, and it’s great for listening to his favourite tunes!

Check out more gift ideas for the men in your life!

Hope you enjoyed this post, and thanks, UncommonGoods, for sponsoring it! x

Colourful Khaki

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Middle-Eastern summers burn you up and tire you out and, to be honest, the heat’s making my brain a little fuzzy. It’s hard to think about shooting your next blog post when really all you want is the air conditioner turned up! But it got done, so here it is.

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We got back to Lebanon nearly ten days ago, and we’re staying until the 30th, which means lots more time for new blog posts (I hope! Being here can get pretty chaotic with all the running-around). But this post had all its pictures done when we were still in Jeddah so putting it up right now is really all but a baby’s job.

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Short and sleeveless are really the only two words that spring to mind when planning an outfit in the dead of summer. Anything long and tight all but stops the blood in your veins. So, r.e. that pair of frumpy short you probably own and have stuffed in the back of your wardrobe? Here’s a not-so-frumpy outfit idea! (and me pretending I’m not sweltering)

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Let’s talk accessories. First, these glasses: they’re Nicole Miller and one of the only pairs (aside from another set a few years ago) that I’ve ever really loved and suited my face shape 100%.

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The bag (and lipstick) offer a much-needed pop of colour to a more earth-toned outfit.

As for the jewellery, I forget where I got them from – it’s hard to keep track when you bought some of them a few years ago!

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OUTFIT: TopNext / ShortsPull & Bear / ShoesDorothy Perkins / BagSuite Blanco / WatchPierre Cardin / Jewelleryold, unknown / Lipstick  – The Body Shop

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Mad For Mustard

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It’s official – as of July 14th, I’m a university graduate! Journalism with, yes, a second class degree (2.1), but I’m honestly just glad it’s over. University was an emotional rollercoaster and it really just taught me what areas I don’t want to work in.

So, there’s that big pot of confusion I’ve got simmering these summer months! I’ve got to work out what I do want to do when I go back to England in September, so fingers crossed I don’t buckle.

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Summer is in full swing and the heat is on. We’re in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) now, but going back to Lebanon tomorrow, and it’s a respectable (if slightly uncomfortable) 39°C.

Yellow is a colour I love and so easily lifts the tone of an outfit. It goes with so much and, though I only used to wear mustard shades in Autumn, I’ve managed to find pieces that are easy and comfortable to wear in the heat.

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Let’s talk accessories: these bee-inspired earrings are little wonders I found in H&M in the beginning of July. I’ve scoured the H&M website for the exact ones but can’t seem to find them – as soon as I do, though, I’ll be linking them at the bottom so stay tuned!

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These slippers are ones my uncle bought me during a business trip to Kenya a couple of weeks ago, and I love the metallic golden yellow tones!

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I’ve been been compiling a very specific playlist for Summer ’17 and it features lots of Lana Del Rey, The Atomics, Sarah Darling, Jesse Jo Stark, and Sara Evans; all I can think is Palm Springs, California, and a soft ’90s aesthetic. And – I hope it shows – this photoshoot conveys that, in my mind.

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OUTFIT: DressZara / Shoesgift / BagElle / EarringsH&M / WatchPierre Cardin

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50 Shades of Green

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Hello, and welcome to my first post in two months! I feel so ashamed that I’ve let myself fall behind with regular posting, but it’s all good now.

 

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The weather’s been so turbulent for a while, now, sunshine and blue skies one day, then rainstorms and cold nights the next. Though, Mother Nature has never been a tame soul, so I guess we can’t resent her wild spirit.

 

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Green’s such a wonderful colour, and its many different hues make a ’50 Shades of Green’ post one of the easiest! It can be calm when pastel, and vibrant when lime or forest, and all outfits—in fact, what makes fashion so fun—have varying, opposing elements in their make-up.

 

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Florals might hark back to Spring—which is long over—but the brightness of the bag and earrings bring it all straight into summer.

 

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And speaking of summer, I’m so excited for Lebanon—where we’ll be travelling in less than 2 weeks!—and the insane, Middle-Eastern heat. But at least I’ll get a tan, because I’ve gotten quite pasty in the sun-less weather since Dubai!

 

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OUTFIT: DressPeacocks / ShoesBaklash / BagPrimarkScarfMooch Vintage / EarringsVintage