The road to this Monastery was confining and very much perplexing, with only two obscured signs along the way to point us in the right direction. Traveling at only a snails pace through dense villages and labyrinth like streets. Streets that were indescribably narrow with some points requiring vehicle mirrors to be tucked in for safer passage. Such a setting is actually rather common in these parts,  when one traverses off the main roads and highways that is. It is a most charming sight, beautifully foreign and authentically Portuguese. Something most travellers fail to experience when opting to remain within larger, more developed cities and towns. 

While the drive was relentlessly disorientating, and with spots of internet inactivity causing mass panic and confusion, this trip was very much worthwhile. Even though it had you constantly questioning if such a place could even exist amongst such a dense sprawl of residences. But that horizon tightly guarded by towering stone facades, blackberry bushes and the curious suntanned faces makes for a most dramatic climax. Upon reaching the destination that is. As if out if thin air, a sprawling prairie emerges followed by a grandiose and imposing architectural structure.


The drive towards this estate is equally as magnificent as what lays ahead. A long stretch of gravel that warmly beckons you forward and all against a field of sunburnt lawn. Approaching closer, there is no denying it's palatial standing - albeit a humble one. That is until you physically cross the threshold at the Monastery of Sao Martinho de Tibaes. With an interior that is rich in master craftsmanship and antiquities. And accompanying grounds lush with flora and greenery, like the journey here, the facade of this Monastery sneakily obscures what lays beyond its walls. 

(On a side note the image above caught my curiosity whilst in the editing stages. The window to the far right housing a most unexpected and eerie figure...)


For those who know me, know that I am not someone who enjoys churches. Preferring to admire from afar, and attributing this to an irrational case of claustrophobia. The church in this Monastery however proved to be an exception, providing a weird sense of calm, something which contrasted brilliantly against such a splay of golden opulence.

Perhaps such sensations could be connected to the mysterious apparition from above?

There is no denying the resplendence and grace that exudes this church. Originally erected in place of an Ancient Roman church back in 1628, adopting Mannerist architecture and formed in a traditional Latin cross shape. However its white washed walls in company with gold filigree and carvings and the rich mahogany features, coalescing with slight marble embellishments depict strong influences of Baroque and Rococo touches through the years. This is a site rich in religious memorabilia and craftsmanship, and it's hard not to spend the afternoon away simply gazing in awe. My most memorable experience here was browsing and physically touching an antique book. Having lived through countless decades, it's worn leather face a delight to caress. Its insides stained with age, but vibrant no less, laden with fascinating calligraphy and hand painted illustrations. It was such a pleasure to be permitted access to such a piece. Something that is usually forbidden to most. Especially after feeling such urges to bury myself in the copious historic titles found in the library room of the Casa De Mateus.


The Monastery itself dates back to the 6th Century. And its interiors and grounds respectfully pay homage to opulence and craftsmanship expected from such times. While majority of this Monastery remains vacant and sparse, there are still countless antique pieces to admire. Pieces like apothecary jars, Azulejos, carver chairs and interior features are abundant throughout. And unlike the interiors at the Paco Dos Duques, there is a strong sense of continuity and identity here. Even along its barren, mile long hallways.

There is a small fee for entry but it is well worth it considering 99% of this estate remains free to browse. I'd highly recommend setting aside an entire day for your visit. Though during the summer months its hours of operation are extended. The interiors of this Monastery are undeniably fascinating but so are the gardens. Arches of fanciful grape vines accompanying stonework and hedging reminiscent of English gardens. Various water features and blooms can be found within its courtyards. And one of the largest fountains housing a bizarre sculpture of a cockerel too. 

And all embraced by traditional arches and vibrant Azulejo tiles narrating tales and illustrations.

Having arrived here late in the afternoon we weren't able to fully experience this place. While the interiors remained throughly explored, including many ominous nooks found inside various sleeping quarters, the grounds however were merely touched upon. Featuring acres upon acres of lavish landscaping and working fields one could spend a good portion of their day admiring Hydrangeas and adventuring along pathways. There's even a mare to acquaint yourself with.
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You don’t need to have a bulging bank balance, or spend hours sweating it out in the gym, to look better in your clothes. There are numerous tricks you can use to give the appearance that you’ve lost a few pounds, toned up and bought an impressive new wardrobe, even if you haven’t…

CHOOSE CLOTHES THAT REALLY FIT
There is a trend amongst some women to live in denial; to choose clothing that is the size they want to be rather than the size they are. The thing is, doing this will fool no one. If you’re wearing clothing that is even one size too small for you, then it will be less flattering that the bigger size you might need. I mean you could look more like a size ten if you wear the size 12 you are than if you dress in the size ten despite not quite being there! Always buy the clothes that really fit if you want to look your best!


While we’re on the subject of wearing clothes that really fit, that goes for those of you who are taller or shorter than average. When you shop from the ruby rd collection or Asos.com, for example, you can buy standard clothing or clothing for petite and tall frames. You should always look at the exact measurements of these clothes and match them to your requirements because even an inch or two can make a huge difference.

HIRE RISE HIDE SINS
If you’ve got a bit of a belly, when you’re buying jeans, go for something with a higher waist. High rise jeans will suck in your tummy bulge and give you a streamlined silhouette that will ensure you look good in all the right places.


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HAVE YOUR CLOTHING TAILORED
If you think that having clothing tailored is only for the well-off, think again. There are any number of seamstresses in the average neighborhood, who would be happy to alter your clothing for you, and if you want that perfect fit - the one that fits your body perfectly, hiding any sins and showing off your best bits, so that you look like a movie star - you need them. Off the peg clothing might be pretty, but it isn’t made just for you, change that with a little tailoring.

BACK TO BLACK
If you love the color, then don’t restrict yourself to black, but do invest in a few classic pieces in this colour. Why? Well it really is true that black clothing can take a few pounds off you, visually at least, but black clothing tends to look more effortlessly expensive, even if it isn’t, it never goes out of style, and it can be mixed and matched with so many other pieces that it is the perfect color for those of you who want to look a little better in your clothes.

STAND UP STRAIGHT
It’s so simple, but the simple act of straightening your spine and lifting your chin can do wonders for your figure. That dress that looked ever so slightly too tight will instantly appear perfect when you adjust your posture. Sometimes, it isn’t the clothes that matter, but how you wear them.


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BE CONFIDENT
In a similar vein, wearing your outfits with confidence will immediately make them look better to most people. If they see that you’re happy with what you’re wearing, then they’re more likely to think it’s a goods choice, and more importantly, if you feel confident about what you’re wearing, you'll feel good too.

PICK A STATEMENT PURSE
Picking a more expensive purse and buying that instead of buying lots of cheaper ones, is a great way to look better in your clothing. Choose a purse that matches the majority of your wardrobe, oozes class and isn’t too ‘of-the-moment’ and it will help to elevate the dullest of outfits to something a bit more special.

KEEP IT SIMPLE
Keep embellishments and trimmings ‘like cuffs, frills, pleats and distressed denim to a minimum and when you do buy them, don’t go for the low-cost options because cheap embellishments can seriously bring your outfits down.

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LAUNDER LESS
Laundering your clothing less often might not sound too appealing at first, but it will stop your wardrobe from fading and looking old and washed out before its time. So, wash only when necessary. This is a tip that applies to jeans and less expensive T-shirts, more so than other items of clothing as they are more likely to be ruined but over washing - black clothing should be washed cautiously too.

I hope this helps you and your clothes look a little better together.



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[ This has been a collaborative post. All thoughts and opinions expressed above are not my own ]

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Following on from my previous post, a continuation of gift ideas part two. Because curating an entire list of twelve topics and with my tendency to ramble called for separating such a post into two parts.

So without further ado.

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ONE OF A KIND
Unicorns please. Because nothing screams individuality and creativity quite like this mythical creature and it's association with everything psychedelic. They awaken our inner child, that playful and fanciful side we generally tone away and shy from. Rainbow hues and vibrant radiance bring nothing but joy to young and old. And being incredibly du jour right now, the selections of unicorn inspired pieces are truly endless. From pool floats to make up brushes, dressing robes and trinkets. Go on and gift someone some shimmery magic to carry them through to the New Year.

Shop all things fairydust and unicorns below.


UGLY SHOE TREND
More specifically slides. That new "ugly it" sartorial piece that rivals those infamous sweaters/t-shirts donned at this time of year. Made famous by cool-girl Rhianna and her highly coveted collaboration with Puma, they arrived with an obnoxious bang approximately two seasons ago. And because comfort will be key this festive season, nothing screams such luxuries as this style of design. Perfectly bold and controversial, your family members won't know what to think of your chosen footware. Luckily this is a trend that won't be dating anytime soon, so you know such sartorial gifts will remain relevant and well worn.

Shop slides below



DIAMONDS ARE A GIRLS BEST FRIEND
And so is an equally opulent case to store them in. I can't tell you how much I adore these Samantha Wills jewellery chests. The personification of luxe, now available in white and black marble designs. An irrefutably chic new addition to any vanity and home. Of course one is never limited to utilising such pieces with just their jewels. Try them as a stylish solution for storing bits and bobs like sewing materials or stationary.

You can also shop even more jewellery chest designs and sizes here.

OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE
For a most silly season why not pair it with frivolity. Crystal embellished sunglasses to humble headphones. Whip out the plastic fantastic and treat that special someone (or yourself). And if money is of no issue then go all out baby. Do as the one percent and splurge on your very own private island, or pretend to be cashed up with this key charm.

1. Pineapple charm
2. Levitating bluetooth speaker
3. Granny bag by Vetements
4. Dolce Gabbana for SMEG fridge
5. Ultimate beauty kit
6. Camera clutch bag
7. Crystal embellished boots

Shop more ostentatious extravagance below:

INEDIBLE FOODS
Following along from the whimsical and frippery, who wouldn't want a burger shaped cushion beckoning its human master from the couch? Or a cheeky, suggestive peach proudly showing off what Mother Nature blessed it with? Or maybe you know someone who has always dreamed of becoming a pizza. Or think they'd be more appealing dressed as one? It's possible with this delectable costume. It is truly the gift that keeps on giving, and all minus those pesky calories.

Shop a range of food inspired pieces below.


MAKE A DIFFERENCE
On a serious note, it's important to remember how wastefully materialistic our world is becoming. While splurging on frivolity is fun and at times fulfilling, why not do something truly unique but equally as powerful. Countless charities offer gifts that aim to give back to communities. For example Unicef where you can buy a special edition Monblanc for Unicef pen or a 200 polio vaccines to a community in desperate need. Or visit the Oxfam shop to purchase a range of ethical products like artwork or chocolate.
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The silly season is well and truly upon us. From carols softly cooing from sound systems above to festive cheer lining decadent window displays. It is hard to not to notice shopping malls and town centres glistening in shimmery tones of tinsel and holly. While it is the most wonderful time of the year it is also a period teeming with extreme stress. From workload pressures to preparing for the actual holiday season, December can be heavy with burdens.

While I can't assist you with deadlines or organising sleeping arrangements for incoming relatives, I can help narrow down small somethings for loved ones. From sartorial trends to pieces guaranteed to garner giggles, I've prepared a two part gift guide laden with inspirational goodness for Christmas twenty seventeen.



OH MY STARS
Whether you have an affinity for what lays beyond our reaches or a horoscope aficionado, celestial inspired jewellery is assured to enchant and enrapture. The celestial trend is currently a force to be reckoned with. And while at this moment it may be considered a humble trend, all things astral is anything but. A true transcendent style, designs that are as undeniably timeless as a classic Breton stripe. From making a spirited statement with a zodiac pendants to modern celestial charms for your ears, the options are endless when it comes to otherworldly inspired pieces.
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1. Zodiac earrings
2. Interstella necklace
3. Astrology necklace pendant
4. Crescent zodiac necklace
5. Constellation necklace
6. Open moon and pave star ring
BEACH BABY
For those with an affinity for the ocean, a straw bag is an ideal and most unexpected gift. Not only reserved for areas with air thick with the fresh scent of brine or places that leave your toes sandy. Raffia style bags are perfect for year round use. From Farmers Market adventures to brunch with the girls, there are countless occasions for them to carry their newest best friend. All all the while keeping them in a perpetual vacation state of mind.

Shop my edit of woven bags

OH SO HUMEROUS
This type of category is usually featured on copious holiday gift guides and for good reason. While the world may need more hugs, it certainly could use with more laughter too. Mugs or water bottles that we continuously reach for day in and out are indeed a perfect way to bringing joy to that special someone. They are also the most obvious association too. So go beyond the usual and think outside the box. Like amping up the chuckles with a Pusheen colouring book or a make light of their drinking habits with this flask.

And to my dearest friend Liz, this yoga mat has your name written all over it.

Shop my edit of all things funny.




THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL
They're big, bold and certainly beautiful baby. Nothing is more memorable than a fiesta for your ears. And no one does such celebrations quite like Samantha Wills (get 15% off here). Think eye catching hues and extravagant tassels. Exotic filigree details coupled with bohemian beading. Vibrant reds and minimalist white stones. Accessories no longer reserved for dinner dates or opulent black tie soirees but ideal for pairing with a simple t-shirt and jean combo. Taking the drab to fab within milliseconds.

Shop killer statement earrings below

SCENTED
A classic gift idea, tried and true. A no brainer really. Every female has a firm affinity for perfume. Be it a preference for fruity to musky florals. Whether you opt to indulge in firm favourites or rather introduce them to something different. From iconic fragrances like Chanel No. 5 to Instagram stars like Le Labo and Byredo, the choices are endless. Best of all their decadent packaging is fit for a queen and makes it the ultimate vanity companion. And a collectable no less.
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From left to right:
Valentino Donna 
Miu Miu EDT
Byredo Velvet
Tom Ford Orchid Soleil
Chanel Noir
SWEET NOTHINGS
Encourage them to take up the lost art of handwritten notes. Or inspire them to compose sweet nothings to loved ones. Take pen to paper and give them an unpredictable but most useful gift. Notebooks are helpful and convenient companions. Varying in degrees of sizing, you'll find pieces perfect for toting in your handbag or some hefty in weight, ready to be scribbled with countless rambles and musings. Go on and inspire them with cover art and suggestive titles like Smythson's "Bright Ideas" or get them ready and rearing for the New Year with Ban.Do's 2018 agenda.

Shop some of my favorite notebooks and accoutrements below.



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