Sunshine In Saint Tropez.

As someone who is a huge fan of Classic Cinema and Blonde Bombshells, one place that I simply had to visit during my stay in Cannes was the stunning, Saint Tropez. This beautiful place was made famous by French’s most famous Film Star, Brigitte Bardot and has also been her home for almost sixty years! 

Sadly, I may not have had the pleasure of seeing BB herself, but, it’s very clear how loved and respected she is by the people of Saint Tropez – her beautiful face is everywhere! One of my favourite French Films is probably Brigitte’s most famous and iconic one; And God Created Woman (1956) and as it was pretty much all shot in Saint Tropez, it was a pretty incredible experience to literally walk in the Sex Kitten’s iconic footsteps. I bet when Roger Vadim and Brigitte were making this movie over sixty years ago, they had no idea of the huge impact they were going to have on this small little fishing village!

One of the things I really wanted to see whilst in Brigitte’s chosen home was the Musée De La Gendarmerie Et Du Cinema, also known as The Gendarmerie and Cinema Museum. Currently showing there until January 2018 is the, Brigitte Bardot; Myth Of Saint Tropez, which is a whole photography exhibition dedicated to BB herself. This was an amazing experience for me to witness and it also featured a few of Brigitte’s actual film clothing, an original portrait and autographs! My only criticism was I wish it had been bigger – the more BB the better! Sadly, I realized after visiting that there was a second floor in the building which also featured a permanent Brigitte section with other French Actresses. Therefore, I may just have to return!

Walking around Saint Tropez in the beautiful sunshine was such a wonderful memory for me, it was truly like a treasure trove, with so many amazing spots to discover. Whilst exploring the streets of Saint Tropez, I stumbled across this incredible Artist, known as Cserg, with most of his work featuring Brigitte and autographed by the lady herself! Sadly, his shop was closed and I didn’t get to meet him, but you should definitely visit his website and appreciated his incredible work. 

However, even if you’re not a BB Fan like myself, Saint Tropez is so aesthetically pleasing and perfect for photographers or scenery lovers. Ultimately, I only wish I’d have been able to have spent more time there as I don’t feel I got to appreciate 100% of what Saint Tropez has to offer. Although, I did see so many amazing things in one afternoon – so, there is a silver lining! 

Overall, I was most definitely impressed with this beautiful village and it without doubt met all of my expectations. It’s truly so heartwarming to see how over half a century later, the citizens recognize how much Brigitte has done for their home and without doubt made it a household name. On Brigitte’s 83rd Birthday, Saint Tropez will be unveiling their sculpture of their Blonde Bombshell, which will reside outside The Gendarmerie and Cinema Museum – a beautiful tribute for a beautiful legend.

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The Pink Palace of Dreams; Villa et Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild.

There’s simply no other way of describing this incredible building, it really is a Pink Palace of Dreams. The Villa et Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild is situated in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the French Riviera and is truly like no other beautiful building I have had the pleasure to witness.

Owned by Baroness Beatrice de Rothschild, the Villa began construction in 1905 and finished seven years later in 1912. Furthermore, nine gardens surround this incredible historical beauty, which features a stunning fountain display and quite possibly the most beautiful roses I have ever smelt and seen. To say this home is a Paradise would simply be an understatement, therefore, a huge thank you must be given to the lady herself, Beatrice, for donating this unique beauty to Institut de France when she passed in 1934, making it open to the public.

It’s almost surreal when walking around this living dream to think that originally, the Villa was a home and the Baroness Beatrice lived, ate and slept here daily for many years! If I was fortunate enough to live in a place like this I don’t think I’d ever leave, it’s just too beautiful and awe inspiring to not be appreciated and explored on an everyday basis.

Dreams aside, we really picked the perfect day to visit, with it being in the height of Summer and the sun shining all day long. We spent the first half of the day walking through the many amazing gardens, each having a specific theme and style, until we arrived at the front of the Villa. Due to walking through the gardens first, I simply assumed I was continuing on through the beautiful scenery, as we arrived at this beautiful statue and long stream. There, right opposite the flowing water, was the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild!

After following the stream down towards the Villa and watching the fountain display, Laura and I went inside the Baroness Beatrice’s home. Amazingly, we were allowed to take photos through all of the rooms and I’m sure you will agree when I say the building is truly a work of art. It’s so wonderful to see how well preserved and looked after the Villa is, plus, I’m sure Beatrice would be very proud of how the Institut de France have kept the authenticity of her property.

I found it very special to have the privilege to learn about Beatrice and her life whilst walking around the surroundings in her home. She seemed like a woman most definitely ahead of her time and I loved hearing about her unique ways and quirky behaviour, she definitely left her mark on the world! Beatrice had amassed an amazing collection of porcelain dinnerware, so much so that whole rooms were dedicated to these beauties! Furthermore, within her home she even owned items that belonged to Marie Antoinette!

It’s clear to anyone witnessing the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild that Beatrice’s favourite colour was pink, not only is it the colour of her home but, it features prominently throughout the interiors, with lots of feminine decor. As pretty and pink is definitely my style, I did fall even more in love with the historical building. However, if this isn’t your thing, then fear not – with the Villa overlooking the Bay of Villefranche and the Bay of Beaulieu, plus it being situated 10 kilometers from Nice and Monaco – you definitely will see and have many wonderful experiences!

I can’t thank Laura and Paul enough for introducing me to this amazing place and arguably the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen. I truly hope I will be able to go back and visit again someday!

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Dial M For Monaco.

The first place we ventured out of Cannes for was a very well known country called, Monaco! Known to most as the home for many years of Hollywood Icon turned Princess, Grace Kelly – Monaco is visited by thousands of tourists every year and home to some of the most rich and glamourous. As soon as I discovered Grace, through my love of Classic Hollywood, I’ve always dreamt of visiting this magical place and this year in July, I finally got the chance to do this!

Monaco is around an hour away in the car from Cannes, so thankfully not too far and he majority of it can be seen in a day, although I’d definitely like to spend more time there. As soon as you arrive in Monaco, it’s almost as if you can feel the change in the air, it’s so aesthetically beautiful and without doubt the perfect home for a Royal Family. Once you enter Monaco and leave the car park, you definitely should prepare for a lot of uphill walking, as the country is situated on a huge hill. Although all the walking isn’t always pleasant in the hot weather, it’s definitely worth it, plus, there’s so many beautiful sculptures and flowers to witness during the journey. Furthermore, there’s lots of places to rest if you need a mini rest, just definitely make sure you bring sunglasses and lots of water.

Once you walk up the hill you venture through the wonderful streets of Monaco and see the beautiful architecture of the buildings, many restaurants and a lots of gift shops featuring the beautiful Grimaldi Family. I could definitely spend hours looking in and out of each shop and building, but alas, one day is not enough! However, the most important place to visit in Monaco is of course, the incredible Prince’s Palace of Monaco, which for just €8, (!) you can go inside! I can honestly say, this was a huge dream come true for me personally, as not only is the Prince’s Palace beyond beautiful, it’s a huge part of Grace’s life and Monaco History. Of course, privacy has to be respected and no photos are allowed inside, so sadly there won’t be any here in my post. However, the fact that everyone is welcome to visit the insides of this incredible building is so kind and thoughtful as ultimately, it is Prince Albert and Princess Charlene’s home!

After wondering through the beautiful Palace, we ventured into the official Monaco Gift Shop – my dream store! It was so wonderful to see a whole stand of photos dedicated to stunning photo prints of Princess Grace, I’m sure she would truly be so touched by all the love she receives over thirty years after she tragically left us.

Throughout Monaco and Monte Carlo, there is a special Grace photo trail, documenting twenty five significant moments during her lifetime! I wish I could have taken the time to find every one of these photo stops, but sadly I only had the chance to witness three. However, hopefully one day I can complete this wonderful tribute to Grace’s legacy! It’s such a unique idea, not only enjoyable for tourists and fans but also a huge aid in educating people on Monaco’s History.

The other important place to visit is of course, the Monaco Cathedral, which is both joyous for uniting Grace and Rainier in marriage and poignant for being their final resting places. The building itself is simply breathtaking, not only in size but in architecture too. We were slightly delayed in visiting the Cathedral as a Wedding was taking place the first time we tried to enter. It sounds silly, but it’s easy to forget that Monaco isn’t just the home of the Prince and Princess, it has many citizens too! Thankfully, when we checked back, the Cathedral was back open to the public and I could visit Grace and pay my respects to her.

It was so surreal to walk around this beautiful Cathedral and think that over sixty years ago Grace married Prince Rainier and became a Princess. I tried to focus on this historical moment and picture the beautiful Bride but in reality I was preparing to spend a few moments with Grace. I’d seen her resting place in photos before and it was easily recognizable by the multiple bouquets of flowers all placed on this one spot. Placed above her grave is the most beautiful painting of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier on their Wedding Day, which is poetically fitting as their lives together both started and ended here. As you can imagine, the Princess’s grave is the most popular and it can get quite crowded, plus, the area is fairly small so sadly you can’t stay for a long period of time. However, I definitely made the most of the minutes I had with Grace and of course paid my respects to Rainier then headed for the exit.

Before you leave the Cathedral there’s actually a small sign stating that tourists cannot visit the Princess during Wedding Ceremonies, which almost brought a tear to my eye as this shows how loved and respected she is by so many people. The fact that a sign was needed to inform the thousands of visitors about this without doubt confirms this and it warmed my little heart. I hope wherever you are, beautiful Grace, you know how thankful the people of Monaco are for your incredible contribution to the Grimaldi Family Legacy and that you’re still so adored by millions of people worldwide who visit you each year.

Before leaving Monaco, it was incredibly important for me to visits the Princess Grace Rose Garden, which was created in honour of the Princess after her untimely death. I absolutely love flowers and roses also happen to be my favourite, so this was something I really wanted to see whilst visiting Monaco. The garden is filled with over 8000 rose bushes and features a variety of over 300. A beautiful sculpture of Grace is placed at the top of the garden, with a fountain running throughout, creating a peaceful and calm atmosphere. Also, Grace’s Royal Emblem is adorned on the gates of the garden, with another sculpture featuring a quote by the Princess on her love of roses. This is such a wonderful tribute to Grace and I’m sure she would visit often if she was still with us.

After leaving Monaco we took the short drive into Monte Carlo, the place that truly lives life in the fast lane. Famous for hosting the Grand Prix, Monte Carlo is hugely popular with car lovers and gambling, owning arguably the most famous Casino of all time; the Casino de Monte Carlo. This building has been featured in many films and is visited by thousands of tourists each year, even if you’re not into gambling the architecture alone is worth viewing it for. In all honesty, there’s not much to do in Monte Carlo if you’re not extremely wealthy – a bottle of still water cost us a staggering €4, (!) but if you’re in Monaco – it’s definitely worth visiting.

During my stay in France, Monaco is definitely my favourite place we visited and I really hope I will be able to go back one day and spend more time there! Stay tuned for the next post in my Cannes series, which will be all about the incredible, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild!

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Carry on Cannes.

If someone had told me a year ago, that I’d be travelling to France and staying in Cannes for almost a week, I’d have never believed it in a million years. However, thanks to my amazing friends, Laura and Paul, that dream became a reality and in July 2017, I visited France for the first time in nineteen years!

As someone who adores Old Hollywood – I’m sure that’s not new information, Cannes is a filled with history from the Golden Age of Cinema. Films like To Catch A Thief (1955) and Stars like Brigitte Bardot are instantly linked to the beautiful French Rivera with the Cannes Film Festival still being one of the hottest events in the world of Movies. Therefore, getting to visit such an incredible place was simply beyond amazement and you guessed it, I became the ultimate Tourist, which is great if you’re a Blogger like myself, or you appreciate Amateur Photography.

For the six full days we were there, we stayed in Cannes and used it for our home base for when we weren’t travelling around seeing other amazing locations. If you know anything about the French Rivera, you’ll be aware that there’s a so many places to visit and let’s just say we definitely made the most of our short but sweet Holiday! I shall be writing a mini series of posts on the places we visited during our time in France, with each one focusing on a specific destination. So of course, it’s only natural that I start the first chapter with the beauty that is Cannes!

We stayed in a lovely apartment in a huge hotel that was only a fairly short walk away from the main attraction – La Croisette. This street is home to many designer stores, beautiful bakeries and of course, just a hugely famous place called the InterContinental Carlton Hotel, which you may have heard of. As you can probably guess, it’s most definitely aimed at the rich and famous, but don’t be deterred if you can’t buy anything – window shopping is always free and pretty fun!

There are so many unique and incredible sights to see at the main tourist attraction in Cannes, La Croisette. Not only is there an absolutely stunning beach, well actually, there’s multiple – the Carlton does have it’s own private beach where a 19 year old Brigitte Bardot caused a huge sensation in 1953. However, the public one which I experienced, is very appealing also. Furthermore, just a few yards away from the beach is where the iconic Cannes Film Festival is held each year at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrés, an admittedly fairly mundane building for such a grand event. Sadly, the Festival is held earlier in the Summer, so I didn’t see any Celebrities. However, the building features many hand prints and signatures of huge stars, all on the floor around the building – so, major silver lining!

If you continue walking right to the end of La Croisette, you get to admire arguably one of the most incredible murals I’ve personally been fortunate enough to witness. Unfortunately the name of this hugely talented Artist is unknown, as is the name of this very famous work, so Hollywood Film Legends shall have to do. Being that Cannes is known for it’s world famous Film Festival, it’s only fitting that the town is full of amazing murals, scattered around in the most random of places! The Hollywood Film Legends piece resides opposite a handful of Bus Stops, yes, you really did just read that! This beautiful work truly leaves you in a state of awe and amazement, so many of my favourites feature; Marilyn, Jessica Rabbit, Cyd Charrise, Fred Astaire, Lauren Bacall and Humprhey Bogart – you name it and they’re on it! 

Although this mural is without doubt, one of my favourite artworks I’ve ever seen, the one I was most looking forward to witnessing and have truly loved for many years, is of course The Marilyn Mural. Featured on the Cannes Riveria Hotel, I think it’s fair to say this is a hugely iconic feature in the French Riviera and the photos simply do not do it justice. As someone who is hugely fussy with Marilyn Artworks, I can hand on my heart confirm that this one simply has no flaws – it is beyond perfect and one hundred percent does Marilyn justice. 

Having Cannes as our home for six days was simply a dream come true and I can’t wait to share with you all the incredible places we got to visit during our stay in the idyllic French Riviera!

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A Blonde In Barcelona.

Barcelona is known as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and after being fortunate enough to visit it last week, I can most definitely agree with that statement! Best known for being the home to Gaudí’s incredible creations, Barcelona is an architectural enthusiasts dream and definitely worthy of the term aesthetically pleasing!

Personally, if I’m lucky enough to be able to visit a new City or Country, I like to make the most of each day and see as much as I possibly can. I think it’s safe to say I am the definition of a sight seeing lover of all things tourist related. Europe is probably my favourite place to visit and explore, so discovering Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter was an absolute dream!

The first day of my visit was spent seeing the beautiful city itself and what is the best way to do that? A Sight Seeing Tour Bus! I honestly think this is such a wonderful invention and whoever came up with this idea – thank you. This is a great way to discover all the wonders of any place you’re visiting and learning which are the best spots to experience. Plus, as I was only there for four nights, it was wonderful to be able to see places I sadly wouldn’t have the time to visit, such as the incredible Park Güell. A week has gone by and I’m still upset that I missed out on visiting this masterpiece! After familiarizing ourselves with the wonders that Barcelona has to offer, we stopped for some lunch in Barcelona’s Hard Rock Cafe, a restaurant truly like no other!

Continuing my adventures in Barcelona, Saturday was spent visiting without doubt, the main attraction and one of the most famous buildings on Earth; La Sagrada Familia. Gaudí’s most famous work began development in 1882 and encase you’re not aware, (I wasn’t..) is still being built! Funnily enough, as soon as I spotted the towers through the trees, I noticed the construction scaffolding and thought to myself, “Great, the one time I get to see one of the most amazing buildings on earth, it’s being renovated.” Little did I know construction is not going to be complete until 2026 – one hundred years after Gaudí’s passing.

Just being able to view this masterpiece in reality was without doubt an experience like no other, the intricate details and unique design leaves you in absolute awe. Gaudí devoted 43 years of his life to creating La Sagrada Familia, he even went so far as moving into the building! Now that is what I call dedication. Each piece of the Minor Basilica has a story to tell, with the front depicting the Crucifixion of Christ and the back showing the Birth of Christ, with each part of the monument displaying the moments which lead to these life changing moments.

The interior of La Sagrada Familia was inspired by nature, with each of the columns representing trees and branches. The ceiling is designed with geometric shapes and the four evangelists are pictured on the columns in the centre of the Church. Each detail has been intricately thought out and designed by Gaudí and the time and effort put in to creating this masterpiece is truly incredible. It’s poignant to think by the time of Gaudí’s death less than a quarter of his creation had been constructed.

Ultimately, it’s wonderful to see Gaudí’s incredible work all around Barcelona, my favourite building of his being the absolutely beautiful Caso Batlló. It’s something truly unique and the pastel colours which dominate the overall detail is just spectacular! If I’m ever fortunate enough to return to Barcelona, I hope to go inside the building and spend some quality time viewing it.

Barcelona is filled with so much incredible aestheticism, even the simplest building look like works of art, it has to be one of the most photo worthy places on earth and in all honesty, my photos don’t do it justice!

Where are your special places to visit? Do you have a favourite Gaudí creation?

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Time Spent With Cats Is Never Wasted.

As I’ve been a huge cat lover my whole life, what better words by Sigmund Freud could be used to start this post?

I had the lovely opportunity of visiting my girl Jasmine in Manchester on Thursday and not only was it my first time seeing the city, it was also my first experience visiting a, (wait for it) Cat Cafe! As you can probably guess, this is pretty much every cat lovers dream and finally it is reality!

I first heard about Manchester opening a Cat Cafe a few months ago and Thursday was finally the day Jasmine and I would venture in and see what all the hype was about. Was it everything we hoped for and more? I think I can safely say a huge yes from the both of us!

The cafe itself is not like any one I’ve ever been to before as it is truly ruled by the cats, after all, not only is it where they spend their afternoons – they also live there! Each cat is full of individual quirks, have amazing personalities and they are all pedigrees, making them even more majestic than your every day cat. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore all species of cats but some of the ones in the cafe are truly stunning! Before I visited I did a bit of reading on the website and read that pedigree cats adapt to living inside and are well suited to a cafe environment.

When you first arrive in the cafe you enter the building from the back, so you can’t actually see any of the cats or the room itself which makes it even more exciting. Once you enter the room itself it is truly every cat lovers dream! The cafe is specifically designed for the cats and there are many things for them to play with and sleep in, including a huge large ceiling sky run where you’ll happily see multiple felines roaming and sleeping up there! They even have their own bunk beds attached to the walls with each name printed on each bed – could this be anymore adorable?

What’s great about the cafe is not only do the cats have the option of being in the human environment, but if they want their own space they have a room just for themselves. If you can distract yourself from the cats for a few seconds, (trust me – it’s not an easy task), then you’re allowed free drinks for as long as you’re there and there’s also lots of yummy cakes and cookies to buy. 

Not only is The Cat Cafe full of amazing felines that live there, lots of others are up for adoption and roam around also! It is so wonderful to see all of the cats happy and content, they are treated like the royalty and are absolutely adored by visitors and staff members. If they want to sleep, they sleep and if they want to play, they play – it’s all their choice and that’s how it should be.

I can’t recommend this place enough and I will definitely be visiting again, the more cat cafes the better!

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Marilyn Monroe Design Centre Chelsea & ONGallery Exhibits.

I have just returned home from London after spending a wonderful three nights there to see the temporary Marilyn Exhibition held at the Chelsea Design Centre. Marilyn Collector David Gainsborough Roberts has announced he will be selling his large collection of costumes and personal items at Julien’s in November. Before then, they will be displayed all over the world with London being the first stop until 20th June. Also being sold are personal items of owned by The Estate of Lee Strasberg, who Marilyn left 75% of her belongings to when she passed in 1962.

I’m very lucky to be able to say I’ve seen quite a lot of Marilyn’s items since I discovered her in October 2010. I previously saw a fair amount of David’s Marilyn Collection in March 2012 and as soon as I heard about him selling all of his items in November 2016 I knew I had to see them one more time, as well as Lee Strasberg’s which are also being sold. Marilyn fans are very fortunate that a lot of private collectors such as, Scott Fortner and Ted Stampfer kindly continue to share their Marilyn owned items with us. However, so many of her items get sold and tragically are never seen again which is incredibly upsetting as I always like to think if Marilyn belonged to anyone, it was to the public who loved her so much.

It was so lovely to see how beautifully displayed Marilyn’s items were at the Design Centre in Chelsea, as soon as myself and my mum arrived the staff asked if I was here for the Exhibition, I guess I don’t hide my excitement very well! As soon as you enter the building you are surrounded by beautiful portraits of Marilyn that are displayed from ceiling to floor. It gets even better when you walk through the doors and sense what’s to be seen in only a matter of seconds!

The first collection that you witness is Lee Strasberg’s Marilyn items, so everything from make up, jewelry, letters, shoes and sketches! I had not seen any of these personal belongings before and was truly amazed at what was just a few inches in front of me. Of course I am slightly biased, but everything really was truly stunning and ever so special. I think one of my favourite items would have to be Marilyn’s sketches, in particular one called, “Lover watching his lover sleep.”  I instantly thought of Marilyn sleeping whilst Arthur gazed at his beautiful wife.

The collection of jewelry was effortlessly glamourous. Most Marilyn fans will know that Marilyn did not think Diamond’s were a girls best friend and was much more interested in books than the perfect ring. Therefore, because of this I think the items that were on display were extra special, as any items Marilyn owned must have had some special personal attachment or value. I absolutely adored the Revlon Lipstick, I think if I could own anything from that part of the collection this would be it. Of course, red lipstick is forever linked to Marilyn’s image, but I just loved the vintage display of it, so effortlessly glamourous. I actually tweeted Revlon telling them that they should re-release this shade to coincide with the auction and they liked my tweet so, I shall keep my fingers crossed!

For me, what I found most special in Lee Strasberg’s owned items were all of Marilyn’s personal letters and stationary. I recognized a lot of the writings as it is featured in the amazing book Fragments – a must for any Marilyn fan! Of course a lot of it was very sad to read as Marilyn suffered so much with her anxieties, but what warmed my heart were the beautiful inspiring sayings she would write to herself, “Dare not to worry” being a favourite.

Part of me feels reading the items is an invasion of Marilyn’s privacy and to an extent it is as I’m sure if Marilyn was still alive we probably wouldn’t be reading them. However, reading these items shows a lot of the true Marilyn which is sadly so often hidden by conspiracies and inaccuracies. These writings so a talented artist who forever wanted to learn and improve and a beautiful, vulnerable soul who ultimately just wanted to be happy. I’m sure after reading these a lot of people would have more respect and admiration for Marilyn and I’m sure that would mean a lot to the wonderful lady herself.

After experiencing this amazing collection I then walked through to the final part of the exhibit; Marilyn’s film costumes and clothes owned by David Gainsborough Roberts. The display lay out was absolutely stunning, all clothes where shown on a circular display with two levels, and four huge posters of Marilyn wearing the clothes hung at the top of the ceiling. Some of the costumes even had blu-ray footage of Marilyn wearing the clothes which was a wonderful addition.

It was fascinating to see the age range of people visiting the exhibition, it just further emphasizes the impact Marilyn has on everyone, she truly is loved by people of all ages. I think if I could choose one item from David’s collection to own it would have to be the Green Leotard Marilyn wears in Bus Stop (1956) to sing, “That Old Black Magic” I just adore it. Everyone who viewed the items kept saying how tiny Marilyn was, I still find it fascinating that people are shocked by this when her measurements were 35-22-35.

The exhibit was truly beautiful and a must see for any Marilyn fan or lover of Old Hollywood. The only thing that was sad to see was The Prince and The Showgirl dress was now displayed on a directors chair instead of a mannequin compared to the last time I saw it. I guess it’s become extremely fragile now, if only sixty years ago people realized how important these costumes would be! I also wished that all of the clothes had photos of Marilyn wearing them, I have seen her in all but three of the items so it shouldn’t have been to hard to find. One of my favourites, the costume Marilyn wears for, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” when she sings “After You Get What  You Want, You Don’t Want it” was displayed on the upper level. I found this to be a shame as it would have been lovely to be able to have seen the dress with clips from the film of her wearing it like some of the other costumes.

I was fortunate to be able to visit the exhibition twice during my stay in London and when leaving for the final time I felt pretty sad that the majority of the items I will probably never be able to see again. However, I realize how fortunate I am to have had this opportunity and the memories will stay in my heart forever.

I also managed to visit the ONGallery which is currently displaying the Happy Birthday Miss Monroe exhibit until 30th June. As soon as I walked a lovely staff member named Keith said I was looking very, “Marilynesque” which made my whole day! He realized I was a huge Marilyn fan and he was wonderful to talk to, loved photography and you could tell he appreciated Marilyn as an artist which was very refreshing. It was so wonderful to see photographs from all of Marilyn’s career, beginning in 1946 and ending in 1962.

While I was there I noticed two older men who had been fans since Marilyn was alive and they were very sweet. I was looking through a portfolio of vintage photos and noticed one of them was taking pictures of me! I looked up and he asked me if I was a Marilyn lookalike and I told him that was very sweet but no I wasn’t. He then said that I was absolutely gorgeous and he used to be a portrait photographer so wanted to take my picture. I almost teared up, I’ve rarely had such sweet things said to me face to face. I then heard them asking about a picture that I was looking at from 1952 and I helped identify the event for them, I don’t know why but they reminded me of my Grandad and it really was a lovely moment.

I continued to talk a lot with Keith, especially about the Frank Worth photos of Marilyn from 1953 and 1954 which are pretty rare. I told him how I had sent off for the free Marilyn print they offered in the Daily Express for Marilyn’s 90th Birthday and I mentioned an image Worth had taken of Marilyn and Sammy Davis Jr. which was pretty rare. Keith then told me that the image I was talking about was actually offered previously and he would give me a print, I couldn’t believe it!

I had such a wonderful time in London and truly recommend both exhibits to all Marilyn fans, actually, I recommend them to everyone! Admissions are free for both events and they are extremely special and simply a must see.

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The Secret Illness.

Although most of my blog posts here on meganmonroes are about make up and vintage fashion styles, other topics such as Mental Health Awareness are incredibly important and close to my heart.

Over the past few years I’ve spoken quite a few times about my struggles and through being so open and honest, I have met a lot of other people in the same position as well. With a physical illness, you heal the injury and most of the time move on from it, with a mental illness it’s not always so easy. Please don’t get me wrong, as someone who has had a serious operation during their life, I know that physical injury is incredibly debilitating and painful. However, I know if I could choose to have a physical or mental illness, I’d choose physical every time.

Therefore, as someone who has improved a lot in the past four years, I still have my good days and bad days and it was down to one simple tweet that I am able to make this post. I suffer pretty severely with Intrusive Thoughts, which are a type of OCD called, “Pure O”, 99% of the population have intrusive thoughts, but 25% of the population obsess over them, sadly I am in that 25%. Ever since finishing my recent Therapy, I’ve gone slightly downhill with being able to manage my intrusive thoughts as it can be a lot harder trying to get better by yourself, even when you have all the knowledge and advice. It was because of this that I decided to tweet a message asking if anyone had advice for managing intrusive thoughts, with the hashtag #pureo. After clicking on this tag I came across an amazing website called, The Secret Illness and watched the short film, “This Old Ghost” which I found incredibly powerful and moving.

Through watching this film I learnt that the basis of the story is from a poem by an OCD Sufferer, James Lloyd who has kindly shared his story to bring awareness and attention to this serious mental illness. I decided to check The Secret Illness on Facebook and to my astonishment saw that Ashton Kutcher himself has posted about the project! He added the caption, “Never judge someone else’s story until you’ve lived in their shoes.” As OCD is so often trivialized and even made fun of by the media, it’s an incredible step for Mental Health that someone as successful as Ashton is bringing awareness to such an important topic.

Sometimes it can be hard to do the littlest thing as the mind bully, (that’s what I call it) can be so controlling, I’ve often cried and felt so low and frustrated with myself that I let the thoughts get to me so much. The mind bully would be happy  if I sat in a corner and cried to myself all day, but I’m not going to let it beat me or keep control. It’s not surprising that if you suffer with one mental illness you often suffer with another, the intrusive thoughts always increase my depression and fill with me anxiety. Through finding The Secret Illness I know that there are many sufferers like me and that I’m not alone, which is what the mind bully wants. Through speaking out and being honest and open I hope I can help raise importance about the seriousness of Mental Health and help people realize that you don’t have to suffer in silence.

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It Started In Naples.

For the last week, I have had the privilege of spending my time in the beautiful Sorrento, which is located in the south of Italy. I haven’t been abroad since 2012 so it was very surreal when May the 4th (be with you) arrived and my family and I were off to the airport! As someone who adores Italian food and a certain brunette bombshell I was full of anticipation and excitement when we landed in Naples. Therefore, I thought what could be a more fitting title for this blog post then a Sophia film which was exactly how my Italian adventure was to begin?

As we were only there for seven days, there was definitely no time for resting, which is fine by me as when I go on holiday I want to visit the country and see all of the beautiful places.  However, that meant getting up as early as five in the morning and as late a six thirty – what a lovely lie in!

After spending the Wednesday walking around Sorrento and booking the tours, we traveled to the wonderful Naples the next day. I was extremely excited to visit Napoli, of course because it is the birth place of my favourite food – Pizza, but Sophia Loren also spent a lot of her childhood here. From Sorrento is takes about one hours drive which is completely fine by me as the scenery in Italy is absolutely incredible!

As soon as we arrived in Naples we visited the Cathedral and I was in absolute awe of it’s beauty. I adore Italy’s architecture and it was even more outstanding in this stunning building, it was incredible to think about the amount of time and effort that went into producing such a beautiful place. I was also amazed to hear from our lovely tour guide Florentina that there are over 400 churches in Naples – each one we walked past was so lovely! We visited the famous market stalls where the Christmas markets are held, the streets in Italy are so narrow compared to England yet so full of traffic, it’s incredible. I saw some beautiful tambourines with Sophia painted on them and when looking in the store I noticed an actual photo of her visiting the store! It’s so wonderful how proud of her country she is and the feeling is definitely mutual.

After walking around the heart of Naples we finished the morning with a pizza, after all, where best to have my favourite food then where it was invented? I’m not ashamed to say that I had Pizza every night in Italy and it was absolutely wonderful! I also have to say that the dessert I had in Italy was truly out of this world, I looked forward to meal time every day!

The next day we visited the absolutely beautiful Anacapri and Capri. I was extremely looking forward to this day after my mum told me that Brigitte Bardot’s Contempt  (1963) was filmed there. To get to Capri we had to take a twenty minute boat drive as it is a small island. It was such a beautiful way to travel and such wonderful scenery, I’ve truly never seen such stunning sea water, it was almost a turquoise colour. Once we arrived in Capri we drove up to Anacapri, which is the smaller village and the one above.

We walked through both villages and it was truly paradise. The views were absolutely incredible and I even saw three beautiful cats, one was casually watching a lizard, an amazing animal I couldn’t believe I was seeing. Capri is famous for it’s beautiful perfumes and I could definitely tell why! Sadly I didn’t buy any but when leaving Italy I visited a perfume store in the airport an saw the island wasn’t just popular with tourists, Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier, Audrey Hepburn and Charlie Chaplin had also visited!

On Saturday we travelled through the Amalfi Coast and it truly was a journey like no other! With only one road in and one road out you can imagine how busy the traffic can get but as the tourist season has just started it didn’t really affect us. We first stopped in a small village called Positano and visited a large store that sold hand made ceramics, in Italy this item is very popular and I could definitely see why. There were so many different items and all we’re so intricate and beautiful! Outside the store there was a sign placed opposite that showed a Roberto Rossellini film, La Macchina Ammazzacattiv (1952) was shot entirely on the Amalfi Coast!

Once we arrived in Amalfi we took a boat trip along the sea and our lovely tour guide Melanie pointed out to us two very important houses owned by Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida! I was completely overwhelmed with excitement and that truly made my whole day. I also found out on the Tuesday I arrived home that Sophia was actually in Italy when I was visiting! She was in Rome, which was too far from Sorrento but it made me very happy to see after all these years Italy will always have a special place in her heart.

Our last stop in Amalfi was visiting Ravello and the gardens in Villa Rufolo which were incredibly beautiful. I was in at awe seeing such stunning historical scenery. Driving up to Ravello was quite scary, our driver was wonderful thankfully but I couldn’t believe how high up we were going! In Southern Italy the land is filled with mountains and it truly is amazing to see all of these houses and buildings built on there.

On Sunday we visited the incredible Pompeii and Herculaneum and our wonderful tour guide Sonia shared so much information on the history of these villages. Although Pompeii is a lot bigger and arguably more famous than Herculaneum, it is definitely not as aesthetically pleasing as the latter. It was fascinating to learn how the people in Pompeii lived, we learnt about their shockingly lack of hygiene and what kind of foods they ate – thankfully we are a lot more fortunate now.

The village of Herculaneum is a lot closer so it was incredible to be able to see Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that caused all of the tragedies to these two places. I was also fascinated by how low down the in the ground the village was, we had to go down a lot of steps through  tunnel to visit the actual village. As soon as we arrived there you could tell that Herculaneum was the wealthy village, they even had their own private beach. Although what I found very upsetting was seeing all the skeletons of the people that had obviously been going down there when the Vesuvius erupted and were instantly killed. Some of the other tourists were actually taking pictures of the skeletons which I personally found incredibly disrespectful and morbid.

What was incredible about Herculaneum was the amount of architecture that was still intact, some of the expensive houses still had colour on the walls and portraits. There were also bath and changing rooms. Our tour guide informed us that it is unknown how much land there is that has still yet to be uncovered of Herculaneum which is absolutely fascinating. Archaeologists are constantly researching both villages and finding new artifacts and information, who knows what will be discovered in the many years to come?

Visiting both of these villages was an absolutely fascinating experience but I couldn’t help find the tourism very ironic and poignant, although both are filled with incredible history, so many people tragically lost their lives there.

On our finally day we visited the Volcano that caused so much tragedy in Italy, Mount Vesuvius. Although I was looking forward to seeing this incredible volcano, I was pretty apprehensive as it’s still active! Knowing that it could erupt any time was quite intimidating but I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Once we had driven to Vesuvius we had to walk all the way up to get to the top – which was definitely not an easy task! The paths were so uneven and my poor feet were absolutely throbbing, so I’ll admit, I wasn’t the quickest walker – but I got there in the end. It was hard to comprehend how incredibly high we were when at the top of the volcano, but the views up there were so worth it. Looking into the volcano it was fascinating but very uncomfortable to think that this volcanic rock had created so much damage to such a beautiful country. What amazed me was that you could actually go the whole way around Vesuvius, I don’t know how or where the tourists got the energy but you  could actually see some people on the opposite side.

I can definitely say that my week in Italy was an incredible experience and one of my favourite vacations I have ever been fortunate to go on. It still feels pretty surreal to be back home and no longer hearing the beautiful language or seeing the incredible scenery. I feel so lucky to have been able to see so many incredible places in such a short time and the memories I have will truly be treasured.

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Happy 1st Birthday MEGANMONROES!

On the 12th April 2016, my little blog meganmonroes officially turned a year old! I can’t believe that it’s been a whole 365 days since I wrote my first post which started my blog, well credit to my amazing friends Laura and Paul for setting it all up! I’ve been blogging on Tumblr for almost five years and I’d always wanted to take the plunge and become a Blogger and thanks to lovely Laura inspiring me, I finally had the courage! 

It’s amazing to look back and see how much has changed in one whole year, I wouldn’t say it’s been all that pleasant but I’ve definitely learnt and grown from the changes that have happened. Of course, it’s not all been that bad, but as I’m my worst critic I can sadly make things a lot harder for myself – I really need to work on that.

I know I’ve been an awful Blogger lately, I just sadly haven’t had much inspiration, but I really hope I can continue to be creative and have an even more successful year with meganmonroes! There’s a few products I’m dreaming of reviewing and hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on them as soon as possible:

If anyone has tried these products before than please let me know what you thought of them, I’d love to hear your opinions!

I also thought I’d write about things I’m especially loving at the moment, it’s important to remember the things that can put a smile on your face:

  • Rewatching Game of Thrones – I’m currently on Season 3 Episode 3, I thought it would be a good idea to refresh my memory before Season 6 arrives! Daenerys and Tyrion are still my favourite characters, that hasn’t changed.
  • A Cup of tea – sometimes that’s all you need to cheer you up.
  • Reality TV – yes I know a lot of it’s trashy but it’s so addictive! Plus it’s nice to forget about your own troubles and switch off every now and then.
  • Em aka mypaleskinblog – It’s safe to say I look forward to Em’s videos every Wednesday, she’s so beautiful inside and out and is truly an inspiration to me as a Blogger and more importantly as a person. Love you Em!
  • Reading – I absolutely adore a good book, there’s something so satisfying about completing a book and starting a new one.
  • Margot Robbie – Although I’m a Vintage Girl at heart, Margot is my favourite actress of today, I’m so excited for Suicide Squad and before then we have Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and The Legend of Tarzan to look forward to!
  • Ebay – I’m absolutely obsessed with doing my regular searches each day, (Marilyn is my main one of course) and finding a bargain, (anything under £5) is my current way of controlling the spending and being frugal.
  • Snapchat – You can find me there by meganmonroes, I look forward to seeing the new filters each day and will never get tired of face swapping with Marilyn or today, Grace Kelly!

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