Travel With Me: Singapore and Tioman Island

We’re about a week and a half into our summer adventure and what a week and a half it has been. We’ve been able to tick two places off our bucket list so far – the wonderful, bustling Singapore and much more tranquil, palm-covered Tioman Island, both beautiful in their own ways.

Singapore is a built-up business hub if ever I saw one, strewn with both high-rise skyscrapers and plants and green spaces that would leave London feeling jealous. It’s fast-paced and commerciallydriven but this feels diffused by the incredible nature that they’ve let grow it’s way through the city centre.

We visited a handful of touristy spots, from the magical nature domes and attractions at Gardens by the Bay, to the lights and smells and energies of Chinatown, to the incredible views of the city centre from the topic of Marina Bay Sands (to name a few).

Singapore and Gardens by the Bay

Despite the sunstroke I got as a result, our three hour exploration of Fort Canning Park on our last day was one of my highlights. A beautiful park situated 10 minutes away from our cute Airbnb in the Somerset area, you get views of the scrapers as well as a nature fix. We got lost trying to find the exit (it’s enormous) but sometimes it’s only by not knowing where you’re going that you stumble across the most exciting sights.

Singapore and Fort Canning Park

On Sunday, from a quiet Kovan bus station at six in the morning we rode a coach across the Malaysia-Singapore border to Mersing, one of a handful of towns where you can catch a ferry to Tioman Island. The ferry ride itself was pretty horrible – the winding, bumpy roads to the jetty made me feel super travel sick and the ferry definitely did not help.

Three hours later though we were finally stretched out in our new resort room with views of palms and a river through our double floor-length windows. We ordered room service (having not eaten for 24 hours) and relaxed a little by the pool before dinner.

It feels like such a long time since I’ve been able to sit with a book and switch off, and being surrounded by palm trees with the sounds of the sea coming from just beyond our feet made the experience even more magical.

We booked a snorkelling boat tour on our second full day, keen to find out which creatures lived in the shallow seas around Tioman and its neighbouring islands. We made four stops to snorkel and one stop at a village for lunch. The sea both amazes and terrifies me so I wasn’t the best snorkelling buddy for Jacob when the waves got super choppy towards the end (and then my seasickness definitely pushed me down to World’s Worst Snorkelling Buddy) but the fish we did manage to see were utterly beautiful. Coral Island lives up to its reputation as one of the top snorkelling places to visit in the area and Monkey Bay had lots of gorgeous colourful species.

Swimming with the fishies on Tioman Island

As I type I’m sat in my new H&M bikini nursing a food baby from our buffet breakfast, enjoying views of beautiful Renggis Island and listening to the waves kiss the shoreline and palm leaves rustle in the breeze. Heavenly.

By the time this post is up we’ll be back in Singapore en route to our next dream destination, a place I expect will be very different from Tioman šŸ˜ˆ

Hope you all have a magical ‘n summery weekend!

Love,

Opening Up Online: The Concept Of Vulnerability

I was 13 years old when I created my first blog. In the dim light of my messy teenage bedroom – with its scribbled-on walls and clothes strewn across the floor – I logged onto Blogger, designed a pink-themed homepage and started typing away. However, it wasn’t long before the desire to publish my thoughts online was trumped by the ever-growing fear that someone I knew IRL would actually find them. I loved writing about myself and my opinions but only if I could remain anonymous to the people who cameĀ across them. That pink-themed ode to my tween idols, favourite fashion trends and travel photos soon got scrapped.

I hadn’t given up on blogging though. In fact I would spend the next eight or so years trying to build up the courage to publish a website that had my name and face attached to it. Thankfully this summer – happily holed away in that same bedroom with its now bright blue walls and clothes *still* strewn across the floor – I finally grew those blogging-balls and did just that.

To share or not to share?

If I’m totally honest, sitting down to draft up a blog still fills me with anxiety. Not only have I dedicated time, energy and dolla $$ to thisĀ little corner of the internet but I have AcTiVeLy PrOmOtEd it across my social mediaĀ for everyone I know to find and see (šŸ˜±). However, this time around that anxiety is outweighed by the unadulterated joy I get from talking about the things I love and learn, owning my own little online space and connecting with people whom I would never have had the opportunity to had I not created Joie de Velvet. It’s still early days in my blogging journey but something I struggle with, and probably will continue to for a while to come, is being wholeheartedly open. I think the root of this is that good ol’ disconcerting concept of ~vulnerability~. I’ve written about how to maintain curly hair and the benefits of exfoliating skin brushes, but I don’tĀ think I’ve shown much more than a glimpse into the ups and downs of a typical 22 year-old’s life – the trials and tribulations of a woman who still thinks of herself as a girl, who has no idea what she’s doing, why she’s doing it or where she’s going to go. Don’t get me wrong – writing about beauty products and the latest fashion trends is something I could do, and really really want to do, for the rest of my life. But I enjoy connecting with people too, both in person and through words on a screen, and I think this is done most successfully when one’sĀ writing contains little pieces of the writer.

Being vulnerable doesn't have to be as scary as it sounds

When I started building Joie de Velvet back in September, I intended for it to become a sort-of portal for fashion advice and style inspiration, with some beauty / lifestyle / travel tidbits thrown in occasionally too. This isn’t a plan I intend to stray far from but if I am to make this blog an authentic representation of me as a person – which is something I both need and want to do ā˜ŗļø – then things have gotta change!

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My fear of opening up and appearing at allĀ vulnerable to anyone other than my nearest and dearest (and even that is a feat in itself) will have to be actively smushed down, little by little, with each post I hit ‘Publish’ on. But by vulnerable, I don’t mean regurgitating the raw contents of my brain – I’m neither interesting enough nor have the desire to do that. IĀ just mean there needs to be a bit more colour, a bit more personality, a bit more of me intertwined in the things I write about. I think surrendering these psychological blog-barriers (is this a thing? I’m making it a thing) will also help me feel closer to my blog in general (we’ve been drifting apart lately and are need of a bit of a relationship revamp).

I’m determined to make my mark on the blogging world an authentic one, however big or tiny it may be. Not just for those who stumble across my monthly musings, but also for my 13 year-old self who wished she had grown some blogging-balls a lot sooner.

Baby Ellie, we got thisĀ šŸ’Ŗ

4 Ways To Treat Your Mum This Mother’s Day

Mothers – we chat with them for hours about our latest life dramas, they listen to us rant about annoying siblings or work or our lack of money, we bicker with them when they want us to wear a coat when it really isn’t that cold outisdeĀ and, ultimately, we adore them through-and-through.

The 11th of March is Mother’s Day in the UK and a wonderful excuse to show our mums how grateful we are for the years of love and labour. It’s also a day that comes with a bit of pressure – what are you meant to buy the woman who’s done so much for us and loved us unconditionally over the years (even when we stain the bathroom with hair dye, vomit in the front garden after one too many or beg for lifts to the station late at night)?

If you have the means and desire to drown your mum in pearls and roses and diamonds then go for it, but you don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds to make her smile. A homemade card and plate of scrambled eggs on toast bought to her in bed is often more than enough to show your mum that you’re grateful for the love and life she’s given you (although I’m sure a nice Michael Kors bag or box of gold eternity roses wouldn’t go amissĀ šŸ™Š).

If, like me, you’re a bit strapped for cash this month and are looking for some sweet but personal gift ideas, this blog might give you the bit of #inspo you need…

Cute stationary

God knows how but mothers are wonderfully organised beings. How they coordinate family mealtimes, dentist appointments, maintaining a respectable house and knowing where everyone is all the time is baffling, but they do it bloody well.

Often, behind every organised woman is a very large collection of stationary and tools (or bits of scrap paper all over the house, if it’s my lovely mama). Why not add to her toolbox with some cute new notebooks and pens this Mother’s Day?

Forget 50p spiral bound notebooks from the corner shop and those pads of paper you steal from hotel rooms (just me?) – this vibrant set from Studio Sweet & Sour is the perfect accessory for any organised mum.

I got gifted these for my birthday this year and they’ll be staying firmly in my cherished notebook collection, but a set of pads along the same vein are the perfect little gift.Ā Kate SpadeĀ have a gorgeous set of three wired notebooks and Pull and Bear are selling a pretty marble one.

Sentimental lockets

Whether it’s in the form of a necklace or bracelet, lockets are an ultra-personal addition to any outfit. Every year, from age 12 when I saw my cousin wearing one, to age 17, I would remind my mum that the only present IĀ reallyĀ wanted for my “big 18th” was a locket.Ā I’m a sucker for personal, sentimental gifts and I’d always imagined a locket being the perfect way to mark my entrance into adulthood.

I get to carry my family (and doggo!) around with me whenever I wear this pretty heart-shaped piece and I guarantee any mama will love it for the same reason. This one is fromĀ The Locket TreeĀ butĀ Littlewoods and Beaverbrooks have lovely ones too.

Lots of jewellers let you personalise the piece too for that extra bit of sentimentality – get the names of your other family members engraved on the back or a simple ‘thank you for letting me live rent free while I save money for a flat‘.

A “scent set”

For some of us, the whiff of a certain scent can feel like a big mama’s hug. Does your mum gravitate towards floral scents like lavender or rose? Maybe she’s a fan of that clichĆ© ‘fresh linen’ smell or has a favourite EstĆ©e Lauder perfume?

Go hunting for products with her favourite scent and create a basket full of skincare, fragrance or beauty products. Think hand creams, talcum powders, perfumes, body washes, soaps, candles, diffusers, room mists… Every time she spritzes a little on her wrist or gives the living room a couple of sprays, she’ll think of the angelic child that gave it to herĀ šŸ‘¼

Flower subscription

Treat your mum every month with a flower subscriptionThis gift idea will cost more than a few pennies but if your mum is a big fan of blooms, a monthly flower subscription is a sweet way to treat her all year round.

Flowerbx lets you choose from weekly / fortnightly / monthly deliveries of white or coloured flowers, andĀ Bloom & Wild will send your stems in letterbox-friendly boxes so you don’t have to worry about being home when they’re delivered.

If, like me, you’re completely clueless about which service is best to go for, The Telegraph have a great run-down of the best subscription boxes available.


I hope this mini gift guide gave you the inspiration you needed to treat your mum this Mother’s Day – what are you going to get her?

Love,

skitch