Vintage brooches to adorn a summer blazer lapel: Australian native flowers, rhinestones and bejewelled glasses that remind me of Dame Edna Everage
Despite my best attempts to travel light, I somehow managed to return from Australia with 15kg more than I had arrived with (this was also despite offloading several kilos of English souvenirs to family along the way, and not having time to go shopping for clothes for more than a single hour…). To say this was a point of tension between the Clever Boyfriend and myself en route to our departure gate is a serious understatement.
And so, to save my lovely readers the same luggage-induced relationship anguish, here are some of my favourite souvenirs from my trip and a guide to a few of the things I think are worth the excess luggage dramas.*
Blush and petal silk to make my wardrobe (and lingerie drawer) smile.
Sartorial treats: Australia boasts some truly exceptional fashion labels, as well as a focus on niche boutiques that you just don’t find in the UK. Aside from the obvious things I miss, I’m forever mourning the fact that in Australia you can buy a gorgeous dress from an established designer for a fraction of the cost of a comparable designer label in the UK. I don’t know how I would have survived my early twenty-something years there without brands like Lover, Zimmerman, Karen Walker (who, if you want to get technical, is actually a New Zealander), Sass & Bide, Camilla and Marc, Alice McCall, Fleur Wood, Willow, and Nicola Finetti (plus pyjamas from Peter Alexander, whose stores all look like marshmallow pink boudoirs, and gorgeous lingerie from Elle Macpherson) .
MOR candles that smell like a summer’s morning, Kit cheek stain to maintain the holiday glow, a haul of Aesop and Jurlique rose shower gel that smells like an explosion of garden roses and turkish delight on a cold winter’s morning.
Beauty: As a self-confessed beauty addict, I can honestly say that I’ve tried a lot of products. And in my opinion, Australian beauty brands are on par with the French as being the best in the world. Between an obsession with avoiding sun-damage and the laid-back, healthy lifestyle, the Australians are all about anti-oxidants and organic ingredients. My bathroom shelves would be completely naked (and my skin tortured) were it not for the wonders of Aesop and Jurlique skincare, organic rosehip oil (does wonders for the skin) from Trilogy or Kosmea, divine body creams and scented candles from MOR, and cult items from Kit and Mecca Cosmetics.
A new chunky pearl necklace from Mimco.
And finally, I’d throw a tantrum if these things didn’t find their way into my suitcase on an outbound flight from Australia (such are the frivolous cravings when one is an expat living abroad): beautiful pearl necklaces, acetate cuffs and accessories from Mimco; Haighs chocolates (simply the best you will ever try); Cadbury Cherry Ripe bars; Allens Chico Babies (chocolate-flavoured jelly babies); luscious red wines and summery pink moscatos from the Barossa Valley; crisp copies of Australian Vogue, Rush and Frankie magazines; cookbooks by Bill Granger, Donna Hay, Kylie Kwong and Maggie Beer; a giant jar of Vegemite (love it or loathe it) to be spread on hot buttery toast on grey English mornings; a small handful of sun-bleached shells collected from the perfect beaches; and enough proper coffee (to be drunk while lazing about at alfresco cafes with a spot of people-watching), gelato and fresh mangoes that my cravings for them don’t induce homesickness for the next year.
Souvenirs for the home: an antique French map of Australia from the 1800s; seashells collected from walks along endless stretches of white sandy beach.
What do you love buying as a souvenir when you travel to a new place (or conversely, what do you have to cram your suitcases with when you return home)?
Love, Miss B xx
* Most of these brands can be found in the UK (through their own stand-alone stores, at Selfridges, on Net-a-Porter, or via My Catwalk, who ship to the UK), though, as with anything, are always significantly cheaper in their country of origin.