Something I don't really get the opportunity to do in Scotland is go to the beach. Sure, we do have some gorgeous beaches - my favourites are in the Highlands - Mellon Udrigle is a dream. But it definitely is a different experience than when abroad. An important part of the beach to me is swimming in the sea, and unfortunately the water really is too cold in Edinburgh.

I love being in such a special place of nature where sea, sand and sun combine to create something so beautiful in its simplicity yet so complex and magical with soothing tides, rippling dunes, shimmering shells and salty fresh air. I also love adjectives. I have now been to the beach about a 10 minute walk from my flat in Barcelona - one of the coastal city beaches. However Silvia wanted to show me a quieter beach away from the hustle and bustle of the city, so we hopped on an hour long train to Sant Pol de Mar.

On the train ride, we passed beach after beach along the coast, eventually reaching Sant Pol de Mar. It reminded me of my childhood holidays in Menorca, in that it seemed a quaint seaside village with white buildings, winding alleys, exotic flowers, hanging greenery and tapas restaurants. And the beach of course.

Whilst wandering aimlessly around Barcelona city centre last weekend, I discovered an Oysho store. Oysho is a swimwear brand I have come across recently but only online, and so to just happen across their physical store was destiny in my opinion. I left a very happy customer with my first one-piece swimsuit since the days of primary school swimming lessons.

Last year in Malta, I only ever wore bikinis. And I guess this is just because it is what is projected and expected as the norm by the majority for when exposing your 'beach body' to the world. However I definitely don't think it should be. I fell in love with the bright print of this swimsuit and pushed myself out of my comfort zone to try wearing a one-piece to the beach to see how I would feel.

Although not a life-changing experience, it was definitely interesting going against the grain of what I have grown up with. I already get stares (and one comment of "woah white") when I head to the beach due to my pale skin and luckily it honestly doesn't bother me. But I thought people may have assumed I wasn't confident with my body and skin colour by covering up in a swimsuit. But that is definitely not the case. I think a lot of people hold the belief that swimsuits cannot be stylish or make you look or feel good. That they should be kept for primary school swimming lessons and for those who want to hide their bodies.

Oysho is one great brand rejecting and disproving this misconception.

I mean, really, just look at that print. And those AMAZING (and yet so so comfy) back straps.

Some of my favourites from Oysho that I really want to buy but am thinking I should save my money for other things like food sadly include these gorgeous pieces:

If you're still a little unsure on a one-piece or trikini, Oysho also have some cheaper pieces in the swimsuit and trikini sale (like the Red Printed Crossover Trikini above) which are just as gorgeous!

One-piece swimsuits do seem to be rising in popularity which I think is great. More brands such as Oysho are producing stylish and on-trend pieces for everyone to feel amazing in. I love now having the choice of what I want to wear at the beach and not feeling pressured into a bikini, and so am a big supporter of the one-piece trend, in addition to my bikinis too.

How would you feel wearing a one-piece swimsuit to the beach? Is it something you'd never think of doing, or not a big deal to you? And what's your favourite piece from Oysho? I love them all haha!

P.S. have you been following my daily Barcelona adventures on Snapchat? Add me at mairixlowe!

How I Felt Wearing a One-piece to the Beach

Music has always been a topic I was unsure of whether to include on my blog or not. I love music. I know everyone says that. But my evidence is that when Spotify released the 2015 stats, it revealed I had listened to 50,000 minutes just on Spotify that year. That's 35 days. THIRTY FIVE DAYS. I am very proud. Is that something to be proud of?

ANYWAY, last year I began posting a monthly playlist and was surprised at how popular those posts were. I can't remember why they stopped, but today I am here to resurrect my monthly playlists. Although "Spotify September 2015 Playlist" isn't the snazziest name. So I'm going to call them mixtapes instead. Because it makes me feel cool and like I know what I'm talking about. And technically, it's sort of the right definition. Sort of. Google never lies.
A compilation of favorite pieces of music, typically by different artists, recorded onto a cassette tape or other medium by an individual. - Google

I am aiming to have 20-30 songs in each playlist, around one for each day of the month. This limit is hard for me as usually my playlists expand to over 100. Come back for each playlist on the 20th.

The music I listen to really reflects what mood I'm in and how I'm feeling about what I'm up to, so interpret what you will from July's offering. Because my music reflects my thoughts and emotions, I feel it is quite a personal and important part of my life. But one I'd like to share with you. Music is such a powerful medium and it regularly boosts my confidence and allows me to see sense and cope with whatever challenges I'm facing. Kind of like my meditation.

Highlights of July include a cover of Panda by Karmin and even some French rap. I don't speak French so have no clue what he's saying - but it's catchy. Trust me.

My July Top 3

  1. wRoNg - ZAYN, Kehlani
  2. Gucci Comin' Home - BIA
  3. Teenage Craze - KLOE

July 2016 Mixtape

What have you been listening to in July and what do you think of my taste haha? Also, are you interested in what I listen to or not? Appreciate all feedback <3

P.S. please feel free to follow me on Spotify for more of my music outwith monthly mixtapes. Would love to have you and hear your opinions!

July 2016 Mixtape

An abstract wonderland of colour, creativity and imagination, Gaudí's Park Güell was top of my list for touristy outings in Barcelona. And it certainly did not disappoint.

Costing just 7€ for the Monumental Zone (the main part of the public park), I entered from Plaça de la Natura. Using the Park's free app, fully functional without internet (hallelujah), my iPhone and I went on our own private tour round the park. With a recommended route, interesting information and old photographs to enrich my visit, it was incredibly user friendly. Let me take you on the little tour I walked myself. Prepare for lots of photos.

A Guided Tour of Park Güell with My iPhone

Hola amigos!

So if you didn't know, I am now away in Barcelona on my internship with Silvia from Chouchou until the end of September. I am so excited to get stuck in and share with you what I get up to, so here's a little so far...

I am not quite fluent in Spanish (yet), in fact I know about 3 words so uh, straight onto Duolingo after I've written up this post. Anyway, despite not knowing the language, I am loving Barcelona! Thought I'd give you a little photo diary of my journey so far and of my first full day - it's been HOT HOT HOT compared to Edinburgh; I have enjoyed some tapas, working in the studio with Silvia and even made it to LIDL to buy food without getting lost! Go me.

Tuesday July 12th

Unfortunately my flight was delayed by an hour and a half, but I strangely enjoyed the journey. I haven't been on a plane in my while, and I actually quite like flying. I had my journal, coloured pens, popcorn, Galaxy chocolate and my book and I was set to go. The amazing Silvia picked me up from the airport with a fab paper banner - I felt like a celebrity haha.

We then headed straight out for tapas, where it was great to have some authentic dishes and I also enjoyed the many cute dogs passing by us outside. The taxi home showed how massive Barcelona is (and that was just a small part of it) and I was in awe at the architecture, all the balconies and the pretty streets lined with trees and lights.

I don't have any photos of my room yet. That's because when I arrived it was a bit of a mess. I have since swept up all the old cotton buds, dust clumps and pizza box, mopped the tiles and dusted and polished all the surfaces. So quite a noticeable improvement I'd say. It's very small, but it does what I need it to do. I am still unpacking the last few bits and bobs so maybe I'll post a couple of photos here or on Snapchat once I have everything set up and it's looking a little more homely. P.S. you can follow me on Snapchat at mairixlowe.

Wednesday July 13th

Waking up to 22°C did make quite a change from Edinburgh. I gave myself a little lie in as I was pretty tired from travelling, had breakfast (a banana), got dressed and then spent about 15 minutes on Google Maps figuring out where the closest supermarket was. Luckily my flatmate Amber told me there was a LIDL nearby so I headed off with my screenshots of Google Maps on my phone. AND I SURVIVED. So proud of myself. It was nice to see the surrounding neighbourhood and get an idea of the area I'm living in. I picked myself up a fresh pizza baguette from LIDL for lunch as well as lots of fresh vegetables, avocados and pasta for the week ahead.

Afterwards I stripped and cleaned my room but I didn't take any photos of that because really, who wants to look at dirty cotton buds and old pizza boxes. Not me anyway.

And then my day got exciting! After a phone call from Silvia, I worked a little from home and then met Silvia at Mercat dels Encants, a massive market with amazing architecture just a 15 minute walk from my flat.

Yes. that is the ceiling! Something I've never seen before, the reflective gold shelters all the pretty stalls from the sun. The market really is a hub of energy, with tram and metro stops nearby too, it was great to see somewhere so active and busy within the community.

Note: do NOT wear black lace up shoes in 24°C or above if used to Scottish sun. SO HOT.

Silvia and I were browsing all the beautiful fabrics and embellishments on display, and I did spot a lovely copper/rose gold material.

After the market, we headed back to the studio which is just gorgeous. You probably wouldn't expect the beautiful interior from the outside, but I quite like how it's a secret creative space amongst the neighbourhood. Shared by fellow creatives, it's the perfect Pinterest place to get productive work done.

Silvia decided we wanted to photograph and promote the beautiful chocolate brown dress from the Pre-Fall collection, so she asked if I would like to model and see how she uses the Snapchat and Instagram for a shoot like this - of course I said yes!

It was a little strange getting my makeup done and wearing my heels as I am not used to modelling, but it was a lot of fun and was great to get an overview of what goes on behind the scenes. It was also interesting deciding together what to put on the Snapchat and the Instagram. I picked up a new trick from Silvia for Snapchat which I'll be using a lot now I'm sure! I love Snapchat.

You can see videos and more on Chouchou's Snapchat at @chouchoucouture which I'll be sometimes be running soon once I've learnt the ropes!

I was a little nervous when Silvia asked me to step outside for some photographs. For some reason, 7pm is peak time for people to hang around the corner shop opposite the studio, and I did get a fair few stares walking around in heels with makeup and hair done up. But, this industry is all about being bold and I'm glad I did manage to take some good photos without feeling too overwhelmed. Even though modelling is not what I want to do as a career, I think it's good to understand all the workings of the industry and now I can empathise a little with models I guess. So I am happy I got the chance to do something a little different like this and hopefully I'll be more confident next time.

And the next time I'm at a shoot like this but behind the Snapchat, I'll have an idea on how the model is feeling and how to take the best photos and videos thanks to Silvia's guidance. I'm so happy with how our favourite photo turned out!

A photo posted by C H O U C H O U (@chouchoucouture) on

We finished up at the studio just before 8pm, so I bought a 5L bottle of water and treated myself to some guava juice with dinner. I had a bit of a dilemma working out how to drain a boiling pan of pasta that doesn't have a handle, but my friendly flatmates said they use a tea towel and have been fine, so I somehow survived and didn't burn myself.

It was good to sit down and talk to my flatmates a bit more over dinner. Amber, from the Netherlands, was studying in Barcelona for university, works as a bike tour guide and speaks about 5 languages very very well. Emanuel is from Argentina and works night shifts as a receptionist at a hotel. His English is much better than my Spanish, but we did have to use a few body and wild hand actions to communicate, but it's always nice to live in a friendly environment, even if you have to use Google Translate occasionally. They made me feel so welcome and I'm glad I managed to get this flat.

After dinner, I chatted for a bit and then wrote up this post before conking out from an exhausting hot day. Is 'conking' a real word? Ah well, it is on this blog.

Please do add me on Snapchat @mairixlowe to see what I'm getting up to and also be sure to follow me on Instagram @copperpink for pretty photos!

Any recommendations on what I should get up to in my spare time in Barcelona? Food, shopping, sights to see, parks, beaches are all welcome - I'm a little clueless!

Thank you for joining me on this journey in Barcelona - I don't really get homesick but being abroad for this length of time by myself is something I've never done before so all comments and messages are greatly appreciated <3. Hope you're having a fabulous summer!

Settling into Barcelona + I'm on Snapchat!

Accidentally titled this similarly to that well-known Channel 4 cookery show, but the whole point of this post is about enjoying a break from stress in our lives with no pressure or competition and just chilling with some me-time we all deserve.

I think many of us don't make enough time for what we really love to do. We say we just don't have the time, but then end up doing other things like scrolling through Instagram for an hour before bed or watching Buzzfeed on YouTube endlessly (guilty). I think it can be good to sit down and really think about something you love to do, or used to love, but haven't given time to recently. For me, this was art.
Mairi Lowe, 2011

Art was a big part of my life throughout school, mainly because I chose art as a subject till my final year, but once I stopped classes, I found myself not making any time for recreational art. To do the art I wanted to do, rather than being limited or feeling pressured by deadlines at school. I dabbled a little since then with digital art and a watercolour for my Gran's 99th birthday, but a few nights ago feels like the first time I have really indulged in this hobby of mine since school.

A photo posted by Mairi Lowe (@copperpink) on

Recently in life I have been feeling quite overwhelmed, self-conscious and just stressed out really. I can't really pinpoint a cause, I guess it's just something that happens to everyone sometimes. I feel like my life is a little cluttered right now, starting with the state of my messy bedroom. I have also made this worse by trying to get my head around everything and overthinking as I often do. So, art was a little escape for me the other night.

With no teachers, examiners or peers to be constantly looking over my shoulder (I hate showing artwork that's in progress - that's down to the perfectionist in me), I felt really free and unlimited. It was fun and relaxing. And once I realised I didn't need to stress about not being able to find my larger art sketchbook, I discovered I quite enjoyed scribbling on a smaller notebook, as I am very slow and can be impatient with art.

Desssert, Mairi Lowe, 2016 (a few nights ago)

This was a really fun piece to do, and let me experiment with a mixture of media: watercolours, acrylics, oil pastels and my favourite ink graphic 0.3 pen. Sure, there are things I could improve on - isn't there always? But considering I haven't picked up a paintbrush in almost a year, I'm pleased with what my creative freedom produced. Feel free to like it on Instagram <3.

While painting, I listened to some peaceful music and allowed my thoughts to wander where they wanted, trying not to worry or stress. This was art time, this was me time.

In an attempt to try and make some sense of feeling overwhelmed and anxious, I have decided to declutter both my online life and uh, my non-online life? Moving to Barcelona on Tuesday is the starting point for this part of my life - where I'm going to aim to be way more organised, thanks to a new journal technique I want to try (post up soon), as well as not keeping as many belongings and living a more minimalistic life. That's the aim anyway.

I already have a book wishlist (again, up soon) for some inspiration and ideas, and am planning a sort of capsule wardrobe for Barcelona. I know this will not be an easy transition for someone as unorganised and messy as me, but it's something I really think will improve my life and make me happier, so if you do have any advice please get in touch.

I may even start a new Category on the blog for it - go all out, go crazy. I can't wait to share my experiences on organisation and leading a less stressful life with you.

How do you feel about organisation - is it something you have to work at or does it come naturally to you? And what should I name the new category do you think (other than 'miscellaneous')? Any suggestions?

Come Chill With Me

I love Mexican food. Well, I love good Mexican food. I haven't been to many places in Edinburgh, but the ones I have made me lose a little faith in finding good affordable Mexican food. And I admit that sadly put me off venturing to more eateries. However, when invited to try out the new Barburrito to celebrate the launch in Edinburgh, I crossed my fingers for delicious spicy beans and guacamole and decided to give my Mexican dreams another try.

Barburrito launched in 2005 in Manchester, as the UK's first burrito bar, and recently has expanded up to Edinburgh and Glasgow which I am very happy about. New restaurants are super exciting. With my previous Mexican disappointments, lots of different dishes were on offer (some not even Mexican) whereas Barburrito puts all the attention on perfecting the burrito, so I had high hopes.

Upon arrival, the other bloggers and I were served a selection of what we could choose to put on our burrito to test out a little bit of everything. The basis of the burrito starts with the fragrant rice and then you pick which fillings you'd like. These included chicken, steak, spicy shredded beef (amazing), chorizo, peppers and onions mild and spicy beans mushrooms four different types and strengths of salsa guacamole sour cream and- sorry just let me take a breath. And a warm cheesy sauce perfect with tortilla chips. You're definitely spoiled for choice.

After tasting all the options, and then tasting them again, it was time to learn how to wrap the perfect burrito, Barburrito style. We all got a wrap with rice to practice with before getting to step behind the counter and make our own. If the counter layout looks a little confusing - which it did to me at first - the best way I can describe it is that it is very similar to Subway, where your wrap is taken along the counter and you get to pick your fillings as it goes.

Although my face above would suggest it is a very complicated process which requires maximum concentration, I actually enjoyed myself after having the practice beforehand. It really was a lot of fun to get behind the counter and make my very own burrito to see what is involved. I also took a brave step in trying out not just the mildest salsa as I usually would, but also the chipotle salsa which did have a lovely kick to it.

And if you'd like to see how to wrap the burrito, I managed to create an educational gif with all the steps, including the compulsory smile of achievement at the end. I am officially a gif, what a great feeling #breaktheinternet

Unfortunately half eaten burritos are not the prettiest things to photograph, but I can assure you it was delicious. For about £5-7 depending on how many fillings you get, Barburrito is an excellent place for a tasty Mexican night out without breaking the bank. The earthy natural decor gives off a great relaxed vibe and makes it a real pleasure to sit in, although you can also take away. It was also fun to meet some new bloggers: it was great to meet Sonia from Layoutlines (see her vlog about the event here!), Megan from Bramble Bites and Kirstie from Coffee & Cakes.

I am so glad my faith in good Mexican food in Edinburgh has been restored and since this event have already been back with a friend for another burrito. If that doesn't prove to you how much I like it, maybe the fact I spent two nights at home teaching my family how to roll our own wraps Barburrito style will. Again, do see above gif for educational wrapping tutorial.

A big thank you to both Barburrito and Talor Gilchrist for organising this great evening! And I'm sure I'll be seeing Barburrito again very soon.

How do you feel about Mexican food and Edinburgh's offerings of the cuisine?

How to Wrap a Burrito, Barburrito Style

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