And so here we go, the last taste of high summer on Midlifechic before we move on to Autumn. That means we should talk a little bit about beach holiday style before we move into cosy jumper and boots territory. So here’s my beach holiday packing post mortem.

Packing for a beach holiday – conclusions

As an experiment, I packed differently this year. You may have noticed that about 95% of my holiday wardrobe focused on dresses. Once I’d worn a dress in the evening, it was free to be worn in the daytime and it worked really well – less to pack, less to think about in terms of mixing and matching. I simply went to the wardrobe, pulled out a dress and was ready to go.

Because it was so much easier, it’s certainly going to be my approach for beach holiday packing going forward. I took a few different clutches for evenings and five pairs of sandals. I could probably have managed with four and must be more disciplined on this front next year. My jewellery was simple – I took one yellow gold necklace, one rose gold and one silver along with a few pairs of statement earrings.

The only mistake I made was packing far too much swimwear. I always think I’m going to want to wear something different every day when in fact I tend to settle on a couple of favourite bikinis that are comfortable to wear and everything else (with its matching sarongs) stays in the drawer untouched. So, note to self: three bikinis and a one-piece next year – no more!

Let’s get back to showing you my beach holiday packing capsule in practice. The second week began with another birthday, the youngest’s this time. I think I’ve said before that the younger two were both very much wanted but slightly unplanned and yet the strange thing was that they shared the same due date of 4th August. The long, cold November nights must be to blame! Both of them were late and it’s probably a good thing that their birthdays are almost a week apart because they like to celebrate them differently.

Beach holiday packing

Beach dress from Cleverly Wrapped, sold out; starfish sandals (gSS18)

For the (suddenly very tall) youngest, the day is all about water sports. The eldest and I both have problem shoulders so we don’t join the others as they’re dragged around the sea with the boatman trying to capsize them. As we watched, I couldn’t help pondering the fact that the eldest is almost counting down the days to his first university rugby match in October. If he knows his shoulder isn’t up to the water sports surely he shouldn’t be resuming his front row prop forward position? The quandaries of being the mother of someone who is now a man and in charge of his own destiny…

Beach holiday packing

And so our day was spent at a beach club and the youngest’s wishes were our command…

Beach holiday packing

… and he made the most of it.

Beach holiday packing

This was the bikini that I wore the most this year. I really struggled to find a pink one and in the end picked this up in Tesco of all places. It wasn’t the best quality (the gold trim is a horrible plastic) but the fabric withstood the water and didn’t stretch like some of the more expensive bikinis that I took with me. It fit well and I liked the slightly higher midriff because it covered the deep appendectomy scar that I’m always a bit conscious of.

Midlifechic bikini

We felt revitalised in our second week and so we used the car to get out and about a bit more. This is Patara Beach which goes on for miles and is well known for the turtles that nest there. It closes at 7.30pm so that the turtles can hatch and make their way to the sea.

It shelves gently and the waves are warm – I spent hours just bobbing about in the water while the boys bodysurfed…

Beach holiday packing

… and then we had lunch at the simple beach shack.

Beach holiday packing

Beach dress from Cleverly Wrapped, sold out

That evening we drove up into the mountains to a small Turkish village and had dinner at a trout farm. It was much cooler up there and it was good to be in a completely Turkish environment.


Asos dress SS17; Next clutch SS18 sold out


I did take one pair of shorts with me along with a couple of t-shirts and I tended to wear them when we had early morning meetings about bag designs.

Beach holiday packing

Baukjen tee (SS17); Shorts; White Company sandals (SS17)

This isn’t a posed shot (as you can tell from the ten chins) but I noticed quite a few people wearing this Santorini swimsuit on holiday and I wanted to point something out about it. You see it’s such high quality fabric that it’s difficult to get on – it feels like squeezing into a wetsuit, you have to roll it up. The key is to make sure that you get the band to sit at the narrowest part of your body. I noticed quite a few people who had it too low (around the top of their hips) and it didn’t look as flattering as it could have done. In fact I should have had it a little bit higher here really too.

Beach holiday packing


And so the week stretched on. We were in full holiday mode and we had a lot of fun. I realised how rarely we have time to just hang out with our boys and let the conversation drift. At home we’re always so busy. We make a point of sitting down for dinner together every night but even then there’s often something like a coursework deadline looming and so someone is itching to leave the table.


Sézane tee (sold out); Harem pants

This is a dress that you’ve seen before. I like it, the boys don’t, they think it looks like a curtain (it must be the tassels).


Zara dress SS18 (sold out); Zara sandals (SS14); Whistles clutch SS18 (sold out)

I bought this one from one of the small tailors’ shops that you can find in Kalkan. It’s much looser than I would usually wear but it’s linen and it worked well in the heat. I wore it in the evening here but I particularly liked it over a bikini as an easy beach dress.


Dress bought in Kalkan; Sézane Sandals (SS17)

For years when we’ve been in Kalkan, people have told us that we should visit Meis which is a small Greek island just 20 minutes away by boat. The Greek name for it is Kastellorizo. This year I was determined to go but the boys weren’t keen so Mr MC and I headed off on our own early one morning.

We were part of a small group of twelve, eight of whom were English and we got on really well.


Beach dress (gSS18 available in black here or blue here) xx

To make a day of it the captain stopped off at different spots along the way. This was a sea cave that we swam to, it was absolutely magical inside.

Beach holiday packing

We anchored in a small bay for lunch (freshly caught fish cooked on the boat’s barbecue) and this chap popped up.

Beach holiday packing

He was happy to swim with us and didn’t even mind being touched. There was one thing in his head you see, the fish skins that were thrown over the boat to him after lunch. Apparently he comes along every day and waits patiently for them.

So, we then docked at Kastellorizo. It’s the Greek harbour of your dreams, pastel-hued houses and restaurants hugging a small aquamarine bay. There was a warm wind blowing and we wandered around for a while.


Dress bought in Kalkan

Earlier in the year we’d booked a hotel room in the hope that we’d be able to stay the night. It was too tricky though – the border control was very tight because it is a gateway from Turkey to Europe so we had to return on the same boat that we set out on. Still, it gave us the chance for a shower and a little repose before we went out for dinner.


Mara Hoffman dress from The Outnet (SS18 sold out)

As I mentioned, we got on really well with the other couples on the trip and they suggested we all had dinner together. We were a bit torn because the trip was supposed to be our chance to spend some time alone but we’d had such a nice time with them that we changed our plans and joined them.


Back in Turkey, our days were drawing to an end. Determined to make the most of our time, the following evening we set off to find ‘The Fish Shack’ which we’d heard people talking about. Listed as one of the top 10 beach shacks in the world by Condé Nast Traveller magazine, it’s a well-kept local secret but one of the couples we met on the boat gave us instructions on how to find it.

The eldest wasn’t keen. We’ve set off on adventures like this before and they often don’t work out so he was muttering away in the back of the car as we made our way through the mountains, climbing up hairpin bends and then down the other side. Mr MC was triumphant as we pulled into a small car park… and when we got out, this is what we found…

Beach holiday packing

We found it hilarious but the eldest was not amused! We gave up but we’ll get there next time…

And so this was our last night in Kalkan. I’m not sure if I like this dress but Mr MC does so I wore it. Next year I’m going to keep it for the beach. I do like the photograph though with the ladies in their burkas behind me, deep in coversation.


Monsoon dress (SS18 sold out); Boden espadrilles (SS11)

I have one last story to tell you and it’s a tale of true midlife love. On the day that we went to Patara Beach, I’d just got out of the shower when the doorbell rang. Assuming it was the agent coming to check everything was ok with the villa, I grabbed a towel quickly and went to answer it.

A man was standing there with a huge smile in his face. “Please don’t think I’m a weirdo” he said, “but are you Nikki Garnett?” I sensed the boys gathering in the kitchen, ready to come to my defence but he went on to say “you see my wife loves your blog and I wondered if you’d give her a shout-out in your next post.”

He explained that she’d taken their teens shopping in Kalkan and so he’d decided to set out to find our villa in the hope of surprising her. Now our villa isn’t easy to find, even taxi drivers never know where it is so I have to compliment him on his detective skills. We had a chat and I suggested that they pop round for a drink in the next few days. As I closed the door I thought to myself “she’s going to kill him.”

And sure enough the next morning I got a lovely email from her apologising profusely. Hayley I hope you’ll forgive me but it was so funny and well written that I have to include an extract here – it was titled “Crazy husband in Kalkan.”

I have always said that one of Mark’s great traits is his resourcefulness and once, after browsing Instagram, I had mentioned that you were also in Kalkan I think he saw it as a challenge to find you! As you may imagine I was mortified to hear what he had done – whilst also being secretly in awe. When I tried to explain how inappropriate it was he said ‘so are you telling me that if you knew we were staying very close to Christiano Ronaldo and there was a chance you could arrange a meeting, you wouldn’t have done the same?’ So there you go Nikki – I bet you’ve never been compared to Ronaldo before?!

Anyway Hayley was determined to leave us in peace but I really wanted to meet her so I persuaded her to come out for a quick cocktail and she even agreed to have her photo taken with me – shame it was so dark, it hasn’t come out very well.

Beach holiday packing

Mr MC and the boys have now awarded Mark ‘top bloke’ status and I just want to say thank you to him for making me feel a little bit famous for a few minutes. What a wonderful husband you have Hayley – you’re clearly very loved.

And so now we’re nearly at the end. It was much cheaper to fly home on a Tuesday than a Monday so I added an extra night to our stay. I’d booked us into a villa complex in Fethiye for a night – it looked beautiful on the website but when we got there it had clearly seen better days. The huge pool was filled with stinking brown water and the ‘villa’ was more like a very old Butlin’s chalet, riddled with damp and mould. The youngest was convinced we would all be murdered in our beds.

For a few minutes I felt terrible. But then I decided it was good for the boys to experience a different kind of travel and slum it for a night. I had imagined us spending the afternoon by the pool there but that clearly wasn’t an option so we jumped on a water taxi and headed to Sovalye island. Mr MC and I were chuckling away (slightly hysterically) and the boys’ spirits gradually started to lift.

Beach holiday packing

We spent the afternoon relaxing in hammocks by the beach and when it was time to get the water taxi back, they were back on their usual form.

Beach holiday packing

That’s the thing about holidays isn’t it? They are rarely a flow of fourteen perfect days and nights but as with anything in life, you have to choose how to deal with the disappointments. We could have let the thought of our last night ruin our day… or we could just laugh and get on with it. And that’s what we did.

Garnett family

I like to think that this is one of the most important lessons we’ve taught our boys. The good times are easy, it’s the way you handle the bad ones that shows you who you really are.


Cleverly Wrapped beach dress (gSS18 – sold out)

We went out for one last lovely dinner and returned to our accommodation as late as we could. It wasn’t the best night’s sleep but as we drove away from the sad faces sitting by the rancid pool the youngest said “we’re lucky aren’t we – to have the holidays we have.” And so just for that I’m grateful to the horrible villa complex. I’m thankful for all of it. Next year is uncertain, the eldest will be graduating, I can feel that he already has one foot in a life of his own and soon he will be stepping into it fully. He may join us on holiday or he may branch out on his own.


Mara Hoffman dress (SS17); Sèzane sandals (SS17); Whistles clutch (SS18 sold out)

Every day, whenever the sonorous call to prayer resounded from the minarets in Kalkan, I made a point of stopping what I was doing and saying a quiet ‘thank you’ for what we had… laughs, squabbles, mutters, grumbles and loud guffaws. It’s the mix that makes up every family and I’m so happy that I had two uninterrupted weeks with mine.


Next week

My posting schedule is still a bit disrupted but early on Thursday morning I will be bringing you my edit of Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo A/W18. As always the collection will sell out in a couple of hours so have a look at the preview here and then before you order, come to Midlifechic for guidance on sizes because they always vary enormously. I can’t give you any clues because the samples for this season haven’t arrived yet. It’s going to be a fast turnaround at this end!

Disclosure: ‘beach holiday packing post mortem’ is not a sponsored post

Other summer holiday posts you may enjoy


Kalkan holiday snapshot – part 1


Kalkan – what mattered most


Kefalonia with teenagers Part 1

Kefalonia with teenagers Part 2


Kalkan plus should women over 40 wear bikinis?


Cómpeta, Spain Part 1 – setting off

Cómpeta, Spain Part 2 – how it all went wrong

Cómpeta, Spain Part 3 – how it all got better


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