What’s going in your celebration swag bag?

Back in July 2014, June was tagged in a Facebook post inviting people to join in The Big Birthday Swag Bag Hop.

With both a holiday and a birthday on the horizon at the time, she was happy to jump on board and share a few of the essentials that would find their way into her suitcase were she to join a group of friends heading off for a special celebration.

Almost six years on – how time flies! – and, with the UK currently under lockdown, she’s already started planning her own post-coronavirus celebration.

So she’s revisited her original list and made a few adjustments to the must-haves that will be going into her swag bag this time around…

Scroll down the page to find out what they are – but before you do, how about telling the Girls Around Town what you’d put in yours?

To get involved, simply follow this link to a short survey listing the things to include, answer the questions and submit your response by Sunday 12 July.

No personal details will be stored or shared – as always with GAT surveys, it’s just a bit of a fun for a feature on one of the first Sunday mornings when the show returns to air on 107.8FM.

In the meantime, here are June’s answers to the questions – it goes without saying of course that these are all in addition to the things on the legendary (and very lengthy) spreadsheet packing list she compiles every time she goes away…

The destination

Well, it has to be Italy of course but for once I won’t be heading to my usual ‘home away from home’ in Amalfi.

Inspired by the book below, this time I’m off to Florence for a few days. And on the way home I’ll be nipping over to Milan – what’s a 200 mile detour when the fashion capital of the world beckons?

The book

As an avid reader, for me one of the hardest things about the current lockdown is not being able to nip into Newark library two or three times a week to pick up a good supply of books.

After just a few days of self-isolation, I’d already started searching through my bookshelves for something to re-read. And the first one I chose was one of my  absolute favourites, Bella Figura by Kamin Mohammadi. who left London in January 2008 to spend a few months in Florence and is still there!

Subtitled How to live, love and eat the Italian way, it tells the story of her first year in the city, month by month – the places she visited, the people she met and the meals she learned to make and enjoy, with many of the recipes included too.

During my own relatively brief time in Florence I’m planning to spend a day with Kamin on one of the workshops she has devised to bring the book alive to readers and hope to visit her home on a 10th-century castle estate in the countryside of Chianti for a simple Tuscan cooking class and olive oil tasting.

The beauty product

I’m still a martyr to mozzies so the White Tiger Balm on the original list will be in my bag again but my real beauty hero these days is a lovely berry-coloured lipstick…

Cast your mind back to the summer of 2017 and you may remember a slightly hysterical conversation between Rachel, Sue and me about how to choose the right shade of lippy.

Picked precisely in the recommended way (if you missed it, you’ll find details in the first 10 minutes or so of the podcast here), my berry lip gloss is a constant companion both at home and away so it will definitely have a place in the swag bag this time. 

Snack food

With lots of lovely Italian meals to enjoy, snacks won’t be much of a priority on this trip. But I’ll be adding a few of my favourite Vive Bars to that packing list to keep me going during the journeys to and from my two destinations – a far tastier option than airline food!

The music

My holiday playlist will mostly feature the wonderful Andrea Bocelli but there’ll be one extra track on there from the last time around…

After all, what could be more appropriate for the trip of a lifetime than Bill Medley‘s I’ve had the time of my life?

One last thing

Well, two things really…

A second (large and empty) bag – and a credit card to pay for all the extra swag going into it when I hit those Milanese shops!

So are you up for the challenge?

If you are, don’t forget to fill in the questionnaire and share your own swag bag essentials with the Girls Around Town.

Then watch this space to find out when they’ll be discussing their answers and yours on 107.8FM soon…

From Bologna to Boston with travel writer Jane Keightley

A regular visitor to Girls Around Town, Jane Keightley will be joining June and Rachel again next weekend, looking back at a few of her recent travels – and looking ahead to a major event coming soon…

If you’ve heard Jane on previous shows, you’ll know she shares June’s passion for Italy. So you won’t be surprised to hear that she’ll be describing some of the highlights of trips to Bologna and Piedmont – and filling everyone with envy with the news that’s she’ll be off to Florence again in just a few days!

Closer to home, she’s still on a mission to spread the word about the many attractions of Lincolnshire, determined to quash the myth that it’s just ‘flat, boring and full of cabbage fields’…

With this in mind, she’ll be talking about places she visited researching an article for The Sun on its extensive aviation history and the celebration of the RAF Centenary.

But top of her agenda for the coming months is putting the finishing touches to a new series of tours centred on the market town of Boston, home of the famous Boston Stump. Otherwise known as St Botolph’s Parish Church, it’s one of the country’s largest parish churches with one of the tallest medieval towers at 272 feet high.

It’s also a place that’s particularly close to Jane’s heart – in her own words, more years ago than she cares to mention she got married there!

In preparation for the anticipated influx of American visitors in 2020 for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower, the tours will explore some of the sites connected with this historic event.

Tune in or listen online between 10am and 12 noon when Jane will be explaining what’s in store for the tours and where you can find out how to join her when they’re launched next spring…

Picture by Jane Keightley

The race is on…

It’s all about races on Girls Around Town this Sunday – two races to be precise and they couldn’t be more different!

Stage Four of the Tour of Britain comes to town on Wednesday 6 September, bringing with it thousands of visitors ready to line the streets and cheer on the cyclists as they head to the grand finish at Sconce and Devon Park.

But the festivities in Newark begin a day earlier….

For the last few weeks, Louise Clark of A Little Bird Told Me Emporium and Melanie Luff have been busy organising a Craft Market as part of the pre-tour celebrations happening on Tuesday 5 September.

They’ll be joining June and Tina in the first hour of the show to share details of some the gifts and goodies available to browse and buy from the 30-plus stalls open in the Market Place between 4pm and 9.30pm.

Then, from a cycle race around Britain to a horse race around a piazza in Tuscany when writer and blogger Jane Keightley makes a welcome return to the Radio Newark studios to describe her latest Italian adventure. Not as a participant, mind you, but as one of the thousands of spectators watching the historic Palio di Siena  recently…

Dating back to medieval times, this breathtaking spectacle is held twice a year, in July and August. It’s a fast and furious affair with 10 jockeys, riding bareback and dressed in colourful costumes, completing  a thrilling three laps of the Piazza del Campo, usually in under 90 seconds.

Tune in or listen online between 10am and 12 noon on Sunday to find out what’s in store for Newark on 5 September from Louise and Melanie and what’s next on Jane’s Italian itinerary.