Saturday 20 December 2014

Dry January with a little help from The Arch London

Christmas isn't even here yet, and I already feel like I have seriously over done the festivities. One too many Christmas parties have led me to decide that January 2015 for me - will be a dry one.

A few of the girls from work have said they're doing dry January also, and I've found a great alternative for cocktails which should help us through. 

virgin vera cocktail the arch london


Monday 15 December 2014

Countdown to Christmas...

After a very messy work party on the Thursday, thankfully we could all keep cosy in our Christmas Jumpers on the Friday, me and some of my colleagues opted for some festive hair too. 

Sunday 14 December 2014

My Life in Black and White... with Sure Black and White Diamond

Sure have just launched a new deodorant, Crystal Invisible Black + White Diamond and to celebrate, have invited me to take part in a picture challenge, to give you the change to win a Michael Kors handbag.

So here is my life in black and white, rather glamorous this weekend as I went to my works Christmas Ball. Safe in the knowledge that I'd be smelling fresh with my new deodorant. 

I chose these photos as the look I went for at the ball was very 'All black everything' but against my very pale skin, and blonde hair - giving the 'black and white' look. The main feature of my make-up was my black eyeliner flick, which I did using an eyeko eyeliner felt (got it free with a magazine a few months ago). My dress was very glitzy, a fully sequinned number from French Connection in the Sale a few years back, so kept the jewels to a minimum! 

Such a fun night with great friends!


Saturday 13 December 2014

Moti Mahal, Indian Restaurant Covent Garden - Restaurant Review

"A culinary journey along the Grand Trunk Road"

Moti Mahal Menu

Moti Mahal can be found just off Drury Lane in Covent Garden. The small frontage might lead you to expect a cramped interior, but in fact the tables are large and well spaced and the seating very comfortable. There is a large well-stocked bar and a variety of cocktails are available- but we resisted as it was lunchtime. The kitchen is separated from the upstairs dining area by a glass screen, so you have the drama of watching the chefs at work but not the noise and smells.

The menu is extensive and is based on the food of Northern India, following a trail from Peshawar in the North-West to Calcutta in the East. Our waiter was happy to explain the ethos of the restaurant and discuss the menu with us.

We decided to share our starters and chose soft shell crab with spicy prawn chutney and a vegetarian dish sprinkled with pomegranate seeds - typical street food with the Moti Mahal twist. To accompany this, we ordered the Season Spacial of Vintage cheddar and cumin naan baked in the tandoor with white ‘Alba’ truffles. The delicate flavour of the truffle was followed by the punchy, rich flavour of the cheddar cheese - great for sharing as it is very rich.

Ox Pasure Hall Hotel, Scarborough - Review

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough invited me to stay for the weekend (in the honeymoon suite no less), dine in their fantastic restaurant and have afternoon tea… spoilt! I invited my good friend Emily on the trip with me, so here is what we got up to...

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is set in the most beautiful grounds. It is a former country farmhouse surrounded by barns and out-buildings which have been transformed into homely getaways. Perfect for a country retreat.

Upon arriving at the Hotel, having made a slight accidental detour (driven up from London, yet had the sat-nav set to avoid motorways…oops) we were greeted by the friendly staff, with big smiles  asking us how our journey had been and we were taken straight to our room, or should I say suite!

We were put in one of the honeymoon suites, room ‘York 23’ complete with lounge, spacious bedroom, enormous bathroom and the most gorgeous views of the Yorkshire Countryside. Literally every way you looked you were greeted with picturesque Yorkshire countryside, after all the hotel is set in seventeen acres of it!

Sunday 7 December 2014

Afternoon Tea at the Lancaster London - Review

After a long day of theatre and shopping (not my average day), I took my Mum for afternoon tea at the Lancaster London, a 4* hotel located close to Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and Oxford Street. Lancaster Gate tube station is just around the corner. 

Considering the hotel is only minutes from the bustle of the West End shopping streets it is surprisingly quiet. The Lounge Bar where we were seated was comfortable and restful with unobtrusive music in the background.

First we were asked for our tea preference  I chose white pear and ginger and mum had English breakfast tea. The tea was served along with a great selection of sandwiches and savouries, including roast beef and horseradish served in a tiny yorkshire pudding, a mushroom and egg quiche and cucumber sandwiches and a variety of sweet treats. 

This is definitely an afternoon tea for those with a sweet tooth, which I certainly do - like a kid in a candy shop I didn’t know where to start: the chocolate truffle and raspberry lollypops, the raspberry macarons or the chocolate cake, though I decided should at least pretend to act like a grown up and start with the savoury first before digging in to the layer of sweet treats. Mum particularly enjoyed the macarons.


Tuesday 25 November 2014

Braun Face | Mini Epilator and Cleansing Brush Review

A clever little gadget indeed, combining a mini epilator - great for eyebrow tidying - with a cleansing brush. Braun Face comes complete with a makeup pouch and magnifying mirror, with built in light (handy!) which makes it great for taking on holiday with you.

I was considering buying a Clarisonic (heard great things about it from other bloggers), but this system, at under £70 from Boots, is much cheaper and has double the functionality.

The Cleansing Facial Brush is a joy to use, just pop the cleansing brush on, and flick the switch and you're ready to go. I used mine with my Kiehl's cleanser, and my face felt silky soft after the first use. I've been using it every few days for a fortnight now and I do feel like my skin is clearing up a little. Little wonder, since it works "6 times better than manual exfoliation". Braun recommend changing the brush every 3 months, so it's a pretty affordable gadget.


Monday 24 November 2014

Roux at Parliament Square | Restaurant Review

Michel Roux Jr's 2nd London restaurant and bar in Westminster, Roux at Parliament Square, offers fine dining in the spectacular and historic location, just metres from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

I believe you can tell the quality of a restaurant from the size of its menu, and the source of its ingredients. With the fewer options on the menu the better, I like to trust in the Chef and the produce they have chosen and put together.

Before we ordered, we were given several appetisers, my favourite of which was the taramasalata and avocado on a bed of seaweed. The flavours complemented one another beautifully, with the avocado leaving a very fresh taste on my palette before the main course.


Oral-B Pro 2000 Electric Toothbrush Review

I recently met Dr. Uchenna Okoye, Oral-B's smile Director at the launch of the Oral-B academy (you may have seen her on 10 years younger, probably the best known dentist in the UK).

She spoke about the power of the smile, how you can tell somebody's health from their gums - and how others perceive you from having a healthy wide smile.

I was gifted an Oral-B electric toothbrush to test, and in all honesty - if I hadn't been gifted one, from hearing Dr. Uchenna speak, I'd definitely have popped to Boots the next day to buy one anyway!

The Pro 2000 features a CrossAction brush head and criss-cross bristles to clean your teeth from all angles. This brush has rechargeable batteries, and comes with a 2 year warranty from most stores.

It is great for those who worry about brushing too hard and damaging their gums - as the brush itself lights up if you're brushing too hard. It left my teeth feeling really clean and fresh.

A total convert, I won't be going back to a normal toothbrush anytime soon.


Saturday 22 November 2014

A weekend in Paris on a shoestring

I took last Friday off work, and took the Eurostar to Paris for a long weekend. It's a little over 2 hours on the Eurostar from Kings Cross, so its really easy to go to for short breaks. You might think it'd be super expensive for a weekend away in Europe, but really you can do the trip on a budget and still have a great time.

Firstly, Eurostar tickets - on the day i think these are over £200 return, but book in advance and your tickets can cost as little as £59 return. I paid £65 return - but I could have gone for the cheaper option, the train time just wasn't as good for me. Top tips: Eurostar sells youth tickets - so if you're 26 or under, check those out. Eurostar have  Sales a few times a year, they're on Sale right now, but you can also sign up for Sale alerts so that you never miss out on a good deal!


Monday 17 November 2014

Vaseline Queen Bee Competition

I love getting post, who doesn't?!

I was expecting some boots that I had ordered from ASOS, but instead I received a box of sparkles, glitter and gel pens. I haven't owned gel pens since school... this was like a blast from my hobby-craft-loving childhood past!

So, why all the crafts stuff?


Foxcroft & Ginger Review | Berwick Street, Soho, London

Foxcroft & Ginger is an artisan cafe, with two locations in London - one in Soho (that I visited last week), the other in Mile End. Foxcroft & Ginger prides itself on its great British food, all made with locally-sourced ingredients - with the cakes and pizzas all made in house.

Myself and Kirsten visited for dinner, and tried the sourdough pizzas, we shared a goats cheese, fig, kale pesto and marinated beetroot with marscapone pizza (drool!) and a Chorizo, feta, smoked chilli, butternut squash capers and tomato sauce pizza (without the chorizo as Kirsten is vegetarian). Boy, oh boy were we full... no word of a lie the butternut squash pizza was one of the best pizzas I've ever had, and i've visited Italy a few times so i've had my fair share! I'd never have thought of putting roasted veg on pizza, but it was fantastic!


Saturday 1 November 2014

Four Seasons Hotel Review | Visit Dublin

Late September I went to Dublin for the weekend, and stayed in the majestic Four Seasons Hotel. The 5* hotel is located, around a 30 minute walk from the City Centre (or 5-10 minutes by taxi). The rooms are very spacious, and let in so much natural light.

We ate out for most meals, as we only had the weekend to enjoy the city and wanted to visit so many places. However, I did enjoy a room service breakfast one morning, delicious waffles with berries, and a rich hot chocolate - a wonderful way to start to the day in luxury.

The weather was sublime, especially for late September, so much so I actually managed to get a little sunburnt. Quite the achievement, given the time of year, and the fact that I did actually have SPF 30 on!


Laser Hair Removal Offer | Destination Skin

I have recently been having laser hair removal done on my legs and armpits, I've had 3 of my 6 sessions, and am seeing a huge different, particularly on my legs. I haven't shaved my legs since my last treatment, 8 days ago, and I don't even have a tiny bit of stubble!

If you aren't quite sure what laser hair removal is, then check out my post here that explains the treatment, and the costs:

My hair removal progress can be seen in my last post here:

Great news, Destination Skin are having a Sale, which includes 50% off Laser. Winter is a great time to have the treatment done, as really you should avoid having the treatment when you're going to be in direct sunlight.

For all of the Sale details, check out Destination Skin:

Sunday 26 October 2014

Athens Center Square Hotel Review

Whilst on my recent travels to Athens, to visit my friend Grace, we spent the weekend in the the Centre of Athens, in the fantastically located Athens Center Square Hotel.

Athens Center Square Hotel is situated at the heart of the city, a short walk from Monastiraki station. The hotel is easy to find, as you come out of the station turn left and walk straight along the road - you will soon notice signs on kiosks directing you to the hotel. If you arrive during the week, or on a Saturday, a good pointer to know you're in the right place is the bustling fruit market directly outside the hotel. Note: if you arrive on the Sunday, the market is closed but look out for the bright lights of the hotel!

I don't speak Greek, and I've struggled to learn more than the basics of just hello, please and thank you - such a complex language. I was very appreciative that the staff at the hotel all spoke other languages, and spoke to me fluently in English. I always think it is important to try and learn some phrases in the local dialect, but it's much trickier to learn Greek than say Spanish, French or Italian as the alphabet itself is different.


Holiday in Athens

Last week I flew out to Athens for some much needed sunshine, and to catch up with one of my best friends who recently moved out there for work.

For the first few days I stayed in my friends apartment out in Kifissia, A lovely town north of the city centre, with a family feel to it. We decided to stay in Athens City centre over the weekend, and stayed in Athens Centre Square Hotel, a great hotel situated just 5 minutes from Monastiraki.


Friday 17 October 2014

Vaseline Queen Bee | Ham Yard Hotel London

Last week myself, Kirsten and a host of London Beauty Bloggers headed over to Ham Yard Hotel for the launch of Vaseline's latest limited edition lip therapy - Queen Bee. Queen Bee, as you may have guessed by the name, is a honey scented Vaseline Lip Therapy, and smells divine.

The event had great cocktails, canapes, a life coach (amazing), a manicure station, a thrown and even a crown - everything you could need to channel your inner Queen Bee!

I had a manicure done in a beautiful yellow, with a glittery gold on top. I also spoke to the life coach, who was inspirational, I have a mini plan in place now too. If you have never tried a life coach before, and are a bit skeptical, don't be. I was... but I am a true convert now, it feels a bit strange at first to talk to someone about your life that you've just met, but it's very liberating.

The product itself: The Limited Edition Vaseline has beautiful packaging in royal black and gold, a delicious scent of honey, and is available to buy now!

Sunday 12 October 2014

St. Ives Skincare Event - London | October 2014

I have always been a fan of St. Ives, it's a skincare brand that I know I can trust - and seems to be so gentle that it works on any skin type.

I was invited down to have a look at the new St. Ives products, and learn more about what is great for my skin both to put on it, and what to eat for certain ailments.

St Ives Skincare Candles

During the event we made own face masks, I made a lovely concoction of avocado, honey and coconut oil which is great for moisturising the skin - it smelt amaaaaazing.

Health expert Julie Montagu, who looks so young, was on hand to teach us what we should be eating for healthy skin and to keep looking young. There were plenty of healthy treats on hand during the night too...

My favourite St. Ives product is the Gentle Apricot Scrub, it's designed for sensitive skin so the beads are very finely textured. I work in London, so that feeling of London smog and grime building up on my skin throughout they way can be gently exfoliated away with this product.

St Ives Skincare Event Goody Bag

St. Ives will forever remain a staple in my skincare routine, if you've never tried it before i'd definitely recommend it, it works, smells amazing and it's very affordable - available in all Boots stores.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Laser Hair Removal - DestinationSkin Knightsbridge

I had my hair removal test patch a few weeks ago, which all went fine. The consultation process was quite in depth, first of all I met the clinician who was to perform the test patch for me, she explained the process to me (that today we would be doing a small test patch on the areas I was having lasered, my legs and my armpits) and if my skin did not react after 24 hours we could go ahead with the laser removal treatment. I then had to fill in some medical forms, and we looked at my skin type and hair colour to see if I was suitable for the treatment, and what laser should be used.

The test patch itself wasn’t too scary, we started with the lowest setting, and worked our way up until I could feel a heat sensation and a, what I can only describe as, a feeling of being pinged by an elastic band. 

After 24 hours, my test patch was absolutely fine - so I booked in for my first full treatment. It's cheaper to book in bulk treatments, and as you tend to need 6-8 sessions for the best results I've booked myself in for 6 treatments.

The first thing that was done was my legs were marked up into patches, I looked a bit like a joint of gammon in the butchers! This marking up was so that no area was missed, and so that no area was lasered twice. 

These photos are from before and during the treatment, you’ll notice my legs don’t look very hairy. That’s because you actually shave the day before your treatment, you only need a really tiny bit of growth for the laser to pick up the hairs - which makes this treatment great, much better than with waxing where you have to allow the hair to grow a fair bit!

This photo is probably the weirdest I've ever put on my blog, and my apologies if it's just quite gross! This is my armpit after 4 days of not shaving, which after just 1 laser session I think is really quite good!

There are a few things to note in terms of aftercare post-treatment, you should avoid any strong antiperspirants for at least 24 hours as your follicles will be very sensitive. It's also important not to exercise for a day or two post treatment also, as again, your follicles are sensitive and open so you don't want to get sweat in them or heat them up.

To read more about laser hair removal, click here to read my last post.


Thursday 10 July 2014

Italy by Rail - Turin

I've always wanted to do a full Europe by rail trip - but having a full time job rather limits the amount of time I can go away for. On the other hand, no job... no money to travel! The answer seemed to be to take one country at a time. 

Italy first! I booked my flights a few months in advance for myself and my friend Grace. We would fly into Turin and 9 days later fly out from Rome. The rest of the trip from taxis to trains, accommodation and where we would visit were all up in the air until 24hrs before we left! 
I'd never particularly wanted to visit Turin before, but the flights were cheap, so decision made. I'd already been to Rome, but it's so spectacular I was happy to visit the city again!

Day One: Turin

We arrived in Turin pretty exhausted as our flight left from Stansted at 7am, which meant waking up at about 4am!! I get quite anxious before I travel, so I didn't sleep particularly well the night before anyway.

Turin airport to our hotel was a bit of a trek; firstly we had to navigate the confusing train ticket machines at the station. Note: if you're using these, don't think oh what a great way to break a note, the ticket machine doesn’t give you change in the cash sense, instead you are printed a receipt with the value of your change on it. I later found out that you can exchange this for cash if you can find a ticket office. After 20 minutes of scrambling around with maps, and our Italian phrase book, we successfully negotiated the ticket machine and made it all the way to the platform. We had missed our train by just a few minutes… Ughhh! So we waited for the next train, I think it was around a 40 minute wait, though it was a Sunday so perhaps trains are usually a little more frequent.

Success - on the train, and made it to our stop, now to figure out the bus we needed to be on. In hindsight, a taxi would have been a better option. The bus ride was 20 minutes or so, I had checked the timetable so knew to count 8 stops along in my head to arrive at the correct destination.

The hotel was just a few minutes’ walk from the bus stop. Our room was pleasant enough; we decided to make the first night as cheap as possible. Another thing to note in Italy, don’t arrive on a Sunday – everything is closed!!! Perhaps not in the bigger cities, but Turin was a little bit of a ghost town. We really needed to buy some bottles of water, wandering around, we stumbled upon some ‘vending machine shops’, which we later realised were ubiquitous across Italy. Sorted!!

Time for braided hair thanks to my travel companion Grace, take in the sunset, and sleep… Genoa tomorrow afternoon!


Wednesday 9 July 2014

Spectacular Views of Florence | Grand Hotel Minerva Rooftop

If you want sensational views of Florence, including the Duomo, I'd recommend heading over to the newly refurbished bar on the rooftop of Grand Hotel Minerva.

Offering uninterrupted views of the city (in terms of other buildings - there's always restoration work going on around the city) you'd be hard pushed to find a better place for an evening cocktail.I sampled some prosecco which went down an absolute treat as it toasted my last night in the city.

I didn't stay in this hotel; however, the rooftop also has a pool so I think I might be booking myself in there if I visit Florence again during a sunny month.
Despite heavy downpours, 10 years on from my first visit, this City still has my heart. 

Monday 30 June 2014

Laser Hair Removal/IPL – Weighing up the Costs | DestinationSkin

I recently went on holiday to Italy with my friend Grace and we were both moaning about shaving our legs every few days. We both have quite pale skin, and dark hair (yes, despite the fact I’m blonde-ish, well, more of a mousey brown before it’s highlighted, my leg hair is actually darker than my head hair). Therefore, even a little bit of leg stubble shows up straight away.

So, as we’re moaning about shaving our legs, and how much waxing hurts – and the fact that it doesn’t last up to 6 weeks I decided that enough was enough and maybe laser hair removal or IPL on my legs was a better idea? Sure it’s expensive, but over a lifetime, must be cheaper than waxing and/or shaving anyway? The numbers…

Shaving from age 25-75 years, twice a week, so that’s probably 2 new razor blades a month? Say £8 for 2 averagely good razors and shaving foam… over a year, £8 x 12 months = £96 x 50 years… you’re looking at £4,800! I’ve double checked my calculations, and that’s actually correct! Then there’s the time and effort of shaving your legs, the annoyance when you nick your leg, or you’ve missed a patch.

Waxing for 50 years… imagining your waxed legs do actually last a while, let’s say a month for the purpose of this calculation. A full leg wax is usually about £25, over a year, £25 x 12 months = £300 x 50 years… £15,000!!

6 sessions of laser hair removal or IPL for full legs is around £1,000 – and pretty much permanent hair removal, from what I’ve read up, you might have to have the odd top up session throughout your life – but it’s pretty much a fuzz free life. 

Having worked these astronomical figures out for hair removal, and comparing with the costs of laser hair removal it seems a no-brainer to choose the permanent option. The upfront cost does seem a lot, but working that out over a lifetime of hair removal you’re quids in. Buying your laser hair removal in courses seems to be cheaper at all clinics, so save your pennies and buy it in one hit  - paying per session seems around 15-20% more expensive than buying a course.

What clinic should I use? I think one of the most important things about choosing where to have your laser hair removal isn’t just finding the cheapest place, look for clinics rather than beauticians and always look up reviews. You should always be given an assessment and a patch test before any laser treatment, if this isn’t offered – walk away, you might not be suitable for the treatment and you don’t want to damage your skin.

Once I’ve had my first treatment I’ll post up some pictures – may not want to see my fuzzy legs, but that’s the sort of blog post I love to read! Not sure yet if I’ll be having IPL or laser, during my consultation the clinician will decide which is best for my skin and hair type.

Laser hair removal works by delivering a specific wavelength of light to the hair, heating the hair follicle to reduce hair growth. The technology uses lasers of different wavelengths of light to target melanin under the skin and selectively heats the follicle, damaging and stunting hair growth whilst not affecting the surrounding skin. Whereas IPL (intensive pulsed light) is a high energy, broad spectrum light which is delivered to the skin in a short period of time. When the light energy hits the hair follicle, the energy turns to heat which vanishes the hair follicle. After 3-4 cycles all follicles in the targeted area will be destroyed permanently.

I’m booked in to DestinationSkin for my leg laser hair removal/IPL, I’ve been to one of their Clinics before and had a facial treatment which I was really impressed with (read my review here). DestinationSkin is a national chain of registered clinics specialising in non-invasive, advanced technological treatments for anti ageing, permanent hair reduction and skin concerns.  They’ve been around for over 10 years, and had really great reviews with the slogan “bringing Harley Street treatments to the High street in conveniently located clinics nationwide”.

You can read up on laser hair removal here, as well as view some before and after pictures.

Saturday 17 May 2014

A wonderful birthday spent in Brighton

Happy Birthday to ME!

I spent a lovely bank holiday weekend in Brighton with old pals from University, soaking up the sunshine, getting rather sunburnt (whoops!) and generally having a great time.

I was doing this trip on a tight budget, and spent the night in a 16 bed dorm, which wasn’t as bad as it sounds. There was me and 3 friends, some very quiet girls, a few guys over from Germany on an internship and a stag party - the tamest stag party ever.
In a way, staying somewhere that wasn’t luxury was the best way to see Brighton it meant that we didn’t spend any time in the room. Dropped the bags off, and went straight to the beach!

Brighton Beach

The next morning however, after a rather restless night due to much snoring from very drunk people in the room (yes ok, my sleep was probably also affected by my alcohol consumption, but it was my birthday after all) I was feeling less than rested. Thankfully I'd packed some Radox shower gel. My shower gel of choice is the new Radox passion fruit splash gel, it's only about £2 but it's amazing and is packed full of natural ingredients and smells like sunshine! It's incredible what a shower and a burst of the smell of passionfruit can do for the mind. I felt revitalised, and off we went for some breakfast, and spent the rest of the day hanging out on the beach, at the arcades on the pier and catching up on old times.

Passion Fruit Radox

I'll definitely be visiting Brighton again soon, would highly recommend!

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