Is this blog title slightly click bait-y? Well considering when blogging first came about, we would use any manner of phrase or song lyric that had absolutely nothing to do with our 'content'. If we get back to basics, here are literally three products I re-purchased that I completely recommend and three that I will be gingerly using up and probably not revisiting! Do any of us have the time or funds to be buying products we begrudgingly squeeze, pump and scrape out with growing annoyance until that last satisfying drop when you know it's over - you have broken up with your cleanser/toner/lotion for good! Well I do not want to waste my pocket money so here is what a good £70 at The Body Shop looks like and what I rate or hate.
Drops of Youth Collection - This juicy range hasn't stopped delivering since I wrote about it last year and each product (minus the unnecessary Wonderblur) is such a heavy hitter. There's nothing faux luxurious here - it's all about hydration and freshness and bouncy, plump skin. It literally feeds my skin! The Body Shop does three products for around £50 in a bundle and you'll be sorted for a few months. You need to try this if you have 20-something dehydrated skin and live in a polluted city. It's like you've walked through a botanical forest after adding these to your routine. That Bouncy Sleeping Mask is incredible!
Vitamin E SPF 30 - I snapped up a few products in a 3 for 2 deal along with the unpictured Camomile Cleansing Oil (slightly greasy but a great price) as I NEED an SPF in my routine. I'm so naughty for not using one every day! This one is fine and OK and just 'good enough'. It smooths on like a thick milk and sticks around for a few too many minutes in the morning. I have to pile my foundation on top and it just ain't pretty. Lovely smell and texture but not for the heavy makeup wearer like myself. The hunt is still on for a great SPF!
Vitamin E Aqua Boost Sorbet - I thought this could be a bargain replacement for the pricey Clinique Moisture Surge as it has suspiciously similar packaging, but my product was quite bitty and clumpy, as though the formula hadn't been mixed properly. The joys of Clinique MS is how is glides on smoothly, while this product felt stodgy. If it was whipped up a little further it could have been perfect. If I'm ever watching my pennies though, it could be a purse-friendly daily moisturiser.
Blue Corn Scrub Mask - I purchased this from Grand Central in Birmingham when I was having a terrible skin week. I needed something to dramatically drive all of the oil, impurities and stress from my skin and a heavy high-street mask generally works. However I never feel the need to strip my face too often and this has languished in my collection. I find adding a huge dose of moisture to misbehaving skin actually does better than to scrub everything away, but having a mask in your skincare arsenal is useful when a bit of old-school TLC is needed in the form of a magazine, 15 minutes relaxation, and scaring your housemates when you pop your head round their door.
It's September! And I've spent this Sunday indulging in AW16 and street style from Phil Oh at vogue.com. Before each season begins, I'll look back at the latest fashion weeks' attendees and take inspiration for the season to come. Here are those I've stashed, featuring mixed prints, utility, oversized or cropped fits and fuzzy fun. Bring it on!
Hello y'all! It's already been an interesting August and as I haven't had a holiday to look forward to, I've spent a few weeks dreaming towards V Festival. Bieber. RiRi. Sia. Little Mix. Um... hello ultimate fun! Probably one of the most tame festivals, this local beauty is only two days of music but offers massive (undercover) headphone discos each night and what feels like an older age range of folk probably heading to work on the Monday rather than school. I attended my first festival when I was 16 and we weren't actually allowed by our parents to camp there, which I'm quite glad about in hind sight! Aside from never fending for or feeding myself before then, I went on to hit up loads of festivals before starting University and then started returning once I was a working graduate who needed to spend a weekend completely away from running water, sleep and normal civilisation. Is it just an excuse to wear some teeny yet super cute co-ords? Maybe! It's like you're in a huge universe contained in one tiny bubble of sounds, views and vibes constantly stimulating your eyes and ears. Since planning my outfits, I've been revisiting my list of packing essentials saved from years gone by, and here are a few things you may not have considered packing but DEFINITELY need.
My ultimate item is a portable gas hair tong. Yes, they do portable straighteners too and they are pretty decent. Life. SAVER.
Guaranteed you'll be camped next to some super keen beans with a portable stove, trolley, perfectly arranged tent and loads of food. I only camp once a year so I tend to scale down on any food I take. I usually pack food for Day One only as any food I take to a festival, I tend to not use. Before you set off you could take anything you fancy as a packed lunch/dinner (I'll usually cook veggie burgers, sweet potato fries, pizza, etc, and wrap in foil) but for the following days, the only viable option is taking dried food like bread, crisps, etc, that really aren't appealing. You'll be craving proper, hearty, hot food as it could be days until your next main meal, and a cereal bar just won't cut it. There will be a stall for any and every cuisine you may fancy so if you can afford it, just eat on the go. You'll be in the arena all day too so are you going to want to be carrying food around in your backpack all day? The only thing I take is a LOT of sweets for energy hits.
Take a torch and before you leave your tent on the first day, tie it to the roof on the inside so when you return at midnight and it's pitch black, you're not fumbling around with your phone torch while trying to enter a damp tent covered in mud. Tie a bag to the porch of your tent too to keep rubbish (and wasps) out. Lots of plastic bags are handy to hold worn and muddy clothes. ALWAYS take wellies off before entering the tent - it should be a no mud zone! Before leaving your tent for the day, move everything to the middle so if the tent sides get wet, your things may stay dry.
Take a flag, balloon, stickers - anything to separate your tent from the rest as it truly is SO dark at night that finding your own tent is a very difficult task indeed.
This is not advice I condone but if you need to smuggle alcohol into an arena, take water pouches (like Caprisun pouches) as they are much more maleable to conceal than a hard plastic bottle. Don't forget a batch of plastic disposable cups too and straws if you are feeling flashy.
Ear plugs and an eye mask might feel really odd but you'll be way too tired to mind and they really will buy you a few more precious minutes of sleep before you get woken up by early birds playing music and cooking sausages at 7am, only separated from your face by a thin tent sheet. Once you're awake, you will not be able to go to sleep again so make it last!
When you do wake up, you'll have to make the sorry walk to an awful portaloo or to the tea/coffee van, probably ASAP, and just imagine thousands of hungover, sleep-deprived, unwashed people waking at the same time. Plan an outfit or suitable pyjamas that you know you can walk straight out of your tent in and stand in a 20 minute toilet queue clutching a loo roll. PJ bottoms and a hoodie should cover it - nothing that can drag on the floor. Take your usual cleanser too and take it off with a flannel or baby wipe dipped in water.
You might have your little brother's sleeping bag from his Scouts days packed but don't forget a pillow.
I learnt last year to take a proper mac as it's going to cover your outfit anyway, and those cheap colourful macs do ABSOLUTELY nothing when it rains. You will be soaking wet and clammy because they are in no way made for rain. Take a proper waterproof (I'm borrowing my brother's) and when the rain does stop, you can emerge pristine rather than sodden. A mac can also double up as something to sit on as the ground will be trashed and you will definitely be sitting at some points during the day.
Failing that, keep a bunch of hair ties in a memorable place and tie that hair back before the rain does any damage.
Try on outfits before you go, including accessories. Not having a mirror is really annoying and you want to trust in what you are putting on and feel super confident. Sense check what you will be wearing at home before you leave.
YES I am going on about outfits because everyone looks damn amazing at festivals. Unless you want to stand in an hour-long queue for those stands that do your hair and glitter, you need to turn your tent into beauty boudoir. The only way to feel half decent is to buy awesome outfits and go ALL out. Plan your makeup looks too as sitting in a field is not the time to try out a cool new eye look.
What is your day bag going to be? I'm trialling a bum bag this year but carrying a mac will mean a backpack may suit better.
This is top secret but if you look at the festival map of years gone by, you can choose a car park to aim for in advance. Instead of the stewards ushering you to the one that's a two mile trek away, we always continue into gold car park and we're literally parked up next to our tent. We can keep half of our belongings in the car until we need to refresh our supplies each morning, and if we have a tent leak again, we will be leaving our clothes in the car also. Take some cash too as they do charge you for parking - ew.
That's everything for now but please let me know if you have an amazing festival tip! Unfortunately the V forecast is rain but I'm really, REALLY hoping it is more of a brief shower than torrential downpours. Touch wood!
Hello! Last Friday was spent very differently to this week as I whizzed down to MTV Crashes Plymouth! I LOVE a festival or any music event really; what could be better than a huge mass of people totally in the zone and sharing the sunshine vibes! That feeling you get after any concert, gig or event is something you can’t replicate.
CrossCountry trains treated my bestie and myself to a trip to the south for a day in Plymouth as loads of artists crashed the town with MTV. I used to holiday in Weymouth a lot when I was a little kid and would sit in the shallows of the sea with my legs to the side pretending to be a mermaid! But heading to the nearby Plymouth for the first time couldn’t have been easier as the route is direct from Birmingham New Street. A few hours flew by as we traveled across beautiful coastline and had those essential hours to fill each other in with all of our latest gossip. My friends and I mostly will meet for Friday night drinks now but when we do, it has to be especially early to reserve a few hours for chatting.
I JUST passed my driving test (wahooooo, that’s another post!!) but there’s no reason to sit on the motorway for hours when you can hop on a train with snacks, magazines and mates and actually relax before reaching your destination! Last year we had a few mini city breaks to Sheffield and Leeds, and it’s the perfect treat when a summer holiday is way too far on the horizon, and you can reach cities across the country so easily. The CrossCountry network is the most extensive in Britain, stretching from Aberdeen to Penzance and from Stansted to Cardiff, calling at over 100 stations, and we are so lucky to live in a country with so many easily accessible cities and landmarks just waiting to be checked out.
After an incredibly smooth journey peppered with multiple cups of tea and biscuits, we pulled into Plymouth Station and strolled across to our hotel to freshen up and decide on our outfits. I had to bring about 200 options and we chose really casual looks in the end as the festival was so central in the town and we didn’t want to go overboard with glitter, feathers and flowers!
Plymouth is a beautiful mix of cobbled streets and a thriving port with a classic British seaside vibe. I had a birthday voucher for Pizza Express so we stopped off for dinner before heading across to Plymouth Hoe to a HUGE crowd against the shore. It was a festival stage of epic proportions and one of the most excited and happy vibes of any music event I’ve been to, especially as the weather held off and it was a warm summer night. We grabbed a Pimms and partied with Afro Jack, Sub Focus and Example, featuring laser shows, smoke and mega beats. The shows were blended by independent DJs from Plymouth so it was literally one long, non-stop party all night!
Feeling hyped and happy, we went onto a local bar called The Dairy that served cocktails in milk bottles before heading back to our welcoming hotel beds! The next day we browsed the port again before leisurely hopping back on the train and chilling to the max all the way home.
Thank you to CrossCountry trains from us both! For students or about-to-be students, a 16-25 Railcard can get discounts of up to 1/3 on most adult Standard and First Class rail fares AND you can also get an exclusive 10% off CrossCountry Advance tickets with your NUS extra, or Apprentice extra card. Follow their student Facebook page here!
GOSH it's hot! I'm writing this lying stretched out on my bed in the most awkward style but it's extreme weather in the UK right now and I can't find a way to sit and type that doesn't feel like I'm wearing the air as a blanket. But hey, summer is here and sadly I don't have a tropical holiday on the horizon! Maybe this will change but my friends and I always prefer to discover another city rather than sit by a pool. I'm not sure you could look forward to a week of lounging as you can with a week of discoveries, but I probably need to widen my beach destination list. I need to feel like I've accomplished something when I have time off work and I figure I can sit on a sunbed when I'm older. I guess I'm not a sun worshipper!
My holiday to Dubai in November wasn't all it was cracked up to be and was mega pricey, so we'd waited a while to book another break. I'd heard the getaway idea of spending a few days in Paris and a few days in Bordeaux, and we looked at switching that up to Paris plus the south of France. This would have been even more costly than two separate holidays so we booked off 6 days to spend in Paris! I've been to Marseille with my friends in a hilariously impulsive trip that cost just £20 to fly and it ended up being truly awesome and effortless, so Paris was the city to ticket off next. My friend is a huge Mumford and Sons fan and they were touring there at the time we wanted to go.
So Paris it was! And it was also a New York reunion for myself and two of my friends who are always up for an adventure; our aim is to be as social as possible. I had my sights set on seeing some beautiful landmarks, mixing with the ‘locals’ and drafting ourselves into the coolest circles and hotspots.
The flights from Birmingham airport are easy peasy as you’re at Charles De Gaulle in little over an hour and we lazily took an Uber to our (Booking.com) apartment; it worked out pretty much the same cost as train and metro travel into central Paris, and we all had large suitcases for the six days rather than our usual overloaded 10kg hand luggage allowance that we always abuse. We picked the central 14th arr. which had a host of local restaurants and supermarkets nearby, but we did end up getting Ubers and the metro during the day and night towards the centre of the city. I’d aim to stay as close to the Seine as possible to be the most central to the night life!
Our apartment absolutely blew us away as we were welcomed in by the owner, Bertrand. This flat was a work of art itself, with incredible 19th century furniture, hundreds of guide books on Paris culture and sights, and actual art and sculptures with their own spotlights. We charmed our way through his meticulous tour of the flat, “this is the kettle”… *extensive how-to lesson*… “this is the cleaning cupboard”… *extensive description of all items*... and he kindly left us with a bottle of champagne and a beautiful cake! What a delight. A hotel is great if you want the upkeep of new towels and a tidy each day, but an apartment crucially gave us the freedom to buy supermarket food to save on eating out constantly, and have some chill time rather than be cramped into one space. We had a hotel in New York but an apartment really worked in Paris as we did spend a fair time eating and getting ready there each days.
After a day of travelling, we browsed the local area with Bertrand’s handy custom maps and recommendations, and tucked into some fair French food with a slight touristy edge. Finding great restaurants is still not my forte as I’m not the biggest foodie but it does pain me to pay top dollar for dull food from a laminated menu full of photos. I was very torn on what to do that evening but one of my friends and I decided to head to a bar just for a few drinks as to not waste our first night, and I literally wore my matching leggings and lace up khaki set that I’d worn on the plane and just topped up my lipstick!
In the run up to travelling, I was actually the most chilled out I've been for any holiday. I had just changed my job a few weeks before and we unfortunately had a furry visitor under our floorboard at home, so I was too wrapped up and stressed about other things to spend my usual weeks leading up to a holiday knee deep in online guides and top 10 listicles. I did manage to collect a selection of bar and club descriptions, though this is an extremely hard task as there’s so much dated information online and a description of a club is so subjective. I’d managed to collect a list of decent-sounding bars and clubs though I annoyingly can’t remember the one we headed off to, which was a tiny dark hole in the wall with a basement cove of open brick-work packed with people dancing to a live band, and a bar circled with the most attractive French hipsters. It was all beards, long hair and smouldering looks, and after ordering two gin doubles that came to around 40 euros, we were slightly apprehensive this would be an EXPENSIVE holiday! A band of older dudes joined the first band on the tiny stage and they encored to the crowd’s delight, and we had a giggling gossip before heading home around 1am as we had to be up and out the next morning for DISNEYLAND!
Now I’m not the hugest Disney film fan as I’m not particularly into cartoon films but obviously I appreciate Disney, the magic and a great chance to be entertained. We chose an off-peak day and the tickets for both parks were under £40 each, and we took a train from Paris straight there easily. I’m hilariously scared of rides and my friends had to coax me onto even the child-friendly ones, but we soon learnt that some queues were not worth waiting in as we spent way too long in the Toy Story area. We had a fast pass but didn’t realise you had to queue up at the start of the day to each separate ride and collect a timed ticket, and by the time we tried to go straight into Ratatouille, the fast pass ticket times were all sold out – oops! We queued up anyway for the top rides so next was the Finding Nemo rollercoaster which was actually super scary, and some 15 year old French girls in the queue were totally making fun of us behind as we waited which made for some hilarious commentary for our friends back at home when we sent an SOS Whatsapp message that we were being bullied by teenagers.
After circling some more rides on the leaflet map and making a rough order of the day, we headed back to Ratatouille and skipped the massive main queue to get straight on in the ‘single riders’ queue. If you don’t have kids that have to be with you at all times, I’d recommend taking this queue as generally you are in the same set of carriages or cars as your friends, and most experiential rides don’t need you to be next to your mates as you aren’t exactly having a chit chat during them! That 3D experience was completely awesome, and I think we then went off for some lunch at Annettes, where I lived my dream of being at a restaurant with servers on rollerskates! We made a slight error in queuing up for ages for the Armagedon ride that just made loads of little kids cry, and the Tower of Terror was absolutely the scariest thing I’ve ever been on! Especially when my friend were secretly touching my hair and I thought it was part of the ride.
A few rides were shut for maintenance but we completed them all and then headed to Disneyland Park for the 5.30pm parade. At 5pm there were spaces along the street but after we grabbed a drink, the pavements were lined with families and it was harder to get a great spot. I’m gutted Ariel wasn’t in the parade but it was a delight to see all of the characters and dancers! I assume the parade is the time when lots of families call it a day as this park was open until 10pm and there were hardly any ride queues from there on in. We worked out way around Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast, It’s a Small World and every ride that was open that day, although I was too chicken to go on Space Mountain! Soon it really was late and we had to head all the way back home, make a supermarket stop for dinner, and get set for a night out.
Another ingenious thing I did was to put in my Tinder profile that I was in Paris for a week and needed nightlife recommendations, and then swipe right for the first 100 guys that popped up. Dodging the many ‘I recommend you hang out with ME’ messages, most people did send over some great suggestions and we chose the hilariously named Le Titty Twister as our destination. We heard it was a rock club but as we stepped out the Uber, we didn’t realised it would be a roped off entrance reminiscent of New York. The door lady surrounded by bouncers asked if we were on 'the list', to which my friend replied yes and improvised with a random name, and we were let into the dark, swanky space themed on Tarantino film and playing hip hop and trap music all night. This wasn’t quite what my friends had in mind but it was more up my street, though we didn’t stay too long as it was rather pretentious and we weren’t feeling that for a Thursday night. We spoke to a few 'business owners' but whether they were real or phoney will remain a mystery!
Plus the next day we were out and about in Paris as we’d bought the Paris Pass. We didn’t end up visiting all of the sights we’d hoped but it’s always useful to prebook as much as you can before heading somewhere so it’s as easy breezy as possible to get up and GO. We headed straight for the Louvre of course and browsed around the galleries before scoping the Mona Lisa, which has apparently been subject to theft, an acid attack and a fire?! She is one rad babe.
We explored Notre Dame and had some massive omelettes by the Seine, and paid a pilgrimage to Sephora before passing some hotties in the street and getting another recommendation for the best parties. The weather was beaut that day and we took a final walk to the impressive Panthéon for a browse before heading off home and getting set for that night. As it was Friday we hit a cocktail bar first in a cool side street packed with after-work drinkers, and got an Uber to Wanderlust. The queue was absolutely massive and about five people thick, snaking all the way down the road, but we confidentially walked straight to the front and basically just asked to come in. At first the bouncers looked bemused and grabbed a guy that could speak English, and we literally just said we need to come straight in while trying to look like we were ‘somebodies’ in an aloof, prestige sort of fashion, and somehow we just casually strolled in. I don’t quite know how we do it but you just need to walk straight in without a bouncer saying yes or no, giving the air that you are meant to be there! My one friend also casually walked straight past the 18euro entrance desk and we were on the huge rooftop party dancing all night and meeting Insta-famous body builders apparently.
Satisfied but a little delicate, we awoke to Bertrand’s alarm clock of a sublime classical music CD and headed on the train to the Palace of Versailles on the boiling hot Saturday. We spent most of the time walking and queuing, and saw little of the Palace after we discovered despite our entrance pass, visiting the gardens was a further 10 euros. 10 euros for open air seemed a little mean and we continued around the grand palace before travelling back to central Paris and not visiting Opera in time. We still had a few hours before we needed to head back to get set for the night out so we hopped on the nearby open top bus tour and chundered round the sites in a bus that really felt like it would topple over at any point! The extended tour did start lulling us to sleep and we soon hopped off and onto the metro home, refreshing ourselves for another night out at the Moulin Rouge club, La Machine. After our recent experiences of club entry, we mentally prepared ourselves to encounter some super strict bouncers, but this club seemed to be super casual and it was a night called Chronologic, where each hour played music from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and then the ‘00s in order - of course! We walked in at the end of the ‘60s era to a swimming pool-style low dance floor surrounded by balconies, and a stage with super camp dancers and crowd invasions. On the hour there was a grand countdown and the next decade of tunes began. This place was absolutely awesome but IT WAS SO HOT. It was literally the temperature of a sauna and I managed only a few songs before having to go stand near the entrance and popping back in to instantly hit a wall of heat. Next time I would wear something dark and super loose, and NOT wear your hair down! It was such a party but really impossible to stay very long - it was honestly a million degrees!
The next day we had our Mumford and Son’s gig in the evening so we attempted to book a wine tour but instead went on a boat tour down the Seine, which I wouldn’t really recommend unless it’s a sunny day and you can sit on the boat roof. We were so low down in the boat that you couldn’t see any sights over the river walls anyway and listening to a telephone spiel of the commentary was annoying so we just chatted and face swapped instead! I’d choose the bus tour over a boat tour any day.
We grabbed dinner and got back to the apartment just in time to get ready again and take an expensive taxi to the Zennith arena at the edge of Paris. The arena was quite small so it was an intimate-enough gig, and though I’m not a huge M&Ss fan it was a great show. We met some French hippies and a few English guys and hung out before it was home time in a giant shared Uber.
And then it was our last day! Which was actually rather lovely as we got up slowly and packed, realised one of Bertrand’s DVD collection was a film we had been talking about all holiday, and went back into central Paris to have a meal at the cutest, most authentic French restaurant that was truly delicious and opposite Laduree. We strolled down the Seine until sundown and grabbed snacks for an evening of Saved the Last Dance in our cool apartment, before our early flight the next morning.
As I hadn’t been away or taken a break from work for for 6 months, and I’m lucky enough to usually go on a short break with my friends every few months for the past few years, it was SO a few days away that I really needed and I came back feeling refreshed and motivated. It was the perfect mix of action and chill, and my camera was playing up so I didn’t concern myself with documenting the holiday too much. I did get a few shots for the vlog below but there was no full video this time!
We're thinking about a late September break that is relaxing and laid back with just a few cheeky local bars and a whole lotta sea and sand - can you recommend anywhere? We are considering Venice!