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Holiday Wardrobe

Ahhhhh that first night in your own bed after you have been away is always so good!

It’s amazing what a holiday can do for the soul. I am not normally a morning person but I was up and dressed super early today and really keen to work my way through my to-do list to get some cooking, baking and tidying done before my friend Lucie arrives for the weekend later on today.
Over the past few weeks, I have really enjoyed seeing the ‘What’s in my bag’/ Holiday Lookbook posts from other bloggers so thought I would share my compact holiday packing. I say compact as we shared a suitcase this time *side eye at Easyjet for charging £50 per bag* and let’s just say Ian doesn’t exactly pack light which meant I had to!
I realise that most people could still have cut down to about 2 or 3 dresses and just changed their look with accessories but bear in mind that a) I would usually take double this amount and b) I manage to spill something down myself with alarming regularity!
First up, the dresses. I decided to take 6 dresses to wear for the 6 evenings we were away and tried to choose a variety of styles and colours:

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1) Kimono-Style dress from ASOShol17
2) China-Print maxi dress from Primarkhol18
3) Neon and lace dress from Matalanhol19
4) Scallop-edged blue dress from New Lookhol20
5) Gold and cream dress from Matalanhol11
6) Orange sequin dress from M&Shol12
Next up shoes. 2 pairs of flip flops for around the pool (Blue Havaianas and Black Marc Jacobs) and 2 pairs of sandals (ebay Anchor sandals and gold and tan Steven Maddens) to wear in the evening:hol2

Then I took a jumper in case it was chilly (Red cable-knit from ASOS)hol13
A couple of T-shirts (Black lace from H&M, grey from Mango)hol14 hol15
Some vest tops (both from GAP)hol6
Bras and Pantshol7
1 swimming costume and 1 bikini (Debenhams)hol9
3 little dresses to wear around the pool (Zara, H&M and Primark)hol10
A pashmina for the plane (I always get cold on flights)hol4
And finally, 2 bags; 1 clutch bag for the evenings (Guess) and 1 tote bag for around the pool (Oliver Bonas)hol3
I am quite proud of my packing this time around and I actually managed to wear everything I took with me!hol1
Now, if only I could be a bit more ruthless with my jewellery…hol5

Majorca

Well we are back feeling relaxed, rested and sporting some lovely tan lines. After stopping off on the way home for the essentials, the first things I did when we walked through the door were to put the kettle on for a brew (tea just doesn’t taste same abroad!) and watch this week’s episode of the Bake Off…priorities!

I have now sorted the more practical things such as laundry, unpacking and picking up another hire car (mine has been in the garage for over a month now!) and Ian has crashed out on the sofa so I thought I would trawl through our holiday photos and share our week away.

Without sounding ridiculously unappreciative, this wasn’t an all-singing, all-dancing activity-packed holiday for us – quite the opposite! We just wanted to relax and enjoy the sun, good books, good food and a bit of Spanish culture. We both have jobs where we find it quite difficult to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day, which as you probably know can be exhausting, so a chilled out week away was exactly what the holiday doctor ordered.

We only booked the holiday three days before we left so I can’t say we had our heart set on Majorca but I love Spain and I have visited the island a couple of times before and always loved the beaches.

As always for me, the holiday begins at the airport with some duty free shopping…

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But before long we were off and enjoying a Bloody Mary with a view…

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We had quite a late flight and didn’t end up getting to our hotel until after midnight but here were my first views of our location from the restaurant…

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Not a bad view to eat your croissants over (or drink your Buck’s Fizz if you are my husband!)

As you can probably see, our hotel was situated upon a cliff surrounding a lovely little cove meaning we were overlooking the sea and had beautiful sunrises and sunsets to admire every morning and evening.

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We opted to go all-inclusive and were really impressed by the quality and variety of food available; salads, joints of meat, paella, risottos, seafood, pastries, cheeses…they had it all!

Most days, the weather was glorious so our days were spent reading, cooling off in the pool, jumping into the sea and snorkelling amongst the fish, eating, drinking with the odd siesta thrown in for good measure.

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Unfortunately, we did have one rather overcast day but rather than hang around at the hotel, I booked us on a boat trip to the nearby capital of Palma. One of the benefits of staying in a hotel right on the sea was the boat picked us up from our hotel jetty! It was a glass-bottomed boat but we only managed about 5 minutes down there before the swaying and movement of the waters made us both feel a bit seasick!

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Palma has a stunning cathedral and castle so they were our first stops after embarking, then we explored the narrow, winding side streets, stopping off for a chai and cake and of course a trip to El Corte Inglés and Sephora for me!

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Palma is a stunning city and part of me wishes we had a bit more time to explore it but it was a short but very sweet trip.

On our final night, we had a local flamenco group visit the hotel and perform in a cave overlooking the sea. The location was great and the dancing even better. Ever since I visited a really good flamenco club in Madrid with my friends Lorna and Collette during our year abroad in Spain, I have loved it. I am by no means a dance expert but there is something about the movements, the song lyrics, the clapping and the guitars that are just mesmerising to me. I even forced Ian into having a cheesy picture with the dancers after the show!

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We had a horribly early flight home this morning but I made sure I found time for just one more sunrise…

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This Week’s Nails – My Holiday Mani/ Pedi

We are off on holiday today so just a quick post to share my holiday manicure and pedicure.

Toes first as, let’s face it, they aren’t quite as interesting!

I don’t really tend to attempt much nail art on my toes and I wanted a bright shade that will look good with a tan. I chose ELF’s Fire Coral, a lovely coral red colour.

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For my nails, I went for another ELF shade, this time Mint Cream, which is one of my favourite colours. I was going to leave them plain but at the last minute decided to add some glitter half moons using Essie’s Beyond Cosy. I use nail tip stickers to create this effect as I don’t have a steady enough hand to paint it on freehand!

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I sealed both colours with a layer of Seche Vite and am hoping they will last the week with no chipping.

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Well I need to go and finish packing now so I will see you again in a week’s time! x

Before and After – Hallway and Landing

Hello! I am very excited to finally share the makeover that has taken place in our hallway over the past few months. It is the first area you see when you walk through the front door so I was sick of it looking so shabby and being a dumping ground for all our bags and work stuff.

I have to admit that I didn’t do this one single-handedly. We used a painter and decorator for the bulk of the job and although I am usually a DIY advocate, I didn’t fancy balancing precariously on ladders painting the high ceilings in our hallway! We used Martin from here and I can’t recommend him enough. He was prompt, friendly, and really tidy and the finished result was excellent – definitely better than what I could have managed in a week.

Anyway, as always here some of the ‘before’ pics…

As you can see the bannisters were worn, chipped and painted with a horrible brown fake-wood effect:

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The walls were a nondescript pale blue colour with some peeling swirly wallpaper thrown in for good measure:

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The previous owners seemed to love painting the skirting boards and coving in different colours and here you can see the blue shade they picked out…in my opinion these should always always always be white!

The carpet was worn and patterned and the doors on the landing were a grubby brown colour with really ugly handles:

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We did start the decorating job ourselves by trying to remove decades worth of paint from the bannisters – I think we counted over 7 different layers!

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This was really slow work for us and so messy…

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Ultimately, it came to an end when I was hanging almost upside down over the bannisters with the heat gun trying to address the underside of the hand rail when my hair got caught up in the motor of the heat gun and promptly fused it – whoops!

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We also had a new front door fitted, new double glazed windows and had a wall replastered before we started decorating – I’ve always wanted a red front door and I love ours!

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As soon as we called in Martin, I realised the different between my version of DIY and a professional’s! He got to work stripping the old paint off the bannisters in a few days and prepping the doors, walls, skirting boards and coving.

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I decided to go for grey on the walls. At first I wanted an off-white grey but then decided that against white woodwork, I wanted a darker colour so opted for Soft Shadow by Crown, a sort of purple-toned grey which was not too dark yet contrasted against the white. I have to admit I was unsure when the first coat went on (I thought it might be a bit too dark) but now I love it and we have enough windows so that the hallway always feels bright.

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When Martin finished, it was time for the fun part – shopping for accessories and customising some furniture!

We had a new grey carpet fitted which is so soft and springy

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To tie in with the red front door and to add a pop of colour, I chose this statement lampshade from IKEA

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On the windowsill of the landing, I added three succulents in pretty pots

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I hung the print I bought for Ian on our first wedding anniversary

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Martin also attached vintage-style door handles to all of the doors upstairs

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I thought for a long time about the entrance hall as I wanted it to look really good when you first walk through the door.

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My Mum and I painted this radiator cover white to match the woodwork.

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Above this Ian hung a new mirror, which I thought looked quite vintage

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I also upcycled an old coffee table into a white telephone table

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I had a bit of a dilemma about how to hide all the gadgets and wires but a white storage box did the trick!

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We also hung our silver antlers coat hanger (a present I bought Ian for Christmas) near our stag…I think we have a thing about deer and antlers!

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Finally, our striped chair (which we didn’t quite know where to put) adds a finishing touch and makes it look a bit more homely and cosy.

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Et voila! From old, tired and dated blue to modern, clean and fresh grey and white. I don’t think a room is ever ‘finished’ as I am constantly adding bits and bobs to different spaces but this is finished enough for me to share it and I love walking through the front door to see how it has all come together!

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Recipe – Sausage, Tomato, Pesto and Goats Cheese Tart

Today has been a whirlwind of finishing off my DIY projects, trying to decide where to put the artwork in our newly painted bedroom, getting laundry done ready for our holiday (2 more sleeps!) and a quick trip in to town to get my eyelashes tinted…phew. Tomorrow shall no doubt include more of the same as well as loading up my Kindle with some new reads and a quick mani/ pedi.

As we are going away, I am trying to use up what is left in our fridge and all of the ingredients in today’s recipe needed to go!

This tart has a lovely meaty quality from the ‘crumbled’ sausages yet a burst of different colours, flavours and textures from the other ingredients. My intention was to eat a slice with some salad but it was so good that both Ian and I missed out the healthy part and just feasted on the tart!

Ingredients

2-3 good quality sausages

1 pack of shop-bought puff pastry

Half a jar of pesto

A small tray of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

100g of goats cheese

Salt and pepper

A pinch of dried sage

How to make it

  • Begin by preheating your oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4
  • In a frying pan, squeeze the sausage meat out of its casings and fry for a few minutes until it begins to resemble cooked mincetart2
  • Using a rolling pin on a floured surface, roll out your pastry until it is the size and shape of your oven traytart1
  • Use a sharp knife to score around the edge
  • Spread a layer of pesto on the base of your tarttart3
  • Next, spread out your cherry tomatoes evenlytart4
  • Spoon over the cooked sausagetart5
  • Finally, slice or crumble your goats cheese and disperse evenly on the tarttart6
  • Season with salt, pepper and sage then pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes (you may need a few minutes longer to ensure it is golden brown)tart10

Try to be good and enjoy this warm with a salad or copy us and scoff the whole lot in one go!

Beauty Review – July Birchbox (and yes I know it’s August!)

We have booked a holiday woooooooohoooooooo! In super last-minute and disorganised fashion, Ian and I leave for sunny Spain (well, Majorca!) on Thursday for a week of sun, sea and sangria. I cannot wait and can now stop the arduous task of spending hours scrolling through holiday websites then checking the good deals against tripadvisor! We seem to have booked a great hotel with lots of nice facilities, no kids(!), a pool overlooking the beach and close to the capital Palma which I have heard is beautiful. We are going All Inclusive meaning I can eat and drink nonstop all week and justify it by ‘getting our money’s worth’! hehe

I now need to spend the next few days packing and in order to keep my luggage light enough for some booze on the way home, I will be raiding my recent Birchboxes for some samples to take with me.

(What a seamless link to today’s post…maybe nobody will notice I am almost two weeks late reviewing July’s Birchbox?!)

I was quite excited to open this month’s box as it was much heavier than usual! Here is my first peek inside:

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The reason for the extra weight was this carton of Vita Coco which came in a lemon flavour. There’s no denying coconut water is the trendy drink to be seen with now and I know it is meant to have wonderful hydrating qualities but the plain version just tastes like sweat to me (I have also heard it compared to ‘the taste of bad breath’!) I popped this version in the fridge and I have to say that the addition of the lemon flavour made it much more palatable and it was definitely refreshing on a hot day.

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Next was a body butter by Whish. I haven’t heard of this brand before but lavender is one of my least favourite scents so this will be passed on to my Mum.

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I like Weleda products so will probably take this nourishing shampoo with me on holiday. It is a non-lathering formula which I’m not used to but I like the fact that this is a completely organic and natural product.

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I was very excited to see this eye cream by Balance Me too. I have tried a couple of products from this brand and really loved them so look forward to trying this out.

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Next, a Gilchrist and Soames mineral bath with sea kelp extract. This recent spell of rainy weather has got me craving hot chocolates and bubble baths so I will definitely add some of this to my next bath.

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Finally, a Laqa & Co chunky lip pencil in Menatour worth £14. When I first saw this I really wasn’t sure. It is a colour I would never choose but once I out it on I realised it is much more sheer than it looks. It feels lovely and soft to apply and the blue-pink tint is always flattering, making your teeth appear whiter.

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To me, this final product sums up why I get Birchbox. As well as being a lovely monthly treat, it does push me out of my comfort zone with products and often I find things that I love but would never have thought of buying in a shop.

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After a bit of a disappointing Birchbox in June, it seems they are back on top with July’s offering. I am sure that August’s box will arrive any day now too…I promise I will be much better at getting around to reviewing it this month! x

 

Restaurant Review – Mat Follas at The Casterbridge, Dorchester

Ummmm….where’s the sun gone?! Please tell me this rain/ hail/ wind is merely temporary and full sunshine service will be resumed shortly!!!

I have spent today sheltering indoors whilst upcycling some furniture; a new chair for our bedroom and a table for the hallway. I like giving old furniture a new lease of life this way but don’t usually have the time to spend a few days sanding and painting.

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Today I wanted to share a restaurant we visited whilst camping in Dorset recently. For my birthday two years ago, Ian treated me to lunch at The Wild Garlic in Beaminster, a charming restaurant owned by Masterchef winner Mat Follas. I was desperate to go back again when we were in the area but learned that Mat is now cooking at The Casterbridge Hotel in nearby Dorchester so we headed there instead!

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We started with cocktails in the lounge (a little bit formal for my liking) and I had ‘Mat’s Fizz’, a champagne cocktail with elderflower and lavender. This was very sweet but delicious with the lavender giving it a lovely purple colour.

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Seeing as this meal was to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, we decided to push the boat out and opt for the 6 course tasting menu…because why not?!

To start, we had a cup of spiced roast tomato soup, served cold like a gazpacho. This had the aniseed-like taste of fennel and packed a punch with the chili. You could ask for this to be served hot but I liked the contrast between the heat of the chili and the chilled soup.

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Next up was one of my favourite things, scallops. These were small but cooked perfectly and served with black pudding, pickles and a creamy sauce.

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More fish followed with this beautiful piece of plaice (which Mat told us was fresh off the boat that morning) in a brown butter and samphire sauce served with clams and new potatoes. This was a really simple dish that just allowed the natural flavour and sweetness of the fish shine through. I would definitely order this again if I returned.

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We had a beetroot and carrot amuse-bouche next which was refreshing followed by triple cooked pork belly. Just typing that makes me hungry! This pork belly had been slow cooked for 18 hours and was falling apart when you cut into it. It was presented beautifully and served with roasted heirloom vegetables, a sweet potato puree and a big chunk of crackling.

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We finished up with two puddings, the first of which both Ian and I hated but the second of which more than made up for it!

The dish was simply called ‘Elderflower and Gooseberries’ and was in fact a delicious elderflower jelly topped with the most sour and acidic tasting gooseberry cream. I can see that the sweetness of the elderflower was meant to complement the tartness of the gooseberries but the cream was just way too sour for my tastes. This was the only negative of the meal for me but the guy on the table behind us was raving about this dish so different strokes for different folks and all that!

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I finished up with ‘Chocolate and Pear’, a lemon-poached pear and the most decadent and gooey chocolate brownie which was topped with peanut powder. I was pretty full at this point but could not resist practically licking the plate clean!

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Ian was all pudding-ed out at this point so he had the cheeseboard to finish up which had a great selection of local cheeses and crackers.

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The tasting menu was just under £50 per person which I can justify as it was a treat and the quality of the food was fantastic. The location is not as nice as The Wild Garlic but I get the impression that this hotel venue is only temporary. I did have a slight fangirl moment when Mat came out to talk us through some of the dishes and he was so keen to discuss the food and where it was sourced from.

Overall, this was a very decadent evening with a wonderful selection of food and I recommend this place if you find yourself along the south coast.

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