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Latest Purchases #54 – Summer Sandals

I have a fancy-pants new camera! It’s only on loan at the moment from my Dad but I have been looking for a new camera for a while and wanted to see what difference it would make to my blog photos. I have fallen in to the habit of relying on my iPhone for photos when I am out and about but the photography is one of the first things I notice on other blogs so felt I needed to up my game a bit!

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I’m still having a play around with the different settings but here’s a little comparison of the same picture taken with my iPhone:

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And my camera:

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I kind of prefer the warmer light picked up with the iPhone but the clarity from the camera is miles better and I know I can edit and adjust the light and colour so it’s Camera 1, iPhone nil.

Anyway, today’s post has gone someway to helping me answer a long-standing question – how do you know when you have too many pairs of shoes? The answer: when you buy two new pairs and completely forget about them until you accidentally find them 10 months later!

I bought these two gorgeous pairs of leather sandals from Steve Madden last year when we were in Las Vegas and only found them again in our spare room a few weeks ago. While it was a lovely surprise, it did make me feel very guilty for buying then neglecting them like that!

First up are my favourite pair- these gold and tan leather sandals. They are quite practical but the colours make them feel a bit special. I wore these on a long walk recently and can report no rubbing or blisters so they may become my go-to pair of shoes for days out this summer.

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Next, are these tan sandals with gold studs. These are a bit chunkier and have a nice ankle strap which make them unlike any other shoes I own. I have to admit these are taking a little longer to wear in but hopefully my determination will pay off!

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Finally, my obsession with all things anchors continues! I LOVE these sandals which I found on ebay. They are really different and I have had lots of compliments when wearing them. They are really comfortable but I am aware they may result in some interesting tan lines on my feet if I’m not careful!

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Along with my faithful Havaianas and a weekly pedicure, these three pairs of sandals will be keeping my feet looking good this summer…let’s just hope this rain stops and I get a chance to wear them! x

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Restaurant Review – Bob Bob Ricard, London

It was my first day back in the land of the living today after a few days off and I’m feeling shattered. I think tonight calls for a big helping of pasta bake followed by my sofa and some good TV!

Today’s post is a review of where we ate when Ian and I went to London a few weekends ago to stay with my friend Cat. Whenever we see each other, whether it’s here in Bath or in London, we always try to find somewhere new and a bit different to try out and this time it was Bob Bob Ricard.

I tried to avoid my usual menu stalking but I was intrigued by the Russian-English fusion and couldn’t wait to try it! We arrived and were seated downstairs in one of the booths with our very own champagne call button. It was very opulent, red and dark…so far, Russian!

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We decided to start off in style with some cocktails and I had an amazing cherry amaretto sour, one of my favourite drinks with a fruity twist. Cat and Steve had the house cocktail of rhubarb gin and tonic which was equally as delicious and set the tone for the evening ahead.

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Having indulged in afternoon tea and cakes at the V&A, we skipped starters and went straight on to our main courses. I had the very indulgent lobster mac ‘n’ cheese which was heavenly. Huge chunks of sweet lobster in a rich, creamy sauce.

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Ian ordered filet mignon with foie gras and truffle gravy, Cat had chicken, mushroom and champagne pie and Steve opted for pork belly. We shared some side dishes and agreed that the food was divine.

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I made sure I had room for some pudding and couldn’t resist the trio of crème brulees; rich chocolate, fruity passion fruit and my favourite of earl grey.

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The boys also enjoyed Eton Mess and a sour cherry sorbet which looked and tasted great.

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Halfway through dinner, we were approached by the manager who told us that this downstairs area was still relatively new so he would like to offer us 25% off our final bill – we weren’t going to say no to that!

There was also some entertainment as we were between courses in the form of two burlesque-style dancers in the middle of the room on the dance floor. This was definitely a bit different but I’m not sure the restaurant really needed it.

Overall, we had a fabulous evening at Bob Bob Ricards. It was elegant, the food was delicious and the cocktails were great too. I was glad of the 25% discount as this place is not cheap but then again we don’t get to spend a lot of time in London so could justify the treat.

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Right, I’m off for a huge glass of ice cold water to try and cool down in this horrible, sticky heat we are currently experiencing! x

This Week’s Nails – Matte Pastels

Hello and long-time no see! Quite literally for me actually as I have been in bed for the past week suffering with a hideous eye infection (hence my absence on here.) My body seems to have punished me for working and playing too hard over the last few weeks so I have spent days in bed catching up on sleep and working my way through several books and a good quantity of eye drops!

Today was the first day I felt like myself again and I have so many cool things to blog about in the next few weeks so I thought I would start my recovery with a little nails post.

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This manicure is so summery and the matte topcoat gives it a bit of a twist.

First of all, I narrowed down five of my favourite pastel-coloured nail varnishes:

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(From left to right: Eternal Optimist by Essie, Jacuzzi by Sephora, Bloomsbury Way by Nails Inc, Pistachio Ice Cream by MUA and Prickly Pear by Barry M.

Then gave my nails 2-3 coats, depending on the formula.

There are lots of good matte top coats available now – I used ELF’s Matte Finisher which only needed one coat and lasted for about 5 days until some slight wear appeared at the tips.

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Wearing different shades on nail varnish on each finger has been a bit of a trend recently and I think this is a really easy way to wear it…my only problem was narrowing it down to 5 shades!

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Finally, I had to mention the immense delight I took in hearing that Michael Gove has been reshuffled out of Education today…I think a glass of champers is definitely in order! x

A London Weekend

We spent this weekend seeing friends in London and as always managed to fit a lot in. It started as all good train journeys should; with good coffee and a pastry – I am slightly obsessed with these almond croissants from Bertinet Bakery in Bath!

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After accidentally booking the longest train journey possible (!), we were soon in London and making our way across the city to my friend Cat’s gorgeous new flat.

Following lunch, we decided a bit of culture was in order so walked through Hyde Park to the Serpentine museums. We saw Marina Abramovic’s 512 Hours exhibition. I will state now that I am no art critic and I don’t want to give anything away if you are planning on going but it was definitely an interesting experience! I haven’t been to see much performance art, especially not with any audience interaction, but this was one of the strangest exhibitions I have ever seen and put me completely out of my comfort zone. Whilst it wasn’t something that I could really appreciate, it was a completely new and different experience and I am glad we tried it.

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The show gave us plenty to talk about so we popped down to the V&A for a spot of afternoon tea and cake. The dining rooms there are stunning and it was lovely to just take in the surroundings whilst enjoying our treats.

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After a quick change and some G&Ts, we were back into town again for dinner. We ate at Bob Bob Ricard, a Russian-English fusion restaurant. The entire evening was stunning and I will review the restaurant in the next few days.

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Then it was on to a wine bar for some post-dinner drinkies.

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We made it home in time to watch the Netherlands come through their penalty shootout and fit in some bad 80s-style dancing!

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All in all, an ace weekend in the big smoke with good food and great friends…the stuff weekends are made for!

 

Restaurant Review – The Seven Stars at Winsley

We had another fun-filled weekend, starting with Friday drinks at our local pub and a few bar snacks for dinner…those tall pork scratchings are to die for!

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It was our friend’s 30th birthday (the first of our group to reach the dirty 30…I still have a year to go!) so we gathered for a slice of the most delicious peanut butter cake, a trip into Bristol and dinner and drinks on The Grain Barge. This floating bar and restaurant is a bit of a hidden gem. We had great food but the constant swaying definitely makes you feel tipsier than you really are!

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Last week, Ian and I headed over to a nearby village, Winsley, for dinner at The Seven Stars. Despite it being a rather drizzly and grey Thursday night, we were lucky to get a table which is testament to how popular this place is, and for good reason too!

This place ticks all my boxes for a good village pub…beautiful building, good beer garden, a nice selection of local ales and all the food on the menu is both local and seasonal. (Sneaky fact for locals – I overheard a waiter saying they bought their steaks from the same supplier as Hudson’s Steakhouse in Bath but they are on the menu here for about half the price!)

For some reason, I was craving fish and we both ended up having fishy options for both our starters and main courses.

I began with the fish platter which was served on a trendy slate plate piled high with smoked mackerel pate, stuffed smoked salmon, crayfish, a huge king prawn, roasted red peppers and some homemade bread and butter. All elements were delicious and I could have eaten this again! The crayfish in a light marie-rose style sauce was divine and the pate was really good too.

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Ian opted for whitebait with a lemony tartare sauce and salad. I love this little fishies as they always remind me of our holidays in Spain where we would order a huge bowl of these sardinitas and eat them on the beachfront with a cold beer.

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For my main course, I had a grilled fillet of hake served on a pea, mint, lemon and parmesan risotto and some tempura calamari on top. The piece of fish was huge and perfectly cooked. I love risotto so this was the perfect combination for me – one of the best meals I’ve had for a little while.

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Ian ordered from the specials board and had halibut with asparagus, a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. This was also really tasty and when they forgot the poached egg, they were great at rectifying this mistake quickly and without any fuss.

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Being very greedy, we decided to share a pudding platter for dessert and in retrospect it was a little rich following our previous two courses! Nevertheless, we had sticky toffee pudding, fruity pavlova, chocolate brownie, vanilla ice-cream and some fruit to enjoy. The brownie was delicious, topped with a Stracciatella cream and the toffee sauce with the pudding was moreish too.

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As well as the food being amazing, the service here was so welcoming and friendly that we had a really great evening. This place is just down the road from us so I can’t wait to head back although given the number of people waiting for a table, I would definitely book to avoid disappointment!

Latest Purchases #53 – My French Skincare Haul

I follow a whole host of beauty blogs and the amount of new skincare released can sometimes seem relentless and with so many glowing reviews, it can be hard to pick out what is worth buying and the stuff that bloggers are raving about because it was a freebie!

One group of products that are always gracing the glossy beauty pages and appear on must-have lists are French skincare items. It has made a trip to ‘la pharmacie’ as important as seeing the Eiffel Tower when you visit Paris!

French women are known for looking effortlessly chic and for many it starts with a good skincare routine. It is all about great basics so I decided to overhaul my own beauty routine and take advantage of Escentual’s June offer of 1/3 off all French skincare.

I stuck to some fairly ‘safe’ brands (i.e. those that are continuously referred to as ‘cult products’) but managed to find some amazing items that will hopefully give me flawless skin.

Here is my haul, which arrived beautifully wrapped:

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Probably the most raved about product of the last year is Bioderma’s Sensibio H2O Micellar Water (£6.66). I have used several other brands’ version of this but Bioderma’s is the best and I love using this as a refreshing make-up remover.

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Sticking with Bioderma, I also bought the Atoderm PP Foaming Gel (£4.50). I love using a foaming face wash in the shower in the morning and this looks good stuff.

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My third Bioderma product is the Sebium Hydra (£6.66). This moisturiser has rave reviews and as it seems quite rich, I plan on trialling it as a night cream.

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Next, a few products from La Roche-Posay, who are experts in solving skin complaints. First up the Effaclar Duo + (£10.33), a hero product for blemish treatment. I am fortunate in that I don’t really suffer from spots very often but it’s good to know that when the odd one appears, I have this product to help repair the skin. I have also seen this used as a make-up base so I will give that a go too!

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I also ordered a face scrub by the same brand (£6.66). I don’t like using harsh scrubs on my skin but this was described as an ‘ultra-fine scrub’ so it sounds as though it will lightly exfoliate.

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Not strictly skincare but I spotted this BB Cream (£10) and ordered the light shade. I love the fact this contains SPF20 and moisturises and smooths as well as offering some coverage on those days when you don’t want to wear a heavier foundation.

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Next, two products from Nuxe who I always associate with luxury products. I love anything rose-scented and this Melting Cleansing Gel (£8) was the product I was most looking forward to using! I always use these gel or hot cloth cleansers for removing make-up and can’t wait to try this out.

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Also by Nuxe, I bought the Ree de Miel Lip Moisturising Stick (£3.66). A bit more than I would usually spend on a lip balm, I admit I fully succumbed to blogger hype with this one but it smells amazing and feels incredibly moisturising.

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I decided to try a small bottle of Avene’s Cleanance Cleansing Water (£2.25) as an alternative to Bioderma’s micellar water when travelling. This product has just won the Beauty Insiders’ Choice award too.

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A final note on the two freebies included with my order, a handy Escentual nail file and a sample of a Bioderma Cleansing Cream – a nice touch and a good sized sample too.

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I have never ordered anything from Escentual before (and I have to blame thank my friend Cat for pointing me in their direction!) but they have a wonderful product range so I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for any other good deals. They currently have 1/3 off their French pharmacy range in the month of June so if you fancy trying any of these chic brands then be quick!

I will spend the next few weeks testing out these new bits and bobs and will of course share any winning products!

Recipe – Summer Coolers

With all of this gorgeous sunshine of late, I have been swapping my usual mugs of tea for something a bit cooler and more refreshing and here are three of my favourites.

I feel a bit cheeky calling them ‘recipes’ as they are more of a suggestion if you are stuck for something a bit different to drink when the sun comes out.

Iced Coffee

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I saw this idea on Pinterest so cannot take full credit! Rather than using ice cubes to make an iced coffee and end up with a watered down drink, simply brew some strong coffee in a cafetiere then freeze it in ice cube trays. When you want an iced coffee, simply pour a glass of cold milk, add your coffee ice cubes and you have a quick and easy drink. I add a little shot of rum or amaretto sometimes to turn it into a cocktail too!

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Bloody Mary

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Continuing on the cocktails, Ian and I have really got into Bloody Marys lately. I always order one of these whenever we fly but Ian’s homemade version is ten times better! I asked him for a recipe but I think we just follow the basic rule of ice, a glug of decent vodka, a dash of Worcester sauce, a dash of Tabasco or hot sauce and then top up with tomato juice and give it a stir with a stick of celery…yum!

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Mint and Cucumber Water

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Finally, when you want something really simple and thirst-quenching, having a jug of this to hand in the fridge is a godsend! Simply slice up some cucumber, grab a handful of mint and throw them in a jug of water. The mint and cucumber will gently infuse for a delicately-flavoured drink.

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