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Travel Diaries – Stockholm

I made a vow to visit at least ten countries this year and I am pleased to say I have now met this goal…and had a lot of fun along the way!

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A couple of weeks ago I set off on a mini Scandi adventure with Ian and one of my best friends Lucie. We boarded a ship which visited Stockholm, Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Helsinki and today I wanted to write about the two days we spent in the Swedish capital.

I feel like I am quite well-travelled in Europe but have not really visited Scandinavia so I was very excited about discovering some new places, Stockholm being very near the top of the list.

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We arrived early one Wednesday morning (having woken up at about 3:45am in a Travelodge) with a few hours to spare before our ship set sail. After hopping on the wonderfully efficient Arlanda Express from the airport into the city centre, we bought a travel ticket and set off to explore.

We had our suitcases with us and didn’t want to do too much walking so headed to the Vasa Musuem, a maritime museum located on the island of Djurgården. This impressive building is dedicated to a salvaged and fully-restored 17th century ship which sank in Stockholm harbour on its maiden voyage. I found this place really interesting and it is well worth a visit.

Whilst at the museum, we had a spot of lunch outside overlooking the harbour. I decided to go for the most Swedish lunch I could find: a local craft beer, an open prawn and egg sandwich followed by a cinnamon bun! It was a glorious day to sit outside and people watch.

My first impressions of Stockholm were good – clean, modern and the people were so friendly and helpful. I like any city that’s near water too, especially on a sunny day.

We caught another two buses down to the port to board our ship and after dinner enjoyed the most beautiful sunset sailing along Sweden’s islands and picking out which summer house we would like to own one day! I really would like to return and see a bit more of the country soon.

Fast-forward four days and we were back in Stockholm having left our boat with a full day to kill before our evening flight back to London. We dropped off our bags at the train station and bought a ticket for the hop-on/ hop-ff bus tour to see as much of the city as we could. I know they’re a bit ‘touristy’ but I do love a bus tour to get your bearings and also to find out a little bit more history about a place.

Being a big fan of the Millennium trilogy books, predominantly set in Stockholm, I loved seeing the old town, Gamla Stan, and wandering along the narrow, cobbled streets. We stopped off for more cinnamon buns, saw the city’s narrowest street, visited our share of beautiful interior shops, avoided the Abba museum (sorry – not a fan!) before squeezing in a delicious Max Burger at the airport (highly recommended!)

I always know I like a place if I could see myself living there and Stockholm definitely ticks that box. It has a good mixture of old and new and is quaint yet modern. I won’t deny it’s pretty pricy but there is a real quality there too. There are lots of museums I would love to see on a return visit as well as some great-looking restaurants to try out…I guess I need to book a return flight!

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Sunday Summary #38

Life

Well I’ve survived the first week of term with minimal side effects apart from a slightly hoarse voice and a few dark circles under the eyes! It has been a week of readjusting to huge to-do lists, early mornings, packed lunches and savouring the weekends.

Our driveway is now complete and I love it. It makes a real difference to the front of the house so I now need to get some nice pots and plants to add to the final look.

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We finished watching The Night Of and it really was one of the best dramas I’ve seen for a long time with such great actors (my favourite is the New York lawyer). We are going to start watching Stranger Things tonight and see if it was worth the hype.

My brother came over this weekend and we enjoyed watching Liverpool beat Leicester quite convincingly.

Finally, with a week to go I have set up a Just Giving page for the 5K Pretty Muddy run that I am attempting to do next weekend. I’ve never done anything like this before and am strangely nervous yet excited about it but if you did want to donate then the link is here.

Food

Our village pub ordered fish and chips on Friday night from the local takeaway so we went up to show our support.

I also couldn’t resist a box of Krispy Kremes even though the plain original glazed ones are my favourite!

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I love how food and drink can remind you of a holiday and Ian found an ale that we tried last year in Washington DC. This Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale is lovely and just the right amount of sweet.

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Beauty

I had my hair cut and coloured this weekend and asked for lots of white, cool-toned highlights. It never feels like ‘me’ when it’s straight so I couldn’t wait to wash it and release the curls again today!

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I’m not quite ready for the autumnal reds yet so decided to go for a bright, coral on my nails this week.

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Fashion

I picked up a pair of ‘ankle grazers’ in Primark this weekend which, being short, are pretty much the ideal length jean for me!

I’ve also embraced the embroidered trend with this beautiful t-shirt.

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I have been looking for a pinafore dress for ages and think I found one I like in New Look. I tried it on with a cropped top underneath but it was so hot in the changing rooms, I got all flustered and had to leave! Thinking of ordering it online to try it on at home.

Finally, not strictly fashion but something I will be ‘wearing’ for the next few months. Ian’s Mum knitted me a mermaid tail blanket which is the prettiest, cosiest item to keep warm inside as the temperature outside drops.

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Mani Monday – A New Essie

Last week, I had the lovely surprise of Ian coming home with a new Essie nail varnish which for me is the equivalent to a romantic bunch of flowers!

I received Cabana Boy,  a beautiful pearlescent grey shade from the 2016 Retro Revival Collection. This only needed two shades and gave a really fresh, clean look.

I wanted to add a bit of glitter so picked up Barry M’s Pink Sapphire Glitter, a top coat packed with pink and silver pieces that looked good with this colour underneath.

This lasted just under a week before I fancied something different and is a definite new favourite!

Sunday Summary #36 and #37

Life

Hello! It’s been a while since I sat down to write but things have been pretty busy.

Firstly, we have been on a mini European cruise visiting Sweden, Estonia, Russia and Finland. I had such a great time and will be writing a blog post about each place soon.

Sadly, my summer holidays have come to an end so I have been trying to get my head back into work mode again and get my body used to 6:30am starts! I did however enjoy my last day of freedom today and met friends for a morning of food and shopping at Frome Market where I had the most amazing meatball sub too.

We’re also having our driveway done which has meant further chaos at home but it is almost finished and so worth it.

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I mentioned in my last weekly post that our village pub was closing. Well, things have moved on quite a bit and the villagers have taken over! The pub has reverted back to its previous name of The Kings Arms and will be staffed by local volunteers for drinks until a buyer is found. I am a firm believer that you should support local businesses and we will be continuing to visit on a weekly basis.

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I finished watching all 6 series of Sex and the City and even squeezed in the two films…a summer well spent!

We finished watching The Five (a good British drama with a slightly far-fetched ending) and are now watching The Night Of which is excellent!

I also finished the two books set by my book club this week and have started reading The Sister which is set in Bath.

Food

We ate really well on holiday! In Stockholm I had the most delicious traditional lunch of an open prawn and egg sandwich on rye bread followed by a cinnamon roll.

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On our ship, there was an abundance of seafood including unlimited prawns and caviar. There was also lots of pickled food and since coming home, I am addicted to gherkins!

I was quite partial to honey beer, served in Estonia.

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With the return of the Great British Bake Off, I have found an urge to bake again. I made a pink grapefruit drizzle cake last week and am planning a lemon and blueberry cake this week.

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I was browsing through my blog for some food inspiration this weekend and found the recipe for a really simple paella. I made it again and it was so tasty!

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Beauty

I raided my drawer of beauty samples and minis for our holiday and fell in love with this Verbena body lotion from L’Occitane en Provence. A fresh, lemony scent, it was a perfect summer product.

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Ian earned some serious husband points this week when he came home with a new bottle of Essie nail varnish for me. Cabana Boy is a lovely pearlescent grey which I wore all this week.

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Fashion

I bought another pair of my favourite Topshop jeans this week in a slightly darker shade for Autumn. These Lucas jeans are the perfect fit and I wore my last pair all summer.

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There’s not much else to report on the fashion front as it’s that funny time in between Summer and Autumn where you have no idea what to wear!

Sunday Summary #35

Life

It has been my last full week at home before I go back to work so I have been enjoying some fairly chilled out afternoons, cooking, reading and making the most of my last few lie-ins.

This weekend, despite being rather cold, grey and rainy (autumn anyone?!), has been really fun. Yesterday, I went for lunch then to watch Bristol City play…and sadly lose. Then Ian and I watched The Martian and forced ourselves to stay awake to cheer on Mo Farah – I’m going to miss the Olympics when they finish.

We finished watching the second series of Scandal and it just got so bad we have abandoned it and aren’t going to watch Series 3. A shame, as it started well but just got so far-fetched in the end. We have started watching a British drama called The Five and so far, it is gripping.

Today, we went for burgers then to watch the new David Brent film, Life on the Road. It was hilarious and moving in equal measure – the song lyrics especially make me cringe and laugh.

I am off on holiday next week with Ian and one of our best friends so have been busy researching things to do and see. We are doing a mini-Scandinavian cruise stopping off in Sweden, Estonia, Russia and Finland and I cannot wait!

We had some sad news this week too – our village pub, The Muddy Duck, which we go to on a weekly basis is closing down. We were gutted when we read the notice on the door and Ian was on about moving as we love having a good pub in the village! I’m hoping a buyer is found soon and it doesn’t have to close but I am so sad it is changing hands and have so many good foodie memories there.

Our new bed arrived this week and it’s copper! I think it looks beautiful and I will write up a mini room tour in a few weeks when our new furniture and accessories have arrived…copper and leaf prints will feature heavily.

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Finally, I listened to Nadiya Hussain’s Desert Island Discs (last year’s Bake Off winner) and it moved me to tears. I already loved her but hearing her talk about the struggles she faces as a British Muslim and how she deals with it in such a dignified way was very moving.

Food

Is it just me, or do you find a food that you love then eat nothing but that until you are sick of it?! Well, I have discovered this honey flavoured Greek yogurt and have had it with blueberries every morning for the past week and am so obsessed I have 4 more tubs of it in my fridge.

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Alongside the yogurt, I have also been having these rose and pineapple flavoured toasted sesame seeds my friend Lucie picked up for me at a food market. These seeds are delicious and really go with my new favourite breakfast.

Beauty

I had a big clear out of my nail varnish collection this week and blogged about it. I honestly thought most people had this many bottles too but a few comments on social media have alerted me I have a bit of a problem!

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I’m not usually that fussy with shower gels – I tend to pick something that smells nice but this one from Dove is lovely to use. It is so luxurious and creamy and my skin feels really soft and moisturised after using it.

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I had managed to rack up a fair few Birchbox point (little tip – always do the quick reviews online to add to your points total!) so bought myself another tube of Model Co More Brows. I love this stuff as it not only adds colour to my fair brows but also contains microfibers to fill in any gaps.

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Fashion

I blogged about my new summer sandals this week and have been wearing them all trying to decide which are the comfiest pair to take on holiday with me next week.

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I ordered some new rings this week. I flit between gold and silver jewellery and I love these chunky, silver cut-out rings.

Latest Purchases #99 – Summer Footwear

Over the past few months, I have bought a few new pairs of sandals to add to my summer wardrobe so thought I’d round them up and put together a little footwear haul. They’re mainly casual but I also invested in one summer party/ wedding essential.

First up, a pair of leopard print mules from La Redoute. I loved these sandals since seeing them on one of my favourite bloggers, Hannah Gale, and when she tweeted that they had gone into the sale (£9 – bargain!) I felt it was meant to be. These have a leather sole and the straps are lovely and soft.

Next, a pair of sliders from Matalan. I am obsessed with sporty sliders (currently trying to decide between some Adidas or Nike ones on ASOS) but I wanted a slightly smarter pair to wear. These black patent crocodile print ones with a chunky platform are perfect and so comfortable.

About a year ago I bought a pair of snake-print crossover sandals from Primark and I have worn them to death. I have said to Ian I wish I had bought multiple pairs so when I saw an exact copy on the La Redoute website, I had to have them. These are undoubtedly better quality than my Primark offerings and I know I will get a lot of wear out of them.

This summer, I went to a wedding and suffered the unfortunate incident that other women will understand…the sinking heels! After awkwardly standing and walking on grass, trying not to let my pretty heels sink into the lawn, I swore I would find a pair of shoes I could wear to summer weddings and parties that wouldn’t do this. A pair of wedges was the obvious choice and these tan suede ones from La Redoute are perfect. The straw, espadrille-style base means they aren’t too dressy and the colour means they will go with most things.

This next pair were a Primark steal and I love them! They are a soft black suede covered in these gold studs with an ankle tie. I like how these look on and they are really comfy too.

Finally, I know Birkenstocks can invoke a love/ hate reaction but I live in mine over the summer. I picked up these snakeskin-print ones from Primark and they have the softest suede sole which makes it feel like you are putting on a pair of slippers. They do have a funny grip on them though – I almost went flying when I walked across the tiles in our conservatory so just a word of warning!

So, 6 pairs of summery sandals which should see me through until Autumn rolls in.

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My Nail Varnish Collection

One of my jobs this summer was to have a thorough sort through of my vast collection of nail varnishes. Now, before we go any further, I must admit that I have somewhat of a problem when it comes to buying bottles of polish. I cannot pass an Essie counter without swooning and when I couldn’t close the lid on the hamper I keep my bottles in (yes, I have a nail varnish hamper!) I knew I had to have a good sort out.

Nail varnish doesn’t last forever and I knew I needed to get rid of some that had gone a bit gloopy and try to streamline my collection a bit.

So, here was my collection in all its glory (don’t judge!)…

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I decided I needed a plan of attack so I sorted the bottles into reds, purples, greens, nudes, bright pinks, black and greys, blues and glitters.

Then it was a case of swatching every shade to check the formula was still good and that I really loved the shade. I managed to get rid of 40 bottles of nail varnish which I will pass onto my mum and friends.

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Here are the bottles that made the cut:

The Reds

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You cannot beat a classic red and I think these bottles cover everything from deep, vampy reds to bright orange-tinged corals. Sadly the bottle of Barry M red nail varnish I wore on our wedding day had gone a bit gloopy so I am allowing a temporary lifting of my nail varnish spending ban to repurchase it.

The Greens

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I managed to cut these down to my absolute favourites – I had so many pastel mint greens. The Barry M one on the bottom row is a concrete-effect textured one that I like to wear a lot.

The Purples

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I don’t feel like I wear purple that much on my nails so I was a bit surprised to see how many I had! The two Revlon shades on the top row are part of the Chroma Chameleon range and are really stunning shades.

The Bright Pinks

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I had about 5 shades the exact same tone of pink so I picked my favourite formulas here. The Seventeen bottle on the top row is a 10-day wear nail varnish and is really long-lasting.

The Black and Greys

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Again, I was surprised I had 7 black nail varnishes (a throwback to my goth days! Ha) so only kept the ones I love. I think the Chanel nail varnish is the most expensive one in my collection. I also love the pale grey Ciate bottles on the bottom row.

The Blues

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I was on a search for the perfect navy blue nail varnish for years so had quite a few in my stash. I love the bright blue from Nails Inc on the top row and it was a freebie I got with some toothpaste years ago!

The Nudes

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It seems that a nude shade is my weakness as I had loads to sort through. I just think a peachy nude shade looks so clean on the nails, especially if you don’t feel comfortable wearing bright colours. My all-time favourite nail varnish from Nails Inc, Porchester Square, is  in the top right of the picture…I actually had 3 bottle of it!

The Glitters

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For someone who prefers to wear glittery nail varnish around Christmas, I have managed to collect quite a few bottles. I have had the Ciate advent calendar for the past few years and that always contains a fair selection of glitters. Some of these are just top coats whereas others are an actual glittery nail varnish. My absolute favourite nail varnish in my whole collection is in here: the rose gold OPI shade on the 3rd row.

The Nail Toppers

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I do like my nail art and I had 10 bottles of Ciate nail toppers ranging from mini pearls to sequins to glitter. Sadly, I decided to get rid of all the loose glitters. While they look amazing on the nail, they are just too fiddly and no matter how careful I am, I end up with glitter absolutely everywhere!

So, apart from the odd bottle I have hanging around the house, this is my new pared-down nail varnish collection. I know I still have way more than I need but everyone has a vice and this happens to be mine. The other good news is that I can now close my hamper!

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