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Category Archives: 2016

2016 – The Year of Travel

Rather than write a month-by-month account of this year like I did in 2015 and 2014, I decided to focus on one aspect of this year I have loved…travelling.


Ian and I have been lucky enough to have several exciting holidays this year and all of them hold really special memories from dancing in a Russian nightclub at 1am to drinking mojitos on the streets of Havana to zip-lining through the Jamaican rainforest to sailing around Boston Harbour in the sunshine!


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Not all of our trips have been abroad this year – I love exploring the UK just as much. We had several fun trips to London in 2016 (my favourite being for New Year’s Eve when we went to watch ‘Wicked’), took a mini-break in Wells, went camping in Tewkesbury and celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary on the beach in Devon




Probably my favourite destination of the year, the days we spent in Havana were amazing. I have wanted to visit Cuba ever since I studied Caribbean Literature at university and it was such a fascinating trip. We wandered the streets drinking mojitos and daiquiris and admired the beautiful classic cars cruising along. I am desperate to return.



We spent a day here and it was as cool and as chilled-out as I was hoping. We went through the rainforest on zip-wires before enjoying jerk chicken and Red Stripe beers on the beach.

Grand Cayman


An interesting place to visit and a beautiful destination for a beach holiday. I didn’t see much more than the beaches but we certainly had a lovely, relaxing day here dipping our feet in the Caribbean Sea.



We had a great tour of the island of Cozumel where we squeezed in a chocolate factory, the beach, tequila tasting, an artisan market and fish tacos and margaritas! It has pushed mainland Mexico to the top of my to-visit list.


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I spent a long weekend in a beautiful house for my best friend Cat’s hen weekend earlier this year. Maybe not the best-planned trip, but we enjoyed an awful lot of cheese, champagne, macarons and a day in Aix-en-Provence.



Ian and I had a mini-break here and experienced our first (and disastrous!) AirBNB. Despite a rocky start with our accommodation, we had a fab time exploring the city, stopping off at several beer gardens.



A couple of days in Stockholm have started off an obsession with the Scandi countries, somewhere I hadn’t really visited before. We didn’t have long here but did get to visit the Vasa Museum, eat cinnamon buns, wander through the Old Town and see a beautiful sunset.



I finally made it to Tallinn and it was as beautiful as I had hoped. Quaint, cobbled side streets, castles and lovely, old buildings, I really liked it here.



I never thought I would be visiting Russia but we spent a day exploring St. Petersburg and I was really taken with it. It is a spectacular city, with vast, iconic buildings steeped in Russian history. We managed to see most of it plus a good amount of people watching on the main street through the city, the highlight being the stunning Saviour of the Spilled Blood Cathedral.



I absolutely loved Helsinki. We stumbled upon several small markets and wandered along the port. I fell in love with the interior shops and am determined to return and savour some of the local restaurants.



Our final trip was a week in Boston. We love visiting the States and both really enjoyed Boston. It was a cool time of year to visit to experience Halloween and the run-up to the presidential elections and we managed to watch an ice-hockey and a baseball game as well as sampling a lot of lobster and local craft beers.

That was actually a really fun post to write as I love looking back through old photos and remembering when and where they were taken. I really do believe that travel broadens the mind and money spent on adventures and experiences is never wasted. Here’s hoping for many more escapades in 2017! xxx

Latest Purchases #104 – Four New Cups

I have to admit that I did think twice about posting this one. To some people, mugs are something you don’t give a second thought to but if you are as much of a tea fiend as I am, then you will fully understand the importance of a good cup!

I choose different mugs depending on the mood I’m in, the drink I’m having from it and the time of day so I thought I would share four new ones that I have been enjoying recently.


The first is a large white mug with an ‘H’ on the front. I love monogrammed items around my house and this mug is a generous size. I picked this up in Boston when I was craving a good cuppa!


I made another Boston purchase in the form of this Harvard mug. We visited here in October and had a great morning there, learning a bit more about the American university culture. I love buying mugs on our travels and remembering little parts of our trip when I use them.


Next, a present from my brother who actually bought me a set of two of these gorgeous ‘tin can’ mugs. They were from a little artisan pottery shop on Walcott Street in Bath and I think they are a really cool original design.

Finally, I bought this ‘tea glass’ from a café called Coffeeshop Company after enjoying afternoon tea in St. Petersburg this summer. I really like the fact that this is a bit different and it is so warm and comforting to wrap both hands around and drink from.

Beauty Review – Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balms

One of my biggest regrets this Christmas is not being able to rock a statement lip colour. I love a deep berry shade or a bright festive red but the state of my lips has meant I have been reaching for lip balms instead.


I have a pretty decent collection of lip balms but when my lips are sore and chapped I reach for the Rêve de Miel balms from Nuxe. They are bestsellers and I use both the balm and the stick formula.


The little pot of balm comes in pretty frosted glass packaging and I tend to keep this on my bedside table. I’m not usually a fan of lip balm pots as I don’t think it is overly hygienic to keep dipping fingers in but I use this before bed and it really does work. It is a nice matte texture that doesn’t disappear but equally doesn’t feel sticky or greasy on the lips.


The lip balm in stick form is much more convenient for when I’m on the go and has the same moisturising qualities. The formula is slightly greasier than the pot of balm but both have the lovely honey and citrus scent.


The lip balm is about £10 but I bought my most recent pot with my Birchbox points. The stick balms are about half the price and if you buy them from the Nuxe website they are currently doing a buy-one-get-one-free deal plus they always send a load of nice samples.


The only other high-end lip balm I want to try is the By Terry Baume De Rose but at almost £40 it would need to be pretty amazing stuff! In the meantime, this duo from Nuxe does the job for me.

Latest Purchases #103 – More Candles!

I am really into candles at the moment. I bought a few from Bath and Body Works on our trip to Boston and I love how cosy the living room looks with just the Christmas tree lights and a flickering candle. The scent it adds is lovely too and I do like to match my candles to the season so here are a few autumnal and festive ones I have been burning recently.

The most Christmassy one is this Peppermint Bark scented candle from TK Maxx. I got this as a present and think it is just beautiful. From the little gingerbread men on the box to the red, frosted glass jar, this is lovely. There is a strong candycane peppermint scent, but it is mixed with a creamy white chocolate note which stops it from being overly sweet. This was a nice alternative to the usual Christmas candles and quite refreshing.

Next, two large two-wick candles from B&M. I saw these popping up on various blogs recently with comparisons being made to Yankee and Bath and Body Works candles. There is no doubting the influence these have taken from the two bigger brands and I have to say they are great value for £2.99 each. They look great and even have the pretty embossed lids too.

Apple Orchard is a warm, cinnamon scent which reminds me of apple pie and the fruity scent does come through when it is burned.

I also picked up Radiant Red Maple which has quite a similar scent. I would say this is less fruity and more spicy, kind of like a chai latte – my all-time favourite drink. This has a strong cinnamon and nutmeg smell with an additional sweet creaminess.

It goes without saying that these aren’t quite as good quality as the Bath and Body Works ones. Only having two wicks means they don’t burn quite as evenly and the scent isn’t quite as powerful either. However, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at these and will definitely repurchase again.

From Dunelm, I bought a small Mulled Wine candle. This deep red candle smells of citrus, spices and berries and reminds me of warm cups of wine being sipped at Christmas markets. Being quite small, this doesn’t have the strongest scent but is a pleasant enough candle to burn.

Finally, not strictly a candle but I have been loving this oil burner. I bought it for Ian (he’s a fellow candle lover!) and it is a beautiful Himalayan pink salt candle. It gives off a lovely, warm glow and the little glass tray on top allows you to burn wax melts or use essential oils. I have been using this Frosted Cranberry fragrance oil from The Body Shop and it is a really nice sweet, berry scent which fills the room.

Beauty Review – L’Occitane en Provence Advent Calendar

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. As usual, we had two days celebrating with each side of the family and were thoroughly spoiled with presents and stuffed with food and drink!

Today has involved a big family walk (complete with some sloe gin shots along the way!), more food and buying a new kettle and toaster in the sales…rock and roll.

Despite deciding I didn’t need a beauty advent calendar this year, my lovely husband went online, read a load of reviews and bought me this one…and earned lots of brownie points!

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Luckily, L’Occitane en Provence is a brand I know and love. Their hand creams are a staple for me and I really like their almond, cherry blossom and verbena shower gels.

The calendar itself was beautifully illustrated and felt very ‘French’ too. It goes without saying how nice it was to have a little beauty treat to look forward to each day and I will miss opening it. There was a nice range of products included in this advent calendar. My favourites were the mini hand and foot lotions and the shower gels which I find so handy for travelling.

I was also intrigued by the Essential Water, the toner and the moisturiser only because I haven’t tried any L’Occitane face products before.


There were only two items that I cannot see myself using which are the two soaps, purely because I much prefer shower gels than hard soaps.


So, a big thank you to Ian for a lovely gift! I’m excited to see the beauty advent offerings next year.


Our Next Adventure…

This Christmas, both Ian and I were really keen on cutting down on ‘stuff’. You know, the kind of things you don’t really need more of…kitchen gadgets, novelty festive items, more nail varnish. Of course, there are some things I get every Christmas that are really useful and that I use all year such as smellies, good coffee, candles, books, pyjamas but Ian and I decided not to get each other anything to open under the tree this year. Instead, we decided to buy each other an adventure to look forward to in 2017.

So…we are going to Japan! (I am smiling just typing that!)


Yes, we are off next summer which gives me about 7 months to master using chopsticks! We are starting in Tokyo then visiting Mount Fuji on the famous Bullet Train.


After that (and the main reason we are visiting in July and August) we are going to the famous summer festivals that occur in Akita and Aomori. In Akita, we will see the Kanto Matsuri festival where the streets are lit up with ornate paper lanterns and performances and in Aomori we will see the Nebuta Matsuri festival which involves large parades of floats, traditional music and dancing.

Finally, we will stop in Busan, South Korea, a bustling port city with a huge seafood market, and then back to Nagasaki in Japan, where the atomic bomb was dropped, before ending up back in Tokyo to fly home.

We have ummed and ahhed about booking such a big trip for the past few months but then thought that we both work bloody hard and having a holiday like this gives you something to really look forward to. There’s also the knowledge that if/ when we have children, it will definitely put some of our travel plans on hold for a few years so we are both keen to travel as much as we can, whilst we can!

So, Merry Christmas – I hope you too get something wonderful to enjoy and that your day is filled with food, family and fun! x


5 Things To Do on Christmas Day

It’s almost here and I have come up with the top 5 things I think everyone should try and do tomorrow:

  1. Wear some Christmas pyjamas. Whether you wake up in them or have to change into them after your jeans feel a little too tight after dinner, festive pyjamas are the best. I have a few pairs, as well as a Christmas onesie, so all bases are covered!


2. Have a Christmas cocktail. Bucks Fizz for breakfast, a classic Snowball before lunch or a round of margaritas, there are no rules on Christmas Day so indulge!

3. Family time. We always end up playing a game together or settling down for a good film and it is the best. For a lot of people, it is one of the few times the whole family has the chance to be together so don’t just sit there on your phone…get up and join in a round of charades!

4. Relax! As lovely as it is, Christmas can be stressful so take a bit of time out if you need to…wrap up and go for a walk, take a nap, indulge in a long bath (hopefully using some new smellies), read a chapter of a book, anything that lets you chill out.


5. Say thank you. Whether it is by phone, text, email or in person, chances are people have either bought you something incredibly thoughtful or spent the day cooking and a little gratitude goes a long way.

Merry Christmas to all my lovely readers – have a great time with your loved ones xxx

Beauty Review – An M&S Trio

Before I start, I have to mention how amazing M&S’ beauty halls are now. The last time I visited, there were a few new brands in but this time I was blown away at the selection available: Nuxe, Emma Hardie, Pixi, REN, Stila…it’s my new go-to place for beauty products.

However, as well as stocking some great brands, I have been hearing good things about M&S’ own-brand beauty so I picked up a couple of items to try out.


First up, a Cleansing Face Wash from the Formula Daily Care range. This is for sensitive skin and really does feel gentle to use. I like to have a face wash in the shower to help wake me up in the morning. This is a nice enough product but not really ground-breaking to make me have to repurchase it.


Next, I noticed this body mist near the till reduced…and it doesn’t take a genius to realise why!!! Despite the name, I love this scent. I used to wear it years ago so when I saw it, I had to buy it again. It is so fresh and light and I think the ombre packaging is really pretty too.


Finally, I am such a convert to face oils and serums now and spend more on them than I do on a good moisturiser. My Holy Grail facial oils are the Kiehl’s ones but I love testing out others. This Overnight Recovery Elixir is actually designed for more mature skin but I am starting to notice changes in my skin as I hit my thirties. This is a gel-like formula and you only need a few drops from the pipette (hands up if you love dispensing oils and serums from a pipette!) This absorbs quickly and feels lovely and refreshing on the skin. It contains hyaluronic acid which is known for hydrating skin and its anti-aging properties.  Sadly, I think this product is being discontinued now but you may be able to grab one in-store.

Book Corner – Latest Reads December 2016

I have really slowed down on reading recently and don’t seem to be getting through books quite as quickly. There’s no real reason – I tend to go through phases of devouring books then not really having as much interest in them but now I have a bit of time off work, I plan on working through the several new titles I have downloaded to my Kindle.

First of all, here are a few books I have read recently.

The Sisters by Claire Douglas


I picked this book up as it was set in Bath and I thought that the familiar settings would bring it alive more. Unfortunately, I really didn’t think much of this book. The plot was quite far-fetched and unbelievable and I found myself whizzing through it in order to finish it as soon as possible so I could move on. I was hoping it would redeem itself at the end but the coincidences were so implausible it felt like I was reading Young Adult fiction. An easy read but I really wouldn’t recommend this.

The Death of an Owl by Paul and Piers Torday


This novel has an interesting story behind it. Begun by Paul Torday (writer of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) who sadly died during the writing of it, and finished posthumously by his son Piers, this is a really fascinating read. It was another one I read for my book club but I kind of like the fact that it is pushing me to try books I would not normally have picked up. This is quite a slow starter but gradually builds as the ambition of the lead characters do and culminates in a sort of gothic horror ending. I tried to see where the switch between the writers came but it is imperceptible which is credit to Piers’ writing. If you like books with an element of political satire in then I would recommend giving this one a read.

Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris


This psychological thriller is in a similar vein to Gone Girl and Girl on the Train which I know can provoke a love/hate reaction. I really liked this book and did find it gripping, if a little OTT at times (the Thailand parts being the most unbelievable). It taps in to that idea of relationships that look perfect from the outside yet hide a darker side. It follows Grace as she finds her marriage to be a sham and her husband to be a psychotic control freak. I found this book to be pacy and tense and I really liked the ending too.

Beauty Review – December Birchbox

An early Christmas present arrived in the form of the latest Birchbox. I had just got used to the new little trays the products were coming in and Birchbox have changed things up again with this new style box. The colours are festive and the idea is that the box can be used a desk tidy afterwards which is handy.


The ‘Merry and Bright’ box contains a selection of beauty treats to use over the Christmas period and up to New Year’s Eve.


Firstly, I received a full size Ciaté Fierce Flicks Eyeliner, worth £15. I love these types of eyeliners – my favourite being the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner – so I cannot wait to try this out for some serious flicks. I have tested it out on the back of my hand and my first impression are good – it is a true black, very pigmented and applies beautifully. I hope it has good longevity too.


Next, a Benefit POREfessional: Matte Rescue. This is a mattifying gel to minimise pores and create a smooth base for make-up. I used to love the original POREfessional primer but kind of went off silicone-based primers. However, I am keen to try this gel version and see if it works any better.


I received a hair product from Percy and Reed. The Wonder Balm is a leave-in hair primer that claims to do an awful lot of things with one application! I am so fussy with hair products but will give this a go and see if it does anything for my curls.


Next, a New Leaf Deep Pore Exfoliating Polish from Amie Skincare. This is a good sized sample and smells amazing – like peaches. I try not to use harsh exfoliators on my skin too often so I will try this one with caution.


Finally, the product I was most excited about receiving – a Caviar Stick in the shade Amethyst by Laura Mercier. These creamy eye shadow sticks are fab. I have one other colour already and find the product to be well-pigmented and it really does last with minimal creasing. This colour is beautiful and exactly what I would have chosen myself. It is a mauve/ taupe shade with a touch of sparkle making it perfect for Christmas and New Year parties.


I read a blog post this week about how beauty boxes need to up their game if they want to survive in 2017. I agree with this and I think this month’s Birchbox is definitely a step in the right direction after a few average boxes. I think the inclusion of Ciaté and Laura Mercier products are great and it is higher end products like these which will keep me subscribing.