Tuesday, 25 August 2015

What's In My Bag: Festival Essentials

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My festival essentials
Dress*, sunglasses*, head-chain* - Boohoo

Boohoo wanted to reinvent the classic 'what's in my bag' blog post, so I decided to feature a few key items found in my festival bag. I've been to a few festivals in my time, so like to think I've got the packing down to a tee - so here we go...

A little rucksack is always essential for a festival (unless you're the bumbag kind, of course). It's always my bag of choice for a festival, perfect for keeping things safe and ensuring your arms are free for obligatory dancing. I picked up this little brown leather-look rucksack from Primark last year and it's been a staple festival piece since then.

Only the day to day essentials go in my rucksack - there's no point carrying a heavy bag around all day and you want to leave plenty of room to sneak a few cans in your bag too. First thing to go in is my phone, essential for quick snaps when I don't want to lug my camera around. There's always a pair of sunnies thrown in too, you never know what the British weather will be doing, so it's best to be prepared.

Along with jewellery, accessories and any fancy dress, I like to keep my makeup topped up throughout the day so lipstick and a swipe of matte powder are always handy in my bag. It's also good to have a mini pack of facewipes, for your hands more than anything! Also, everyone knows batiste is a festival essential and this mini can is brilliant to pop in your backpack.

What are your festival essentials?

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Staying active with a busy lifestyle


I really enjoy exercise, but it's just quite hard to fit it in around work, blogging and life in general. Fitting exercise into my schedule requires some serious planning, but also it requires choosing the right type of exercise for me.

I've recently started running more regularly, although I'm lucky to have a housemate who owns a treadmill so it's easier for me to stay active whatever the weather. With the British weather being as temperamental as it is, I don't think I'd be quite as motivated to run in the wind and rain! When you're on a tight timeframe, running at home (or on the roads around your home) is a great choice, as I can warm up and run 5K in 45 minutes. That's the perfect time between getting home from work and having dinner, you still have time to enjoy your evening afterwards too - bonus.

If you're even more pushed for time, then I'd recommend trying some short 20-30 minute fitness videos on Youtube. Fitness Blender are great - I really do recommend their workouts, especially the kettlebell routines. I picked up my 5KG kettlebell in TK Maxx and it's the perfect weight for a toning 20 minute work out - aim for that three times a week and you're well on the way to becoming fitter. TK Maxx is also amazing for sports clothing as well as the occasional piece of kit, pick up some bright patterned sportswear and you'll feel the part straight away. The newest addition to my sports wardrobe is the patterned top featured above, it's actually from New Look, not my first port of call for sportswear but it's been great so far!

If you've got a little more time, then classes at a gym or leisure are a good option. I find that having an exact time I need to be there really helps make sure that I'm motivated and pushes me to turn up - especially if you've paid in advance! I haven't quite got enough time for classes at the moment, as they take up a little more of your evening, but hopefully soon I'll be enrolling for some soon.

If you're looking for tips on how to stay active, then Legal and General have put together some key points for staying active whatever the weather* - it's definitely worth a read. How do you like to stay active?

*Sponsored post in collaboration with Legal & General

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Jamie's Italian Cheltenham: Review


A wonderful evening out at Jamie's Italian Cheltenham*

Last week, Josh and I were invited to visit Jamie's Italian restaurant, in the heart of Cheltenham, to test the menu. Housed in the town's former court rooms, the building is beautifully old, grand and spacious with some of the original features, such as the judge's table and jury box, still remaining. Perhaps not a normal point to bring up in a restaurant review, but the bathrooms are amazing in this venue. They're deep in the dungeon-like cellar, through winding brick tunnels lined with barred cells. It really does make you feel like you've been transported back to the days when the building was still a working criminal court.

I'm sure you're here to read all about the mouthwatering dishes in the photos above, rather than the toilets, so I will move swiftly on. After choosing our own table and being seated by the very attentive waiting team, we browsed the drinks menu. Josh opted for a glass of merlot, whereas I went for a non-alcoholic Ginger and Mango Mojito. It tasted every bit as good as it looked - fruity, fresh, minty and topped off with a slight spicy kick from the ginger beer.

To start, we ordered the Artisan Breads and the World's Best Olives on Ice - with a name like that, we had to give them a try! The artisan bread board consisted of a selection of crisp crackerbread, soft foccaccia, herbed ciabatta and more. Along with the bread came olive oil, balsamic vinegar and an olive tapenade - delicious! The olives on ice were equally as tasty, being chilled makes them extra fresh.

Following our starters, I chose Turkey Milanese for mains - a flattened turkey breast stuffed with proscuitto, cheese and topped with a fried egg and shavings of summer truffle. A super rich and indulgent dish, with plenty of flavour and texture. We had a portion of Funky Chips, coated with garlic and herbs, which were perfect to dip in the runny egg. Josh chose one of the specials for the day, a vegetarian pasta dish with loads of fresh, seasonal vegetables in a light sauce. Being completely honest, we thought the dish was a little expensive at around £14 despite being tasty. Apart from a couple of pastas and salads, there aren't that many veggie dishes on the menu so make sure you check the specials board too, for more options.

Finally, we indulged in pudding - my favourite part of the meal! Josh went for the Epic Brownie - a warm, gooey, chocolatey brownie topped with ice cream, chocolate fudge sauce and popcorn. I made him share a little spoonful with me because it looked so incredible and I'm glad I did! I chose a slightly lighter pudding, the Raspberry and Honeycomb Pavlova. It was delicious, with fresh mint complimenting the raspberry perfectly and the honeycomb adding crunch to the soft cream and gooey marshmallow centre of the meringue. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Jamie's Italian - the food and drinks were delicious, especially the puddings. All the staff in the Cheltenham restaurant were wonderfully attentive and knowledgeable too, they made sure everything was spot on throughout our meal. I'd recommend making a trip to the Cheltenham restaurant, try the olives to start, pavlova to finish... oh, and make sure you visit the toilets too! 

*Jamie's Italian kindly invited us for a complimentary meal in order to accurately write this review

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Nailbox Review: a nail product subscription

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nailbox june review

The postie bought a very exciting parcel to my door last week - a brand new subscription box. It's not like the others - there are no tiny perfume samples, another face mask, or hair oils - but instead, a selection of full size nail products. And we all know, there's always room for that extra polish that's just a fraction of a shade different to the one you already have, but still... essential

Each month the box will contain 3 or 4 polishes, plus 1 or 2 nail accessories and will cost you £15. June's box contains (from left to right) Tanya Burr 'Mischief Managed', Nails Inc 'Colville Mews', Essie 'Roarrrange', Seche Vite Topcoat and Elegant Touch cuticle clippers. I was seriously impressed with the contents of the box for the price, it's amazingly good value. £15 would usually only get you a couple of great polishes, not four!

As with any beauty subscription box, you're not quite sure what you're going to get before it arrives (unless you're sneaky and look at those speedy blog reviews). So there might be the odd shade that wouldn't normally be your first choice. I, for example, don't wear red nail varnish so the Tanya Burr shade won't become one of my regular choices, however, it's a great shade to add to my collection for  occasional nail art designs. I'm really pleased to have received an Essie, Nails Inc and Seche Vite polish all in one box - two brands I already love in brand new shades to me and one I've wanted to try for ages. I may have squeaked a little when I saw the Seche Vite bottle!

I'm really impressed with the quality and value included in the Nailbox - if you're a nail polish hoarder like me, this is a great way to get your fix each month and broaden the range of polishes and products you have in your collection.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Outfit: Quintessentially British

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I haven't posted an outfit in a while so, when we were in the beautiful Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water last weekend, I thought I'd take some snaps of my summery tourist outfit. However, not everything went to plan, when I realised that the memory card wasn't in my camera! Ultimate blogger nightmare. Hence the low quality phone snaps - even iPhone 6 quality isn't quite good enough for a respectable blog post, it seems.

Josh and I had a rare free weekend so we decided to explore the idyllic Cotswold village right on our doorstep. Despite having lived in Cheltenham for the last 6 years, I haven't ventured very far into the surrounding countryside. Bourton-on-the-Water is a lovely village, stretched along a river running parallel to the high street, which is dotted with quaint gift shops and tea rooms. We happily wandered along in the sunshine, stopping in a pub garden for lunch, followed by more meandering in and out of gift shops. The skies suddenly opened as we left one shop, making us dive for the nearest tea room and stop for a quick pot of tea while we waited for the rain to pass. Luckily it did and the sun promptly returned - good old British weather!

I wore one of my favourite floaty sundresses, which I picked up in H&M a good few years ago now, with my grey hat from New Look. Wearing this hat makes me feel very ladylike, perfect for spending the day in a quintessentially British village. We need to make the most of our lovely local sights, so I have a feeling that Josh and I may be visiting more of The Cotswolds very soon.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Keeping on trend: glasses

lifestyle blogger UK
UK lifestyle blog

I've had to wear glasses or contact lenses constantly for almost 10 years now, but in more recent years, I've been wearing contacts almost all day every day... until earlier this year. I started my new job and suddenly couldn't wear my contacts when looking at a computer screen without getting horrendous migraines, despite doing this previously! Numerous trips to the opticians didn't get to the bottom of the issue, so I had to start wearing my glasses to work.

I've always just had the one pair of glasses, as I only ever used them on rare occasions - usually when I first get up in the morning, rather than blindly stumbling towards the shower. Relying on my glasses every day made me realise how much I needed multiple pairs - worrying that my one pair would break, or I'd lose them, and I'd be stuck not being able to see! I also wasn't sure what I was going to do when it came to summer - wearing contacts with sunglasses is easy... but it's not so easy when you're relying on glasses all the time. So GlassesShop* came to the rescue, with their range of super cheap glasses and prescription sunglasses.

I chose the frames I liked, input my prescription details on the website and before I knew it my new glasses and sunglasses had dropped through my letterbox, safely protected and ready to wear. I chose the Heloise Wayfarer sunglasses* and the Weymouth Cat Eye glasses*. The process was simple and delivery was quick - having never bought glasses online before, I'll definitely be doing it again. It makes it so easy to refresh your style - glasses are such a big part of your look when you wear them all the time, why shouldn't we mix it up every-so-often and splash out on some new frames? I'm definitely going to be!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Surprises from Australia...


I went on holiday to America earlier this month (read more about that later), returning home to a very exciting parcel waiting for me, sent all the way from Australia. Seeing the Australian postmark, I knew who it was from, despite never meeting them and not knowing what it contained. Mysterious hey? Well, I'd been contacted to see whether I'd like to take part in a blogger swap with an Australian blogger. Of course, I jumped at the chance to receive a surprise parcel filled with Australian goodies - it was down to my partner whether those were things that represented Australia, or whether they were items that you purely can't get in the UK. 

I was paired up with the lovely Renée, a blogger who lives just outside Melbourne. We were matched up because we're both lifestyle bloggers posting a little bitta everything, plus we both love to travel. I was really pleased to have Renée as my partner and couldn't wait to see the gifts she'd choose for me. Opening the jiffy bag, I saw a ribbon wrapped bundle and a letter written on beautiful Kikki K stationery. I've seen Australian brand Kikki K's stationery online before and wish they were sold in the UK, such lovely paper sets and planners!

Renée had sent me the most wonderful letter - almost two full pages of beautiful purple handwriting - explaining her choice of gifts. I was overwhelmed with the thoughtfulness and time that had gone into her selection. She explained about her knowledge of the UK and our temperamental weather, so included a super soft wooly scarf which will be perfect for when our short summer disappears and the chill returns. I feel like Renée may have noticed the lack of colour in my previous outfit posts, combined with the general colour theme of my blog and chose the perfect colour scarf for me - black! It's so soft and amazing quality, I can't wait to put it to good use in the colder months. Accompanying the scarf was, another item in the perfect colour palette, a Melbourne purse. Renée's letter told how she bought this purse in Melbourne's Laneways - a bustling maze of shops and cafes housed in little alleyways filled with street art. Josh and I visited Australia on our travels last year, so Renée's tales of shopping for my gifts bought back some lovely memories. The purse really is going to take me straight back to the crazy, cool city that is Melbourne every time I use it.

Renée and I were paired up for the campaign by Austravel, who have created an interactive map showing the similarities and differences between UK and Aus destinations sharing the same names - it even shows the street views of the two places. My little town of Cheltenham is featured on there! I was very pleased to see that Cheltenham, UK was almost 15°C hotter than Cheltenham, Aus... but then it was 5am and winter in Australia, so I'll let them off.

Thank you so much for the wonderful gifts, Renée! I can't wait to see what you thought of my parcel for you x