CocoChlo in Paris

Ooh la la!

What a beautiful place Paris is! So much to see and do and so much history! And so much style – I really don’t think there’s such a thing as being overdressed in a place like Paris!

I only spent a couple of days here but this is what I managed to fit in during my short visit:

Place de la Concorde

The Place de la Concorde is one of the major public squares in Paris and measuring 21.3 acres in area, it is the largest square in the French capital. Features of the Place include two identical stone buildings, separated by the Rue Royale. The eastern one houses the French Naval Ministry, and the western one is the Hôtel de Crillon. At each of the eight angles of the octagonal Place is a statue representing a French city:

  • Brest and Rouen by Jean-Pierre Cortot
  • Lyon and Marseille by Pierre Petitot
  • Bordeaux and Nantes by Louis-Denis Caillouette
  • Lille and Strasbourg by James Pradier

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Luxor Obelisk

The centre of the Place is occupied by a giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphics exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II. The obelisk once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple and is over 3000 years old! It is one of two the Egyptian government gave to the French in the 19th century – the other one stayed in Egypt, too difficult and heavy to move to France with the technology at that time. It arrived in Paris on 21 December 1833 and three years later, on 25 October 1836, King Louis Philippe had it placed in the centre of Place de la Concorde. In the 1990s, President François Mitterrand gave the second obelisk back to the Egyptians.

The obelisk, a yellow granite column, rises 23 metres high, including the base, and weighs over 250 tons! Given the technical limitations of the day, transporting it was no straight forward task and on the pedestal are diagrams explaining the machinery that was used as part of the transportation. Missing its original cap, believed stolen in the 6th century BC, the government of France added a gold-leafed pyramid cap to the top of the obelisk in 1998.

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Champs-Élysées

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is an avenue in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, 1.2 miles long and 70 metres wide, running between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is located. It is known for its theatres, cafés, and luxury shops, for the annual Bastille Day military parade, and as the finish of the Tour de France cycle race.

Palais Garnier

The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was called the Salle des Capucines, because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier, in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier. The Paris Opera now mainly uses the Palais Garnier for ballet.

The Palais Garnier has been called “probably the most famous opera house in the world – partly due to its use as the setting for Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera and, especially, the novel’s subsequent adaptations in films and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular 1986 musical.

The beautiful building includes very elaborate multicolored marble friezes, columns, and statues, many of which portray deities of Greek mythology.

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The two gilded figures on the apexes of the principal façade are Charles Gumery’s L’Harmonie (Harmony) and La Poésie (Poetry). They are both made of gilt copper electrotype. Bronze busts of many of the great composers are located between the columns of the theatre’s front façade and include Beethoven, Mozart and Spontini. 

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The Ritz Hotel

The Hôtel Ritz is ranked among the most luxurious hotels in the world and is a member of “The Leading Hotels of the World”. The Ritz reopened on 6 June 2016 after a major four-year, multimillion-dollar renovation.

The hotel was founded by the Swiss hotelier, César Ritz, in collaboration with the chef Auguste Escoffier in 1898. The new hotel was constructed behind the façade of an 18th-century town house, overlooking one of Paris’s central squares. It quickly established a reputation for luxury, with clients including royalty, politicians, writers, film stars and singers. Several of its suites are named in honour of famous guests of the hotel, including Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway who lived at the hotel for years.

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Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is a triumphal arch located in the Place du Carrousel. It was built between 1806 and 1808 to commemorate Napoleon’s military victories of the previous year. 

The monument is 19 metres high, 23 metres wide, and 7.3 metres deep. The 6.4 metre high central arch is flanked by two smaller ones, 4.3 metres high, and 2.7 metres wide. Around its exterior are eight columns of marble, topped by eight soldiers of the Empire.

The chariot atop the arch is a copy of the so-called Horses of Saint Mark that adorn the top of the main door of the St Mark’s Basilica in Venice.

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Notre Dame

Notre-Dame is a medieval Catholic cathedral and is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, and it is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world.  The cathedral treasury contains a shrine, which houses some of Catholicism’s most important relics, including the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails.

Read more about Notre Dame here.

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The Eiffel Tower and Parc Du Champs De Mars

The Eiffel Tower is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Constructed from 1887–89 as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticised by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but it has become one of the most recognisable structures in the world. The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world; 6.91 million people visited it in 2015.

The tower is 324 metres tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building, and is the tallest structure in Paris. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was finished in 1930.

The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second levels. The top level’s upper platform is 276 metres above the ground – the highest observation deck in the European Union. The climb from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the climb from the first level to the second!!

The Champ de Mars is a large public space between the Eiffel Tower to the northwest and the École Militaire to the southeast. The park is named after the Campus Martius (“Mars Field”) in Rome, a tribute to the Latin name of the Roman God of war. The lawns here were formerly used as drilling and marching grounds by the French military.

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Les Invalides 

Les Invalides is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building’s original purpose. The buildings house the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the Dôme des Invalides, a large church with the burial site for some of France’s war heroes, most notably Napoleon Bonaparte.

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Grand Palais

The Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées, commonly known as the Grand Palais is a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées. Construction of the Grand Palais began in 1897 following the demolition of the Palais de l’Industrie (Palace of Industry) as part of the preparation works for the Universal Exposition of 1900, which also included the creation of the adjacent Petit Palais and Pont Alexandre III.

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Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile

The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, and is at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. The Arc de Triomphe has an overall height of 50 metres, width of 45 metres, and depth of 22 metres. It honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

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The Louvre

I had no idea just how huge the Louvre was! The Louvre is actually the world’s largest museum and is a central landmark of the city.  Approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres. The Louvre is the world’s second most visited museum, receiving 7.4 million visitors in 2016. We had planned to visit the Louvre but just did not have enough time to explore such a huge place! I was disappointed we didn’t get the chance to see the infamous Mona Lisa painting though!

The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property.  The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. The collection is divided among eight departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.

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Inside the Louvre, find some world famous artifacts including:

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa – arguably the most famous painting in the world, due in large part to when she was stolen in 1911.

Great Sphinx of Tanis (Old Kingdom, 2600 BC, Old Kingdom) inscribed with the names of the pharaohs Ammenemes II, Merneptah & Shoshenq. Excavated in 1825 among the ruins of the Temple of Amun at Tanis, it’s one of the largest sphinxes outside of Egypt.

Venus de Milo (100 BC, Cyclades, Greece) Art Historians believe she’s a 100 BC replica, however she does have typical 5th Century BC details.

Winged Victory of Samothrace (190 BC, Ancient Greece) Her Hellenistic form merits her place as one of the Louvre’s top three most important pieces. During WWII she was evacuated with the Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s Slaves and Venus de Milo to Château de Valençay.

Luxembourg Palace and Gardens

The Luxembourg Palace was originally built (1615–1645) to the designs of the French architect Salomon de Brosse to be the royal residence of the regent Marie de’ Medici, mother of Louis XIII of France. After the Revolution it was refashioned (1799–1805) by Jean Chalgrin into a legislative building and subsequently greatly enlarged and remodeled (1835–1856) by Alphonse de Gisors. 

On the south side of the palace, the formal Luxembourg Garden presents a 25-hectare area of gravel and lawn adorned with statues and large basins of water where children sail model boats.

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Sacré-Cœur and Bell Tower

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919.

A mosaic in the apse, entitled Christ in Majesty, created by Luc-Olivier Merson, is among the largest in the world. It is absolutely stunning but unfortunately the use of cameras and video recorders is forbidden inside the Basilica.

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Cruise along the Seine

I was a bit unsure about going along to our pre-booked trip on a boat along the Seine because the weather had been so unpredictable all day but I am so pleased we went in the end. All the buildings you travel alongside are lit up beautifully and stunning views of the Eiffel Tower make this a fantastic photo opportunity!

There are several places online you can pre-book tickets for your river cruise, including Seine Cruises and good old Viator.

 

 

A fantastic trip to a beautiful place! Paris is a centre for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture – what more can you ask for in a destination??

In Love with Lush – the Valentine’s Day collection

Hey my little love bugs! I hope you’ve all got something nice planned for Valentine’s Day? We don’t tend to do much ourselves, especially when it lands on a Wednesday like it has done this year, but I do like to make a nice meal and decorate the dining room table for the occasion!

Anyway, if like me you are still wading through all the remaining Christmas chocolates and sweets and biscuits, and fancy something a bit different, then the Valentine’s Day Lush collection might include something you fancy! Here are the products the 2018 collection is made up of:

Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb

I have actually already reviewed the Rose bombshell bath bomb as part of my regular Lush blogs but it is a brilliant Valentine’s Day bath bomb so I bought another one to treat myself! Plus I wanted to use the regular sized bath bomb to compare it to the GIANT rose bombshell bath bomb Lush have produced as part of their Valentine’s Day range!

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It has a very potent flower smell – a sweet rose fragrance coupled with geranium and a slight lemony citrus aroma. I didn’t particularly enjoy this bath bomb the first time round, but this scent seems to be much more delicate, and no where near as overpowering – I wonder if Lush have adjusted the recipe for it, or whether I just had a really strong scented one the first time round? Either way, I enjoyed the rose bombshell far more this time around!

It is a fast fizzer (gone in only a few seconds!) and before you know it you have a lovely pink coloured rose scented bath water to relax in.

When the bomb is almost dissolved the centre opens up and spills out a handful of yellow rose petals, which is really lovely. As well as rose absolute, rose bombshell contains rose oil, sicilian lemon oil and geranium oil, which make it a very moisturising bath experience.

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I’m really pleased I gave this bath bomb another try and am especially looking forward to trying the giant version now!

Unicorn Horn

I bought a whole batch of unicorn horns the last time they were available from the Lush kitchen but they have had a makeover for the Valentine’s Collection!

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I used half of the Unicorn Horn in one go so this bubble bar will easily get you two baths worth. It looks amazing when you are chopping it up and when it is sprinkled under running bath water it creates beautiful bath art and mounds of lovely soft and fluffy bubbles!

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The water is really soft and silky and incredibly moisturising due to the lovely oils Unicorn Horn contains – lavender, Ylang Ylang and Neroli. The smell of the bubble bar is predominately lavender but it is by no means overpowering and is incredibly relaxing. I don’t know whether Lush have changed the recipe but I’m sure I don’t remember my other Unicorn Horns smelling so much of lavender? I will have to dig out my bubble bar pots from the spare room and double check!

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Anyway, I much prefer the look of the latest version and will always stock up on Unicorn Horns when they are released for a limited time so I’ll definitely be stocking up on a few on these to tie me over for a while!

Tisty Totsy Bath Bomb

I think Tisty Totsy was part of the regular Lush range but was discontinued. The original version was white, and now Lush have reinvented it and released it for a limited time as part of the Valentine’s Day range.

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Tisty Totsy contains seven rosebuds as part of its decoration, and once the bath bomb has dissolved, the little rose buds float along the top of the water.

Tisty Totsy is similar in ingredients to the rose bombshell bath bomb in that it also contains rose absolute, geranium oil and lemon oil but with an added extra ingredient of jasmine absolute.

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Tisty Totsy is a fast fizzer and soon the bath water is a lovely pink colour which smells of roses! I’m not a huge fan of rose scented products but this was really lovely and perfect for a Valentine’s Day evening bath! If you want to prepare the bathroom for your loved one to come home to on Valentine’s Day, then this is the bath bomb for that occasion!

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The Kiss Lip Scrub

For all this time I thought that the Sugar Plum Fairy lip scrub scent was my favourite but oh my god, this is now my absolute favourite! These tubs of lip scrub last for ages but I am still going to go and buy two more when I next pop into my local Lush store, this lip scrub smells incredible and tastes even better when you are scrubbing your lips with it!

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It is almost a fizzy sensation and contains both sugar and salt, a combination I really like but one which hasn’t been so well received by other Lushies! Thrown in with the fine sea salt and caster sugar is safflower oil, fair-trade organic cocoa butter, sicilian mandarin oil and almond essential oil to leave your lips soft and smooth and beautifully moisturised. As an added extra there are tiny little red edible hearts in the scrub as well! They look really cute but can be quite annoying when you are sat at work with random little red hearts scattered all across your chops! I thought people were looking at me strange!

I’ve done a couple of Valentine’s gift bags for my friends this year so I put a pot of The Kiss lip scrub in there for them! I hope they love it as much as I do!

Kiss Me Quick Wash Card

I wasn’t too sure what to make of these Wash Cards that Lush produce? I’ve seen some others for the range but have never really felt compelled to try them. As I was buying at least one of all the other products from the range I thought I would give it a go!

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I wasn’t too sure what to make of these Wash Cards that Lush produce? I’ve seen some others for the range but have never really felt compelled to try them. As I was buying at least one of all the other products from the range I thought I would give it a go!

I like the smell of Kiss Me Quick – it contains fresh apple pulp, clove bud absolute, mimosa absolute and tonka absolute. Basically when you are in the shower or bath you rub the card over your skin until it produces a lovely smelling lather. Although I liked the scent, I wasn’t overly keen on the sensation of using the Kiss Me Quick wash card, it felt like I was rubbing an old piece of thin leather across my skin!

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I used it sparingly as I got the impression the design of the product meant it wasn’t designed to last for several uses and, as expected, after only using it briefly, it started to fall apart and turn to mush! In the end I squashed the left over mush into my sponge and lathered it up with water but still, even for a one time use product, I don’t think I got much out of it!

It’s a good novel idea, and something which can be snuck into a Valentine’s Day card which is a nice touch but would I buy Kiss Me Quick or another style of wash card again? Probably not I’m afraid…..

Love Boat Bath Bomb

This was the one item I was really excited to try! What a brilliant idea! As I already love the Rocket Science and Yellow submarine bath bombs, I knew that Love Boat was not going to disappoint!

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The top of Love Boat is pink and blue with a lovely pink heart on the front and the underneath is bright yellow with lots of tiny little red hearts which are released when the bath bomb dissolves and float around in the bath water.

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Love Boat produces lovely thick colourful foam and this results in some of the most amazing bath art I’ve ever seen from a bath bomb!

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My little boat took a bit of a nose dive but luckily this meant the little heart on the front detached from the boat and floated around the top of the water which looked lovely!

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Love Boat has an amazing scent and contains sicilian lemon oil, organic sweet orange oil, and rose oil which is a lovely combination. The scent isn’t incredibly strong but is very relaxing and leaves your skin feeling lovely and soft – this is a definite favourite of mine! I’ve since bought three more but would really like Lush to make this part of their permanent range!

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I’ve also popped a couple of these in my friends Valentine’s goody bags as I am sure they will love them!

Whole Lotta Love Bubbleroon

I love the design of this bubble bar but it is rather small…. I can’t see that you would get any more than two baths out of it, so I cut it in half and chopped it up and then sprinkled it under hot running water.

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The bubbleroon makes a huge amount of bubbles and the water is really softening, the middle is very glittery but the glitter is really subtle when it is in the bath water. the water soon turns a lovely light pink colour and you are surrounded by lovely fluffy bubbles!!

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Whole Lotta Love contains bergamot oil, jasmine absolute, lemongrass oil, rose absolute, ylang ylang absolute and gardenia extract. Due to the amount of other products from the range which contain rose scents, I was worried this one would be overpowering but the rose scent is very delicate, and compliments the bergamot and jasmine really well. It is a flowery scent but is also very refreshing and uplifting.

It leaves your skin feeling really soft and moisturised because it contains fair-trade organic cocoa butter, murumuru butter and organic shea butter! Lovely.

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Not an absolute favourite but would definitely buy again and I think it would make a lovely Valentine’s Day present for those people who aren’t too fussed on chocolates and a bunch of flowers!

Heart of Enlightened Expectation Bubble Bar Melt

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I messed up using this product for the first time because I completely misunderstood what type of a product it was! I looked at the word “melt” and basically sat it in the bath water and watched it floating about doing absolutely nothing! It was then I realised it is a hybrid product and is a bubble bar melt! So I fished him out of the water and crumbled it under the running water. I didn’t get too many bubbles out of it because the bath was already full when I realised and started crumbling it and swishing it about! You can’t win them all as they say!

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Anyway, once I had crumbled it all into the bath, the water turned a lovely bright orange colour. Looking at the colour I was really surprised that it didn’t have an orange scent! It is in fact a delicate flower scent due to it containing geranium oil, bergamot oil, jasmine absolute, and rose absolute! I was really surprised when I read the ingredients because I am not a flowery scent fan, but I really loved this scent, probably because it was so delicate and subtle. This was one of the scents where I don’t want to get out of the bath because it feels like such a waste washing it all down the plughole never to be seen again, so I end up leaving the water in the bath long after I get out so the bathroom smells nice for hours afterwards!

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This was also a moisturising bubble bar melt (but not so much so that you can’t wash your hair in the bath water for fear of making your hair really greasy) due to the fair trade organic cocoa butter and the ylang ylang oil it contains.

I wasn’t too bothered about the look or scent of this product but it is definitely one I would buy again, but I’ll try and use it for the purpose it was intended next time!

Melt My Heart Massage Bar

I’m still not completely sold on massage bars, not because of the type of product that they are but basically because I hate moisturising full stop! Whether it’s moisturising creams, gels, sprays, butters or these types of solid bars, moisturising really is just my least favourite thing!

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The Melt my Heart massage bar is a good sized bar and every time I look at it I think to myself how much it looks like a bar of white chocolate!

I was a bit undecided about the scent of the massage bar but it is definitely a scent which has grown on me and smells far better once it is rubbed into your skin. Melt my Heart is made up of fair-trade organic cocoa butter, fair trade shea butter, safflower oil, dried rose petals, orris root powder, cypress oil, orange flower absolute and violet leaf absolute, so has quite an unusual combination of ingredients! I thought the overall scent was quite creamy (from the cocoa butter) as opposed to all the floral scents it contained, and to be honest I even kept forgetting the little red pieces in the bar were rose petals!

I used it quite a lot the first time so I could figure out what i really thought of the smell – it did grow on me when I started using it and the scent lasted a long time however I did find that after just one use I had worked my way through quite a bit of the product. I will carry on using it, but can’t see that it is going to last that long with regular use!

Cherryish Body Scrub

I’ve come across a lot of Lushies on Instagram who have said they aren’t keen on the smell of Cherryish, but I think it’s amazing! I used this body scrub once and I decided then and there that I was going to buy a couple more the next time I popped into Lush! So that is exactly what I did!

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Cherryish is made up of some amazing ingredients – for exfoliation it contains fine sea salt, ground cherry stones and dried cherries (hence the name) and for moisturising it contains fair trade organic cocoa butter, murumuru butter, organic illipe butter, fair trade shea butter, almond essential oil and extra virgin coconut oil!

It also contains vegan white chocolate, cocoa absolute and fresh apple pulp! Wow!

This scrub is amazing, it is quite abrasive so really does the trick but is also incredibly nourishing on the skin due to all the wonderful oils it contains. I loved using this product so I think I will end up using it really quickly, it’s definitely my favourite body scrub so far!

Tunnel of Love Soap

I love, love, love the smell of this soap! I bought four more and put one in my Sister’s and friends Valentine’s gift bags, I hope they love the scent as much as I do!

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Tunnel of Love is made with rose water, sweet wild orange oil and lime oil. I have to say I can barely detect the scent of rose water, but can definitely detect the lovely zesty smell of orange and lime. The soap produces lovely thick creamy bubbles which make your skin feel nice and soft and moisturised, the only down side with this soap is because I love the scent so much I used and used and re-used it loads of times throughout one shower, so I’d imagine I am going to get through each soap really, really quickly!

To keep your skin soft, Tunnel of Love also contains fair trade organic cocoa butter and extra virgin coconut oil – I seriously urge you to go and smell this in your local Lush store before they stop selling them – I wish they made this scent part of the permanent range. It is definitely one of my favourite scents so far and makes a perfect Valentine’s Day scent – delicate but refreshing and uplifting.

Tender is the Night Naked Shower Cream

I am still not completely sold by these Naked products. Don’t get me wrong I think they are a great idea to reduce on packaging and help reduce damage to the environment but I’m just not convinced they are all they are cracked up to be. I’ve written a separate blog on all the Naked products I’ve used so far which will be published in the next couple of weeks so I’ll leave it until then to go into any further detail….

Anyway, regardless of whether or not this product was a Naked product, I just can’t get used to it’s unusual smell! I don’t hate it, but there’s an ingredient in this scent which I’m just not keen on and I can’t quite figure out which one it is! It is really hard to explain but  it is almost like a musky smell…..

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Although relatively small in size, Naked shower gels are double the concentrate of the liquid shower gels they should theoretically last for twice as long. A bit disappointing as I’m not a fan of this scent but still, they look ever so pretty in the bathroom!

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Tender is the Night does lather up really well – I use a sponge to produce lots of fluffy soft bubbles – and does leave your skin feeling really soft. I didn’t feel like this scent was as concentrated as some of the other Naked products and didn’t find the smell to become much stronger when I was using it which I thought was pretty unusual.

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Tender is the Night contains Jasmine flower infusion, ylang ylang flower infusion, murumuru butter, fair trade shea butter, jasmine absolute, ylang ylang oil, vanilla absolute – all ingredients which I love the scent of individually, so this is why I am just not sure why I don’t like the combination of them!

The butters in the shower gel leave your skin feeling lovely and soft and moisturised, but this isn’t a scent I would buy again, in any other kind of product. I’d be interested to know what any of you guys thought if you have smelled this scent or tried this product…..

Giant Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb

I couldn’t wait to try this!! A MASSIVE version of the rose bomb shell bath bomb! In the past I have bought the giant Golden Wonder and the giant Dragons egg bath bomb called Mother of Dragons and I am really loving the giant versions of these great products! Yes they are expensive (£14.95 for the giant rose bombshell bath bomb), but they create the most luxurious bath you will ever have!

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Exactly the same as the smaller versions but on a much larger scale, this huge bath bomb fizzes away quite violently and spews out mounds of lovely yellow rose petals. Soon your bath water is a beautiful pink colour filled with petals floating around the surface. This is the perfect Valentine’s Day bath product! It doesn’t get much better than this!

The water is so soft and silky and the rose, lemon and germanium oil leave your skin feeling incredibly moisturised. I bought another one after using this one, I think I will save it until my Birthday next month! I wish the giant bath bombs were part of the permanent Lush range!

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So there you have it! The Lush cosmetics Valentine’s Day range! I hope you’ve all had a lovely romantic and special Valentine’s Day with your loved ones!

Valentine’s Day treats!

I never used to make an effort for Valentine’s Day, hubby and I always used to get each other a nice card, but I was never really sold on all of the red fluffy toys, fake red roses and red underwear! I love eating out but Valentine’s Day means all of the restaurants are absolutely jam-packed and are usually offering some sort of set menu, and I find that I don’t like the majority of food they have on offer!

So, to be honest, we usually stay at home and have a nice dinner together. My usual go to place is Marks and Spencers for their dine in for two Valentine’s Day offer for £20, which always has a nice selection of things we both like.

Last year I made a bit more of an effort and bought some lovely red roses for the dinner table, bought us a lovely three course meal and made us up a gift bag each with treats and presents in. We had a real nice time last year so I wanted to do something similar this year again.

Anyway, here are some of the lovely treats and presents which have caught my eye for this years Valentine’s Day:

Marks and Spencers chocolate heart filled with chocolate ganache and decorated with gold leaf – £3.00.

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Marks and Spencer’s chocolate hearts (4 pack) – £1.50. I thought these were lovely and really reasonably priced so I bought a few packs for my friends to put in their Valentine’s Day gifts bags!

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Marks and Spencers Pink Himalayan Salted Caramels – £6.00. I gave in and bought these for myself! I had a peek inside the box and they look really pretty! Can’t wait to try these! Let’s hope I can resist eating them all before Valentine’s Day!

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Marks and Spencers red Love You Heart – I love these little chocolate hearts – and they are only 50p each!

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Morrison’s Heart Marshmallow Biscuit lollipop – £1.00. This didn’t last long after I bought it! I loved the fluffy mallow inside!

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Dr Oetker Heart Marshmallows – £1.00. I found these in Morrison’s but I’m sure other supermarkets will sell these too – perfect for a Valentine’s hot chocolate!

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Morrison’s Valentine’s jammy heart biscuit – £1.00. Hubby scoffed this one before I had the chance to hide it!

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Morrisons gingerbread hearts – £2.00 for this bag of one big gingerbread heart and three small gingerbread hearts.

Hotel Chocolat Salted caramel hearts – £3.50 – delicious!

Hotel Chocolat Raspberry daiquiri hearts – £3.50 – I bought a few of these for friends  and family and put them in their Valentine’s gift bag.

Hotel Chocolat dark chocolate heart melts – £5.50 – got these for Mum as she only likes dark chocolate! I hope she likes them!

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Waitrose gingerbread hearts – £2.00 – these little bags of pink iced gingerbread hearts are lovely.

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And to put all these lovely sweet treats in I bought these lovely gift bags from Clinton cards for £2.50 each

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If food and sweet things aren’t really your thing – how about some nice Valentine’s themed jewellery? These are just some of the lovely items I’ve come across in the last few weeks –

Rose detail chain bracelets from ASOS – £8.00 – great for a Beauty and the Beast fan! They’ve also got matching hoop earrings and a set of five rings!

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I love these Ted Baker Crystal Heart earrings – £29.00 from ASOS!

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Or, this handy “LOVE” ring holder from Next for £6.00?

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Who knew they did Valentine’s themed handbags?? These are my favourites so far:

This heart coin purse from ASOS is only £8.00 – bargain!

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How cute is this SkinnyDip heart crossover body bag – again from ASOS and only £30.00 – I love the faux fur detail!

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If you are willing to spend a bit more on a Valentine’s themed bag then I love this red Dune heart bag for £65.00.

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And, believe it or not, Valentine’s Day SHOES!!!! I love these Mistress barely there sandals from Dune for £85.00.

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Plus I’ve spotted these gorgeous babies on Instagram and I am desperate to get my hands on a pair! They are by ALDO but for some reason they don’t stock them on their UK website????? My quest continues! They do them in red too…

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If you are having a cosy night in then what about some Valentine’s pyjamas?? There are hundreds to choose from on sites like ASOS, Very, Next, Boohoo…. the list goes on!

My absolute favourites are these Mr and Mrs Pyjama sets from Next – £22.00 for women’s and £24.00 for men’s. I’m so disappointed as I went to order these for hubby and I but they are completely sold out in the men’s sizes! Gutted! I knew I should have ordered them when I first saw them!

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And if all of this doesn’t float your boat this Valentine’s Day, I’ve reviewed the entire Lush Cosmetics Valentine’s Day range and I can assure you there is bound to be something from their collection which you will love! My blog on their Valentine’s range goes live tomorrow to mark the big day, so watch this space!

Goodbye Mr Skibba

I can’t believe I am writing this. Today we lost our little ray of sunshine, Skibbadee the Shar-Pei. Hubby and I are both absolutely devastated, we are sat here not knowing what to do with ourselves, or how to deal with the silence which now consumes our home.

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He turned 11 last November, so had a good long life for a pedigree dog. We were worried at how long the house move last year was taking, as we desperately wanted him to make it to our new home, and he had been ill on and off for a few months, but thank god we finally moved in December, and he settled into the new home like he had been here forever, especially enjoying lying in front of the roaring fire.

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I arrived home yesterday and hubby said he would be working late so I walked Skibba on our usual walk, but something felt very different this time. I think it’s because we went earlier so it was still nice and light, and so it was like he was seeing everything in a new light, and for the first time. He skipped along and had a sniff of the snowdrops and daffodils which were starting to come through and we made our way home, happy after a nice long walk. He had his dinner as normal and hubby got home from work at around 9pm and gave him a hug and a kiss like he normally does, and then went off to bed after nearly a 15 hour day. I wasn’t far behind him, I was hoping to get up early for work the next morning.

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I woke up in the night, firstly around 2:30am, because I heard the dog flap banging backwards and forwards. We only put the dog flap in a few weeks ago and had been encouraging Lola (Skibba’s younger sister) to go through it, but being as we are firm believers “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, and because of how stubborn he is, we didn’t even bother showing Skibba how to use it. The training wasn’t going particularly well as Lola was only going through the dog flap when you held treats either side of it, so the training had fallen by the wayside really, which was why I was so shocked to hear the dog flap open and close.

I panicked at first that maybe a burglar was trying to reach through the dog flap to gain access, but when the light came on in the back garden, I looked out expecting to see that Lola had finally picked up the hint and used the dog flap. I was astounded when I looked out to see Skibba in the garden and, after I had realised I wasn’t dreaming, smiled and thought to myself what a good boy he is! He was secretly watching the whole time and had figured out all by himself how to use the dog flap!! It was strange because he didn’t go to the toilet whilst he was outside, he just slowly wandered around the garden, stopped now and then and had a good look at it, huffed a few times, and then wandered back to the back door. I smiled to myself at what a good dog he was for using the dog flap, until he started barking loudly and repeatedly for me to come and let him back in! I huffed and stomped down the stairs and told him off for having the sense to go out one way but not get back in the same way, and then went back off to bed. The exact same thing happened again at 4:00am and again just before 6:00am, I had no idea what he was up to or what he was trying to do, but I was so tired at the time, it just all felt a bit surreal and dream-like. I went back upstairs after the last garden adventure at 6:00am and went to go back to bed for a bit. I had planned to get up early to go to work so I could have an early Friday finish, but couldn’t face it when I had been up and down with him throughout the night.

Hubby went downstairs about an hour later and immediately called me – Skibba was lying on the sofa downstairs and his stomach was swollen up like a balloon. He was so uncomfortable he could barely move. I googled “dogs swollen stomach” and the results were pretty damning – it suggested that it could be gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) which is fatal to dogs within hours if untreated. It is so dangerous in fact, that vets call it the “mother of all emergencies”. I knew we had to get him to the vet, and very quickly. I rang the out of hours vet just after 7am and we arranged to get him in straight away. I said to the vet on the phone I didn’t think we would be able to move him in his current state and the vet said we had no choice, he had to operate.

I couldn’t have been prouder of our little ray of sunshine at that moment, he carefully climbed off the sofa and walked to the door, had a goodbye kiss from his sister Lola and managed to jump into the car and then out again when we arrived at the vets. He must have been in so much pain but he was so, so brave, I was so, so proud of him.

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The vet arrived shortly after we did. He gave us the option of putting Skibba through the operation, which is a very complicated one, and one that is especially risky at his age, or to put him straight to sleep. We were obviously both hysterical by this point, and you never know which is the best option for the animal, so I turned to Skibba and I said “do you want to try the operation Mr Skibba, or have you had enough?” he looked up at me and I said again “do you want to try?” and he wagged his tail, and walked off slowly through the examination room doors and into the back of the vets where the operating theatre was! I’ve never seen anything like it, but he actually made the decision to try having the life saving operation.

We followed him out the back and gave him a hug and a kiss and told him we loved him. He led the vet through to the operating room, no panic, no fear, no showing off. Now this sounds like perfectly normal behaviour for a well behaved dog, but for those of you who know how nervous and scatty and highly strung and frightened of the vets Skibba normally is, you would agree with me that this really was no less than a miracle.

The vet said the operation itself would take about an hour and he would ring us as soon as he had any news. We got back into the car in the vets car park and cried our eyes out for a good fifteen minutes, and then made our way home to wait for news.

We knew it was bad news when the vet rang my mobile before we had even arrived home. He said he had got part way through the operation but unfortunately Skibba’s heart had stopped and he passed away on the operating table. We of course knew that his chances of recovery had been slim, but to be told he was no longer with us is a feeling I really can’t put into words.  The nearest I can get to describing it is when my husband said “it feels like your world is ending”. I totally agree. It does.

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We came home and cried and cried and cried. It was hard to know what to do with ourselves sat at home overcome by grief. We tried to sleep but couldn’t, a few family members popped over to show their support, we walked Lola at Skibba’s favourite place, Painswick Beacon, and tried to sleep again but to no avail. Even now I expect him to come trotting into the room to ask for a walk or his dinner, and when I’m lying on the sofa or in bed, I can imagine him stood there next to me so vividly, that on more than one occasion I have reached out to stroke him.

We are just grateful we found him early on and got him to the vets as quickly as we could, and that we were both there to say goodbye to him. If we had both left for work early like we had planned, and he had been left with Lola for hours, god knows what would have happened. He could have been unable to move and in pain for several hours until he passed away right there on the sofa, where we would have found him when we got home. It doesn’t even bear thinking about.

We are also so grateful he made the move to our new house, so he could see our forever home and we would have memories of him enjoying his time here. We are also so pleased that he had an amazing family Christmas with us in our new home too. I just wish he had made it to the Spring and Summer so he could have explored his new garden properly and enjoyed basking in the sunshine, he loved doing that at our old house.

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We are now very worried about how his younger sister Lola is going to cope with all of this – how do you explain to a dog that her older brother isn’t coming home? She seems quiet but that could be because she hasn’t got Skibba to play with – I’m not sure how much of it she understands really.

We will take things day by day and hopefully over time things will get easier. I’m trying to remember all the good times we had with Mr Skibba, and talking about them with hubby today we have filled nearly a day’s conversation with stories and memories and reminders of our precious first dog.

We collected Skibba when he was around 12 weeks old. We travelled a long distance to pick him up from Carmarthen, and he was a pain in the butt from the second we brought him home!

Mr Skibba you see, didn’t believe he was a dog. In fact, I’m sure for several years of his life, if not all of the years of his life, he believed he was human! He wanted to eat the same things as us, do the same things as us, and of course, sleep on the same bed as us!

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And sleep he did!!! A LOT!!!! On a memory foam mattress too! In fact, after going through several hundred photographs together earlier, hubby and I realised he probably spent 99.9% of his time asleep or dozing on the sofa or in bed!

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To say he was not a fan of other dogs was an understatement. Human’s he adored, dogs however, he had a tendency to fall out with, A LOT!

When we brought Lola home after re-homing her around 5 years ago, we thought this may change his perception of other dogs and help him socialise. We thought when we brought her through the front door he would be forever grateful that we had brought him this lovely friend for him, but instead, he gave us a look which was to say “what on earth have you brought THAT home for??”. For several days afterwards he gave us the same look as if to say “it’s been ok, but I think she should go home now”. Poor Skibby!

Anyway, although he tried to carry on with this “I hate my sister” act for several years, we knew deep down he loved her, and he really enjoyed her company. You would often find them snuggled up together, her resting her head on him.

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I can’t even begin to say how much hubby and I, and the rest of our family, are going to miss him. It’s only been a few hours, and we already miss him beyond comprehension. We love you Skibba, I hope you are dancing over the clouds and eating tonnes of your favourite sausages up in doggy heaven. There is a huge void in our hearts which will never be filled, I just hope things become easier as time goes on.

We love you always our precious boy xxx

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Skibba loved his Dad more than life itself. Never have I ever known a dog love his owner more than Skibba loved Ben
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And there was an extra special place in Skibba’s heart for his Auntie Mel
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Mr Skibba’s favourite place to run was Painswick Beacon
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Love you always our precious boy xxx

A short trip to Venice

As I am writing this Venice blog and uploading my photos from a while back (Venice was one of the first places I ever travelled to!) I am thinking I will need to go back as soon as possible as I went when I had a really rubbish cheap camera which explains the really poor quality photos!! Sorry!!

I only spent a very short while in Venice, it was really just a whistle stop tour as part of our grand tour of Italy. One thing I will say about Venice and that is it must be seen to be believed! It really is unlike anywhere else in the World!

Whilst I was there, as well as consuming ridiculous amounts of amazingly tasty gelato, I also managed to have a snoop at the following:

St Marks Square

Otherwise known as Piazza San Marco, St Marks Square is the main public square of Venice. At the eastern end of the square is the great St Mark’s Basilica.

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St Mark’s Basilica

From the 11th century onwards the building has been known by the nickname Chiesa d’Oro (Church of gold) due to its grand design and gold mosaics.

The interior is based on a Greek cross, with each arm divided into three naves with a dome of its own as well as the main dome. The marble floor is entirely designed in geometric patterns and animal designs. The lower part of the walls and pillars is covered with marble slabs. In typical Italian style it is very ornate!

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St Mark’s Campanile 

St Mark’s Campanile is the bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica and it is one of the most recognisable symbols of the city.

The tower is 98 metres tall, and stands alone in a corner of St Mark’s Square, near the front of the basilica. It is 12 metres wide on each side and 50 metres tall, above which is an open room surrounding the belfry, which houses five bells. The tower is capped by a spire, where on top sits a golden weathervane in the form of the archangel Gabriel.

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The Clock Tower 

The Clock Tower was completed in 1499, above a high archway where the street known as the Merceria leads through shopping streets to the Rialto, (the commercial and financial centre). 

The Clock Tower is an early Renaissance building and although both the tower and the clock date from the very end of the 15th century, the mechanism of the clock has been much altered since then. The lower two floors of the tower make a monumental archway into the main street of the city.

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Doge’s Palace

The Doge’s Palace is a palace built in Venetian Gothic style, and is one of the main landmarks of Venice. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice. Today, it is one of the 11 museums run by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.

Doge’s Palace has a LOT of history! Too much to detail in a blog – you can read more about it here.

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Bridge of Sighs

The Bridge of Sighs is made of white limestone, has windows with stone bars, and passes over the Rio di Palazzo. It connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace.

The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The bridge’s name comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells.

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Rialto Bridge

The Rialto Bridge is one of four bridges which span the Grand Canal. It is the oldest bridge across the canal, and was the dividing line for the districts of San Marco and San Polo.

The present stone bridge was finally completed in 1591 and is similar to the wooden bridge there before it.  The bridge has defied critics to become one of the architectural icons of Venice.

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Gondolas

You can’t visit Venice without going on a Gondola ride! It’s the best way to admire the city and get an up close look at some of the beautiful architecture! Plus it is fascinating to watch the guys steering the gondolas along the winding streets and under some VERY low bridges! It’s truly an art!

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Venice is a lovely place with very interesting history – you can get some fantastically cheap deals to Venice these days and a long weekend is the perfect amount of time to spend here.

If that isn’t enough to persuade you to book up and go then just remember, Venice may not be around forever as it is slowly sinking year on year due to rising sea levels from climate change! Although the levels are only said to be rising around 1mm a year, don’t forget Venice is already prone to flooding during high tides….it’s quite daunting to hear the sirens going off to warn you of an incoming flood tide!!!