A trip to Tewkesbury Abbey

Tewkesbury isn’t too far away from me but is another place I have never visited! I had a week off over my Birthday and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to have a long overdue trip to this beautiful historic river-side town.

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The main thing I wanted to see was Tewkesbury Abbey. It was such a shame about the weather – it was grey and overcast and drizzly and really cold! I should think this building looks even more spectacular with the sun beaming down on it!

The correct name of Tewkesbury Abbey is The Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin. There has been a church situated here at this site since Saxon times, and the church is even mentioned in the Doomsday book, surveyed during 1086.

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King William II (aka William the Conqueror) gave the Manor of Tewkesbury to Robert Fitzhamon, who was a soldier and a great and loyal friend to the King. He and his wife, Sybil de Montgomery, founded the Abbey and brought Abbot Gerald and his monks here from the failing abbey of Cranbourne in Dorset to form the new monastery.

When Fitzhamon died in 1107 from wounds sustained in the Battle of Falaise two years earlier, his body was buried in the Abbey’s chapter house. Building work continued by his daughter Mabel and her husband Robert Fitzroy, who was the eldest illegitimate son of King Henry. The Abbey was consecrated in 1121.

The Abbey itself has some amazing Norman features including the arch and stunning turrets. The quire and transepts were probably the earliest examples of a three-storeyed building in Europe. The tower was created in the late 12th Century and and is the largest and finest Romanesque tower in the world. The tower is 14 metres square and 46 metres high.

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The West front shows six beautiful rounded classic Norman arches. Before the window was installed in the 14th Century there was a total of seven arches.

In medieval times the Abbey would have looked very different – everywhere would have been painted in strikingly bright colours and patterns and biblical patterns, but there is hardly any trace of this within the Abbey today.

The original Norman ceiling in the nave was higher than the one here today and was more than likely made of wood. It was replaced in the 14th Century with stone in the Gothic rib vaulting styling.

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The nave looking towards the high altar. The pillars are Norman but the beautiful vaulting is 14th Century.

The photograph below on the right shows the vaulting upside down as it is a reflection in a cleverly placed mirror so you can admire the detail without hurting your neck straining to look upwards! It is such a stunning vaulted ceiling.

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Stunning net vaulting above the quire. The centre is King Edward IV’s emblem, known as the sun in splendour.

For nearly 300 years, three successive medieval families were the patrons of Tewkesbury Abbey. When the Fitzhamon’s grandson, William, passed away the Abbey devolved through his daughter and into her husbands family, the de Clare’s. The patronage was then inherited by Gilbert de Clare’s daughter, Eleanor, and her husband, Hugh le Despenser II. In around 1320 the Despensers began to modernise the abbey. This work was halted temporarily when Hugh was executed for treason in 1326. Eleanor built a beautiful tomb for Hugh, which can be seen in the Abbey today. Eleanor and her son, Hugh le Despenser III, continued work on updating the abbey, including raising the nave roof and adding the beautiful nave vaulting. The high altar, presbytery and quire were transformed and new stained glass windows were added.

Lord Edward Despenser, Hugh Despenser III’s nephew and heir, is commemorated in the beautiful chantry chapel, commissioned by his widow, Elizabeth Burghersh. This is the oldest of the three chapels and has a beautiful fan vaulted ceiling and a statue of Lord Edward on the roof. Unfortunately because of it’s position, you cant get close enough to see the detail which is a real shame.

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A terrible picture I am afraid as this is the closest you can get but this is the wooden effigy of Lord Edward Despenser, kneeling on top of his chantry facing the altar. He is quite faded now but was originally painted with bright vivid colours – a very unusual effigy for its time.

The patronage was then passed to Isabella Despenser following the deaths of her brother and father. She built the most elaborate of the Abbey’s chantry chapels in memory of her first husband, Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Worcester, who died in battled aged only 22.

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The ceiling of the chantry Chapel designed by Isabella Beauchamp – this too used to be full of colour however very little colour now remains.
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The elaborate vaulting of the chantry Chapel built in the 15th century by Isabella Beauchamp for her first husband, Richard, Earl of Worcester.

Richard Neville became Earl of Warwick and Lord of Tewkesbury when he married Anne Beauchamp, the daughter and heir of Isabella and Richard. Richard Neville was known as the “Kingmaker” due to his influence and power.

Richard’s support was critical in the overthrowing of Henry VI and the crowning of Edward IV, however Richard and King Edward IV fell out soon after. Richard later travelled to France and was persuaded to make peace with the Lancastrians and provide his support in restoring Henry VI to the throne. Richard was defeated and killed in the Battle of Barnet in April 1471 when Edward returned to England from exile.

Henry VI’s queen, Margaret of Anjou, came back from France with her son Edward, Prince of Wales and was persuaded to stay and fight for her son’s inheritance. Her plans to combine the two groups in Gloucester were foiled when the Yorkist constable of Gloucester castle prevented their entry into the city. She had no choice but to follow the course of the River Severn, which resulted in her arrival in Tewkesbury on the 3rd May 1471.

On the 4th May 1471, a battle ensued known as the Battle of Tewkesbury. The Lancastrians were forced to retreat towards the town of Tewkesbury, and many sought shelter within the Abbey. It is said that the Yorkist’s pursued them inside the Abbey with swords. At the time, Abbot Strensham was celebrating mass at the high altar. He challenged Edward and his brothers and demanded that the troops did not defile the church with such slaughter and bloodshed. The King withdrew as requested but the Abbot was unable to argue that the Abbey was a place to grant sanctuary, and the Lancastrians were handed over to King Edward. The resulting bloodshed closed the building for a month sop it could be purified and re-consecrated.

There is a brass plate in the floor in the sanctuary which marks the grave of Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, the son of King Henry VI, and the end of the Lancastrian bloodline. He was killed during the Battle of Tewkesbury, was the only Prince of Wales to ever die in battle, and was only 17 at the time of his death.

After the battle, the monks of Tewkesbury are rumoured to have picked up pieces of horse armour from the battlefield which they hammered flat to strengthen the door of the sacristy.

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One of the best ceilings I’ve ever seen – the vaulting above the choir with the beautiful stained glass windows below.
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Both the vaulting and the stained glass windows pre-date 1440.

Between 1536 and 1541, to assert his authority as head of the Church in England, Henry VIII disbanded the monastic houses of England and seized all their lands and possessions. Tewkesbury Abbey was finally surrendered to the Commissioners in January 1540. The Commissioners ordered the dismantling of some of the monastic buildings.

The east end of the church once had a magnificent Lady Chapel of which only the foundations now remain. In the years following the Dissolution of the Abbey in 1540, the Lady Chapel was on of the buildings which was dismantled. The footprint of the chapel is outlined with stone slabs in the grass at the east end of the building. Today’s Lady Chapel is now in the south transept.

The townsfolk of Tewkesbury later petitioned the commissioners to be able to buy the church building. The price paid was £483, which was the value of the lead on the roof and the metal in the bells.

In 1609, King James I sold the manor to the Corporation of Tewkesbury for £2,454.

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Tom Denny’s windows were installed in the chapel of St John the Baptist and St Catherine and were to commemorate 900 years since the arrival of the monks at Tewkesbury.

The eastern exterior of the Abbey is my favourite view of this beautiful building. It is marked in the grass where the 14th Century Lady Chapel once stood.

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The eastern exterior

Also keep a look out for the two storey gatehouse, known in the 15th Century as “the grate gate”. This is one of three entrances like this and is thought to have been the monastery’s inner gate.

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The grate gate

As Tewkesbury is a river-side town, it unfortunately often sees the effects of flooding. The Abbey itself has flooded twice during severe floods in 1760, and more recently on 23rd July during the 2007 floods. There were signs of flooding during our visit, and no doubt the heavy rain over the past few weeks has not made the situation any better….

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If you are visiting Tewkesbury for the day I would also recommend paying the town centre a visit. Along Church Street you will find some beautiful half timbered buildings which are worth admiring!

A really lovely place, I am already looking forward to re-visiting. We had hoped to do a little boat trip up the River Severn but after a couple of hours walking around in the cold, wet weather we were really for some lunch and a hot chocolate!  Hopefully the next time we go, the weather will be a bit warmer and we can enjoy a little boat trip to see more of the sights Tewkesbury has to offer!

Casa Das Bolita’s Dough Balls

I came across Casa Das Bolita’s dough balls at one of the Gloucester Quays food fayres last year. I’d gone with my Mum and my Sister and the weather was absolutely awful! So much so we made the decision to call it a day and miss out on those stalls we hadn’t had the chance to visit yet. On our way battling back towards the car park I spotted the Casa Das Bolita’s dough balls stall and knew I just had to try some! They were being cooked fresh but because the weather was so bad I didn’t want to risk them getting soaking wet and soggy! I was so pleased when they told me they sold them in frozen packs to take home so I just needed to heat them up in the oven!

It was so difficult choosing the flavour I thought I would like best so I settled on playing it safe and bought a pack of the cheddar ones.

I put some of them in the oven a bit later on that day and was blown away by how delicious they were! I went online straight away to see what other flavours there were and put an order in a couple of weeks later for one pack of every flavour!

So, what makes these dough balls different from normal dough balls? Well, to start with, they are Gluten, Wheat, Yeast, and Nut free! They are made from all natural ingredients, have no added sugar and no added preservatives. These “Bolitas” are the most popular Brazilian snack – they are cheese dough balls made from cassava flour and cheese, and they are ideal as snacks or appetisers. Simply pop them on some greaseproof paper and put them in the oven for a few minutes and serve warm! Delicious!

Here are all the different flavours I’ve sampled so far:

Cheddar

Good old cheddar flavoured – you can’t go wrong with these! Just pop them in the oven from frozen until they start going golden brown and serve immediately! The cheddar ones are one of my favourite flavours!

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Garlic Cheese

Another of my favourites is the garlic cheese – I love garlic and this gives the dough balls that little extra bit of flavour.

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Halloumi

I love halloumi, we often slice it and grill it and have it for dinner as a side so I knew I would love the dough ball version too!

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Mozzarella and Oregano

I love how the Mozzarella goes all stringy and gooey when you cook these! The addition of the oregano makes these extra tasty too!

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Chicken

I was really looking forward to trying these!

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They are bigger than the normal dough balls, are stuffed with tasty seasoned chicken and are absolutely delicious!

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Sausage Rolls

I have to say these are my least favourite from the collection but this is no reflection on the product – it’s purely because I am just not a fan of sausage rolls! I would never buy sausage rolls from the supermarket or bakery, but I thought I would give these a try!

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They are slightly bigger than the regular dough balls, and each one consists of a small sausage wrapped in cheesy dough. Like with all the others, cook them in the oven from frozen until they just start turning golden brown and then serve immediately. Great for buffets and parties.

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You can order Casa Das Bolita’s Dough balls online by visiting their website. All orders are even sent out frozen for 24 hour delivery!

They also offer sweet flavoured dough balls in fudge, guava and chocolate! I will definitely have to try the sweet versions next time I put an order in!

Having a Lush Easter!

I have to say after the Lush Mother’s Day collection contained so many great and innovative new products, I was rather disappointed when they released the details of the Easter range! I was expecting far more products (akin to the Halloween or Christmas range) and for some reason I was also expecting them to release a giant bath bomb of some sort – like the giant rose bombshell bath bomb they released as part of the Valentine’s Day range.

Anyway, as soon as the Easter range was released I quickly went online and ordered one of everything in order to test them out. It was only when I was half way through trying them all out that I realised the mistake I had made, which was that several of the products, although they looked different, were exactly the same product with exactly the same scent! It was completely my fault, I should have checked the ingredients of them all before I ordered them and I would have realised, however I’ve ended up with several duplicates which of course also means the Easter range was far smaller than I first thought!

Anyway, here’s what I thought of the Easter 2018 range:

Free Rangers Bath Bombs (blue, orange and purple)

The blue one was the first of the three Free Rangers bath bombs I used and it was at this point I realised that all three colours of Free Ranger bath bombs all have the same ingredients and the same scent! If I had known I think I would have just bought myself the purple one and not all three! Anyway, they come in blue, orange and purple.

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The Free Ranger bath bombs are incredibly fast dissolving bath bombs, especially in view of their large size, (seriously, blink a couple of times and you will miss them dissolving!), but the thing I found most disappointing about these bath bombs was the complete lack of scent they seemed to contain!

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After using the first one, I seriously wondered if it had been a dud – I honestly couldn’t smell anything when I was using it and the ingredients Free Rangers contains (Bergamot Oil, Blackcurrant Absolute and Cypress Oil) all should be smells which I think should be really prominent?

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Reviews of this bath bomb say the scent should be similar to that of the Comforter bubble bar which is a truly lovely blackcurranty berry smelling scent, but I couldn’t detect anything even remotely similar to this, so I’m really disappointed, especially in view of the £5.95 price tag.

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The bath water itself was moisturising but no where near as much as I had expected in view of the size and the ingredients it contains. I wish I had checked first and realised that they were all the same scent and then perhaps I wouldn’t have spent nearly £18 on three bath bombs that I don’t love! Having said that, I have bought a couple of these as Easter presents because the design is great (and as the smell is so weak it is unlikely that anyone I give them to will dislike it!)

Poisson D’Avril Bubble Bar

I really didn’t want to have to cut this little guy up as he looks so adorable! I knew I was going to love this bubble bar before it even arrived and I got to smell it and use it, just by checking out the ingredients it contained!

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Packed into this little guy is black pepper oil, cinnamon leaf oil, oak moss absolute and neroli oil – some of my most favourite ingredients!

Despite its size I think you would easily get three good baths out of one little fishy – he’s small but very compact! I used half in one go because I’d been on the sun bed earlier in the day so I could do with the extra moisturising and knew I would love the smell!

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I sprinkled half the chopped bubble bar under running water and this produced a huge amount of lovely thick bubbles and a deep red shimmery mermaid style bath water. The scent is extremely relaxing and warming, almost to the point of spicy but not quite. The water was so soft you could almost feel it working as you spent your time lazing in the tub. I seriously did not want to get out of this bath – if I could have got away with staying in there all night then I would have!

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As predicted, I absolutely love this bubble bar! I’d be hard pushed to say that it wasn’t my absolute favourite – I’m sat here struggling to think of any over bubble bars that even come close to how much I love this bubble bar. Onto the website I go to buy them all!

April Showers Bath Bomb

Not a very Eastery design but definitely an April design! It hasn’t stopped raining for most of the weekend!

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April Showers smells amazing! It dissolves pretty quickly but releases these lovely pink and purple blobs of oil to make your bath water lovely and moisturising. For those of you who are familiar with the now discontinued Lava Lamp bath bomb, this design is very much reminiscent of it.

April Showers contains an abundance of ingredients to make your bath water lovely and soft and make your skin incredibly moisturised! It contains fair trade organic cocoa butter, cypress oil, organic extra virgin olive oil, and organic castor oil. To give it its wonderful scent, April Showers also contains cedar wood, violet leaf absolute, and tonka absolute, so all in all it creates a woody, flowery and sweet scent all in one!

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April Showers is definitely one of my favourites from the Easter range and it’s great they are reusing the Lava Lamp idea after discontinuing it early last year. My boxes of Lush supplies are bursting at the seams at the moment but I may have to grab a few more of these before the Easter range is discontinued!

Which Came First Bath Bomb – Stripes or Spots

These two were the second “duplicate” mistake I made – both contain exactly the same ingredients but just look slightly different!

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These egg shaped bath bombs are slightly bigger than the usual bath bomb, but seriously, after dropping these in the bath, just like the Free Rangers bath bombs, blink and you will miss them! They are probably some of the quickest dissolving bath bombs I’ve ever used!

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They are also a little bit disappointing on the bath art side of things – a lot of pink foam and little bubbles which leaves you with a nice pink coloured bath water, but not much else….

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I liked the scent of these bath bombs but didn’t think the scent was very strong considering their size and their prominent smelling ingredients such as grapefruit oil and sicilian lemon oil. These bombs do also contain vanilla absolute to sweeten the scent slightly, but they still didn’t smell anywhere near as strong as I would have liked.

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Being as they dissolved incredibly quickly, and didn’t smell very strong or provide me with much bath art, I was hoping that they would at least be incredibly moisturising to make up for the lack in other areas….

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The water WAS lovely and moisturising as I had hoped, however I then remembered that these bath bombs are a lot bigger than regular bath bombs and thought to myself, so they should be!

They aren’t my least favourite bath bomb but they certainly aren’t “memorable” by any stretch of the imagination which is a real shame…

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A bit of a let down I’m afraid, especially in view of the £6.95 price tag they each had…

Cream Egg Bubbleroons in Spotty, Circles and Marbled

And finally, the third set of “duplicates” I ordered! I think I could be forgiven for these as they do all look completely different despite having the same name!

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The Cream Egg Bubbleroons come in Spotty, Circles and Marbled designs and are two pieces of bubble bar sandwiched together with a cocoa butter type cream.

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I’ve been chopping each of these in half and then crumbling them up to use half at a time and this seems to be the perfect amount for a lovely bath.

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The bubbleroons contain fair trade organic cocoa butter and fair trade shea butter for moisturising.

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The bubbleroons also contain spearmint oil. Mint is one of my least favourite scents but the cocoa butter and shea butter make them smell sweet and creamy.

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Half of the bubbleroon produces a lovely bath full of fluffy bubbles and soft moisturising water.

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As I say, they all have the same scent but I think that my favourite is the marbled one as the pink and blue create really lovely bath art when you sprinkle them in the bath water!

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A very nice bubbleroon which is just perfect for Easter, I am glad I bought three of them in the end! I’ve nearly used all three!

Bunch of Carrots Re-useable Bubble Bar

I really like the design of this one! Very clever! please ignore the glitter on it, it doesn’t come with any glitter on, its just the Golden Egg bath bomb glitter got EVERYWHERE as usual!

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Although I love the design, I am still a bit dubious of these re-useable bubble bars after my initial experience with the Magic of Christmas bubble wand I used as part of the Christmas collection. This was the first re-useable bubble bar I had used and after swishing it about for a few seconds and holding it under running water (as you are supposed to do!) the bubble bar basically disintegrated and fell into the bath in one clump!

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I held the Bunch of Carrots under the running water and swished it around a bit and it seemed fine but after a few minutes, again the same thing happened and the “carrots” came away from the green stalks! Luckily they came away still in one piece, and to be fair, if for my next three baths I used one whole carrot, I’m still going to get a total of four baths out of this reusable bubble bar, so it is pretty good value for money.

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The bubble bar does make a lot of lovely fluffy bubbles and I do really like the scent. Bunch of Carrots includes buchu oil, sicilian lemon oil and bergamot oil – some of my favourite ingredients! I am just not completely sold on the reusable bubble bar idea still, although if they made another product with this scent, I would definitely buy it!

Another thing to note with this product – be ever so careful once it is wet as the colours in the product are very vivid and will likely stain everything in sight!

Seven Deadly Spins Bubble Spinner

I am a bit unsure about this product, I’m not too sure what it is supposed to be based on but it very much reminds me of a golden snitch from Harry Potter!

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The first thing I noticed about Seven Deadly Spins was how small it was! I know it is a re-useable bubble bar but still, if it is this size it must pack a real punch surely?

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I held the little guy under running water and it did produce a lot of bubbles very quickly without reducing in size at all but I was shocked to see the colour of the water! It was bright yellow and almost radioactive looking!

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I did like its unusual scent (it contains bergamot oil, litsea Cubeba oil and benzoin resinoid, so an almost orangey/lemony/woody scent) but again didn’t find it to be strong enough for my liking! I’m starting to think I need my sense of smell checking!

Although it didn’t reduce in size at all after one use, I think going forward I will chop it and crumble it up and then use it like a normal bubble bar rather than the reusable spinner it is designed as, which kind of defeats the point I suppose!

The other thing which annoyed me about this product was that it stained my lovely white bath rack! None of the other products I have used, even the bright vividly coloured ones have done this before! It has left a bright luminous green/yellow stain on it which I just can’t get off which was very disappointing….

Here Comes the Sun Naked Shower Cream

I wasn’t entirely convinced about these new Naked products but I am definitely coming around to them, mainly because I think of them as being a far stronger and more potent version of a soap! I do like my scents strong!

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Here comes the sun naked shower cream is jam packed with a range of both familiar and really unusual ingredients! Some of the more familiar ingredients in here include fair trade shea butter for softness along with Mandarin Oil, tangerine Oil, bergamot oil, and good old fresh orange juice! The more unusual ingredients are St John’s Wort infusion, organic avocado oil and cup mushroom?? Very strange.

Looking at these ingredients written down I would have thought that they would be one of my favourite scents ever, but I did have concerns with the St John’s Wort infusion….excellent as an anti-inflammatory for the skin, but doesn’t smell particularly appealing to me (a kind of resinous scent). Still, the St John’s Wort is very faint and so I think this may be one of my favourite Naked smelling products!

It glides thickly onto the skin, smells amazing and leaves your skin feeling lovely and soft  – what more could you want?

Carrot Soap

How great looking is this soap?? Brilliant! I bought one for my Sister for Easter too as she didn’t want chocolate this year!

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Carrot soap, surprisingly enough, contains fresh carrot infusion and carrot powder to give it its very faint carroty scent! It also contains cedarwood oil, tangerine oil, and gardenia extract to add a woody and citrusy scent and fair trade organic cocoa butter, extra virgin coconut oil and organic castor oil to moisturise your skin.

Carrot lathers up really nicely and leaves your skin feeling lovely and soft – it is a delicate scent and don’t be put off by the carrot ingredient – you can barely detect it and you won’t get out of the shower smelling like Peter Rabbit’s next meal!

Golden Egg Bath Bomb Melt

I have reviewed the Golden egg bath bomb melt before and thought twice about buying another one as although I love the scent of it and the bath water leaves your skin feeling amazing, the glitter is just a little bit too much to cope with!

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I am really pleased that I invested in another one as part of this years collection as the one I bought last year sank like a stone when I put it in the bath! This one bobbed along quite merrily in the bath water as it should do!

When you order one of these little blighters and you unpack your box of goodies, just be warned that this bath bomb will get glitter EVERYWHERE. Then when you get them out of the box to put them away you will get even more glitter EVERYWHERE!

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This bomb is unique in a way because it is part bath bomb, part bath melt. Underneath the top shell of thick golden glitter is another shell of cocoa butter with orange oil which melts away into a lovely yellow foam when it’s submerged in the bath water. Once the middle is exposed, a white foam is revealed which mixes with the yellow, resulting in golden yellow shimmery bath water.

It has some lovely ingredients which give it its delicious scent – brazilian orange oil, bergamot oil and gardenia extract, and also contains fair trade organic cocoa butter,  fair trade olive oil and almond oil which is what makes this such a luxurious bath.

I’m a big fan of the scent and how moisturising it is but not the design – the glitter really is just too much! I will say though, the glitter does wash away very easily with the bath water – no hours of scrubbing the bath as I had expected after all!!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the long Easter weekend and have been spoilt! It’s nice to have a short week this week – back to the gym tomorrow and hopefully a showing of Peter Rabbit at the cinema with my Sister too!