Peggy Porschen’s

If you follow any bloggers on Instagram then I am sure this beautiful pink coloured cake shop in Belgravia needs no introduction! The most popular bloggers with the highest followings have all queued up outside this Insta-worthy building with its beautiful flowered facade at some point!

I first visited in December 2017, so not all that long ago, and have been back a further three times since then. It is certainly one of my favourite London cafes so I will always try to visit whoever I am in the big city.

I looked back on all my visits to Peggy Porschen over the past six months and realised that I have been lucky enough to have visited at different points throughout the year which meant seeing beautiful new displays and seasonal menus each time I visited.

Valentines Day

The Valentine’s Day display was one of my favourites, the lovely big heart made of flowers over the door and the other lovely heart shaped displays inside looked really stunning.

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I had seen their Valentine Day collection of cupcakes on Instagram a few days before I visited and I’d already set my sights on their limited edition “Be Mine Peggy Loves Lulu” chocolate heaven cupcake in honour of Lulu Guinness! It did not disappoint!

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I wish I’d had room left over to try one of their strawberry and champagne fluttering hearts too….maybe next time!

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Easter

I didn’t arrive at Peggy Porschen’s until late when I went for my Easter visit, hence the poorly lit photos – sorry! Still, it looked lovely and Spring-like, and after a long, cold, dark Winter it was perfect to look at and start thinking about the warmer days which were on their way!

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As I arrived so late they had run out of some of the cupcakes I’d got my eye on but it wouldn’t be Easter without an Easter nest cake would it?!

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It was at Easter I also discovered Peggy Porschen’s beautifully decorated biscuits! Aren’t they stunning?

 

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And even better I can get these home in one piece, unlike the cupcakes (don’t risk buying them and then walk around London all day with them – trust me, I’m speaking from heart-breaking experience!) I also bought a couple for family and friends as Easter gifts which they loved!

Summer

The Summer theme was really the most impressive so far! Beautiful Wysteria and Roses and beehives everywhere! The pictures really don’t do it justice and it was the busiest I have ever seen it! At one stage there was a queue all the way up the road to be seated outside in front of this stunning display.

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I couldn’t wait to visit after I saw the amazing goodies they had as part of their summer collection but unfortunately they were completely out of stock of all the lovely bee-themed biscuits I’d got my eye on! I’m pleased they have been so popular but was gutted I didn’t get to try them!

I did, however, get my hands on the wonderful Beehive cupcake I’d wanted to try, and I really can hand on heart say that this is the best cupcake I have ever eaten. It was a chocolate cake with an organic blossom honey centre and is topped with a delicious honey meringue buttercream. I wish I could have bought a box of these to bring home with me but the cakes are so delicate, there was no way they would have survived the three hour coach journey home coupled with the crazy heatwave Britain has been experiencing! I hope I get the chance to go back again whilst this is still on the menu!

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Look at these other beautiful summery cupcakes they had on the menu whilst I was there; all made absolutely perfectly.

Christmas

After visiting for the first time last Christmas, Peggy Porschen’s has now become one of our must visit places when my Mum, my Sister and I visit London as part of our annual Christmas shopping trip.

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Peggy Porschen’s at Christmas is an absolute treasure trove of beautiful cakes, biscuits and even the most stunningly decorated gingerbread houses I have ever seen! It really was a Winter Wonderland and, seeing as Christmas is my favourite time of year, this has to be my favourite theme of all.

The Christmas cupcakes were stunning, my favourites were the Bejewelled Chocolate cupcake and the Jolly Gingerbread cupcakes. Unfortunately they didn’t look as stunning by the time I’d got them home after carrying them around in a box all day but they tasted delicious never the less!

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The Gingerbread Houses were the most beautiful (and the most expensive!) I had ever seen. I wish I’d had the courage to buy one but they were so stunning I don’t think I could have brought myself to break it up and eat it!

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So, hopefully you can see why it appears on many peoples bucket lists to visit when they are in London! If you can get there early first thing when it isn’t so busy, I’d highly recommend popping in – it looks far more beautiful in real life!

 

 

Sudeley Castle Spectacle Of Light

As my sister’s Birthday is the 1st December, we always try and do something a bit different on her Birthday or the weekend closest to it. She is definitely a winter baby and loves this time of year so we generally tie in her Birthday day out with something that is Christmas themed as well! Past days out have included a trip to Longleat Safari, ice skating at Cribbs Causeway and of course for her last milestone Birthday, an amazing trip to Iceland!

Last year I came across an event which was being hosted at Sudeley Castle called the Spectacle of Light. Last year was the first time they had hosted such an event and as several of us have been meaning to visit Sudeley Castle for some time, this event looked perfect for the occasion!

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The event is hosted after dark, and the Castle and grounds are lit up and decorated for a wonderful spectacle of light and sound. You follow a trail of light around the stunning castle grounds, magical gardens with majestic trees and into the romantic ruins where ideal photo opportunities await you! Music is also played as you wander the trail!

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We attended on the 1st December last year, but this year the dates span from the 8th to 30th December 2017.

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After you are done exploring, the café is open where mulled wine, cider and hot chocolate are served alongside other winter warmers like soup and hotdogs.

Entry times for the event are every half an hour from 5pm until 7:30pm – when we went last year we booked the latest entry time of 8:30pm, however they contacted us a few days before to ask if we could arrive for 8pm as they were short on staff – it looks as if they have reduced the amount of entry times this year as a result.

When we wandered the trail it was extremely quiet and peaceful, there were only a handful of other people who were there with us which made it all the more special! The weather was perfect December weather as well – cold but dry – we were very lucky on this occasion as I would imagine it to be a very different experience in the torrential rain!

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If you pre-book your tickets online you can also save 10% on the ticket prices – adult ticket price is £15.75 per person (normally £17.50) and child price is £9.90 (normally £11.00). Family tickets are also available.

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A typical walk will be approximately 60 -75 minutes, although if you wish to stay longer you are very welcome.

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According to the website, they have some new additions to the event this year including an “amazing kaleidoscope of illuminated parasols, an enchanting tree energising its sparkling roots and a friendly roar in the tower dungeon!”

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A highly recommended event, particularly for you budding photographers! We were slightly disappointed that our tickets did not give us full access to the Castle as this is a separately hosted event, however this just meant we were looking forward to re-visiting the Castle again in the daytime to see all that it had to offer!

CocoChlo’s Christmas Day

Merry Christmas everyone!

I hope you’ve all had a lovely day! I’m sat here in front of the TV feeling extremely full, surrounded by amazing tasty treats and am admiring all the beautiful presents I’ve received from my amazing friends and family.

I got up relatively early to do all the preparation for Christmas dinner but found I had plenty of free time this year just because of one small change – I cooked the turkey overnight last night so it was ready this morning! Friends have done this for years – I’ve never done it but I am definitely a convert now! It saved me loads of time and worry about whether the turkey was cooked and saved me loads of space in the oven so I could cook all the other bits and pieces! I will definitely do the same again next year!

We only got the chance to open a couple of presents this morning before people started arriving, I am incredibly lucky and got the Mulberry handbag and Tiffany perfume I was after! Completely unexpected and a real surprise! We decided we were going to save the rest of our presents until the evening when everyone had gone home so we weren’t rushing.

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Hubby then popped down the pub with a couple of friends whilst I cooked and prepared the rest of the dinner – this year I didn’t leave the kitchen as we only moved house a few weeks back and I’m still not used to using the oven and hob yet so was being over cautious – especially when there’s twenty different things to cook for Christmas dinner!

Anyway, I must have done something right because all my timings were pretty much spot on and everyone loved this years Christmas menu! As usual I bought way too much food and everyone ended up going home with huge doggy bags!

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Our canapés – BBQ Pork Belly Squares and Asian Chicken Lollipops
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Brie and Cranberry parcels
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Our amazing mediterranean platter
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Our yummy turkey, the first time I’ve cooked a roast in our new oven! It even had Christmas Spiced Bacon on the top (see below!)

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And our second meat was this amazing Christmas spiced gammon, ready to carve and eat (should the worst have happened with the turkey!)
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I don’t like Christmas cake myself but they always look so pretty don’t they?
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These bite-sized mini mince pies went down well with everyone!
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The Santa Stuck in the Chimney cake was AMAZING! A red velvet fudge cake inside, probably one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten! And I’ve eaten A LOT OF CAKE!
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See what I mean? It tasted amazing!
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These chocolate mousse glitter pinecones went down a treat too! So pretty!
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Everyone went home with a lot of cheese! This amazing “Cheese” cake was from Tescos and was made up from Cheddar, Red Leicester, Stilton, Wensleydale with cranberries and Brie! Yum!

For place cards I bought these amazing Reindeer cake pops with little name tags, aren’t they lovely?

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And for favours I bought these lovely Nutcracker and Gingerbread Man bottle bags from Paperchase and filled them with Lindt truffles –

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Every year my Sister and my Mum buy me beautiful flowers to say thank you for hosting Christmas dinner, this year my Mum bought me a beautiful Christmas pudding flower arrangement from Marks and Spencers and my sister bought me a stunning snowglobe style flower arrangement (also from Marks and Spencer’s). I say this a lot but the photos really don’t do them justice!

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plus my Sister popped into Tesco’s to get some last minute Christmas bits and came across these beautiful Nutcracker flowers so she just had to buy them for me! I’m absolutely spoilt!

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The day completely flew by which is always such a shame, I hate it when it gets to the point where people have to leave! Especially today as we had a bit of a mini storm going on outside so everyone got soaking wet and blown away in the storm on the way to their cars! That will teach them not to leave won’t it!?

After everyone had gone, laden up with doggy bags and left overs, we finally sat down and opened the mounds and mounds of presents we had from friends and family. There was definitely a Nutcracker, Harry Potter and Beauty and the beast theme going on with my presents! My friends certainly know me very well! Here’s just some of the lovely gifts I had from friends and family-

Lots of sweets and treats:

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Elf cake Pop’s from Popalicious cake pops!

SO.MANY.PYJAMAS!!!! My favourite!

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And this brilliant Pusheen T-shirt! Pusheen is my spirit animal!

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Plus lots of smelly stuff, perfumes, bath bombs and hair treatments!

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Looking forward to using these! Anyone else used Philip Kingsley stuff before?

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Plus I was also given a pair of gold Beats headphones and BOTH pairs of trainers I wanted! I’m so lucky!

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All this followed by a short doze and nibbling leftovers and cheese and biscuits on the sofa whilst watching Christmas TV makes this my perfect Christmas Day!

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I hope you’ve all had an amazing day full of love and laughter with your families and friends! I’m looking forward to Boxing Day when I usually have a good clear out of my wardrobe to give unwanted items to charity and to put away all my lovely new presents!

Merry Christmas everyone! xx

CocoChlo’s Christmas Eve

I can’t believe it’s here already! The best day of the year! I actually prefer Christmas Eve to Christmas Day – there’s no better feeling than the evening of Christmas Eve when you finally sit down and everything is wrapped and prepared ready for tomorrow! Here’s how my favourite day of the year unravelled in 2017 –

We usually get up early and bundle the two dogs in the car and drive up to Painswick Beacon for a lovely long Christmas Eve walk. A few years ago some fellow dog walkers chose a beautiful big tree along the dog walkers path and started hanging baubles and decorations alongside photographs of their beloved dogs who have passed on.

It’s such a lovely tribute, putting their pictures where they enjoyed frolicking in the woods and chasing across the golf course to annoy the golfers! We added a tribute to our dog Scampy who died in 2006 – he was such a lovely dog and was incredibly loyal to his family of us girls!

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After our long walk we come home and have some breakfast – usually bacon rolls or Christmas morning muffins – and then we will start going about our day visiting people and dropping peoples presents and Christmas Eve boxes off (there were a LOT of Christmas Eve boxes to drop off this year!)

We visit several of our good friends on Christmas Eve, and some of these friends we struggle to catch up with for most, if not all, of the year! So it is great to catch up with them and hear how they’ve been getting on for the past few months/year.

I have a lovely lunch at my friends Mum’s house, I’ve known this particular friend for a VERY long time (since we were about five years old!) so it is great to catch up with her lovely family and my beautiful god-daughter. Her Mum buys all these amazing cheese bakes which she puts in the oven and we then eat with fresh bread and bread sticks! Delicious!

By the time we have been round to everyone and dropped off all the presents and/or Christmas Eve boxes, it us usually around 5/6pm, so we finally get to settle down at home and watch our Christmas movies and have some party food, and open our own Christmas Eve boxes! It also gives me a chance to have a bit of a tidy up and to start preparing some food and drink bits and to decorate the dining room table ready for the guests tomorrow.

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Here’s what we had in this years Christmas Eve boxes:

Yankee Candles

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Christmas Pyjamas

I normally get one set in my Christmas Eve box but had an Elf set and a Grinch set this year!

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Plus some matching Grinch slippers!

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I also had some lovely Gingerbread Men tea light candles, rose gold reindeer tea lights (which went really well with my existing reindeer set!), some lovely salted caramel chocolate pinecones from Marks and Spencers, a pegasus ornament to hang on our Christmas tree and a sparkle and fizz chocolate bar from Marks and Spencers!

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Between us, hubby and I also had the entire set of hot chocolates from Wilkinsons – regular hot chocolate, white hot chocolate, gingerbread hot chocolate and marshmallow hot chocolate! Yummy!

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To make things easier, we normally cook a batch of party food for dinner tonight, so we can graze at it over the course of the evening!

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Then, at around 10:45pm, we walk up to our local church to attend Midnight Mass which usually starts at around 11pm and finishes just after the bells chime for midnight. We’ve been going for several years now, only missing it one year when I was feeling unwell, and I regretted not going for the whole of the following year. We aren’t particularly religious, we didn’t even get married in a church, but we are incredibly lucky. We have more than we need, we have an amazing family unit and all our family are currently in good health, we don’t have to worry about how to pay bills or where the next meal is coming from like some poor people out there have to, so we have a lot to be thankful for. Going to Midnight Mass is our way of saying thank you for everything we have had over the past year and to hope for as much good fortune in the year to come. It also gives me a chance to think about those friends and family who won’t be spending Christmas with us because they are no longer with us.

We usually get back around half midnight and go straight off up to bed so we can get up early the next morning to start preparing for the big day!

I hope you all have a magical Christmas full of love and laughter – MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! xxx

What’s on the menu this Christmas?

One of my favourite aspects of Christmas is the incredible food you can buy this time of year! I have to say my favourite place to buy food from for the festive period is Marks and Spencers. In my opinion they overshadow all the other supermarkets and consistently bring out new, exciting and unusual products year after year.

For Christmas Day we will usually choose three or four canapes which I leave out for people to pick at whilst the main meal is cooking away. If the boys have been down the pub for a couple of pints before lunch they are usually rather peckish by the time they come home so they look forward to these!

This year for our canapés we are having Asian chicken lollipops, BBQ pork belly squares and Brie and Cranberry parcels (all from M&S) and a lovely Antipasti platter from Tescos which consists of grilled vegetable antipasti, marinated slow roasted tomatoes, Spanish olives with cheddar cheese, pitted Halkidiki olives with lemon and garlic, feta stuffed peppers, roasted and salted corn and roasted and salted broad beans! Delicious!

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We then have our starters – one is usually fish and the other either meat (we don’t have any vegetarians in the family). Past starters have included individual baked Camenbert’s with a range of toppings, gold flaked smoked salmon, cheddar cheese souffle’s, prawn cocktails, pate, and an amazing Lobster Thermidor!

This year we have actually chosen three starters as we couldn’t decide and everyone wanted to try a bit of everything! We have gone for –

Cornish Cruncher cheese and cider bakes (with breads for dipping):

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Smoked salmon bauble terrine:

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King prawn and poached salmon terrines:

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Then onto the main course which is usually the trickier bit to select – we have a half and half split in the family of who likes turkey and who doesn’t, so when there are between 8 and 12 of us having Christmas dinner – I will usually cook a turkey and one other meat (usually either lamb or beef wellington). Everyone likes different vegetables and condiments so we start off with a big list which basically includes everything you can think of and then this is usually cut down a bit after people compromise on a few things! I don’t mind cooking such a huge range of things if people like them but the issue I have found with cooking so many different things is a) getting the timings right so they are all cooked at the same time and b) keeping everything warm whilst you are serving the starters, cutting the meat etc. It really was becoming quite tricky so after having a meltdown one year because the sprouts were stone cold, I decided we had to start limiting our choices slightly!

We have gone for a plain turkey crown this year (no stuffing or bacon) but I am going to add this amazing looking Christmas spiced bacon on top of the turkey! Yum!

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After moving into our new house only a couple weeks ago, I was worried about trying to cook two meats in an oven I was still getting used to, and in one which is much smaller than my lovely range oven I had to leave behind at the old house, so in the end I choose this amazing looking gammon joint from Marks and Spencer’s – all cooked and ready to eat! Easy peasy!

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Add in pigs in blankets, sage and onion stuffing, yorkshire puddings, peas, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower cheese and green beans and we have a feast fit for a king!

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I’ve also bought some delicious bread sauce (Mum’s favourite) and cranberry and port sauce to top it off with.

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Then onto the best bit – dessert! We usually end up with a HUGE choice of desserts because again, everyone likes different things! Everyone always takes home a doggy bag of desserts to eat later and I freeze what I can and slowly work my way through them!

For the past three years one of the choices has been the “penguin party cake” from Marks and Spencers! We fell in love with it the first time we had it – the sponge was so light, and the buttercream and icing were delicious! We have bought it every year since and were really hoping that M&S decided to bring it back again this year, but it didn’t feature in their Christmas food catalogue! I tweeted them and they confirmed that it wouldn’t be back this year unfortunately! [insert very sad face emoji!)

This year is no exception on the dessert front and I’ve gone totally overboard AGAIN. I will be eating these until Easter I think!

Santa’s stuck in the chimney cake – really looking forward to trying this one!

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White chocolate Snowball Wreath (with raspberry compote inside!)

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Chocolate pinecones – I saw these last year but stupidly didn’t get any! Aren’t they lovely?

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Salted caramel yule log – I’m OBSESSED with salted caramel flavoured things so this looks like it was made for me!

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Mini Mince pies

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Then, believe it or not, I actually serve a course of cheese and biscuits! This year I think I got an absolute bargain buying this cheese “cake” from Tescos! It was £30 and weighs almost 3 kilos and consists of Coastal Cheddar, Red Leicester, Blue Stilton, Wensleydale with sweetened dried cranberries and blueberries and St Endellion Brie – so something for everyone’s taste!

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Whilst on the subject of cheese, I bought this lovely item from Marks and Spencer’s for several of my cheese loving friends – isn’t it great? It’s called in a pear cheese!

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Then the easiest part is usually the drinks! Everyone knows what they like and to be honest I have given up on making surprise cocktails and punches for the guests because they tend to stick with what they know they like!

Some of the most common drinks we partake in during the festive season are Apple and Cinnamon Martinis (apple juice and cinnamon flavoured liqueur – Smirnoff do a good one with gold bits in it!), Snowballs (Advocaat, lemonade and a splash of lime juice), Amaretto sours (amaretto and pre-mixed Finest Call sweet and sour mix – I tend to order in bulk from Syrup’s and Stuff as they do case deals on the Finest Call range) and of course Prosecco with chambord, limoncello or Popaball’s Rose gold shimmer for processo!

Anyway, as it’s almost Christmas Eve I had better go and start prepping! Two more sleeps to go!!!

Christmas Cornflake Wreaths

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Now the kids have broken up from school for Christmas, if you are looking for a really fun, easy and cheap treat to make then this is ideal!

To make the Cornflake Wreaths you will need:

-100g soft butter

-200g mini marshmallows

-125g cornflakes

-1 teaspoon of any flavouring you would like such as vanilla or orange – my favourite is almond!

-Spinkles!

To make the wreaths –

Put a piece of greaseproof paper on a surface ready for the wreaths to set on later.

Put the hob on a low heat and melt the butter and marshmallows in a large pan. Stir continuously until the ingredients are combined.

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Take the pan off the heat and add any flavouring you want to use.

Add the cornflakes to the pan and crush them as you stir them so they are easier to shape later on, I find the smaller you crush the cornflakes the easier it is to shape them.

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Make sure all the cornflakes are covered in the marshmallow mixture.

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When the mixture has cooled down slightly, pull off a ball of mixture around the size of a golfball and flatten it on your baking paper – sounds easy right?? This is the hardest bit as it is REALLY messy! The kids will love it! Even flattening it is hard because the mixture sticks to EVERYTHING!!! Be prepared to get covered in goo!

You should end up with nine or ten wreaths after you’ve fought to flatten them onto the baking  paper.

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Once you’ve done this, use the end of a spoon to make a hole in the middle so they look “wreath-like”.

Fairly soon after you do this and before the mixture sets, you need to decorate your wreaths! Do this however you wish but I do find that red and green holly and berry decorations look really good, and I also add a few white stars on them too!!

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Finally, sprinkle on some edible glitter and leave them for an hour or so (if you can!) to allow the mixture to set and then indulge!!!

New York at Christmas Time – Day Three

We didn’t have any major plans for our third day in New York as I didn’t know how much ground we would cover yesterday and whether we would need a couple of hours to catch up on things we missed yesterday!

We started off the day by walking north to make our way to Central Park. We stopped by the Plaza Hotel on the way (the hotel Kevin stays in in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York) to take some photos – hubby said if we were lucky enough to visit New York again he would like to stay here next time!

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We then stopped and had another tasty breakfast at a café on Columbus Circle! It was AMAZING!

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We then crossed the road to visit the Columbus Circle Holiday Market which was another market I knew I wanted to visit. The location is great – perched in between the hustle and bustle of the city and yet also on the edge of Central Park.

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I really loved this market, lots of lovely stalls and the food stalls were amazing! Check out my poo emoji and little lamb macaron I bought while I was there!

There was also a stall selling giant S’mores and the most amazing hot chocolates I have seen!

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After our visit to the market we went to visit Central Park and spent a good couple of hours walking round to see all that it has to offer. Here are some of the amazing things you can see in this massive park:

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Central Park Zoo

We visited Central Park zoo the first time we visited New York, so we didn’t visit this time. Still, it is a great day out and well worth visiting if you get the chance. You’ll find over 130 different species ranging from Snow Leopards to Tropical Birds in here! Prices start at $18 per adult ticket.

Wollman Rink

This looked like a lot of fun and was much cheaper than the rink at the Rockefeller Center (starts at $12 per adult). The rink also seemed bigger and far less busy too!

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Wollman Rink was opened in 1949 and has been a favorite attraction of Central Park ever since. In the autumn and winter, ice skating at the rink is one of the most popular things to do in Central Park. It’s lovely to skate with the city’s skyline looking down on you!

Loeb Boathouse

The iconic Loeb Boathouse offers boat rentals and gondola rides, as well as a very exclusive expensive dining experience!

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Calvert Vaux designed a wooden structure of the boat house that would last from 1873 until 1954. The beautiful, two-story, Victorian structure was eventually torn down, but its original purpose was carried on by its replacement, now known as the Loeb Boathouse.

Carl M. Loeb opened the new, red brick and limestone Boathouse in 1954. In addition to its traditional functions, the new Boathouse is also the site of the Boathouse Restaurant.

Pilgrim Hill

We wanted to visit here because this is where everyone goes sledding when there’s thick snow on the ground! We were hoping there would still be some snow when we got there but unfortunately it had all gone! Still a very pretty place though!

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Alice in Wonderland

Located just north of the Conservatory Water at East 74th Street, Alice in Wonderland stands eleven feet tall in bronze, surrounded by the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit and a few of her other friends!

The Dairy Visitor Center

The Central Park Dairy, which now serves as an information center and gift shop inside the park, was originally intended as a source of fresh milk for children in the late 19th century.

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The Dairy was constructed in 1870; at this time, fresh milk for children was difficult to find and desperately sought after by parents. The Dairy was built at the southern end on the park, originally the children’s section, to provide milk and snacks for children in the cool and relaxing atmosphere near the Pond.

Plus there is loads, loads more to do in Central Park than this, you can easily spend a couple of days in Central Park checking out everything it has to offer!

After a few hours and a LOT of walking around Central Park we walked back towards the hotel and stopped off at Times Square where I checked out the “it’s always Christmas” shop! There has been a Facebook video going round which showed footage of the inside and outside of this amazing store so I was really pleased I got to visit!

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I also spotted this amazing little cupcake store on Times Square called Baked By Melissa. They sell adorable little bite-sized cupcakes in some amazing flavours! I bought a pack of six but wish I had bought more! They are only bite-sized after all!

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I also went into a brilliant deli and bought a rainbow bagel which had almond butter in! Delicious!

After a pit stop to stuff our faces we ventured on down to Macys Department Store. I wasn’t too bothered about doing any shopping as you could spend all day in this amazing store, but I wanted to visit their Christmas department which is called Holiday Lane! I’ve seen a Facebook video of Holiday Lane too so I knew it was going to be spectacular!

I have never seen so many beautiful trees and decorations and stuffed toys and wreaths and Nutcracker Dolls! I really was in my element!

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After a long final day we visited Times Square and splashed out on a HUGE slap up meal at Applebee’s which is one of our favourite American restaurants. I love the pretzels with beer cheese dips for starters and four cheese macaroni cheese with chicken on top, absolutely delicious!

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The perfect end to a perfect holiday! Our three nights here went so quickly but we all got to see things we wanted to see and do things we wanted to do, and most importantly we got to spend time together. A truly magical place this time of year, if you ever get the chance to go, grab it with both hands!

Until next time New York!

New York at Christmas Time – Day Two

We were all up earlier than I had expected us to be (stupid jet-lag!) but this meant we could get ready and be out stomping the streets of New York as early as possible and cover more ground.

We put the TV on as we were getting ready and were mortified to hear that there had been an attempt to set a bomb off only a few streets away from our hotel but thank god no-one was seriously injured or killed. I take my hat off to the authorities who have to deal with terrible situations like this – they are all so skilled and well trained and professional throughout and I have to say, despite being only a couple of streets away from where disaster could have struck, I never once felt unsafe knowing the best of the best were out there protecting us all. I think it is fair to say that terrorism failed in more than one aspect that day.

Anyway, on a brighter note, off we went on Monday’s adventure. We walked a good twenty minutes to go and have breakfast at Broadway Café – we always have breakfast here at least once during our trips to New York. It is a brilliant place with so much choice, I challenge you not to find something on the breakfast menu that you like! If you get the chance you must pay them a visit!

After a hearty breakfast of pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup and omelettes, oatmeal and sausage sandwiches, we carried on walking South down Broadway, admiring all the shops and window displays.

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On our way to the Financial District we came across the Flatiron building – such an amazing design! It was originally called the Fuller Building, is 22 storeys high and was completed in 1902. The name “Flatiron” comes from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron. The building is often described as “one of the worlds most iconic skyscrapers and a quintessential symbol of New York city.” It is certainly very amazing to look at!

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We eventually arrived at Washington Square Park, which looked beautiful as it still had some snow on the ground. The park is a 9.75 acre public park in Greenwich and is one of the best known parks of New York city. At the northern gateway of the park you will find the Washington Square Arch (in the second picture).

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We also stopped off at Sugarhut and spent a fortune on sweets! I have never seen so many different types of sweets and treats! I was like a kid in a toy store! You don’t get sweet shops in the UK anymore really do you? It’s mainly the supermarkets you have to get your sugar fix from!

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We carried on walking down Fifth Avenue for a few more miles until we reached the Financial District and One World Trade Center’s Freedom Tower. The last time we visited New York in 2013, they were still building here and we all said as soon as the observation deck was finished that we would come back to visit.

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One World Trade Center (also known as WTC of Freedom Tower) is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex. It is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and is the sixth tallest building in the world! The new skyscraper stands on the site of the original 6 World Trade Center building. The building’s architect was David Childs, whose firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) also designed the Burj Khalifa and the Willis Tower.

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Construction of below-ground footings and foundations for the Freedom Tower began on 27 April 2006, and when we visited Ground Zero in June 2009, all work was still being completed underground at this point. One World Trade Center became the tallest structure in New York City on 30 April 2012, when it surpassed the height of the Empire State Building. When we visited New York in May 2013, the work which had been completed was incredible – the Tower was almost complete and the final component of the Tower’s spire had just been installed, making the building (including its spire) reach a total height 1,776 feet! The building is 104 standard floors high, but has only 94 actual stories. The height of 1776 feet is deliberate, as it references the year the United States Declaration of Independence was signed. The building officially opened in 3rd November 2014, and the One World Observatory opened on 29th May 2015.

The tower has a three-story observation deck which is located on floors 100–102. The actual viewing space is on the 100th floor, but there is a food court on the 101st floor and a space for events on the 102nd floor. Admission to the Observation Deck is $39 and is well worth the price.

Once you have passed through security you enter a lift which takes you up to the 102nd floor. During the lift journey, screens on the walls of the lift light up and show you how the skyline of New York has developed since the 1900’s. Once you leave the lift you are escorted into a theatre type room which shows another video of New York, its residents and its developments over the years. The video is extremely moving, and once the video has finished, the black back drop lifts up and shows you a beautiful outlook of this amazing city! I cried at the time and thinking about it again as I type this it has made me tearful again! It was so moving and very tastefully done.

You then leave the theatre room and explore the observation deck where you can take some absolutely amazing photographs from all the viewpoints of the city. Keep an eye out for the Brooklyn Bridge, The Statue of Liberty and of course the incredible Empire State Building.

Photographs really do not do it justice, the view is exceptional and I could have stayed there all day looking out at this amazing place.

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We didn’t visit the National September 11 Memorial and Museum on this occasion as we visited on our trip during 2013, however I urge you to go and visit if you get the chance. I will cover more on the Memorial and Museum in my next New York blog which I hope to publish early next year.

After our amazing (and very emotional) visit to the Freedom Tower, we wandered down further into the financial district to see Wall Street and it’s infamous “Charging Bull”. Despite being to New York a couple of times before, we have never got around to seeing him so we were pleased we got to this time!

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We then started making our way back up Fifth Avenue towards our hotel and on the way we visited the Union Square Holiday Market. I was really looking forward to this market but to be honest I was rather disappointed. There were nowhere near as many stalls as I had expected and I couldn’t find any of the stalls I had ear-marked to visit which was a real shame! A very pretty market in the centre of Manhattan but I left here empty handed!

When we visited Union Square market I had made a note to visit a nearby bakery/restaurant called Union Fare, I am so, so pleased I did in the end because I managed to get hold of one of their famous Red Velvet croissants (a red sweet flavoured croissant filled with a delicious cream cheese flavoured filling) and a Birthday Cake croissant (a croissant with multi-coloured sugar strands running through it filled with a white Birthday cake flavoured filling which is again filled with colourful sugar strands)! Delicious! I also bought a very colourful Sugar Cookie which I saved to eat later on when we got back to the hotel!

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As we continued on we came across Gingerbread Boulevard in Madison Square Park.

Gingerbread Boulevard features a life-size Gingerbread House, with ginger “bricks”, a “frosting-covered” roof and is covered in candy canes, gum drops and more.

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You get to go inside the house where there is a fire lit and a fully-decorated Christmas tree. Inside are TV screens which show the Gingerbread Man decorating his Christmas tree and then running past the windows of his house – it’s probably more for the children but we enjoyed it and thought it was really cute!

It was a bit of a surreal experience but a really good laugh and a great photo opportunity! Plus the house smelt absolutely delicious! We didn’t have to queue to go in and there was no charge so I would highly recommend visiting Gingy in his Gingerbread house if you have the chance!

After finally getting back to our hotel (after a Dunkin’ Donuts stop on the way!), we checked our phones which said we had walked the equivalent of a half marathon!

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We decided we wanted to go back to the Rockefeller to do the ice skating tonight (even after walking all that way!) as the forecast was rain for the next day, so after a quick rest at the hotel we wandered back over to the Rockefeller Center.

It was far quieter tonight than it had been the night before which was great. We managed to get into the last ice skating slot of the evening which was from 10:30pm until midnight, and we only had around a 45 minute wait to get onto the ice which I didn’t think was too bad considering you can’t pre-book tickets. I think the slots of an hour and a half are a bit long as the ice skating boots were really uncomfortable and it isn’t the biggest rink in the world but anyway, another amazing experience ticked off the bucket list!

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After ice skating at the Rockefeller Centre we headed off back to the hotel and walked past Saks Fifth Avenue – I knew they would put on a spectacular show but I didn’t imagine something as incredible as this! The theme this year was to celebrate 80 years of Snow White so the window displays were all Snow White themed and then on the front of the building was a spectacular light display which went off every hour or so alongside music from Snow White such as the ‘hi ho hi ho’ song! It was truly incredible.

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I know now why they call it the city that never sleeps! By the time we got to the hotel we were all absolutely exhausted!! I was worried we would sleep in the next morning and lose precious time on our last day because we were so tired!

New York at Christmas Time – Day One

What an amazing past couple of weeks my family and I have had! My husband and I finally got to move into our dream home, we celebrated my Sisters Birthday, my Mum’s Birthday, had our annual trip to London and two themed afternoon teas and to top it all off, we spent three nights in New York!

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The day we moved (Friday 1st December), we were at my Mum’s house in the evening, celebrating my Sister’s Birthday with some cake and champagne when out came four gold envelopes, each containing a note saying how hard we had worked this year and as an extra special Christmas present, Mum had paid for the four of us to spend three nights in New York!

Everyone was (and still is!) absolutely dumbfounded! What an incredibly amazing and perfect present, all four of us have always dreamed of going to New York over Christmas!

We left on the 10th December and battled our way to Heathrow through the most terrifying snow storm I have ever seen! How we all made it to the airport in one piece I will never know! We were lucky we had an early morning flight because even as we were sat on the plane watching it be de-iced by a giant robot, I sat there thinking to myself they are definitely going to cancel lots of flights today due to the snow!

Anyway, we got away on time and around 7 hours later (and after my husband watching Home Alone nearly four times on the plane journey, not joking!) we arrived in the Big Apple!

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We were staying at The Roosevelt Hotel on East 45th Street and it looked absolutely stunning inside! Huge Christmas trees and decorations and wreaths and baubles, a really lovely hotel. I have been lucky enough to have visited New York three times over the last 8 years and this is the best hotel I have stayed in so far, I would definitely stay here again.

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So, we got checked in and had a quick shower and got changed and out we went! Our first stop was the amazing Bryant Park Winter Village which wasn’t far from our hotel. I couldn’t wait to visit this Christmas Market – it looked like the biggest and had loads of amazing food stalls I wanted to try!

It got dark as we were there so the buildings were all lit up above you whilst you were wondering around the market drinking mulled wine and hot chocolate – it was amazing! There’s an ice skating rink here and plenty of bars and restaurants surround the market too.

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Whilst I was there I indulged in some chicken from Chick N Cone which, funnily enough, is bite sized pieces of chicken in a waffle cone! I tried the Cinnamon Maple flavour – it was the best tasting chicken I have ever eaten! I wish I had bought two!

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My Sister tried some Mexican Tacos and the boys had a New York Cheese Steak sandwich (they ate these too quickly for me to catch a photo of them!)

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I also tried some truffle mozzarella sticks – god they were to die for!

Next we moved onto the dessert stalls – my Sister and I bought three filled Churros to start – one was filled with Dulce De Leche (caramel), one was filled with Boston Cream Pie (kind of a crème pâtissière filling) and the other one was filled with S’more (marshmallow and chocolate filling) – again, amazing! I do love Churros!

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I was also really pleased as I managed to get hold of two pots of cookie dough from DO whilst I was there – I follow them on Instagram and love their colourful cookie dough flavours and designs! I had a Birthday cake flavoured cookie dough and their limited edition Winter WonDOland cookie dough! Yum!

After a couple of hours (and a couple of drinks!) at Winter Village we wondered over to the Rockefeller Center to see the infamous Christmas tree and to go ice skating.

On the way to the Rockefeller Center, the streets of New York are lined with beautiful festive decorations and lights everywhere. It really is a magical place this time of year!

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When we arrived at the Rockefeller Center we were all speechless! The Christmas tree is absolutely stunning in real life and is HUGE! It is covered in multi-coloured lights and sits happily above the skating rink whilst people skate below!

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Aside from the spectacular tree, there are also lots of other beautiful statues and decorations at the Rockefeller Center to celebrate the festive season!

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Unfortunately, the skating rink was booked out to a private party this evening so we had a stroll around the Rockefeller Center and took plenty of photos before making our way back to the hotel for the evening. In hindsight, we should have left visiting the Rockefeller Center until the following day as it was absolutely HEAVING with people (as it was a Sunday) so you couldn’t get a very good view or take many good photos!

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If you visit New York for the first time I would highly recommend visiting the Rockefeller Center’s Top of the Rock viewing deck. We have been to New York twice before and done the Top of the Rock both times so we didn’t do it again on this occasion, however the views are incredible and you can visit both during the day or at night – I would recommend visiting at night if you can, as you can see the Empire State Building lit up in all its glory! I would also recommend pre-booking Top of the Rock tickets online as queues can be huge and the last thing you want to do is waste time hanging around in queues when New York has so much else to offer!

There’s also a huge selection of shops and restaurants within the Rockefeller Center for you to visit, and right outside you can also find Radio City Music Hall – their Christmas Spectacular show is infamous across the globe!

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We were exhausted by the time we finally got back to the hotel but couldn’t wait for the next day’s adventures!

What an amazing start to an incredible few days in New York!

 

London at Christmas time

London is such a brilliant place to visit around Christmas time – not so much if you are one of those headless chickens running around trying to source last minute Christmas presents, but if you have Christmas all wrapped up and have the time (and patience!) to explore and see what this city has to offer during the festive season then you are in for a treat!

My Mum, my Sister and I go on a day trip to London every December, here’s some of the amazing things we have done over the last few years:

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

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This place is like marmite – I’ve spoken to people who absolutely love it here, and likewise, people who absolutely detest it! Winter Wonderland opened on 17th November this year and is open for six weeks until 1st January 2018.

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It is free to enter Winter Wonderland and inside you can find a wealth of things to do including –

Ice Skating

Winter Wonderland’s ice skating rink is the largest outdoor rink in the UK and is open from 10am to 10pm. Ice skating sessions run every hour on the hour and each session lasts for 50 minutes.  Adult prices start at £9.50 and child prices start at £7.50.

If you are unsteady on your feet you can also ask for the help of an Ice Guide – a trained ice skater who can escort you and your group on the ice – a really great idea but they don’t come cheap (£35 an hour on top of your skating ticket price!)

Magical Ice Kingdom

This has a different theme every year, the year we visited it was the theme Merlin and the knights of the round table and it was absolutely fantastic!

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Merlin
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One of the Knights of the round table
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The Sword in the Stone
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My favourite is this beautiful unicorn and her baby!
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And the grand finale was this absolutely incredible ice dragon with glowing eyes!!

Definitely well worth a look if you have the time! There were loads more characters to see and the pictures I have taken seriously do not do them any justice! This years theme is called Deep Sea Adventure and looks just as amazing! Adult Ticket prices start at £7.00 and child’s prices start at £5.00.

Bar Ice

You may have already seen my blog on the two Bar Ice bars you can find in London, if not you can read about this great experience here. One of the Bar Ice’s can be found at Winter Wonderland but obviously can get very busy so make sure you pre-book your tickets!

Plus loads more including the Giant Observation Wheel, The Sooty Christmas Show, Zippo’s Christmas Circus, Cirque Beserk, Cinderella on Ice and of course the stunning stalls selling everything from Mulled wine to Churros to Christmas Decorations to hats and scarves!

Outside of Hyde Park, we usually visit:

Oxford Street

My favourite shopping street! It is obviously very busy this time of year but do your best to stop along the way to check out the amazing Christmas decorations which line the streets! Regent Street always looks really pretty too!

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Oxford Street
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Regent Street Angels

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Department Store Windows

Have you ever watched the film “Mannequin”? It follows a guy who, with a lot of assistance from a mannequin which comes to life when no-one else is looking, is a Window Dresser, and together they design these amazing department store window displays which have people travelling from miles around to come and see.

Classic 80’s film and the department store windows this time of year always remind me of it!

Anyway, each year there is a bit of a battle between the different department stores to have the best dressed window displays. The ideas they come up with are amazing and must take them hours and hours to create. Here are some of the highlights we came across this year:

Harrods

A bit of an unusual one this year! An Instagram friend told me its because they were designed by Karl Lagerfeld and this seemed to make a lot of sense! I’m still unsure whether I like them or not….

Selfridges

I loved Selfridges windows this year! Really fun and eye-catching! Bouncing Santas, Robins and Christmas Puddings and a suit made of sprouts! What more could you want?? Oh yes, a “Nutcracker Queen” surrounded by her Nutcracker soldiers on the balcony above the escalators! That will do!

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Plus we loved the massive hare and fox which appeared in the H&M windows this year!

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Department Store Christmas departments

I don’t tend to do much shopping in the department stores, I’ve usually got everyone’s presents by now and the temptation is to spend far too much if I start wondering into areas like Saint Laurent or Alexander McQueen! What my sister and I do tend to do is head straight for the Christmas themed sections within the department stores to check out the decorations and displays! In some of the bigger department stores it really is like walking into a Winter Wonderland!

This year I encountered a life size singing Reindeer (only £4,500!) and a huge Nutcracker Doll (only £1,250!). Better start saving I think!

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Department Store Food halls

Harrods Food Hall at any time of the year is absolutely incredible but team it up with all the Christmas flavours and goodies they have to offer and I really am in heaven here!

Selfridges also has a great food hall but I do prefer Harrods. In actual fact I think that the food hall in Selfridges Birmingham is better than the Selfridges in London – far bigger and far easier to find everything!

Peggy Porschen Parlour

This year we also managed to visit the amazing Peggy Porschen Parlour in Victoria! It is one of the stunning places I have ever visited, the photos really don’t do it justice.

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The inside is just as beautiful as the outside, and each and every product sold here is crafted to perfection.

If you have the chance, check out the outstanding Gingerbread houses they sell – if I had bought one of these I really don’t think I could have brought myself to eat such an amazing creation!

I HIGHLY recommend you visit here if you get the chance! We are definitely re-visiting the next time we are in London!

So as you can see, we have some real adventures on our annual trips to London, which don’t always include Christmassy themed things (The British Museum and The Natural History Museum for example).

Our annual trip to London is one of the Christmas traditions I really look forward to and I hope carries on long into the future!

Christmas in Narnia

I saw an advert for this come up on Facebook and thought it looked brilliant!

As I am usually on the prowl for special events such as this for around my Mum’s Birthday (9th December), and the family are all big The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Chronicles of Narnia fans, it looked absolutely perfect for the occasion!

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I commented on the Facebook post with my email address so they could send me a brochure as they were hosting evening events on several dates throughout December at Cheltenham Town Hall. After reading the brochure information I was disappointed that you had to book for a minimum of 8 people for the three course dinner, (as they don’t mix parties for the event), and there would only have been three of us attending.

I was much happier a few days later when they announced they were also doing an afternoon tea party version of the event due to its popularity. The cost was cheaper and the itinerary and style of event were much more suitable for my Sister, my Mum and I.

I contacted Hype Agency they confirmed there was no minimum amount of people you had to book for this event! Even better! So I booked our tickets for our Christmas afternoon tea in Narnia which also fell on Mum’s Birthday – perfect!

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When you arrive for afternoon tea you arrive by walking through a wardrobe and into Narnia! Look at Mum’s face – she’s so happy!

You walk through a snow filled tunnel and are met by Mr Tumnus whilst a flurry of snow falls from above!

Once you enter, the whole room is decorated with Narnian themed decorations, including the lamppost, beautiful candelabras and twinkling lights!

Even the White Witch and Aslan make an appearance!

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You are shown to your table and given an activity sheet with word searches and cross words to complete whilst you wait for your food. There are plenty of other activities for children to do, as well as many photo opportunities with all the characters!

You can also visit Santa in his grotto if you wish, and any children attending get a gift from Santa!

You then sit down for afternoon tea which consists of tea and coffee, sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and a fairy cake or chocolate brownie and cherry bakewell. They also offer gluten and dairy free options if you require them.

After afternoon tea, there are a couple of short ballet performances by the White Witch!

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There’s also a bar which serves Narnian themed cocktails and shooters including the Prince Caspian (vanilla vodka, grenadine and cranberry juice), The Lucy (Midori, pineapple juice and vodka) and the Tumnus Slammer (grenadine, tequila and pineapple juice).

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The company who host the event are called Hype Agency, and they regularly host themed Christmas parties in Bristol, Cheltenham and other areas in the South West. We all loved the event and are so pleased we went, we would definitely attend other events they are hosting!

The price for the afternoon tea was £19.50 per person which I thought was very reasonable in view of the planning and detail which went into the event.

If an evening event or Christmas party is more your thing as opposed to afternoon tea, the evening events are £32.00 per person and include a fully stocked Ice bar, live entertainment throughout the night, a three course themed meal, a themed photo booth, DJ and disco – just remember the minimum booking for this event is for 8 people though!

You can find out more about available dates and tickets here!

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A Lush Christmas – Part Four

Hello Lush fans, I hope all your Christmas shopping is well underway now and you aren’t getting too stressed now we are well into silly season!

I hope you enjoyed parts One, Two and Three of my Lush Christmas blogs – here’s the fourth and final part of my Christmas Lush blogs:

Sherbet Dip Bath Bomb

Sherbet Dip bath bomb is new for Christmas 2017 and as I am a huge fan of lemony scented products I was really looking forward to trying this one!

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Shaped like a Sherbet Lemon sweet, it isn’t the grandest of designs out of the Christmas range, but it contains some of my most favourite ingredients such as grapefruit oil, sicilian lemon oil, lime oil and gardenia extract.

Sherbet Dip is a fast fizzer and soon the middle cracks open and reveals its bright blue centre which leaves you with a lovely shade of green bath water. The bath bomb produces a lovely amazing lemon scent which is incredibly relaxing, but it isn’t the most moisturising bath bomb I have used.

I really like Sherbet Dip but think it would be a good bath bomb to have as the permanent range rather than the Christmas one. It isn’t one of my favourites but is one I would definitely use again. This is also a great choice if you are buying a bath bomb as a present but aren’t too sure what scents and design people would like – straightforward but effective and does exactly what it says on the tin! Plus, the £3.75 price is brilliant for such a large sized bath bomb!

Shoot for the Stars Bath Bomb

Wow, wow, wow! I LOVE this bath bomb! I had left it until almost last on my list of products to use but I really wish I hadn’t. I bought three of these when they were first released and will definitely be buying some more before they are taken away when the festive season ends!

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This is a brilliant all rounder – beautiful design (bath bomb with star bath melts embedded in it), beautiful scent and beautiful colours which create stunning bath art.  The ingredients in Shoot for the Stars include cocoa butter, brazilian orange oil, bergamot oil, gardenia extract, coconut cream and almond oil! Perfect!

The star bath melts are made up of the cocoa butter and almond oil, and melt slowly after the bath bomb has fully dissolved. The bath bomb creates some amazing bath art and leaves you with beautiful shimmery blue bath water resembling a starry night.

This bath bomb is definitely one of the most moisturising bath bombs of the range and immediately became one of my favourites. It is absolutely perfect for those cold winter nights when you have dry skin. Surprisingly, despite the bath melts in this bath bomb, I didn’t find my bath to be at all greasy and even found it ok to wash my hair in the bath water, and the bath bomb didn’t leave any residue around the bath tub either – winner!

The scent is absolutely beautiful – I love all products with brazilian orange oil in – and the scent lasts throughout the time you are in the bath and on your skin for several hours afterwards. It’s very comforting to still be able to smell this scent when you are drifting off for a good nights sleep.

Definitely one of my absolute favourites, I highly recommend you grab a few of these as soon as you can!

Candy Mountain Bubble Bar

Candy Mountain is basically the Snow Fairy scent in a bubble bar form so I knew I was going to love it even before I had chopped it up and crumbled it into my bath water!

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Apparently Candy Mountain is a Christmas range regular, but it’s appearance changes most years. This year it is a lovely unicorn horn shaped pink and white cone!

As with all my bubble bars I chopped it up into crumbs and added (lots of) it to my bath water! Candy Mountain has its usual sugary Candy Floss/Bubblegum scent, but it does seem to feature quite potently in this product (yay!)

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Candy Mountain makes a generous amount of beautiful fluffy sweet smelling bubbles which last the entire time you are having a soak. The water turns a beautiful pink shade and is incredibly moisturising.

They recommend getting two baths out of this product but I reckon i could stretch it to three and still have an amazing bathing experience. One thing I noticed about Candy Mountain was how long the scent lasted on my skin – I could notice it hours after my bath and even as I was drifting off to sleep and in my hair the following day. It is definitely the strongest smelling and longest lasting scent of Snow Fairy product I have used so far, and purely for this reason, I ordered three more online whilst I was enjoying my Candy Mountain bath!

Not much more I can say about the product other than go and buy it, especially as it will be long gone once the festive season is over! I wish they made this product all year round! Definitely stock up on as many as you can I say!

Star Light Star Bright Bath Melt

I couldn’t wait to use this bath melt! Unfortunately I knew exactly what to expect with this shiny little number, as there had been loads of Instagram videos going round of it doing it’s thing the week the Christmas range was released!

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Star Light Star Bright is a large sized bright silver bath melt which is covered in silver lustre (as will you be if you aren’t careful!) and melts really slowly in the warm bath water. I am afraid the first Star Light Star Bright I had appeared to be a dud as it sank to the bottom of the bath like a stone! I’m not sure if they are all supposed to do this, as the bath melt is really dense so it is understandable really, but I am sure the videos I watched on Instagram of this product showed it floating as it melted into the bath water? I will have to try another one very soon and see if it does the same thing!

Anyway, once it starts melting in the bath water, the silver lustre melts away and floats on the top of the bath water, leaving behind a white, rather plain looking coating underneath.  The best bit is when this next part starts to dissolve and beautiful colours of pink, purple, blue and green start to come out! Once all thee colours have mixed, you are left with a beautiful purple bath water full of glittery sparkles.

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This lovely bath melt is packed full of murumuru butter for moisturising,  it was strange because the bath water didn’t feel very moisturising when I was in it, but afterwards the effect on my skin was amazing, and it was clear I’d had been lying in a bath full of amazing butter! Aside from murumuru butter, this amazing melt also includes ginger oil, lavender oil, almond oil and lime oil, so as you can imagine, the scent is incredible and really relaxing!

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As I say, my skin felt amazing afterwards and really soft and nourished, but without feeling greasy. The product did leave a bit of glitter around the side and bottom of the bath tub, so give it a rinse straight after use – hubby says he wiped the bath before he used it after me but as he is sat here looking rather sparkly I’m getting the impression he fibbed about giving the bath a clean!

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Absolutely love this product, I bought one for my sister for her Birthday and will definitely be buying some more when I next pop into Lush!

Magic Wand Bubble Bar

Ok, so I was pretty disappointed the last time I used a product similar to the Magic Wand re-usable Bubble Bar (the Magic of Christmas Bubble wand) as the whole experience was a bit of a disaster! The bubble wand soaked up the water pretty quickly and ended up falling apart after only a couple of swishes in the water and under the running bath tap – so naturally I was a bit nervous about using this similar product!

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I am pleased to say it was a completely different experience this time as I found the Magic Wand bubble bar to be far more robust than the Magic of Christmas bubble wand, and successfully swished away to my hearts content without the product falling apart!

I was particularly looking forward to using this product because it is made up of my favourite scent – Snow Fairy! The bubble bar itself is very pretty to look at, with it’s pretty ribbon and bell detail, and is ideal for giving away as presents or as a stocking filler, I much prefer the design of this one when compared to the Magic of Christmas bubble bar.

I feel confident that I could use this bubble bar several times to get a lovely bath full of fluffy Snow Fairy scented bubbles without it falling apart – I would guess you could get up to six baths out of this one bar. After you use the bubble bar, keep it stored in a dry place to prolong its life, and avoid it leaking and shrinking due to loss of moisture.  Be careful where you leave it lying around too – when it starts to leak, the colour can stain some surfaces!

After a few swishes, it turns the bath water a beautiful pink colour and creates lovely fluffy soft bubbles. I have found that these re-useable bubble bars don’t produce as many bubbles as regular bubble bars but I suppose that makes sense as you aren’t using anywhere near as much product. I must admit, as I was nervous about what happened with the last similar product, I didn’t use as much of the bubble bar as I probably could have as I was being cautious – I would definitely use more of the product next time.

The Snow Fairy scent is such an amazing scent, it really has to be smelt to be believed! It is a very sweet, almost bubblegum/candyfloss scent which is completely addictive once you start buying products with this scent.

I really enjoyed using this product, mainly because it is my favourite scent but also because I found the bath water to be very moisturising. Still, I do prefer having my Snow fairy products as strong as possible – in shower gel or body conditioner form (see below!)

Golden Pear Soap

This is a beautiful smelling soap, I can’t believe I left it as one of the last on my list! As soon as I got out of the shower after using this for the first time I went online and ordered three more from Lush! I hope they make this part of the regular collection!

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Golden Pear contains cocoa butter, coconut oil, murumuru butter and castor oil to leave your skin feeling moisturised, soft and smooth. One thing I found with this soap compared to all the other soaps I’ve tried from the Christmas collection is how well it lathers up which is something I really loved! To be covered in this amazing smelling foam really makes for a good shower! I didn’t want to get out!

The amazing scent of this soap is down to its amazing ingredients of pear puree, cardamon oil, Brazilian orange oil, sandalwood oil, almond oil and cloves. An absolute must buy – the only other soap I like as much as this is Hedgewitch from the Halloween range – I hope you guys like it as much as I do!!

Snow Fairy Body Conditioner

Sorry….another Snow Fairy scented product! I should think I don’t need to try and explain the Snow Fairy scent to you for a third time in this blog so I will focus on the body conditioner product a bit more.

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So, the idea of a body conditioner is, when you are in the shower, you apply it to your skin like a moisturiser and leave it for a few minutes to work its magic and then rinse it off. Now, I have a relatively small shower cubicle so I have really been struggling to use these products effectively whilst in the shower! Basically, I apply the body conditioner but it doesn’t have the chance to soak into my skin for a couple of minutes as I have no room in the shower enclosure to avoid the water from the shower, so it is washed off almost immediately which is a real waste!

So, anyway, what I have started doing is using it in the bath (standing up, applying it, leaving for a couple of minutes, then washing off in the bath water). Trouble I find with this is that the bath water can become quite greasy and so often isn’t suitable for washing your hair in afterwards…. so a bit of a catch 22 situation going on.

I do really love the body conditioner products though – they smell amazing and work wonders on your skin, leaving it feeling incredibly soft and moisturised. You don’t need much of the product to get a good result though – I am still finding I am using far too much product which is a real waste and doesn’t get me any better results, so go steady with it!

Highly recommended product, I’ve already bought three pots (god I should buy shares in Lush!) and I’ll likely buy some more towards the end of the festive season before this lovely product disappears from the shelves.

Baked Alaska Soap

This soap is so beautiful to look at – I didn’t want to use it! The full sized versions which are on display in Lush stores are also absolutely spectacular and well worth popping in to have a look at! They are created in a sphere shape which is designed to look like a giant snowball and then, when they are cut open, the inside reveals beautiful multicoloured patterns.

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Baked Alaska is a lovely citrusy smelling soap packed full of oils including rapeseed oil, coconut oil, lemon myrtle oil, ylang ylang oil and grapefruit oil! Lovely! It also contains gardenia extract and organic cocoa butter and a lovely snowy popping candy topping!

The soap doesn’t lather up much at first but once I started applying it to a sponge it lathered up perfectly. The colours are gorgeous, the citrusy scent is amazing and lingers on your skin for hours afterwards, and the soap lasts ages which is brilliant and makes it really good value for money. A real winner and one of my favourite soaps of the festive range!

Snow Fairy Sparkle jar

The Snow Fairy and Twilight sparkle jars are new products for 2017 and I must admit I was a bit unsure of what to make of them at first.

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The outside is made up of a cocoa butter massage bar, which is designed to be applied to the skin after using your normal moisturiser. The sparkle jar also has two indents in it which you poke through to reveal the Snow Fairy scented powder which is sprinkled over your skin after applying the moisturising bar.

The general consensus on this product from fellow Lushies, which I do happen to agree with, is that the massage bar works well, and the powder inside works really well, but they just don’t seem to work very well together. This is for a few reasons, the first is that you find you work your way through the massage bar part of the product extremely quickly, but inside is a mound of Snow Fairy powder which will be relatively difficult to get through. Many Lushie’s have actually decanted the powder out of the massage jar and started to use it separately and found this to be a lot better.

The second reason is once you have poked through the holes of the sparkle jar, the powder doesn’t “sprinkle” out like it should do, but pours out, which makes it very difficult to use.   If you want to carry on using the sparkle jar for its intended purpose then I would really recommend poking through just one of the indents, rather than two, to make it easier and far less messy to use.

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The third issue I encountered was when the sparkle jars first arrived. I ordered two of the Twilight and two of the Snow Fairy sparkle jars, and one of each of them arrived with the tops broken off. Luckily they were both still upright in the box so I didnt lose too much of the powder from inside, and I managed to fuse them back together again by melting the top and bottom and placing the lid back on to let it set again which seemed to work. This did get me thinking though – if I was using the massage part of the bar and the top broke away from the bottom at the weak point where it is joined, you could end up with a lot of scented powder covering you and your bedroom carpet or bathroom floor, which would be pretty upsetting!

Still, I do love the massage bar and the powder, and it was a really good concept, I’m just not too sure how practical these types of products will be in the long run. I am pleased I bought two though and will definitely carry on using them – just very cautiously!

Shooting Stars Soap

If you get the chance to pop into your local Lush store, have a look to see if they have a large version of the Shooting Stars soap – they are absolutely stunning!

The Shooting Stars soap comes in several different colours and I’ve managed to get my hands on a pink and green version so far!

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I love the zesty smell of this soap – it contains lime oil, bergamot oil, Sicilian lemon oil and Star fruit puree! It is really refreshing and the oils in it (rapeseed and coconut) leave your skin feeling lovely and soft and moisturised.

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I really love the scent of this soap, it’s definitely one of my favourites! The added glitter on top is also a lovely touch! The only downside to it is that I seem to get through it really quickly, and the chunk I cut off to use the first time was nearly almost gone after my hot shower!

Still, I will definitely be buying a couple more of these before the end of the year!

Giant Golden Wonder Bath Bomb

I had to save this one for the grand finale! And grand it most certainly is! This bath bomb is HUGE!!!! Seeing as I loved the regular sized Golden Wonder bath bomb so much, I knew I was in for a real treat here!!

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I knew I would love this bath bomb when I heard that it shares its scent with Snow Showers Shower jelly which is one of my absolute favourite scents! The bath bomb contains  sweet orange oil, cognac oil, gardenia extract and lime oil – a perfect scent to come home to on a cold Winter’s day!

This huge bath bomb is exactly the same as the smaller version but on a much larger scale! It starts off with lovely thick white and yellow foam and then once the outer core is cracked it produces a lovely bright blue colour foam. The best bit though is the lovely gold lustre and soluble gold stars which make the blue bath water sparkle beautifully. The photos really don’t do it justice!

The bath water on the small versions of this bath bomb is incredibly moisturising so imagine what the giant version is like! The bath water was really silky and extremely moisturising – this is definitely one you need to use and then soak in for a long time afterwards!

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Slightly pricey at £12.95, but not when you see the size of it and see its effect in the bath! I’ve already been out and bought a second one – I think I will save that one for a lovely hot bath on New Years Day!

Anyway, that concludes my reviews of this years Lush festive range! I hope you have seen a couple of items you like and want to try!

Having said that, I went onto the Lush website last night to check the ingredients in a soap and came across some Christmas online exclusives so I’ve put another order in so I may have to do a “mop up” blog as well! Sorry non-lush fans!!

A Lush Christmas – Part Three

Well, we are on day three of my blogs which review this years Lush Christmas range – I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my reviews so far – I’ve certainly enjoyed trying them all out! Here is the next batch of festive Lush products for your reading pleasure….

Golden Wonder Bath Bomb

I couldn’t wait to use this one! I had seen a couple of short videos of it on Instagram and it looked really lovely – the perfect Christmas bath bomb shaped into a little golden parcel with white ribbon wrapped round it!

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It is a big, heavy bath bomb which takes a while to dissolve so it is well worth its £4.50 price tag!

I knew I would love this bath bomb when I heard that it shares its scent with Snow Showers Shower jelly which is one of my absolute favourite scents! The bath bomb contains  sweet orange oil, cognac oil, gardenia extract and lime oil – a perfect scent to come home to on a cold Winter’s day!

The bath bomb starts off with lovely thick white and yellow foam and then once the outer core is cracked it produces a lovely bright blue colour foam. The best bit though is the lovely gold lustre and soluble gold stars which make the blue bath water sparkle beautifully. The photos really don’t do it justice!

The bath water felt incredibly moisturising and the scent was very warming and relaxing. My skin felt lovely and soft afterwards and even had a slight gold lustre which was really nice. Even better, all of the lustre washed away with the bath water so no scrubbing of the bath afterwards! Yay!

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As predicted, this is one of my favourite bath bombs and is definitely one I will be stocking up on over the Christmas period and one I will be giving to family and friends for Christmas!

Even better, this year Lush have released a Giant Golden Wonder bath bomb! It is HUGE and I will be reviewing it as part of my A Lush Christmas Part Four blog which is out tomorrow so keep your eyes peeled for that one!

Luxury Lush Pud Bath Bomb

I honestly don’t know why but this one was one of the bath bombs I was least looking forward to trying! I think that because it was so striking and brightly coloured I thought it’s exterior had given everything away and as a result the inside would be nothing short of disappointing.

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Luxury Lush Pud is bright pink with multicoloured dots around the sides and a cute little holly leaf on the top of it and it apparently shares it’s scent with the very popular Twilight bath bomb.

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This bath bomb contains lavender, tonka absolute, ylang ylang oil and benzoin resiniod which soothes skin, adds shine to hair and eases muscles. So all in all a very calming and relaxing bathing experience.

This bath bomb looks amazing in the water and produces a mass of beautiful pink, blue, yellow and green multicoloured foams.

Other Lushie’s have reported that they didn’t think this bath bomb was as moisturising as other bath bombs but I thought it was fine and my skin felt soft and smooth afterwards. It is worth using this bath bomb purely for the scent alone which is one of the most relaxing and calming scents Lush offer in my opinion.

Another one to add to the regular purchase list for sure!

Man in the Moon Bubble Bar

I love, love, love the design of this bubble bar and couldn’t wait to use it!

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Another Lushie has described this bubble bar as smelling like green jelly babies and apparently it shares it’s scent with Monsters Ball bath bomb which is one of my absolute favourite scents!

It contains lime, neroli and oilbanum oils and cocoa butter – just cut up or crumble under running water and you’ve got a lovely buttery yellow-green coloured water to enjoy!

This is definitely one of the most moisturising bubble bars I’ve ever used and I loved the scent so much I didn’t want to get out of the bath! I used about a third of the bubble bar and this was plenty, I think you will easily get four baths worth out of one bubble bar.

So pleased I bought three of these! I think I may buy some more before the festive period is over too!

Magic of Christmas Reusable Wand

This is a strange one…. I love the idea, I love the design and I love the scents and ingredients which form this bubble bar, but I had a bit of a disaster with it!

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The bar is a bright shade of orange and contains almond oil, sweet orange oil, cinnamon leaf oil, star anise, cinnamon cloves, and a cinnamon stick as the handle – could it get more Christmassy??

Now this is the first reusable bubble bar I’ve used so I read some blogs and watched some Instagram videos to see what the best way to use it would be. Lots of Lushie’s held their Christmas wands under the running tap water and then swish them around in the bath water to create some lovely fluffy bubbles, so this is exactly what I did.

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The bubble bar releases a lovely warm orangey, cinnamon Christmassy scent but I must have done something horribly wrong because after holding it under the running water for a few seconds and then swishing it around for a couple more, the bubble bar soaked up a lot of water, became soggy and then crumbled and fell off the cinnamon stick! Not good!

I put the remainder in a pot in its crumbled state and tried to dry it out a little bit – the next time I think I will have to grab a handful and crumble it under running tap water like my other bubble bars and hope that this works!

If anyone knows what I did wrong I would love to know! On the plus side it did produce lots of lovely fluffy bubbles and soft moisturising water! If this reusable bubble bar had worked as it should have done, you should easily get three baths out of one bar.

A real shame but I will enjoy using the crumbles of product left in my pot for the next couple of baths because I do love the Christmassy smell. I’ve also bought a couple of Magic Wand’s which are the same type of product, I hope I don’t have the same issue with these as well…..

Bucks Fizz Body Conditioner

The smell of this is absolutely AMAZING!!!

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This fantastic product contains organic jojoba, Kalahari melon oils, Brazillian orange oil, lime and pink grapefruit. When in the bath or shower, put all over your body and leave for a few minutes and then wash off for beautifully soft and amazing smelling skin! It is tempting to use a lot of this product in one go but you really don’t need to – a thin layer will do the trick just fine!

I urge you to try this product for the smell alone! I’ve already bought three pots, I just hope this is enough to last me for a while! They have also brought out a shower gel with the same scent called Bubbly so I strongly recommend grabbing some of that as well while you are at it!

Snowman Shower Jelly

I must admit I am not overly fussed on shower jellies, they foam up well but are difficult to use and I find that I lose a lot of the product down the drain if bits drop off but thought I would give this a go in the spirit of all things festive!