Blenheim Palace Illuminated Christmas Lights Trail

I love Blenheim Palace! It is one of my favourite places to visit so I’ve been several times at different times throughout the year. It is such a vast place I still haven’t got round to seeing everything!

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When I heard they were doing an illuminated Christmas Lights Trail this year I just had to go! By the time I had got around to booking tickets I could only get the latest entry time (8:00pm) on a Sunday evening but knew it would be worth doing!

There is a Christmas market on at the same time and lots for the kids to do including carousel rides and the Cinderella’s Fairy Tale Palace Experience.

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When we got there it was almost time for our 8pm time slot but we were stunned at how busy it still was! Despite pre-booking a time slot we still had quite a wait in the queue which was a bit disappointing, especially as it was a bit too cold to just be standing around! Still, at least it wasn’t raining!

Along the lights trail you will encounter a gingerbread house; complete with music and light show;

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Stunning “running water” lights;

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Beautiful red glowing poppies hanging from stunning woodland trees (the photos don’t do these justice!)

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Light arches and displays on the water;

Glowing bridges, waterfalls and snowflake lights;

An absolutely stunning light tunnel (my favourite of the whole trail);

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There are lots and lots of other things to see as well, but for the grand finale – the palace shows off an incredible music and light show!

Believe me when I say that photos really do not do it justice, it is breathtaking!

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Tickets were £16 per adult however the parking situation did annoy me slightly as you have to pre-book and pay for on-site parking for this event. I don’t think this was made particularly clear when I was booking it and as the car parking on site had sold out, it wasn’t showing as being available to include as part of my order. It was only once I had paid for two non-refundable tickets and received a “need to know” email from Blenheim Palace that I had to make other car parking arrangements.

I couldn’t get on site parking and the nearby park and ride car park had also sold out so I was really grateful when hubby offered to drive Mum and I to the event and to even wait for us nearby whilst we went around the trail! The event itself was wonderful but this drama beforehand did make things a bit stressful!

Still, I would definitely go back again and thought it was well worth the cost of the ticket! It certainly made me feel very festive!

London at Christmas Time

My Sister, my Mum and I visit London every December to get into the Christmas spirit and god did London put on a show this year! Everywhere was adorned with stunning oversized Christmas trees and decorations and lights – it really was breathtaking!

Here are some of the incredible sights we came across during our travels around the city;

First stop after getting off the coach was (and always will be!) Dominique Ansel’s for breakfast and some of their sweet treats! As usual they didn’t disappoint!

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The outside and inside decorations have been updated to a beautiful white theme, a stark contrast to its last theme which was Halloween/Autumnal colours.

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I had my usual turkey croque monsieur and tried this incredible chocolate Pinecone. Inside was a gingerbread flavoured mousse and biscuit base! Amazing!

I also tried Dominique Ansel’s cinnamon roll latte which had a toasted marshmallow on top and tasted incredible!

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Other Dominique Ansel treats looked pretty spectacular too!

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I also couldn’t resist buying a box of Christmas morning cereal – I can’t wait to try this!

Second stop was Peggy Porschen’s – I can’t visit London now without buying a box of their amazing cupcakes to bring home with me!

Along the road from Peggy’s was Les Senteurs – how amazing are these oversized baubles which appear outside?!

The flower shop next to Les Senteurs is called Moyses Stevens and has the most beautiful bouquet and flower arrangements I’ve seen. The ceiling is also adorned with flowers and so it is well worth a visit!

I would highly recommend a visit to Somerset House if you have the chance – they have a huge beautiful Christmas tree outside the front and if you have the time you can also go ice skating here too!

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Our next stop was Covent Garden, I can’t believe out of all the times I have visited London I have never visited here! It is a stunning place and the festive decorations were out in full force! I loved the giant mistletoe pieces which were hanging from the ceiling and the giant reindeer, giant Christmas tree and decorated car were stunning to look at too!

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We’ve walked past Fortnum and Mason so many times but have never actually ventured inside! Can you believe it?? It is like a tardis when you go inside – I can’t believe how big it is!

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Such a beautiful place with so many festive goodies on sale – how great do their cupcakes look??

Claridges currently has a lovely Christmas display outside! I love stars! I should have ventured inside though because they have a display called a love tree inside! Instagram it and you will see what I mean!

The Ivy restaurant looked beautiful….

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Oxford Street never disappoints at Christmas time!

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And neither did Harrods…

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And if you only visit one place this festive season to see the decorations, it has to be Annabel’s! I could take a million photos of this festive display and it still would not do it justice! It is incredible!

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and if all of that isn’t enough, we even came across a Christmas sheep on our travels!

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Lush Bomb Bomb Bath Bombs

The Lush Christmas range is absolutely HUGE this year! I had to split it over four days of Blogmas last year so I’ve done something similar this year!

As part of the range they have a new type of bath bomb called a “Bomb Bomb” Bath Bomb. They are named this way because they actually comprise of two bath bombs in one and so promise you double the bath time fun!

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You can get the Bomb Bomb Bath Bombs in Snowman, Santa and Princess versions!

As I always do with the Christmas range, I ordered one of each to try them out. I just admit I did feel a bit stung by the £9.99 price tag for each Bomb Bomb but didn’t think much more of it, seeing as you are getting two bath bombs in one.

 

The Santa Bomb Bomb was the first one I used, I was looking forward to using him as I expected him to be quite a spicy, festive scented bath bomb. I was really surprised when I looked at the list of ingredients and saw that it contained bergamot oil, vanilla absolute and cocoa absolute! The website says it is a strawberries and cream type fragrance, but I really didn’t detect this scent. In fact, despite the fact there were two bath bombs in one, I found the scent to be extremely faint and almost non-existent! I’m wondering if anyone else found this?

 

The second thing I was rather disappointed about was that, again, despite the fact that there were two bath bombs in the water, I didn’t find the water to be particularly moisturising…

Not a good start with this new product I’m afraid! I keep thinking I could have bought nearly three other bath bombs from the Christmas range in exchange for this one…

 

I had higher hopes for the Snowman Bomb Bomb because it had a much stronger scent than the other two. Probably not very surprising, but Snowman Bomb Bomb has a refreshing minty scent due to its spearmint oil ingredient.

I enjoyed using the Snowman Bomb Bomb far more than the Santa Bomb Bomb and I’m not actually a huge fan of minty scents.

 

Although I quite enjoyed using it, would I use Snowman Bomb Bomb again? Due to the £9.99 price tag, I doubt it very much I am afraid! I really just don’t think the product is worth the price tag, especially in view of the fact that last year Lush was selling Giant Golden Wonder Bath Bombs for £12 each – and they were absolutely incredible!

 

The third and final Bomb Bomb of the collection is the Princess Bomb Bomb. Please don’t be put off by my pictures – the Princess Bomb Bomb doesn’t normally look like this but mine was absolutely battered when it arrived in the post! Her face was all crumbled and her little crown had fallen off!

Princess Bomb Bomb is very different from the other two scent wise as it contains ylang ylang oil for sweetness, cedar wood oil which is toning and balancing, benzoin resinoid which is an anti inflammatory, and bergamot oil which is really uplifting.

Although I found the Princess scent to be stronger than Santa, I was still really disappointed at how weak all the scents were considering the size and price of the Bomb Bombs.

Again I also couldn’t understand how such big Bath Bombs weren’t making the bath water particularly moisturising and weren’t leaving my skin anywhere near as soft as some of the other bath bombs from both the Christmas and regular ranges.

I’m pleased I tried them as I always look forward to trying new products from Lush, particularly the Christmas range, but I’m afraid I won’t be purchasing any more of the Christmas Bomb Bomb Bath Bombs! Such a shame….I don’t think we have seen the last of this design though!

Naked Marshmallow Snowman Kits

I’ve been ordering from the Naked Marshmallow Company for a couple of years now, I particularly like their Toasting Marshmallow Kits which are always a real hit at parties and when I’ve given them as gifts.

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Last year I bought a couple of their Marshmallow Snowman kits and I promised myself if they released them again this year then I would grab myself some more!

The kits come in a little cardboard gift box and contain flakes of chocolate which you can pour into hot milk to make a lovely hot chocolate drink, a mini whisk to stir the flakes into the milk, and two delicious marshmallow snowmen to place on top of your hot chocolate to melt slowly.

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I never used to be a fan of marshmallows until I tried Naked Marshmallows, I promise you once you have tried them you will never go back to buying cheap supermarket marshmallows!

I love to use my snowmen marshmallows in white hot chocolate to give that overall “melted snowman” look, but as it is a vanilla marshmallow it will go with any flavour hot chocolate you choose.

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You can order your snowman kits directly from The Naked Marshmallow company or I found them a couple of weeks back lurking in the Selfridges food hall!

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Seriously, if you get the chance – grab some whilst you can! If the £8.95 price tag is putting you off a bit then you could risk waiting for their post Christmas sale! I managed to get a couple of kits in the sale last year!

Christmas at the Bush Inn

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Hopefully you have already read my post about The Bush Inn and their famous picnic benches! I’ve been four times this year and am already booked to go for a fifth time!

As soon as I had been for the first time back in March for one of the Spring benches, I knew I would have to come back for the Christmas edition! Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint! Here’s what they were serving for this years Christmas picnic bench;

Turkey and Stuffing roll – (hint – the Pig in Blanket is served in a little pot of gravy – pour the left over gravy into your turkey roll, delicious!)

Potato Wedges – lovely and crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle!

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Pig in Blanket in a little pot of gravy;

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Deep Fried Brie with Cranberry – I love cheese and it doesn’t get any better than when it is deep fried!

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And for the sweets section we had;

Home made Mince Pie – Home made ones are the best!

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Christmas Tree Brownie – such a simple but effective idea – i will have to try making these at home!

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a Home made Gingerbread Man and a Satsuma – you can’t beat home made gingerbread! Plus you need a bit of fruit to level things out!

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A Christmas Trifle – trifle isn’t a favourite of mine but this was lovely

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Home Made Churros with a Toffee Sauce and a White chocolate Rocky Road Reindeer 

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and a lovely mini Hot Chocolate complete with marshmallows!

and a little bottle of cranberry juice to wash it all down with!

Another lovely trip here, I’ve never been disappointed! And for £17.50 per person I think the price is an absolute bargain! If you want to check them out then here is their Facebook page – you can only book the picnic benches by contacting them by telephone but be quick – the picnic benches get booked up really, really quickly!

I can’t wait for our next visit in a couple of weeks!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you all had a great few days of Halloween celebrations! This year we had our Halloween party on the 26th and I’ve had the last week off to take part in all things autumnal!

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I loved my Pumpkin Patch which sat outside the front of the house!

We had a great time at the Halloween party – I normally make a real effort with my Halloween outfits but this year was a very straightforward outfit with some striking makeup instead! This crystal skull set is from The Gypsy Shrine – they have some amazing sets which are really easy to apply!

I have been so busy at work and planning other events over the past two months that I just didn’t get the chance to do anywhere near as much preparation for Halloween this year I’m afraid. I normally spend a couple of days preparing treats and decorations but it was very last minute this year!

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On the Sunday, hubby and I ventured out to see the new Halloween film at the cinema – we always try and go to the cinema to watch a horror film over the Halloween weekend. I really enjoyed the film but as I was sat there watching it I realised I had watched all the sequels but had never actually watched the 1978 original! It’s on Sky cinema at the moment so I have recorded it to watch it when we get the chance!

When we’d got home after scaring ourselves to death at the cinema, we tucked into all the amazing Halloween treats I’d been gathering over the last few weeks! As usual I’ve bought far too much and we had hardly any trick or treaters so we are going to be eating them until Christmas!

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How cool is the ghost and black slime pizza from Asda??
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These sweets get more and more gross every year!

On the Monday my Mum, my Sister and I went Pumpkin picking! I was just going to include the details in this blog but we had such a fantastic time that I thought it deserved its own blog so watch this space! It was well worth the visit and I think we may have created a new annual family tradition!

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On the Tuesday my Sister and I had a fantastic day in London! We’ve never been around Halloween before but we were pleased we did as it was a brilliant experience. Cafe’s and shops and florists were covered in autumnal and Halloween decor and they looked spectacular! Dominique Ansel’s, Peggy Porschen’s and Elan Cafe were all looking particularly autumnal and spooky!

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Our top prize for window displays went to this florists called Pullbrook and Gould. The photos really don’t do it justice, it must have taken them ages to create it and you can see how much time and effort has gone into it! Amazing!

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On Halloween my Mum, my Sister and I spent the day together (and admittedly started discussing our Christmas plans!) but spent a lot of the day munching on our Halloween chocolate whilst watching the new Netflix programme The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell – if you haven’t watched it yet, you really must!! The only way I can describe it is a cross between the film Labyrinth and a Nigella Lawson cookery programme! It is seriously corny, but seriously good, and a perfect programme to watch over the spooky period!

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After a day of errands on the Thursday, on the Friday we paid a visit to Puzzlewood! This was my Sisters choice as she said she has always wanted to visit, and to be honest I didn’t know much about the place – I just assumed it was a woodland trail! Well there is so much more to it than this! So I have written a separate blog all about it!

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So as you can see we have had a fun-filled week full of Halloween and autumn themed activities! It is such a shame when all the decorations have to come down again for another year. Plus as soon as they do it means I have to really start putting my Christmas plans into action!

 

Pumpkin Picking!

I made a pact with my Sister last year that we would go pumpkin picking this year after seeing all of the amazing photos on instagram of all the autumnally dressed people stood in the fields of pumpkins!

In the last couple of years there’s also been a real surge in unusual hybrid type pumpkins too! It started with the all white Ghost pumpkins and went onto the adorable miniature Munchkin pumpkins, and now all the pumpkin growers are coming up with all sorts of weird and wonderful looking pumpkins, gourds and squashes!

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We looked at some of the places that people had been tagged in on Instagram and decided on visiting Pumpkins R Us, which is around an hours drive away from us.

There’s no fee to get in and there were lots of amazing decorations (including an incredibly scary clown!) to have a look at as you walk around the marquee full of pumpkins.

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The selection really was incredible! I had already bought a few pumpkins from the supermarket the week before we had visited so I had only planned on looking but some of them were so unusual looking I just had to give them a home! If you pay a visit, grab a little trolley to wheel all your goodies around – they weigh an absolute tonne!

There was a huge array of different types and colours and sizes (seriously, some were absolutely MASSIVE!), and all of them were reasonably priced.

The only downside we found was that we didn’t actually get to go out to the field to pick the pumpkins, they were already picked and crated up for us. Having said that, it was nice to have the same types all grouped together so you could compare them size wise!

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My cart was quite full by the end!

On the way out there was also a little shop you could visit and buy unusual ornaments and decorations and bits for the kids for their night out trick or treating.

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We really enjoyed going and it was well-worth the trip – I’m pretty sure we will be paying a returning visit next year and I can see a new annual family tradition developing!

 

The Lush Halloween Collection

I couldn’t wait for this years Lush Halloween collection to be released! Last years collection was brilliant and I fell in love with some of the returning classics. I just hoped that some of my favourites would be returning this year as well!

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When the collection was announced I was surprised at how small it was compared to some previous years. I found out shortly afterwards that this was probably because Lush were putting far more resource into their HUGE Christmas range, which was being released only two weeks later!

Anyway, here is the down low with this years selection of spooky soaks!

I reviewed the Bewitched bubble bar as part of last years Lush Halloween collection and I really loved it so I’m pleased it has returned this year!

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Bewitched produces mounds of lovely fluffy bubbles and a deep, dark black bath water! But fear not, it doesn’t leave any black rims or stains on the bath tub after use!

It contains blackberry, bergamot and frankincense oils and is one of the nicest smells I have come across in a bubble bar. The oils make the water incredibly moisturising and once I was in the bath I really didn’t want to get out!

The Eyeball bath bomb is new for this year and is a great design – I can’t believe it hasn’t been done before!

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Although the design is great I was really surprised about the scent –  it contains lavender oil, Brazilian orange oil, rose absolute and ylang ylang oil. I love lavender and orange scents but I found the rose absolute to be the most prominent scent.

The scent is really quite floral, which seems rather strange for a product which forms part of the Halloween range, especially when it is something as gory as an eyeball!

I bought three of the Eyeball bath bombs and have used two of them so far, I wasn’t too keen on the scent at first but have found that it’s grown on me since.

One thing I will say about Eyeball bath bomb is that it is fascinating to watch when it is bobbing around in the bath water!

Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without my absolute favourite bath bomb, Monsters Ball! 

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They are a regular of the Lush Halloween range and so I always stock up on plenty to last me throughout the year! It may be because I have been using some Monsters Ball from last Halloween (and Lush always say you get the best results using their products fresh), but I’ve noticed the ones this year seem to be better than ever! The scent is stronger and the bath art is out of this world!

Monsters Ball contains lime and neroli oil and shares its scent with the Calacas range. It also contains olibanum oil which is great for cleansing as well as softening, healing and hydrating purposes. Just what you need on those cold winter evenings!

Monsters Ball is an amazing bath bomb that I will keep stocking up on year after year – let’s just hope that Lush keep on bringing it back every Halloween!

So this year the Halloween range is actually quite a small range but Lush have focussed most of their efforts on bringing out a new Ectoplasm range. The Ectoplasm Jelly Bomb was part of last years range and to be honest, after a buying a few, I was really disappointed with it. The bath I had bought did not produce much jelly and left hard bath bomb chunks in the bath which just would not dissolve.

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When I heard it was coming back again this year I had already decided that I wasn’t going to buy anymore. It was only because I went to Lush in Cheltenham on the day the Halloween range was released and the team did a demo for me that I realised the recipe and design had been far improved this year.

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The scent on the new jelly bomb was far stronger and really zesty. This years Ectoplasm also produces far more thicker jelly than last years version and there weren’t any hard lumps left behind like I had experienced with last years.

Ectoplasm contains tangerine oil, grapefruit oil and litsea cubeba oil. The scent is predominantly grapefruit and is absolutely addictive! I’m so pleased I gave it another chance this year and that I also bought the other products from this collection!

Another product from the Ectoplasm range is the Ectoplasm Wash Card. I’ve only used one wash card from Lush so far and this was the Kiss Me Quick wash card which was released as part of the Valentine’s Day collection earlier this year.

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To be honest I’m not keen on the whole wash card idea but I thought I would give it a try because I loved the other products which had the Ectoplasm scent.

It is a bit of a strange sensation using a wash card, I felt a bit like I was rubbing a small piece of leather across my skin! The Ectoplasm Wash Card includes fresh apple pulp, tangerine oil, grapefruit oil and litsea cubeba oil. It smells amazing and does leave your skin feeling lovely and soft but I find that the wash cards don’t lather up as much as I would like.

I’m glad I tried a new type of wash card but they aren’t one of my favourite products, sorry!

The product from the new Ectoplasm range I was looking forward to using most was the Ectoplasm Shower Scream! 

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Again the scent is incredibly zesty due to its tangerine and grapefruit oils and juices and it also contains fair trade cocoa butter, almond oil and litsea cubeba oil to leave your skin soft and moisturised.

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The cream is fluorescent yellow and as soon as I smelt its scent I fell in love with it and bought two massive bottles! I just hope it is here to stay and returns year after year for the Halloween collection!

I’m still not completely sold on the idea of the Naked Lush products (products with no packaging of any sort), but because I loved the Ectoplasm scent, I invested in an Ectoplasm Naked Shower Scream, as I thought I could use it like a soap to complement the jelly bombs.

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The first thing I noticed when the Ectoplasm Naked Shower Scream arrived with my order was that it was far softer and more malleable than the other naked products I had used before. I’m not sure why Lush have done this and I think it will make the products slightly easier to us, but I found the product starting to melt after only holding it in my hand for a minute. I can’t see this product is going to last very long if it is held for longer periods under hot running water.

Still, I did enjoy using the product and found that it left my skin feeling really soft and moisturised. The scent was lovely but no where near as strong as the liquid counterparts.  I’m glad I bought it but I won’t be changing the normal shower gels and creams for the Naked products any time soon I’m afraid.

Lord of Misrule Bath Bomb is another regular to the Lush Halloween collection and is a close second favourite to Monster’s Ball.

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Lord of Misrule bath bomb is inspired by the ruler of the Pagan Feast of Fools! It contains black pepper, patchouli oil and vanilla absolute. It has had a bit of a makeover this year and is now a darker all over green colour and had also had a change in recipe which has made the scent stronger and the foam smoother.

It is a very fascinating bath bomb to watch and produces some amazing looking bath art which is really hypnotic to watch. After a lot of green foam, the centre cracks open and out drools a thick, dark red centre. The bath water goes from a light green colour to a dark red colour and the end bath water colour is stunning. The scent is quite strong but not off putting, you can detect the black pepper which gives it a warm and spicy feel, and the scent lingers for a long time after you’ve hopped out of the bath.

Lord of Misrule definitely suits its name – calming green followed by chaotic splashes of red – it is easily another all time favourite!

The fait accompli for Lush this year has to be the Ghost in the Dark Soap! I am absolutely in love with this scent and design! So much so that I bought three of them!

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Ghost in the Dark contains lemongrass and bergamot oil which smells so fresh and zesty! It also contains fair trade organic cocoa butter, extra virgin coconut oil and organic castor oil to leave your skin feeling lovely and soft and moisturised.

This one is a firm favourite which I hope will return year after year! And if all of this isn’t enough for you – this soap GLOWS IN THE DARK!

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One thing I found quite unusual about this years Halloween range was the lack of pumpkins! Last year’s range had Pumpkin Bath Bomb, Pink Pumpkin Bubble Bar and Sparkly Pumpkin Bubble Bar, and this year, only Sparkly Pumpkin Bubble Bar has made a reappearance.

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Sparkly pumpkin very much lives up to its name – you get glitter absolutely EVERYWHERE! It is very much autumn in a bubble bar, simply crumble it under running bath water for a lovely orangey glitter coloured water and mounds of soft fluffy bubbles!

Sparkly Pumpkin contains juniper berry oil, lime oil and grapefruit oil and is topped off with a little cinnamon stick for that real autumnal effect! The water is amazingly soft and silky and is just what is required after one of those cold wet days!

I’m glad it made a reappearance this year and have stocked up on a few to keep me going!

I hope you all had a great Halloween – I’m afraid I am one of those really irritating people who, come 1st November, jump straight from Halloween celebrations to Christmas countdowns!

 

Lush Atmospheres

I am hoping you have all recently read my blog on Lush Shower Bombs! Well, another one of Lush’s new innovative products are Atmosphere’s.

Atmosphere’s are little one use shower gels which are wrapped in a fully degradable seaweed casing. They are sold in packs of four and are wrapped in a little cardboard egg carton to keep them protected. Simply rip open the seaweed layer to use them and the seaweed casing can be disposed of safely either down the plughole or on the compost heap!

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Atmosphere’s are rather pricey in my opinion – a box of four for £12 means that each one is costing you £4 a time! This is quite a bit more expensive than their recently released one use Shower Bombs, which are costing around £2.75 a piece.

Here’s what I thought of each of the Atmosphere products;

 

Joy

Joy contains brazilian orange, grapefruit and lemon myrtle scents, with some ginger and black pepper thrown in for good measure. I really liked the scent of this one and it was a really nice “pick me up” scent. The scent is fruity but the ginger and black pepper make it a warming and comfortable scent.

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Love

Love again combines spices and fruit in an agave syrup with clove bud oil! The fruity scent is created by the addition of lemongrass oil, orange flower absolute, rose absolute ylang ylang oil and ylang ylang absolute. It is the perfect combination of sugar and spice which is right up my street! I think that Love is probably my favourite out of the selection of four.

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Money

The money Atmosphere is a lovely green colour (obviously). It contains zingy lime (one of my favourites), fennel and orris which is a “preparation of the rootstock of an iris” according to Wikipedia! This gives Money its delicate violet scent! I am not a big fan of flowery scents but the lime in Money complimented it very well and gave it a zesty but delicately flowery fragrance. I think this is a very close favourite to the Love Atmosphere.

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Let Go

Let Go contains fine sea salt and lavender oil. Lavender goes perfectly with the concept of letting go – after a stressful day at work where you have wanted to kill around 5,000 people and your stress levels and blood pressure are at their highest, the soothing scent of lavender is just what is required to bring you down off the ceiling and “let go” of all of those negative and stressful thoughts!

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I am very pleased that I gave the Atmosphere’s a try, and I really like all the scents and love three out of the four. I think it would be great if they did these scents in normal sized shower gels, if they didn’t want to use plastic bottles then maybe even in the Naked Shower gel ranges?

You do get a good helping of product with each Atmosphere, I found the products to be quite “jelly” like, so the best way to use them was to lather them up in a sponge. I found if you used the jelly straight on your skin you would find big chunks breaking off and washing away without getting the chance to use them!

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I do still think they are overly expensive for what they are, especially if you end up with a scent that you don’t particularly like! Perhaps Lush should start selling them in a mix and match sort of way, so you have to buy a box of four, but can choose which ever Atmosphere scents you want, rather than having to buy a standard set?

Someone suggested using these as small bubble bars to make lots of bubbly bath water, especially if you like the scent of a particular one. This would certainly allow you to enjoy the scent for far longer rather than watching it wash away down the plughole!

I think they are a great innovative idea, but sorry Lush, I don’t think I’ll be splurging on anymore of these in the near future, not when I can get a good sized bubble bar or bath bomb for almost the same price!

Lush Lotions

If you hadn’t guessed already, I am a real Lush Cosmetics fan!

Lush recently released a limited edition range of ten body lotions which you can only buy online. They released details of all ten scents a few weeks beforehand so I was dreading them being released so close to the launch of the Halloween and Christmas range, basically because I wanted all ten!

Now the first thing I will say is that the body lotions are pricey (ranging from £14.95 to £16.95 per pot depending on the scent), and I must admit this did shock me when they were released. When they arrived however I was pleasantly surprised because the lotions are EXTREMELY thick (honestly, tip a pot upside-down and the lotion is going nowhere)! As the consistency is so thick, you don’t need to use much during each use and I think these pots will last far, far longer than I had originally anticipated!

All of the lotions include almond oil, fair trade organic cocoa butter, organic jojoba oil and organic illipe butter for moisturising.

Here are the ten scents and what I thought of them;

Sultana

I wasn’t familiar with this scent but someone told me that the Bewitched bubble bar (which was part of this years and last years Halloween range), shares it’s scent with Sultana, and as Bewitched is one of my favourite bubble bars, I knew I had to get hold of some of the lotion!

Sultana has a huge range of ingredients to give it its unusual scent including apricot infusion, cranberry infusion, currant infusion, olibanum oil and bergamot oil. The cranberry infusion is exfoliating and nourishing and the olibanum oil adds a sweet and woody scent.

Sultana is really moisturising and I could still smell the lovely delicate scent on my skin the following morning. It has definitely become a firm favourite, I’m really pleased with this one!

Calacas

Another one of my favourite scents! I love the Monster’s Ball bath bomb which is part of the Halloween range and has the same scent as Calacas.

Calacas has an amazing smell because it contains organic cold pressed grapeseed oil, fresh aloe gel, lime oil, olibanum oil and neroli oil!  The organic cold pressed grapeseed oil is moisturising and regenerative and the fresh aloe gel is soothing and cooling. The scent is fresh and zesty and almost sharp – really unusual and another firm favourite!

I found the consistency of Calacas to be slightly thinner than some of the others I’ve used but it was still thick enough that you didn’t need to use much for good overall coverage. I’m glad I bought two of these!

Yuzu and Cocoa

I’ve not come across Yuzu and Cocoa before but I think there was a bubbleroon bubble bar with this same name and scent. I wish I had got my hands on some because I really like it in the body lotion form!

Yuzu and Cocoa contains yuzu infusion, cocoa absolute, bergamot oil, grapefruit oil and tonka absolute. The tonka absolute adds a sweet scent whilst the grapefruit oil is uplifting and refreshing.

You can see in the photo how thick the lotion is! You really don’t need much at all and to be honest I used a bit too much the first time! I love the scent of this one but found the scent didn’t last very long after I used it which was a shame….To overcome this problem I just doused myself in even more of it!

American Cream

I ordered the shower gel version of American Cream and really liked it when I got it so thought it would be great to have the matching scent in the body lotion form…

The first thing I noticed about the American Cream body lotion was that the scent was really, really faint. The second thing I noticed was that the scent of the body lotion didn’t seem to be the same as the scent of the shower cream, which was the main reason I’d bought it!

American Cream body lotion contains orange infusion, strawberry infusion, vanilla absolute, clary sage oil and lavender oil. Although there are some strongly scented ingredients contained in American Cream, I couldn’t detect most of them at all. The scent is very “strawberries with a hint of lavender” smelling which is nice but was just no where near strongly scented enough for my liking.

I’ve got to say this is the lotion that I am most disappointed with out of them all – I bought two of them and to be honest I think at least one of them is going to end up on eBay! I don’t dislike the smell, I just think if you are paying £15.95 for a pot of lotion that you should love the scent really shouldn’t you??

Noni I Washed the Kids

Noni I washed the Kids is a derivative of the existing “honey I washed the kids” range. The reason they have changed the name is because they have removed the honey from the ingredients and replaced it with a noni fruit decoction to make it suitable for all its vegan users. Noni fruits actually taste pretty gross but fear not, the noni fruit decoction in the body lotion is barely detectable! Noni fruits do have a high vitamin content and are great for making your skin bright and supple though!

Noni lotion also contains Brazilian orange oil and bergamot oil. The Brazilian orange oil is refreshing and rejuvenating and the oils and butters such as organic illipe butter and the cocoa butter are conditioning and restoring.

I must admit I wasn’t sure whether I would like the scent of Noni I washed the Kids when I looked at the list of ingredients but it is a really unusual, sweet smelling body lotion which I really enjoyed using. It’s scent is definitely very different from all of the other lotions from the range and I am definitely a fan!

Yummy Mummy

I’ve heard of this scent before too but haven’t actually ever got to try it. I’ve heard a lot of fellow Lushie’s really love Yummy Mummy so I had high hopes for this one!

Yummy Mummy contains fresh strawberry juice, geranium oil, Brazilian orange oil and tonka absolute. The geranium oil is toning and balancing and the Brazilian orange oil is refreshing and rejuvenating.

Although I was really looking forward to using this one, I was disappointed when I opened the tub and found that the scent was really, really faint. I think the only ingredient I could detect in Yummy Mummy was the strawberry juice and as this was the  main ingredient I could smell in American Cream, along with lavender, I found them to be very similar. So similar in fact that I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if you put them both in front of me!

This was my second disappointment of the range and I’ve also come across some other fellow Lushie’s who love the yummy Mummy scent range but are really disappointed with the body lotion version. I think it would be far better if the scent was stronger but again, I think this one may find itself on eBay too….

Lord of Misrule

I love, love, love the Lord of Misrule scent range! The Lord of Misrule bath bomb is usually released as part of the Halloween collection and last year I also managed to get hold of some Lord of Misrule shower cream, so I was really pleased to get hold of the body lotion version to complete my set!

The Lord of Misrule body lotion had a really unusual scent because it contains black pepper oil, patchouli oil and vanilla absolute. The scent is quite a spicy, musky and almost fruity one, and you can definitely detect the black pepper oil in the scent.

I love the Lord of Misrule scent as it is so different from all the other regular Lush scents,  I just wish it was a scent which was available in bath bomb form all year round, not just at Halloween!

Avocado No Wash

When I ordered the American Cream shower cream I also ordered some of the Avocado Wash shower cream because fellow Lushie’s were raving about it! I wasn’t disappointed and I am now ADDICTED to the scent! When they released Avocado No Wash body lotion I knew I had to have some to compliment the shower cream.

Avocado No Wash contains rosemary infusion, lavender flower infusion, nettle infusion, bergamot oil, litsea cubeba oil, olibanum oil and gardenia extract. The bergamot oil is uplifting and cleansing and the rosemary infusion is relaxing and anti-inflammatory. As well as the usual butters and oils which are contained in the range of body butters, Avocado No Wash also contains avocado butter which is nourishing and hydrating.

This is a definite favourite scent! I’m so pleased I gave it a try! I just want to douse myself in this body lotion all day! Again, I am glad I bought two pots of this amazing smelling stuff!

Butterball

Butterball was the body lotion I was least bothered about in the new range of ten which were released. So much so that I only ordered one pot of Butterball when I ordered two or more pots of all the others!

It’s not that I dislike the Butterball smell, it’s just that in comparison with some of the other scents, I think Butterball is rather boring in a way! (Sorry Butterball fans!)

Butterball doesn’t contain many ingredients which is why the most prominent scent in Butterball is the cocoa butter. Butterball has a creamy, buttery and chocolatey scent.

Butterball contains, ylang ylang oil and the usual jojoba oil and illipe butter. It is a great everyday body lotion if you prefer your straightforward no-nonsense scent, or perhaps wish to combine it with a stronger more unusual scent to compliment it, it just isn’t quite extravagant enough for me I’m afraid!

Yog Nog

I have left Yog Nog until last because this was the one I was most looking forward to using! I managed to get hold of a couple of Yog Nog soaps from the Christmas range last year and I fell in love with the scent. If I was a scent, I would be Yog Nog! It is like Christmas in a pot!

To create Yog Nog’s amazing Christmas scent, the body lotion contains Canadian maple syrup, clove bud oil and ylang ylang oil along with its other nourishing and moisturising butters and oils.

Yog Nog is by far the strongest smelling and longest lasting scent of the range of body lotions and I absolutely adore it! Don’t be put off by the thought of smelling like a Christmas eggnog all day long, I promise you other people who can smell this lovely scent will love it just as much as you do, and people were commenting all day about it! It smells so good it is a struggle not to eat it! It is rich and cinnamon scented and almost like melted fudge and toffee!

I did find it took a while for the body lotion to soak in, and I think this is probably one of the thickest lotions from the range, but this was good in my eyes as it means that one pot will last me AGES! Seriously, if you can get hold of some, buy as much as you can!

So, a real mixed bag with these products! Some I really love and some I am disappointed with, but I am hoping that Lush will continue producing more scents in the body lotion range in the near future!

Lush Shower Bombs

I haven’t written a blog about any Lush products for ages! This is mainly because when we moved out last December I had to box them all up and they have been stored in the spare bedroom whilst we decorate the dressing room ever since! We finally got the carpet down and the furniture in the dressing room last weekend so now I have a whole tall unit with drawers dedicated to my Lush collection!

Anyway, a few weeks ago Lush released a new range of shower bombs which I wanted to give a try. I am a huge bath fan (as opposed to showers) but on those days where I’m in a real rush I don’t have the time to wait for the bath to run! I think it is great they are releasing some more shower related products, one Lushie said they thought this was brilliant and a long time coming, as not everyone has a bath so a shower is their only option!

They have released four different shower bombs so far;

Karma

Karma Shower bomb contains turmeric powder for a bright complexion, and pine oil for cleansing! It smells great and the scent of the turmeric gives it a real twist!

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It also contains patchouli oil, Brazilian orange oil and lavandin oil to moisturise the skin.

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To use the shower bombs, simply hold them under the running shower water and watch them foam up! It produces a lovely smelling foam which leaves your skin feeling cleansed, soft and moisturised, plus I also found Karma to be a good exfoliator as well!

Not Sleepy

I was looking forward to using Not Sleepy as the list of ingredients looked perfect for perking you up and getting you ready for the day ahead!

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Not Sleepy contains Sicilian lemon oil, lemon myrtle oil, petitgrain oil, neroli oil, Brazilian orange oil AND lime oil! Wow! Some of my most favourite scents!

I really loved the zesty scent of Not Sleepy and found the foam to be lovely and refreshing. Not Sleepy also contains ground white rice which acts as a great exfoliator and leaves your skin feeling perfectly soft. This is one of my favourites, I love the scent!

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I must admit that I do like to use a lot of product when I am in the bath and shower and found it quite disheartening watching the lovely smelling scent wash away down the plughole! I have a shower which is over the bath so to make the scent last a bit longer I put the plug in and let the bath start to fill up so that I could enjoy the scent that little bit longer! It also acts as a very good foot soak at the same time!

Koyaanisqatsi

I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce the name of this one! A quick Google search of the name reveals it is a Hopi word meaning “life out of balance”.

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I really liked the design of Koyaanisqatsi – it reminded me of a little spaceship! The scent however is VERY faint, which is disappointing because I do like my products to be strongly scented.

It contains lavender oil, lavender absolute, lavandin absolute, lavandin oil, violet leaf absolute, ylang ylang oil and vanilla absolute! All of these are lovely prominent scents so I don’t understand why I could hardly smell any of these ingredients? If you had given me a description of the ingredients I would have said that this was one of my favourites, but actually it is my least favourite of the four…..

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Another downside was that I found that Koyaanisqatsi didn’t produce as much foam as the others. With the other three I think you could have easily cut them in half and got two uses out of them if you wanted to, but I don’t think that is the case with Koyaanisqatsi….. Maybe I just ended up with one with a lighter scent and the others are fine?

Sleepy

I saved Sleepy until last as I had a sneaky feeling that this was going to be my absolute favourite! A fluffy little cloud with “Sleepy” stamped on the bottom……definitely the best design of the four!

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Sleepy contains lavender oil, tonka absolute, ylang ylang oil and fine oatmeal! The scent is incredible and just what you need to set you up for a nice relaxing sleep!

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Sleepy produced the most and the thickest foam out of the four shower bombs and it left my skin feeling incredibly soft. When I used Sleepy I put the plug in the bath and left it for ages because I just couldn’t bear to wash the scent away! I wish they did a GIANT bath bomb with this scent!

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As predicted, Sleepy is my definite favourite! I wouldn’t cut this one in half to use on two occasions as I want more, more, more of this scent!

The Shower bombs are available from the Lush website and in store and the prices are around £2.75 per bomb. I think they are a great idea and I get the impression we may start seeing more of them with different scents as they are proving to be very popular among Lush fans! Perhaps some seasonal limited edition shower bombs are on the horizon!?

Dominique Ansel’s Bakery

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Dominique Ansel’s Bakery is another one of my favourite haunts when I am visiting London. I usually catch the coach up to London and luckily for me, Dominique Ansel’s is right over the road from Victoria Coach Station! It’s perfect to fall into here after a long coach journey and marvel at their latest creations!

Their menu is seasonal and often contains limited edition creations which are just out of this world! Here’s some of the tasty treats I have tried here so far;

The famous Chocolate Cookie Shot – a little edible cup made of cookie and filled with a delicious creamy Tahitian vanilla milk. They are served all day and you can buy a pack of the Cookie shots to take home with you as well.

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One of the things I really wanted to try when I visited Dominique Ansel’s was their famous Blossoming Hot Chocolate. A delicious hot chocolate which is topped with a beautiful marshmallow flower which unfurls when placed on top and then slowly melts….. delicious.

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If you order one of these, have your phone ready to film it, it is fascinating to watch it unfold when the staff delicately drop it into the hot chocolate. This one is a definite favourite of mine and is such a clever idea!

One of the other treats I was really looking forward to trying was one of their Frozen S’more’s. 

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A honey marshmallow wrapped round Tahitian vanilla ice-cream with chocolate wafer crisps, these babies are then torched and served to order and are much bigger than I had expected!

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Could a Cotton Soft Cheesecake sound any more delicious? The Cotton Soft Cheesecake is a ricotta cheesecake which is slightly brûléed on top and promises to be “as refreshing as a cold glass of milk”. It is really light, so an ideal dessert if you are feeling rather full after a main course!

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What is better than Mini Madeleine biscuits? Freshly piped and cooked Mini Madeleine biscuits served straight out of the oven!

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Really light, fluffy and delicious, these were well worth the wait!

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If you are after something savoury, Dominique Ansel also has a lovely range of small and hearty savoury treats too! Although not the prettiest to look at, their Turkey Croque Monsieur is to die for! A lovely twist on a classic roque monsieur, if you like cheesy treats then this is an absolute must try!

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As you can tell I am slowly working my way through their menu, but there is still a long way to go yet! How lovely are these amazing looking seasonal treats?? You can check out their latest seasonal goodies on their menu here.

I also noticed on their website that they have recently started serving Afternoon Tea from Thursday to Sunday (12pm to 4pm) so will have to add this to my list too!

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Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Hopefully you will have read my blog on our last visit to Stratford Upon Avon where we visited Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place and Hall Croft.

We paid for a “full story” ticket which gets you entry to the five different places – Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place and Hall Croft. We didn’t have time on the day to visit all five places, so we saved Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Mary Arden’s Farm for another day.

Well, we chose another beautiful day to visit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage! The sun was shining which shows this lovely cottage in its full glory and meant we could explore all the grounds without the threat of rain! A perfect day out!

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is a beautiful cottage in Stratford Upon Avon and belonged to the wife of William Shakespeare. The cottage was built in 1463 until the first Hathaway’s moved in as tenant sheep farmers in 1540.

Anne was born in 1556 and lived here until she married Shakespeare in 1582 and moved into his family home on Henley Street, again in Stratford Upon Avon.

In 1610 Anne’s brother, Bartholomew, purchased the lease to the cottage and began to develop it. The cottage was extended, resulting in it doubling in size. Chimneys and an upper floor were built, providing bedrooms and storage.

In the 1700’s the Hathaway family fortunes begin to decline and by 1838, descendants of the Hathaway’s had sold the cottage but remained as tenants. In 1892 the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought the cottage, but kept the family on as custodians.

It is wrong really to refer to it as a “cottage”, as it is far larger than you would imagine a cottage to be, and has huge adjoining grounds! Whilst exploring the Cottage and its grounds you will come across;

Willow Arbour, there are a couple of these you will encounter along the woodland walk.

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The Music Note Willow Sculpture was designed by award winning sculpture artist Tom Hare. It is a giant musical stave with music notes and butterflies woven onto it.

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The sculpture leads the way to a special Butterfly Conservation Border planted with flowers to attract the butterflies, and believe me, it works! The gardens were full of beautiful butterflies of all colours!

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The Woodland Walk is really beautiful and well worth doing! Such peace and quiet as you wander through the wood and encounter beautiful trees, flowers, shrubs and even some little bunny rabbits!

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One of the highlights of the visit is the Willow sculpture, a crescent shaped sculpture also known as the “Moon Seat”. This is another design by Tom Hare and is not only beautiful to look at but also acts as the perfect viewing point for the cottage and the gardens.

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The Cottage Garden’s are really beautiful. Someone asked one of the guides whilst we were there how the garden grows such beautiful shrubs, plants and vegetables, to which the guide replied “over 400 years of practice!” It’s true, if the well established gardens hadn’t got the hang of growing the best quality produce by now then maybe it never would have!

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Miss Willmott’s Garden is named after the Edwardian horticulturist who designed the cottage gardens in the 19th Century style. During the Spring and Summer months the garden is full of beautiful scented flowers.

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and of course the main attraction; Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Isn’t it stunning?! The outside is covered in beautiful roses with brightly coloured flower beds with wonderful scents.

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Inside the cottage you will find all of the rooms set up as they would have been back when Anne used to live here.

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The cottage is beautiful inside with long corridors and wonky walls and is full of original Hathaway furniture including the Hathaway bed!

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Outside, just up past the Traditional Orchard you will find the Sculpture Trail and Arbouretum, with some lovely Shakespearian inspired sculptures, and even more fluffy bunnies playing in the sunshine!

And this is by no means all there is to see! During your visit you can also see the Yew Circle, Shottery Brook Walk, Family Activity Tent (check for seasonal activities), Garden Cafe and Sonnet Arbour, where you can listen to Shakespearian verse being read.

A really lovely day out which is highly recommended and best of all, we bought the tickets using our Tesco Clubcard points so the tickets didn’t cost us a penny!

The “full story” tickets we bought are valid for a full 12 months after purchase, so you can visit any of the five locations as many times as you wish for a full year! So the ticket is excellent value for money!

Full story tickets are £22.50, or you can book online for a 10% reduction in ticket prices (you can book your tickets here.)

 

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!

 

 

A picnic at The Bush Inn

For all of you who love a good old Afternoon Tea, have I got a treat for you! This is no ordinary Afternoon Tea, it is called a Picnic Bench and is piled high with delicious home-made treats, and it can only be found at a place called The Bush Inn in Hereford.

I have been meaning to visit here since towards the end of last year after seeing their amazing Winter Picnic Bench doing the rounds on Facebook, but with the house move going on and loads of family events, I just didn’t get round to going!

My friends husband booked for them to go as a surprise for Valentines Day and as soon as I saw the photos I knew I had to go as soon as possible! My friend booked the four of us in at the end of April and I was counting down the days until we could go!

Anyway, we booked just in time for their Spring range of picnic benches, and the food on offer was all of my absolute favourites!! I couldn’t believe it when the menu was released,  it was like it was made especially for me!

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Here’s what the Spring picnic bench is made up of:

Chicken burger with salad

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Mozzarella stick with salsa

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Basket of seasoned waffle fries

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Mini macaroni cheese

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Mint Aero cheesecake in a shot glass

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Citrus jelly in a shot glass

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Mini jam jar of passion fruit posset

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Rocky Road slice

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Lemon Victoria sponge cake

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White chocolate coated cake pop

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all served with a mini bottle of Berry Fizz and a Mini Mojito!

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A vegetarian version is available on request – this option is a nut roast burger as an alternative to the chicken burger and everything else remains the same as it is all suitable for vegetarians.

You can only book by calling them directly (01432 830206) and 24 hours notice is required – although be warned, they only serve their picnic benches for a couple of hours a day (12pm to 2pm Tuesday to Saturday, 6:30pm to 8:30pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Fridays 6:00pm to 8:30pm and Saturdays 5:45pm to 7pm) and so places sell out extremely quickly!

The price is £16.50 per person which is an absolute bargain for the amount and quality of food you get per person, I have paid double this for a posh afternoon tea which left me feeling hungry afterwards!

They don’t have a specific website but if you are on Facebook you can find their Facebook page here.

I highly recommend paying a visit if you have the opportunity! I will definitely be coming back! The seasonal picnic benches they have are brilliant. The Easter one they served recently looked delicious and the Winter version they had last year looked incredible so I would definitely like to try another seasonal one at some point! They are currently considering doing a Summer Picnic Bench and a Royal Wedding themed Picnic Bench in May to celebrate Harry and Meghan getting married – sounds a great idea to me!

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Popaball Drink Shimmers

I first wrote a review over a year ago on Popaball’s amazing Rose Gold shimmer for prosecco, but things have come on a long way since then and Popaball now have a range of SIX of these amazing drinks shimmers, so I thought it was time to write an updated blog!

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Here is the full range of lovely drink shimmers you can currently get from Popaball;

Violet Shimmer

This one tastes delicious! It is blackcurrant flavour and can be used in any drink from champagne to lemonade!

Simply add 1/3 of a teaspoon of the shimmer to a glass of drink which is about half full and watch your drink turn a multicoloured unicorn effect until the bubbles settle, revealing your drink as a beautiful violet purple colour.

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This can also be used in cocktails as an alternative to creme de cassis! It is my favourite shimmer flavour-wise!

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Rose Gold Shimmer

The original drinks shimmer – I love this stuff! I bought several packs when it was released and it was brilliant to take to parties and on girls nights out to jazz up your prosecco. I’ve also bought several as gifts for family and friends!

Everyone loves the shimmery rose gold effect it creates in prosecco! It is raspberry flavoured and also contains edible gold leaf hearts!

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Just fill your glass 3/4 full with prosecco, slowly sprinkle in 1/3 of a teaspoon of the shimmer powder, watch it bubble up and then reveal a beautiful rose gold shimmering unicorn style prosecco! My favourite overall shimmer from the selection so far!

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Blue Pearl shimmer for Gin

This shimmer is designed to be used in gin and tonics, however, I don’t like gin so I have been drinking this in my prosecco just like the other flavours!

The Blue Pearl is blueberry flavoured and (if you are using it in your gin and tonics) you just need to fill 1/2 a glass with ice, add 25ml of gin, and top with tonic water, slowly sprinkle in 1/3 teaspoon of the shimmer powder and watch your gin bubble and then reveal a beautiful blue pearl mermaid style shimmery drink!

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If, like me, gin isn’t your thing, then as with the violet and rose gold shimmer, simply add 1/3 of a teaspoon in with your prosecco/champagne/lemonade or whatever you happen to be drinking!

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Popaball’s latest releases are the Gold, Silver and Bronze drink shimmers which are designed for any drink as they are completely flavourless. As with all the others just fill your glass 2/3 full with a sparkling drink of your choice and add 1/3 of a teaspoon of shimmer, watch it bubble up and then reveal either a lovely gold, silver or bronze coloured shimmery drink!

Gold Drink Shimmer

I was looking forward to trying the gold one most of all as gold is my favourite colour and we had gold and cream as our wedding colours!

When I used it for the first time I wish it had been around when we had got married – we could have put some in everyone’s toasting champagne so it matched our wedding theme!

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The gold one is lovely – really effective and really shimmery!

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Silver Drink Shimmer

This was the colour I was least bothered about out of the three, and when I first sprinkled the powder in I thought it didn’t have much of an effect….

However once all the bubbles have gone and you give the drink a good swirl, the silver colour is actually one of the most effective shimmers of the range!

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Again, if you are getting married this year and silver forms part of your colour theme, I would highly recommend the silver shimmer if one of your arrival or toasting drinks is prosecco or champagne!

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Bronze Drink Shimmer

I wasn’t too sure about this one as although I love bronze/copper colours at the moment, I thought the colouring might be a little bit too dark….. how wrong I was!

It’s true this is the darkest of all the colours from the range but it is also the most shimmery and effective.

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The pictures really don’t do it justice – I thought this had the best “shimmering” effect by far – maybe because the colour is so dark the golden glitter and sparkles stand out far better? This one is definitely another favourite of the range and will probably be the go-to shimmer as unlike my other favourites, the violet and the rose gold, this one is flavourless and so will go with any type of drink!

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I really highly recommend you trying them, the pictures really don’t do the shimmers justice and they are great for all kinds of occasions!

The shimmers cost £7.49 each, are 21 gram packs and each pack contains approximately 21 servings, so although the pots look small, they do last ages!

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Add more shimmer than recommended if you would like a greater effect and taste, but add only a little at a time because the shimmer does cause the drinks to fizz up and overflow if you aren’t careful! I’ve been caught out many times with this!

I wouldn’t add anymore than the recommended amount of the violet shimmer as the blackcurrant taste of this shimmer is quite strong and you only need a little bit for a great taste effect!

I have placed multiple orders with Popaball over the past year or so for their shimmers and bubbles, (and that doesn’t include their products I’ve bought from my local Lakeland), but over the Christmas period they sent me a free double pack of their bursting bubbles to say thank you for my custom over the past year!

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I thought this was a really lovely touch and customer service at its best! Thank you Popaball, it was much appreciated!

You can buy the whole range of shimmers and bubbles online at Popball’s website.

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!

Genie’s Cave Afternoon Tea

I’ve got a real thing lately for afternoon tea’s – especially themed ones – so when an advert for the Genie’s Cave afternoon tea at Cutter and Squidge in London came up, I knew I had to pay them a visit!

Upstairs in Cutter and Squidge there is a beautiful tea room filled with incredible looking cakes and treats. For the Genie’s Cave afternoon tea you are escorted downstairs into an underground treasure trove where the walls are painted pink and purple and are adorned with all sorts of brightly coloured jewels, gold pieces and gold coins! It is just like a little cave of treasure!

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The only downside with this was that the lighting was so low that my camera didn’t take very good pictures so apologies for that, but hopefully you’ll get an idea of what to expect!

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A Genie’s Welcome

The first part of the afternoon tea was very unusual as it was a dessert type treat! The Genie’s Welcome comes in a little round glass bowl and is a raspberry flavoured yogurt type treat with raspberry sauce, raspberries and pomegranate seeds mixed in. This is then topped with pashmak which is a type of Iranian Candy Floss sometimes referred to as “Dragon’s Beard! They sell pashmak in Selfridges and I’ve always fancied trying it! It is very similar to candy floss but not as gritty, it is a bit “hair” like for my liking though, hence the Dragon’s Bear name!! This is then topped with a lovely home made thick fluffy meringue which has been torched on the one side.

Selection of Finger Sandwiches

Probably the most boring part of all afternoon teas but some people like sandwiches! The selection was Cucumber and Fresh Mint, Cheese and Tomato Jam and Coronation Chicken.

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Savoury Wishes

The Savoury Wishes part of the afternoon tea included these lovely delights:

  • Dessert Rose Tart with thinly sliced roasted vegetables

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  • Savoury Scones Swirls with roasted peppers and Feta cheese – These were really tasty – swirled pastry with roasted vegetables and feta cheese in. A nice alternative to “normal” scones as they aren’t as thick and heavy!

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  • Golden Cheese Clouds  – These were lovely, I really liked these! Imagine a savoury profiterole style choux bun is the best way to describe them! Very light and very cheesy! Yum!

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Sweet Wishes

The Sweet Wishes part of the afternoon tea included:

  • Raspberry and Rose Tart sprinkled with pistachio emeralds – tiny little pastry tarts filled with raspberry cream centres and topped with crumbled pistachios.

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  • Hidden gem Macaron with peanut butter and jelly.

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  • Magic Carpet Cookies – lovely little carpet shaped melt in the mouth shortbread biscuits topped with cocoa patterns.

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Ruby Dream Cake

A vanilla and strawberry cake with orange glaze and jelly ruby.

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Golden Treasure Biskie

Two chocolate cookie like biscuits with a delicious chocolate mousse in the middle decorated with 24 carat Gold! This was my favourite!

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The afternoon tea is £29.50 per person or £34.50 per person with a glass of bubbly, and Wheat free or dairy free options are also available for the afternoon tea which include a £5 surcharge. When we left they also gave us this lovely little treat to take with you which I thought was a lovely touch.