A trip to Kensington Palace

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I hadn’t ever thought about visiting Kensington Palace but when I told my Mum I wanted to visit London for the day and asked her what she fancied doing she said she had always wanted to visit! Even better, you can get Kensington Palace entry tickets by exchanging your Tesco Clubcard vouchers, bargain!

Kensington Palace is situated in Kensington Gardens and has been the residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th Century. It is currently the official residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and Princess Eugenie.

Kensington Palace was built as a royal home for William III and Mary II at the end of the 17th Century. It has had many roles over the years, including a museum and a barracks for soldiers guarding the Great Exhibition. It used to be a small mansion known as Nottingham house. In 1689 the new monarchs, King William III and Queen Mary II, purchased Nottingham House for £20,000 and only weeks later, Sir Christopher Wren began work on transforming it into a royal palace. The new palace had a chapel, courtier accommodation, kitchens, stables, barracks and many grand rooms and state apartments. Queen Mary died in 1694 of smallpox in her bed chamber in the palace but had spent many years before designing and furnishing the palace.

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William didn’t make many alterations to the Palace, and his successor, Queen Anne, only reigned for a short time and so only added the orangery during her time. Anne left no heir and so the palace passed to her distant relative, George Ludwig.

The new King George liked Kensington Palace but found it to be in very poor condition and so plans were made to rebuild it on a much larger scale. A new set of State Apartments were built to replace the old Jacobean house in 1718 to 1722.

During the reign of King George II between 1727 and 1760, the Palace was used to its full potential as George and Queen Caroline enjoyed entertaining their guests in lavish ceremonies. Unfortunately, after Queen Caroline’s death in 1737, the King closed off half of the palace. King George died in his private apartments at Kensington Palace in October 1760.

George III showed little interest in Kensington Palace throughout his reign (1760-1820), but this did mean that the furnishings and paintings were left untouched in dark rooms for this time. The Palace eventually became home to George III’s two sons, Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. Prince Augustus was a book collector, and amassed over 50,000 volumes in his apartment! Prince Edward was the father of Queen Victoria, who was born in the palace in 1819. In June 1837 she was told of her accession to the throne, and held her first council in the Red Saloon.

Queen Victoria’s daughters, Princess Louise and Princess Beatrice, later lived in the palace. Louise was a really gifted artist and left the legacy of the statue of the young Queen Victoria which sits at the east side of the palace.

A major restoration of the palace took place in 1898 under the orders of Queen Victoria and in 1912 the rooms were filled with display cases when the palace became home to the London Museum. A lot of damage was caused to the Palace by incendiary bombs during the Second World War.

In the 1960’s, Princess Margaret came to live at the Palace, and further members of the Royal Family began to arrive in the 1970’s and 1980’s, one of the most famous of these being Diana, Princess of Wales, who lived at Kensington Palace up to her death in 1997.

There are several tours you can take within Kensington Palace which are:

The Kings State Apartments

The Kings Staircase leads to the King’s State Apartments, and all visitors for the King would have climbed this staircase, (provided that their clothes and jewels were acceptable to the guards!) The staircase paintings were completed around 1726 by an artist called William Kent, who included a portrait of himself on the ceiling in a brown artists cap and holding a palette. Kent’s work was inspired by the work he had seen in Rome, where he trained to be an artist.

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The Presence Chamber was where the King would sit on his throne, under a crimson silk damask throne canopy, and important guests would be ushered in to bow to him.

The Privy Chamber was one of Queen Caroline’s favourite entertaining spaces. It has another amazing ceiling created by William Kent in 1723 and shows Mars, the Roman god of War, and Minerva the goddess of Wisdom, and surrounding them are the emblems representing the arts and sciences.

The Cupola Room was probably my favourite room of the Palace. This room was the first room decorated by William Kent. In this room he re-created in paint a baroque Roman palace but with the Star of the Order of the Garter as the ceiling’s centrepiece. George II and Queen Caroline hosted really lavish parties in this room.

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The strange object in the centre of this room is a clock and a music box as well as a piece of artwork, and was completed in 1743.

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The Kings Drawing Room would have been packed full of courtiers back in the day, who would have all attended the King’s parties seeking power and patronage.

On the ceiling William Kent has shown the powerful god Jupiter, who accidentally killed his lover Semele, and portraits of Venetian doges line the walls. Next door to this room was the King’s bedchamber, and halfway through the evening he would emerge to make his grand appearance.

The Council Chamber is located in one of Christopher Wren’s pavilions, built on the corners of the original Nottingham House and it has served William III, George I and George II as a meeting place for the Privy Council. The sort of court dress that would once have been worn in these state rooms is on display here.

Queen Caroline’s Closet is a small room which originally belonged to William III as his bedchamber. George I used this room to store books but these were removed after Queen Caroline made one of the most important art discoveries of the era. In 1727, she found hidden in a cabinet a portfolio containing many drawings made by Hans Holbein, the younger of Henry VIII and his courtiers. Caroline later made this room a gallery filled with 300 paintings, miniatures and embroideries.

The Kings Gallery was built for William III as an addition to Wren’s design in the new South front and was finished in around 1700. It was in here that William III played soldiers with his little nephew and intended heir, the Duke of Gloucester. After a riding accident at Hampton Court, it was here that the King caught the chill that led to his death on 8th March 1702.

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The gallery was transformed in 1725 by William Kent for George I. Red damask replaced the green velvet walls and the fine oak joinery was painted white and gilded. Kent and his assistants painted the seven large ceiling canvasses that show scenes from the life of Ulysses.

Queen’s State Apartments

The Queen’s State Apartments are deliberately plainer and lower-key than the Kings, both inside and out. Here you can learn more about the lives of Mary II, Queen Anne and the House of Stuart.

The Queen’s Staircase is a sharp contrast to the grand marble King’s staircase. These apartments were built for Queen Mary between 1689 and 1694.

The Queen’s Gallery was painted white and hung with full length portraits of Kings and Queens  of England. Later, Mary developed a passion for collecting treasures from India, China and Japan. She filled the gallery with artefacts such as Turkish carpets, embroidered hangings and lacquer furniture, alongside her collection of 150 pieces of oriental porcelain.

The Queen’s Closet was where a terrible argument took place between Queen Anne and her childhood friend Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough.

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The Queen’s Eating Room has beautiful panelling which has survived from the 17th Century. In here, William and Mary would share simple private dinners of fish and beer. Mary would also use this room to make tea with the ladies of her household.

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The Queen’s Drawing Room used to be filled with Mary II’s porcelain. This room is the room which is claimed to have lost most of its original character, as it badly damaged by an incendiary bomb on 14th October 1940. Most of the panelling was destroyed which is why the walls are now wallpapered.

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The Queen’s Bedroom was used by Mary as her State bedroom when she and William first moved into the palace. Just as soon as Christopher Wren had finished work on the Queen’s Apartments, Mary had her rooms extended to provide her with more accommodation. This resulted in the Queen’s Gallery and a new private bedchamber being built.

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Victoria Revealed

We were very disappointed because this exhibition was closed when we visited, and it was one of the main exhibitions we wanted to see! We will definitely have to revisit to see this. In this exhibition you can visit the rooms Queen Victoria grew up in and learn more about her life right through from her childhood to her final years. In this section of the palace we would have been able to see:

The Stone Staircase where Princess Victoria first met her cousin and future husband, Prince Albert, for the first time in 1836.

The Red Saloon where Victoria held her first Privy Council on the morning she became Queen in June 1837.

On this tour you will also learn more about how Victoria and Albert fell in love and Victoria’s lonely family life growing up at Kensington Palace.

There is also a separate exhibition about Price Albert known as the Great Exhibition, which was in 1851 and would later be known as his greatest piece of work. It showcased technological and cultural achievements from over the world and attracted over six million visitors.

Modern Royals

This is a changing display – when we were here it was a beautiful Diana exhibition showcasing some of her most famous outfits. Well worth a visit and it slightly made up for the fact that the Victoria exhibition was closed.

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The first dress below was designed by Bruce Oldfield, who designed many dresses for the Princess. She wore it at the Courtauld institute of Art, Somerset House in 1990 and again at the Buckingham Palace state banquet in 1991.The Princess chose the second dress in the below picture for an official visit to Japan. The colour was chosen to complement the flowering cherry blossoms.

Diana chose to wear the Spencer Tiara, a sparkling family heirloom, on a state visit to India in 1992. This second dress was designed to complement it. The embroidery on the bodice of this dress was based on traditional Indian patterns.

The Princess wore this first dress when she danced with actor John Travolta at the White House. This second dress was embellished with falcons, the national bird of Saudi Arabia, when the Princess visited there. The high neckline and long sleeves also respected local customs.

The second dress below was worn by the Princess when she visited Brazil, shortly after their national football team lost to Argentina in the World Cup. Conscious of her hosts feelings, she instructed the designer, Catherine Walker, to avoid the blue and white colours of the Argentinian team when she designed the gown.

The second dress below was worn to the New York gala event before the Christie’s Auction.

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You can also visit the beautiful Palace Gardens, which were transformed in 2012. During the winter months, Queen Anne’s orange trees were protected from the cold inside her magnificent orangery, which was built for her between 1704 and 1705. In the summer months, they were transferred to the terrace outside. Anne also added fountains and an alcove with a garden seat to the south gardens. This still exists but was moved to nearby Lancaster Gate in the 1860’s. In 1705, 100 acres were added to the east side of the palace to form a paddock for royal deer and antelope.

The majority of the works done to the gardens were down to Queen Caroline. She extended the plantings, laid the Broad Walk and had the Round Pond dug in 1728. The Serpentine was formed as a boating lake by flooding several smaller ponds.

The Sunken Garden was laid out during the reign of Edward VII and opened in 1909, and is the most popular of the Palace gardens.

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The east and the south sides of the palace were laid out in 2012 with a new scheme designed by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, inspired by the old layouts of lawns, trees, borders and topiary of George II’s time.

Queen Victoria is present at the front of the Palace in the form of a statue, which was designed by her daughter Louise.

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Kensington Palace was a lovely day out in spite of the cold, wet weather! A place I will definitely have to visit again so I can see the gardens properly in the sunshine and hopefully finally get to see the Victoria exhibition when it re-opens, which should be any day now….

Happy Birthday to me!

It’s wrong to say Happy Birth”day” to me because in actual fact I have a Birth-week not a Birth”day”! I always pack my Birthday week full of fun and days out with family and friends and this year was no exception!

Here’s what I got up to during this AMAZING week!

On Monday, Mum and I caught the megabus to London! Yes it takes ages but it cost us only £8 each for a return from Gloucester to London! The coach stops at Victoria Coach Station which just so happens to be a five-minute walk away from one of my favourite bakery’s in London – Dominique Ansel’s! So, we popped in here for breakfast before starting our busy London adventure!

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I had an amazing turkey croque monsieur and one of their Blossoming hot chocolates, which I have wanted to try for ages!

I also had a delicious Cookie Shot, a shot glass sized cup made out of cookie and filled with delicious creamy vanilla milk! I bought a pack of six Cookie Shots to take home with me as well! The cakes in here are incredible – check out these lovely Blizzard Bear cakes!

After our lovely refreshment break we caught an Uber over to Kensington Palace. We had a lovely time here, so much so that I am writing a separate blog on this amazing place – the Diana Exhibition which is currently on was definitely an added bonus! Even better, we didn’t pay the entrance fee because we managed to pay for the tickets using our Tesco Clubcard vouchers!

After a few hours exploring Kensington Palace we moseyed on over to Cutter and Squidge for our Genie’s Cave afternoon tea! I really love attending these themed afternoon teas! I have been trying to get into the Tale as old as Time one for months but it is always fully booked. Then after going to the amazing Mad Hatter’s Tea Party afternoon tea in December last year I was on the hunt for something similar and came across the Genie’s Cave version! This was another brilliant experience with amazing food, so a a separate blog is to follow on this too! A word of warning though – the Genie’s Cave theme is due to end at the end of March so get booking if this is something you fancy!

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After stuffing our faces we wandered around and did the only thing we know best – bought more delicious treats to bring home with us! We visited Doughnut Time who sell THE BEST doughnuts ever! Move over KrispyKreme!

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After visiting all of our favourite food places we wandered slowly back over to Victoria Coach Station via Buckingham Palace to catch our coach home. What an amazing start to my Birthday week!

Tuesday was far less exciting but definitely a lovely day off – I basically got up at the normal time and got ready and then spent the morning in my local Starbucks catching up with writing my blogs and updating my Instagram and Twitter accounts. I managed to publish a blog every day in December for Blogmas, and over the Christmas holidays I had intended to get my blogs up to date and to have them scheduled several weeks in advance, but unfortunately this fell by the way-side and since mid-January I have been struggling to get my weekly weekend blog published. The week commencing 19th February I didn’t publish anything, which was the first time in a long time. I’ve found it especially hard to focus and get back into the blog writing since our lovely dog Skibba passed away last month as well. Anyway, today gave me a chance to catch up and draft as many blogs as possible, plus drink ridiculous amounts of my favourite coffee! A nice calm and relaxed morning!

After a few hours of getting square eyes I wandered over to the business park next door to have a look in some of the furniture stores to get some decorating ideas for our house. We’ve got the plasterer booked to plaster most of the upstairs and the dining room ceilings next week and after that we can get cracking with the decorating, so I need to start thinking about designs and colour schemes! I’m hoping by the time we have been in the house six months (beginning of June) I can write a blog about the progress we have made so far, but things are moving far slower than I had expected and the weeks and months just seem to be whizzing by!

Anyway, I came across some lovely dining room tables and chairs, bed frames and wallpaper and kitchens and nursery furniture so plenty of food for thought!

In the evening hubby and I went out for a lovely meal to Zizzi’s which is one of my favourite restaurants. Plus, we had £40 worth of Tesco Clubcard vouchers to spend in here, so it was practically a free meal which was brilliant!

On Wednesday, my Mum and I traveled over to the nearby town of Tewkesbury. I’ve always wanted to see Tewkesbury Abbey and, as it is not too far away, Tewkesbury seemed to be a lovely day out. It is a really beautiful building with lots of history so, you guessed it, a separate blog is to follow!

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After visiting the Abbey we grabbed lunch at a nearby restaurant called Café E Vino. The lunch was delicious and they had plenty of vegetarian and vegan options which I thought was very impressive! I had a delicious meal of gnocchi in a gorgonzola and speck sauce – really tasty!

After a hearty lunch we wandered down to the waters edge to see the river, although we didn’t hang around for long as it was absolutely freezing and the water level was really high after the recent snowfall had melted.

After a lovely day we hopped in the car to go and collect my amazing Birthday cake from Claire’s Cakes Cheltenham! Isn’t it beautiful!?

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She has made several cakes for us over the years including an amazing Winter Wonderland cake, two amazing Game of Thrones themed cakes and a Harry Potter themed cake! This year’s cake was a Geode cake and as usual she has outdone herself and made a spectacular creation! Can’t wait for friends and family to see it tomorrow!

Thursday was my actual Birthday so my Sister and I started the day going to Hubble Bubble, one of our favourite coffee houses, for one of their famous freakshakes! We tried the Easter edition this time!

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After our sugar overload we ventured into town for a bit of retail therapy,  coffee  and lunch. The centre of Gloucester isn’t great for shopping however Gloucester Quays Outlet Centre is only a short walk away so we spent most of our time here. I had planned for us to go to The Grill Shed for lunch but unfortunately I woke up this morning with a stinking cold so I didn’t feel up to having a big meal! We ended up having macaroni cheese in Costa instead which was just what we needed!

After our shopping trip I came home and prepared a little buffet for the family and friends who were popping over to visit me for my Birthday! It was really lovely to see everyone and catch up with them and after the buffet we all enjoyed a large slab of Birthday cake! My Mum and my Sister bought me some beautiful flowers and people came over with mounds of presents!

When everyone had gone I had the important task of opening all of my cards and gifts! I just hadn’t had the time so far! As usual, I’ve been absolutely spoilt! My Mum bought me the amazing shoes I included in my Valentine’s Day treats post (and believe me they look as good in real life as they did in that picture!)

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My Sister asked me if I wanted anything in particular but she knows me very well and is brilliant at present buying so I told her to surprise me! And she did! As well as my beautiful flowers she bought me a lovely pair of grey trainers, a keyring, a pen and a Columbo boxset! (I LOVE Columbo!!!)

Hubby asked me ages ago what I would like for my Birthday and I really couldn’t think of anything I wanted but as my Sister and I were walking through town today we walked past the Pandora shop to have a peep in the window. I’ve always wanted a Pandora bracelet and really love all the amazing charms you can get, but I have always worn gold jewellery, and all my existing jewellery is in gold! The gold bracelets and charms are available but are really, really expensive and I would never want to spend so much on a bracelet. Anyway, when we looked inside they were promoting the new Pandora Shine collection which is basically thick gold plated jewellery and obvious makes it far more affordable than the solid gold range, so it was as if it was meant to be!

So I had a beautiful gold Pandora bracelet and two charms from hubby in the end! I was so pleased to finally get one and he was pleased I had chosen something I really wanted for my Birthday! I’ve been very spoilt! I also had cash and vouchers from family and friends so I’ll take these with me when I’m working in London next week to see what lovely things I can find!

A perfect evening with family and friends – except the washing up afterwards of course!

The Friday was another brilliant day because I got to spend the day with my Sister and my Mum! It would have been nice to venture over to nearby Cheltenham as there’s plenty of places I would like to visit, but unfortunately my Birthday always lands in the middle of Race week at Cheltenham Racecourse, so Cheltenham and the surrounding areas are jam-packed with people! Even trying to get a restaurant reservation in Gloucester during this week is quite difficult so we thought it would be best to go a bit further afield and visit Blenheim Palace! It is only around an hour away from us and once again we were able to get our tickets using £8 worth of Tesco Clubcard vouchers! We’ve done extremely well over the years exchanging these vouchers for days out or restaurant vouchers!

Before we set off I wanted to treat my Mum and Sister to breakfast so I booked a table at one of our favourite restaurants for breakfast – Cote Brasserie. In fact, I’ve not been here for lunch or an evening meal, only for breakfast! I always have the Croque Monsieur – it is to die for!

After a hearty breakfast we set off for Blenheim Palace. I’ve wanted to visit here for a long, long time so I’m really pleased I finally got round to it! I definitely want to re-visit in December when they have the “Christmas at Blenheim Palace” theme going on. I can imagine the Palace will look even more beautiful at that time of the year!

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We spent a few hours here, there is plenty to do and see and to be honest I really underestimated how big this place is! I will have to come back soon to finish looking at the parts of it we hadn’t got around to.

As a special treat I booked for the three of us to  have Afternoon Tea in the Orangery which was really lovely and the food was delicious.

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We finally got home after sitting in traffic for ages and luckily I hadn’t made any plans for the evening, so this gave me the chance to have a sort through and edit all the photos I had taken this week (and to have a well earned rest and hot bath!)

On the Saturday night we went over to our friends house and they cooked us a delicious dinner, my friend also made me this beautiful cookie mermaid, rainbow and unicorn display! Isn’t it amazing? She’s so talented!

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She also bought me a mound of presents including some sparkly trainers, amazing cocktail liquors chocolates, keyrings and some amazing Pusheen slippers! I’ve been wearing them all weekend!

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Our friends only live about a 15 minute walk away so we walked home, and just in time really as shortly after we arrived home the “mini beast from the East” struck and it started heavily snowing again! I don’t ever remember there being snow around my Birthday before! Fingers crossed Spring will be here soon and we can start the Easter celebrations!

Another fantastic Birthday! I’m so grateful to have such great family and friends!

In Love with Lush – the Valentine’s Day collection

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

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

Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb

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

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

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

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

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

Unicorn Horn

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

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

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

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

Tisty Totsy Bath Bomb

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

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

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

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

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The Kiss Lip Scrub

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

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

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

Kiss Me Quick Wash Card

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

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

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

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

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

Love Boat Bath Bomb

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whole Lotta Love Bubbleroon

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

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

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

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

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

Heart of Enlightened Expectation Bubble Bar Melt

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

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

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

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

Melt My Heart Massage Bar

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

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

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

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

Cherryish Body Scrub

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

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

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

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

Tunnel of Love Soap

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

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

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

Tender is the Night Naked Shower Cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giant Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb

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

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

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

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

Valentine’s Day treats!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotel Chocolat Salted caramel hearts – £3.50 – delicious!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Beauty and the Beast themed party!

If you have read my Christmas Countdown blog you will hopefully remember that I mentioned the themed parties I host every Christmas for my Sisters, my Mum and I. It started out as being just a bit of fun and so us four girls could spend some time together over the Christmas period (and to give us something to look forward to during the “in-between” time of Christmas and New Year) and to be honest it’s just stuck and become one of our regular traditions! My older Sister is severely autistic and especially looks forward to these themed parties, and now we are in a routine of doing them, not doing them would be most upsetting for her, so I’ve kind of pasted myself into a corner really!

Previous themes for these parties have included Harry Potter, Frozen and the Polar Express and, as you have probably guessed from the title of this blog, this years theme is Beauty and the Beast!

We all went to watch the new version of Beauty and the Beast at the cinema earlier on in the year and fell in love with this fantastic film. Shortly after, Primark started releasing all their amazing Beauty and the Beast products and so it seemed fitting that this would be the theme for this years party.

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I normally don’t start buying things for our Christmas themed parties until December, once I have done all my regular Christmas shopping, however, because most of the items in the Primark range were so difficult to get hold of, I grabbed as many as I could each time I spotted some in my local store (even this was difficult because they only allowed you to buy two at a time of the most popular items!)

These parties will always consist of a goody bag which fits in with the theme of the party. The contents vary depending on the theme but it’s fair to say the girls had an extra large goody bag full of treats this year!

Beauty and the Beast shopping bags:

There were so many pressies this year, I had to buy these huge shopping bags to fit them all in! They were £4 each but they are HUGE and at least the girls can re-use them for shopping in the future!

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Inside their goody bags they each had:

Chip coin purse

So cute – and very difficult to get hold of! Only £4 from Primark!

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Chip mug

Again, extremely difficult to get hold of! I’m so pleased I did – they look really effective and are far better designed than the official Disney ones. These are £5 from Primark, whereas the official Disney ones are in the region of £15-£20!

Beauty and the Beast pyjamas

Is there any better place to get pyjamas from than Primark?? Mum and I had the grey pair and my two Sisters had the pink trousers with the blue tops. The tops and bottoms are sold separately – I think the bottoms were £8 each and the tops were £6 each – still very cheap in comparison with other pyjama sets from elsewhere!

Beauty and the Beast socks

They aren’t actually socks but shoe liners – you can never have enough of these can you??

Mrs Potts coin purse

You can’t buy a Chip purse and not buy Mrs Potts to look after him can you?

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Lumiere coin purse

Another coin purse for the collection! I love the design of this one!

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Cogsworth Clock coin purse

And of course not forgetting Cogsworth! I must admit he is my least favourite design out of the collection, mainly because if you watch the films, Cogsworth is a bit of a miserable git and so this big laughing smiling face design doesn’t suit him I don’t think! There is also a Cogsworth Clock available from the Primark collection, but I haven’t managed to get my hands on one yet!

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Enchanted Rose drinking cup

Love this – isn’t it great? And only £5! You’ll pay triple that for a cup similar to this with a plain design! Plus I thought the design was great – you can unscrew the rose from the cup to make sure it’s washed properly and everything!

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Beauty and the Beast slippers

£5 for a pair of slippers! You can’t go wrong!

Beauty and the Beast footlets

I love the slippers but also like these “footlets” that Primark do – they are almost like thick socks but have a non-slip tread on the bottom of them so are ideal for wearing around the house. These are even cheaper at only £4!

Mrs Potts money box

How lovely is she? Primark also make a Mrs Potts actual teapot but I haven’t been able to get my hands on her yet! I think the money box is a lovely idea too though!

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Chip Jumper

I only saw these a few weeks back and I went away and gave it some thought as to whether to get them or not as I had already got so much stuff, but I couldn’t resist! Plus I love how they come in these lovely presentation boxes too!

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Chip Keyring

They can carry Chip with them everywhere they go now!

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Pom Pom bag charm

And this is really cute to brighten up an everyday handbag!

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Bell jar light

I haven’t got mine out of the box yet but thought these would look great on everyones dressing tables! The pictures really don’t do the bell jar justice, they look really lovely.

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Lumiere Tealight holder

And I was lucky enough to get a Lumiere Tealight holder from my friend for Christmas! She certainly knows me very well – I’ve not seen these anywhere!

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So as you can see the girls were all very spoilt and each now have a brilliant collection to cherish! All these Primark items go for a fortune on eBay at the moment so I’m hoping they will be worth even more in a few years time when they are collectors items!

We spent the day unwrapping our presents and watched the new version of the film whilst we munched our way through some delicious party food and drink! Another perfect family themed party!

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God knows how I am going to top this next year though – I think a more low-key party is in order after this years!

Sudeley Castle Spectacle Of Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CocoChlo’s Christmas Day

Merry Christmas everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lots of sweets and treats:

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Elf cake Pop’s from Popalicious cake pops!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas everyone! xx

CocoChlo’s Christmas Eve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yankee Candles

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Christmas Pyjamas

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

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Plus some matching Grinch slippers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s on the menu this Christmas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Smoked salmon bauble terrine:

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King prawn and poached salmon terrines:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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White chocolate Snowball Wreath (with raspberry compote inside!)

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

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

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Mini Mince pies

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Cornflake Wreaths

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

To make the Cornflake Wreaths you will need:

-100g soft butter

-200g mini marshmallows

-125g cornflakes

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

-Spinkles!

To make the wreaths –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

London at Christmas time

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

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

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

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

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

Ice Skating

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

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

Magical Ice Kingdom

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

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

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

Bar Ice

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

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

Outside of Hyde Park, we usually visit:

Oxford Street

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

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Oxford Street
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Regent Street Angels

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Department Store Windows

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

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

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

Harrods

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

Selfridges

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

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

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Department Store Christmas departments

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

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

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Department Store Food halls

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

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

Peggy Porschen Parlour

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas in Narnia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even the White Witch and Aslan make an appearance!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Lush Christmas – Part Four

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

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

Sherbet Dip Bath Bomb

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

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

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

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

Shoot for the Stars Bath Bomb

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

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

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

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

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

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

Candy Mountain Bubble Bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Light Star Bright Bath Melt

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

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

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

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

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

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

Magic Wand Bubble Bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Golden Pear Soap

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

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

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

Snow Fairy Body Conditioner

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

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

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

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

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

Baked Alaska Soap

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

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

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

Snow Fairy Sparkle jar

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shooting Stars Soap

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

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

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

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

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

Giant Golden Wonder Bath Bomb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Lush Christmas – Part Three

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

Golden Wonder Bath Bomb

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

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

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

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