Happy Halloween!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pumpkin Picking!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My cart was quite full by the end!

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

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

 

Planning a Gender Reveal Party

A few months ago some friends of ours found out that they were expecting! I remember asking them whether they were going to find out if it was a boy or a girl or wait for a surprise and I was honoured when they turned around and asked me if I would be willing to organise a gender reveal party for them!

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It is a relatively new craze which is one step up from a baby shower. I’ve seen a lot of the gender reveal party photos on Pinterest but I didn’t really understand how the whole thing worked until recently! I could never understand why the parents always looked so surprised when the gender was revealed?? How did they not know? How was the gender of the baby revealed to someone without the parents knowing?

Well, here is what happens…. The parents go along to the scan as er normal and the nurse completes all of her checks to check the health of the baby. When it comes to determining the gender the parents tell the nurse they are having a gender reveal party so she completes the paperwork which reveals the gender and then puts the paperwork into an envelope and seals it for them to hand it over to the party organiser!

Of course there is always a risk with this as the gender cannot be guaranteed. I’ve known people go their whole pregnancy having been told they were expecting a girl and then when it has arrived it has been a boy!

Anyway, I had to set about organising the party as soon as possible as it was arranged for two weeks after they had had the scan. I’m glad they were doing it after the scan as it’s really nerve wracking being the only person in the world knowing what gender the baby was!

We arranged the party at our local pub which has just been renovated and reopened so everything was looking fresh. They were great and really looked after us and even closed off the restaurant so we could have our private party. Not many places offer this nowadays and expect you to either pay a fee to hire the room or to pay for a buffet for all your guests, which is charged per head.

For the decorations I hit good old eBay! I ordered these lovely little pink and blue baby bottles which I filled with blue and pink sweets which I got from Asda (by the way, it is really hard to get hold of blue sweets and they are ALL bubblegum flavoured!).

I bought a “Boy or Girl” tablecloth and these little “Boy or Girl” honeycombe centrepieces. i wanted the centrepieces to be a bit more extravagant so I glued them to plain white plates and then added these pink and blue chewy sweets to them, so people could pick at them whilst they were sat at the tables.

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I bought some “Boy or Girl” photo props which I left on each of the tables for people to use when they were taking photos.

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I had one main long table in the room which I covered in the bottles of sweets, games and activities. I bought two batches of stickers – one set with Team Boy and one set with Team Girl on.

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I also bought this lovely fingerprint tree which comes with a blue ink pad and a pink ink pad. You simply get your guests to choose pink or blue and then to apply their fingerprints to the branches to make the “leaves” on the tree. It was really effective and is something the couple are going to frame to go in the nursery.

I also bought a “Boy or Girl” banner game where the guests choose a pink or blue baby grow and then write suggested baby names onto it and then peg the baby grow onto the banner. There were some interesting names put forward – not all serious ones I hope!

How lovely were these adorable tiny pink and blue baby dummies which I sprinkled all over the games and cake table??? Everyone loved these and I thought they were a great touch and a bit different from the normal table confetti!

I bought a guess the baby food game too! I bought five jars of baby food and then used the labels to cover up the original flavours and people had to guess what flavour each of the jars was! I thought it was a great game but I didn’t get many entrants for the competition! Thinking about it I don’t know whether I would have gone about tasting random jars of baby food either though! Still, it was a good bit of fun!

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Throw in some pink and blue plates, serviettes, banners, balloons and matching hanging decorations and you’ve got everything you need for the gender reveal party!

And finally, for the reveal, I had a cake made! The outside was plain white icing with pink and blue decorations and a lovely blue and pink baby shoe sat on top which were also made out of icing. The sponge inside was coloured so that when the parents cut into the cake, the gender would be revealed!

I also bought a confetti cannon from eBay to be released at the same time they cut the cake – this almost worked but the cannon was really stiff so it took us a couple of minutes to set it off which was a bit of a shame! Still, at least it worked in the end!

So, it all went very well and everyone had a great time and i’m pleased to say we are Team Pink on this occasion!

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The Lush Halloween Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Saint Aymes Cafe

Ok so this is my third instalment of my favourite London Cafes – I’m hoping you have already read my blog about Peggy Porschen’s and Dominique Ansel’s!

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Saint Aymes is another place I will always try and visit whenever I am in London. It is situated on Connaught Street which about a ten minute walk from Paddington Station. The outside is draped in beautiful wisteria, and inside is a bright and airy cafe adorned with multiple flower walls.

 

 

They are particularly well-known for their innovative Unicorn lattes! You can choose the latte in a colour of pink, blue or purple and it is topped with whipped cream and gorgeous multi coloured decoration.

 

 

The coffee which is added to the latte is served separately so you can add it when you have taken all those Instagram worthy shots!

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They also do a fantastic hot chocolate called Marie Antionette which is a pink coloured white hot chocolate adorned with whipped cream and crumbled oreo cookies.

 

They also serve delicious cappuccinos and the thing Saint Aymes is most well known for is their 24ct gold leaf decoration which is added to all of its drinks – can you think of anything more luxurious than that?? Check out this 24ct gold cappuccino!

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Saint Aymes have also recently installed a candy floss maker, so it is served fresh on request.

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Add to this a beautiful selection of cakes, biscuits and cupcakes and all in all you have a stunning and relaxing place which is well worth visiting!

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Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

I recently wrote a couple of blogs about some brilliant products I had come across which were made by Sand and Sky. I was talking to a friend about how much I liked their pink clay mask when she told me she had heard of a fantastic new product called Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. My friend said she had heard great things about this new product and even better, the price was extremely cheap!

 

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I looked into this product a little bit more and found the product was being described as “the worlds most powerful facial”, what a claim!

Clays such as this have been used for centuries to beautify and refresh when used as a facial mask. Cleopatra used clay from the Nile river and the Arabian desert over 1800 years ago, as part of her beauty ritual. German and Roman spas have been using clay packs and treatments in the spas they built 4,000 years ago. Many of these spas still exist and use clay even today.

Pliny the Elder devoted an entire chapter of his book “Natural History” to the many uses of clay for spots, black heads and skin tightening. Many famous naturopaths have contributed to the revival of the uses of clay through their natural treatments for arthritus and skin ailments.

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay  is bentonite clay from Death Valley, California, where it is sun-dried for up to six months in temperatures that sometimes reach 134 degrees. The clay does not contain additives, fragrances or any form of animal products.

The clay comes in powder form and to use it you mix the powder with equal parts of apple cider vinegar or water. I haven’t used apple cider vinegar so far, just water, and I have found the results to be great. Simply mix the clay into a smooth paste, adding more water or cider vinegar as needed.

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I have found it really difficult to get this mask into a smooth paste and have always ended up with lumps in the mask but when I was reading more about it today I found that if you use a metal spoon to stir the mixture with, it could be affecting the masks qualities, so only use something wooden to stir it with!

Apply a thick layer to the skin and leave it to dry, this takes around 15 to 20 minutes. If you have sensitive or delicate skin, don’t leave the mask on for any longer than 5 to 10 minutes, it is a really powerful mask!

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Whilst the mask is drying you will feel a tingly, pulling and tightening sensation. I have felt this when using other clay masks but not any whee near on this scale. It is almost like you can feel the mask opening your pores and drawing out all of the dirt and impurities, it is a really nice deep pore cleansing sensation!

The mask is quite difficult to wash off and you may find a slight redness of the skin straight after using the mask but this disappears after around 20 minutes.

Here’s the scientific stuff! When a spectographic analysis is done on Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, almost every mineral found on Earth is present. Aztec Secret Healing Clay is actually volcanic Ash from when the Earth was formed. The residue formed a pure clay vein layered between white sand, near one of the lowest parts of planet Earth.

I ordered a 1lb pot from Amazon for £8.49. For some reason, Amazon don’t seem to sell it anymore, but it is still available on eBay for around £7.99. The website says that the 1lb pot will make 15 to 20 clay masks but I think it will make far, far more than this. You hardly need any powder to make up a clay mask for the face and every time I have made a mask up I always have lots left over!

The mask can be used on the face and body and even as a foot mask which I think I will try next time! It’s just hard to find 20 spare minutes to allow the mask to dry when I’m not on my feet rushing around that seems to be the problem!

I got my Sister to use the mask to see what she thought – she loved it too!

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I absolutely love this product, so much so that I will probably be replacing all of my existing face masks for it. It is incredibly inexpensive and the most effective mask I’ve ever used.

Lush Atmospheres

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

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

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

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

 

Joy

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

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Love

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

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Money

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

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Let Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lush Lotions

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

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

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

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

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

Sultana

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

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

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

Calacas

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

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

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

Yuzu and Cocoa

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

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

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

American Cream

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

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

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

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

Noni I Washed the Kids

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

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

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

Yummy Mummy

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

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

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

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

Lord of Misrule

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

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

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

Avocado No Wash

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

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

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

Butterball

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

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

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

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

Yog Nog

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

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

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

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

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

Lush Shower Bombs

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

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

They have released four different shower bombs so far;

Karma

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

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

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

Not Sleepy

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

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

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

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

Koyaanisqatsi

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

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

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

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

Sleepy

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

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

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

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

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

Mary Arden’s Farm

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I am hoping that you have read my blogs about my last couple of visits to stratford upon avon and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage over the last few months. As part of the full story ticket we purchased, you can have access to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place, Hall’s Croft, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Mary Arden’s Farm, as many times as you like for a full 12 months! If you are visiting Stratford, you must also pay a visit to the Holy Trinity Church which is of course the final resting place for William Shakespeare himself.

Mary Arden’s Farm was the last place on our list to visit and, once again, we chose a beautiful summers day to visit!

The Arden Family farmhouse was the childhood home of William Shakespeare’s mother, Mary. The house was built in around 1514 and was owned by Lord Abergavenny, and tenanted to farmer Robert Arden (Shakespeare’s grandfather) and his family. Mary was born in about 1535 and was the youngest of 8 sisters. All of them grew up in this farmhouse.

At the time, it was not unusual for children to die through illnesses, but Mary and her sisters all lived to become adults and she grew up as part of a busy working household. Mary’s mother died in 1548 and her father then married a widow who also had four children, so the farmhouse would have been fit to bursting, even though some of Mary’s sisters had already left home by this point!

In 1556, Robert Arden died, leaving his second wife, Agnes, the tenancy of the house and farmland. Mary was left with some additional land and a sum of money at this point. In 1567, Agnes Arden handed the property over to her son-in-law John Fulwood (John Fulwood was married to Agnes’ youngest child) and she continued to live in the house until she died in 1581.

By 1623 the Fulwood family continued to hold the tenancy. Avery Fulwood was the tenant and the farm was recorded as being 147 acres in size.

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In 1662, Lord Abergavenny sold off the farm to pay off debts. Mary Arden’s house, along with the147 acres, was bought by Anne Hunt for £300. At the time this happened, Mary Fulwood was listed as the tenant. Later in that year, it was purchased by the Loggin family of Clifford Chambers.

In 1738 the Loggin family sold the property to Edward Kendrick, rector of nearby Billesley. He made the purchase to increase the income of Billesley parish throughout the rent of the property. The property then became known as Glebe Farm (Glebe means land proving income to the clergy).

In 1742 Kendrick acquired a barn and additional land. This was probably land originally left by Robert Arden to Mary in his will of 1556. Glebe Farm now consisted of a house and about 188 acres of land.

By 1769, Glebe Farm was one of the largest farms in Wilmcote. The other was neighbouring Palmers Farm (which was actually mistaken for Mary Arden’s Farm for several years until it became apparent the building next door was actually where Mary Arden had resided).

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Palmer’s Farmhouse is next door to Mary Arden’s Farm and for a long time was believed to be Mary Arden’s Farm!

1925 Glebe farmhouse and land still belonged to the rectory of Billesley parish at this date. In this year the farm was sold by the Church Commissioners and split up.

In 1967 the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust purchased the farmhouse with 3 acres of land, tenant George Holmes was living there at the time.

In 1978 the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust took possession of Glebe Farmhouse following the death of George Holmes.

In 2000, Glebe Farm was finally identified as the Arden family home after it previously being believed that they lived at neighbouring Palmer’s Farmhouse.

Mary and John Shakespeare had 8 children, 3 of whom died at a young age. William Shakespeare was born in 1564. When William was very young there was an outbreak of plague in Stratford Upon Avon which he was lucky to survive. It is not known for certain, but is thought that Mary brought William to Wilmcote in the hope of protecting him from the outbreak.

Mary lived long enough to see William rich and successful in the 1590’s. It is possible that following John’s death in 1601, she moved into William’s grand home, New Place, before she died in 1608.

When you arrive at the Farm you are greeted by a range of animals including cows, horses, goats, a donkey and some stunning birds of prey!

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You can explore the inside of the farmhouse, which has been set up to look as it would have done back then, with huge open fireplaces and wonky walls and corridors!

The first floor, above the hall, was most likely added sometime in the 1600’s. Originally the room would have been much bigger as the chimney stack was smaller. People lived in the house up until the 1970’s and over the years it has been altered an extended to suit their needs.

The first floor chamber was the only first floor space in the 1500’s and it would have been reached by a ladder until a staircase was added in the 1600’s. It is not known if the room was originally fully floored or if there was only a sleeping shelf.

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On the beam in the doorway you can see some dark brown teardrop shaped marks which were caused by candles held so close to the wood that they burnt it. Marks like this were often found on the timbers of older buildings. It is possible they were made by accident, however they may have been created deliberately, perhaps in the belief they would protect the building from burning down.

Theres also plenty to do outside in the grounds of the farm. A game of giant chess anyone?

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You can also visit Wheelwrights workshop. The workshop was opened to visitors again last year after being used as a storage space for a number of years. It houses a collection of late nineteenth and early twentieth century wheelwrights and coppers tools.

Alongside the blacksmith, the wheelwright, carpenter and cooper were essential craftsmen in the village community.

The carpenter met a variety of needs in the home and on the farm in addition to playing an important part in the construction of buildings. he made tools, furniture and domestic fittings, as well as coffins, and acted as undertaker.

The cooper’s speciality was the making of barrels of varying shapes and sizes needed for the storage of beer, cider or wine and of dry goods such as flour, salt-fish, lime and crockery. Great skill was required to judge the number and dimensions of the oak staves required to make a cask.

The wheelwright made and repaired wagons, carts and other farm implements. Seasoned elm, oak, and ash were used to provide the hub, spoke and rim felloes of a wheel. An iron tyre, fitted when hot, held these parts together when assembled.

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And if all of this is not enough for you, you can also go for a lovely long walk in the wild flower meadow, past the pigs and crops and lower dovehouse pasture.

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You can also try your hand at archery, watch some goose herding or a bird of prey display and visit the adventure playground.

So as you can see there is plenty to see and do here and you can easily fill a day seeing everything Mary Arden’s Farm has to offer! And don’t forget, if you buy the full story ticket you can come back as many times as you like for a whole year!

 

A trip to see the Terracotta Warriors

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to travel all the way to China to see these guys, but luckily, for the first time in 10 years the Terracotta Army came back to the UK for an exhibition at the World Museum in Liverpool. I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of this museum until I came across this exhibition being advertised, but couldn’t wait to visit!

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You’ll learn so much from this exhibition, it is so interesting!

The story starts about 600 years before the Qin people became a powerful Empire, when they occupied a small region on the north-west border of China and served the Zhou kings by breeding and training horses. When the Zhou royal family sets up a new capital in the East, in around 771 BC, establishing the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, the Qin are left behind to guard the western border against nomadic tribes.

The Qin state gradually grows in power and prosperity through political alliances, social changes and economic and technological advances. One of the most radical changes was the forming of a new government based on a clearly defined set of laws and a strict philosophy. People were rewarded for good behaviour and punished for wrong doing, officials were promoted for their achievements and not just because they came from noble families. This was known as the Legalist philosophy.

With a strong economy and a stable government, the rulers of the Qin state are able to expand their territory.

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Ying Zheng was only 13 years old when he became king of the Qin state in 246 BC. With the Prime Minister and his mothers support, the young king administers the state from his capital at Xianyang close to modern Xi’an in north-west China. At the age of 22, he takes full control of the government and over the next decade, with massive armies, he conquers the neighbouring six kingdoms and becomes the first ruler to unify China in 221 BC.

As he proclaims himself First Emperor of China, Ying Zheng invents a new title for himself, becoming Qin Shi Huang, the Great August First Emperor of Qin. He also claims the “Mandate of Heaven”. According to this ancient concept there can be only one supreme ruler whose authority comes from the gods.

To reinforce his divine nature, the Emperor travels around his Empire. He erects monuments on sacred mountains to proclaim his achievements, declaring himself ruler of the entire universe. His reputation as a cruel and ruthless tyrant may explain why there were several assassination attempts on his life. During his lifetime, the Emperor gathers many concubines and has numerous children, one of whom succeeds him when he dies unexpectedly at the age of 49.

Influenced by the Legalist philosophy of his ancestors, Qin Shi Huang believes in the absolute rule of law. This means that everything in his new Empire is strictly controlled. People who behave well are richly rewarded but those who behave badly receive severe punishments. The Emperor puts in place a new centralised system of government. He removes regional rulers and divides his newly conquered territories into 36 provinces, each managed by a governor,  military commander and a superintendent. He also orders 120,000 noble families to move from the states that he has conquered to his capital at Xianyang to ensure their loyalty. He creates a standard system of weights, measures and coinage, introduces an official script and imposes heavy taxation. This means that the same political and economic system is used across the Empire, improving communication, administration and trade. Even the wheel axle of chariots and carts is standardised so that travellers can use any road.

As the Emperor grows in power, he is obsessed with the desire to become immortal. He orders his alchemists to make potions to extend his life, some of which contain mercury. During his life, he organises expeditions to the East China Sea in search of the mythical “Islands of the Immortals”. It is here that the Emperor hopes to find herbs and plants which will bring him immortality. There is a story that the Emperor sends his most trusted magician Xu Fu on an expedition with 3,000 boys and girls, but sadly they never return. Despite his attempts to live forever, the Emperor dies unexpectedly in 210 BC, most likely from mercury poisoning, strangely enough!

The building of Ying Zheng’s tomb commences in 246 BC soon after he comes king of Qin at just 13 years of age. The burial site lies 35 kilometres east of Xi’an, the modern capital of Shaanxi Province. It faces south with mountains behind and the Wei River to the front, and was already the burial site of the Qin kings.

More than 700,000 men are brought from all corners of the Empire to work on the project. The scale of the tomb complex expands massively when Ying Zheng becomes First Emperor of China in 221 BC. The construction lasts nearly 40 years and continues even after his death.

The burial site is designed like a city for the afterlife, with the Emperor’s mausoleum in the centre surrounded by palaces, living quarters, offices, ritual buildings and stables, all enclosed within defensive walls, watch towers and gates. Apart from the mausoleum, very little is now visible above ground.

People believed that a life similar to that on earth awaited them in death, so the deceased were buried with the things they needed for the next world. Servants, warriors, concubines and even horses followed their lord to the grave. Rulers were buried with all the luxuries of life. Their tombs were monumental and designed to recreate the world they had lived in.

Following his death in 210 BC at the age of 49, the Emperor is buried in his mausoleum. By decree of his son, the Emperor’s childless concubines are killed and buried with him. Historical documents record that “thousands of officials were killed and thousands of craftsmen were buried alive… to keep the tomb a secret”.

Believe it or not, these amazing figures went undiscovered until 29th March 1974 and are one of the most extraordinary finds ever made! They were discovered by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi’an when they were digging a water well approximately 1.5km east of the emperors tomb. The discovery resulted in Chinese archaeologists being brought in to investigate and the finding of the largest pottery figurine group ever found in China. A museum complex has now been constructed over the area.

Over the last 40 years, archeological investigations have revealed three underground pits covering an area of 22,000 square metres housing an estimated 8,000 life-size warriors and horses. Each pit originally covered with wooden planks, bamboo mats and earth which over time have collapsed onto the warriors. Found in hundreds of fragments, the sculptures have to be painstakingly pieced together.

It is remarkable that these figures were not mentioned by the first Chinese historian Sima Qian when he described the Emperor’s burial site over 100 years later. The figures are a great unsolved mystery but it is believed they are guarding the Emperor in the afterlife. They are one of the most extraordinary archaeological discoveries of all time. Warrior figures from other Chinese burials have been found, but nothing compares to the scale and realism of the First Emperor’s terracotta army.

The figures are life sized and vary in height, uniform and hairstyle depending on what their roles in the army were (the tallest sculptures are the generals). Although the face of each warrior looks different, it is believed that 10 basic face shapes have been used and then clay added afterwards to provide individual facial features. The figures are of armoured warriors, unarmored infantrymen, cavalrymen (wearing a pillbox hat), helmeted drivers of chariots with armour protection, spear-carrying charioteers, armoured kneeling archers, unarmored standing archers, generals and other lower-ranking officers.

With regards to their uniform, some wear shin pads, they may have either long or short trousers on some of which are padded, and the body armours vary dependant on rank, function, and position in formation. There’re also terracotta horses placed among the warrior figures.

Most of the figures originally held real weapons such as spears, swords or crossbows. Unfortunately, most of the original weapons were looted shortly after the creation of the army, or have rotted away over time. Still, some weapons such as swords, spears, lances, battle-axes, shields and crossbows have been found in the pits.  Over 40,000 bronze items of weaponry have been recovered, most of them arrowheads which were usually found in bundles of 100. Some of the swords carry inscriptions of their date of manufacture between 245 and 228 BCE which suggests they were used as weapons before they were buried with the army.

The figures were originally painted with bright colours – pink, red, green, blue, black, brown, white and lilac – which added to the impression that each figure was individual. When the army were excavated, their painted surface began to fade and peel off due to their exposure to the sunlight, air and moisture. The lacquer which covers the paint curls and flakes off within about 15 seconds of being exposed to dry air, so think how much damage could be done if they were left exposed for several hours!

The Emperor’s mausoleum and the terracotta warrior pits are part of a much larger burial site covering an area of 56 square kilometres. This makes it the biggest burial site on earth. It is nearly 200 times bigger than the valley of the Kings in Egypt. In 1987 the First Emperor’s mausoleum was given UNESCO World Heritage status.

It was estimated that the three pits which contained the army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses. The majority of these remain buried in the pits near to Qin Shi Huang mausoleum.

Here are some of the incredible warriors you can see as part of the exhibition;

Horse Keeper

This horse keeper was excavated in 1995 and is one of 11 terracotta horse keepers discovered near the First Emperor’s Mausoleum. The pit in which the figures were found was thought to represent the royal stables. The horse keepers were buried with 12 real horses which were found in coffins.

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Cavalry Horse

No animal has shaped the history of China like the horse. The horse was first domesticated around 6,500 years ago in the grasslands of Central Europe and Asia and it became a symbol of power, wealth and status for the Chinese. Horses were so precious to the great rulers of China that they were buried with them for the afterlife. The Qin Kings grew in influence and wealth by breeding and training horses for the rulers of the Zhou Dynasty from around 1000BC. Later, during the Warring States Period, the power of each state was determined by the number of horses and chariots that they possessed. The Qin people were able to achieve military supremacy with horse-drawn chariots and increasing numbers of cavalrymen and mounted archers in battle.

Cavalry was an important military force of the Qin Dynasty. It was lighter, faster and more efficient than horse drawn chariots in battle. The First Emperor’s terracotta army is composed of a large cavalry unit made up of horses and armed cavalry men. The horses have saddles decorated with studs and tassels and their tails are plaited. They were originally dress with bridles and reins made of bronze.

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Bronze chariots of the First Emperor

These are modern replicas of the two bronze chariots which were discovered west of the First Emperor’s Mausoleum in 1980. They were cast in bronze and then embellished in gold and silver. They are thought to represent the chariots in which the First Emperor travelled across his newly unified empire. These models were buried when he died so he could carry on touring his empire in the afterlife.

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Armoured Guard – Excavated in 1976 from terracotta warrior pit 1.

Generals are the highest ranking warriors excavated from the pits. Armoured generals can be identified by their long double-layered robe covered with scaled armour which extends down the front in the shape of a “V”. Their armour is decorated with ribbons tied into bows. The design of the plaques suggests that generals wore iron armour. They wore a distinctive headdress in the shape of a double-tailed bird called he guan, meaning “peasant cap”, a symbol of bravery and skill on the battlefield.

A hole under the left arm of this general indicates that he probably held a scabbard to carry a sword. The terracotta generals were found near command chariots where the remains of bells and drums were also discovered. On the battlefield, generals rode in chariots equipped with bells, drums and flags to direct the troops. The chariots were usually drawn by four horses and generals were accompanied by two lower ranking officers.

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Heavy Infantryman – Excavated in 1992 from terracotta warrior pit 1.

Armoured infantry soldiers were part of the main battalion buried in the largest of the pits. They were positioned behind light infantry units and war chariots, and were originally armed with weapons such as swords, halberds and crossbows. This infantry soldier wears heavy armour covering his upper body and a long tunic underneath. He has short trousers as well as gaiters and short boots decorated with ribbons tied into bows. His hair is tied in a bun on the right side of his head and remains of red paint are still visible on the laces of his armour plates and legs as well as on the ribbon in his hair.

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Light infantryman – Excavated in 1980 from terracotta warrior pit 1.

Light infantry warriors were positioned at the front of the main battalion comprising heavy infantrymen, war chariots and officers. In the Qin Dynasty, the majority of infantry forces were made up of conscripted peasants. On the battlefield, light infantry were first deployed as shock troops followed by heavy infantry. Light infantrymen moved more swiftly because they didn’t wear armour.

This soldier wears a long tunic over short trousers, gaiters and short boots. His hair is plaited around the back of his head and tied in a bun with a ribbon on the top. His facial features and thick beard suggest he may represent one of the people from the region around around the north-west border of China. The position of his right hand indicates that he originally held a crossbow.

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Military Officer – Excavated in 1979 from terracotta warrior pit 1.

This unarmored warrior comes from the main part of the army which was buried in the largest of the pits. his flat headdress called chang guan and his moustache identify him as a middle ranking officer. He wears a long tunic, a belt around the waist, short trousers, gaiters, and a pair of shoes. The position of his right arm and hand suggests that he once held a long weapon such as a spear.

Charioteer – Excavated in 1977 from terracotta warrior pit 2.

Charioteers were found in all three pits of the Emperor’s terracotta army. They were originally buried with real wooden chariots each drawn by four terracotta horses. There are different types of charioteers – this one is the driver responsible for commanding the chariot. Holding the reins with his clasped hands, he stood in the middle and was accompanied by two armed charioteers on either side. His flat headdress called chang guan identifies him as a middle ranking officer. His hair is plaited around the back of his head. He wears a long tunic, trousers and boots. His  torso, abdomen and back are protected with armour. In the Qin Dynasty, the driver of a war chariot was called yu shou, a highly honourable title.

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Kneeling Archer – Excavated in 1989 from terracotta warrior pit 2.

Kneeling archers were positioned in rows of two across four trenches and were surrounded by standing archers. This one wears a long tunic and heavy armour with overlapping plaques. Remains of pigment around the abdomen show that the laces tying the armour plates together were originally painted red. The archer also wears short trousers and two shin pads for protection. The position of his hands suggests that he originally held a crossbow. Qin Dynasty crossbows were slower to load than normal bows but required less skill and strength to use. Archers who used crossbows could shoot heavy bolts over long distances with great force and power.

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Standing Archer – Excavated in 1992 from terracotta warrior pit 2.

Archers were positioned at the front of a battalion of cavalry and chariots in pit 2. Standing archers were arranged in a square battle formation surrounding rows of kneeling archers. This soldier wears a long tunic, a belt around the waist, short trousers and a pair of boots. His hair is plaited and tied in a bun with a ribbon. The position of his hands suggests that he originally held a bow, ready to shoot the enemy. Unlike the kneeling archers, standing archers are all unarmored. In real life this would allow them to move more freely and swiftly on the battlefield.

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Archaeologists have uncovered around 2,000 life size terracotta warriors and horses with over 130 wooden war chariots, but it is estimated there are 8,000 figures in total, most of which are still to be excavated. The warriors were buried to the east of the mausoleum, possibly to protect the Emperor in the afterlife against the armies of the states he had defeated.

The life-size clay figures were originally arranged in battle formation within three separate pits. The two two largest pits contained the bulk of the army. The third and smallest of the pits contained warriors with ceremonial weapons representing the command post for the army.

The warriors were originally painted with bright colours which have since faded. Each soldier was given unique facial features to represent a real army. The different hairstyles, headdresses, armour and weapons of the soldiers reflected their rank and function. There are infantrymen, cavalrymen, charioteers, archers as well as generals, officers and guards of honour. In other pits there are life-size officials, eunuchs and horse keepers.

Spectacular finds continued to be discovered after the initial find in 1974. Later on in the 1970’s, a new pit was found south-west of the mausoleum containing terracotta warriors with over 20 horse skeletons thought to represent the royal stables. More stable pits containing remains of horses and kneeling stable boys were identified outside the outer walls, south-east of the mausoleum.

In 1980, west of the Emperor’s mausoleum, archaeologists found two exquisite half-size painted bronze chariots each drawn by four bronze horses (the pictures above show the modern replicas).

In 1998, in the south-east of the mausoleum, thousands of stone fragments from 87 suits of armour and 43 helmets were unearthed, as well as armour for a horse.

Since 1999, close to the stone armour pit, terracotta acrobats and strongmen have been discovered together with two large bronze cauldrons.

In 2000, north-east of the mausoleum, another pit containing 15 terracotta musicians and 46 bronze water birds was discovered.

A large amount of human remains have been discovered across the Emperor’s burial site. In the 1980’s, about one kilometre south-west of the Emperor’s mausoleum, 42 mass graves were discovered. They contained the remains over 100 workers who may have been killed during the construction of the tomb complex. South-east of the mausoleum, archaeologists also identified over 20 tombs of princes and princesses sacrificed to follow the Emperor in the afterlife. In 2009, within the inner walls of the Emperor’s mausoleum, 99 tombs of sacrificed concubines were found. Nineteen of these tombs have been excavated so far.

Owing to the number of objects that have been found and their fragility, the process of excavation, conservation and research will continue for decades. However the secrets of the Emperor’s tomb remain hidden, buried under a huge pyramid of earth. Our only clue about what lies inside the mausoleum comes from historical records written more than 100 years after the Emperor died. Until conservation techniques and non-invasive technologies improve, there are no plans to open up his tomb.

And if all of this isn’t enough information to absorb, the exhibition also goes on to cover the history of the Han dynasty and the amazing finds from Han Gaozu’s Tomb as well!

The exhibition is on at the World Museum until 28th October 2018, and after this date who knows when the UK will have another exhibition of these fascinating sculptures. The World Museum is well worth a visit for all of its regular exhibitions, which are spread over four floors and include World Cultures, Ancient Egypt, Dinosaurs and Space!

I’d highly recommend paying a visit and booking your tickets online in advance as you need to book a timed session and some of the more popular times sell out very quickly! Adult tickets are £14.50 each and concessions are £13.00 each and you can buy your tickets here.

Dominique Ansel’s Bakery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Peggy Porschen’s

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

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

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

Valentines Day

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

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

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

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Easter

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

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

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

 

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

Summer

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

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

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

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

Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Bear’s Brownies

If any of my readers have a thing for brownies then I think I may have found the holy grail! Thank you Instagram for another amazing find called Bear’s Brownies!

They don’t just do your every day chocolate brownies, they have wide range of flavours to choose from and even have a “free from” menu which is suitable for vegan diets and those of us who have allergies, such as lactose free, dairy free, egg free and low sugar brownies.

Here are just some of the flavours you can order from Bear’s Brownies;

Billionaires Brownies

These are my absolute favourite and are to die for!

These are luxury chocolate brownies with a caramel layer which is then topped with a dark chocolate ganache and gold leaf! They are beyond delicious and even got the seal of approval from hubby who is not at all a fan of sweet treats and desserts! I think it is safe to say that these were his favourites too!

Blondies

These are brownies but are made with white chocolate rather than milk chocolate. They are much lighter than a traditional brownie and are ideal for those who prefer white chocolate to milk chocolate, or vanilla cake rather than chocolate.

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Funfetti Brownies

I love the look of these!

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They are perfect for a Birthday celebration – they are white chocolate blondie brownies but filled with Birthday cake colourful sprinkles!

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Mocha Brownies

Dark chocolate and espresso flavoured brownies – perfect as an after dinner treat with coffee! I love coffee flavoured desserts!

Cookies Brownies

Crunchy Oreo cookie pieces folded through traditional chocolate brownies, perfect for  cookies and cream lovers!

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

The classic chocolate fudge brownie flavour, you can’t go wrong with these! Not the most exciting of the bunch but still a really tasty original style brownie!

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Salted Caramel Brownies

These are a close second favourite – salted caramel flavoured brownies with a salted caramel centre and chocolate ganache icing and then sprinkled with crushed pretzels and shimmer!

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Salty and sweet and amazing all at the same time! Plus they look AMAZING!

Bears Brownies also supply seasonal flavours such as Red Velvet Valentine’s Day brownies and Christmas Candy Cane and Christmas Gingerbread brownies! I’m definitely going to order some Christmas flavours this year!

One of the things I love about Bear’s Brownies is that you can order boxes of 12 or 24 but they don’t have to be a box of the same flavour. If you order a box of 12 you can choose up to three different flavours and if you order a box of 24 you can order up to six different flavours! Ideal if you are struggling which flavours to choose from! Note that you can’t order the Billionaire’s Brownies as part of the “fill your own” boxes but I promise you you won’t regret ordering (and scoffing!) a box of 12 of these!

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The other thing I loved was that the brownies arrived beautifully packaged in a black box with a ribbon on, and were securely packaged up to make sure they weren’t damaged during transit.

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You can also add hand-written gift messages free of charge to your order if you like and can choose a delivery date which is suitable for you. Bear’s Brownies deliver all over the country so are ideal to send as gifts to people!

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I cannot recommend these brownies enough, I already can’t wait to put in my next order!

Sand and Sky Flash Perfection Exfoliating Treatment

I am hoping you have already read my recent blog about the Sand and Sky Porefining Clay mask and will remember how overwhelmingly impressed I was with this product!

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Well, needless to say as I loved the product so much I had soon worked my way through my first pot and needed to order myself some more! I knew they also had an Australian Pink Clay Flash Perfection Exfoliating treatment available so, as I was ordering more of the mask, I thought what the hell, and ordered some of the exfoliator too!

Delivery is free on both of these products and my order was delivered in just over 24 hours which is brilliant! They also sent me a few free hair bobbles and a couple of Sand and Sky headbands to keep the mask and exfoliator out of your hair when you are using it.

As with the porefining clay mask, the exfoliating treatment is made with Australian pink clay. It promises to “absorb oil and refine pores, and resurface and matify your skin.” Again, as with the porefining mask, the product is vegan friendly, cruelty free, PETA approved and contains “no nasties”.

The ingredients it contains will detox, exfoliate and resurface and invigorate your skin.

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The Australian pink clay acts like a magnet to detox by removing toxins, impurities and pollution from your skin. It also eliminates shine and helps to regulate oil production.

The exfoliator contains macadamia seeds, bamboo and finger lime. The macadamia seeds and bamboo removes any dead and dry skin to make your skin feel instantly softer and with a healthy glow. The finger lime then speeds up cell regrowth for a fresh glow.

The treatment also contains olive oil, rosehip and grapeseed which nourish the skin, and witch hazel which gently tightens pores and perks the skin up.

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To use the treatment you start by applying it to cleansed and moist skin. Once applied, massage the treatment into your skin all over your face. Be warned, don’t rub really hard as the treatment it is quite abrasive!

After you’ve given it a good rub over your skin for 30 seconds, leave the treatment on for five minutes to get to work. This is when you will feel your skin start to tingle and the treatment start to get to work and detox.

After five minutes, rinse the treatment off with warm water and then gently pat your skin dry. Sand and Sky recommend that you use your normal serum after this as the treatment will help your skin to absorb your skin care products and make them more effective.

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The treatment, as with the porefining mask, can also be used as a spot treatment as well. Simply add a tiny bit of the treatment to the area and leave on for a couple of hours before rinsing off.

As soon as I received the treatment I couldn’t wait to use it! I was really pleased at how effective the treatment was when I was massaging it into my skin and I could feel it working after just a few seconds. I was surprised that the instructions said to leave the product on for only five minutes, especially as the other Sand and Sky product clay mask has to be left to dry for ten, but when I read up on it the website said the product was designed to be used quickly whilst you are in the shower and didn’t need to be left on for any longer than that. (Be warned – awful selfie picture below!)

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After five minutes I wiped it off and I could see my face was slightly red where I had been massaging the treatment but it was by no means a bad or sore red colour, more of a “glow”. After patting my skin dry, my skin felt much softer than it had before,however at first I didn’t think it felt any less oily. It was only after my skin had dried properly that I could feel that my skin felt matified with no oil and really smooth and soft.

I was impressed with this product and will definitely keep using it as my only exfoliator but I did still prefer the results of the porefining mask if I had to choose between the two. The exfoliating treatment is ideal for regular use (I have combination to oily skin and Sand and Sky recommend using the treatment between one and three times a week) or for when you are short of time, whereas I am using their porefining face mask once or twice a week.

Overall though, another amazing product from Sand and Sky and I hope they continue to make more of these great skincare products in the future. After using their two skincare products I’m definitely a customer for life!

The Naked Bakery

Well you all know by now what a cake and sweet treats fanatic I am so here is another one of my absolute favourite online bakery’s!

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I came across The Naked Bakery on Instagram. What I love most about them is that they offer a wide variety of goodies rather than just specialising in cakes or cupcakes – they offer everything from macarons and meringues to doughnuts and even wedding cakes!

They are called The Naked Bakery because they offer products which are gluten free, plant based, RAW and vegan. All their products are free from dairy, eggs and any animal products, and if you want your products to also be gluten free you have this option too when you order!

I’ve placed a couple of orders with the Naked bakery over the past few months and the products I have ordered have always been brilliant! Their treats not only look but taste incredible

Here are some of the lovely things I’ve ordered from this fantastic bakery so far;

Unicorn Macarons

The unicorn macarons come in boxes of six or twelve and you can pretty much have any flavour you want!

Just a few of the flavours include vanilla, strawberry, lemon, mint, caramel, peanut butter and jam, red velvet, cookie dough, candy floss and bubble gum! Amazing choices!

So far I have tried the cookie dough, bubble gum and candy floss flavours and they were all delicious!

Unicorn Cupcakes

This is probably my favourite product from the Naked Bakery! I’ve ordered a batch of Unicorn Cupcakes with every order I’ve made so far!

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You can order Unicorn cupcakes in any flavour you like including candy floss and bubble gum!

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If you choose a vanilla sponge base they will colour the sponge to any colour you like or as multi coloured. They look and taste fantastic and the pictures really don’t do them justice! Perfect for a Birthday party (or to scoff all to yourself just as I have done!)

Oreo Cupcakes

A chocolate flavoured cupcake filled and topped with Oreo flavoured icing and a glittery Oreo biscuit! The icing on top and the Oreo flavoured filling is delicious and these cupcakes are real show-stoppers!

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White Chocolate and Raspberry Skull Cupcakes

Don’t these look AMAZING?? Again the pictures really don’t do them justice!

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A raspberry and white chocolate sponge topped with a marbled white chocolate buttercream and then topped with a hand painted rose gold coloured skull. I’m definitely going to order some of these around Halloween this year!

So as you can see, they have some fantastic products! I’m hoping to do another order with them very soon but there is just one downside to Naked Bakery – their online shop is often closed due to being fully booked with orders!

You can access the Naked Bakery shop and check product availability here.

At the moment the Naked Bakery are also running a “kickstarter” campaign with the aim of opening a shop to sell all their delicious goodies from!

They only have until 8th July to reach their goal, so please donate if you can! You can read more about their campaign here. All pledges receive something in return, I’ve got everything crossed that they will meet their target on time!!

A day in Bruges

It wasn’t until I saw the 2008 Colin Farrell movie “In Bruges”, a black comedy about two Irish hitmen hiding out, that I had even heard of this Belgian town! I went from first hearing about it, to adding it onto my “absolutely must visit” list less than half an hour into this film…

Seeing this town used as a backdrop for this film was almost a distraction from the storyline itself. The film, as it’s title suggests, does an incredible job of showing Bruges at its best – the beautiful architecture, the stunning Belfry and the wonderful little old bridges. Soon after we had watched the film for the first time, we were booked on a long weekend to go and visit Amsterdam and Bruges!  In fact, we were booked to go on this trip in the May and enjoyed it so much that we booked up to go back again only a few months later in the August!

You always have to take care when you first see a place in a film and decide it is the next place to visit after falling in love with all the Hollywood imagery and effects. You are either going to visit somewhere and find that it completely exceeds your expectations and the film represents it exactly how it is. I’ve found this to be true with Las Vegas, New York and Thailand (Thailand as in Leonardo Dicaprio in “The Beach”.) I’ve also been bitterly disappointed with some places I’ve visited after seeing them featured on the silver screen (spoiler alert – Hollywood is an absolute DUMP in real life!) so I really didn’t know what to expect on my arrival here.

I’m pleased to say that it was everything I had hoped it to be, which is obviously why I booked to go back so soon! It is a beautiful city and in my opinion completely under-rated.

Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact, making it one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in Europe. The historic centre of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

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Grote Markt is the largest of Bruges’ two central squares. It is full of beautiful architecture and buildings which have real character – here you will find some Nineteenth century gabled buildings along three sides of the square, and the fourth side features the breathtaking Belfort. There are horse drawn carriages galore within the square if you would like a whistle stop tour of all the main sights. Perfect on those bright and sunny days but beware, they are expensive, as most touristy trips tend to be!

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Whilst here we went for lunch on the square and sat outside so we had a beautiful view of the Belfry. We had been pre-warned that the food would be expensive but it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. We sat in the sunshine and had a lovely lunch and some drinks whilst admiring the views and people watching, so well worth it I thought! If you are put off the prices in Grote Markt then if you walk a few streets away from the square you will find places with more reasonable prices (but not as much of a view, obviously!)

 

Anyway, after our pit stop and refreshment break we went on a mission to explore as much as we could during our short time here! Here are some of the main sights that Bruges has to offer;

The Belfry

As the Belfry is Bruges most famous landmark it would be wrong to start with anything else! It features heavily in the In Bruges film and storyline. It is a medieval tower from the 13th Century and used to house a treasury and municipal archives. The city archives were very sadly lost in a huge fire in 1280, and the tower was largely rebuilt.

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The poor Belfry has actually been subject to three fires over the years, the last one was in 1741 when the wooden spire was destroyed and never replaced. If you want to go all the way to the top you can, and you would be a braver person than I am! Friendly word of advice – if you are planning on going to the top of the tower, DON’T watch the In Bruges film before you go!

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There is a fee of 8 euros to climb the 366 steps to the top of the bell tower and it stands at 83 metres (or 272 feet) high! It is at the South end of the Markt (you can’t miss it!) and is open from 9:30am to 5:30pm. You don’t have to do the entire 366 steps all in one go, as on the way up to the tower you can stop at various levels to see the old bells and watch the big bell and see the carillon in action. There are a total of 47 bells which make up the carillon, and they ring every quarter of an hour.

The Basilica of the Holy Blood

Even if you don’t have time to venture inside here, it is worth visiting just to admire the dark gothic and romanesque exterior!

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The basilica consists of an upper and lower chapel and is dedicated to St Basil the Great. The lower chapel was built in the 12th century in Romanesque style and the upstairs chapel was built in the Gothic style in the 16th Century and houses a venerated relic (the physical remains or personal effects of a saint which have been preserved to be used as a memorial for them). The relic is of St Basil the Great and was brought here by Count Robert II from Caesarea Mazaca in modern day Turkey, or Cappadocia, Asia Minor as it was known then.

The basilica is also famous for housing a phial said to contain a cloth with the blood of Jesus Christ on it. This was rumoured to have been brought to the City by Thierry of Alsace after the 12th Century second crusade, however recent research found no evidence of the relic being in Bruges before the year 1250. The phial is made of rock crystal, there is gold thread wound around the neck and the top is sealed with red wax. It is then encased in a glass fronted gold cylinder. I wish we had taken the time to go in and see this now!

St. Salvator’s Cathedral

The cathedral is one of very few buildings in Bruges which has survived all the ages with no damage. It was originally built as a parish church and was not given cathedral status until 1834.

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The newly defined cathedral underwent significant changes after that to make sure it looked more cathedral-esque, and a fortress like Romanesque style tower 99 metres high was built.

Provincial Palace

This is a really beautiful neo-gothic style building which was actually built in two stages the first stage was between 1887 and 1892 and the second stage between 1914 to 1921.

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The building was originally used as a government meeting hall until 1999 and is now used mainly for exhibitions.

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Church of our Lady

We didn’t have time to actually visit here properly and go inside which was a real shame. Even in the distance looking at the beautiful spire you could tell what an impressive building it is. Its tower is 122 metres in height and the building is the tallest in the city and the second tallest brickwork tower in the WORLD!

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Even more annoying, I learned after we had got home that inside you can find Michaelangelo’s “Madonna and Child” sculpture in the transept, believed to have been the only sculpture by Michelangelo to have left Italy within his lifetime. We really should have taken the time to visit here properly!

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The Old St. John’s Hospital

This, as the name suggests, is an old medieval hospital which was founded in the 12th century. It is located next to The Church of our Lady and houses some of Europes oldest surviving hospital buildings. Today part of the hospital buildings houses the popular Hans Memling museum.

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If you have the time to take a boat trip during your visit to Bruges, you’ll get some spectacular views of the Church and the Old St John’s hospital en-route. The trips only cost around 10 euros and can take you to places in the town that you otherwise can’t reach! The pictures of the Church of our Lady and the Old St John’s hospital are spectacular from the water.

If you have time, also check out the well preserved old city gateways; the Kruispoort, the Gentpoort, the Smedenpoort and the Ezelpoort.

And of course, no trip to Bruges would be complete without window shopping at some of the famous Belgian chocolate on offer! Oh, and waffles, you MUST have some Belgian waffles whilst you are here!

Bruges is ever so easy to get around, the train station is only about 2km from the town centre and the train station adjoins the bus station. Local buses can take you from the train station to the town centre or there are plenty of taxis around if you prefer.

Although we visited Bruges both times during the summer months, the weather was still very unpredictable! The first time we visited it was very dark and cold and the rain didn’t stop the whole time we were there! It was no fun trying to capture some good photos in this awful weather, however, the second visit to Bruges with glorious sunshine partly made up for this! Always plan ahead and check the weather before you go – it really can be one extreme to another!

A really beautiful place which is well worth a visit – I would love to go again, but would like to actually stay in Bruges this time, rather than just do a day trip here. A day just isn’t long enough to explore and uncover all that this place has to offer!

Coco & Eve Coconut & Fig Hair Masque

The story which ended in me buying this coconut and fig hair mask is identical to the Sand and Sky Porefining clay mask I bought – I came across an advert for it on Instagram and, as I tend to do with all these other fabulous looking products I come across, I took a screenshot of the advert on my phone to remind me to order some at a later date.

I was spending the week in London doing some training, and as the course was finishing at around 4:30pm every day, I had plenty of time to mooch around and do some “window shopping”. I walked past Harvey Nichols and instantly the amazing cosmetics display caught my eye! I hadn’t realised they were a stockist of several of these products I had come across on Instagram such as Coco & Eve, Sand & Sky and Winky Lux – I had always thought you could only order these items exclusively online!

Anyway, I went in to have a closer look and as soon as I saw the Coco & Eve hair masque I’d had my eye on for the past few months, I knew I had to get one!

The super nourishing coconut and fig hair masque is a five in one treatment which restores dry and damaged hair, improves hair texture and shine, hydrates and deeply conditions, treats split ends and tames frizz and promises to transform your hair in only ten minutes.

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The treatment is sulphate free, phthalate free, paragon free, colour safe, gluten free, cruelty free, PETA approved and 100% vegan!

The benefits of the masque are:

  1. The masque rejuvenates and revives parched hair, damaged by heat, styling, dyes and the environment.
  2. The masque deeply conditions to replenish lost moisture to hydrate.
  3. Improves texture and shine for silky soft hair.
  4. Restores hair to its virgin state to treat split ends and tame frizz.
  5. And all of this you can feel and see after just one wash.

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Check out the fantastic ingredients in the masque;

Raw virgin coconuts from Bali add shine and softness to the hair. They also strengthen and repair the hair by preventing hair breakage and split ends. The coconut also helps prevent problems such as dandruff.

The essence of fig and shea butter work to moisturise and detangle the hair without making it heavy and weighing it down.

Linseed improves the gloss and texture of your hair so it’s silky soft to the touch.

Argan oil treats split ends and tames frizziness to make your hair more manageable whilst adding gloss and shine.

 

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Anyway, so as soon as I got home from London I couldn’t wait to try out this new masque. I am a huge fan of intensive hair treatments in the form of masks, my favourite to date is the Redken extreme intense treatment, however I have to be careful with these types of treatments as my hair is so greasy. I find the treatments usually work really well but the following day my hair feels weighed down with product and gets far more greasy far more quickly.

I also have to be careful with these products because I do tend to end up using far too much! It’s hard to decide how much of this product to use – I don’t want to use loads unnecessarily and waste it, but I should think I need to coat all of my hair in product in order for it to work, it is a mask after all!

I do have long hair so I decided on a decent half-palm-full of product to start me off, and this seemed to cover fine. The difference in this masque is the inclusion of a “tangle tamer” brush, which you brush through your hair after you have applied the product. I thought this was a really good idea and would make sure the product was easily spread and covered all areas of the hair! Make sure when you have finished brushing your hair through that you don’t end up with a load of product stuck in the bristles of the brush though!

I left the mask on for ten minutes, despite my eagerness to leave it one for far longer. With other intensive masks I tend to leave them to work as long as possible, and often leave them on overnight before rinsing them out in the morning! I wanted to see if the product delivered the results it promised after the ten minutes it quoted before I decided what I thought about it though. The website advises that I should use the masque once a week as I have greasy hair, and those with dry hair should use the masque 2 to 3 times a week.

After ten minutes I washed the mask off, it washed out of my hair very easily and didn’t leave any residue, which is something I do find with some of the other makes of masks. As I was rinsing it out my hair felt lovely and smooth and soft so I was really looking forward to seeing the results when I had dried and styled my hair.

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You can buy your hair masques online here. The masques cost £34.90 each, I haven’t used a whole tub yet so I don’t know exactly, but I would estimate you get around ten uses from one tub.

The ONLY downside I have found with this product is, as useful as the tangle tamer brush is, I don’t think it is necessary to include one in every single set which is sold. I think they could be an optional extra if you would like one, but otherwise I think we need to consider the fact that they are plastic and after the third or fourth one you get, and after leaving one in your handbag and one in your car and a spare, I think we may find any extras just being thrown away which isn’t very good!

Otherwise, I am in love with this product and will definitely be replacing all my existing hair treatments for this one as soon as I have finished using them! It is easy to use, lightweight on my hair and the results are impressive after just one ten minute use!

The Jack the Ripper Museum

I’ve spent a lot of time in London over the last couple of months on training courses so I’m always looking for things to do in the late afternoon and early evening to take full advantage whilst I am away from home!

During my last training course I was staying in the Whitechapel area and came across the Jack the Ripper Museum which was only a few minutes walk from my hotel. I am an absolute crime story fanatic and of course the Jack the Ripper story is one of the oldest and most famous unsolved crime stories so I knew I had to pay a visit. I did it just in time too, as it was closed towards the end of May for a refurbishment!

I am not sure whether I timed my visit perfectly or not as I was the only person in the museum the whole time I was there! At first I thought how fantastic, I can get up close to all the exhibits without having to wait, but as soon as I had been walking round the eerie and haunting exhibits for a few minutes I wasn’t so sure it was a good idea…..

In 1888, Jack the Ripper committed a series of murders in the east end of London which shocked the entire world. The Killings spawned hundreds of theories, with each one trying to solve the crimes which, to this day, remain a mystery.

The museum is at 12 Cable Street, and is set in a beautiful Victorian terraced house. It is set across the six floors of the museum and each floor has a different setting;

First Floor – The Murder scene in Mitre Square

This scene relates to the 30th September 1888, the most famous date in Ripper history. In here are two waxwork figures, one of Catherine Eddowes, the second woman who died on this date and Police Constable Watkins, who discovered her body. On one side of the room is a worker’s cart under a street light. These carts were used to move the bodies of the murdered women to the morgue.

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One of the morgues used to store Jack the Ripper’s victims was only a few streets away from the museum. On the wall there is a replica of original graffiti which was left at the murder scene.

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Second Floor – Ripper’s Sitting Room

This room is set up to show how Jack the Ripper may have lived during these times and where he may have planned his murder.

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In this room are newspaper clippings which were written in 1888 and chart the progress of the serial killer’s awful crimes.

Hanging over the fireplace is an original drawing by the person who was the prime suspect in the Jack the Ripper killings, Walter Sickert. To this date there is a debate on whether the subject of the drawing is sleeping or if something more sinister is actually going on…..

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On one of the tables are medical instruments, poison, drug bottles and a skull belonging to the killer.

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On the desk, medical books on surgery and dissection are displayed, along with a letter addressed “from Hell” which may have been written by the Ripper.

A Doctor’s bag which contains knives similar to those used to kill and mutilate the Ripper’s victims is on the floor by the desk.

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Third Floor – Police Station

In this room you will find all the evidence and the profiles of the suspects.

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A crime board shows the sites of all the murders and the evidence the police collected.

In the display case is the actual whistle Police Constable Watkins blew to call for help when he found Catherine Eddowes’ mutilated body in Mitre Square.

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Also here is Police Constable Watkins’ notebook, handcuffs and truncheon he was carrying that day.

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By the desk is a waxwork of Chief Inspector Abberline, the detective in charge of leading the hunt for the Ripper in 1888.

Fourth Floor – Victim’s Bedroom

Up a steep and eerie staircase you can find the fourth floor, which has been arranged as the victims bedrooms may have looked in these times. The walls up this staircase are not decorated in newspaper headings and stories like the others in the rest of the house.

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Jack the Ripper’s victims would have lived in rooms just like this one, in one of London’s most poverty stricken areas.

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A small metal bed with a straw mattress was all the comfort these women would have had. Gin was often the drink of choice in those days, with a bottle costing only a few pence.

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There are rare photos of the victims on the wall of this room, as haunting music quietly plays in the background.

In the display case in this room are some original Victorian bonnets. These would have been worn by women to cover their hair, which would have rarely been washed in those days.

Basement – The Mortuary

This room details the violence of Jack the Ripper’s crimes which still shock everyone today. Note, this room is deemed unsuitable for the under 16’s.

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On the walls of this room are original autopsy photos of the horrific murders which some people may find disturbing. I was really worried about going in here after I read this but most of the photos do not show much detail and, due to when they were taken, are not clear. Having said that, I am a true crime buff and have looked at lots of photos like this so I am quite immune to this type of thing, so please exercise caution if you do get to visit the museum.

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The body of Elizabeth Stride was taken to the parish mortuary of St George-in-the-East. The building, which is only moments from the museum, was once a chapel. On the far wall is a Victorian stained glass window from the mortuary.

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Next to the stained glass window are drawers that were used to store the bodies of the dead until they were collected for burial.

Some of the murdered women had no families to collect their remains. They were buried in mass paupers’ graves and their last resting place unmarked.

and of course, as with most museums, you exit through the;

Gift shop on the Ground Floor

In here you will find a large selection of gift, ceramics, prints and memorabilia which can only be found at the Jack the Ripper museum.

If you would like to read more about the museum or book tickets online you can find their website here.

If this is a case which particularly interests you, you can become a Ripperologist by joining through the museum’s website. The Jack the Ripper museum is the official home of the International Society of Ripperologists  and this worldwide community is dedicated to the study of the Whitechapel murders and in solving the ultimate question – who was Jack the Ripper?

Sand and Sky Porefining Clay Mask

I saw this Australian Pink Clay Porefining Clay Mask advertised on Instagram a while ago and made a note to give it a try at a later date. At the time I was still working my way through my stock of Lush Jelly masks and fresh face masks because, as usual, I couldn’t settle for just one mask, I had to have them all!

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Anyway after saving to move out for several months and foregoing my usual facials at my local beauty salon, my skin was most definitely looking worse for wear and needed something a little extra.

I was spending the week in London doing some training, and as the course was finishing at around 4:30pm every day, I had plenty of time to mooch around and do some “window shopping”.

On one of the days I walked past Harvey Nichols and instantly the Sand and Sky display caught my eye! I hadn’t realised they were a stockist of this product, and to be honest I thought you could only order the face mask online.

I went in to have a closer look, it looked like they had only just got some of this amazing product in stock as they only had the face mask and not the exfoliator, however they were already running low on stocks of the face mask!

Anyway, I was (quite easily) persuaded to buy a pot of this amazing sounding product and I looked forward to getting home at the end of the week to give it a try!

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The face mask is a four in one treatment which promises to tighten pores, supercharge your glow, detoxify and brighten.

Detox

It contains pink Australian clay which deeply cleanses the skin, purifies and tightens pores.

Invigorate

It also contains Organic Liquorice, which stimulates new cell production, and Old Mans Weed which reduces pigmentation.

Refine

It contains Aloe Vera to tighten pores and soothe irritation, and pomegranate which helps boost the production of collagen for plumper skin.

Brighten

It finally contains Kakadu Plum (which is apparently the worlds richest source of Vitamin C!), Kelp and Organic Mangosteen. This combination acts a defence for the skin and leaves skin glowing and clear.

The website will give you more details about what kind of results to expect depending on different skin types. I have combination/oily skin and it describes my skin issues as being excess oil resulting in shiny skin and being prone to blackheads and whiteheads due to excess build up of impurities which makes your pores look larger (yuck, but SPOT ON!)

It says the mask will “mop up excess oil and remove oily debris from deep in the pores”. It says my “skin will feel clean and magnified after each use and over time, skin may become less oily and pores less noticeable”. (Quite the promise!)

It then goes on to give tips for the best use of the mask and that I should use it 2-3 times a week. The product is also a really effective spot treatment which can be left on overnight and to help dry the spot out.

Sand and Sky’s brilliant website also provides more details on what to expect if you have dry and sensitive skin and acne prone skin. You can read more on the product page here.

The mask is Vegan friendly, PETA friendly, cruelty free and contains “no nasties”.

When I got round to using the product, I was disappointed at the size of the pot (60g). Although it is very wasteful, I do like to have my face and hair masks very thick, so I was worried I would get through this expensive pot of product in just two or three uses!

Anyway, I was pleased to see that the product included a little applicator brush, which I thought was a brilliant idea. One of my pet hates is when you’ve got lots of product left on your hands at the end of the process and you can’t get any more of it off and onto your face, so you end up washing the leftovers down the plughole!! Having a little brush to apply it with is far more hygienic than applying it with your fingers too!

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The brush makes this product so, so easy to apply and means you can get an even application all over, I’m honestly not sure why no other face masks seem to have caught on to this fantastic idea! Once you have used the brush it rinses out really easily and dries again very quickly for the next use.

As soon as I applied the product to my face I could feel it working and my skin start to tingle. It is hard to describe but it is almost like you can feel your pores opening up and the product drawing all the nastiness out!

I was surprised when the instructions said to leave the product on for ten minutes. As I said, I usually use a lot of product and so after ten minutes the product usually hasn’t even begun to dry! I couldn’t believe it when after ten minutes, the whole mask had completely dried and changed to a white clay.

Beware of awful face mask photos below! Not for the faint hearted!

The mask is really tightening on the skin, and it is really hard to even smile when it has completely set (I am trying to smile in the second photo I promise!!)

It set so quickly and tightly that the first thing I thought to myself was how difficult this mask was going to be to scrub off! I thought if people are having to spend 30 minutes harshly scrubbing their faces to get this mask off then I would have thought their skin would be exfoliated and refreshed by default!

I was once again pleasantly surprised when I started to rub the mask off with a wet sponge, and as soon as the mask became wet it literally just wipes away! It took only a few seconds to wipe the entire mask off and I noticed the difference the mask had made to my skin straight away.

The pores which had been most visible on my face were now substantially reduced and the mask had left my skin feeling clean, really soft, with no oils and with almost a matte finish. A lot of my pores in problem areas such as my nose and chin still needed a good cleanse, but after just one use I felt confident that after a couple more uses I would have cleared out all of these pores entirely, I had that much faith in this product after just one go!

I have used the product seven times now over the past couple of weeks and, as you can see from the picture, still have quite a bit of product left so it lasts far longer than I had anticipated (there’s at least a third of the pot left).

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Sand and Sky’s face mask is one of the best products I have ever used and I have already ordered two more packs! It is so quick and easy to apply, is not messy and the use of the brush ensures you apply just the right amount of product without waste. You can feel it working straight away, it dries really quickly and is easily washed off without making a mess. Ideal if you are pushed for time before going on a big night out! The results are noticeable after only one use and have only continued to improve after each use.

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If you have the opportunity to get your hands on this then I highly recommend you do! The price tag is expensive (£39.90 per pot), however you can save up to 20% if you go online and buy a set of two (known as the Bestie’s Kit) which will cost you £63.84 for the two. They also offer free world-wide delivery as well so there are no expensive delivery fees to add on!

You can read more about Sand and Sky and their products on their website here.

I can’t wait to try their Flash Perfection Exfoliating Treatment next!

 

Camden Market

 

God I love this place! I first visited in March 2017 and was absolutely blown away! I’ve been meaning to go back and then a local coach trip advertised a day trip here on the Sunday of the May day bank holiday so I booked it for me, hubby, my friend and her husband to spend the day here.

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As it was a Sunday (and a bank holiday) I knew it would be busy, but I had already earmarked the places I wanted to visit! There’s so much to see and do at Camden Market but here are just some of the highlights (obviously mainly food related!)

Oli Baba’s Halloumi Fries

This was one of the main reasons we first visited Camden Market, to sample these famous halloumi fries!

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The chunks of halloumi are deep fried and then coated in a delicious topping of pomegranate molasses, fresh mint, chilli flakes, za’atar yogurt, pomegranate seeds and sumac! Delicious! Hint: you get a LOT of halloumi per serving so if you want to try other food at the market, I suggest you share between at least two of you!

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The Mac Factory

THE best mac and cheese in London!

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The Mac Factory do six amazing flavours –

Nostalgic – a classic cheese blend.

La Med Babe – Basil Pesto, Baby Mozzarella Balls and Semi-dried tomato.

Super Mario – Sauteed Mushroom, Truffle Oil and garlic.

Posh Spice – Spicy chorizo, Caramelised onions and Harissa.

Hey Mac-Arena – Beef Chilli, Tortilla Crisps, Sour Cream and Jalapeño.

Mambo Italiano – Smoked Pancetta, Mushroom and Garlic.

I always have the Nostalgic flavour but my friend tried the Mambo Italiano and it looked amazing! This place is a must try!

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Highlander Game

Metre long Polish sausages. Not joking!

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A great idea but you won’t be able to eat anything else after trying one of these bad boys!