26 September 2018


Most likely due to the beautyphile in me, I find that there is something so calming about scanning the drugstore beauty stands to find which new mascara or lipstick will adorn your face next. The purpose of it being to transform yourself into someone new if you wish to - or to bring you back to yourself with a familiar and comfortable look created with fresh, unused products.

This month, all of my daily makeup and beauty items hit pan at a similar time, so I decided to treat myself to some new products instead of replacing them like for like. I also popped into Lush for a new body wash, I feel pretty smug that I managed to make a 1kg bottle of The Olive Branch last almost a year...with daily use! Completely unintentionally, and quite mindlessly I have since realised that a large portion of these products are actually from L'Oreal, an upper tier drugstore brand I don't normally sway towards. Perhaps I've graduated to another product level... I'm a long way since my Sabrina's Secrets days! Whatever the reason, I've been trying them out, some good...some not so good but more on that later.

Base + Brows
L'Oreal Infallible Foundation Stick - £8.99 at Superdrug

I love stick foundations, the easy of them make it so ridiculously quick and easy to simply draw some lines on your face and blend them all out for coverage. They are particularly good for areas you want to even out, for example, if you have redness around your nose or dark circles, but don't want a heavy duty foundation masking your skin. The L'Oreal Infallible Foundation Stick is good, in fact, it's really good. The creamy, blendable formula is available in a number of shades and flattering undertones. It's pretty long lasting too and provides a matte finish, without looking chalky. Use it as a foundation, a concealer or a contour product, it really is super versatile.

L'Oreal Paris Brow Artist Genius Kit (Medium to Dark) - £9.99 at Superdrug

I'm always keen to try new brow products and I'd say brows are the area of beauty where I am most fickle. The latest brow kit I've been trying out is the L'Oreal Paris Brow Artist Genius Kit in the medium to dark variant. Firstly, the packaging on this feels really high quality and the contents include a mini pair of tweezers and a small spooley - perfect for when you're on the go! The pigmentation of the powder and settling wax isn't too warm and covers sparse areas of the brow nicely. Nothing to write home about, but a nice little brow set all the same.

 Eyes + Lips

L'Oreal Paris Volume Million Lashes Mascara In Extra Black - £10.99 at Superdrug

So many people have recommended the L'Oreal Paris Volume Million Lashes Mascara In Extra Black to me, I've lost count how many tip-offs I've had. One thing that those waxing lyrical about this mascara all have in common, is that they all say your lashes will be insanely lengthed and volumised. They're not wrong either, this mascara is full throttle. The brush is comprised as a number of long and short plastic bristles which you can use to really dig deep into the root of the lashes whilst separating them and adding thickness. I'm not sure about the mascara's claims of being extra black, I'd like to compare it to another in the line, but it is pretty good and I'd be keen to try the 'excess' variant next time.

L'Oreal Paris Infallible Single Eyeshadow Paint - £5.99 at Superdrug

First up I must add that this shade is an excellent dupe for the Rosie for Autograph Cream Eyeshadow stick in the shade 'Sparkle and magic' which retails at £12.50. But what has to be noted is just how awesome the formula of the L'Oreal Paris Infallible Single Eyeshadow Paint is. It's creamy and pigmented and slides onto the eyelid in just one stroke, no mess and no slipping around. This liquid to powder formula has extreme staying power. Honestly, once this stuff is one...it really isn't budging for quite some time! I have the pewter coloured paint and it doesn't half make bluey/grey eyes pop.

L'Oreal Paris Infallible 24HR 2 step lipstick in 'Ever Nude' - £9.99 at Superdrug

Perhaps I picked the wrong shade but the formula for this long-wearing matte lipstick is AWFUL! Sure, when it comes to matte lipsticks, a level of dryness is to be expected but my word, this is lip bobblingly terrible. The balm side is however GORGEOUS and provides a really beautiful sheen to the lips, I have been using the duo for that balm alone. I've tried applying the lipstick a number of ways but always end up with a weird purple line around my lips with the colour moving around - any tips on how to get this working are more than welcome!

 And from Lush...

Plum Rain Shower Gel - £19.95 for 500g at Lush

When it comes to my preference of shower products, the more citrusy and herbally the better. I've never been one for sugary, sweet fragrances and that's why Lush' eye wateringly potent formulas really hit the spot for me. I love 'The Olive Branch' but was tempted to try a new fragrance. When I inhaled the sweet and punchy aroma of 'Plum Rain' I was unsteady on my feet, consumed by this utterly beautiful aroma! I actually look forward to my nightly shower, just to apply this deep purple goodness!

Lush Bewitched - £4.95 at Lush

My favourite seasonal bath bomb is back! The Bewitched bubble bar. Firstly, how sweet is this gorgeous little cat and secondly, the blurb about it on the Lush site makes me want to give their copywriter a massive high five! I'm hoping that this is a lucky cat, god knows I need it but it is SO divine I cannot even tell you. The bergamot oils and blackberry sums up Autumn in a scent. Not to mention how soft it leaves the skin post bubble bath.

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12 September 2018


The truth is, I actually feel awkward saying that when it comes to my mental health, chronic anxiety is my vice. The reason I feel tentative putting this out there on the internet is because of the stigma and careless attitudes that still surround anxiety and mental health in general. And whilst as a society we have come a long way already, I've seen people roll their eyes and say: 'Urgh. Everyone has anxiety these days it's just a trendy label', or worse, 'you young people just can't cope with life' - yep, both of those statements have been uttered directly to me and they make me wince. 

When it comes to my mental health, I have had, and continue to have a journey, to say the least. And I'll be honest,  I'm in no way 'cured' - some days I'm in the pits of hell, other days I'm feeling pretty good. I won't delve too deep into my story here, that can be a post for another day, however, I do want to talk about 4 small things that have been helping me stay on top of my anxiety - especially when the going has got pretty darn tough. Now, I know these approaches may not work for you, but they contribute to my own mind feeling a bit more 'together' shall we say, so I figured they were worth sharing.

Me time. 

For pretty much as long as I can remember, I've been a chronic nail-biter and I'm not talking a few nibbles here and there, I'm talking biting right down to the nail bed, skin biting, bleeding fingers biting. All of this manifests as an outward symptom of my anxiety and whilst I've had some periods of growing healthy, long nails - a lot of the time, I'm quite embarrassed about my hands.

It's a no to the nail-biting 

One thing I've been making time for at the moment is to spend some time usually on a Sunday night painting my nails a colour that makes me happy. Just the act of slowing down to perform such a simple task and taking the time to be neat and tidy with the nail polish has really helped me. In fact, as I type this, I'm wearing 'Lady Like' by Essie and my fingers are looking pretty good, not perfect, but okay. And I'll take that because as I type this, my mind is currently clouded by the fact our family cat is missing and other situations have taken their toll on my lil' old brain. 

Bubble baths are so cliche but...

Filling the bath with hot, bubbly water and sinking into a mysterious shade of green emerald water  (thanks Badedas you babe!) really helps relax the muscles that I hold so very tense throughout the day. I have had a lot of problems with my jaw clicking in and out of place, shoulder pain, neck pain and headaches all thanks to my anxiety. A bath really helps with this, particularly the aches and pains. But it is also alone time, me time, reflective time, or time to catch up on my favourite Youtube channels.

Yep, I've been 'Hinched'

Since I hit the age of 16, I've found great pleasure in cleaning and tidying. And now that I am making a beautiful home of my own, I spend even more time cleaning to keep things just how I like them. (Not always easy when your boyfriend prefers to live in a pig sty). For me, a clean and tidy home helps my mind to feel less chaotic and again, the simple act of taking the time to do a focused task really helps me get my mind in order, especially when the outcome is rewarding.

I've always been tidy, but this is the cleaning revolution

I've also very recently been hinched. For anyone who doesn't know that term, it's what people use to describe how the Mrs Hinch Home Instagram account has impacted their lives. Basically, Mrs Hinch is in her own words is 'cleaning mad' and her smart cleaning hacks and tips have rubbed off on me. Lenor mix anyone? 

Colouring Hour...
no, really!
So 2016 I know. But I am back on the colouring book hype and I can honestly say 'Colouring Hour' is one of the most therapeutic moments of my day. Sure, finding time to do this is pretty hard all things considering, but when the mood strikes, I like to select a back episode of Desert Island Discs (my fave being Keith Richards' episode) and then whip out the old colouring pens. Just focusing on a task and listening to something interesting and nostalgic is really good at calming my mind down when it's been racing. I like to head up to my office, light some candles and really try to relax.

And so there we have it, 4 small ways I help calm down my noisy head. I hope you found it useful in some way.
If you want more information or support regarding mental health, the mind.org.uk site is a helpful  place to start

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1 September 2018


When the idea of a city break to Barcelona came up, I was a little unsure about what the city would offer. Through a complete lack of research and education on my part, I'd made up my mind that it was a city not worth getting crazily excited about as I would with say, Paris or New York. And it was only after I had dinner with a friend who adores the city and gave me a page full of recommendations, that I started to feel like Barcelona could well be up my street. Let's just say upon my return home, I was not disappointed and quite cross at myself for being so narrow-minded in the first place. 

Obviously, I'm not a travel blogger, so this post is simply a collection of recommendations, observations and thoughts from myself who visited the city desperately ready for a break away from the norm. Nothing was 'for the gram' as they say, and the purpose of the break was to spend some quality time with my boyfriend and to experience the sounds and sights of a new place. There are tons of 'Barcelona travel guides' out there if you want a slick rick blogger guide, but this was my memorable experience of the city.
Where to stay in Barcelona
We spent just under a week in Barcelona and for a price that wasn't particularly bank-breaking (all thanks to Expedia deals!) we booked one of the most swish hotels I've ever had the pleasure of staying in. I could not fault the location, the facilities, the food, or the staff at the Olivia Balmes Hotel and if you're looking to stay in the L'Eixample district, definitely check this hotel out. The aesthetic is hyper-modern, everything is glossy and black with clean lines and an air of luxury. As soon as you step through the imposing glass doors, you are treated like royalty.

What the Olivia Balmes Hotel offers

The room, which I believe was a premium double, was filled with lovely little touches such as a full set of good quality toiletries as well as bottles of water, coffee and essentials, which included amongst other necessities, toothbrushes, toothpaste, cotton pads and a comb. If you'd forgotten to pack anything, it was unlikely that you'd miss it for too long. 

Every day, we came back to the room to find chocolates left on the bed and on our first night, we arrived back to the room to find a chocolate and fruit salad assortment and a welcome note. All very nice touches. Other things to mention about the hotel is that upon arrival we were treated to a complimentary welcome drink and a 15% discount voucher off lunch or dinner, which we, of course, put to immediate use. I can confirm that the food at the hotel's 'Seven Restaurant' is pretty decent and the tapas is good.

One of the attractive attributes of the Olivia Balmes Hotel is the gorgeous roof terrace pool, not a huge pool mind, but enough to enjoy a few strokes of a swim. It also includes submerged sun loungers which look out over the Barcelona skyline, perfect for laying in with a cocktail. Caipirinha for me. There is a bar up there also as well as a few sun loungers, but be mindful as it is very expensive for drinks and there aren't many sunloungers which are available in the sun when it's busy.
Where to go and what to do in Barcelona

1. Hop On - Hop Off Bus Tour

On our second day in Barcelona, we decided that the open top bus tour would be an ideal way to get our bearings of the city and to judge just how far away each of the main attractions were situated. For around 28 euros each, we chose the 2 hour 'East Route' which begins at the cities main transport and shopping hub, Placa Catalunya.

The East Route took us everywhere from the Sagrada Familia, to the beach, to Park Guell, to Port Vell and many more notable (and some not so notable) destinations. In fact, we hopped off the bus at Barceloneta beach and headed straight to a beach bar for a cocktail, before hopping straight back on the bus to continue the tour. I would say that the tour gives you a pretty decent overview of the city and also gets you around from A to B, but isn't the best way to truly experience the city, not compared to losing yourself in the Gothic Quarter and discovering hidden architectural gems, shops and restaurants. 

2. Park Guell | Gaudi's House | The Sagrada Familia | Casa Batllo

We decided to dedicate an entire day to the life and work of Antoni Gaudi, a Spanish architect famed for his work which is known more prominently as Catalan Modernism. It has to be said that Gaudi's work is what has propelled the city of Barcelona into a major tourist attraction.

I really appreciate Gaudi's colourful, wavy style which is comprised of ceramics, stained glass, intricate carpentry and ironwork. It seemed that an apt place to start our tour of Gaudi's work was Gaudi's House based in the heart of Park Guell. We decided to walk to Park Guell, which with a coffee in hand, took around 50 minutes and i'm sorry to say, it's mostly ALL up very steep heels. We prebooked our tickets for this one so we didn't have to wait to view the house.

Park Guell and Gaudi's House

Park Guell itself is free to enter, though if you want to take 'that' Instagram picture, then you have to book to get onto the Monumental Core, a preserved area of the park.  I'm actually glad we didn't book this as the views from the top of the park are exactly the same, if not with a better panoramic scope. There was also a lot of building work going on around that area so it was quite dusty and noisy at this time. Even if you don't wish to see the Gaudi work at Park Guell, it's definitely worth a visit to explore the various trials.

After Gaudi's house, we snaked down the steep, winding roads towards the infamous and unfinished Sagrada Familia basilica. Again, we had tickets booked for this one which meant no queuing hooray! I have to say I was absolutely blown away by the Nativity Facade which is the side of the Sagrada Familia you can see below.

Inside the Sagrada Familia

I was so surprised when I stepped into the basilica, I'm not sure what exactly I was expecting, but the sheer modernity of it was not what I thought. Immediately you are blown away by the explosion of colour pouring through the tallest stain glass windows I've ever seen! The stained glass is comprised of both cool toned blue and green glass, with the opposite side featuring warm tones of ruby red and orange stained glass. In the middle of the temple, there is a mixed colour window which was incredible to look at. We sat and contemplated inside the Sagrada Familia for a good hour and a half, just absorbing the beauty of it and taking in the vast space around us.

Casa Batllo - My favourite example of Gaudi's work

I booked the Casa Batllo tour without doing much prior research into what exactly it was (sounds familiar lol), but I am so glad I did because it was truly extraordinary! Considered one of Gaudi's masterpieces, entering the Casa Batllo is like walking through a fantasy storybook. Owned by the Batllo family, Gaudi was commissioned in 1904 to design the home in his signature style. 

You really have to see this one to understand it and the museum offers a super nifty way of exploring the house all through artificial intelligence. When you arrive, you are given a smartphone which, when held up in each room gives you an idea of how Casa Batllo looked in its heyday. There is also an audio narration which explains the architecture in great detail with some commentary on what may have inspired this unusual building. Walking through this home it is hard to believe it's real, nevermind that people actually lived there.

3. A Day Trip To Montserrat

This was one of my friend Jon's recommendations and I am so, so glad that I made the effort to visit Montserrat. This day turned out to be one of the best experiences I've ever had, it was just one of those days that lined up perfectly. 

How to get to Montserrat

We booked our travel tickets to Montserrat at the Tourist Information Office based in the centre of Placa Catalunya. We chose the Aeri Cable Car ticket, which meant we would reach the top of Montserrat mountain via cable car rather than funicular. I believe that the tickets were around 32 euros each and included a return train ticket, a return cable car ticket and access to two funiculars. You can get other deals which include food and ones that skip the cable car ride altogether, but I feel whichever option you chose, it is really good value for money!

It was about an hours train ride from Placa Catalunya to Aeri De Montserrat, the station where you board your cable car to take you to the top of the mountain where there is a functioning monastery called Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey. 

The cable car ride to the top of the mountain uncovered the most amazing scenery, truly breathtaking. Though, if you're a little fidgety about heights, definitely don't travel via cable car because it is the steepest ride of your life. I thought Blackpool's Pepsi Maxi rollercoaster incline was bad but this was something else and coming back down is certainly not for the faint-hearted!

Once you arrive at the top, you can find the monastery, shops, cafes and plenty of hiking trails to follow. We were lucky, as we went later in the day, a lot of the early crowds had passed so the place was pretty quiet to explore!

4. Barcelona Zoo in Parc De La Ciutadella

Adam suggested a day trip to the zoo and at first I was a little uncertain, I generally don't like the idea of zoo's but after some convincing I honoured his wishes and accompanied him to Barcelona Zoo based in the beautiful Parc De La Ciutadella (Home to one of the worlds numerous Arc de Triomphe's) I have to say, I thought the zoo was fantastic and included what felt like nearly every animal, bird and reptile around.

The enclosures were very clean and there were plenty of vets and experts on site. Sure, there were some animals I felt really sad for and didn't like to see in the zoo such as the rhino and the brown bear, but others, particularly those that lived in groups such as the flamingo's and the Capybara's looked super happy.

 I was particularly blown away by the African elephants eating apples and having a swim which I've never seen up close before. Definitely set aside an entire day for the zoo and check online for discounts and offers before buying your tickets on the day to save some money.  We saved 50% just by booking online outside the zoo gates.

Where to eat in Barcelona

We found the food very hit or miss in Barcelona, we used Foursquare to find out where served up good food around us, but I'd say we had as many disappointing meals as we did good meals. In fact, in one restaurant, which is rated highly on Foursquare and has rave reviews, we had one of the shittest meals we've ever had including a plate full of ready salted crisps?!, cold muscles and rude service... and it cost the earth. Anyway, back to the good stuff, I can definitely recommend.

A late night bite at Oval 

For incredible burgers that you construct entirely yourself via a cool little worksheet, the vibe is chilled and lowkey, the service is very good and they have refreshing Radler on tap. SO GOOD.

Brunch at El Arbol and La Esquina 

Both excellent choices for brunch, food is great, coffee is good and reasonably priced with good service. Choose homemade chocolate and nut spread on artisan bread at La Esquina and the green smoothie at El Arbol.

Honourable mentions also go to

La Tagliatella Enrique Granados for pizza and pasta that is apparently just like what they serve in Rome (According to Adam).

Bodega Granados for the best chips and egg ever, trust me this is a recommendation you CAN'T miss, they do something seriously magical with this dish!

Be sure to just spend time 'getting lost' in Barcelona, particularly in the gothic quarter, or head to the beach late when it's quiet to take a swim in the ocean. Barcelona, you stole my heart.

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More Travel?
Berlin // Alvor, Portugal // Bath

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