Month: April 2015

Twit of the Day award…

…goes to the makers of Slim Fast.

Why would you take a measuring spoon with a small handle that fits into the container…

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…and change it for a measuring spoon with a longer handle that…er…doesn’t?

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At first I thought maybe I had a rogue one (ha, like there’s a renegade measuring spoon maker machine that’s gone off tangent) but no, this is the second tub in a row where wedging has to take place to get the lid on.

How, in anyone’s world, does that make any sense at all?

April showers

I’m a 100% shower girl. I never have baths. Very very rarely, if I’m in a hotel and feeling indulgent then I might, but generally I think the idea is better than the reality. Getting the water to the right temperature is a faff, and then it goes cold, and it’s difficult to wash your hair because the bath is too short to fit legs body and head, plus you can’t rinse shampoo suds and conditioner off all in the same water. As I said…faff.

When it comes to shower gel I don’t believe in paying big money for something that, essentially, gets washed down the plug hole. Maybe I’ve never tried the right quality or the right brand, but to me shower gel is for feeling clean and smelling nice. If I want soft skin I’ll use moisturiser. There’s no substitute for body moisturiser anyway, so you can’t substitute it.

Anyway, I digress. I’m something of a fragrance whore when it comes to shower gel. I love a good smell. So I’ll flit between Nivea Happy Time (orangey), Free Time (star fruit, very zingy), Coconut Crème (does what it says on the tin…well, plastic bottle) and Harmony Time (rose scented).

Nivea happy time Nivea free time

Nivea coconut Nivea Harmony time

I generally pick them up from Poundland, where they cost (d’oh) one pound each, or from the supermarket during the weekly shop when they’re often even cheaper.

I’m also a fan of Original Source, and will sometimes buy them when they’re on special offer. My first OS experience was with Mint and Teatree. which is refreshing but can be a bit too “oooh” round the nethers! And it leaves underarms feeling weirdly cool. Not one for everyday use (for me, anyway).

Original source mint

Vanilla milk and raspberry is nice and creamy, but not quite smelly enough for me. And chocoloate mint is just odd. Smearing brown goo on your body to get clean doesn’t feel or look right. It’s more of a novelty shower gel.

Original sauce vanilla milk and raspberry Original chocolate

Most recently, while browsing in Bodycare (which I’ve only just really discovered in terms of value – it’s soooo much cheaper than Boots) I found these. Never heard of the brand, and even Google doesn’t throw much light on it, but apparently you can buy them in Iceland?! (the food retailer, rather than the Northern cold country). But you know what, they’re fab. They smell delicious, they come in the 500ml bottles (twice the side of the Nivea ones) and cost just 99 pence.

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The mango and papaya one is actually the second bottle, and the only one I’ve tried in the shower (I like it that much). The lid is missing because my husband pulled it off in frustration because he finds a bog standard flip lid difficult to use (much rolling of eyes).

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I’m especially looking forward to trying the cherry and wild fig one, it’s a rather grown up smell.

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And the raspberry and pomegranate looks good enough to drink!

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The range also comes in vanilla and macadamia, and coconut and honey. A Google search also reveals a lime and grapefruit flavour. Now that I would be all over! (or it would be all over me).

London Calling? I can’t hear it!

I know that to some people – many people – living in London is the epitome of cool. It’s very rare you hear of country kids growing up with a dream to move to Manchester, for example. It’s always London. The capital city; centre of culture, home to theatreland and the geography of our Monarch.

Me? I’ve never seen the appeal. It’s expensive, crowded and full of tourists. Plus it’s pretty big. So living “in” London is actually about living in one of many boroughs, all of which have their own individual high streets, postcodes and local pubs. All the “great things” that people quote about living in London – the museums, the art galleries, the chance to see different bands every night of the week and a different play in the West End – aren’t really on your doorstep. Sure, your own borough might have stuff going on, but probably not every day, You’ll invariably need to travel to suck up everything that London has to offer, which means an overcrowded tube, an overpriced taxi, or a walk that will be more suited to trainers than those new strappy heels that match so well with your dress.

Because you wouldn’t drive. Good god no! Traffic jams and parking nightmares and one way systems, plus the fact that you probably couldn’t afford to run a car because of your extortionate public transport costs (plus paying through the nose to rent a flat the size of a shoebox). That’s why women can be seen traversing the pavements in business suits and sneakers on their way to offices where they’ll change into heels when safely at their desk.

The reason for my vitriolic London rant? Today! I had a meeting in London today, for work. I had to catch a 6.30am train (that’s not London’s fault, I know). There were issues with my pre-booked tickets (also not London’s fault). Here’s the bit that’s London’s fault.

The underground. Queuing to get on an escalator to get to correct platform.

Temperatures increasing the lower you get, so that even in winter when you’re wrapped up against the elements it’s too hot. Standing crammed against strangers in an overstuffed carriage and hoping everyone remembered to use deodorant that morning.

Tourists. Everywhere! Wheeling suitcases, taking up space, stopping without warning or running over your feet.

How do people do it every day?!

And of course things weren’t helped by the fact that the Victoria line – the one and only tube line that would get me to where I needed to be – was closed. So, all of a sudden, the life source of London – moving people around seamlessly and methodically, away from the unpredictability of traffic jams and delivery drivers and all those things which can slow a vehicle above ground – came to a halt. Not so bad if you know what the alternatives are. A pain in the ass if you don’t.

Now, I’m not completely callous and heartless, so the fact that the line closure was due to a fatality on the line did temper my annoyance somewhat. But being told I needed to catch “the number 24, from behind that building” wasn’t exactly the hand holding I needed. “That building” didn’t have an obvious “back”. It had sides, which I had to wander around. It also had many many bus stops on it’s perimeter.

The upshot was that I found the bus stop. The bus turned up quickly. The driver looked at me like I was trying to pull a fast one when I explained that the Victoria Line wasn’t working and told me that I would have to justify this to the ticket inspector if he got on the bus, but he didn’t charge me. And, unlike being underground, you get to see more of this great city.

Like the building work.

Oh, and some more building work (seriously, it’s everywhere you look).

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The great range of well thought out and well appointed apartments, where you can sit outside and admire the building work while breathing in genuine London smog.

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The bright red double decker buses, snaking across the city at a snail’s pace.

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Of course there are some great sights too, although how much notice you would take if you were seeing them on a daily basis is questionable.

Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column

The cenotaph in Whitehall, covered in fresh wreaths following the Battle of Gallipoli memorial parade at the weekend

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Beautiful and imposing buildings with architectural influences from across the centuries

 

Good old London boozers.

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Quite a lot of photographs for one bus journey, yes? That’s because it took a whole bloody hour instead of what would have been a 10 minute tube journey. It took 8 minutes to get across one set of traffic lights when there was only one vehicle in front of us. The bus driver squeezed in a space alongside a lorry that was so tight the two vehicles were touching each other. And neither driver acknowledged the bump or challenged the other one.

Presumably because, well, that’s London for ya.

In the interests of fairness – let’s look at Asda fashion

Following my recent post around Tesco I thought it only fair to have a look-see at Asda. Their terms aren’t quite so good, in that they don’t offer free delivery, but you can collect at no cost from a local store and return for free via Collect Plus. Both of these options work well for me in terms of locality, so it’s all good.

I would say, in comparison, that Asda clothes are cheaper than Tesco but that is reflected in the quality. There are some items that look fab online but bloody awful in real life (then again that goes for the majority of online shopping – it can be a real game of Russian roulette). That said, I’ve had a lot of great things from there over the years; most recently my waffle midi skirt.

Here’s my pick of the current online stock.

Love these shirts – just £12 each. They’d be perfect for my new casual work dresscode with skinny jeans and pointed shoes.

Stripes now. I’d have been all over that skirt in my old job, but it doesn’t really fit into my current life.

Now, I don’t wear swimsuits (because I want to tan AS MUCH as I possibly can!) but I could be persuaded to make an exception for any of these. The bandeau one looks like a two piece from the back, which is useful for back tanning. But there’s also potential for flesh overspill with those cut out sides! Especially by the end of a holiday (I eat like a wild animal on holiday, Because, why wouldn’t you?)

Bit of a wildcard here – these trousers! I have no idea why, but I’m inexplicably drawn to them. They’re not my style at all. Maybe it’s just the colours and the retro 50s capri shape and the happy holiday feel.

Seaside trousers

There’s also a dress in the same pattern, which I think would look great for a wedding with some retro styling – round toe heels, red lips and wavy hair.

Seaside dress

I’d also wear this lemon print dress the same way.

Lemon dress

These tops are nice and simple and would look great with 70s style flares, sunglasses, a fringed bag and wedge sandals.

Last few bits now. Love this bandeau dress.

Bandeau maxi

This kimono is very wearable both now and into high summer.

Kimono £16

And, to finish with my seeming obsession with all things hippy and 70s, these crochet hem jeans.

Embroidered jeans

I think Asda is more well rounded in terms of hitting trends and breadth of stock, but as I mentioned the quality can let it down.

Supermarket “style” from F&F (but sack the stylists)

I’m a fan of supermarket clothing – Tesco does some fine bits and pieces at a reasonable cost. They have great sales, and quite often full priced items will go into the sales very quickly. Delivery is free if you spend over £50, returns are also free (via Royal Mail), refunds are processed quickly and you earn Clubcard points on your purchases (which you can then spend on “free” food at restaurants like Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Zizzi).

One failing that comes to mind though is the styling. It really doesn’t make the most of the items in many cases, so it can be a case of take a risk, try it at home and maybe unearth a gem.

Following on from yesterday’s smugness around my new leopard print shoes, here are some more bargains that I bagged from the Tesco F&F sale.

Camo print half shirt dress (£12, reduced from £25)

Tesco camo dress       Tesco camo dress close up

Charcoal draped cardigan (£8, reduced from £16)

Tesco grey cardigan Tesco grey cardigan 2

Maxi shirt (£12, reduced from £18) – needless to say I will not be wearing mine like this!

Black maxi shirt

Black crochet sleeve shell top (£9 reduced from £16)

Tesco crochet blouse 2

Surely the worst styling on the whole of the site – palazzo pants that don’t touch the ground with slim heel shoes; no, no, NO! (£9 reduced from £18)

Tesco palazzo pants Tesco palazzo print

The palazzo pants and maxi shirt have 70s written all over them; dare I say that, if styled more appropriately, there’d be no need to put them in the sale…

Here’s my pick of the rest of the site – more stripes and leopard print amongst other things.

 Tesco peeptoe shoeboots

Tesco two part flats

Tesco grey fedora

I may just have to order that fedora…purely in the interests of research of course…

For the love of leopard print

It is a well known fact amongst my family and friends that I LOVE leopard print. I have coats, hats, gloves, scarves, tops, dresses, skirts and footwear; as well as ornaments, a wine glass and some fluffy dice (these were bought as an ironic gift).

Here’s the wine glass. It’s hand painted and was a birthday present from some close friends (it looks better with wine in, obvs).

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I can never have enough leopard print, and I’m probably most partial to it in the shoe or boot variety.

My Dad and his wife bought these for me as a birthday gift a couple of years ago (photograph borrowed from ebay). The heels look monstrously high, but the height is offset by the big platform sole and they’re surprisingly easy to walk in. They make me feel like a giant, which I love! I specifically chose a tall husband so I’d never be restricted on heel height (oh, and because of the whole love thing as well, obvs again).

Leopard boots 3

Here are my two newest additions to the leopard print family.

Via ebay from the veritable bargain basement that is China – bargain price of £7.04 including shipping!

Leopard flat 3 Leopard flats 2

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And these beauties; a bargain for leather at £28 from F&F – even more of a bargain in the sale at £17. I’ll be wearing these with turned up jeans and one of yesterday’s striped tops.

Tesco leopard shoesTesco leopard close up

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They’re not the only sale bargains from F&F…more tomorrow…

Earning my stripes

I’m not really a stripy person, although my recent purchases would say otherwise!

I decided I liked the idea of monochrome stripes in my new casual work wardrobe (which still doesn’t come naturally to me at all), to wear with turned up fitted jeans and heels.

Rather than dipping my toe in to see how I liked it, I went stripe crazy!

Black and grey (£5.59 – 30% off), cream and black (£6.69), blue and pale beige (£7.79) – all from H&M current stock.

Grey stripe top Black and white stripe top Blue stripe top

I also got these skinnies from New Look sale (reduced to just £9).

Stripe skinny £9

We stayed at a hotel earlier this year which had the most amazing striped carpet. I quite fancy introducing some monochrome stripes into our home (although I’m sure the husband will veto it).

How great are these looks?

Stripe wallpaper Stripe chair 2 Stripe carpet

Stripe wallpaper 2  Stripe cushion Stripe chair

Malaga – way more than just an airport

My travel retrospective yesterday got me thinking about past travels and city breaks.

I love getting away for a weekend. Short breaks concentrate your efforts in terms of seeing everything and doing stuff. Whilst not the most relaxing of times, I always feel fulfilled and satisfied by just how much I’ve managed to do. No time for having a lie in or an afternoon nap. It’s all about cramming it all in.

Quite often a city break for us can stem from seeing a cheap flight and investigating whether the destination is worth visiting. Which is how we ended up in Malaga 5 years ago.

For most Malaga is a gateway to the Costas. Brits who have holiday homes in Spain flock to the airport, or through the airport, from the beginning of the sunny season through til the end. Families on their two week escape looking for sea, sun and sand will land at the airport and be whisked away by tour operator coaches to their coastal destination of choice. But there is so much more to Malaga.

I don’t recall what made me look into it as a destination in itself, but I was so glad I did. Husband wasn’t convinced but I implored him to trust me. In mid April, flying out on a Thursday, flights were still reasonable and we got a basic but modern, adequate and well situated IBIS hotel at a steal. The actual trip cost us around £100 each for two nights.

First things first…Malaga is very Spanish. Which seems a case of stating the bleeding obvious, but it’s true. Because it’s not a tourist destination there is no “need” for everyone to speak English. As a result (and refreshingly so) Spanish is the first language. There is a need to communicate via pigeon English and pointing at menus when ordering food. Shops don’t have English signs. There’s a real feel of being in Spain, despite the influx of Brits through the vicinity on a daily basis.

Malaga, for me, has it all. The climate (it was 25 degrees in the day and around 15 degrees at night, and that was end of April), the food (bars and cafes serving authentic tapas, and tiny backstreet alley restaurants delivering the best paella ever for about 10 euros), the architecture (white washed buildings, cathedrals and a castle in the hills) and the sea (it’s on the coast. Who knew?!)

Oh, and when we arrived, they’d had a film festival in the city, so there was a red carpet running through the pedestrian area. And not to welcome us, as I thought might be the case.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking,

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Malaga is all about timing. Due to it’s popularity for reaching coastal destinations flights can actually be prohibitively expensive in summer. But time it right early or late in the season, with a mid week flight, and it’s well worth a visit.

The French Coast – a look back and a peek forward

2 weeks today I’ll be on a plane to France, hurrah! Invariably it will be wet and dull in the UK, in true bank holiday style, so I’m making the most of it by jetting off for 3 days in Nice, on the French Riviera.

Nice 2

Living in land locked Birmingham, it’s always good to get to the coast, especially when it’s as stunning as this. The Cote d’Azur has a micro climate and 200-250 days of sunshine each year, so I’m hopeful that early May will be warm and pleasant, and I might even get to dip my toes in that stunning blue sea.

As well as a stunning coastline, Nice has beautiful architecture, lots of greenery and a colourful Old Town that I’m looking forward to wandering around.

Nice port

Nice 3

Nice cathedral

Nice old town

Nice port 2

It’s 5 and a half years since I was last on the French Coast. We went to Marseille for a our first wedding anniversary, and totally fell in love with it. Just 6 hours door to door, from home via Birmingham airport, it’s a gem of a place and we immediately declared it our weekend bolthole when we fancied getting away. Unfortunately Ryanair had other ideas and cancelled the route soon afterwards so we haven’t been back since, but I would definitely return.

Here are some snaps.

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Flashback Friday – the hair edition

I had a dream last night that I decided to have some last minute highlights prior to going to a wedding. The hairdresser asked how much I wanted cut off my hair and I insisted on just the slightest of trims. But she cut my shortest layer to around 1 inch all over the top of my head.

Thank god it was just a dream!

My hair has been on my mind (figuratively as well as literally) for the past few days. Following my brain meanderings a couple of weeks ago, I’m kind of at the “let it grow” stage; probably influenced by a quick straw poll of friends and family (weak minded, easily influenced, indecisive wench that I am) where the general consensus was it looks better long. Swines. Of course I could buck the trend. But I’m not really sure myself. So I’m going to try a lob (snigger). Long bob, not anything rude.

Strangely, this morning, I’d been wondering how to inject some life into my barnet during this dull in between stage; concluding that dark red might be the way to go. Coincidentally I then exchanged some texts with my mobile hairdresser friend who I mentioned previously, who I found out reads my blog (“Hi Cookie!”) and, without prompting, she suggested going back to red.

I haven’t been red for around 3 years. Because my natural colour is pretty dark, I can’t go bright bright red without bleach (a step too far for an amateur hairdresser like me), but I reached a pleasing hue with regular dye. It’s a faff to keep up and white towels are a no no, and I ended up going back to dark/black as red lacked shine, but I’m craving a change.

So, here’s my Flashback Friday gallery. I may be harking back to some of the hair colours because I look so young. I’m very partial to the blond streaked front, but I was a decade younger then. It’s the face I’m craving, as much as the hair!

FB_IMG_1429300015970 Hair

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FB_IMG_1429265578203 Red

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Obviously the much shorter length will make a difference this time around. So watch this space!