John Lewis Newcastle Beauty Retreat

I DEFINITELY don't pamper myself enough, I've decided, so I was really excited to be invited to check out the services offered by the Beauty Retreat in John Lewis Newcastle last week.

The Beauty Retreat is situated in the Beauty Hall and a Retreat it really is - from the outside you'd never guess there were several luxurious treatment rooms tucked inside, offering treatments from some of the most well known beauty brands - Decleor offer a range of treatments for the face and body, including the intriguing Facial Lift Yoga  - I really want to try this - and the Lemon and Mango Firm and Tone Body Treatment which sounds delicious!!

In the Elemis Spa Pod, you can choose from a range of tailored facials to suit your skin type, with prices starting at just £30. Clarins offer a huge selection of treatments with something for everyone including a special pampering mum to be treatment. The Jessica counter has nails covered, and if your brows need attention there's a Blink eyebrow bar, too.

Of course as well as the Beauty Retreat, JL Newcastle has a well stocked beauty hall which houses some of my favourite brands - the lovely ladies at Chanel can help you choose the perfect Autumn lip shade, and at Espa you can enjoy a relaxing hand and arm massage on counter, with a body oil chosen to suit your desired mood. Other brands stocked include Liz Earle, Nars and Origins, to name a few.

The Beauty Retreat is the perfect place to take a break from the bustle of Newcastle city centre, especially in the run up to Christmas when any shopping trip seems to turn me into a stressed, sweaty, aching mess, so I'll definitely be popping back.

Have you tried the services at John Lewis Newcastle Beauty Retreat?

Supermodelmarket Chic - Heidi Klum for Lidl

If there’s one thing I love, it’s multi-tasking – getting more stuff done now  means more time collapsed on the sofa later – so this morning I headed off to my local Lidl to pick up a few groceries and also check out the Heidi Klum for Esmara Collection, which launched in stores today. If I can shop for shoes whilst I’m picking up freshly baked pain au chocolats, why wouldn’t I?!

I was curious of how the store would display the clothing – previously when I’ve seen clothes in there it’s just been loose in baskets in the middle of the store which hasn’t really tempted me to buy. This time, there were samples from each item in the collection hanging up whilst the others were displayed neatly in boxes below (I say ‘neatly’; they were at 8 o’clock this morning – not sure how neat they’ll be now - the store was quiet first thing but a lot of us ladies were arriving and heading straight for the clothing). I thought this was good as it meant you didn’t have to open boxes to feel fabrics and get an idea of the fit.

Price wise – the cheapest item was a cami at £4.99, the most expensive, a suede biker jacket at £49.99 (which actually looked lovely, but I REALLY don’t need another biker jacket). Colour wise – the collection is a palette of black, cream, camel, electric blue and leopard print.

I am a fan of leopard print, and I own a LOT of it – shoes, boots, bags, knits. Yup, I love it. However, I do feel it can be a tricky thing to wear, unless you’re going for a certain ‘look’ (let me just say that I saw a guy in LA airport once dressed in a leopard print suit, loafers and fedora hat. My immediate thought was ‘1970’s pimp’. Although I have to admit he did look like he’d be fun at parties). There is SO MUCH leopard print in this collection: blouses, trenches, blazers, trousers and boots; yet nothing was screaming ‘BUY ME!’. I think that’s probably due in part to the fact that I own quite a few leopardy pieces already (I did think the shoes and boots, which are suede, are a good price at £19.99/£24.99, but I need new leopard shoes like a hole in the head).

So what did I buy? Well, I picked up the leopard print longline hoodie then swapped it for the black one instead as I am afraid my animal print hoodie wearing days are probably long gone now. (I’m a little sad about it though, I should have got the leopard one, even if just to dance around my bedroom to Salt ‘n’ Pepa in). The hoodie is…well, it’s a hoodie – nothing too exciting although the zip detail at the bottom and the longer length make it a bit more special than the average, plus it's super soft & snuggly. 

I liked the look of the camel coatigan in the online adverts, but in reality the colour was more chestnut brown than camel which I wasn’t sure would suit me. I went for the striped multi one instead. It will be nice with jeans and boots for Autumn (at least that’s the look I have in my head).

Overall thoughts? Whilst a lot of the collection is wearable for us non-supermodel types, I couldn’t help thinking that some of it would just look plain ridiculous – on me, at least (case in point – the electric blue blazer and trouser combo Heidi wears in a lot of the promo shots) – she looks amazing. would look like a cross between a smurf and a cast off from a  defunct‘90s pop group (and not in a good way). Still, the range is great value for money & you have to love a supermodel/supermarket collab, don't you? I'd be interested to know if there's much left in stores now (hmmm maybe I need to go back for another look?!) 

Let me know if you picked up anything from the Heidi Klum for Esmara Collection!

The Hairdo That Fashion Forgot - The Perm

There are a small number of memories from my childhood that I've pushed back into the darkest corners of my brain, only to re-emerge once in a while when I've had a few drinks and feel the need to let them out, almost like a kind of therapy. One such memory is a hairdo I had in the late eighties. I'm sure others of a similar age will know exactly what I'm talking about - it is, of course, the horror that was THE PERM.

Looking back, I'm not sure exactly whose style I was trying to emulate in my quest for a halo of curls. I was a fan of Neighbours at the time, so it may have been Kylie. Unfortunately for me, I ended up looking more like Craig McLachlan.

It all started with me incessantly banging on about wanting a perm. Finally, during the six-week summer holidays, my mam gave in and bought a home perm kit. I can't remember much about the home perming process, other than it stunk, and I'm also at a loss as to why I allowed my mam to attempt to perm my hair, since I was still scarred from the half-page-boy-half-bowl-cut I'd been forcibly given a few years earlier. Anyway, what I can remember is that, after waiting the allotted time and removing those awful plastic rollers, my hair was....err...straight. Poker straight, in fact. Just as it had been before.

You know how there are certain things you wish you could go back in time and tell your younger self? Life lessons, mistakes to avoid, that sort of thing? Well, I wish I could go back, grab my eleven year old self by the shoulders and shout 'FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JUST LEAVE YOUR HAIR AS IT IS NOW!' because things were about to get a whole lot worse. (And curly.)

My mam had a hairdresser who came to the house. I begged for another go at perming my hair, so my mam arranged an appointment with the hairdresser a couple of week later. This is where my memories become a little more clear. I remember sitting down on the dining chair ready to be permed, looking at my mam's hair, then looking at the hairdresser's, and feeling that perhaps this wasn't going to be the cutting edge experience of fashion hairdressing I was hoping for. Still, as the (stinky) setting lotion was applied, I was thinking positive. When my mam had tried to perm my hair, nothing had happened at all, so there couldn't be much chance of me ending up with tight, afro like curls.  I'd have loose, scrunchy waves like that girl off Grange Hill! I'd finally be fashionable! (Harsh, I know, but I was never ahead of the fashion pack as a kid).

When it was time for the rollers to come out, I held my breath with trepidation. The first sign that I wasn't going to have loose, flowing waves came when I realised my previously half-way-down-my-arm-length hair now appeared to be almost up to my ears, and I hadn't had it cut.

As the last roller came out, I was almost terrified to touch my hair. When I did, it felt like I had a sponge on my head. I ran through to my bedroom to check in the mirror, with the hairdresser calling weakly after me 'Don't brush it!'

Of course, the first thing I did - after almost screaming out loud once I saw my reflection and realised that I did, in fact, more or less have an afro - was brush it. Surely that would loosen the curls? Give me the wavy look I so craved? After attempting to rake a brush through it my head resembled a microphone. I can't remember if I cried. I think, somewhere in my eleven year old brain, I realised a very important lesson had been learnt.

What I wanted

What I got
It took almost two years to grow out that perm. Two years of painful regret. The curls, admittedly, did drop quite a bit in the last couple of weeks of the summer hols, which I was relieved about. I had plenty of other reasons to be bullied at school without a ridiculous comedy hairdo being added to the mix.

All photographic evidence of The Perm has since been destroyed (I hope it has, anyway), but the mental scars still remain. In fact, just the other night I woke up in a cold sweat remembering it.

I'm thinking of setting up a support group for other '80s perm victims. Thoughts?