Luxury in the Lakes - the Molton Brown Suite at the Daffodil Hotel, Grasmere

Love luxurious surroundings, the perfect countryside setting and an endless supply of indulgent body products? If so, you might want to check out the amazing Molton Brown Suite at the Daffodil Hotel and Spa in Grasmere.

Now although the Lakes are obviously not in the North East (duh!) it's a fairly easy drive to get over there from Newcastle...well, it is when the weather's good. When I drove over this weekend the roads were horrendous due to all the rain we've had, at one point I thought my little 500 would be swallowed up by a giant puddle. I'm not sure who was more relieved when we arrived at the hotel - me (who'd been screaming most of the way) or the Husband (who'd been listening to me screaming most of the way).

We arrived a little early so wandered into a very wet Grasmere for cake (much needed) and coffee before heading back up to the hotel.

The Daffodil Hotel is in a beautiful setting right by the lake at Grasmere, a short walk from the village. It's a plush, modern hotel which has only been open since 2012 so everything is still fairly new and shiny. We stayed at the Daffodil last year and really enjoyed it; I've been dying to go back ever since, so when I saw that the hotel currently has a Half Price Sunday Offer we booked up immediately! The last time I was there one of the things I loved about the place was the fact that you get Molton Brown toiletries in your room (it really is the little things!) and when I heard there was an actual suite completely dedicated to my favourite luxury bath and body brand, I knew that I HAD to try it!

On arrival we were shown to our suite, which consisted of a sitting room, separate bedroom and bathroom with the biggest, most complicated looking shower/bath I've ever seen. The Duty Manager did explain how to work everything but I didn't hear a word as I was too busy eyeing up all of the gorgeous Molton Brown products around the place. Once she'd left, The Husband and I ran and put on the white robes and slippers provided and danced with excitement around the suite. It really was beautiful - super modern with Juliet balconies in both the sitting room and the bedroom, and fabulous views over the vale of Grasmere. The bed was absolutely mahoosive, and I couldn't decide which I loved most - the fabulous shoe cushions (WANT) or the towel elephant holding a Molton Brown gift box containing two full size body washes for us (Pink Pepperpod for me, Black Peppercorn for Him). Squeal!

There was a knock at the door from a nice lady bringing us cocktails (I'd love to make this a regular Sunday afternoon occurrence) which were absolutely delicious, although I can't remember what she said was in them. It was kind of a blackberry/lime sort of thing and I could have drunk several more!

Staying in the Molton Brown suite means that you not only get goodies to take home, but also a choice of products to use during your stay. I decided to try out the space-age shower which had several different water jets, a steam function and a Jacuzzi (literally amazing. The Husband and I agreed that we need to start saving for one for our house, like now). After half an hour in a Ylang Ylang (my favourite) scented Jacuzzi I was definitely ready for a power nap before dinner!

We ate in the restaurant which was delicious, and after a few more cocktails we went back up to the suite to discover boxes of chocolate truffles on our pillows as well as a cute Molton Brown mini-gift containing eye cream, lip balm and hand salve.

After we'd had our (again, delicious) breakfast in the morning, and I'd worked out that we probably couldn't afford to give up our jobs and live in the suite permanently, it was time for us to reluctantly gather up all our goodies and head home.

Sadly we didn't have time to try the hotel spa on this visit (and I've heard it is amazing) but no doubt we will be back at the Daffodil very soon - hopefully in the summer when the weather's a bit better! I would highly recommend the hotel and in particular the Molton Brown suite for the perfect relaxing luxury retreat.

Have you stayed at the Daffodil or tried the Molton Brown Suite?


#PamperSunday - It's A Hair Thing! Award Worthy Waves

My favourite BAFTA look this year - by a mile- was that of Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko. She was wearing a beautiful mermaid-like Burberry dress and had the most PERFECT nude makeup, but the one thing that really set off her whole look was her hair. Shiny, loose curls are my absolute favourite going-out look - so simple yet super glam! Olga's hair is a perfect example.

Pic From Google
 Pic From Google

Now, I've been trying to achieve the perfect volumised shiny curl for literally YEARS now, with a variety of different products and tools, and although I can definitely not rock a centre parting like Olga, I have finally found a way to recreate soft curls like hers - or as close as I'm ever going to get, anyway!

First things first -  a really good shampoo and conditioner specially formulated to make hair shine. My hair tends to go fluffy and dull so when I discovered Charles Worthington Shine Booster Shampoo and conditioner I did a little happy dance. This stuff leaves my hair looking and feeling sleek but not limp, like some shine-enhancing products can. Hooray! CW actually did Olga's hair on BAFTA night, so this is even more fitting!

I then use L'Oreal Elnett Volume Heat Protection Spray all over my towel dried hair and blow dry with my head upside down. Once it's about 50% dry I reach for my trusty Babyliss Big Hair Brush to finish drying, as it gives a nice smooth and bouncy finish.

Next I clip up the top sections and get to work with my Babyliss Glamour Waves Tong. I've had this for a while and am actually now not sure what I'd do without it. It has adjustable heat settings so if I want very loose waves I'll use the coolest setting; for tighter curls, the hottest. As my hair is fine and any wave or curl tends to drop quite quickly, I use the hottest setting, with another spritz of heat protection spray for extra hold. I take two-inch sections all around the bottom of my hair and curl them away from my face with the tong, then do the same on the top sections. As my hair is layered, I just curl the ends of the shortest layers so that I don't get a strange halo of tight curls around the top of my head (yes, I have made this mistake before!).

Once I've done my whole head, I leave the curls to cool for five minutes or so, then brush through with my Tangle Teezer. I know you're probably thinking 'WHAAAT! DON'T BRUSH OUT THE CURLS!!' but, trust me, this works! The Tangle Teezer seems to make the curls look more natural and glossy. Spritz with a bit of hairspray and you're good to go! I follow this routine quite often now and the curls actually last all day. Result!

Apologies for the awkward selfie, but this gives you an idea of the finished hair:

What's your favourite glamorous hair look?

#ThrowbackThursday - The Day Take That Came To School

It was Autumn 1991. A couple of hundred hyperactive secondary school kids had been herded into the sports hall, chattering excitedly with anticipation. We were about to have some very special visitors.
Rewind to a few weeks earlier, and my friend Sharon and I were lounging about in my bedroom after school, reading Smash Hits and listening to ‘Hits Not Homework’ on Metro Radio. As Cece Peniston’s ‘Finally’ faded into silence, the DJ came on announcing a very special competition. The competition was for schools in the North East to vote for their ‘Teacher of the Year’. We giggled between ourselves. Why would we want to do that? I went back to reading Betty Boo’s style tips. The DJ carried on talking about the competition: it would involve voting for a teacher who would ultimately win some sort of awesome prize, like a cruise. Oh, and during the competition, the three schools with the highest number of votes for their teacher would win a visit from Take That.
Our heads jerked up from our magazines. Take That? The new boyband we’d become obsessed with over the last few months? The ones we had plastered all over our bedroom walls and school books? All of a sudden we were listening.
We chose a teacher: my form tutor, Mr Dunthorne (in hindsight, we should really have chosen someone with a much shorter name) and set about voting. The rules were that the votes needed to be handwritten, on individual bits of paper. Today, I can see so many holes in this it’s unreal. At the time though, printing votes wasn’t an option – killing trees and perpetual hand cramps were the only way. Votes had to be physically dropped off at a local Woolworths so Sharon and I gathered up all of our scraps of paper, bundled them into our trendy tartan backpacks and heaved them onto the bus to the Metrocentre. In that first vote count, the two of us had completed 2000 votes ourselves which was way more than any of the other schools had. A visit from Take That was within our clammy grasp.
Over the following days and weeks dozens of kids got involved in writing out votes. At one point we had a production line of writers, cutters and counters working away during breaks and lunches in the science lab. The theme music for the competition (an old-school tune called Rofo's Theme) was permanently playing throughout. Then one night, ears glued to Hits Not Homework, we heard the news we’d been waiting for – Mr D had enough votes to place us at the top of the current leaderboard (although the overall competition would continue to run for a couple of weeks after this) and Take That would indeed be coming to our school. OUR SCHOOL! We were literally hysterical.
So, there we were, in the sports hall that day, eagerly awaiting the arrival of a boyband who were, at the time, relatively unknown. A few lucky souls (myself included) were allowed to stand awkwardly at the front of the hall, due to our voting efforts in the competition, while our classmates sat in rows on the dusty floor. Someone brought in a ghetto-blaster and the tinny sound of the opening bars of ‘Once You’ve Tasted Love’ filled the hall. As we watched, five lads in hoodies and jeans strode in, waving at everyone. It took me a few seconds to realise that these were the same five lads that were in the poster I had blu-tacked to my bedroom wall, wearing black leather jackets and studded codpieces . At the time, I didn’t consider how completely inappropriate it would have been for them to arrive at a school wearing studded codpieces, I just thought they were having a casual day, like we did at the end of each term. Anyway, at that point, Sharon and I grabbed each others’ hands and did this sort of excitable jumping-up-and-down-thing. There was a lot of screaming; from us, pretty much every girl in the hall and probably a few boys, too.
My photography skills weren't the best
Take That started to mime along to the song whilst doing their dance routine. Howard and Jason did a couple of back flips. I was frantically trying to take photos with my disposable Kodak camera, clicking and winding as fast as my little fingers would allow. No time to press and wait for the flash, I’m afraid. Robbie saw me snapping and came closer. Despite my hysteria I managed to focus enough to notice that he had a tartan cap with 'Pervert' written across it, and I made a mental note to buy myself an identical one as soon as I possibly could.
I promise you this is actually Robbie. I didn't have time to wait for the flash. 
‘Promises’ was played next and I firmly resisted the urge to break out into the full-on dance routine, which Sharon and I had perfected over many weeks previously. Instead, I allowed myself a small finger wagging motion during the chorus, just to demonstrate that I knew it, and was therefore a REAL fan. Uh huh.
A couple of kids were chosen to perform some dance moves with the lads. This basically involved Mark doing 'the worm' across the floor while a year nine boy shuffled awkwardly alongside him.
Mark doing the Worm
Then, amid screams, cheers and a sea of grey polyester sleeved arms, Take That were gone. Although some of us made a dash for the fire exit to try and grab an autograph before they left, we were held back by a wall of stern looking teachers. I managed to get a quick photo of Gary before the lads sped away in their silver people carrier.
 Yes! Finally got a decent(ish) photo
When we were let out of the sports hall, we all just stood about, feeling a bit despondant. 'What now?' someone asked. 'Double Science', said someone else. It was over.
The whole 'Teacher of the Year' thing died a sudden death after that. We were all totally up for Take That coming to school, but sadly, we weren't so keen on Mr Dunthorne winning a trip-of-a-lifetime cruise. Nobody bothered to continue voting and I think our school ended up in about third or fourth place. I also have a slight confession to make here - I told my mam that I was late home from school that day as I'd been kept back in detention (she should have know that wasn't true - I don't think I ever had detention) when in actual fact, as soon as the last bell went, Sharon and I legged it along the road to Metro FM's studios where we did actually meet Take That properly and get autographs. But that's a story for another time!
*Note! Bearing in mind this was - ahem - over twenty years ago, I did struggle to remember specific details. Thanks to my multi-coloured Trespass coat wearing friend (you know who you are!) who helped me in recalling some of the info in this post!*

Personal Styling at Metrocentre - My Local Shopping Heaven

It's hardly surprising that I'm a total shopaholic, since I grew up within a couple of miles of Europe's largest shopping centre. Since it opened in 1986, Metrocentre has been a regular haunt of mine; I even worked there for a few years when I was younger - first in fashion retail and then in beauty and fragrance in one of the big department stores. There is so much I love about Metrocentre. If I have a few hours to spare on a day off, I spend it wandering around, checking out what's new (and there's a LOT new, which I'll come onto in a bit) and despite the massive size of the place I honestly feel as if I know it like the back of my hand. If I need an outfit for a last minute night out, I already know exactly where to park to give me the fastest route from Zara to Oasis to Dorothy Perkins and back again within half an hour. Snowing? Torrential rain? Doesn't matter. Metrocentre's completely indoors so no hair-mares or frozen fingers to worry about here. Metrocentre is like an old friend. An old friend filled with fabulous new shoes and handbags.

MetroCentre IsItJustMeme

My first retail job was right here!
One thing I've never tried, though, is Metrocentre's Personal Styling Service. I've always been curious about how it works, as on paper being a personal shopper and stylist sounds like the best job EVER. What could be better than basically spending your days surrounded by clothes and shoes?!

I met up with one of Metrocentre's Style Team, Michaela, to find out more about the services the team offer. Michaela told me she has clients of all ages and from all backgrounds, each with their own individual requirements. I always thought of personal shopping as being a service people might use if they had an important event coming up, like a family wedding for example, and weren't sure where to start looking for an outfit. Michaela explained that this is the case for some clients, but equally she also has clients that may just be completely stuck in a fashion rut with their current wardrobe and are looking for a change. I can identify with that - who hasn't fancied a complete image overhaul at some point? (I'm thinking of my year long 'black' phase. Cringe).

Michaela, one of Metrocentre's Style Team

The Style Team use stores across the whole of the centre during consultations, and Michaela told me she likes to take clients out of their comfort zone - when I mentioned I never shop in Topshop myself she said that would be the first place she'd take me, for that very reason! So for me, as seasoned a shopper as I am, it would be an opportunity to maybe try something I wouldn't have even considered wearing before. I love this idea, as the only feedback I get when trying stuff on at home is the occasional grunt from The Husband, and after speaking to Michaela and seeing how lovely she is I have a feeling she'd be very honest but in a really nice way!!

As well as style consultations, Michaela and the rest of the team organise regular fashion shows which take place in one of Metrocentre's Town Squares. I've seen a few of these over the years and they are great for the lazy shopper like me - you can see a range of products from different shops all at once. The Style Team also help out at other local fashion shows and magazine shoots, using clothes from Metrocentre stores. Michaela told me that one of the busiest times for the Style Team is organizing content for Metrocentre's own magazine, which covers fashion, homeware, food....just about everything the centre offers, really. I always hunt the magazine out (they're published twice a year) as often there are offers and discounts for lots of stores in it and since I try my best to avoid paying full price for pretty much anything I buy, these can some in really handy.

 I'll just take the green one. And the yellow. Oh, and the white...
I'm so going back next week for this dress
I just want all of these. ALL. OF. THEM. 

So I still love the idea of being a personal shopper and stylist like Michaela - although it can be hard work and I'd inevitably end up spending a small fortune by picking out loads of items for myself as well as my client, the chance to spend all day browsing my favourite shops sounds like an absolute dream. And if you're a shopper, maybe lacking in time or confidence when it comes to choosing some new pieces, Metrocentre's Personal Styling Service could be for you.

There have been so many changes to Metrocentre over the years - it's come a long way from the days when my mam used to drag me around Carrefour to do the weekly shop on a Thursday night. Most recently, we've seen the redesign of the Red Mall with Debenhams and the Qube area, which houses the Odeon cinema and loads of restaurants. But I think I'm most looking forward to the grand unveiling of the Platinum Mall, planned to be a 'luxury shopping environment'. No news on which retailers we will see there yet (I'm crossing my fingers for Reiss) but no doubt I'll be there, sipping at the Champagne bar ready to do some serious shopping. I can't wait!

Have you ever used a personal stylist?

Personal Style Consultations at Metrocentre cost £15 per hour. If you're interested in booking a consultation with Michaela or one of the other members of the Style Team, you can call 0771 0291856 or email

*Thanks to Michaela for giving me some time to chat on Saturday, it is very much appreciated! :)

#PamperSunday - B. Skincare Range

I have always struggled with finding skincare products that suit my skin. When I was younger, I had a really oily t-zone that I found hard to control, and with less money to spend on products it was always a challenge finding skincare that really made a difference to that dreaded shine.

As I've got older, my skin's no longer so oily but it can still be troublesome, and it's gotten more sensitive too. Although I'm definitely not of the belief that a more expensive product automatically equals a better product, I do now tend to spend a bit more on my skincare to ensure I get products that really meet my needs. I'd prefer not to, though. We all like to save a bit of cash, right?! So when I saw the B. Skincare range in Superdrug I was really interested to try it out. Could products at such a brilliant price point (prices range from £3.50 for cleansing wipes to £15.99 for facial oil) really work as well as some of the 'premium' brands I've tried?

The other thing I really like about B. is their philosophy, which is, in essence, to appreciate the beauty in things around you - and yourself. Simples! Of course, the products are also completely cruelty free too. Recently, the B Skincare range has been better than half price at Superdrug, and is still on offer as I type - I don't know when this ends, so if you're yet to try this range, go, GO!!

I've been using a few products for a couple of weeks now, and this is what I've found....

B. Quick 4 in 1 Cleansing Wipes
I love a good cleansing wipe. I remember when they first came on the market about ten years ago and they were my saviour for getting rid of all that makeup after a heavy night. I've been using them ever since. To be honest, to me a cleansing wipe is a cleansing wipe, but I would say that these have a nice sort of ridged effect which makes it feel like they are cleansing the skin a bit more thoroughly, and my skin doesn't feel tight or dry after using them, like it does with some others. They smell nice, too.

B. Pure Micellar Water
This is definitely my favourite of the products I tried. I was intrigued by the idea of Micellar Water cleansers when they appeared on the market a couple of years ago. From what I could tell they were basically a gentle, water based product which could be used as an alternative to other cleanser formulations. I tried Lancôme's version shortly after and, although I liked it, once I ran out I didn't replace it due to the price (£23). B.'s version is £4.99 (£2.47 on offer) and honestly, I really couldn't tell the difference between it and the pricier product. It glides over the skin and really does make it feel fresh and clean. I love the idea that I'm using something a bit more simple on my skin, too (I've tried to understand the science behind Micellar Water, which seems basically to be small spheres which trap oil and therefore are quite effective at removing makeup). Also, I love the packaging of this product. I think it looks clean, simple and classic. Far more expensive than the price tag!

B. Refined Exfoliating Cleanser
I'm always a bit wary of exfoliating products as I do find that they can aggravate my skin if the beads are too harsh or scratchy. A bright red chin and nose is not a good look! This exfoliating cleanser is quite mild, gentle enough to be used every day, I think. My skin felt lovely and fresh after use redness, hooray! I've found this perfect to use in my morning shower as it gives me a bit of a wakeup.

B. Energised Eye Cream
I know this is really bad....but until I bought this, I'd never regularly used an eye cream. I'd had the odd sample pot that I used occasionally but it was never in my routine. I realised that now I'm in my mid early thirties it might be a good time to start using one on a daily basis. So, while I don't really have any other products to compare this to, I can say that it feels lovely and cool on the eye area, and since using it I have seen a definite improvement in the horrendous puffy eyes I get when I have to be up early for work. I will definitely be continuing to use this from now on.

So, all in all I think this range is pretty freakin' awesome. For the price I paid on offer, I haven't found better, and the full price of the range is still really reasonable so I'll definitely be buying more - in fact I think I'll stock up now! I'm really keen to try the Facial Oil, and B. also do a cosmetic range which I will definitely be checking out.

Have you tried any products from the B. Skincare range? What did you think?

I Heart This - Valentine Treats

Call me cynical, but I find Valentine's Day a bit of a con. Having said that, I appreciate a pink heart-shaped box of champagne truffles as much as the next woman. So, here are my picks of the most gorgeous gifts around this February....

Charbonnel Et Walker Mini Pink Marc De Champagne Truffle Heart £4.99, Harrods

Lulu Guinness Neon Pink Perspex Lips Clutch £245, Lulu Guinness

Pink Heart Umbrella £18.99,

YSL Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick £25, Debenhams

Pink Journal £12.51, Etsy

Coast Jacquard Scarf £22, Coast

Lanvin Marry Me! Eau de Parfum Spray £41.25,

Emma Bridgewater Be Mine Collection £29.95, Emma Bridgewater

Stila All You Need is Love Pressed Powder Palette £12, StilaUK

Boutique Bowling & Heavenly Eats at Lane7 Newcastle

I really wanted to try Lane7 after chatting to Rachel from the brilliant Life in Geordieland on Twitter. The Husband's birthday was approaching, so we were looking for somewhere to go to celebrate. As soon as I'd shown him the menu online, he was in.

So, Lane7 is described as 'Boutique Bowling'. The venue has eight lanes, as well as ping pong, American pool and karaoke. Now, I haven't been bowling since I was fifteen, for a few reasons:
1) I'm terrible at it
2) Bowing alleys are usually full of teenagers doing....teenagery things
3) Bowling shoes have to be the most unflattering footwear, EVER.

However, when we walked into Lane7 I could immediately see that it's not your usual bowling venue. There are two floors - the ground floor houses four of the walnut bowling lanes as well as the restaurant and a bar. Upstairs: four more lanes, another bar, pool and ping pong tables.

The best way I can think to describe the décor is kind of industrial Americana - vintage yet modern all at once. We were welcomed as we arrived and shown to our table in the restaurant - a cool round aqua blue leather booth which I loved as it put me in mind of a modern day Happy Days. I'd already scoured the menu online and decided I'd have the Pulled Pork Bun with fries - and I was so glad I did. It was Uh. May. Zing. The Husband ordered the Chilli Pimp Dog which looked equally scrummy - although I didn't get a sniff of that. Sadly, I was driving so couldn't try one of the alcoholic milkshakes. I consoled myself with a White Chocolate Cookie Crumble Sundae which really was as good as it sounds.

After finishing our food I could have done with a nap, really, but we were keen to try the boutique bowling experience, so we headed upstairs to our lane. I can confirm that, even though the bowling shoes at Lane7 are nothing like the stinky, grubby footwear I remember from my teenage bowling years, they are still not my best look. I wasn't sure I'd enjoy the bowling, knowing how bad I was as it, but actually I really enjoyed it, even though I broke a nail. Although I'm still a terrible bowler, it seems the Husband is even worse, as I wooped his ass. Result!

So all in all - we had a great time. I'd really like to go back to try the ping pong and pool (and those alcoholic shakes) so I'm sure we'll return soon.

Let me know if you've visited Lane7 yet!


#PamperSunday - Under's Where It's At: Bargain Buys!!

Who says #PamperSunday has to be about beauty products?! There's nothing that makes me feel pampered quite like a nice new set of undies. Over the last few years I've definitely learned the importance of well fitting, good quality smalls. Unfortunately, though, if you're not between certain sizes, your choices are a bit more limited. In addition to this, a decent bra and knicker set will often set you back around £50 in places like Bravissimo. Ok for a treat once in a while, maybe, but most of us need a lot more underwear than that!

So - I started trawling online to see if I could find the same bras I'd seen instore at a cheaper price. There are lots of online retailers, like Brastop and Figleaves, all of which have gorgeous pieces but still quite expensive in my opinion. Then I found a site that sells a lot of the big bra names - Panache, Curvy Kate, Gossard; some at bargainous prices. That site is the trusty Amazon.

Here are some examples of the bargain undies I've grabbed over the last few weeks:

Pic from Google

Panache Cleo Millie Set
Bravissimo price: £27 for the bra, £14.50 for the knickers
Total price £41.50
Amazon price: £10.80 for the bra, £5.80 for the knickers
Total price £16.60
Saving £24.90
Pic from Google
Curvy Kate Desire Ivory Set
Brastop price: £30 for the bra, £16 for the shorts
Total price £46
Amazon price: £6 for the bra, £8.50 for the shorts
Total price £14.50
Saving £31.50
Panache Cleo Jessie Set
Figleaves price (sale): £18.90 for the bra, £7.25 for the knickers
Total price £26.15
Amazon price: £8.10 for the bra, £4.35 for the knickers
Total price £12.45
Saving £13.70
The packaging isn't luxurious like you'd get from some of the other underwear shops - in fact Amazon tend to send my bras and knickers out in embarrassingly large brown boxes - but when it's free delivery over £10, I really can't complain!
Now obviously not all styles are available in all sizes,  but there are plenty of other styles on there too, some at real bargain prices. As Amazon prices fluctuate quite a bit, if I see a set I like but it's still a bit pricey for me, I add it to my basket and check back each day to see if the price has reduced, which it often does. Be aware though, it can also go up!
In addition to the above, Amazon currently have 10% off all fashion which works with these undies, making them an even bigger bargain! The code to enter is BONUSTEN
Do you ever buy your undies from Amazon? :) xxx

It's a Hair Thing - Go Big or Go Home

For a few years now it seems hair has been all about big, bouncy waves. I'm pretty happy about this, as the poker-straight trend that went before was so unflattering. What were we thinking?! Anyway, much as I love the whole big hair thing, it can be hard to master, particularly if, like me, you have fine hair that DOES NOT WANT TO BEHAVE. So Annoying.

I've tried pretty much everything in my quest for the perfect volumised wave, and have come across a few products and tools that I find really work for me.

First things first - a shampoo and conditioner specially formulated to give hair a bouncy boost - my picks here are from the Charles Worthington Salon At Home range. I'm not going to lie, I haven't found a shampoo and conditioner that I feel has really made a huge difference to how volumised my hair is when used on their own, but I figured working them into my hair routine definitely can't hurt. Covering all bases, I suppose you could call it. Anyway, I really like the smell of the Charles Worthington products, and the shampoo claims to remove impurities and product build up in the hair which I think it does, actually. The conditioner is quite light too, so stops waves dropping too quickly.

I don't like using many styling products to get my hair how I want it, as I find using too much has the opposite effect and makes my hair go flat quite quickly. Until recently I'd never found a mousse or spray that gave me enough root volume with only a small amount; then I discovered TIGI Bedhead Superstar Queen For A Day Thickening Spray. Aside from smelling like a cocktail (mmhmm), this product give amazing hold and volume. I don't have to use too much either, so my hair doesn't feel sticky. I found the best way to use this is to spray directly onto damp roots them blow dry with a concentrator nozzle and a large round brush - the biggest I could find was this Head Jog Pink Ceramic Large Barrel Brush 80 and it does the trick perfectly.

Next up is the Babyliss Big Hair Styler.I've had this for about two years now and when I first got it, I just thought it was kinda meh. It seemed to take an age to dry my hair with it, and I just wasn't getting the volume at the roots I was hoping for. I abandoned it for about six months, then decided to try using it in a slightly different way. I now dry my hair to about 80% with the hairdryer and large barrel brush, then reach for this to finish it off. That way I find I get better volume at the roots from the dryer, then smoothness and a slight wave from the Big Hair styler.

As I mentioned, any volume in my hair just seems to drop almost immediately, so to combat this I use my Babyliss Root Boost on the lower layers of hair. If anyone else has this, you'll know not to make the mistake I did when I first used it, and crimp sections too close to the top layers of hair, which just looked weird. On the top sections, I just backcomb a teeny bit with a thin brush (mine came in a Charles Worthington gift set and works perfectly) or alternatively, set the shorter layers in Velcro rollers if I have a few hours to spare. Then, to finish I just set with a quick spray of hairspray, like Gum Maxi Spray (which I can't seem to find online), and I'm done!

Now, the obvious thing to do here would be to post a picture of my hair mahoosified. However I a) can't find one and b) hate posting pics of myself on here!

What are your big hair tips?


#ThrowbackThursday - Confessions of a (Former) Boyband Obsessive

Driving home from work listening to Capital FM, I find myself singing along to ‘Best Song Ever'. The song finishes and the DJ announces that Harry Styles just turned 20, and what sort of escapades was he partaking in to celebrate? I chuckle to myself, then a startling thought hits me: I’m a whisker away from being old enough to be someone from 1D’s mother. I am officially too old for boy bands. I quickly focus on my driving before I career into a hedge. 

I spent many of my teenage years in a state of incessant boy band worship. And not just one particular boy band either - over the years I have been known to frequent appearances of boy bands at every level of ‘celebrity’ - from Menergy to Bad Boys Inc. to Take That. (The first one in case you missed it was M-e-n-e-r-g-y - a particularly crap soft-porn style group with awful leather trousers. Although at the time, I thought they were gods).

I used to bunk off school to wait outside the television studios for a glimpse of my heart-throbs. I was convinced that one of them would spot me one day, and, recognising me as their biggest fan, whisk me away to be married in a ridiculously over-the-top pink meringue dress. I got to know which hotels they would stay in, and even managed to sneak in a couple of times - although I never got any further than the ladies loos - my trick was to pretend I was going to be sick on the hotel forecourt, and the porter would quickly usher me inside before I did something he’d have to clean up off the tarmac.

At concerts I would always strive to have the biggest, brightest, most witty banner in the crowd. It wasn’t enough for it to say ‘Mark - I love you!’; it had to involve some sort of clever or amusing quote from one of the band’s songs - ‘Dan - you’re my Everlasting Love’ was a personal favourite (World’s Apart, for those not in the know).

Of course, I wasn’t the only one. Hordes of girls at school would plaster fresh-faced boy band stickers all over their notebooks, or scratch ‘I love Robbie’ into their forearms with a compass and biro. Naturally, though, none of them were as dedicated as me. 

I can’t remember exactly when the banners and all-night hotel vigils died out - maybe around the time I got myself a job and didn’t want to be sacked for calling in with food poisoning or some other ailment every time Westlife were in town. But even then, I still managed to find the time to turn up to the odd TV appearance or concert. It’s true, the stalking stopped, but my interest in boy bands flickered on. Every time a new all-male group appeared on TV or in a magazine I experienced a small flutter of excitement , taking me back to my carefree early teenage years, when my greatest concern was whether or not the last bus would get me home before my mam realised where I'd been.
So here I am, a mere...ahem...twenty years later, getting ridiculously excited about The Big Reunion. The first series had me totally hooked, and I still haven't worked out whether that's because I liked the groups featured, or, more likely, that the music reminded me of a time when Blue's 'One Love' was a Baja anthem (If you don't know what I mean by Baja, see here). I've got to admit though, I am more than a bit disappointed that series 2 doesn't feature the aforementioned (and one of my favourite boybands) Bad Boys Inc. If you're reading, ITV2....!!!!

Who were your boyband faves?

LFW '14 Looks - #NextLFWOutfit

So....I'm still not going to London fashion Week. Sigh. I'm not giving up hope just yet though - there's still time for an invite to ping into my inbox. In the meantime, I'll console myself with putting together another fabulous know, just in case.

Everything here is from Next.


Black High Back Sandals £28
Black Bow Jumpsuit £65
Gunmetal Snake Chain Necklace £12
Ochre Weave Boxy Clutch Bag £24
Black and Ochre Floral Print Scarf £16
Define Eau De Parfum 100ml £12
Large Tortoiseshell effect sunglasses £10
Longline Blazer £60

I chose a jumpsuit because....well, I'm just not really a jumpsuit kinda gal. I see them on other people, and think they look awesome. And I so want to be a jumpsuit kinda gal. So, in a world where I'm invited to London Fashion Week, I think I will be.
The jacket I think will be nice over the jumpsuit, sort of manly-chic. I love that it's longer in length (covers the bum! Result!)
Add the heels for a bit of height - and these are a lovely classic style; a bright clutch (I. WANT. THIS. NOW.), a scarf to tie in the colour of the bag with the rest of the outfit, a spritz of some lovely perfume and some sunglasses. Obviously, I'll totally be wearing shades. Just because.

What do you think?


January's 'I came, I saw, I bought' List.

I really was intending to not buy anything I didn't NEED in January, but really, what a ridiculous time to do it. Right after Christmas; bargains here, there and everywhere - I was doomed to fail, wasn't I? So I won't feel too guilty about the fact that I picked up some uh-may-zing purchases last month. My highlights were....

M&S Autograph Premium Black Suede Shoe Boots

I think I got lucky with these. I was just passing (honest, guv) and saw them, looking lonely on a shelf surrounded by fluffy slippers. Realising they were my size, I decided to try them on, just out of interest. They'd probably be horribly uncomfortable, I thought. A passing sales assistant commented how nice they looked, and asked if they were comfy. I replied truthfully, that they were actually extremely comfortable, and felt a bit like walking on a (terribly stylish, gold-heeled) cloud. Seems this is due to the Insolia technology. As these boots are from the Autograph premium range, they had an original selling price of £109 (gulp!) but the sale sticker on the sole told me they were now £16.99. SOLD! When I took them to the till, the assistant told me they actually had the wrong price on, and should have been £43, but since they'd been marked down incorrectly I could have them for the lower price. Shoe fate, I'd say.

Stila Snow Angel Colour Palette

I ordered this online in the Stila sale for the princely sum of £7.37. Yes, £7.37. I was literally mashing the keyboard with my fingers in my haste to input my card details and get this beauty winging it's way to me. The palette contains 18 eye shadows, 12 cheek colours and a mini mascara, which is beyond amazing for the price. I've been using the palette for the last couple of weeks and I freakin' love it. The shadows are all pretty neutral shades and blend so well - admittedly some better than others - and, since I'm usually a Nars Orgasm Blush kinda gal, this palette has allowed me to try out blusher shades I never would have bought otherwise.

You can see my other Stila sale bargain buys here

Joules Ledgbury Coat

I've been looking for a nice warm down-filled coat for ages, and as I love Joules stuff anyway, this one caught my eye online as it has a nice belt and furry hood. Then I discovered that it comes with a small bag which you can pack the coat away into - amazing! I thought this would be perfect for travelling as it wouldn't take up too much space, and is really light. Also, since it's relatively thin but still warm, it's great for winter shopping, meaning I don't get all hot and flustered in shops wearing big thick layers. What's not to love?! This was reduced from £189 to £89, so still quite pricey, but considering it's a down coat and should last me a few years, it's a good investment buy, I think.

Calvin Klein Downtown 50ml Set

I don't often buy myself perfume - it's one of those things I usually get as a present for birthdays or Christmas, but when I spotted this set for £16 in the Boots sale I snapped it up. I first smelled this fragrance in the US last year when a lady in Macy's gave me a sample. It's a really soft, subtle scent which I think smells both modern yet classic at the same time. Every time I smell it now, I'm transported back to my Texas trip, which is why I bought it. I don't know anyone else who wears it either, which I like.

Oasis Floral Bodycon Dress

I'm still a bit nervous about the whole bodycon thing, even though I've read about how super flattering the style is meant to be - I'm just not totally convinced. I tend to shy away from anything that's really tight or fitted but when I spotted this dress on Oasis' website for £10, I thought it might be worth a try. The ruching down the front is really flattering, and stops the dress feeling like it's showing off every lump and bump. I like the winter floral print too, the colours are pretty and it could be worn for day or night. I haven't actually worn this yet but think I will this weekend.

What were your best buys in January?