Monday, 19 September 2016

How to Survive Your First Holiday with Friends

So whilst you're reading these I am currently on a trip of a lifetime, travelling across America, however I thought it would be the perfect chance to share some content from some of my fave bloggy people. So today;s post is brought to you by Francesca, and she thought that as I am currently off making some wonderful new friends on my travels, that this little guide to surviving your first ever holiday with friends might be apt, so here you are!

Do not go away with people you’ve only known for a month. Don’t head off with that girl you’ve only ever spoken to in lectures, or that friend you only ever see at work. You’re spending a week, maybe more, with this group, likely sharing a room; that’s pretty much 24/7 exposure. If they have weird eating habits, night terrors, or are just really mean drunks, you should probably know that, so you can be prepared.

This doesn’t just apply to booking the holiday; you also have to be mindful of not expecting people to spend more than they’re comfortable with. The number of times I’ve been in a group where the inevitable ‘eating in/eating out’ debate occurs is unreal, so it’s worth talking about this before you go. If you’re in self-catering accommodation, it’s worth planning to eat in a few nights, and save eating out for your first and last nights, just for balance

We all have that one friend who just has themselves together in ways we can’t quite fathom; usually, this is a source of envy, but when it comes to vacations, it’s them who should be looking after your travel documents, and who should be in charge of your room’s safe combination, so you can all keep your passports safe. Don’t take the pee, though - if you want to visit a specific sight, or arrange an excursion, don’t leave all the details and planning to them, it’s their vacation, too!

It’s good idea to have a rough idea of what everyone’s ideal holiday would entail. Personally, I’m a ‘lazing on a beach for the entire week’ kind of girl, but if you’ve got friends that like exploring, or someone who’s into water sports, you have to balance that out. The best thing to do is, in the run up to your trip, ask everyone if there’s anything they’re desperate to do whilst you’re there, so you can fit everything in - and don’t be afraid to split up into smaller groups (don’t leave anyone on their own, please!), so you can all enjoy your time.

Do not be that person with the strict itinerary, with every single moment is planned out. Yes, you will have to be structured when it comes to excursions or sightseeing, but it’s important to keep the spontaneity. If you’re a group, there’s bound to be something that catches someone’s eye that you hadn’t accounted for, and some of the best holiday adventures happen spur of the moment. Be flexible, and willing to compromise.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post, and if you did then make sure to follow Francesca''s loely blog!

Sophie xx

Monday, 12 September 2016

The Body Shop Down To Earth Eye Palettes Review

I love an eyeshadow palette and to date I haven't tried much of the cosmetics that you can get from The Body Shop, however their latest Down To Earth collection got the palette obsessive inside me, excited. The new Down To Earth Quads and Down To Earth Palette are inspired by the Earth's richest natural colours and enriched with Community Trade marula, babassu and sesame oils, a caring formula, which prevents creasing for a long lasting finished. The shades are all stunning and are beautifully buildable and blendable, meaning that you can create the perfect look at all times. All the shadows can be used wet and dry, depending on your desired look and finish, and makes the shadows super versatile.

I really like the slim, sleek, simple packaging that the shadows come in and I realised that you can in fact pop each shadow out from the underneath so that you can mix and match palettes depending on your taste, style and needs - making them super travel friendly. The palettes also house a very generous mirror, making them even more of an essential.

I tried out the quads in the shades 03 Smoky Grey and 04 Smoky Plum and was really blown away by the quaulity and wearability of the shades. I would probably say between these 2 palettes, the plum is more suited to my eye colour as I find cool toned plums and purples really bring out my blue eyes, but so do greys, so they're both great palettes to add to my collection. I really like that the shadow pans themselves are fairly big at a 2.2g square, meaning it's easy to swirl your brush around in, and the ability to switch pans in and out of the palettes has been super handy as i've really enjoyed using the bottom right dark shimery grey in the smoky grey palette, in my plum palette. Each of the palettes come with a lighter neutral base/highlight shade which is also handy. The Smoky Grey is built up of one peachy toned, slightly shimmery neutral, a matte charcoal grey, a shimmery silver and a shimmery dark charcoal grey. The Smoky Plum consists of a matte bright off white type shade, a gorgeous 

The quads are priced at £15 each and the larger Down To Earth Glow Palette at £22, which is reasonable for such lovely, gorgeous quality shadows, they really do feel luxurious. Have you tried anything from the latest Body Shop cosmetics collection?

Sophie xx

*PR Samples.


Monday, 5 September 2016

Caudalie Travel Essentials

One day I will shut up about my American adventure, however due to lots of research and high levels of excitement, ive planed and prepped for my trip in every way possible. Including the best in flight and travel essentials from Caudalie, duh. I actually don't think i've ever tried anything properly from Caudalie, even though i've read many a rave review of the brand. I was sent a selection of products to try out and thought I would share my top 4 picks that are perfect for travelling, and have made their way into my case for my American adventure. 

The Caudalie Beauty Elixir (RRP £11.50 for 30ml) was inspired by Queen Isabelle of Hungary’s elixir of youth, this powerful plant based anti-dull complexion treatment smooths away fine lines, tightens pores and gives the complexion an instant boost of radiance. Beauty Elixir is a Caudalie cult product favoured by make-up artists, beauty addicts and celebrities and the elixir also works wonderfully to help set make-up. Simply shake before use, spray onto the face before your moisturiser and at any time of the day to wake up the skin (avoiding eyes). I found this really interesting to try as the elixir is absorbed into the skin almost instantly, and leaves skin feeling and looking smooth, hydrated and glowy which is why I think it would be a great product for travelling - especially in flight, and the 30ml is travel friendly. For me however this product is too heavily scented, and I really really do not like the scent at all, and I nearly gagged when it was on my face and I actually had to whack my cleanser out to try and get rid of the scent. I loved the effects which makes me sad, as the smell makes me want to throw up a bit, which is tragic, so I have included this as a travel essential still, as the properties are perfect for travel and may suit others.

The Vinosource Moisturising Sorbet Skin Saviour (RRP £23 for 40ml) is another travel essential as again it is travel size friendly, slim and pretty, but also a little goes a long way and this sleek blush pink tube packs a moisturising punch. The Sorbet is a sensitive skin saviour and has an immediate and long-lasting calming and soothing action. Anti-oxidant rich with patented polyphenols the formula helps strengthen and nourish the skin from the inside out. The gel-cream reactivates the skin’s hydration mechanisms and restores its water reserves and as skin becomes stronger, it feels softer and more comfortable. The formula is super lightweight, absorbs into the skin beautifully, and has a lovely scent (beauty elixir take note). I also adore Caudalie packaging as the products always come in fuss free, but delicate, simple and gorgeous packaging, and I also feel like they've got the precise nozzle size sorted, hurrah no wasted product! Apply morning and evening to a clean face and neck, avoiding the eye contour.

Now SPF is always important, but especially if you're going to a hot destination. I'm going to be in the US during September, so it will still definitely be hot and the suns rays are always there, so SPF is super important. The Caudalie Anti-Aging Face Suncare SPF 30 (RRP £18 for 40ml) is a great handbag and travel friendly SPF to carry around with you to make sure you're always covered. I find using normal suncream really blocks my pores and makes my skin really bad, so i've learnt the hard way, and always invest in a skin friendly facial SPF. The Caudalie one in particular ensures excellent sun protection as the face cream offers global anti-ageing care with a wide UVA/UVB spectrum. The velvety texture formula is easy to apply with a non sticky finish and skin is left perfectly moisturised and strengthened, with a radiant and even tan. Apply the face cream generously and evenly before exposure to the sun and make sure to re-apply every 2 hours. I love how easily and quickly this can be applied as it just melts into the skin. I also love how the scent of this smells like a nice moisturised fancy version of sun cream, and just screams holidays!

And my fourth and final Caudalie travel essential, is the Caudalie Radiance Tinted Moisturiser in 01 light (RRP £27 for 40ml) with complexion colour correction. I love, love, LOVE a tinted moisturiser for travelling. Day to day I need just a touch of coverage, some brightening properties included, a high SPF and a gorgeous formula, and this has it all. Complexion correcting: this oil-free, hydrating SPF20 tinted moisturiser is an all in one skincare treatment and complexion enhancer. Its mineral pigments blend with the skin to cover skin imperfections, dark spots, redness, acne scars and blemishes, giving you a smooth, even radiant complexion. The great thing is this product is also oil-free and dermatologist tested, and it really is just so good for the skin. The shade 01 Light is my pre-tan/travel shade, however nothing a bit of bronzer can't fix.

So there are 4 of my in-flight/travelling Caudalie essentials, have you tried any of these products or anything from Caudalie?

Sophie xx

*PR Samples

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A Summer Food Fest at The Oracle, Reading

I've lived in Bracknell, a 20 minute train/car journey away from Reading for my whole life and over the years i've seen the Reading scene evolve and the latest area to become the dining hub of the town is The Riverside. However there are also gorgeous and tasty eateries spread throughout the town, and the shopping centre itself and to celebrate the food fest running from the 15th of August until the 5th of September, I was invited along for a food safari, having a different course at a different restaurant.
We started at Ed's Diner for a controversial, yet delish, milkshake or dessert as a starter. I went for a diet coke float (trying to be healthy LOL) which was delicious, whilst the others went for a Lotus Biscoff shake and chocolate shake, and a variety of other shakes. All of which looked incredible, especially the biscoff one. Eds Diner also have a really good loyalty scheme, so make sure to sign up/use their app  as you get a free burger, a treat for your birthday and their loyalty scheme means you get 10p for every £1 you spend, which is easily done as they have a delicious menu.
After our yummy starter we headed to Miller and Carter Steakhouse, which I was super excited to try out as I adore steak and had heard many amazing things about the place. We were treated so well from the minute we arrived and our waiter was really attentive and helpful, picking out the perfect red wine to go alongside our incredible feast. The food took a little time to arrive but for a Thursday night the place was rammed and I could see why service was a little slow. For meat we went for 3 sirloin steaks and a whopping 30oz Tomahawk steak to devour between us, and alongside the steaks we were presented with every side and sauce imaginable. We had salad wedges with a variety of toppings, including honey mustard and bacon, blue cheese and parmesan, as well as these hefty wedges of lettuce we also had mas potato, baked potato, fries, sweet potato fries and new potatos. Each steak comes with a homemade onion ring thing which was DELICIOUS. I thoroughly enjoyed the steaks and sides and I had to basically be rolled to our final destination, Las Iguanas for dessert. 
There was a little confusion at Las Iguanas as they didn't know we were coming, but once it was all cleared up we were seated at a table and we had a selection of delicious deserts and some Caipirinha cocktails to celebrate the olympics that were going on in Rio. The drinks were refreshing after the hefty meal we had just devoured and were like a strong mojito. We were all very full after our steak but still found room for some chocolate fudge cake, caramel cake, tembleque and of course, some churros with both yummy chocolate and caramel dipping sauces. I think the churros were my fave, and I definitely would head back for some more of these and some more cocktails!

I had a lovely evening and it was fab to catch up and meet some more local bloggers, so thank you to the Oracle for having me!

Sophie xx

*I was invited along to try out the different restaurants, but all views are my own.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A Reaction to 'Clean Eating's Dirty Secrets'

Grace Victory, Gracie Francesca, or Ugly Face of Beauty (however you may know of her - shes a babe though,), within the past week or so, has been taking social media by storm, and for all the RIGHT reasons. When I first heard about her BBC 3 documentary 'Clean Eating's Dirty Secrets' it prompted me to delve into thoughts I've been having for the past year or so about this whole 'clean eating' fad/trend, whatever you may call it, that has almost been plaguing Instagram and other social media platforms. 

Now, i'm not slating anyone who wants to eat raw, vegan, clean, healthy, whatever. If you like it, it works for you, and you feel great; then guess what, you do you. Who am I - a slightly overweight girl in her twenties, with a slightly messed up view of body image to tell you what is right or wrong, in fact who is anybody (and deffo unqualified), to tell you what your or your body needs. However it is the trend and faddiness of the #fitspo and #eatclean that just makes my skin crawl and irks me so, so much and the whole mentality behind the bizarre cult that can be derived from this, which is quite frankly - unhealthy, not just physically, but mentally, is worrying.

I missed the doc when it first came out, but watched it a week later on iPlayer one Saturday night whilst enjoying a cold G&T and what I was hearing 'professional wellness bloggers' say made my tummy churn. Guess what, i've bought into these fads - I own Sarah Wilson's 'I Quit Sugar', I own Deliciously Ella's books, (amongst others), i've tried courgetti, eliminating sugar totally, avoiding carbs, dairy - but at the end of the day when you restrict your body of thing's it needs, it's going to crave it, you're only going to end up binging and feeling guilty, least in my experience. The almost obsessive, unhealthy relationship that a lot of young people have today is scary, and I can say that I have bought into it too.

Social media is an influential sphere, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube shaping the younger generations. These 'wellness' bloggers aren't always looking out for their viewers physical and mental health, because eating in general is not a one size fits all thing. Some people need a little more sugar in their diet, some don't tolerate it at all, some can tolerate caffeine, dairy, other's can't. But it's the idea that we need to deprive ourselves of things, that we as humans have been consuming for thousands of years (and getting along, just alright), to achieve this super healthy high, is ludicrous. Of course I understand, some people simply cannot tolerate dairy, or sugar, we have coeliacs in this world, but it's when things like 'going gluten free' become 'trendy' that it really irritates me. Not only is going gluten free not always a healthy option (the ingredient lists on a lot of free from food contain high amount of chemicals - that unless I was actually gluten free and it made me ill, would I eat), it bumps up the price for actual coeliacs and makes life a lot harder for people who's bodies physically cannot digest etc gluten, opposed to those who treat gluten free like the latest liquid lipstick.

And yes I get it, artificial sugar, aspartame, it is bad for us, a bowl of strawberries is 100x better than a family size bar of galaxy, but we're all human. We give in to temptation, we like to indulge, but more importantly, it is ALL about balance. Life is for living, not incessantly worrying about the sugar % of a banana, or the carbs in a bowl of pasta, if it tastes good, makes you feel good and you're overall a healthy human, then WHY not? It's these social media accounts, self professed experts  and more recently bloggers promoting 'lifestyles' that ensure that certain food groups are altogether eliminated, that's not balance, and it's not always healthy. Work hard play hard right? Look at food with a healthy view and moderation, the same grounds.

I'm so sorry that I had to post a rant about something like this on my blog, but unhealthy relationships and Grace's documentary on BBC3 really struck a chord with me, and I think it is something that should be a lot more openly discussed. The doc aired last night on BBC1 and you can still find it on iplayer

So, what are your thoughts on the topic?

Sophie xx
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