Monday, 24 July 2017

Urban Decay Mini Reviews: Naked Skin Liquid Foundation & Vice Lipstick

As I'm super excited about the upcoming release of Urban Decay's Naked Heat palette (SOON!), I've been on a little bit of a make up splurge lately. Obviously inspired by how much I wanted the new palette, Urban Decay was the first store I ended up in and so I thought I'd do two little mini reviews for you on their foundation and lipsticks.

Whilst in the store I took advantage of it being dead (yay for shift work!) and had a bit of a makeover done. I specifically asked for a light foundation and for a lipstick. We gave two foundations a try and two lipstick colours, and luckily one of each was absolutely perfect and so I ended up with both - and a desire to go and buy more, but let's get to that later!

 First up is the Urban Decay Naked Skin foundation. Guys, I am SO happy with this foundation, it's exactly what I was looking at. I've mentioned before that I so rarely wear foundation because I just hate how it feels on my skin, I find it so irritating.  It's extremely rare that I wear any at all and when I do it's one of these two body shop ones; (liquid, powder) however neither has quite been working with me lately and no matter what I do just haven't been applying properly. I was SO happy with how well the Naked Skin foundation went on. My skin had no issues with it whatsoever, it went on very smoothly and evenly both when applied in store with a big foundation brush and when I applied it myself at home with my beauty blender. I find that no matter how hard I try my skin loves to suddenly go flaky or make foundation look all weirdly rough and bumpy but I don't have that problem AT ALL with this foundation.

  This foundation is only light coverage - which is fine for me, that's exactly what I wanted. It sorts out my colour imbalances and tones down my scar, but it's definitely not full coverage. Of course, if you wanted to you could rectify that with some concealer, however it was the look I wanted - me, but better!

  And no - I don't find this annoying on my face at all. If not for the fact that I kept seeing myself in the mirror and being surprised by how good my skin looked I would have forgotten I was wearing it at all! I'd also say lasts a good chunk of time. It's easily lasted me from early afternoon to the end of the night on a few occassions, though I haven't tried it in hotter weather yet.

Want it? You can buy it for £25, here!

 Next up I bought a Vice Lipstick. Confession time; I don't own any lipstick - or at least, I didn't before purchasing this one. Before I had jaw surgery I was super self conscious about my whole mouth area and so lipstick was something I just never wore as all it did was draw attention to what I was trying to hide! It's been a few years now so I figured it was time to see if I could finally start wearing some pretty shades.

 I was staring in wonder at all the colours in the range. There are just SO MANY and being that I didn't own any, I had absolutely no idea where to start. The make up artist picked out a few colours that she thought would work well with my skin tone and swatched them for me. She said that the one she thought would look the nicest was Peyote and I agreed, so we give it a go.

And WOW. I was SO happy with this colour. It's a natural colour so it doesn't stand out too much, yet at the same time it's so pretty. Chris was there with me and actually looked visibly surprised when I turned around to show him, he loved it. We both did! It made so much more of a positive difference than I thought it would.

 Being that I don't wear lipstick at all, it wouldn't be fair for me to give you a proper review of this product as I just don't have enough to compare it with. I think the colour is so pretty (the ones I tried afterwards just didn't compare!) and wearable and that's basically the only reason I chose to buy it. It's not the longest lasting lipstick at all - a quick trip to the cafe and it was all gone half way through my scone! - and I don't love how it feels on my lips, I'm definitely very aware of it - BUT I'm also aware that could be down to the fact that I'm just not used to wearing lipstick and so of course I'm going to notice it.

  Urban Decay's enormous Vice lipstick collection comes in six different finishes. Peyote is one of the metallics, and I'm so happy with how this lipstick wears that I'm going to be definitely giving the Vice collection much more of a look. I plan on looking at some of the other metallics and also giving a cream finish and a comfort matte finish a go too. I'll be able to give you a much fuller review when I've got some more to compare them to!

Want to buy your own? Peyote and the rest of the metallized range are available here for £15.50!

Friday, 21 July 2017

How to Plan a US Road Trip

  The US is the country I've visited more than any other - and, in my personal experience, all of my favourite trips out there have been the ones that required a fair chunk of driving. Of course, there are plenty of places you can go just for a nice city break or a quick trip, but my personal feeling is that if you want to do it properly, you're going to need to spend some time on the road.

  And with that being said, here's my quick tips for how to make your US road trip is a success!

001. Know what you're working with first.
  The first tip is quite obvious - you need to know exactly what you're working with. Do you have specific dates that you're going to need to be going in, or a certain amount of time that you have to work around? If your dates aren't fixed, do some research first by checking the prices against flights for different dates. You may be surprised with what comes up! For our last trip the flight prices were pretty consistent across the board - apart from one return flight which was randomly £250 cheaper than any other flight. It extended our trip to be more than we expected it to be but it was definitely worth it for us.

  Next up, you need to work out your budget!

  And finally, and I'd say before you do anything - go and book your ESTA or your visa if you need one. I would always recommend you get this sorted before you start booking anything else. It's normally immediate to get an answer on this. My most recent one was not - but I refreshed the page about five minutes later and my acceptance was on there. You're not going to get a refund on your flights or anything else if you're not approved, so save yourself the worry and make sure you're not going to have any problems first!

002. Who's driving?
  Again, this seems obvious, but there's going to be a lot of driving involved. A LOT. The roads are pretty easy out there, but do you have someone in your group who's going to be willing to take on the driving? In our most recent case, it was easy. I can drive, but I didn't really want to. My boyfriend loves driving and wanted to do the majority of it. Our other friend shared the same feelings as me. This made it nice and easy for us as my boyfriend did the significant majority, and we'd dip in every now and then if he was too tired. The trip before it wasn't quite so easy as we were all equally reluctant and had mistakenly assumed the others would be more willing than they actually were. Make sure you know who's going to be driving and if they're happy to do it!

  Next up you need to work out what you're actually going to be driving. If you're going to be visiting a lot of national parks, you probably want to look into getting a 4x4. If you're going to be doing mostly cities, then something smaller will probably work out better for you.

003. Pick the places that are most important to you.
  Where do you actually want to go? Is there a focus to your trip, or would you prefer a variety?

  For me personally, I'd always recommend a variety. I like to try and mix it up and keep what I'm doing fairly equal but spread out. I also recommend sticking to no more than 4 states - that's enough to give you a mix, but also allows you enough times to get to know the state you're in a bit better.

  Pick out the places that you most want to go to on a map. Google Maps lets you do a multi stop point, so I'd recommend using that to dot in all the areas you're interested in so that you can get a better feel for what the distances are going to be like between them. This can also help you sort out the order that you're visiting places in too, to make sure you're not doing too much of the same sort of thing in a row or that you're not taking a bizarre route!

004. Now fill in the gaps!
  Now that you've got those stops that are the most important to you in - take a proper look at them. More importantly, take a look at what the distances between them all are like. You may be surprised by just how many MASSIVE drives you end up with between your two locations. For some, that might not be a problem. For me, I like to try and split those drives up a little bit more and find new places to stay at.

  I begin by taking a zoomed in look at the route between my two locations and then picking out some spots along the way. If there's a place you've heard of there, open up a new tab to take a look at that one. Anywhere marked a little bigger, open some new tabs and look at those too. If nothing is immediately jumping out, bring up some tabs to look up some other locations not quite on your route but very near it. When you've got a selection there, take a look through the tabs you've brought up and have a look at the images. Which one jumps out at you the most? Stick that one in! It breaks up your driving a bit and allows you to find some cool new places to visit that you probably wouldn't have thought about afterwards. It's your choice whether you use it just for a break in the middle of the day or as an extra night somewhere - for us, we tend to use it as an overnight stay.

005. Where do you want to stay?
  Now that you've got your basic itinerary worked out, it's time to work out where you're staying. And how long for!

  Take a look through your priority locations and work out how long you think each place needs. Personally, I feel that if in doubt it's better to actually do less days in a certain location rather than doing too many. I'd rather leave with a plan to return again one day as opposed to be bored in a location and feeling a bit trapped there. For example, I definitely didn't spend long enough in Vegas last time - but that's not an issue, as I now fully intend to make another trip back over there in the next year or so and make sure I give it a bit more time this time. On the other hand, we didn't really enjoy Yosemite so much so I'm glad we had cut down the amount of time we had there.

  As for where you're going to stay - Unless you have plenty of money to spare and want the experience, I'd recommend motels for the most part. You're not REALLY going to be there too often, so I don't see the point in wasting money when a motel is more than good enough for the most part. I wouldn't say to exclusively stick to them though - I think it's important to give yourself a bit of a break every now and then and stay in a fancier hotel to give yourself a bit of a rest. For us, we scheduled these roughly every six days or so and tried to coincide them with the more appropriate cities as well. Do your research though when it comes to finding places to stay - for example, in San Francisco you're unlikely to find an affordable property that will let you keep your car there so be prepared to stay further out.

  I would recommend booking in advance for the most part. I know sometimes it's fun to see where you end up, but this can also end up ruining parts of your holiday. For example, national parks book up REALLY early. Anywhere remotely near a national park isn't much further behind it. Prices for these can shoot up closer to the time as they know you've got no choice, so I'd recommend booking early if you can.

006. On the go!
  Work out a basic itinerary before you go for what you're going to do in location - but don't be afraid to abandon it entirely if it isn't working for you. We wrote out a chart for each day which listed the things we expected to be interested in, but not necessarily in any sort of order. For example, in Zion we knew what hikes we wanted to do while we were there but worked it out when we were actually there which order we felt like doing them in.

  When it comes to food - it's up to you! Obviously cities like San Francisco will offer you heaps of blog articles suggesting places you should go, and if food is important to you then of course I'd recommend taking a look at these and making note of some of your preferences. For the most part, we wrote down some of the top tripadvisor suggestions but rarely actually stuck to them. We liked exploring the area and seeing what we came across ourselves - and if nothing was jumping out at us or we weren't sure, we'd then start looking through the ones that tripadvisor had recommended. And, admittedly, more often than not we just ended up eating at Denny's...!

  Make sure you take plenty of snacks with you as well! I'd always recommend starting off at a Walmart and buying oversized bags of pretzels or whatever else to keep you going. Of course buy lots of water, and if you're going during a hot period of time make sure you stick some in the freezer so that they can stay cool throughout the day.

  When it comes to music - up to you! I like listening to the local radio stations as it gives me a good feel for the area. This backfired a few times as at one point we had about two hours with nothing but religious channels and around the Grand Canyon we had nothing about an information channel for hours. We also had a backup playlist with good driving music on it that we could revert to in these times!

What are your road trip planning tips?


Monday, 17 July 2017

The 5 Travel Destinations That Disappointed Me The Most

I've spent a lot of time posting about the trips that I loved and my favourite experiences whilst travelling - so I figured wasn't it about time that I included a post on the places I visited that weren't quite so great?

If you live in one of these locations or love them yourself, please don't be offended - it's just my opinion, and obviously is based on whatever was going on at the time I happened to be visiting!

001. The Grand Canyon
Number one on my most disappointing list is probably not a surprise to anyone who has read this blog for any time at all - I really, really didn't enjoy my trip to the grand canyon. It was fine. It was really just sort of okay. We spent hours walking around it and our opinion didn't really improve, we found the whole experience a bit boring - but we did get some cool photos of us sitting over the edge of the tops which I thought looked pretty good, so there's that. I would have regretted not going when we were already in the area - but I definitely wouldn't mind if I didn't see it again! Read my full review here.

002. Nairobi
I enjoyed a lot of the places that I visited in Africa, but Nairobi was not one of them. Kenya as a whole was probably my joint least favourite country in the region (tied with Zambia, if you're wondering) and I just didn't have a good time there. People weren't very friendly and it had an off atmosphere. And it was well expensive.

003. Toronto
When I did a road trip across Canada, Toronto was probably the place that I looked forward to the most - however, I left feeling very meh about the whole experience. I felt like it was really just a city, and I didn't feel a great deal of personality coming from it. People were pleasant and there were of course some nice areas, but it just didn't stand out and I felt like it didn't have as much to offer as the other parts of Canada that I visited. This could have been my fault for having too high expectations for it though!

004. Blackpool
I need to preface this by saying that I very much visited Blackpool out of season, and the experience is probably completely different if you go in the summery months. I enjoyed Blackpool Pleasure Beach, painful as the rides may be - but the overall experience left me feeling a bit sad for the area. Again it doesn't help that it was off season so the majority of the restaurants and hotels that we passed were closed which probably contributed to the place feeling a little bit abandoned, but the whole atmosphere was just off. We found people weren't very friendly there which was a direct contrast to how friendly everyone else was in the surrounding areas. I'd like to go back and give it another chance, though.

005. The Galapagos Islands
I think this is probably my most controversial addition on this post, as the Islands are somewhere that so many people want to visit and pretty much everyone returns in love with. But, I just didn't think they were all that. Of course, the giant turtles are interesting. The blue footed boobies are adorable. And some of the landscapes truly are amazing. But, I just didn't think it was all that. It was insanely expensive, even day trips were costing a small fortune just to spent about two hours on another island or another area, and you have no freedom whatsoever whilst you're there. Now, don't get me wrong. I completely get that the Galapagos Islands are a national park, and that there are very good reasons for why you're so restricted. However, I found it made for quite a boring trip, especially when it costs so so so so SO much money to go there.

What were your most disappointing travel experiences?

Friday, 14 July 2017

July's Blog Spotlight Post

It seems that June & July have been a return to the kind of blog posts that I enjoy the most - those personal lifestyle posts that tell you something interesting about the person writing them and give you something to think about. It's also been a return of beauty posts that I've been enjoying - it looks like there's a lot of great products coming out soon and a lot of good advice to be had in the meantime! As such, I'm pleased to say this months' blog spotlight post is much bigger than normal with a grand total of 20 posts that I'm recommending you read this month!

So let's take a look...

001. Jess posted all about her first time on a cruise ship. I've mentioned this before but I find these sorts of posts really interesting as it's something I've been thinking about myself for a long time but am still not entirely certain that I'll enjoy. I enjoy reading these sorts of posts to get a feel for how the experience will be! The above photo is taken from Jess's post.

002. Leah wrote a very helpful post, all about working out where your blog traffic is coming from!

003. Sofie posted all about blogging on a budget.

004. Holly posted about the fact that she's a half-arsed blogger - and why that's okay!

005. And on a similar note, Rebecca posted about the fact that she's NOT  a #girlboss - and why that's okay too!

006. Zohra took a trip to the zoo after hours - something I have been intending to do for literally years but for some reason never actually get around to!

007. Chloe posted her review about the Urban Decay Naked Heat palette. And dammit, I now NEED this palette as a result of this post!

008. Tenneil posted all about how her relationship with beauty has changed.

009. Another from Chloe - this time a guide to how to use your beauty blender!

010. Jordan went to Thorpe Park, and took some absolutely gorgeous photos!

011. Angie went to Santorini - and it looks beautiful! The above photo is taken from her post.

012. Trona posted all about what women over 35 should be wearing.

013. Another from Rebecca - this time all about how to stay true to the blogging world when you no longer feel like you fit in with it.

014. And on the opposite side of the world, Milly went to Alabama!

015. Rachel wrote a post all about why she gave up on modelling.

016. Another from Angie - this time visiting the secret garden within the Four Seasons.

017. Meanwhile, Carrie went to Vegas and took a look around some motels!

018. Rhianna posted a guide as to how much you should be charging for your sponsored content.

019. Yet another one from Chloe - this time looking at media packs!

020. And finally this month, a post from Amber - looking at pregnancy, body image and loss of identity.

Monday, 10 July 2017

A Floral Afternoon Tea at Mews of Mayfair

Before we get started, I need to admit something to you. I've done that bad blogger thing where I'm showing you a wonderful afternoon tea that, uh, you can't actually get anymore. This afternoon tea is Mews of Mayfair's Chelsea Flower Show afternoon tea which, unsurprisingly, only ran for a short amount of time and stopped shortly after the event. However, I imagine the quality of the normal tea is not dramatically different, so I decided to pop up a post about it anyway as it'll probably still come in handy if you're looking for a good place to visit for your tea.

 Me and Chris really enjoy going for afternoon tea, but it's quite hard to find one that appeals to us both. We both like themed teas, but at the same time we don't want to spend too much. There are lots of beautiful afternoon teas on offer at the moment but we're still talking £60+, which isn't really what we want to be paying when we're essentially going somewhere on a bit of a whim! Mews of Mayfair interested us, and they had this lovely looking floral tea - and even better, it was on offer! And so we decided to give it a go.

 Despite it being around 2pm on a week day, all of the outdoor seats were taken already which was a bit of a shame as the outside courtyard looked lovely - ruined only by one group of girls who were smoking pretty consistently. I could see it constantly flying into the faces of the other people dining outside and it just looked a bit gross, but never mind.

  We were seated inside, pretty much on our own. Which was a bit awkward, as it looked like we'd been sort of shoved out of the way. The interior is very dark and reminded me very much of if you were to visit the house of a grandparent in how it was styled. I read a lot of negative reviews stating that the inside was really dingy, but we both actually really liked it - though perhaps we would not have liked it so much if it hadn't been such a sunny day!

 First up, the sandwiches. There were a good mix, as you'd expect. Of course, as they so often are, the salmon offering was my favourite!

 But, more important than the sandwiches are the scones - and these were delicious! The jam was lovely and the scones were nice and hot.

 And now the bit that anyone actually cares about when booking a tea - the desserts! We'd chosen them because we were interested in the flowery offerings - but then these actually became a bit of a conflict as we were unsure as to whether or not the flowers were edible or not! When we thought about it, we realised that of course they must be - but we were still really worried we'd eat them and then at the end of the meal have someone appear, horrified with our behaviour. The desserts were great and offered a great mix. We enjoyed all of them and they really were very pretty - however, the cupcakes caused us a lot of issues! For some reason, those cupcakes were ridiculously filling and so rich. We really struggled to eat them! We promised ourselves we would never be defeated by an afternoon tea and so we were absolutely going to eat the entire thing - but man, did we take a long time trying to get through those cupcakes.

 As well as enjoying the food and the decor, the service was for the most part really good. For the majority of our meal we had a really attentive server who would check back in with us, which was nice as we already felt a bit excluded being the only ones indoors. However, after that point I believe he either went home or went on a break as we didn't see him again for the rest of the meal and were promptly ignored. I don't think another server even looked at us the rest of the time we were there let alone come by to fill anything up for us (even the water!) and getting the bill was a bit awkward. It was a shame as the service for the first half had been so good, and we did feel awkward for the last bit.

 Overall, we really enjoyed our afternoon tea here. We've both said we would definitely return - especially if we are able to get another deal on another themed option! We watched a lot of regular lunches were walked past us and they looked amazing as well so we'd like to give those a try one time.

You can book your afternoon tea (or any other meal - the other food did look REALLY good!) through their website, here.

Monday, 3 July 2017

A Trip to Copenhagen - Part 2

 Time for the second half of my Copenhagen trip - and for the most part, this post is going to be a bit more picture heavy than the first one as the second half was largely spent relaxing and taking in just how pretty Copenhagen is. And this time with the added bonus of the sun being out - although it was still generally too cold to get away with taking off the cardigan!

  Part two starts with a walk to find the famous little mermaid statue - with a couple of detours along the way!


Friday, 30 June 2017

My 2017 Blogging & Personal Goals - How Are They Going So Far?

At the beginning of the year I gave myself 10 goals to try and achieve by the end of 2017. 5 blog goals, and 5 personal goals. I also told myself that I'd write a progress post for how they're all going at the mid point of the year - and I remembered that!

Unfortunately, I, uh, mostly forgot about my goals during the year itself.


I mean, come on, it's been a busy year! I started a completely different career, bought a flat... Well, either way, it's time to put up a progress post as to how I'm doing so far. And I can pretty much already guess that I have probably failed to accomplish any of them, but let's take a look - and hopefully prompt myself to actually remember them for the rest of the year!

Blogging Goals
001. My first goal was to reach 2,500 followers on twitter. This hasn't happened, not even close, but I'm at around 1700 now which I'm happy with. And to be honest, I suppose I'm no longer all that fussed either - I've had some great new followers over the last few months including quite a few that I still have little chats with every now and then. And that's what I really wanted from this goal!

002. To reach 1,200 followers on Bloglovin' was the next. Clearly when I made this goal I was not expecting the big Bloglovin' backlash that happened a few months ago, when a lot of bloggers and readers deleted their accounts. Oops. I'm on just under 1000 now so this goal may actually be obtainable - although I have always found it very hard to grow followers on there, so perhaps not.

003. To reach 1,000 followers on Instagram. Grumble grumble. More grumbles. I keep gaining a lot of followers. I also keep losing a lot of followers. I like Instagram, but I suppose I just don't get it as a medium. I don't understand the algorithm, I don't understand any of it!

004. To continue to build connections through twitter. Hoorah! I've succeeded at this one, as already explained in point one. Yay!

005. To find a new method of planning that actually works for me. Um. No. Well, to be fair, I did, and then I started a new job with a new shift pattern and it all went out the window. I'm much more settled now however, so hopefully we're going to see this one improve. Eventually.

Personal Goals
001. To cook something healthy at least twice a month. Oh, gosh. This hasn't happened at all. Sometimes I eat cereal and consider it a meal. Ultimately, I really just haven't had the time to do this one but I don't feel too bad about it. I've started being one of those people that buys their work meals pretty much every single day, and I've got much better at buying healthy options rather than just endless portions of Wasabi, so I'm going to say I consider this one a success even if I've not even slightly done it.

002. To enjoy my work. Well, no. But I also don't not enjoy my work, and that's much better than where I was when I first set up these goals.

003. To make more effort to see certain friends more often. This one is a yes and a no. I'm doing much better at seeing friends more consistently, though this is largely helped by the fact that my shift pattern is much better now. There's some friends I'm still not seeing as often as I would like but this is more of a mutual thing. I'm busy, they've got babies. We try, it's difficult. Hopefully we keep trying!

004. To read more often again. Well, not really. At least, not in the sense that I expected. The intention is clearly there as I keep adding more and more books to my Amazon wishlist, but then I read the free preview on my Kindle and most of the time I'm just not feeling it. However I have a few more magazines that I am now consistently reading (including actual magazines rather than just my occasional copy of OK!)  and I consider this a win as it's much more than I was managing at the start of the year.

005. To  go exploring and keep up my London walks again. I'm actually doing this one! But not in a way that I expected when I proposed this goal. My salary is higher now, so exploring is definitely happening more frequently than I expected it to be. My London walks are also happening - just not in the way that I thought they would. I planned on continuing to do the Capital Ring and the London Loop and I've completely failed at those, however random walks to random places have become a frequent part of my life, so I definitely count this one as a success.

How are you doing on your annual goals so far?

Monday, 26 June 2017

A Trip to Copenhagen - Part 1

Nyhavn, Copenhagen
It's been a few weeks since I visited Copenhagen now, and as such I figure it's really about time I wrote up a little post all about my trip there. 

I chose Copenhagen largely due to the fact that it was basically the must-visit destination of my friends last year, combined with the fact that I managed to find flights for really cheap. (Although, in retrospect I should have done a bit more research into this - I was excited and booked the cheap flights for a longer stay, later discovering that hotels in Copenhagen were actually extortionate. Oh well) I was advised by all of them that Copenhagen was a lovely place to visit, but not to stay there for too many days as there wasn't quite enough there to make it a trip for more than a weekend or so. So off we went!

Friday, 23 June 2017

Some Blog Stats & Research - The Year So Far!

As we're pretty much half way through the year right now, I decided it might be interesting to do some looking around in my google analytics and have a look at what people have been interested in on the blog in the last six months. So, I took a look at allllll the data from 1st January through to now to have a look at what the most viewed pages are, as well as how people tend to find me.

The results were quite a surprise! The posts that people have engaged with the most and that I still get comments on were not all that high - whilst certain product reviews that I thought people wouldn't be all that interested in have remained consistently in my top 10.

I'll mention right now though that some of these statistics are definitely a little off. I've tinkered with my layout twice this year already and cleverly managed to delete the tracking code both of those times. Hey, at least I remembered to go back to it faster this time! I also get a fair bit of readership through Bloglovin, so I'm not sure to the extent that info from there is tracked.

First of all, the bit that's not massively surprising. My demographics - 41% of people that read this blog are 25-34 which really doesn't surprise me as that's my age bracket too. 82% of readers are female, and 68% of readers are from the UK - again, both of which make sense.

My Most Read Posts
I will start by saying that google likes to include both a desktop link and a mobile link. For ease, I've used these numbers individually as trying to merge everything would take way too long - however, if there's any repeat (and there quite often is!) I've removed the second one so that this doesn't end up being the same post over and over again.

001. My most read post in the last six months has been this review of Hotel Chocolat's Mother's Day collection.Which I am quite happy with and I suppose not too surprised about - it included a giveaway, and I include reviews of Hotel Chocolat products quite a lot here so it doesn't surprise me that other readers are fans of their goodies as well!
002. My review of Simply Cook food boxes has been very well received and has scored highly in both desktop and mobile viewing. What's particularly surprising to me about this one is that this post is from 2014 - which is three houses ago now! Coincidentally, Chris has recently bought a box so maybe I need to make a follow up review soon!
003. My review of Ginger & Mint, a juice bar and health food store is next. I have no regrets with this, they do sell very delicious juices and I only wish I could have them more often!
004. My review of the Body Shop's fresh nude foundation. I am surprised by the appearance of this one, as for starters it's a post from 2015. I also found that on the whole the foundation wasn't that popular a product, and my reviews of their fresh face masks are still quite consistently linked to on twitter etc so I was expecting a Body Shop review to appear here - but probably not this one!
005. My review of the Happiness Planner. I'm actually not too surprised by this one - I know that this is a very popular brand, particularly among bloggers. It was quite hard to find any reviews for this particular product, so it would make sense that mine was one that would pop up. And another big contributor to this is that the Happiness Planner twitter feed does retweet my reviews every now and then, so this is the one out of the top five that I most expected to see.

Most Frequent Searches
Next up, I took a look at what people had been searching for in order to find my posts. I hoped for something funny, but alas, generally the things used to find me are quite straight forward.

001. "Simply Cook review" and "Simply Cook cost" are both very high scorers. I suppose this isn't really a surprise, being that the aforementioned review still receives a surprising amount of views!
002. "Amazonian Acai" is next, which refers to the Body Shop's fresh face mask review that I expected to see featured in the most read posts, but wasn't.
003. "Body shop foundation" and "body shop fresh nude foundation porcelain," were next. Again, unexpected - but makes sense now with the amount of views that this post still gets.
004. "Bomb cosmetics review," is next which is a very big surprise to me as I can't actually remember the last time I bought a product from Bomb Cosmetics, let alone the last time I actually wrote a post about them! Perhaps this is a sign that I need to start buying more?!
005. "Caesar buffet," is next, which refers to a buffet that I reviewed in Caesar's Palace in Vegas.

From this, I can take it that readers like reviews a lot, and also like chocolate (and food in general!) and the body shop. These things I knew! What I am a little disappointed about however, is that a lot of my travel posts haven't popped up particularly highly at all. This surprises me as those posts do get a lot of engagement, and it's a bit of a disappointment to me as they also take absolutely ages to write and edit so I'd really like it if they did do a bit higher. I think one way I can use to try and boost these in the future is to perhaps make them more specific, however that's not really me. I could write a post about the best coffee shops in Copenhagen and it would probably do better than a more generic one - however, I like writing the more generic ones and I also really like reading them on the blogs of others, so I'm probably quite likely to keep just making myself happy and doing things my way even if that is the wrong thing to do!

I've got a few ideas from this, and I'll be posting another update at the end of the year with this as well as stats from the whole year. (Well, for the most part - I've got a few ideas of things to add next time, and obviously I haven't been tracking that yet so I can't fully include it!)

Take a look through your own stats - what surprises you the most?


Monday, 19 June 2017

An Unlimited Brunch, at Aubaine

I recently headed to Aubaine in Liverpool Street to give their unlimited brunch menu a go, and figured it was very much something worth telling all of you about!

I love a good brunch. It's probably my favourite meal, as it includes basically the best of everything I could ever want food wise. I don't do unlimited brunches too often as they tend to cost at least £50+ and obviously there's just not the space in my bank account for that - but as Aubaine's unlimited offering was only £15, it seemed rude not to!

 This is the menu. As you can see, to add unlimited drinks on top was an extra £15. Something you may also notice is that the menu really is a bit egg heavy, which most of us stated that we found a bit of a problem as we all felt a bit egged out by the end of it. I've been suspecting for a little while that I have some kind of intolerance and I definitely felt it after eating some of the courses!

As well as what you can order off the menu, there was some bread and some pastries available for you to go and serve yourself. The selection was quite small and the bread looked delicious - however, none of us actually ate any of it as it looked a bit threatening! It was just sort of there in giant lumps and was probably really good, however none of us quite felt like it would be a good idea for us to go and start carving into it as we all felt we'd probably make a big embarassing mess of it. I didn't see anyone try any of the bread so we'll never know if it was actually any good - but the pastries were very nice!

 My first choice was obvious to me - I wanted the avacado on toast. I will always order anything with avocado on it, and this had to be my first choice so that I could enjoy it to the maximum. And it really was a very good meal! It was surprisingly filling, the avocado tasted really fresh, and there was a good combination of flavours. If I was to repeat a dish, I would have got a second serving of this one.

Next up for me was the eggs benedict. I mostly went for this one as I saw a lot of people get it in the first serving and thought it looked really good, however in all honesty I was really disappointed with this one. There wasn't much flavour to it and something just tasted a little off although I can't quite place my finger on what it was. I wouldn't repeat this one.

 Next I went for the granola with fruit and yogurt - and the above was NOT what I was expecting, however it was absolutely delicious and I'm very glad I ordered it. Some of the others complained it was a little tricky to eat but once you've got started it really wasn't a problem, and the flavours all went together very nicely.

For my final course, I went for the fruit salad. There was a good mix in here and anything that includes raspberries is always going to get a positive vote from me!

Overall, I really enjoyed brunch here and I really would recommend it. The plates are small and you can only order one at a time - however, you do have two hours so you can make the most of it. At first we were really hungry between courses, but it soon caught up with us and we didn't mind having to wait - plus the majority of the time it was speedy service and we weren't left waiting for too long. I think it's a good price for what you get as you are able to try lots of different foods, and you do leave feeling very full! Unsurprisingly, the one thing I would change is to include a few non egg based options on the menu - all of us left feeling like we had eaten far too many eggs, but it had a very positive reception overall so I would still return.

If you're interested in booking an unlimited brunch for yourself, check out Aubaine's website, here!

Friday, 16 June 2017

June's Blog Spotlight Post

For the last few months I've been a bit worried when making these posts as I've found the number of posts I'm saving has really dropped down recently. However, I'm happy to say that I think this will be changing very soon as for the first time in a while I've found lots of fantastic new blogs to read - I'm really glad that my reading list has had a little bit of a refresh! This month, there's 9 blog post recommendations for you to go and take a look at - and yes, before you ask, it does pain me that it doesn't quite reach 10!

001. Amber's been posting lots of photos of all the changes she's made to her home lately, but my favourite so far is this before and after of her kitchen. It's so pretty, and as we're completely redoing our flat it's great timing to get some inspiration! The above photo is taken from Amber's post.

002. Martha posted an Instagram guide to Copenhagen - which was perfect timing, as I read it just before I went over there myself! Lots of pretty pictures and a great resource if it's somewhere you're thinking of going. I need to hurry up and get my update done myself!

003. Kayleigh posted all about the 13 blogger habits that it's okay not to do!

004. I'm slow in posting this as she's already changed the colour again - but look at how cool Jemma's rainbow hair is!

005. Katy took a solo trip to Aberdeen - a place I'd never really considered visiting before, but looks lovely!

006. Jess posted an open letter to PR professionals.

007. Another from Martha - this time about cheats on Instagram, and how to get around it.

008. Paige got engaged - congratulations! Take a look at her beautiful engagement photos.

009. Joseph posted all about how Instagram is giving him trust issues.


Monday, 12 June 2017

Exploring Euston's Lost Tunnels with Hidden London

 Last month, we were given the very last minute offer by a friend to take up his place on a Hidden London tour. He'd booked the tour many many months in advance and then forgotten all about it - until the day before when he was packing to go on holiday and suddenly remembered. Which worked out well for us, as it meant we ended up with his tickets!

 Hidden London is operated by the London Transport Museum, and offer tours of disused underground stations and areas. The most well known tour that they offer is the rather famous Aldwych, with Churchill's secret station of Down Street fast approaching in second place. Me and Chris both work in the transport industry and as such have both been quite interested on taking one of these tours as we already know quite a bit about some of the locations -helped along by a conveniently timed trip to the museum itself a couple of days before we knew we'd ended up with tickets!

The tour we went on was that of Euston's lost tunnels. It begins with a presentation about the history of Euston - most of this we knew already from our visit to the museum, but we did see some interesting pictures of how Euston used to look. Who knew that one of the most dull stations once had such beautiful entrances to it! The talk lasted quite a while, and then took us in to look at the current ventilation system of Euston. This was a bit confusing to everyone on the tour as by this point it had already taken a fair chunk of time and we hadn't really seen anything we actually wanted to!

 After a while, we were finally into the tunnels themselves. Unsurprisingly, this is where it all got more interesting! First of all, it's always nice to pull aside a door that you'd never quite noticed before on an in-use platform and then suddenly find yourself exploring areas that you had absolutely no idea were there.

  As you can probably tell from most of the pictures I've included here, what interested me most was all the old posters. I love looking at bits of history like this and the tunnels were absolutely layered with posters and advertisements, with lighting strategically placed around ones that we were most likely to be interested in.

We also enjoyed looking at an old ticket window, and looking upwards to see just how high the tunnels reached. We both enjoy walking around and exploring dark places, and it was interesting to see how the tunnels slot into the currently used ones.

 Overall though, the tour isn't something that either of us would do it again. I got a little bit bored during the first half, and Chris enjoyed it but stated that he didn't really think it was worth how much we paid.

  However, we do have to be fair with this review and there are some reasons why we may not have enjoyed it quite as much as we expected to. As already mentioned, we had very recently gone to the LTM and as such a lot of the opening presentation was very recent knowledge to us already. We're both also track safety trained and have been for a few years, which means the novelty of being within the underground itself isn't quite so high for us as we've both done track walks etc. And finally, if we were to purchase a tour ourselves, Euston wouldn't have been the main choice for either of us anyway. If you are interested in this sort of thing and don't have the backgrounds that we do, you'll probably get a lot more out of it than we did.

 I am not entirely sure whether or not we would do another tour with Hidden London. I am very tempted by the thought of Down Street - but it's also £77 each and I don't honestly see myself paying that any time soon.

If you'd like to book a tour for yourself, keep checking the Hidden London page here as they do book out very in advance and you'll need to be quite forward thinking with it. Prices vary, but the price for the Euston tour shown here was £36.50 each. You also get free or half price admission to the museum itself depending on which ticket you buy!
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