Prague: A Photo Diary

Thursday, 10 August 2017

If your partner is anything like mine, you’ll know that buying presents for them is about as much fun as pulling out your nose hair. When Christmas rolled around last year I had no idea what to get my fiancé. When I asked him if he wanted anything he had no suggestions and I was left scrolling through the most random websites in hopes inspiration would strike. Fortunately, an idea hit me while I was daydreaming about where we should go on our honeymoon (we haven’t even started planning our wedding but I’m already planning the aftermath) and thus a holiday to Prague was booked. I’m getting really good at giving my fiancé presents that involve both of us.


Our holiday was for a week and I will be the first to admit that a week in Prague is too long; even the receptionist at our hotel commented on the length of our stay. We had read a lot of guides on things to do in Prague and had pretty much done everything by day 3. We’re used to holidays where you rent a car and drive up and down the country so a city break is foreign territory (pun not intended) for us and I think we overdid it.

Jan Hus Memorial Prague
The Jan Hus Memorial in the Old Town Square.

We did the obvious touristy things first. Our flight got us in for 10 am on Friday so we immediately went to the Old Town Square for some people watching and food. There is a strong possibility I was drunk by 12 pm but that just made the one and only torrential downpour that occurred during our stay a lot more tolerable.

Prague park
I have no idea why there are shoes hanging over the park we drunkenly stumbled into but there you go.

After we'd watched enough people, my drunken self was dragged out of the square towards the bridges and we somehow found ourselves wandering up a disgusting amount of steps towards a park. I can’t for the life of me remember if this park had a name but I can tell you it features a lovely portaloo that is dirtier than the toilet in Trainspotting.

Prague castle
The only way you can get a picture of Prague castle without tourists is to point your camera up.

Our Saturday was spent exploring Prague Castle (more stairs!) which gave me the most overwhelming urge to watch Lord of the Rings. It’s the largest castle in the world and you can easily spend half a day there. We refrained from buying tickets for the exhibitions so we wandered around the outside of the castle and also around the gardens. Thanks to our lack of knowledge we had no idea what each building was for so a tour guide would’ve been beneficial but, as organised tours stress me out, we muddled our way through the history instead.

Zizkov TV Tower Prague
Seriously why?

Sunday was my other half’s birthday and it was spent at the Zizkov TV tower and playing mini golf. We were staying quite far out of the centre of Prague so the tower was only a 5-minute walk from our hotel. The tower is a prominent building in the Prague skyline and it looks completely out of place. It also has 6-foot babies crawling up and down it which is just as random as it sounds. We spent an hour at the tower and then the rest of our time was spent in the restaurant below and on the mini golf course. I got my ass handed to me by my other half during our game and I have officially lost my self-given mini golf champion title.

Top Gun Prague
Look at my other half acting like he's a badass!

The following day was spent doing something I never thought I would. I had found a couple of shooting ranges during my research into Prague and we decided to book a slot at Top Gun. We went for the Full Monty package so we were shooting with a Glock 17 pistol, a Magnum Revolver, a shotgun, an M16 rifle, a 9mm Uzi, an AK47 and a Dragunov sniper. I was dreadful with the pistol and didn’t hit my target once but somehow I was perfect with the shotgun despite the fact it practically sent me flying. My other half still beat me in the end but I’m adamant I looked cooler with the guns (just ignore the fact I couldn’t hold most of the guns for more than a few minutes without my arms getting tired).

Prague zoo polar bear
The polar bear reminded me of my dog because apparently I think polar bears and black Labradors are similar...

The hottest day of our holiday seemed to occur the day we had decided to go to the zoo. I am too Scottish to be wandering up and down hills in 39 degrees and probably looked like a minging sweaty mess all day. The zoo was surprisingly quiet (considering it’s the 4th best in the world I was expecting it to be full of people) so at least very few humans saw me completely drenched in my own sweat.

Prague zoo flamingos

Usually, I get quite upset at zoos because the majority of animals look really sad and bored but they all seemed quite pleased with themselves at Prague zoo. The orangutans were having a fight with their blankets and a hedge, the elephants were enjoying a nice swim, the otters were playing with each other and the penguins were enjoying waddling around in the only way penguins can. The only things that didn’t look pleased were the snakes and that’s probably because they could sense my fear. Needless to say, I never want to walk into a dark room and see an anaconda staring at me from a tank ever again.

Prague zoo birds

Thursday was technically our final full day in Prague but somebody (not me for a change) got too drunk at a cocktail bar 2 doors down from our hotel on Wednesday and spent the whole day in bed with a hangover. I did tell him ordering 10 beers was a bad idea but at 99p per beer, he couldn’t resist. It did give me a good opportunity to sample a lot of cocktails that I’d been meaning to try for a long time. Apparently, pina coladas are my new favourite drink.

Other than New York, I don’t think I’ve ever fallen in love with a city before but Prague has totally captured my heart (prepare for a sloshy power ballad moment). It’s such a beautiful city – just ignore the crap graffiti that the buildings are covered in - and it’s a place I'd totally live in. I would happily go back just for the food alone and now I’m doing everything I can to stop myself from booking another holiday there just so I can have more spinach, bean and walnut burgers!

Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil Review

Monday, 24 July 2017

I’d be lying if I said the idea of using an oil to remove my makeup doesn’t make me recoil in horror. All I can think when it comes to oil is clogged pores, major spots and greasy looking skin. Even eating food that’s a little too oily immediately puts the idea of clogged pores into my mind so how could an oil based makeup remover and I ever get on?

Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil

The Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil ended up in my possession - despite the mental images of little monsters living on my skin - all because it was new and had £3 off its full price; yes people, I really am that easy. I usually like Simple products and have gone back to them again and again so I wasn’t as nervous about trying the Simple cleansing oil as I would have been if it was a different brand.

Simple promise their Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil will dissolve your makeup and leave your skin feeling and looking hydrated. The oil contains vitamins A and E as well as grapeseed oil which all help fight the ageing process. Grapeseed oil also doesn’t clog pores so there’s some reassurance for the worrier that I am. To use the cleansing oil, you just apply a few drops to clean, dry hands and then apply gently to your face before washing off with water. It’s an extremely quick and straightforward process.

My first use of the Simple cleansing oil didn’t leave me all that excited. It smeared my eye makeup all over my face but didn’t really dissolve it and my foundation was still visible. I immediately used a micellar water to get rid of the remaining makeup and vowed to try the cleansing oil again. My second use (and every use since) was a lot more successful.

Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil

My impatience had gotten the better of me during the first time and, as a result, I hadn’t massaged the oil in properly. The first initial 30 seconds of the oil being on your skin smears your makeup worse than a drunken night out will but so long as you continue to gently rub your oily hands over your skin, your makeup will dissolve and your skin will be product free. Your skin will be extremely shiny and greasy looking afterwards but splashing a bit of warm water onto your unsuspecting face will quickly resolve that.

I can’t fault this cleansing oil when it comes to removing my makeup but I do find it doesn’t leave my skin feeling hydrated like Simple claim it will. I always use a moisturiser after washing the Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil off as it tends to leave my skin feeling a little tight. I can live with Simple not quite delivering on one promise though since the product doesn’t seem to be clogging my pores nor is it making my skin any oilier than usual.

The Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil is on the pricier side when it comes to Simple products in general (£8 in Tesco but £6 in Superdrug) however, the bottle is 125ml and you only require 4-5 drops to remove your makeup so it should last for a long time. It’s very travel-friendly and eliminates the need for a bulky micellar water bottle and cotton pads. The only real downside to this product l is Simple is owned by Unilever who are a little shady when it comes to answering the “do you test on animals” question. If it wasn’t for the fact I’m now making the conscious effort to go cruelty-free, the Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil would immediately be added to my repeat purchase list.

The Ideal Beach Body

Friday, 14 July 2017

They say the best way to get a beach body is to take your body to the beach but what if you do have a beach body goal? Are you an asshole for thinking you need to look a certain way before stripping down to your swimsuit or is wanting to feel confident before showing some skin perfectly acceptable?

I’ve always had an image of the perfect beach body for myself. I want a toned stomach, toned legs and toned arms and I’ve worked on and off over the last year to achieve such a thing. The last time I was seen naked in public (woohoo for public changing rooms, not!) was November last year and I wasn’t overly happy with some of my limbs. The muscles in my legs had diminished due to not being able to run for 2 months and my stomach wasn’t the way I wanted it to be either. I didn’t feel bad about my body but I wasn’t 100% happy with the way it looked.

It’s taken me a long time to finally start accepting my body for what it is. I started puberty at the delightful age of 10 years old and, while I had the pleasure of growing body hair in places I rather it didn’t, my breasts forgot to make an appearance until my late teens. Sure they were there but I was all too aware of how small they were. Fortunately, I’ve always had, if I say so myself, a nice peachy bum and that always seemed to be the thing the guys I’ve been interested in have gone for. As much as I hate tying my own self-worth to men, it’s nice to know a part of your body you love is also admired by the males you’re dating.

I think it was really obvious that I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin as a teenager. While everyone else walked around in shorts and t-shirts during the Scottish summer, I sweated it out in skinny jeans and a hoody. It didn’t matter how hot I got, I would not show any more skin than needed. Even family holidays would have me covering up as much as possible. We rented villas with a private pool and I would always wear a top over my bikini under the false pretence that I was trying to avoid getting my shoulders sunburnt. I wouldn’t even sunbathe, I’d float around in the pool or I’d sit inside and read a book just to avoid being seen in a swimsuit.

Looking back, I really don’t know what I was bothered about. I never heard anything bad about my body (if anyone did say anything it definitely wasn’t to my face) and only ever received compliments from the guys who were allowed to see me without clothing. Thinking about all of those missed opportunities to wear shorts and all of the sweat I lost to skinny jeans in 23-degree heat makes me laugh. I can’t understand why I was so bothered by my body as a teenager but I understand why I have little niggles now; the self-conscious nature I had back then is still ever so slightly embedded in my brain.

I’m now fairly happy with my body but things could always be better. I don’t want to see the little jiggle my thighs do when I’m wearing shorts so I’m going to tone them up, I want my arms to have a bit of definition so I’m sorting that out, I want my stomach to remain flat at all times so I’m targeting that area. I’m not going to go full throttle, I don’t want to have a six pack or huge muscles but I just want to be able to walk around in a bikini and not feel like hiding in the water.

So yes people of the internet, I do have an ideal beach body and that is absolutely fine. You may be able to put your swimsuit on and prance around on the beach without a care in the world but I don’t have that luxury yet. I’ve got to work to get to that stage and I’m slowly but surely getting there.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash Review

Monday, 10 July 2017

Garnier really knows how to get all of my money. If they bring out a variation of their micellar water I will come running with money in hand; it’s a vicious cycle but it’s one I can’t seem to break away from. It probably doesn’t come as a shock when I tell you that I bought the new Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash as soon as I saw it. What can I say? I’m weak when it comes to anything with “micellar” in the name.

The Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash is Garnier’s rinse-off gel wash answer to my beloved Garnier Micellar Water. It uses micellar technology to remove makeup, dirt and pollution from our skin and is gentle enough to use on the eyes and lips. Not only does Garnier promise this will remove makeup but it will also cleanse and mattify the skin.I picked up the version intended for those with combination and sensitive skin but, based on the Garnier website, I think this is more of a gimmick as they openly state the original cleansing gel wash is gentle enough for all skin types.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash

I was expecting the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash to be on par with the Garnier Micellar Water but it’s not even close. If I ever force myself into throwing away skincare products this will be the first to go as it’s honestly dreadful. It does remove some of my makeup but I still have to use the L’Oreal Micellar Water to get the main bulk of it off. The idea of using a foaming wash on my eyelids makes me recoil in horror but I did it in the name of this review (nothing but dedication around here) and I’ve never tugged at my eyes so much in my life. The cleansing gel wash does remove my eye makeup but it takes several attempts and a lot of unnecessary pressure. It also leaves my eyes stinging like crazy even if I make sure to not go anywhere near them when using the wash.

As for the other 2 promises well, I have serious doubts as to whether the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash actually cleanses my skin and I’m starting to wonder if mattifying the skin actually means leaving it as dry as a desert. My skin usually leans more towards the oilier side of things in the summer but, thanks to this cleansing gel wash, it’s been dry and uncomfortably tight.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash

One of the nice things about the Garnier Micellar Water is it doesn’t have a scent but the cleansing gel wash doesn’t have that luxury. This wash smells incredibly medicinal; it’s not overpowering and the smell is gone once I’ve washed the product off my skin but it’s enough to remind me of the hand wash you’re supposed to use whenever you walk into a hospital. I don’t know about you but I’d rather not think of hospitals when I’m doing something as frivolous as removing my makeup.

I think it’s safe to say I strongly dislike the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash. It’s not the worst product in the world but, when you compare it to other micellar products on the market, it doesn’t match up. I’d love to be able to use this as a regular cleanser so it doesn’t go to waste but I don’t fancy drying out my skin every night. I expected this to become my new Holy Grail makeup remover but instead, it will lie in a drawer until I finally bother to get rid of it.

Opinions Are Like Assholes...

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Oil lamp and books
This picture has no relevance to anything, I just liked the oil lamp.

Opinions are great; they can break down barriers between strangers and help you make a friend for life, they can piss off everyone around you and they’re one of the few things that divide us every single day. An opinion is not a fact but the sad reality of it is some people believe their thoughts cannot be wrong and daring to oppose them will result in getting your head bit off.

I’m an overly opinionated person by nature and I’m fully aware of how offensive my opinions can be to others. I do my best to ensure the thoughts I project onto the unsuspecting people of the world are based on facts or personal experience; I have learnt over time to never express a misinformed opinion and I’m usually mortified when I do jump the gun. I fully expect to be challenged on my opinions and hope that whoever is challenging me is capable of having an adult conversation about why we believe different things. The best conversations I’ve ever had have been with people who have expressed their opposing ideas in a coherent, calm manner without any hint of confrontation or malicious intent.

Navigating a face to face conversation is usually simpler than having a heated debate over the internet. It’s much easier to pick up on social cues when the person is standing right in front of you than it is when you’re arguing with someone via social media. One of the benefits of debate on the internet is the person/people I’m engaging with can’t see the multiple eye rolls I do but the downside is the conversation can be relentless; falling asleep doesn’t mean the conversation is over, it just means you’ve taken an 8 hour break and will probably wake up to a new wave of responses the following morning.

The biggest issue I’ve been having with the internet, particularly during the lead-up to the general election, is how narrow-minded people can be when expressing their thoughts. I’ve always been around people who can’t accept other ideas but I’m finding myself surrounded by these people more and more and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a presence on the internet without calling a good chunk of people idiots (which I guess I’m effectively doing in this post, whoops).

Let’s go back to the aforementioned UK general election for a second. The general election was a tough subject to navigate on social media; if you dared correct the false or overly exaggerated information that was being shared in a bid to make a certain party look bad you were automatically branded enemy number one and were argued with until the cows came home (even if you made it clear you had no intention of voting for said party). If you suggested people should vote for who they felt is the correct party or refrained from stating who you voted for, you were stereotyped and ridiculed and your only crimes were believing in democracy and the right to making your own decision. A right to an opinion fell apart during the week of the general election and if you weren’t sucking at Labour’s teat, you may as well have sat in a cave for a while.

I’m not oblivious to the fact some subjects, especially politics, can wake the beast and will turn even the nicest of people into a nasty piece of work if you don’t share their thought process but I like to promote independent thinking. I’d rather give people the right to make their own decisions and if they need a bit of help, I’m all for informing them and helping them along their way. Someone disagreeing with an opinion is not an excuse to insult or belittle them, it’s merely a reminder that we all think differently and are fortunate enough to live in a society where we have the freedom to do so.

There have been points where I’ve realised a discussion regarding a difference in opinion is futile. I could present every argument I have in my repertoire but it’s meaningless if the person/people I’m debating with are aggressively pushing their agenda onto me. I’ve had the misfortune of dealing with people who seem to believe because I think one thing that my opinions on other – usually irrelevant – things must be a certain way when in reality, that’s not the case. I can think one way about something that may be offensive to a person while maintaining an entirely different opinion on something else that may be in agreement with said person.

The world is probably rather fortunate that I have yet to become a dictator, therefore, have not enforced my opinions as laws (I hope you all like cheese sandwiches as I believe everyone should have them for breakfast) as it means no one suffers or excels under my warped mind. I think history has taught us that some ideas can be detrimental to others but, in a weird way, I still want to sit down with people whose opinions I deem extreme (and may border more on ignorant than just an extreme opinion) and try to understand their thought process.

I’m open to conversations and I welcome people who think differently as they may be able to change my mind but you can keep the arguments, insults and downright childish behaviour that some people turn to when faced with an opposing view. In the almighty words of Salt n Pepa “opinions are like assholes and everybody’s got one.”

Soap & Glory Face Soap and Clarity 3-in-1-Daily-Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash Review

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Once upon a time, I had a skincare routine that was carried out with military precision. I’d cleanse, exfoliate, tone and moisturise my face constantly but then laziness found me and removing my makeup was the most I would do. I’m fortunate enough to be blessed with relatively clear skin so I don’t really need a hardcore skincare routine but I still like to have something in place to make me feel like I’m doing something good. I still moisturise religiously but now I merely wash my face every morning to remove traces of sleep and any makeup I may have missed the night before.

Soap & Glory Face Soap and Clarity 3-in-1-Daily-Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash

The Soap & Glory Face Soap and Clarity 3-in-1-Daily-Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash (this name is far too long!) has been my go-to product for my lazy ways. I’ve been using it for the last few months and, despite not being overly happy with the last Soap & Glory facial product I tried, I’ve been really impressed with this facial wash. I apply a small blob to my face every morning and have barely made a dent in the 350ml bottle; a little goes such a long way.

Soap & Glory claim this is wash is a “high-tech, foaming facial wash formulated with complexion-friendly non-drying easy-rinse surfactants that will do a bang-up job at washing your face”. It’s supposed to smooth, clean and purify your skin and for the most part, the product delivers on the claims. The small beads (which aren’t microbeads) in the product do a good job at gently exfoliating my skin without being too abrasive and the actual foaming wash wipes away all the dirt and leftover makeup build up. My skin always looks so much brighter and clearer once I’ve used this facial wash which makes the perfect base for my crap makeup application!

Soap & Glory Face Soap and Clarity 3-in-1-Daily-Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash

The wash smells really clean and fresh so it’s perfect pick me up in the morning (who needs coffee when you can slather foaming facial wash on yourself?). It’s also not drying which is an added bonus considering I have a tendency to never wash cleansers and facial washes off properly. Soap & Glory say this is a product for all skin types but I don’t think it’s going to be strong enough for the patches of dry skin that always appear on my face when the colder weather comes in.

I probably wouldn’t have ever tried *deep breath* the Soap & Glory Face Soap and Clarity 3-in-1-Daily-Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash if it wasn’t in the Soap & Glory ‘The Whole Glam Lot box so I’m so happy Soap & Glory included it. This product is going to last me for months despite using it every day and I’m more than happy to have some rather amazing looking skin each morning. Unless a cheaper alternative comes along that is just as good, the Soap & Glory Face Soap and Clarity 3-in-1-Daily-Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash will forever remain on my repurchase list.

Books of April

Monday, 15 May 2017

Books to read

April was a shaky month for my reading challenge. I started with a book that seemed interesting on the surface but was really a jumbled mess and I ended with a book I never want to read again. It was an unfortunate month choice wise so I only managed to get through 3 books. Annoyingly, I was actually on target for 5 books in April but that third book made me lose all momentum.

Enough of the self-pity, let’s start with book number one. Eating the Elephant by Alice Wells* intrigued me as it’s written by the wife of a paedophile who killed himself the same day their house was searched for child pornography. It seemed like such an interesting albeit tragic book but, while I did enjoy it to an extent, I found Eating the Elephant to be like reading someone’s diary after it had been torn apart. The “climax” of the story happens right at the beginning and the rest of the book is a messy timeline that didn’t make much sense to me. Eating the Elephant could have been so much more but unfortunately, it falls short.

Books to read

It was my future mother-in-law that recommended the second book of the month. She mentioned her mother-in-law had read this book countless times and had passed it over to her to read. She actually wanted to pass it over to me but had recently given it to a local charity shop and the shop had already sold it by the time I went to visit. Regardless, I got hold of the book and positively devoured it.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini* follows the story of a girl born out of wedlock in Afghanistan. Her life is met with tragedy but after forming an alliance with a local teenage girl she once resented, she finds strength in herself to do the unthinkable and ultimately, become the true heroine of the story. I actually felt a little sad while reading this book because of how much hardship surrounds this one character but at the same time, I remained hopeful and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that strongly towards a story before. A Thousand Splendid Suns is such a compelling read I really wish I could go back and read it again for the first time!

Books to read

Finally, we have the dreaded third book; the book that destroyed my reading mojo. I don’t know why I read it, I know fine well I detest young adults books and have done before I even hit the “young adult” age. I’ve always found YA books too easy to read regardless of what subject matter they’re covering. They’re not my cup of tea but for some reason, I picked up The Manifesto on How to be Interesting by Holly Bourne* and I still regret it.

The Manifesto on How to be Interesting features every cliché to exist in YA. It features high school age characters, the protagonist is a loser who suddenly becomes popular, there’s a boy everyone fancies who of course is interested in the former loser girl, the characters are rich and the mean girls get their comeuppance in the end. This isn’t the Manifesto on How to be Interesting; this is the Manifesto on how to Write a YA Book.

With the exception of A Thousand Splendid Suns, I’m extremely disappointed with April’s reading choices. The YA book was a lapse in judgement but I really hoped Eating the Elephant would be extremely thought-provoking. I guess you can’t win them all but I least I’ve learnt a good lesson for May’s reading; don’t read books you don’t like!

Disclaimer: Anything marked with an asterisk (*) is an affiliate link. 

Fun Ways to Exercise

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Skateboard graffiti

If the Olympic torch hadn’t made its way through my hometown before the 2012 London Olympics, I probably would have never bothered going for a run. I felt inspired by the man running down the street proudly holding the torch and decided to finally put my running app to use. I got 6 minutes into the run, sustained a shoulder injury and went home to nap. My running career was extremely sporadic until last year when I finally completed the aforementioned app (I’m embarrassed by the fact it took me 4 years to complete a 9-week program) and continued to rack up the miles. While I love seeing my average pace per mile get quicker and my distance get longer, I absolutely detest running. It’s hard and it’s sweaty and it leaves me with a bright red face. There are significantly more enjoyable ways to exercise and also meet new people while you’re at it.

Back in the day, I was obsessed with skateboarding. I couldn’t do anything cool on my skateboard but, while everyone else sat on theirs and rolled down a hill, I would show off my amazing “standing up on a skateboard” skills. I was a little gutted when the skateboarding/BMXing/scooter trend died out so when I saw micro scooters had recently made a comeback, I was rather hyped to see them. I never realised as a kid how much skateboarding was actually keeping me fit but it was building up my fitness level and giving me some serious leg muscles.

I still have a strong love for skateboarding/BMXing/scooters and would urge anyone of an age where it’s acceptable to hang out at a skate park to try it out. Of course, these aren’t the type of sports you can do without the equipment (you could try but you won’t get very far) so head over to Skate Hut for everything you need. Even if you don’t fancy taking up the more extreme sports, buy yourself a pair of skate shoes as they are seriously the comfiest shoes around.

If trying to be the next Tony Hawk or Dave Mirra isn’t your thing, try out some team sports. I’m a sucker for American sports so if you invite me to play baseball, basketball or American football, I will show up and will more than likely take it far too seriously. You don’t need to be as ridiculous as me though; just gather a bunch of friends, decide on a sport and find an open patch of grass to play it on. If you do invite me though, can we play American football and can I be the running back?

If team sports are appealing but your friends aren’t up for it, start scouting for local team activities. There’s been a recent rise in 5-a-side tag rugby and the majority of participants are there to have fun so the rules are relaxed. 5-a-side football is also another great way to get your muscles going and I promise you it’s significantly more fun to play football than it is to watch.

Despite the fact I hate running, I am going to throw a running related thing into this. I’m part of a few running groups on Facebook (if you want to feel bad about yourself, join one and cry over the man running 20 miles at an average pace of 7 minutes per mile) and the vast majority of people in them join in on a park run every weekend.

A park run is typically 5K (daunting but doable) and is held in your local park either on a Saturday or Sunday morning. There are so many people of various running abilities who go to park runs and have a whale of a time. Some people are trying for personal bests but you’ll find most of them are there just to run in a more social environment. There’s no time pressure and if you want to walk, you’ll have plenty of people alongside you doing the exact same thing.

With the promise of warmer weather, the increase in affordable athletic wear and a variety of exercise groups popping up all over the place, there is no excuse to not get some form of exercise into your week. I do my best to ensure I go for 3 runs a week plus a cycle and maybe even a horrendous 30 minutes worth of core strength training but I get that they’re not for everyone. Exercise isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you put yourself into a social situation or find a sport that you really enjoy, you’ll never know that you’re actually working out!

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Skate Hut.

Lush Starter Kit

Monday, 1 May 2017

Before I became a Lush addict, I would always become extremely overwhelmed in Lush. There are so many products for a rookie to choose from that it’s difficult to find the best item for your skin or hair. I was put off Lush thanks to the first product I ever tried being completely wrong for me and it took me a long time to start making my way through the sea of Lush goodness. Now that I’ve pretty much become a self-proclaimed Lush veteran, I’ve got my firm favourite products and I rarely want to stray from them. It’s hard to know where to start during your first Lush experience but my Lush starter kit is all you need (and a bottomless bank account because your money is going to be spent hard).

Best Lush products

I’m going to level with you here, Ocean Salt is arguably Lush’s greatest product but it’s too rough for sensitive skin and it tastes disgusting (I don’t intentionally eat it). That being said, if your skin can handle the abrasiveness I’d tell you to purchase Ocean Salt immediately. It smells fresh, it looks awesome and it leaves your skin looking and feeling incredible. I only use it on my face as opposed to my whole body so a small tub lasts me for a long time but if you plan on exfoliating the hell out of your body, get a big tub and go nuts.

Continuing with the sea salt theme is Big shampoo. Big is my favourite hair product from Lush for 2 reasons: a small amount of product leaves my hair squeaky clean and it smells so good. Like Ocean Salt, it smells fresh and it leaves your hair with a subtle yet delightful scent all day. I’d ignore the small tub of Big and go straight to the big (ha) one because you’re going to want to use this stuff every single day.

Best Lush products

I suppose once you’ve washed your hair you’re going to want something to wash your body with right? Well, Dirty Springwash is your shower gel for such a task. As much as I like trying all of the shower gels Lush has to offer, I can’t stay away from Dirty Springwash. It has a beautiful mint scent that is strong enough to wake you up in the morning but mild enough to not make any parts of you burn (why do so many mint products do this? We’re washing sensitive regions here!). It’s also a rather nice shade of blue so if that’s not a reason in itself to try Dirty Springwash, I don’t know what is.

So you’ve washed your hair and body and you’ve scrubbed your skin silly, now what you need is a good body lotion. Sympathy for the Skin is the body lotion from Lush that you have to try. I’m an eczema sufferer and have tried almost all of the Lush moisturisers for some assistance and Sympathy for the Skin is the one that helps every time. It’s a very light moisturiser which soaks into the skin quickly and it has a beautiful vanilla scent to it. Sympathy for the Skin also lasts an extremely long time as you only need a small amount for your entire body.

Best Lush products

I guess the only other part of your body that needs a product assigned to it is your face. Skin Drink is something I recently came across in Lush and it is quite possibly the best face moisturiser I have ever tried. I used to swear by Celestial but it has a very clinical scent to it so Skin Drink wins this round. It’s a thick moisturiser so it isn’t really suitable before makeup application but it’s a great night-time product. It takes a while to soak into your skin but if you use it before bed, you’ll wake up with a very smooth, very hydrated face. A 45g tub will set you back £14.95 but you only need a small amount for your whole face so a tub will last a long time.

I could honestly go on and on about what products a Lush rookie should try but I think 5 will make a nice dent in your bank balance so I’ll stop gushing over everything (if you fancy a bubble bar though you need to get The Comforter). If you are going to Lush for the first time and become a little overwhelmed, just ask for help; the staff are honestly the friendliest and most knowledgeable people I’ve ever come across in a store before and, as an added bonus, they all use the products too!

Finding The Perfect Engagement Ring

Friday, 28 April 2017

Finding the perfect engagement ring

He got down on one knee, babbled an incredibly unique speech and then stood patiently while I looked around for the cast and crew of Punk’d before finally saying yes. My poor fiancé had a plan for the proposal but, while Iceland isn’t without its romantic spots, it severely lacks in areas that aren’t crawling with tourists. His plan was to propose on our Northern Lights tour (with 30 strangers present) but that was thrown out the window when we somehow became very lost in the middle of nowhere. A little known peaceful area in Iceland that we’ll probably never be able to find again became the perfect setting for our proposal.

He did everything right. He asked my parents for permission, he hid the fact he was even considering proposing and he asked me to marry him in a place we’ll never forget. He even managed to find the perfect ring and for that, I tip my hat to him. I am not an easy person to shop for especially when it comes to jewellery.

I like my jewellery to be classy, high quality and incredibly understated. I don’t want in your face necklaces or earrings and I definitely don’t want a big rock on my finger. Unknowingly, I had done my other half a favour by scouring multiple websites for a ring for Christmas the year before he proposed. He’d been told exactly what shape of diamonds I detest, what colours I won’t tolerate and how ridiculously difficult it is to find a ring for my worryingly small fingers.

If I hadn’t shown him exactly what type of ring I liked before we even discussed marriage, I think he’d still be searching high and low for the perfect ring. My dad took my mum to the jewellery store in order to get around this issue but if you’re set on making the proposal a surprise and are lost in a world of shiny diamonds, it’s time to find out what type of ring your partner would favour.

You could ask them the right questions (while being as surreptitious as possible) or you could casually steer them to the internet where you can spend hours poring over rings. My preference for discreet ring hunting is F.Hinds and it has nothing to do with the fact they have a certain ring that fits my wedding colours perfectly. Ok, I’m totally lying there, I’m drooling over one of their rings so much it’s a miracle my laptop hasn’t drowned.

My fiancé and I have been engaged for almost 6 months and I still take a minute to admire my engagement ring every morning. I can’t even begin to stress how important the perfect engagement ring is and if you’re worried you’re going to get it horribly wrong, you need to secretly tag team your partner into your search. Alternatively, if you’re the one who will be proposed to but are worried your partner is going to give you, to quote Chandler Bing, “a stupid gumball ring”, look at rings for yourself and throw your list of preferences at the person you want to marry. After all, that ring is there for life.

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with F.Hinds.

L'Oreal Gold Obsession Lipstick Review

Saturday, 22 April 2017

If there’s one thing every girl needs, it’s a good lipstick. Whether you’re having a night out, slaving away at work or just feel like a little confidence boost, your favourite lipstick is the way forward. There are many brands I go to for a lip product but I always have a soft spot for L’Oreal. Their range of lip products is one of the best on the high street in my humble opinion and their new Gold Obsession lipsticks are incredible.

L'Oreal Gold Obsession Lipstick
Lipstick pictured is the shade 'Rouge Gold'.

The L’Oreal Gold Obsession lipstick is every drugstore makeup lover’s dream. It’s high quality, low priced and looks right at home amongst a high-end collection. The packaging is a gorgeous matte black with a shiny gold finish on the bottom. It’s sturdy and secure and will survive even the most chaotic of makeup bags.

The lipstick itself is equally as pretty. The formula is creamy so it applies without any tugging and it’s opaque so it can be built up to a beautiful bold shade or it can be much more subtle if you’re not feeling so daring. The formula is also enriched with omega 3 oils and vitamin E which makes the lipstick moisturising as opposed to having the dreaded drying effect. Its creaminess and moisturising properties means the lipstick does not hold up well against food and drink; reapplication is a must if you want to maintain the bold look.

L'Oreal Gold Obsession Lipstick Swatch

The L’Oreal Gold Obsession lipstick has a metallic finish which, as a matte fan, isn’t typically my cup of tea but L’Oreal has managed to change my opinion. I cannot stop staring at my lips whenever I’m wearing this product as the shine is perfection; it’s as if you’ve layered a lipgloss over the lipstick but without the stickiness. If I could only have one lip product for the rest of my life, the L’Oreal Gold Obsession lipstick would be a serious contender!

Now for the fun part! I’ve teamed up with to give one lucky person their chance to win a L’Oreal Gold Obsession lipstick of their own. To enter just follow the steps below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

-This giveaway is open to UK residents only.
-The giveaway will run from 22/04/17 - 06/05/17.
-The winner will be selected at random and will be contacted via Twitter. They will have 7 days to respond. If it is apparent the winner is on holiday, away for personal reasons etc I will extend the time allowed to reply. If the winner does not reply within the extended time frame, another winner will be selected.
-The winner's details will be passed to WOW FreeStuff as they will be supplying the prize.
-By entering the competition you agree to receive newsletters from WOW FreeStuff.
-If you are under the age of 18 please ask your parents/legal guardians for permission before entering.
-All entries will be checked and any false entries will automatically be disqualified.
-This prize cannot be exchanged for cash or any other goods or services.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I received a lipstick in exchange for review. All opinions are my own.

L'Oreal Micellar Water Review

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

If you know me (and if you do I’m sorry) then you’re probably aware of my love for trying new micellar waters. After using makeup wipes for far longer than I wish I had, I’m very particular about the way my makeup is removed now. I want it all off of my face before going to sleep and I want it done in a manner that takes very little time and effort and doesn’t cause me to tug at my skin. I’m becoming a little jaded with all of the micellar waters failing to live up to expectations so you can’t really blame me for buying L’Oreal’s belated version as soon as I saw it, can you?

The L’Oreal Micellar Water* for normal/sensitive skin is incredibly late to the scene. Garnier (owned by L’Oreal) have had their offering out for a considerable amount of time and even have multiple variations of it. What took L’Oreal so long to finally make their version is beyond me but I do know this, it’s amazing!

Let’s start with the shallow side of things first. The packaging is simple, sleek and something I thoroughly enjoy having on the bathroom shelf. It contains 400ml worth of product (much like the Garnier versions) and disperses the product slow enough for you to control how much comes out. This micellar water is on the pricier side of the drugstore versions at £5.99 but it does contain 150ml more product than the majority of micellar waters currently on the market.

As for the overall performance of the L’Oreal Micellar Water, well, it’s everything I want it to be and more. A little bit of product on a cotton pad held onto each eyelid for a few seconds will melt away any eyeshadow I’m wearing, it will remove my eyeliner without leaving my eyes bloodshot (unlike a good chunk of other makeup removers) and very little product is required to remove all of my foundation. When it comes to bold lipsticks, this micellar water is an absolute dream; most red lipsticks are smeared around my face by makeup removers but all lipstick remains are eliminated by L’Oreal’s offering.

The only fault I can really find in this micellar water is the fact L’Oreal are still a little shady when it comes to animal testing. For the most part, they don’t test their products or ingredients on animals but make allowances for certain countries that require products to be tested on animals. Obviously, this means that if you are looking for a micellar water that carries the cruelty-free label, this isn’t the one for you.

At £5.99 for 400ml worth of incredible product, I think the L’Oreal Micellar Water is an absolute steal. The Garnier version was my go to makeup remover but L’Oreal just elbowed it out of the way. I’m probably going to keep trying whatever new micellar water takes my fancy but I’m safe in the knowledge I have finally found one that ticks all of my lazy boxes.

Disclaimer: Anything marked with an asterisk (*) is an affiliate link.

Eating the Elephant by Alice Wells Review

Thursday, 13 April 2017

TW: Child Abuse

Towards the end of last year, I was chosen for jury duty. Around 50 people were in attendance that day but only 15 jurors were required. You can imagine I felt pretty good that the odds of my name being picked out of the fishbowl were extremely low but alas, luck wasn’t on my side that day and I became juror number 6.

The trial I was selected for consisted of a male who had been accused of being in possession of child pornography. We listened to the witnesses and the accused before finding the man in question guilty. We were fortunate to not be shown the images although the levels of extremity were described to us. I’d rather not see those type of images for as long as I should live but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in what makes paedophiles tick.

Eating the Elephant Alice Wells

Ever since my former teenage crush Ian Watkins of Lostprophets fame was arrested for his heinous crimes, I’ve wondered what compels people to be driven to child pornography and rape. They’re both morbid subject matters that we’d all be better off without but I have a warped interest in the psychological aspect of it all. This is why when Jeremy Vine was interviewing Alice Wells on BBC Radio 2, I had to listen.

Alice Wells was discussing the day she discovered her husband was being investigated for paedophilia as well as the months that followed. Her story compelled me to immediately purchase her book “Eating the Elephant” as I was intrigued to hear about the experience from a family member’s point of view.

Eating the Elephant* gives an insight into Alice Wells’ life as she deals with the aftermath of the death of her husband Mark and the discovery of his paedophilia. Their marriage sounds like any typical relationship; there are arguments, support and love but eventually, things change. Mark loses interest in Alice after the birth of their first child and begins to dedicate more and more time to his computer. To Alice, it’s a little much but as he had a degree in IT and claimed it was for his job, she didn’t question it.

The discovery of Mark’s disgusting “hobby” happens at the beginning of the book so the vast majority of the story focuses on how the family, particularly Alice, copes with it all. Whenever his history was referenced throughout the book, it was very brief and rather rushed. My assumption is this is down to Alice Wells still trying to gather her thoughts on it all but for me personally, I felt like a huge chunk of the story was missing.

Eating the Elephant Alice Wells

There is one detail of Mark’s interest in particular that Alice doesn’t go into and I think it’s quite obvious why she refrains from doing so. Mark had abused their child Grace when she was a very young girl. He had shown her explicit images on his computer, taken photos of her in her mother’s underwear and made her “drink from daddy’s bottom”. There were times after Mark had died where Grace would be sleeping and she would say how she didn’t want the cream on her as it was sticky; I’ll let you figure out what poor Grace was actually referring to.

It was really the parts with Grace that stood out for me the most as it only highlighted how difficult it can be for a parent to not only find help for their child but to also cope with the realisation that they were abused by someone who was supposed to protect them. Despite these parts standing out to me, I felt like there was a lack of frustration and real emotion in Alice’s need to help her child. I understand that Alice would be upset but her words didn’t necessarily depict that; the jumbled timelines and lack of flow to the story took away any emotion that should have been woven into it.

While there does seem to be a lack of emotion, forgiveness does manage to sneak its way into the book as Alice Wells finds herself debating on whether she should forgive Mark. I feel like this is the part that will divide the majority of Eating the Elephant’s readers. I’m quick to say I would never forgive anyone who could do such disgusting things to children but at the same time, I’ve never been – and hope to never be – in such a situation.

I think it’s easy to say we’d never forgive and shun anyone who chooses to forgive but at the same time, Alice married Mark thinking he was a great man. She had 2 children with him and, although their marriage hit a rough patch towards the end, the memories she had with and of him can’t just be erased. It’s actually quite refreshing to find someone who is willing to admit they forgive a person when anyone not in that situation would condemn them.

Overall, I’m a little disappointed with Eating the Elephant. I feel like the story could have been far more compelling and maybe even discuss more signs that Mark wasn’t all he seemed to be. There is a part where he’s sitting with a child on his knee and has an obvious erection but other than that, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of warning signs that you would only pick up on in hindsight. I guess I expected a bit more detail as opposed to a lot of jumbled thoughts and a timeline that didn't make a whole lot of sense. I will give Alice Wells a slight pass as she isn't a professional writer and is no doubt still trying to understand the situation.

Would I recommend Eating the Elephant? Well, if you're not easily horrified and can make sense of muddled thoughts then by all means read this book. If you want something lighthearted though, I'd stay well away.

Disclaimer: Anything marked with an asterisk (*) is an affiliate link.

Saturated Colour "Lipsstick" Review

Sunday, 9 April 2017

If there’s one thing you can never have enough of it's pink lipstick. I tend to gravitate towards brighter shades of pink but when I want to make it look like I’ve made an effort without actually doing so, I pick up the more natural shades. Thanks to my magpie tendencies when it comes to bright shades, I’m severely lacking in pale pinks so when the Saturated Colour “lipsstick” (my laptop’s spellcheck is not enjoying this spelling) in Naked Pink dropped through my door, I immediately fell in love.

Saturated Colour Lipsstick

Saturated Colour is a family run, cruelty-free makeup line that offers a nice selection of lip products (all of which are vegan-friendly) and eye makeup. It’s a makeup line that’s easy on the bank account and supplies colours suitable for all skin tones. Usually, and at the risk of sounding like a snob, I find cheaper lipsticks and I don’t typically mix but I am in awe of Saturated Colour’s “lipsstick” line.

Naked Pink is an extremely creamy lipstick that applies like an absolute dream. It’s highly pigmented and is a “my lips but better” type of shade. This lipstick stays put pretty much all day and reapplication isn’t entirely necessary. It does transfer a little when I’m eating and drinking (and it can’t hold its own against corn on the cob) but it’s really not that noticeable.

Saturated Colour Lipsstick

This is a little darker than most of my “go to” paler pink lipsticks but I think that adds to the appeal for me. Naked Pink is a shade I can wear pretty much anywhere with anything and it’s definitely going to get used a lot.

Thanks to Naked Pink, I’m hiding my bank card from myself so I don’t buy the rest of the Saturated Colour lip products in one go. They also seem to have a product that will make any cream lipstick matte so obviously I now need that. Someone needs to give me some willpower!

Disclaimer: While this is not a sponsored post and is not affiliated with Saturated Colour, I did receive the lipstick for free in a giveaway. Gotta keep things real over here!

Books of March

Thursday, 6 April 2017

March started off with so much promise. I had rattled my way through Watch Me by Angela Clarke and had picked up a few new books from Waterstones. I was excited to read something I’ve wanted to in years but then it all fell apart. The book I’ve hyped up for so long in my mind was awful and it took me half of March (and the first 2 days of April) to finish. Regardless, I got there but I still only managed 3 books in March.

Let’s start with the aforementioned Watch Me by Angela Clarke*. This is a book that uses social media almost like it’s a character itself. It’s both a hindrance and an asset to the story and, in some warped way, the dangers of living your life on the internet are prominent throughout.

Watch Me focuses on the kidnapping of a policeman’s sister and the countdown to her death. The police must find and rescue her before her twisted kidnapper murders her. Her kidnapping also correlates to the suicide of a teenage girl which becomes intertwined in the investigation. Watch Me is the second in a series and, although it works well as a stand-alone book, it references the “hashtag murderer” from the first book a few too many times.

While I enjoyed the use of social media throughout, I wasn’t overly taken aback by Watch Me. It’s not a terrible book but it’s very predictable and an incredibly easy read. If you’re looking for something to distract yourself with that doesn’t challenge you, Watch Me is a good way to go.

The next book I read was Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper*. I haven’t kept my new found love for Jodi Picoult a secret but I wasn’t exactly hyped to read this book. The subject matter really didn’t interest me but, as it’s Jodi Picoult, I chose to read it regardless.

My Sister’s Keeper follows a family as they deal with a cancer diagnosis. The eldest daughter was diagnosed with cancer at a very young age and her genetically matched younger sister carried the burden of providing bone marrow, blood and ultimately a kidney. The story is centred around the lawsuit that the younger sister has filed against her parents in a bid to be granted medical emancipation. There’s also a completely unnecessary love story woven into the book between the sister’s lawyer and former girlfriend; my assumption is this is added in to make the story a little bit lighter but it’s really quite dreadful.

I honestly didn’t really mind My Sister’s Keeper until the very end. I didn’t think I would enjoy it but, Jodi Picoult’s writing style captivated me and I found myself wanting to read as much as I could in one go. Unfortunately, the ending completely ruined it for me. I won’t give it away but it was a total cop out and felt like Jodi Picoult didn’t have the guts to end it the way it should’ve been. It’s a good book until the last 5 pages.

Finally, we have the book that ruined my reading schedule. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis* has been on my “must read” list for quite some time. I absolutely love the film and while I’ve learnt over the years that the books are always different from the movie (The Shining is the perfect example of this) I was still excited to finally get stuck into American Psycho. Sadly, I would only ever manage 20 pages every time I tried to read it as it’s just so boring.

American Psycho is about a 26-year-old rich misogynist called Patrick Bateman who gets his thrills from wearing Armani and killing people. He’s shallow, vapid and totally inhumane. He’s engaged but sleeps with other girls, he masturbates profusely to extremely odd sounding pornos and he forces a rat into a woman’s vagina. His life basically consists of working out, masturbation and eating dinner with the occasional murder thrown in for good measure.

It all sounds fine and dandy and while the gruesome murders made me recoil in horror (particularly the rat scene), absolutely nothing happens in the majority of this book. Maybe that’s the beauty of it, maybe that adds to the shallow, emptiness of Patrick Bateman and all his silly friends and maybe it put me to sleep several times. The one thing I did enjoy about American Psycho is, even after watching the film several times, I still can’t figure out if Pat Bateman’s tendencies are dark fantasies or things he really did.

I maintain American Psycho is a book everyone should read at least once in their life but only once. It threw my reading challenge into disarray but hopefully, I can claw it all back together. I do have another 2 Jodi Picoult books in my possession to read plus I have to pleasure of feeling sick while reading Trainspotting to look forward to (veins make me uncomfortable). I really wish I would allow myself to read children’s books.

Disclaimer: Anything marked with an asterisk (*) is an affiliate link.

Soap & Glory Speed Plump All Day Super Moisture Marvel Moisturiser Review

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

A Scottish winter is always destined to make my skin dry up like a raisin in the sun. It doesn’t matter how much water I drink or how much moisturiser I apply, I always seem to have dry skin around my nose and on my forehead. Due to this, I try so many different moisturisers in a bid to find the perfect winter beauty product. The never-ending search led me to Soap & Glory’s Speed Plump All Day Super Moisture Marvel Moisturiser (try saying that while drunk).

Soap and Glory Speed Plump All Day Super Moisture Marvel Moisturiser

The Soap & Glory Speed Plump moisturiser (let’s not do the full name) is aimed at anyone with dry/dehydrated skin and while I tend to favour thicker, heavier moisturisers for winter, this moisturiser is light and easy to blend. It’s also non-greasy which makes it the perfect base for makeup so there’s an added bonus. Unfortunately, there is no SPF in the Soap & Glory Speed Plump moisturiser but if you live in the hills of Scotland like I do, you won’t even know what the sun looks like.

Soap & Glory promise that the Speed Plump All Day Super Moisture Marvel moisturiser will brighten and tighten your skin while also disguising any fine lines you may have and providing moisture for 24 hours. I don’t have any fine lines – that I’m aware of – so I can’t comment on that side of things but I really don’t feel like it brightens or tightens my skin. It certainly makes my skin feel that little bit smoother but I don’t see any difference in its overall look.

Soap and Glory Speed Plump All Day Super Moisture Marvel Moisturiser

On the plus side, the watermelon fruit complex the Speed Plump moisturiser contains make it smell delicious without being overbearing. The scent is really fresh and light and almost reminds of summer!

I’d love to say that my search for the perfect winter moisturiser ends with the *deep breath* Soap & Glory’s Speed Plump All Day Super Moisture Marvel Moisturiser but unfortunately, I’m not really all that into it. I think it’s genuinely good as a generic moisturiser but I don’t feel like it delivers on its other promises. I might actually make the Speed Plump moisturiser part of my summer skincare as opposed to winter as I feel like it’s not heavy duty enough for my winter skin.

Book Haul

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

That blasted reading challenge is still ongoing and while I’m one book away from being a quarter of the way through, I’m quickly running out of books to read. Books on offer in supermarkets are all fine and dandy but nothing beats wandering around a large bookstore so of course, I had to go to Waterstones and of course I left with more books than planned. I could’ve bought a hell of a lot more so at least I stopped myself before going completely overboard. Anyway, I digress, let’s get into this haul!

Books to read

It’s embarrassing as a Scottish person to admit this but I only saw Trainspotting the day before I saw T2: Trainspotting. I’ve never really thought about watching it but when my fiancé mentioned he wanted to see T2, he forced me into watching Trainspotting. I ended up loving both films so much I decided I had to read the book so, Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting was immediately purchased. If I’d thought about it while in Waterstones, I would’ve picked up Skagboys and Porno but I guess that gives me a good excuse to go back.

If the cover for Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is giving you a headache, I feel your pain. Films and books that are intended to be 3D automatically make me feel sick so I’ve hidden Brave New World until it’s time to read it.

If I’m being honest, the idea of Brave New World being like George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four puts me off reading it but, at the same time, I’m intrigued. I think I was possibly too young to understand Nineteen Eighty-Four when I initially read it so perhaps Brave New World will be more to my liking.

Books to read

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis has been on my “to read” list for quite some time. I watched the film solely for Jared Leto’s presence (why does he meet an unfortunate end in the majority of his films?) and vowed one day to read the book. I’ve already started American Psycho and have fallen asleep whilst reading it so I’m worried. I’m hoping this is just a slow book to begin with as I really want it to be great.

Angela Clarke’s Watch Me was picked up on a whim. After enjoying Dave Eggers’ The Circle so much, I wanted to read more books that use social media as a character. Watch Me uses social media and revenge porn websites (I’m fairly certain the one in Watch Me is based on Hunter Moore’s “Is Anyone Up?” site) as tools to create the perfect murders. I’ve already read it and without divulging my full opinion just yet, I will say it’s an exceptionally easy read.

Books to read

Up until a few days ago, I had read 2 Jodi Picoult books and thoroughly enjoyed them both so I wanted another one to further my love of her. Unfortunately, the only book of hers Waterstones had was My Sister’s Keeper and that has never appealed to me. I’ve refrained from buying it in the past but this time, I decided to give it a chance and I’m still unsure as to whether this was a good idea or not. Medical terms make me squirm, cancer in children makes me uncomfortable and random love stories woven into something serious make me want to vomit. My Sister’s Keeper is clearly not aimed at the likes of me.

It’s hard to ignore the book that has bullets on the cover so my eye was constantly drawn to Human Acts by Han Kang. Human Acts is based in South Korea and follows the aftermath of a violent student uprising. The reviews make it sound brilliant, the cover is holding my interest and it’s the shortest book I have in the “to read” pile so it’s winning in my eyes so far.

I have quite a few books to hold me for a while but I will bet anyone willing to gamble that I will end up with more books very soon. Considering I went years without stepping into a bookstore, I’m amazed at how many times I’m in them now. I might carry out my childhood dream of living in my local Waterstones.

Disclaimer: Affiliate links have been used in this post.

Books of February

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Books to read

Despite January’s reading success, I couldn’t get it together in February. January ended in a rather upsetting fashion for my other half and his family so settling down to read a book when my mind was going at 100mph wasn’t easy. I would manage around 10 pages before throwing the book I was reading down in frustration. Due to that, 2 books were completed in February and I’m slightly mad at that fact.

The first book I finished was I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork. The title of this intrigued me and I’m rather pleased with myself for picking it up as it’s one of the few books I’ve read recently that has kept me guessing until the end.

I’m Travelling Alone opens with a 6-year-old girl found hanging from a tree with a sign saying “I’m travelling alone” around her neck. The story is then handed over to Mia; a former cop who is getting ready to commit suicide. Mia and the investigation into the 6-year-old girl become intertwined and while their story is being told, another one in the form of a religious cult begins to sneak its way into the book. A significant amount of characters are needed for this whole plot to come together so admittedly, I felt myself getting a little lost at times but I’m Travelling Alone kept my attention.

I'm Travelling Alone. Professor of Truth

I didn’t actually guess how the ending was going to play out until around 10 pages from one of the big reveals. The entire book was cleverly written and the short chapters really helped maintain the pace of the story and also add a sense of urgency. If you’re a fan of Scandinavian crime books, I’m Travelling Alone is a fantastic read.

The Professor of Truth by James Robertson was the second book I read in February. I’ve seen this book sitting in my parents’ house for a while now and I’ve always wondered about it. The Professor of Truth is based on the Lockerbie bombing and the idea that the wrong person was convicted. It weaves fact with fiction and actually borrows the story of Dr Jim Swire, a man who lost his daughter in the bombing.

I'm Travelling Alone. The Professor of Truth

Alan Tealing, the main character, has lost both his wife and young daughter in the bombing and is adamant that the evidence in the trial was false. An ex-CIA agent dying of cancer comes to visit Alan Tealing to inform him in the most round-about way possible that his suspicions are correct and that leads to Alan going to Australia for answers.

I found this book extremely difficult to get into at first as it was just so dull. The fact it’s based on a true story usually makes things interesting for me but it just wasn’t working for The Professor of Truth. It wasn’t until I very slowly reached page 110 that I started to really pay attention. The plot came into its own in the last 100 pages and, while I found the ending to be odd, I don’t think it could have ended in any other way.

While I wouldn’t recommend The Professor of Truth to everyone, I would urge anyone with any degree of interest in the Lockerbie bombing or terrorist activity in general to read this. It’s not the most captivating of stories but it makes you think about whether the conspiracy is the actual truth or not.

Despite my disappointment with my efforts in February, I’m happy with my choice of books and now I can finally stop wondering what The Professor of Truth is all about. Hopefully, March will be a more productive month for reading otherwise I’ll never reach my reading goal.

Disclaimer: Anything marked with an asterisk (*) is an affiliate link.

My Go To Hair Products

Monday, 27 February 2017

While I’m amazing at hoarding skincare products and doing my very best to ensure my skin stays in tip top condition, I’m awful when it comes to maintaining my hair. It pains me to say that I can’t do a thing with my hair other than straighten it and messily curl it. I can’t do cute hairstyles and I refrain from visiting the hairdressers out of fear they’ll shave my head (why do hairdressers not understand what “just a trim please” means?). That being said, when my hair does reach the stage where it’s drier than the Sahara and probably could do with being shaved off, there are a few products I use to sort the abomination on my head out.

Hair essentials

Let’s start with the thing I use multiple times a day and can no longer imagine my life without. I live in the hills of Scotland so naturally, I deal with constant rainy and windy days and my hair is usually a massive knot as a result. Conventional hairbrushes cause my hair to snap and clumps are often pulled out but thanks to the Tangle Teezer, I can brush through the bird’s nest that is my hair with total ease. It has actually made my hair that little bit healthier as I’m no longer destroying it every single time I try to brush it.

Raise your hands if you’re prone to drying your hair as quickly and as lazily as possible! I’m with you on that one. If there’s a hair dryer that can eliminate the damage I do to my hair with my lazy drying ways then I’m all for it. Fortunately, the Panasonic hair dryer was meant for all the people who resent drying their hair as much as I do. It has a “healthy mode” which allows for quick drying while also leaving the hair shiny and manageable. The quick dry nozzle also assists in drying the hair rapidly by separating the hair strands using strong and weak airflows. It also contains a slight acidity which is a similar PH to the human scalp making it perfect for people with sensitive skin.

Hair essentials

I usually don’t have the patience for a hair mask but when my hair needs one, I’ll use the Garnier Ultimate Blends The Strength Restorer. This was actually bought as a last minute purchase before going to Iceland since I was aware the Blue Lagoon was probably going to destroy my hair (spoiler: it did). Garnier hair products and I aren’t the best of friends so I was rather apprehensive about this hair mask doing anything for me but what do you know, it completely saved my hair from looking and feeling absolutely disgusting. I don’t use it as often as I probably should but when I do, there’s a huge difference in my hair.

Hair essentials

I have a habit of switching up my conditioner a lot but there’s one I keep going back to and that’s the Alberto Balsam Coconut and Lychee conditioner. Coconut scented shampoos and conditioners are my thing and I adore the way this one smells. It also does a great job at keeping my hair in check and at £1 per bottle, it’s a total steal!

Finally, we have the only Lush product to feature in this entire post. I know, me with just one Lush product, it’s madness! R&B isn’t exactly designed for my hair type but I use it anyway as it’s such a great product. My hair can be a little frizzy from time to time but R&B helps fight that frizz and it leaves my hair smelling incredible. I do tend to favour the Garnier Ultimate Blends The Strength Restorer Balm over R&B as R&B is a little bit too heavy for my fine hair.

So there you have my go to hair essentials. I really need to implement a haircare routine to rival my skincare routine but that will probably never happen. Maybe one day I’ll learn how to make my hair look as sleek and as healthy as possible but until then, I’ll just keep trying to maintain the current health of my hair with as little effort as possible.

Disclaimer: This post features sponsored products. All opinions are my own and are not affiliated with any company.
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