Beside the Seaside

I’ve lived in the Southend area for nearly 6 months now and I can now honestly say that I love where I live. Nowhere is perfect or without its issues but I’m much happier and more relaxed here than I was living in London. As I said before I’m in London often enough anyway but it’s nice to come home to somewhere which is usually pretty quiet. Today probably isn’t the best example though as I hear people outside the local pub getting into the bank holiday spirit(s) but hopefully it’ll quieten down tonight.

Last weekend we jumped on the train and went to Leigh-on-sea which is a lovely place to go on the hottest day of the year. There was a great atmosphere as everyone was outside enjoying the weather and the seaside is so picturesque. When I lived in London everyone flocked to the limited parks on a sunny day which never did my hayfever any favours and there was never any space as everyone had the same idea. Although Leigh was busy it wasn’t unpleasant.

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We had reserved a table at The Boatyard restaurant and arranged to meet up with my mum and her partner’s friends and their two children, who enjoyed an eye cream and paddling in the sea after our meal. I ordered the fish of the day which was a tasty tuna steak with salad. For dessert I chose the panna cotta which is one of my favourites.

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It was such a lovely day and I’m looking forward to more Summer days beside the sea.

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Cocktails & Lunch at Olivia’s La Cala

From the end of March to the beginning of April I spent a week in Spain visiting my grandparents which also coincided with mine and my boyfriend’s 7 year anniversary. To mark the occasion we decided to try TOWIE star Elliott Wright’s restaurant in La Cala which isn’t far from where my grandparents live. After watching a show about the opening and running of the restaurant on a programme called Playa in Marbella we were excited to try it.

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We first went there on the Thursday for cocktails and it was such a nice, chilled atmosphere and not at all pretentious. The staff we really friendly and helpful and I enjoyed my cocktails. My favourite was a tropical concoction called Blue Hawaiian (below)

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We then returned on Monday for our anniversary lunch and the food did not disappoint. I chose the tempura sole with straw potato which was really tasty but there were a decent amount of options for mains along with a selection of Tapas dishes. My boyfriend and grandparents were also really impressed with their meals and although the prices aren’t the cheapest, you definitely get what you pay for.

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The restaurant has a lovely sea view which adds to the relaxed atmosphere. My outfit of choice for the occasion was a gingham top from Matalan with cropped flares from Topshop and Clarks sandals. I went for a bit of a Spanish theme to fit in with the location!

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As we were leaving, Elliott was outside on the phone so once he’d finished his call my grandad, bless him asked if he would have a picture taken with me as I was too embarrassed to ask. Elliott was happy to oblige and seemed really friendly and down to Earth. Overall, we were really impressed and will definitely return next time we’re in Spain. Its somewhere I would recommend a visit to, even for cocktails and maybe some Tapas.

A Spring in my Step

So the clocks have gone forward, the sun shines most days and the breeze isn’t quite as bitter as it was a week or so ago. It seems that Spring has sprung. I’ve seen people out and about wearing shorts which is a bit too far, especially for someone who feels the cold like me but it’s definitely time to wear lighter clothes on those days when the weather is decent. I’m obsessed with embroidery at the moment, specifically of the floral variety so I’m glad I picked up these rose detail jeans in the Missguided shop last year. I also can’t get enough of gingham and this cotton top was a bargain at £12 from Matalan. Espadrilles are a good carry over trend from last summer and these Zara ones were only £20.

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I still need to wear a jacket with this look but on sunny days a black faux leather would do. I’m looking forward to when it’s warm enough not to need one though.

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BlogConLDN 2017

I’ve only been to a couple of Scarlett London events before but they never disappoint and the latest BlogCon was no exception. Hundreds of bloggers descended on the QEII centre in Westminster, a location which has sadly become quite poignant since the terrible events that unfolded on the 22nd March but that’s a whole other story.

The space was open plan and had some decent views as you can see below.

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There was plenty of space to walk around, chat to fellow bloggers, meet the brands and have a look at some of their items and to listen to talks given by established bloggers, with tips on how to boost your blog. Unfortunately, I was too caught up visiting the brands to stop and listen which is a shame. It was a really enjoyable event and I had a great time discovering different brands and catching up with friends but the only downside for me was the 12pm start time. It takes me quite a bit of time to travel into central London now and if the event was slightly later I would’ve had time to grab some lunch beforehand. I ended up having to leave early as hunger called and my regular head pains are worse if I don’t eat properly. Here are some of the brands I spoke to at the event

 

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I remember Johnny Loves Rosie from when I was a teenager but I must say, they have really upped their game! I love the slogan clutch bags and gorgeous sparkly drop earrings that would be great for a night out or special occasion. They even have watches which are practically an essential.

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Skincare brand Exuviance exhibited at a previous event but I hadn’t tried any of their face products, only a body cream. After sharing my skin woes and kindly being given the Purifying cleansing gel and Skinrise bionic tonic exfoliating pads to try I felt hopeful that my skin would improve and after trying them at the weekend this was definitely the case. My skin looked so bright and clear and has never felt so clean! The products also have a really pleasant smell. I did break out in a couple of spots after 2 days but I imagine it’s bringing all the toxins and rubbish to the surface as face masks do so I definitely plan to stick with it.

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Chi Chi London make such pretty dresses that are perfect for weddings and other special occasions. It was so hard to choose a favourite from the rails of fairytale frocks on display but the plain pink, high necked sleeveless maxi dress just clinches it for me as it’s classic yet modern and so feminine.

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Rose is one of my favourite scents and it seems that Lola’s Apothecary agree as it features in quite a few of their products! I love a pamper and I’m very tempted to try their bath milk and beautifully scented candles and bath oils

I also spoke to a few other brands such as Trek America, sexy hair, Natural World and Lipivir and I’ll be featuring some of their products on either my blog or social media soon.

 

My new Favourite Shirt

Embroidery and gingham are two of my favourite trends for this Summer so when I saw a shirt that combined the two I had to snap it up! It cost around £30 from Zara, which have some lovely pieces at the moment. I only get to go there every so often now I don’t live close to a store but make sure I treat myself when I do.

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On this particular day I wore the shirt with leggings/ski trousers from River Island and ankle boots from Topshop but it would be great in the summer with denim shorts or over a slip dress or bikini. It would also work with jeans or leather look trousers which I’ve also worn it with on another occasion.

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I’m definitely on the lookout for more gingham and embroidered pieces to add to my summer wardrobe.

My Love/Hate Relationship with London

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner, that I love London so… Well, sometimes.

I was born in East London and lived there up until October last year, when I moved to Southend in Essex. I still go to London fairly often and love where I live but there are a few things I miss about London, other than the fact that my boyfriend and some of my friends and family live there. The biggest thing I’ve noticed with it being Winter is the darkness. London is always lit up and glows at night whereas once the sun goes down where I’m living now I’m surrounded by darkness. So much so that you can actually see the stars. That part is nice but walking home in pitch black isn’t the most fun!

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Other things I love about London along with the bright lights are the beautiful buildings, including many landmarks such as Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and Big Ben. There’s something special about the mix of old and new and the ever changing but still recognisable skyline. I also love the eclectic variety of fashion and the sense that you can be unique but still fit in. This brings me on to the shopping opportunities. London is a shopper’s paradise and I miss being able to jump on the train to Westfield in Stratford or the West End if I fancied going further afield. It now takes me an hour to just get to where I used to live and my local high street sadly isn’t a patch on what I’m used to. They don’t even have a Zara or a Lush! It’s a similar story with restaurants and I’ve been craving Wagamama for ages. It doesn’t help that I can’t drive so most places are an hour away by train.

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London may be great for visual stimulation, shopping, eating out and entertainment but not so much for space, rest, peace and quiet. As someone with anxiety I used to struggle with the noise when I was trying to sleep and the crowds practically wherever I went. My local station felt constantly like being part of the stampede scene in The Lion King and I’d feel really stressed every time I left the house. I also had lots of sleep issues putting up with less than considerate neighbours and outside noise. It seems that lots of people who live in certain parts of London want to spend their weekends partying all night when I need my sleep! It’s much quieter where I live now, although we do live near a pub and I don’t miss the noise, lack of sleep and anxious feelings at all.

Things have changed so much over the years and the London I grew up in no longer exists but at least I still have the memories and can make new ones in my new home. You also get more for your money the further out of London you go. Personally, when I eventually can afford to move out, my budget won’t stretch anywhere near towards getting what I want in London so I will more than likely stay in the Essex area. The sunsets also seem prettier here. I do like skyscrapers silhouetted against the sunset but the sun setting over the sea just pips it to the post.

 

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I do visit London often for blog events or to see my boyfriend or friends but I get to go home to a nice, mostly peaceful place so I feel like I have the best of both worlds, even if those Wagamama cravings get too much at times. I get my Zara fix at least once a month when I go and see my boyfriend, who lives not too far from Canary Wharf. My Lush addiction may be suffering but at least I’m saving money. I’m also walking to more places and getting plenty of fresh air. I’m looking forward to summer by the sea but a little part of my heart will always live in London.

The Blogosphere Magazine Tea Party

I actually attended this Valentine’s Blogosphere event over two weeks ago but life has been pretty manic so I haven’t had the chance to post about it until now. It was my first Blogosphere Magazine event but I’ve read the magazine a few times and thought it would be a great place to meet likeminded people along with interesting brands and to catch up with some of my blogging pals. The event was held at the Tropical Library in the Luminaire building in South London and even though I’ve been there once before I still managed to get lost and had to spend my last few pounds on a taxi in the end. Once I arrived I was greeted by a really friendly young lady and a sea of tasty cupcakes so all was soon forgotten!

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As you can see the decor was pretty Instagram worthy and was a great setting for chatting to other bloggers and brands, some of which are featured below

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I’m a sucker for make-up, especially bright colours so I was instantly drawn to the Glo & Ray stand. Their hot pink lipstick is amazing and looked so pigmented from the swatches I made. I definitely want to try more of their products and am planning a review of the lipstick and eyeliner I received in my goodie bag

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Samaya Skincare are a natural skincare brand whose products are designed to achieve the perfect balance. Interestingly, they have 3 different ranges designed for different ‘Doshas’ or personality types. When I took the test on their website my result was mostly Vata which seemed appropriate as it was my favourite scent out of the 3

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I’ve always suffered with dry, sore lips and anything that helps relieve them gets a big thumbs up from me. Dr Lipp Nipple Balm for Lips is definitely improving my flaky lip situation at this harsh time of year and I love the smooth texture. There is also no unpleasant taste and it’s perfect to pop on under some lipstick too. It’s also multipurpose so great for other dry skin areas.

Overall, I had a great day (despite my head pains being pretty bad recently but that’s another story) and would definitely attend another Blogosphere event in future. Also, now I’m in full time work it may be time to treat myself to a subscription to the magazine

Review of Anastasia Glow Kit & My First Mac Lipstick

The Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit has been on my wish list for some time so once I’d built up enough funds in my Paypal account I decided to treat myself. I purchased it through Beauty Bay which had enough in stock and it arrived a few days later. I find it’s most effective when worn over a liquid highlighter to really make your skin pop. It’s definitely my favourite highlighter palette but I’m not quite sure if it was worth the £44 price tag. My favourite shades are White Sand and Snow as they have a subtle white based shimmer which you can build up. I feel like all the other shades are pretty similar as they are all a variation of gold sparkle which look almost the same on my skin. I would’ve been happy with my two favourites and just one gold shade but that option isn’t available as far as I’m aware. They also aren’t quite as highly pigmented as I expected, especially the gold toned shades. Snow is probably the most pigmented I’d say. That said, each shade in the palette does give your skin a pretty glow

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With all the new lip product formulas around nowadays and the liquid lipstick revolution transforming everyone’s make up bag, sometimes it’s a nice change to keep it simple and go back to classic lipstick. For someone who loves make up I’ve never actually tried a Mac lipstick until now. My brother got me a voucher for Christmas so I decided to spend it on the cult but very wearable Matte lipstick in Velvet Teddy. A friend of mine wears it and I loved the colour and finish so decided to try it for myself. I’m definitely not disappointed and would like to add to my collection at some point. It also has a smooth texture, a pleasant smell and is easy to apply. Now I understand how people build up a collection of Mac lipsticks!

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Valentine’s Gifts for Him and Her

I know it’s slightly last minute but there’s still time to treat your partner or even your best friend to a present this Valentine’s Day. If you’re stuck for ideas then here are a few suggestions

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Gentlemen’s Tonic specialise in male grooming and were founded in the heart of Mayfair where they have an establishment that offers traditional barbershop and other grooming services. They also have a range of high quality products such as shower gel, fragrance, hair care and shaving products to name a few. The Sinsa Eau De Toilette and the Babassu and Bergamot aftershave balm would make great gifts for the well groomed man in your life. The fragrance has an unusual warm, spicy but modern smell that I’d actually wear myself! The aftershave balm is light, fresh and contains natural essential oils to nourish the skin.

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we’ve covered male grooming so now here’s something for the girls. If your significant other loves skincare and prefers to use vegan products then it’s definitely worth checking out White Rabbit skincare. They have a range of natural and luxurious cleansers, toners, moisturisers and body products, including this good-enough-to-eat chocolate orange lip balm

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If your partner likes tea or coffee then a slogan mug should be right up their street. This ‘His Lordship’ mug is £4.50 from Sainsburys and is a great last minute buy that you can grab whilst doing your weekly shop. They also have a ‘Her Ladyship’ version for your favourite female.

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Other ideas include a meal or afternoon tea for the two of you, gift vouchers, cufflinks, anything from the Lush valentine’s collection, a bottle of their favourite tipple or a good old box of chocolates.

Makeup Revolution Retro Luxe Matte Lipkit review

Lip products are the kind of makeup I buy most often and I’ve been wanting to try the Kylie Jenner lip kits for ages but don’t think it’s worth the cost plus customs charges. Makeup Revolution have come to the rescue with a very similar product for the bargain price of £6! They’re currently only available in selected Superdrug stores but luckily my local in Southend had a choice of four shades. I opted for Noble which is a light brown/nude and Reign which is a pink toned nude. Both are very wearable shades for both day and night.

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The creamy texture and smell of the lipliner are really good quality for the price and it applies so smoothly, with good coverage. The liquid lipstick also has a nice texture but I did find it slightly sticky. Strangely, Reign is stickier than Noble so maybe I was unlucky with the particular batch of product but it’s something I can live with as everything else is great! It lasts for most of the day with no need to reapply and fades in a subtle way rather than leaving patches.

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The only problem was that one of the kits had a missing lipliner but luckily Superdrug allowed me to swap it for another one. I’d definitely open the box and check that both products are there before you go home, just in case. I can’t get over what good value these lip kits are and I want to buy more! I also can’t wait for the metallic options to be released as I have my eye on the rose gold version.