Winter 2016 at Monsoon Grand Central

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When you think Monsoon, what comes to mind? Ball gowns? Evening dresses? Wedding outfits?

If that’s all you think of, then you’re missing out. I’ve long listed Monsoon among my high street faves – among the pretty sparkly dresses (which, let’s face it, I’m always a fan of) you’ll find colourful casual wear and quirky accessories (both in store, and next door courtesy of Accessorize), and of course very importantly – good sizing.

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Minerva Gold Collagen : Skincare from the inside?

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After my allergy diagnosis, I’ve had to really restrict my skin care routine. I’ve worked back up to a prescription cream cleanse, an acid exfoliant, a facial spray and a gentle moisturiser without setting my skin off, but they’re all pretty bland items. All the lovely facial oils and anti ageing skincare has been binned (in some cases literally, but mostly distributed to willing friends and family – after all, someone may as well benefit from my skin woes!)

And so, I’ve been in the strange situation where I’ve been seeing a massive improvement in my skin from a dermatitis point of view – minimal flare ups, being able to wear lipsticks without allergens a couple of times a week, but I’ve seen real deterioration in other areas. Fine lines are appearing around my eyes and on my forehead. Redness around my nose, and pigmentation around the cheek/eye area that are driving me potty. I feel like I’ve spent a fortune on looking after my skin for the last few years, and worry that it will all go to waste!

So, when I received an offer to trial the Minerva Gold Collagen supplement drink, I was very interested. The product – a drink without preservatives (hurrah to none of those benzoates that I’m allergic to!) or artificial sweeteners, packaged in a small glass bottle for those who are avoiding plastics – makes some hefty beauty claims. You simply drink one a day, and it promises to plump and hydrate skin from the inside out, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, promote suppleness, and promote healthy looking hair and nails (another area that has been suffering for me with no luxurious hair treatments or hand creams!).  It does this by supplying a mix of collagen (the highest dose that the body is able to absorb in one day) hyaluronic acid (which used to be a key ingredient in some of my favourite skincare products!) along with vitamins and other skin-focussed supplements.

I’ll be trialling Gold Collagen for 30 days – this is apparently long enough to really start to feel and see a difference. Here’s my ‘before’ photo – probably not helped by being seriously jet lagged after getting back from Japan!

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Check back in in a month, and see the results!

Reader, I married him

I know, I know, ridiculously cheesy title, but when else am I going to get the chance to use it?

Want to see some wedding photos…?

The weather forecast had been terrible all week – and I tried not to be one of those brides who constantly checked the weather forecast. After all, we’d hired umbrellas, arranged an indoor ceremony and based all our decorations around this rather than gambling on an outdoor one. But nope, I must have been checking that Met Office app on the hour every hour from as soon as we got into the week before.

As we drove down to Cornwall the sea mist seemed to swoop around the car. I smiled at Dan through gritted teeth – both saying how dramatic and awesome the photos would be.

We checked into our lovely little B&B, opened a bottle of champagne and munched on some bread and cheese we’d picked up on the way. And promptly fell asleep. After all, this felt like the first night in at least 18 months that we hadn’t been wedding planning. Also, for the first time in quite a few months, the stress started to fade (and booooooy had there been a lot of stress!) and the excitement really started to come rolling back in.

The day before the wedding passed in a blur of moving boxes and picking things up, and finally a prosecco-and-bbq-foods-fuelled venue decorating session with our nearest and dearest – huge thanks to those who spent a merry couple of hours distributing glittery and rainbow painted jam jars around the fort and its outskirts.

Suddenly, it was time for my matron of honour and I to head back to my grandparents’ flat, where I’ve been staying since I was a baby, where Dan proposed, and to try and get a little sleep. (I think I got about 5 hours – not too bad!)

I needn’t have worried about the weather. Despite the forecast, I woke up to the sun rising in clear skies over the sea. (It was suuuuuper early – this is what happens when there are 7 women needing to get ready!). My mom and my hair and makeup lady arrived, followed by my bridesmaids.

And then this happened…

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Bra Fitting at the New Bravissimo Birmingham

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Last year, you may remember, I had my first bra fitting in waaaaaay too long at Bravissimo Solihull. It was a brilliant experience, relieving the actual, physical pain that I was experiencing from wearing the wrong size bra. My only feedback was that I wished that there was a store in Birmingham, and that there were more high waisted knickers on offer. Well, guys, good news – Bravissimo have opened a fabulous new store in Birmingham City Centre, and they invited me along to take a look around, and get another fitting. Double good news – when I arrived at the stylish new store front on Cannon Street, I was greeted by these high waisted beauties in the window… [Read more…]

Hoar Cross Hall Spa Escape

Whenever anyone asks me for a spa recommendation I without hesitation say ‘Hoar Cross Hall‘. There’s something about the place that induces immediate relaxation.

It’s just far enough out of the city to feel like I’m escaping into the countryside, without being so far that it feels like a slog to get there. The Jacobean building gives the historian in me serious happies, the food is brilliant (and plentiful), and that’s before you even get on to the actual spa facilities.

Back in April I was just entering what I’ll now refer to as ‘stressed-out-reclusedom’ – we were in the final days of working out whether we were EVER going to exchange on our new flat (and being hit with surprise bills left right and centre. Awesome.), the new web project I was working on was seriously kicking off, suddenly we only had 4 months to the wedding, and it felt like the flat purchase was taking up all of our planning time. I was, in short, a wreck.

Fortunately my wonderful mother had spied my on-the-edge-ness and treated me to a trip to Hoar Cross for my birthday. We have a bit of a tradition of visiting together every year, but due to various factors had missed 2015 out. The solution? Go for twice as long in 2016! (Gotta love my mother’s logic – it’s the same logic that led to visiting Disneyland being the only possible solution to our flight being moved by 24 hours on the way back from Hawaii.) Thank goodness she was so generous – looking back I think this little ‘relaxation re-set’ was one of the few things that got me through!

2015 being a ‘fallow spa year’ also meant that this was the first time that we’d encountered the newly refurbished facilities. I got a glimpse of some of these back when I visited the opening of the Matthew Curtis salon at Hoar Cross in July last year, but it was brilliant to see how they’ve really taken the place to another level of luxury.

Check out my vlog from our spa escape to see just what I’m talking about. There are scones!