On Sunday I headed off to the Gin Festival in Nottingham with my Grandad and Mum. I’d bought the ticket months ago so I couldn’t believe that it had finally arrived! The event was held at the Nottingham Conference centre, part of Nottingham Trent University in the city centre. As three avid gin lovers we were quite excited to see what was going to unfold during the afternoon and whether we would discover a new favourite!
The event started at 12.30pm and we were greeted with a gin glass (something I was very excited about) and what I assumed was a brochure. Little did I know that it was actually something I am now naming ‘The Gin Bible’, full of hundred of different gins, what mixer to pair them with and how to garnish them. It is honestly incredible and I am going to be ploughing my way through that little book from now on! The tickets to the event were £9 each and I’m not going to lie, I thought you might get one drink included with that but alas, that was not to be the case!
Once inside you bought tokens for £5 each which got you a gin of your choice (single shot) from the extensive bible and it’s appropriate mixer and garnish. There were 4 bars to choose from, two british gin bars, one international gin bar and one flavoured and sloe gin bar. We decided we would each pick a different gin from each bar so that by the end of the event we would have tried 12 different gins and their mixers. My grandad and I also wandered into the Mason’s masterclass to hear all about their offerings too so we got to try some of the original Masons gin too, made just up the road from my grandparents in Harrogate! I have to say that the Mason’s gin was hands down my favourite gin for a regular gin and tonic, it was so smooth and like nothing I had ever tried before, it was a total winner for me!
There was plenty going on throughout the day including more masterclasses, live music, cocktail making and of course, lots of gin drinking! I didn’t think the price of £5 per drink was too bad but the £10 a cocktail sadly put me off, that is really quite pricey in my eyes! They also had a lovely little ‘off license’ where you could buy cute merchandise and even bottles of your favourite gin on the day.
We had such a fab time and I wanted to write a little post just in case the gin festival is visiting a town near you soon as it is an annual event and actually tours around the UK! It is well worth a visit if you like gin and makes a great afternoon or evening out with friends and family! I am 100% going to try and go again next year and perhaps start making it a little family tradition! Have you been to the gin festival before? What gin would you recommend that I try?
When I was younger, despite being a picky eater, I used to love cooking. Now though, I just cannot be bothered! I want something quick and easy whilst still maintaining an acceptable level of nutrition, whilst ALSO being vegetarian. It’s a tough challenge that I usually leave to Mum or Tom! However, when I got offered the chance to try out a Gousto box*, I decided to man up and take over the cooking reins for a change!
The thing I liked the most about the whole Gousto ordering process was just how easy and straight forward it was! After signing up you simply decide how many people you are wanting to cater for (either 2 or 4) and how many meals you would like to order. I went for the 2 meals for 2 people option to give Tom and I two meals that were all ready to go. Gousto separates the recipes out to make it easy for you to find something that’s suitable. The tabs include vegetarian, low calorie and even family-friendly to ensure you pick something that’s going to be a good fit!
I chose two vegetarian meals but I do think some of the meat meals could be adapted to suit both of us as I don’t mind separating portions out last minute or just popping the meat to one side for Tom. The week I ordered, two meals really jumped out at me: the Aubergine Parmigiana and the Four Veg Ratatouille Lasagne! As I’m writing this I’ve already made the Parmigiana but the Lasagne is still to come!
The box is scheduled to arrive any time before 5pm on the day you order it so it will always be in time for dinner! Mine arrived before midday which was great but don’t worry if you are out, you schedule arrangements for your box prior to delivery and you select the day too so you know when it’s going to appear. The boxes are also okay out of the fridge for up to 24hours due to the ice backs and insulation inside the box! The use recyclable ice packs and bags of sheep wool to keep the chilled ingredients cold! At 7pm when I started cooking, the ice was only half melted which was pretty impressive! I’m not going to lie, I got quite excited when the box arrived and rushed to open it to see all the goodies inside! I can honestly say that the veg was some of the freshest and most perfect looking veg I have seen in years! It was like they had just been harvested! Both my recipes were actually Italian as we love Italian food but the ‘store cupboard produce’ like the tinned tomatoes looked incredible quality (and later proved to taste incredible too)! Gousto had even popped in a wooden spoon which I thought was one of the cutest touches and I’m banning anyone from using it so it still looks perfect when I move out and add it to my own kitchen!
Each recipe is printed on a card with step by step instructions and even pictures to guide you through it! This was something I found to be really useful as I often get a bit paranoid that what I’m making isn’t quite what the recipe is asking for! One thing I will point out is that the times printed on the cards are quite unrealistic. The aubergine parmigiana was meant to only take 35 minutes from start to finish but 10minutes in and I was still on step one! From opening the box to sitting down to eat it took me just over an hour, still not an unreasonable length of time in my opinion but it’s just something to be aware of, particularly if the recipes have slightly longer times on them!
I have to say the recipe was easy to follow and the portion size for two people was actually pretty spot on! Tom is a big eater and I eat slightly under a normal person I would say and we had a tiny bit left after we were both full. There are only minimal ingredients that are not included such as olive oil, something I didn’t realise though and had to improvise at one point making my ‘pesto’ with butter instead. Not a disaster but definitely not what the chef had intended the pesto to look like! As someone that rarely graces the kitchen other than to open cupboards and ask mum what’s for dinner, I found the whole process really enjoyable and had Tom not been breathing down my neck the whole time desperate for food, I would have been quite relaxed! I can definitely see us using this service in the future as it would be hard to buy all the ingredients for such interesting recipes for much less than £27.49. We often end up spending a similar amount in Marks & Spencers just buying bits to chuck in the oven. It also takes a lot of the hassle out of food shopping and meal planning which I like and ends up preventing some of that panic last minute buying of pizzas and garlic bread that often happens to us. I don’t think I could be bothered to cook weekly as I often come in after 7pm, but I could definitely see us buying these once a month to try some new things.
If you fancy trying Gousto out for yourselves then I have a code where your first AND second boxes could cost as little as £7.49 each! If you want a bigger box than 2 meals for 2 people (or 1 meal for 4 people) then it will cost a little more but the code takes £20 off the price of each box regardless, just input TORNADO at the checkout! There are so many amazing sounding recipes so let me know which ones you chose if you do try it out, they change weekly so if there’s not something you fancy this week then hang on till next week and check it out again! One final thing to note is just how easy it is to alter your delivery schedule, cancel your subscription or to just order one off boxes rather than subscribe. I like it when a company is transparent and Gousto is definitely that! There’s no hidden catches and no tie-ins, it’s just out to be as easy and beneficial as possible! I am planning to purchase one off boxes as we are always busy and always seem to be eating out or on the go so this will definitely fit in better for our lifestyle!
Have you tried Gousto before? What do you think of the concept?
*I was sent this box free to try but all opinions remain my own. I was genuinely intrigued to see if a kitchen hater like me could be converted and I really enjoyed trialling this out!
A few weeks ago I was invited to a makeup masterclass at Cabella in Nottingham specialising on glitter smoky eyes and contouring. I adore glitter and, having a rather round face, I should learn to love contouring too, so I jumped at the chance to see what they could show me! They were kind enough to let me take a plus one, so my bestie Lora came along too! Another of my local blogging pals Rebecca was also there with her sister which made for a really nice, small group!
Having visited Cabella during the Snizl event, I already knew they used the likes of Glitter Eyes, LA Girl and Milani for the majority of their looks, all of which I either already use or have wanted to try for a while! The way the class worked was that there were two looks being demonstrated: a day time look and a more all out glam look, perfect for a night on the town. I mean I wear glitter whenever the hell I want but they did manage to make it look more subtle for the day time which was nice and totally something I’m going to try to recreate, especially on my Mum who has yet to let me attack her with the glitter! The girls (Dannica & Jordan) talked us through each step, starting with base and leading all the way up to the lips at the end.
As a huge makeup lover I did find that the majority of things that we were told were just the norm, however a complete makeup novice, or someone wanting to improve on the basics, would probably find all the hints and tips more useful. That being said, I found their tips for hooded eyes really helpful as I always feel like i’m working against my eye shape rather than with it! Watching the looks take place was incredibly therapeutic and Charlie & Jordan’s Mum both looked gorgeous (even if they had only done half a face to show us a contrast)! I did get a lot of serious ‘buy me vibes’ from every shade of glitter though and it was lucky for my bank that they’d had a busy Saturday otherwise i’d have probably walked away with every shade!! They also sell their own brush sets, which I’m definitely going to go back and buy, for only £20 for 12 brushes!
Once the demo was over, we were given a chance to try to do the makeup on ourselves and I got to test out just how soft their brushes were. I already had makeup on but decided to just throw caution to the wind and start applying on top of what I had on. Surprisingly, I seemed to have good success and I was so happy with the end result! The look I followed actually used the Morphe 35O palette which I already own so it was nice to know I could create the majority of it at home with minimal new purchases! Something I found incredibly useful was the information we were given to take home. This listed every item used including shades and even brush names – perfect if like me you were too engrossed in the makeup application to listen to every precise detail!
The girls even managed to convert me to the L’oreal True Match foundation despite me hating the previous formula! This one couldn’t be any different and they were only happy to colour match me! Cue a trip to Boots with Lora straight after so we could each pick up a bottle! The general vibe at Cabella is just relaxed girly fun and I could not believe how quickly two and a half hours passed by! Dannica & Jordan are hilarious and the banter between the girls ensured that it was a good laugh too! They have masterclasses running regularly covering all sorts of topics but I’d definitely recommend the glitter smoky eye if you love a bit of glam and sparkle! If you fancy a girly evening with some friends or family then definitely visit the shop to get booked in or visit their website to see what else they have on offer, you even get offered a glass of bubbly to go with your glitter, what more could you ask for?!
Just before I headed off on holiday, another fabulous package arrived on my doorstep from the guys overs at MyShowcase! It was their latest box full of goodies for me to share with you and contained some of their best offers for the next period. The offers are usually open for quite a while so you get a good chance to make the most of them! This time all the offers are valid until the 30th June so you have ages!
The first brand that was in the box this month was Connock London, a company that i’d never heard of. What I like the most about MyShowcase is the fact that you get to try more niche luxury brands, yet still get good gift with purchase offers! At the moment, if you buy any two Connock London products, you get a free full sized hand cream* worth £15! The hand cream is a generous 50ml with a nice pump and lid to make for very easy use! The scent is quite strong but it’s actually quite nice and I’m very picky with fragrances! It soaks in nicely and doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy in the slightest!
The other two products from this brand were the Kukui Eau De Parfum* (30ml for £35) and the Radiant Glow Body Oil* (125ml for £34). Firstly, the packaging on the perfume was so cute! The box with the lid was unusual yet chic and really did feel high quality! As i’ve said, the fragrance of these products is quite strong so a little really does go a long way! 30ml would last you a really long time! The first thing I thought of when I smelt this was the Givency’s Ysatis perfume as my mum used to wear it many years ago! It made me feel quite nostalgic! I have yet to try the body oil so I can’t really comment too much on that but it again has the same fragrance from the Kukui Oil and the packaging is nice and simple, following the same shaped bottle as the perfume which I liked!
This month, there is another New CID offer to take advantage of! When you buy one of the i-pout lipsticks and an i-gloss lip gloss you get a free Retractable Lip Brush* worth £16. Now i’m not going to lie, I hate the name of these products, they sound very childish when in fact they are pretty damn nifty! I had a gloss with a light in it years ago and it turned into a complete lifesaver on a night out! I have to say I really love the colour I was sent, it’s the shade tickled pink* and it just gives the lips the most amazing finish. It is slightly shimmery yet the glitter is in no way chunky and best of all, it’s not sticky! It feels almost balm like on the lips and, despite not actually being plumping, I feel like my lips look fuller when I wear it! There is a scent to the lipgloss that I can’t quite put my finger on but it’s fresh and subtle so I like it a lot! As you untwist the lid of the gloss, two little lights in the cap come on to make it easy to see what you’re doing on a night out, the mirror on the side of the tube is equally as handy and the brush applicator just finishes the packaging off perfectly. All in all a really great product!
The final item I received was the i-pout Lipstick in the shade Desert Rose* (£18). Now unfortunately I seem to have received a bit of a dud with this one as my little light doesn’t work, however there is still a mirror down one side and the formulation of the lipstick is nice. The shade is the perfect my-lips-but-better shade and pairs beautifully with the lipgloss! It reminds me of a creamier version of MAC’s Brave and it’s very easy to wear!
Another great bunch of products from MyShowcase with my favourite probably being the lipgloss surprisingly! However, if you were to only get one product from them then I would urge you to pick up the Radiant Glow Mask* from last months selection as the more I use that, the more I fall in love with it! It’s simply divine! I’m actually enjoying the brand Evolve so much that I’m debating whether to pick up this amazing set, with a mix of their products in, what do you think? Which product do you like the sound of the most?
*This post contains affiliate links. I am a Brand Ambassador for MyShowcase and get sent products to try. All products with a * were sent free of charge.
I’m a snob and i’m totally not ashamed to admit it. Sharing a room with complete strangers; sharing a toilet down the corridor and sleeping on a lumpy bunkbed.. hell right? Well despite being a snob, I am also on a pretty low budget whilst i’m finishing my degree so to be able to travel, a girl needs to lower her expectations regarding sleeping arrangements! Emily, my resident travel partner and all round bestie, convinced me to give it a good shot and I thought i’d tell you all about my experiences as, if I can hack it, you most definitely can!
I’ve stayed in a hostel twice before my US/Canadian road trip, however both times I stayed in rooms filled entirely with people I knew so it was slightly different. My first ever experience was in Barcelona (cue Ed Sheeran) where I only stayed for one night as a place to crash before heading off to Benicassim festival! As this was back in the summer of 2013 I had to do some investigating regarding where we stayed, but I’m pretty sure it was in the Barcelona BCN Go! Hostel and we had a four bed room with ensuite.
This was a pretty tame introduction to hosteling as it was so modern and I had bathroom facilities in the room, like a hotel, and my room was filled with my friends. Easy. If you are unsure then this is definitely the way to start as you are with people you know and have an ensuite so no bathroom sharing is required!
The second experience was back in 2014 in Stockholm where I stayed with two of my besties in a three bed dorm. This was a bit more of a jump into the hostel world as a) we had to share a bathroom down the corridor, b) the room was microscopic and c) THERE WERE NO BLOODY WINDOWS! Having said that, it was miles cheaper than any hotel options we could find and the whole bathroom sharing was actually okay! It was kind of like a swimming pool changing rooms with toilets and showers. All totally fine! When I went to try and find this hostel I drew a complete blank – Sorry!
So now, a few toe dips into the hosteling thing, I embarked on the proper hostelling! Now you have choices when booking your room, mixed or single sex dorms; the size of your dorms and whether you want an ensuite or not. All of these vary in price of course but I would say that the price difference between a mixed and a single sex dorm is usually only a couple of pounds so definitely go with what would make you more comfortable. We went for female only dorms and i’m glad we did! We also went for four person dorms which are slightly more than say 6, 8 or even 24 (I know ridiculous right) bed dorms but I felt a lot safer leaving my belongings in the room. We didn’t have an ensuite as the price difference was quite significant, but it was honestly no trouble at all in any of the hostels we stayed in. They seem to ply you with toilets and showers (all in single rooms with lockable doors!!) so I don’t think I ever had to wait!
The first hostel we stayed in was in San Francisco and was the HI (Hosteling International) Hostel Downtown and was great! We stayed for five nights and found the location to be perfect, the beds were comfy and they even provided a free breakfast! Admittedly it was a rather sparse array of food – bagels or bagels anyone? Saying that it was nice to have the option and did help to line your stomachs for a day out sightseeing! Each dorm was equip with a sink and lockers for you to store your valuables but you do need your own lock, something I had completely overlooked! You did get towels and free wifi though so you can’t really complain for £30 a night!
One thing I would say is that your roommates really are luck of the draw. You could have completely rowdy people or lovely sociable solo travellers. It’s hard to predict but I would say look at how the hostel describes itself and that usually a good idea of the kind of people you may be put with. ‘Lively’ is usually a sign for lots of partygoers so if that’s not your thing, look for a more ‘friendly’ or ‘sociable’ option! We were very lucky in all our hostels and never had any issues with any of our roommates and actually had a good chat with a few of them! In San Francisco we had a lovely solo traveller from Melbourne and a quite quite Chinese girl who kept herself to herself.
Next stop on our hosteling adventure was Seattle and again another good hostel! It was the City Hostel Seattle and was definitely more ‘indie’ than San Francisco and seemed to have a lot of quirky characters in it. Each of the rooms has artwork on the walls, painted by local artists. Emily had previously stayed here and said that her room was incredibly creepy last time but we were very lucky this time with stained glass windows painted on to the walls
We had a variety of people staying with us, including two au pairs, a 60 year old woman and an asian girl who came in at 3am and slept in her full going out outfit. It was a real mixed bag but all of them were lovely! Again ‘breakfast’ was provided but we did get the choice of pineapple and bran flakes this time! This hostel had the most amazing bathrooms but the showers were ridiculously powerful, seriously if you’d turned around, you’d have probably lost at least one of your nipples.
The final hostel was by far the most unique one of the bunch and I LOVED it! This one was in Whistler and was called Whistler Lodge. It was all wooden, surrounded by trees and snow and even had a hot tub and sauna! Again for £30 a night you could not really ask for more! The hostel is very quiet at night which I liked and each ‘bed’ was a pod with a mattress, curtain and light – incredibly cosy and I slept so so well! It also had a cute ‘no shoes inside’ policy so everyone was padding around in socks which made it feel very homely!
So what would I recommend for you to do if you’re planning on staying in a hostel?
Do your research – Think location, atmosphere, dorm size, gender and price
Take a lock and a towel – unless you don’t mind renting them both for a small fee
Go in with an open mind – hostels are improving so much and many are just hotels with less stars as they have less facilities.
Finally, what are the pro’s and cons?
You can meet new people from all over the world
They often have events you can get involved in
You don’t know who you’re going to be sharing a room with (some people do not share the same hygiene standards as you – don’t you brush your hair over the sink?!)
They’re quite basic
You have to act like a child and sleep in a bunk bed!
Overall I would say I had a fantastic time staying in hostels, something which I NEVER thought I would say! I got to see some fantastic cities for a lot cheaper and I genuinely slept well and would stay in them again in a heartbeat. I felt safe, welcome and comfortable and enjoyed the whole experience! If you’re on the fence about it like I was then definitely give it a go! Have you stayed in hostels before?
P.s all photography in this post is not my own (found through Google) as I didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures when I was sharing with people I didn’t know.
Thank you to Molly for letting me guest post! I hope you enjoy reading about some of my skincare saviours, for more related posts, head on over to my blog, Sherry Scribbles 💕
I’m a huge advocate when it comes to skincare. We can change the way we look with makeup and we can use products to change the colour of it but deep down, its still the only skin we will ever have and so it needs looking after. I believe in giving my skin the best I can possibly give (and afford). As much as I’d love to cover my body with a whole pot of La Mer sadly, my budget doesn’t stretch that far and neither would the 30ml pot for that matter so it will have to be for face only… for now.
Whilst Creme De La Mer is expensive, and by expensive, I mean expensive; retailing at £105 for a 30ml pot, it’s a steep step away from my normal ‘luxury’ go to product in Estee Lauder’s Idealist Pore Skin Refinisher and that isn’t exactly one for the savvy saver either but having splurged £69 on my bottle; I caught a bug I sometimes wish I hadn’t and realised that you really do get what you pay for.
Firstly, the bottle is beautiful and it looks so elegant sat atop my glass topped dresser amidst the others. It has a regal look about it and I just love the gold detailing – because who doesn’t love a cheeky bit of gold eh?! Secondly, this product has longevity. I use around two pumps of this each morning and it has served me well for several months. Its relatively runny in consistency so spreads evenly without leaving any stickiness behind. Not forgetting to mention the pore minimising qualities, those pesky comedones are a thing of the past and so this product also makes for the perfect primer before applying your makeup. £69 well spent.
Garnier Micellar Water is my go to product. I use this baby twice a day, morning and night and it has cleared my face so much. Not to mention the fact it has reduced the amount of sebum produced by my not-so-blessed T-Zone. It’s cool cleansing qualities ensure I leave the house feeling fresh each morning and go to sleep without a worry of the #FOTD still left within my pores. It’s perfect for sensitive skin and leaves no redness whatsoever unlike some micellar waters I have tried in the past. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a high end brand or a luxury product – it certainly makes my skin feel luxurious and I wouldn’t be without it in my daily routine now.
Once a week, I go all out and give my face a proper treat. My ultimate favourite skincare brand has to be Kiehls and I just love their Ultra Facial Cream. Never have I ever experienced moisture quite like I do when I use this product. As a Friday treat, I apply this product all over to relieve my skin of the weeks sins and prepare it nicely for a face mask. Again, Kiehls knows what it’s doing in this department and I’ve been reaching for my pot of Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque quite a lot recently. Not only does this product smell amazing, boast all natural ingredients (you could literally eat this stuff) it exfoliates slightly with thanks to the cranberry seeds and leaves the skin feeling super smooth with a gorgeous glow. I’d describe this product as microdermabrasion in a pot – yes it really is that good and worth every penny of the £30 it costs.
Finally (don’t judge me!) I’m not a fan of foundation. Maybe I haven’t found ‘the one’ yet but when you have Burberry Nude Radiance Luminous Fluid Base in your life, you don’t even need to. I’m using shade No 1 Fresh Glow and it certainly gives me just that. A gorgeous slight shimmer across the skin which captures the light perfectly and gives the impression of photoshopped skin. It’s super light and hydrating being 55% water-based and not once has it ever made me break out. It illuminates the complexion in a way no other product for me ever has and at only £34, I think that is an absolute steal.
What are your favourite Facial finds? Leave a comment below and let me know…
When Sam from Coco Butter Blog volunteered to help me out with a guest post while I was away, I was really looking forward to hearing her ideas. She came up with this post about the honest truth regarding living with your significant other and I couldn’t wait to read it! Tom and I are hoping to move in together in the next year and Sam’s post just confirmed what I had already come to expect from seeing Tom every evening. Although perhaps I’m lucky, Tom is even more OCD than me so everything will be spotless, apart from maybe the beard trimmings in the sink! I hope you enjoy reading Sam’s post as much as I did!
If you’re thinking about that taking that next step with your boy and moving in with him then YAY! My boyfriend moved in with me in August and we have been having the best time ever since. That’s not to say that living with a boy doesn’t have its bad points so here it is: the good, the bad and the ugly parts of co-habiting.
There are many amazing things about living with your ultimate BFF, too many for me to even mention in this post, but probably the very best thing is having someone there when you come home from a long day at work, a night out with the girls, or a hard day at a blogging event (yeah, right!). It’s so nice to come home to a cuddle and (if you’re lucky) a waiting cup of coffee. I also love going to bed together at night time and watching our fave Netflix shows together – it’s the simple things!
As much as it’s lovely having someone there all the time, it’s also nice to have your own space too. I’m lucky as my boyfriend has his own vintage record shop which means he works most weekends, and with a pretty full-on job and blogging too, I’m pretty busy which means we’ve both kept our independence and we treasure our time together a lot more. Everyone needs time to themselves to catch up on trash TV (America’s Next Top Model is currently on my Sky Plus), leave your hair unwashed and greasy (just me?) and work on your own stuff without getting distracted.
Ok, so this is my number one pet hate about living with a boy. I’ve lived with three and this has always been the biggest stumbling block in those otherwise blissful domestic situations: the mess! I’m talking dirty socks and pants on the floor, pots left in the kitchen for days, and stubble in the shower –argh! Boys can be just icky. I’m not exactly OCD about cleanliness but I love having a clean and tidy home so this is something I can’t stand.
However, it’s a teeny tiny price to pay to share your home with the love of your life so if you’re currently considering it, definitely go for it – you’ll never look back!