Monday, 9 May 2016

South African Safari

We decided to do our Safari in the Eastern Cape as it was a great starting point for our trip along the Garden Route. It also meant we didn’t have to take anti Malaria medication, which was a definite plus. We flew into Port Elizabeth and drove our hire car straight to Hitgeheim for one night of relaxation pre our Safari adventure. The journey from Port Elizabeth was somewhat bumpy and made me aware that I should NOT have booked a small car as it really wasn’t suitable for the dirt roads. Whoops!  We trundled along in our Ford Fiesta at 5km an hour and I really regretted trying to save money on our hire car., although it did increase our budget for the amazing food that was on offer! When we finally arrived at Hitgeheim we needed something pretty awesome to brighten up our moods, and I’m pleased to say Hitgeheim did just that. The views were epic, and as we relaxed with our welcome drinks the stress of the journey drifted away.

The rooms were perfect and the comfortable beds were just what we needed after our flights, which totalled 20 hours. We ate an awesome barbecue for dinner, with delicious glasses of unlimited wine! It was a shame that we’d only booked one night at this awesome hotel, but we were equally excited to get back on the road (in our Fiesta!) and arrive at the Lodge for our Safari.

We stayed at the Pumba Lodge Game Reserve near Grahamstown and it was without doubt one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever stayed. Our guide, Justin, answered each and every one of our (sometimes ridiculous) questions and managed to bring his humour with him, even on the 6.30am drives. It was so incredible to see so many beautiful animals, and I felt relaxed and content as I stared, open mouthed at these majestic, and somewhat cheeky animals.

We had some slightly hair raising moments, like when a bull elephant blocked the path and refused to move for a solid 10 minutes, and when reception called our lodge to explain we needed to stay inside as there was a leopard lurking in the vicinity! Seeing the giraffes staring at the sky as the sun set stood out as an amazing moment.  I wouldn’t say this lightly; this Safari was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Yes, it cost the same as a month’s rent in London for just 3 nights, but it was worth every one of our hard earned pennies. I’d say this was a once in a lifetime experience, but I’d love to go again, so maybe it’s more of a thrice in a lifetime experience.

Did you know that a group of giraffes is called a tower? No, neither did I!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Weekend in Paris

My oldest friend moved to Paris with her job at the end of last year. She is without doubt one of my favourite people in the world, she's also my running partner, confidant, and one of the most lovely people you'll ever come across. The only positive of G moving to Paris was the fact that I could visit her, and eat pastries aplenty. 

I've been to Paris with my husband (then boyfriend) before so this time I was keen to explore some different areas. After catching up over copious amounts of tea in G's beautiful Parisian apartment we headed out on our very own walking tour.

If I'm honest much of my visit was largely chatting, and walking, interspersed with the odd Patisserie, however, I did visit two 'touristy' places I think are worth mentioning. If you're looking for an incredible view over the whole of Paris then head to Sacré-Cœur Basilica. We made the decision to climb the 300 steps to the top of the dome, which was probably wise considering the Almond Croissants we had devoured. The view was breathtaking, particularly for G as she's nervous of heights!

My other recommendation is the Musée de L'Orangerie, which is a short walk from the Louvre. Among other pieces this art gallery houses a cycle of Monet's water lily paintings. It was awesome to take in something I've only ever seen on postcards. I could attempt to say something profound about Monet's masterpiece but its seems that would be unnecessary...

'Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.' Claude Monet

I love G and I loved our weekend in Paris. That's enough for me.

Is there anything you'd recommend for when I'm next in Paris?

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

2015 was the year we got married, and it seemed to go by in a whirl of Pinterest, table plans, dress fittings, peonies, and confetti. The day was so special yet the planning was relentless! I'm looking forward to 2016 being a year that is less orchestrated because, after all, life is what happens while you're busy making plans. Some of the most memorable moments of our wedding were not planned. Did I hire the above dog, cute child, and miniature pony to ride next to the wedding car? Nope, I sure didn't, and it was pretty special.

Instead of an endless list of things I'd like to achieve, I'm going to put just three goals into writing.

Find a home 

My husband and I have been renting in pricey London since moving down after university.  It would be really lovely to paint some walls, plant some veggies, and have friends round for dinner in a place of our own. If we could squeeze in a dining table then I think I'd be one happy lady!

Finish more books

I am absolutely terrible at starting a book and not finishing it. The stack of books on by bedside table is completely unacceptable.  It's often not a reflection of how good the book is but a reflection of my fleeting attention. I 'm currently reading The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. I will finish it.


Seeing new places makes me feel alive. Surely that's a good enough reason?!

What are your goals for 2016? I'd love to hear.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Best Cleansers and Exfoliators

I like my cleansers how I like my men; hardworking, powerful, and gentle. Euugh, that sentence made me cringe a little! Without further ado I present to you my absolute favourite cleansing products.

Eucerin DermatoCLEAN Cleansing Gel
This mild cleanser is perfect for sensitive skin and doesn't contain any of the nasties that can often leave your skin aggravated or blotchy. This is a really simple cleanser, which I tend to use first thing in the morning to wake me up and ensure my face is throughly cleansed.

Bioderma Sensibio H20 Make-up Removing Micelle Solution
This cleansing water is phenomenal. It gets rid of every trace of makeup and doesn't leave me with an angry, red face. To go back to the awkward man analogy, this cleanser is 'the one'.

Dermalogica Daily MicroExfoliant 
I use it at night to give me that really clean feeling. I live in London and my skin often feels a little grimy, and this powder formula exfoliator leaves my skin feeling brighter and fresher after just one minute. This is quite a pricey product but it lasts a REALLY long time.

Eucerin DermoPURIFYER
This scrub lives in my shower and is my go-to product for a quick yet powerful cleanse. The range is specifically formulated for blemish prone skin so I'll reach for it when I need a dose of super effective cleansing.

Let me know if you have sensitive skin, and can recommend any good brands I should try.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Eyeing up my Brows

I have threadbare eyebrows, and that's a fact I've come to terms with. I used to pluck them into a single line of hairs then sleek Vaseline over them. Interesting.  The 'before' picture on the left shows them in all their minimal wonder. I've tried lots of options to keep them in check, and found that threading inevitably leaves me with a monobrow of pimples and waxing mostly works like a dream. 

As we're saving for a house I've taken eyebrow maintenance into my own pluck-happy hands. I'd love to be more Cara Delevingne than Cruella de Vil so I've given my tweezers an early retirement and have cracked on with dying them myself and then filling them.

I dye them with a standard dark brown dye kit from Boots. I then fill them with a shadow like Mac's Omega or Urban Decay's Naked using my Sephora Brow Filler Brush. My new favourite brow product is Makeup Forever's Brow Seal as they keep my pesky little brows in place. I haven't quite reached the dizzy heights of Cara's brows but it's a start.

Have you had any brow nightmares you'd like to share or any product recommendations? I've heard lots of good things about Anastasia Brows but I'm not sure what to try first.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Why Run?!

Feel Strong

The first thing I spluttered when I finished a marathon was ‘that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done’ and I meant it. I’m not a person who regularly pushes myself to extremes and the physical exhaustion of completing a 26.2 mile run made me feel awful and euphoric in equal measure. William James touched on this feeling when he wrote, ’Beyond the very extreme of fatique and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own.’ In a day and age when women constantly scrutinise their bodies, I don’t think I’d ever felt more proud of mine, not because of how it looked, but because it willingly carried me through a whole marathon.

Love Food

I’m definitely not a person who likes to say no to a second portion or a delicious desert. I absolutely love trying new food and don’t want to let worries about my waistline get in the way. On average running burns around 100 calories per mile, and it also keeps your metabolism elevated for hours after your workout. This means that you’re still burning calories while you’re sat on the sofa binging on the latest Netflix series. Winner. Also, if you take long distance running seriously then you can carb-load pre race to increase the amount of fuel stored in your muscles. I mean who doesn’t like the sound of loading themselves with carbs?!

Clear Head

I always feel better after going for a run. If my mind is whirring with restless thoughts then running will undoubtedly clear it. A paragraph from Running with the Kenyans sums this up perfectly, ‘running is like getting drunk in reverse. With drinking, it feels great at first, but then you start feeling awful. With running, you feel awful first, but then, after you finish, you feel great. That sounds like a much better deal.’

It's Free

I don’t run in the gym, and this is partly because I don’t want to spend my spare pennies on membership, and mostly because I prefer to pound the streets of London or head to a beautiful green park. It’s lovely to see what's going on beyond four walls. When I was marathon training I ran repeatedly round Richmond Park with my friend and got acquainted with the (slightly unnerving) deer. I love running because you don’t have to spend a fortune on doing it. With the equivalent of two months’ gym membership you can get trainers, leggings, a sports bra, a top, blister proof socks and you’re good to go!

If you’d like some tips on how I started running you can check out my video here or ask any questions in the comments section. 

What I’m wearing...

New Balance Minimus Trainers I'm trying these over shorter distances as they have minimal support

Garmin Forerunner Watch

Shock Absorber Bra

H&M Leggings (similar)

Does anyone else run? What do you love about it?

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Tiny Beautiful Things

I recently visited a friend and had a long train journey home ahead. As I picked up my bags to leave my friend handed me a book and told me ‘it was one of the best books she’d ever read’. She was right. Tiny Beautiful Things is exceptional and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s essentially a series of letters and replies from an advice column, but it’s somehow so much more than that. Cheryl Strayed writes responses that are raw and weaves in emotive stories about her own life.

Often when things are difficult you might look to others for advice, and they’ll usually respond sympathetically and tell you they can’t really give you the answer. What struck me about this book is that Strayed doesn’t tell you what to do but by sharing her own battles, she helps you to feel stronger, and most importantly that you aren’t alone.

I have a habit of folding down page corners if I particularly relate to a sentiment so I can come back to them later. I could have turned down every other page in this beautiful book. Strayed covers letters from people who’re heartbroken, lost, confused, exhausted, pressured, scared, angry, trapped, and often desperate. This book doesn’t trivialise small problems or wash over the often insurmountable mess that life can present. Somehow every response leaves you feeling that ‘we can all have a better life if we make one.’

Have you read Tiny Beautiful Things? What did you think?