I was chatting with a friend recently about swimwear. Just about this time of year – when you’re still debating whether to bare your lily white pins in a pair of shorts in case you dazzle a passing driver and cause some sort of accident – is, weirdly, the best time to buy your new swimwear. The shops are still full of all the lovely bits. But, woe betide that you leave it until a couple of weeks before your summer holiday – it will all be sold out and you’ll be left with the choice of a teeny tiny string bikini or a boring black sporty swimsuit left in your size. Happily, I’m here to help and yesterday I took a little sortie to Milton Keynes to check out the swim and beachwear from M&S. There aren’t many places better to buy swimwear – their fit is always good, the prices are reasonable, the fabrics wash well and don’t fade in the sun, and they always have nice matchy matchy bits too. Read on, then, for my best buys:
I think finding something delicious to cook for dinner midweek is one of my biggest challenges. I love these coconut chilli prawn noodles because the basic recipe can be adapted to suit so many different tastes. If you’re a meat eater, you can swap the prawns for chicken, and if you’re a veggie you can leave them out and add things like mushrooms, sliced peppers and sliced green beans (of course, you can still do that anyway). That’s the beauty of this dish. It’s also fab for using up leftovers as you can basically bung any old thing in and it will still taste delicious. It’s also one of those recipes where most of the ingredients can be kept in the cupboard and/or freezer for when you’ve got nothing in. When I buy red chillis, I’ll often freeze any that I think I won’t use and you can basically grate them straight into the dish. The same goes for ginger too. Here’s the basic recipe:
This weekend, Mr E and I were lucky enough to be invited to the launch event for the brand new Marvel Summer of Super Heroes at Disneyland Paris (you might remember reading about me forgetting my passport when I was invited to the special exhibition in Paris to showcase the plans for the new Marvel event. What a wally. Anyway, this time I panicked incessantly and checked my passport every five minutes and yes, got to Paris in one piece in time to experience this brilliant new summer of Marvel-based attractions available to everyone visiting the park this summer. Read on to find out more about it!
One of the things I’ve really enjoyed since becoming pescatarian is that it’s made me a lot more creative when it comes to choosing what’s for dinner. No more shoving chicken breasts in the oven (which I was guilty of – albeit with different coatings – at least twice a week). I’ve been enjoying reading cookery books and blogs and getting loads of inspiration, and as I’m a pie lover, I thought I would have a go at a more summery version using some smoked haddock I had in the freezer. I’m not usually a cheese with fish fan (I have a long standing debate with a friend about a particularly noxious prawn and feta dish that he loves but I think smells like vomit – sorry), but this haddock and cheddar tart is an exception: the sharp cheese works well with the smoky fish.
You might remember that back in September, I finally decided that enough was enough and started working towards saving my bleach-ravaged hair. Working with the incredibly talented Nat Lupton at The Hair Secret in Berkhamsted, I’ve been really looking after my hair, keeping it a soft brunette with non-damaging, vegan, organic hair colour from the Organic Colour Systems range, and treating it to regular Power Build protein treatments, shampoo and conditioner, all specially formulated to restore protein and repair the structure of the hair. I’ve been feeling really good about my hair recently: the care we’ve been giving it is really showing results and it feels thicker and shinier than ever. The little wispy broken bits are starting to grow down as well. One of the things that Nat teases me about was my insistence that I liked being brunette and would never go back to blonde. Oh, but… summer’s here, and I wanted a little lift, so we had a chat, and I paid Nat a visit for some balayage at The Hair Secret. Read more
Many, many moons ago, back when my children occasionally did anything I asked and I was a fully fledged ‘mummy blogger’, I was really proud to be asked by Royal Caribbean Cruises to be an Official Family Ambassador or ‘Royal Mum’. It was a fab time and I really enjoyed my role: as part of my ambassadorship, I wrote about family cruising on the Royal Caribbean blog as well as in newspapers like The Times, and was lucky enough, along with my lovely fellow Royal Mums, to experience wonderful trips like a Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, and a family cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. Another wonderful memory was when we all got together at Southampton for a sunny day on board Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. I’ve always been hugely proud of my long-running association with Royal Caribbean: I love the quality of the brand, the wonderful people who have a genuine love and enthusiasm for creating incredible experiences, and all their beautiful, innovative ships, so when Mr E and I were invited along to experience the shakedown cruise following Independence of the Seas’ multi-million dollar makeover, we were all over it. Here’s how we got on.
It’s no secret that this time of year is my favourite. Wandering through the Chiltern Hills with Lyra, the bees are buzzing, the grass is emerald green and the air has finally warmed up enough for me to discard my parka. We always look out for the first elderflowers: for me, they’re a firm favourite – the scent reminds me of early summer weekends at the cricket club, making elderflower crowns with the clusters of tiny, star-shaped creamy yellow flowers. We’ve spotted some over the last couple of weekends, and Mr E and I are dying to make elderflower tempura with the new blooms. To celebrate elderflower season, I’ve teamed up with Belvoir Fruit Farms to create some delicious elderflower recipes using their lovely range of delicious cordials: some pillowy soft elderflower marshmallows, fragrant elderflower scones and an indulgent elderflower and ginger cheesecake. Read on for the recipes!
When it comes to this time of year, I start keeping a little M&S wishlist. Rather than popping those essential five packs of cotton undies, and Rosie for Autograph Insta Glow Matte Bronzer (literally the pretties matte bronzer, I’ve hit pan on two of these beauties now) into my online basket, I start to keep a note of what I’m after so I can take advantage of the frankly brilliant M&S Summer Beauty Box. What’s the big deal, you may ask? Well, the M&S Beauty Box lets you try all sorts of incredible new products, many of the sizes are absolutely perfect for travel too. And the best bit? You get the whole lot, worth £135, for just £15 when you spend £40 on clothing, beauty and home. The deal starts today and I’ve got a sneaky peek inside the box, especially for you.
Well hello, hello! I hope you had the most relaxing bank holiday with your nearest and dearest. We went to see Deadpool 2 in our favourite cinema in Milton Keynes on Friday evening (very funny, especially enjoyed with nachos and wine), and spent the rest of the weekend lazing and pottering at home, walking the dog and sipping rosé. Heaven. Back to work today, though, but it’s all good, as I’ve been discovering the new hush holiday 2018 collection. I love hush’s sweet little capsule collections and this one is my favourite of the year so far, with gorgeous new summer dresses and playsuits featuring some lush prints and embroidery. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Ahhh bank holidays. Three days of absolutely nothing to do and hopefully a bit of sunshine too. I was just reading an Instagram post from a fellow introvert who said, ‘three whole days of nothingness to look forward to’ and that’s absolutely what I’m looking forward to as well: a potter about with my plants, cooking some delicious food, maybe a wander into the village to bimble about the flower festival at the local church with my Mum… perfection. I know some people love a full calendar of exciting events, but I’m happiest at home, with my favourite people and a large glass of rosé. Of course I’m absolutely not ruling out a bit of internet shopping and the long weekend brings with it some rather lovely bank holiday bargains. I’ve brought you a few of the best ones that have dropped into my inbox – along with hundreds of GDPR emails, MAKE THEM STOP! – over the last week or so.
I’ve never been to the Chelsea Flower Show before – I’ve seen it on TV and always thought it would be a lovely place to visit, so when an invitation arrived to go along and visit the Viking Cruises Wellness Garden, I popped on my most flowery dress (and Converse – you know me) and headed to ridiculously chic Sloane Square (where all the shops and restaurants were bedecked in flowers too) to meet up with the lovely team from Viking Cruises. Read more
There are loads of reasons for staying overnight at the airport before a flight. Maybe you’re not sure of your exact arrival time (my drive to Gatwick can take anything from an hour and a half to three or four depending on traffic), and don’t want to miss a flight, or maybe your departure time is really early in the morning and you don’t fancy getting up at 2am… Sometimes it’s even a cheap way to get airport parking: a lot of the hotels do an overnight stay/parking deal. Every time I walk past the very stylish entrance to the BLOC Hotel at Gatwick South Terminal, it reminds me of how much I want to stay there. Finally, before a very early flight to Palma last week, I got to experience it for myself when the lovely people at BLOC very kindly put me up for the night. If you’re considering staying overnight at the airport, BLOC Hotel Gatwick is my new favourite. Here’s what to expect.
Isn’t this weather glorious? Last week, we were lucky enough to have a little adventure on board Royal Caribbean’s newly refurbished Independence on the Seas, and from there I went straight to Gatwick for a quick overnight at the BLOC Hotel there (write up coming soon) before flying to Palma on assignment for Cruise International for the launch of Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson Cruises) brand new ship, Marella Explorer. Fab fun, but the challenge was that I had to have cabin baggage only for two trips, which forced me to think long and hard about what I needed to take. Happily, this means that I’ve been testing out the perfect holiday capsule wardrobe and I think I’ve come pretty close.
So, this week I told you about all the thoughts swirling around in my head about eating meat and why I’m pondering becoming a pescatarian (I haven’t eaten any meat since then, but I still feel that I could forget and go into a restaurant and say ‘I’ll have the steak please’ without even thinking twice). The upside of all this angst is that I’ve been searching around for delicious meat-free recipes to share with the family and I have to say, this one is delicious. In fact, Charlie made my day by saying ‘wow, this is the first time in my whole life I’ve wanted to ask for more cauliflower’! All I did was dip cauliflower in egg and roll in flavoured breadcrumbs, exactly as I would chicken, and then served it with our favourite barbecue sauce (if you can’t be bothered to make the sauce, you could just serve it with bottled sweet chilli) but honestly, whichever way you serve it, it’s a life changer.
Last week, I was on board Celestyal Olympia cruising the Greek islands on assignment for Cruise International. You’ll be able to read my article shortly in the magazine (when I’ve actually finished and submitted it), but one of the things I was really impressed with was the food. We all know that the Mediterranean diet is super healthy, with the emphasis on good fats, fresh vegetables, beans and pulses and of course, all that fabulous fish, and I was bowled over by Greek food. I spend the week eating huge Greek salads, fat olives, fresh fish and vegetables and actually came home 2lb lighter without even trying. I was also fascinated by an article by Sali Hughes that recently appeared in The Pool about her decision to turn vegetarian in her forties. Many of Sali’s reasons echo my own feelings, so as a little experiment, I decided to give up meat while I was on the cruise. And honestly, now I’m really pondering becoming a pescatarian full time.
Whenever I’m away on a cruise ship, the saddest thing for me is seeing all the plastic floating in the sea. I think as a whole, the cruise industry needs to work much harder to become more sustainable and eco-conscious. This goes for the airline industry too, whose overuse of plastic cups, bottles and straws always frustrates me on flights. On a recent cruise I was on, a plastic bottle of water was handed to each passenger on disembarkation at every port, and my request to refill my reusable water bottle at the bar was refused. When I persisted, the barman opened aplastic bottle of water and poured it into mine. Hmmmm. So what can we do to live more sustainably? Well of course, we can recycle as much as possible (I spend my life fishing recycling out of the bin because the boys seem incapable of grasping what’s recyclable), but I’d like to go further and have been doing a bit of research about the sorts of things that are available. So for this week’s wishlist, I’ve gathered 10 ways to live a more sustainable life:
- Come shopping with me: swim and beachwear from M&S June 16, 2018
- Coconut chilli prawn noodles June 14, 2018
- Marvel Summer of Super Heroes at Disneyland Paris June 12, 2018
- Haddock and cheddar tart: pescatarian perfection June 9, 2018
- Balayage at The Hair Secret, Berkhamsted and new Oway organic hair products June 7, 2018