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:
This is my favourite chocolate cake by far. The sponge is chocolatey and squidgy, and the ganache is really light and fluffy, the combination of which makes for a light, non-sickly but still indulgent dessert, perfect for a celebration. When I made this cake for Sam’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by how many people that said ‘wow, there’s no way I could make that’, and ‘you’re so clever’ (I’m really not – if things go wrong, I just smother them in chocolate and nobody complains – I dropped a block of cheese on this one getting it out of the fridge, but I covered it up with more ganache), so I thought I’d write this easy chocolate cake recipe up in a step by step way so you can see just how simple it is to make. And then you’ll all be making it for everyone’s birthday from now on, and everyone will think you’re really clever too. Here goes!
Hola! Well isn’t this weather nice? I was actually in Athens this weekend, working for Cruise International, and the weather here in the UK was actually hotter when I landed. Crazy. Anyhoo, I’ve been storing up all the news from Universal Orlando Resort for a while now, so whether you’re interested in breathtaking new rides (in which case, may I direct you to my Fast & Furious – Supercharged post here), beautiful new accommodation options or big fat gorgeous doughnuts, you’ve come to the right place. Grab a cuppa and settle down to read my exciting roundup of everything new at Universal Orlando Resort, Florida.
Now you know that I love everything about hush – I think their style perfectly complements my own laid back luxe ethos. I do think, though, that summer is when hush truly shine. The summer pieces always include a great choice of easy to wear separates, all in a modern colour palette, and the new hush summer 2018 collection is no exception, featuring some pretty, floaty dresses, flattering shorts, effortless t-shirts, gorgeous beach cover-ups and a fab new range of swimwear. I think more and more, we’re moving away from cheap, disposable fashion that has the added shadow of murky production values hanging over it, and towards investing in great quality items from responsible retailers with integrity. This embodies hush for me. Anyhoo, on to the new hush summer 2018 collection. There are so many gorgeous pieces, but I’ve tried to bring you a wide choice of some of the best pieces that will make a great base for a capsule wardrobe when the sun finally comes out. Enjoy!
Last week my oldest baby celebrated his birthday. We decided to get everyone together and have a little birthday celebration for him, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out the new M&S summer food to order range that I’ve been hearing so much about. If you’re having a get-together it’s such a lovely idea. You can choose from all sorts of different food, from fabulous barbecue food (the ribs look amazing), to dinner party fare, afternoon tea and you can even say I do in style with wedding drinks, flowers and, of course, wedding cakes too. You just order online and then pick up from your nearest store. Everything is neatly packaged and labelled and the lovely staff at Berkhamsted M&S even put it all in the car for me.
I honestly don’t think there’s a bad time to visit Walt Disney World resort in Florida (incidentally, for a heads up on the best times to go and loads of other info, visit my My Walt Disney World top tips post here), but the free Disney dining offer makes a family holiday at Walt Disney World considerably better value. I always recommend you stay at a Disney resort hotel if you’re visiting Walt Disney World (I think all the perks like Extra Magic Hours and free Disney’s Magical Express airport transfers add significant value), but now it’s even better value. If you’re a bit confused about what free Disney dining would mean to your family holiday booking in 2019, read on. I’ve got all the info on how the offer works, plus some top tips on the best places to book, too.
What on earth is up with this weather? Last week, we were convinced that spring had sprung and I was walking the dog in shorts and a t-shirt, and now I’m looking out the window and it’s that proper April rain shower/sunny spell combo weather again. It’s a lot chillier too. This is brilliant for all of us who love nothing more than chatting about the weather (yes, I’m talking about you, Mr E), but not so good if you’re trying to plan your outfit for a day in town or an evening out. At home I’m not bothered because I live in my standard uniform of jeans and trainers (wellies and parkas for walkies), but I’ve got a couple of things in the pipeline that are going to need me to look smart and then what do I do? For this weekend’s wishlist, I’ve been doing a bit of research at one of my favourite retailers and I’ve come up with some ideas for spring dressing with M&S, who are knocking it out of the park at the moment, fashion-wise.
We tend to go through different little food fads in our house. A while ago it was home made pizzas, then it was a gazillion iterations of coconut based curries, and now we’re addicted to empanadas. Think of empanadas as delicious little spiced Cornish pasties. You’ll find them all over Latin America and Spain, stuffed with all sorts of delicious fillings. I tend to fill mine with a dry-ish version of my normal chilli mixture. If you want to go all technical and make proper Chilean empanadas de pino, you’ll need to add raisins, chopped boiled eggs and olives, which, as you can imagine is a stretch too far for the fussier ones in my family, so I stick to a spicy minced beef filling. The dough for these deliciously simple empanadas is fab: really easy to work with and really forgiving – no resting necessary.
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