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:
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
This week, having finally beaten the jetlag which has been making everything foggy and slow, and also having finished drafting all of the new recipes for the book update I’m writing for a work thing (woohoo!), I woke up to beautiful, spring sunshine streaming through the window. I sat and had a cup of tea with the dog on my favourite blue seat in the garden and watched as my beautiful baby cherry tree shed its blossom in the breeze, like pretty pink snowfall. Oh, isn’t it glorious? As you know, I’ve been lucky enough to have had a couple of trips away so far this year, but even then, I rarely feel like I nail the effortless sunny day dressing thing. As much as I’d love to wear bright colours and prints, I just don’t feel right in them. I’m a more relaxed, monochrome dresser at heart, but feel this mostly lends itself to winter dressing: black jeans, grey cashmere and white shirts are an easy uniform, somehow, when it’s cold. So is it possible to dress for summer without opting for brights and florals (yes, I know they look lovely on some people), well, I’ve had a scout around, and here are a few of my favourite things for chic dressing for sunny days.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed a short video that I did for the Ultrasun #myskinis campaign. It’s a fab campaign, not gimicky or hyper hard-sell, but basically created to spread the word on choosing the correct sun protection for our particular skin type, and also about applying it properly. I did a little piece to camera, talking about my skin and also about a few new things I’d discovered during the campaign. This was filmed just after my Dad died and I’ll be honest, I was having a rotten time. The guys at Ultrasun were the sweetest, kindest, most understanding people during this time and I think it’s just made me love everything about Ultrasun even more.
- 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