Friday, 27 September 2013

My Nailcare Routine

I naturally have really horrible nails. They’re short, they flake, and they never seem to grow past a certain length without breaking! I was always told this was because I bit my nails as a child, but a friend of mine who bit her nails right down to the quick until a year or so ago suddenly decided to stop and now has nails that a hand model would be proud of. Resisting the urge to cry ‘it’s not fair!’ and go get a set of acrylics, I have instead found a nail care routine which I feel has genuinely improved the state of my nails. A couple of people have complimented then on my blog in the past, so I thought I’d let you in on some of my secret products which might help if you, too, have nightmare nails!

1. Elegant Touch ‘Get Em Off’ Artificial Nail Remover – to remove any existing nail polish, I always use this. I know strictly it’s for taking off acrylic nails, but it removes even the toughest nail polish in a flash. Obviously it isn’t great for your nails, so I always wash it off quickly, but I can’t bear to use normal nail polish remover anymore!
2. Mavalan Nailactan Nutritive Nail Cream for Damaged Nails – this in my opinion is an absolute miracle product! The lovely people at Mavalan sent this to me to try out. I apply it every day and it works as a cuticle cream as well as to keep  my nails moisturised, which keeps them from being brittle and flakey – especially important as it gets colder. I really feel like using this for a short time dramatically improves the state of my nails.
3. Champneys Spa Treatment Hand & Nail Cream – This is my absolute favourite hand cream at the moment. It has a kind of citrusy-vanilla scent, a luxurious creamy consistency, and this is the third time I’ve repurchased it -  so I guess that’s a pretty good seal of approval!
4. Mavala Scientifique Nail Hardener – again I was sent this, but this is the best nail hardener I’ve found. You use it about once a week and it just makes your nails tougher and more resistant. I think the Mavala products are lovely and such good value for money – I would really recommend you check them out!

5. I’m going to do a favourite Autumn nail polish soon, but just for a taster, this is the colour I painted my nails today – Models Own ‘Bronze Rage’. It’s a perfect true bronze and reminds me of Autumn leaves and also shiny chocolate bar wrappers! 

What do you think? 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

New Living Room Accessories

As you all know, because I’ve mentioned it roughly 1000 times, I’ve just moved into my gorgeous new flat. I’m living with my boyfriend, and for the first time I really feel like I have a living room that I can decorate in my own way. With my boyfriend’s only demand being somewhere to put his huge Aston Villa picture (currently propped up behind the sofa, and I’m hoping he doesn’t notice) I’ve been free to indulge in candles and home accessories to my heart’s content, and thought I’d show you a couple of bits and pieces. If you like this sort of post let me know and I’ll do some more for the other rooms of my flat!

My boyfriend teases me that this is a bit cheesy, but this big wooden free standing sign from Next homeware just summed up exactly what I wanted our flat to be – a little sanctuary where we could be happy together. I’ve just put some little vanilla gel candles on either side of it, so I can illuminate it in the evenings too!

This is also from Next – are you noticing a bit of a theme? I really do love their homeware section, and I picked up this triple vase stand. I love how you could just swap the flowers for different colours, or even for something else like little hearts or stars, depending on your mood.

Owl Beeswax Candle

My mum picked up this cute little guy from a recent trip to York. It’s made from pure beeswax, giving it an intense flavour which I personally love – it reminds me of visits to the bee centre in Porteath when I was a child (has anyone else been there?) My mum wants me to promise to burn this to make use of it, but I just don’t know if I can bear too because he’s so cute!


I really think having plants in a house makes it feel more alive, but as much as I’d love some pot plants, I’m just too scared of forgetting to water them! Instead, my boyfriend and I chose this cactus together at the Eden Project when we visited Cornwall in August. It only needs watering about once a fortnight and it just brings a little of the outdoors into our flat.

Heart Lantern

I was looking for a wooden lantern for ages, and thought I wanted one in white, but just couldn’t find one I particularly liked. We saw this in a shop in Newquay and I just fell in love with it instantly. I really like finding little one off pieces in independent shops, particularly on holiday, so that everything I have has a memory behind it. Now I just want to find a nice candle to go inside this!

Now, you might be thinking – why has she just put in this rather plain and dull looking candle amongst all these pretty things? But I’ve decided to let you in on my little secret. These candles – which are currently half price at £2 in Tesco – smell absolutely amazing. They smell like Autumn, or Christmas, I can’t decide, and because they’re made to be an air freshener, the smell really does scent the air. I buy these every year (towards Christmas, they do sometimes bring them out in glitzy packaging, which is nice too) and everyone always asks how I make my room smell so you know!

Hope you're all enjoying Autumn so far and get some inspiration from these little pieces! 

Friday, 20 September 2013

The I Heart Fall (Or Autumn!) Tag

I haven’t done a tag post in a long time (I think since my ’25 Things About Me’ post here), and as it’s starting to feel like Autumn in London (although apparently we’re going to get an Indian summer this weekend!) the I Heart Fall tag seemed appropriate.

I found so many different versions of this tag online so I’ve basically just used as many questions as I could find. I tag all of you, and leave me your links below so I can go check out what you like about fall (or Autumn, as we Brits call it!)

#1 Overall favourite thing about it?
I really do love the fashion – I think this is my favourite time of year to go shopping! But I also always feel like Autumn is a time for new beginnings. It’s that ‘back to school, starting fresh’ feeling. Also, of course, it means Christmas is coming – my favourite time of year by far!

#2 Favourite Drink?
I’m a traditionalist and just love hot chocolate with cream on top. I had my first homemade hot chocolate of the season last night, snuggled in my pyjamas watching Location, Location, Location! I did get into mulled wine last year for the first time and I’m looking forward to trying it again this season!

#3 Favourite Scent//Candle?
Perfume-wise I don’t usually change it up too much, but I have started wearing my DKNY Golden Apple perfume which is gorgeous. Candle wise, I love Sparkling Cinammon by Yankee Candle. I think it’s actually marketed as a Christmas candle,  but it’s like autumn in a jar for me. I really wanted to try the salted caramel flavour – it just sounds too good to be true!

#4 Best Lipstick?
My current favourite is Kate Moss by Rimmel lipstick ‘Kiss Of Life’, number 111. It’s a bright, slightly raspberry red which suits my skin tone. I’m looking for a darker berry red though, so if anyone can recommend a good one, leave me a comment below!

#5 Go-To Moisturiser?

I don’t really change my skincare by the season, although I probably should. I’m currently using a Nivea moisturiser but might look for something a little thicker as it gets colder and my skin gets drier.

#6 Go-To Colours For The Eyes?

My Too Faced palette (reviewed here) – I think the champagne and  bronze shades are perfect for Autumn days. At the moment I’ve been enjoying just wearing brown eyeliner and mascara, and leaving my eyelids bare.

#7 Favourite Music (Band//Singer) To Listen To?

I don’t really have Autumn music which is odd as I do very much have a summer playlist that I bring out every year. I’ve been loving listening to the Arctic Monkeys at the moment though and I’m really excited about seeing them again in October. 

#8 Favourite Outfit?
A dress with thick tights, a knitted cardigan and some boots. I love black suede boots – I think they go with everything!

#9 Autumn Treat (eg Something You Have Your Eye On)?

I want a really deep red-black nail polish – a high quality one. I’m considering Chanel or Butter London…anyone got any recommendations?

#10 Favourite Place To Be?

I love being in London actually. I like going for a crisp walk around a park or a market somewhere, then coming home to my cosy flat for a warm dinner, then getting dressed up and going out for a glass of wine!

#11 Favourite Fall scarf or accessory?
I’ll do both…my favourite scarf is a white fluffy one which I think I got from Forever 21. My favourite accessory is probably Ugg boots. I just wear them endlessly all Autumn!

#12 Haunted house, haunted hay ride or haunted corn maze?
NONE! I went in the haunted maze at Thorpe Park – it was called ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ and each room was a different sin…in the one for ‘Vanity’ this deformed nurse came towards me and touched me on the face with some scissors and said in a really creepy voice ‘I want to make you pretty….’ I nearly cried! I’m so easily scared, it’s not fun for me at all!

#13 Favourite Halloween movie
Like I said, I’m really easily scared so I’m so not up for horror films – I’d rather just watch a comedy any day. Having said that, I do think the Sixth Sense is really good. The scariest film I’ve ever seen is probably ‘The Strangers’ and I really don’t recommend it to anyone! Let me know if you’ve seen that film and if it gave you nightmares too!

#14 Favourite candy to eat on Halloween
I’m not a big fan of sweets so I’ll always go for the chocolate. Anything with peanut butter in it is a double win.

#15 What are you dressing up for on Halloween?
I’m actually having a party for the first time and I’m really excited. Me and my sister want to go as Power Rangers and we’re working on persuading our boyfriends to do the same!

So there we are – I hope you enjoyed this tag, as I said above, let me know if you do it yourself!


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Cookie & Pickle

Say hello to my little friends!

So a bit of back story: as a child, we really didn't have pets much. At one point my parents caved and allowed me and my sister to get a hamster. It was called Nibbles, because when we saw it, it was biting on everything in the cage. I'm not sure entirely why this didn't spark warning bells, because it was quite a bitey hamster, but we loved it all the same! However, we very much didn't live up to our end of the bargain with my mum, with our promises to clean it and feed it and save up our pocket money to buy it things all falling by the wayside pretty quickly, so when it died a few years later we weren't allowed a replacement. Apart from a few paltry fish, that's my whole experience with pets. But now, about a month after moving into a place of my own, I found myself wandering into a pet shop...and emerging half an hour later, slightly stunned, carrying a gerbilarium. 

Pickle (the ginger one on the left, my boyfriend's choice) and Cookie (mine, the little fat brown one) have spent their first few days skipping around their cage and eating almost everything we put in it, including the box they sleep in, their bedding (which does look like Lucky Charms, so maybe that's why they're confused) and all their food (mine has barely left the food bowl - like owner, like pet?!) 

I won't coo over them too much more because I know it's boring when people rave on about their pets and also some people and presumably thinking 'Ew! Rodents!' but they really are so cute. They're really tame, don't bite and happily run about on our laps/the sofa when we sit watching TV.

Does anyone else have gerbils? Got any tips for a new gerbil owner?!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Lily Flame Fairy Dust Candle

Ahhh, it’s that time of year again, isn’t it? I’ve got my chunky knit cardigans and tights out, I’m craving soup and hot chocolate, the X Factor is back on the TV and Christmas chocolates are sneaking absurdly early into Tesco (who thinks ‘ooh, it’s October, I must immediately buy a box of Celebrations with snowflakes on the front?’ If this is you, seek help.) Anyway, it’s also the time when I get out the candles. Unlike some people, I really don’t burn candles in the summer – I’m not a fan of summer scents and as I don’t spend much time indoors, I don’t see the point! Autumn scents however are a whole different story, and this year I decided to treat myself to a couple of new candles.

I have to admit, this Lily Flame candle caught my eye for completely aesthetic reasons – it’s called ‘Fairy Dust’, which is basically adorable, and it’s pink and pretty. As soon as I smelt it I knew I had to have it. My friend Fiona, who I was out shopping with, remarked that it smelt like ‘bedtime’, and I knew immediately what she meant. Obviously that’s not a smell, but it reminds me of talcum powder and fresh, warm linen and comforting Autumn nights.

This looks gorgeous burning, and I would say it’s a perfect scent for the bedroom. I’m happy to burn cinnamon type Yankee candles in the living room, but they can be a bit overpowering for the bedroom, whereas this is much softer and more subtle. I bought the small tin for £8.50, which isn’t bad for such a pretty candle, and I’m really enjoying burning it so far!

Have any of you tried the Lily Flame candles? What do you think? 

Monday, 16 September 2013

London’s Hidden Gems #3 – The Gun

If you live or work in the Canary Wharf area, The Gun might not be a secret to you, but for others who don’t know the area well and are passing through it, this slightly out of the way pub is completely worth your consideration. Walk just out of the Wharf – past the security people waving cars through, down the road past the McDonald’s and you’re practically there. It’s still very much a Canary Wharf pub in the week – everyone in there will be in a suit – but it’s much less busy, and at the weekend the clientele is very different. On Saturday I just wore a simple wine red dress and brown accessories.

The Gun Canary Wharf

In general, the pub has a really nice, chilled out vibe. There’s a lovely restaurant which is slightly more formal, and then several different cosy rooms with clusters of tables where you can sit and drink around a roaring fire. Drinks are standard Canary Wharf prices, probably around £12 for a large wine and a pint of beer.

The Gun Canary Wharf

In my opinion, the food is nice but probably not quite worth the money – my boyfriend’s burger, at £15, wasn’t as good as something from Byron, and my steak sandwich was nice but quite small and had no accompaniments, which I didn’t expect for the price tag.

But what The Gun is really worth visiting for is the view. Set right on the Thames, the outdoor seating area makes you feel like you’re drinking on a boat, with water practically lapping against the windows. The river stretches out across to Greenwich and the O2 Millennium Dome stares back at you across the water.

The Gun Canary Wharf

It’s absolutely perfect in summer, with a cool cider…

The Gun Canary Wharf

It was also pretty magical on this cool Saturday autumn night.

The Gun Canary Wharf

All in all, if you’re in the area I really couldn’t recommend it more! 


Friday, 13 September 2013

Nivea Daily Essentials 2 in 1 Cleanser & Toner Review

 When it comes to skincare, I’m a pretty fussy girl. When I was younger I had what people politely called ‘problem skin’ (they meant ‘spotty’) and it seemed like every product I used just made things worse. My skin has improved a lot now, but it’s meant that for a long time I’ve stuck really closely to the skincare I know works for me, and not tried anything new for fear of upsetting the delicate equilibrium I’ve managed to obtain.

However, recently I was away and realised I’d forgotten to bring my usual cleanser, so popped into Boots. I didn’t want to spend a fortune, so with some trepidation picked up the Nivea Daily Essentials 2 in 1 Cleanser and Toner. I bought this partly because of the ‘toner’ aspect. It’s part of my skin routine I always neglect. Unlike cleansing and moisturising, I just can’t feel or see any effect from doing it – and yet all the magazines tell me I should! So having it as part of my cleanser seemed like a great idea. Also, the bottle mentioned that the cleanser was also ‘moisturising’. Cleansing ,toning and moisturising all in one – for less than £3? I was dubious, but decided to give it a go.

Nivea 2 in 1 Cleanser & Toner Review

After using this for the first time, my skin felt amazing. It doesn’t leave your skin feeling tight or over clean (a strong sign that your cleanser is too harsh) and there’s no residue – it’s just soft and silky. I felt like almost immediately that my skin felt soothed, and that any redness or blemishes I had seemed to have faded. This seemed so unlikely that I told myself not to be silly and went to bed.

Nivea 2 in 1 Cleanser & Toner Review

In the morning, however, there was no denying it. My skin felt soft and my spots had cleared up far more than they normally would using my previous (and much more expensive) cleanser. I’ve been using this ever since, for around six weeks now, and I cannot describe how much difference it’s made to my skin. It’s brighter, softer and I’ve had very few spots. 

There’s been an article in the Daily Mail recently about how Nivea face cream is actually better than Crème de la Mer, so it’s obviously not just this one product, and I can’t wait to try out more! For such a low price tag, I really do recommend giving this a go – you can’t go wrong! 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Game Of Thrones – Books 2-5 Review (No spoilers, I promise)

Well. I’ve finally finished.

It took over my life. I read constantly – in bed, in the bath, on the tube, while I was supposed to be watching TV…I read for a good solid month, I would say. I started speaking in a strangely old fashioned manner and kind of forgot that Winterfell and Kings Landing weren’t real places. But I’ve finally finished reading the Game Of Thrones.

Game Of Thrones Book Series Review

I now feel slightly bereft and am not sure what to do with myself. It’s a bit like the end of a relationship. I feel like I can’t possibly launch into another book series so soon; it would be like breaking up with somebody one day and leaping into a new relationship the next day – just all wrong. I don’t want the relationship to be over. I want to ring up George R R Martin and beg and plead with him to speed up the release of book number 6 (tenuously scheduled for 2014, but as he’s left up to seven years between books previously, I’m not holding my breath).

When I first reviewed Game Of Thrones Book 1 (here) I mentioned a few annoying niggles I had with the books – like the author’s love of killing people off, for example – and don’t get me wrong, I’ve found a couple more of those. An annoying propensity for throwing in a sudden twist, making everything go wrong when it appears to be finally going right. Good guys coming last. A slightly James-Bond-esque tendency for certain characters to escape their fate in increasingly unfeasible manners. There are chapters on end – even one entire book, in fact – where nothing really seem to happen at all, and there are far, far too many paragraphs dedicated to describing snow.

But it doesn’t matter, and in fact as the series goes on you start to enjoy these little tropes – even look for them. The series is fantasy, and the apparently pointless chapters all add something little which has meaning going forward – like tiny pieces of a giant puzzle. Either that, or they’re false signs, and that’s half the fun. Just when you’re convinced you know exactly what’s going to happen, something occurs to throw a spanner in the works. I’ve never read a book quite so unpredictable – it’s brilliant.

I’m now going to allow myself to watch Series 2 and 3 of the TV show, which I’d banned myself from watching until the reading was all done. I really enjoyed Series 1, so I’m now anxiously awaiting my Amazon order in anticipation of a weekend spent with the curtains drawn and a pizza…

Have any of you read the whole series? What did you think? Don’t leave any spoilers in the comments – we don’t want to ruin it for everyone else (not that we know how it ends…!) 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Too Faced Look Of Love Palette

Ages and ages ago I said I would do a review of this baby palette, which is without a doubt my favourite palette and possibly even my favourite make up item I’ve ever owned (excepting foundation, which allows me to leave the house every day). Big claim, I know.

Too Faced Look Of Love Pallette

Firstly, just look at it – isn’t it one of the prettiest compacts you’ve ever seen? I love the gorgeous butterfly/rose design on the front, I love how it has a mirror so it’s easy to chuck in your bag and take on a night out. I really like having this on my dressing table.

Too Faced Look Of Love Pallette

Secondly, the eye colours are fantastic. Forget Urban Decay, these are the most pigmented, creamy powder shadows I’ve ever used. They just glide onto your eyes like butter (that sounds gross. I promise it isn’t.) I use ‘Silk Teddy’ as a highlight and brow bone colour and blend it into ‘Totally Toasted’ in the crease. The blush is a gorgeous rosy pink which looks a bit intimidating when you first swatch it but actually adds a girly, pretty glow, with a little bit of shimmer but not so much that you look like a disco ball.

Too Faced Look Of Love Pallette

The only trouble is…you don’t seem to be able to buy it anymore! The set this came as part of seems to be out of stock absolutely everywhere. This is such a shame as it really is fantastic. Come on, Too Faced, bring it back!

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Pearson Room, Canary Wharf

I never win raffles. When I was little, our school would have summer fetes and Christmas bazaars, and there would always be a big raffle. My sister and I would beg 50p from my Mum to buy tickets, but whilst she always won something - one year winning BOTH the big teddy bears - I never did, and eventually I got a bit disheartened and stopped entering. However, this year, I attended a charity event and, wanting to support the charity, bought a ticket for the raffle. With very little hope - especially as some people had bought lots of tickets - I half listened to the results - and was amazed to discover I'd won first prize!

First prize in this instance happened to be a £100 voucher for a new venue in Canary Wharf, The Pearson Room restaurant and cocktail bar. Obviously being a massive fan of eating out, I was suitably excited and on Friday night my boyfriend and I got dressed up and headed over. The restaurant is on the second floor of the Canary Wharf mall with great views of the city. 

We ordered, and received some complimentary bread and oil before receiving our starters.

Pearson Room Canary Wharf review

Huevos Rojos for me (a Mexican dish featuring potato, chorizo and a fried egg!) 

Pearson Room Canary Wharf Review

Adobo chicken wings with chilli for him.

Both starters were really good. My chorizo in particular was perfectly cooked. 

For our main, we decided to push the boat out and order the cote de boeuf steak. 300 oz of rare steak, served with roasted cherry tomatoes and cassava chips. No vegetarians at this table. 

Pearson Room Canary Wharf Review

I cannot actually fault this steak - it was cooked exactly to my liking, there was fat but not too much, the tomatos were gorgeous and the chips were somewhere between roast potatoes and chips. It was really, really good. 

Pearson Room Canary Wharf Review

And yet despite that, I cannot recommend the Pearson Room. It's a beautiful venue - the decor reminds me somewhat of a private member's club - but there's a bar at one end, and even though they sat us at the other side of the restaurant, it was still pretty loud. I wouldn't expect noise interference at a restaurant of this sort. 

Much worse, however, was the service. One waiter was perfectly pleasant - friendly and informative - but the other was surly and rude. When he gave us the bread he practically threw our plates onto the table; he made a face at my pronunciation of the wine; he placed the wine bottle out of reach but then never came round to refill my wine glass. I wasn't paying (and maybe that's why he was so dismissive?) but if I had been, for a £60 a head meal I would have been really disappointed. So my overall verdict - lovely food, but unless you've got a voucher or you don't care about shoddy service, probably give this one a miss! 

Friday, 6 September 2013

The little things that make life better

Today London looks grey and miserable, and it really feels like the end of summer, so I figured we could all use a little cheering up. I’ve decided to do a post just basically on all the things that make me happy. In the words of Jimmy Eat World, ‘I’m in love with the ordinary’, so these aren’t the big things – although they make me happy too – these are just the simple things that give me that warm, happy feeling inside…

Getting into a bed with fresh bed sheets, clean pyjamas and just-washed hair – there’s nothing quite like it

What I call ‘a perfect Saturday’ -  morning shopping, lunch with the girls, a relaxing afternoon and then a big night out

Ordering a huge hot chocolate with cream and marshmallow and Maltesers, AND a huge slice of cake and not caring about the calories because life is way too short and you’re NOT as fat as you think you are

The first day of a festival, when the music starts and you have a drink and your friends around you and you feel truly alive

Swimming in a dimly lit swimming pool at night

Painting my nails whilst watching beauty Youtube videos and eating chocolate like a true girl

Long, late night chats with my sister, sitting on my bed laughing till I cry, and knowing she's my best friend

Going out in an outfit that you feel genuinely good in and feeling confident all night (bonus points if someone takes a photograph and you look good in that too!)

Being in Cornwall in the summer and dreaming of my alternate life as a hippy surfer chick

Watching a TV series and becoming so addicted to it that it basically takes over your life, and you start to believe it’s real, and you become weirdly annoyed when anyone else says they’re a fan because they can’t possibly like it as much as you do (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grey’s Anatomy…)

Eating cereal that's meant for children.

Oreo cupcakes. Do I need to say more? 

Having a bubble bath in the morning just because you can

Decorating my house for Christmas in November so I can spend a whole month feeling excited and happy about it

When I’m worried about something, and my parents give me advice that makes it all feel instantly easier – and knowing that even if I screw it up, they’ll still love me anyway

Eating dinner at the Beefeater – I don’t care if people think they’re tacky, I’ve had better steak there than I have at half the posh French restaurants I’ve been to, and they remind me of good family times

Warm croissants, or warm bread with butter

Going to the cinema to see a great film and eating all your pick n mix before the trailers are even finished

When people working in shops/restaurants/petrol stations/train stations are friendlier than they need to be and you leave with a smile on your face

The first day of a holiday when you realise that all you’ve got to do for the next week or two weeks is sit in the sun with a diet coke and swim in a turquoise pool  

The feeling when you’ve just had a really good haircut and for about half a day you feel like the prettiest person in the world, and you can't stop staring at it in the mirror

Eating chips on the beach - and my dad's disapproving face

That moment when you hear a song and realise you’re going to be playing it on repeat for the next 2 weeks

Looking at the person you love, realising they really do love you back, and hardly being able to believe how lucky you are

When my whole family gets together, with my parents and sister and my aunt and cousins, and realising that despite the years, despite growing up and getting jobs and flats and partners, nothing has really changed and I hope it never will

Well, maybe I got a bit sentimental at the end there, but these are my little things that make life better…what are some of yours?  

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Ombre Hair - Professional vs L'Oreal DIY!

So a few months ago, having spent far too much of my time looking at photos on Pinterest and Instagram, I decided I wanted to ombre my hair.  If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what ombre is, it is a ‘grown out dye’ style with dark roots and lighter tips. Quick hair history: I had blonde hair until I was about 13, at which point it started to go mousy brown. I spent my teenage years trying to make it be blonde, until finally accepting that, actually, it is quite dark, dyed it back to it’s natural dark brown around three years ago and have been really happy with it ever since.
From far too now!
I was pretty concerned about dying my hair again, which is weird considering before becoming a brunette I used to dye it all the time. After some thought, though, I decided I really did want to give it a go, thinking ‘well, worst case scenario, I hate it and I’ll just dye over it.’ Because I was so nervous I made an appointment to have the colour done at Toni & Guy. I didn’t actually take any proper before and after photos, but here’s a photo of me with normal brown hair.

Now, I’m not blaming the stylist at all for this, because I was really clear that I only wanted a subtle ombre, but here’s how it looked afterwards:

While there was definitely some highlight, it was very subtle. It gave me a chance to get used to it, and I realised I really liked it and actually wanted it brighter…but just a month down the line, I really couldn’t justify spending another £100 getting it done again. After reading a couple of blog posts it sounded pretty easy so, somewhat nervously, I went and purchased the L’Oreal Ombre Hair Kit in number 2. 

This is actually the kit for light brown to dark blonde hair, but I figured that with the colour already in my hair, I didn’t want the darker one. I tested the colour on a strand of hair, then took a deep breath and went for it.

The process is pretty simple – you decide where you want your ombre to start (this was even easier for me because I just followed where the hairdresser had lightened my hair) and apply the product using the little plastic brush. I tried to be systematic but ended up just slapping it all on. I did make sure I coated the tips first, though, so that they were subjected to the dye for longer. Then I sat around shivering in an old towel for 45 minutes.

It says you can leave it on for 25-45 minutes, but I know from experience that my hair takes quite long to suck up dye, so I just left it on for the full time, then jumped in the shower and used the supplied moisturising shampoo.

Now, I can only apologise for this photo – by the time I finished last night it was quite late and I was in my pyjamas happily watching the Great British Bake Off, so I really couldn’t be bothered to put any make up on – but here is the finished effect.

I really love it! It’s gone the blonde shade I wanted, it isn’t too drastic and there are no harsh lines. Considering I’m terrible at DIY anything (nail art, customising clothes – you name it, I can’t do it) I was pretty impressed with myself. My hair still feels in good condition (although I’m going to make sure to give it lots of TLC over the next few weeks) and it was the exact colour I wanted.

The L’Oreal kit costs around £7 in Boots, compared with the £100 I spent having it professionally done. Now, it could well be that it was easier for me to lighten my hair once it had been done once by the professionals – not being a hairdresser, I don’t really know! I’d read a lot of negative reviews of the dye online – some people said the smell was really harsh (it just smelt like hair dye to me – you wouldn’t want it as a perfume or anything, but it didn’t make me want to vomit), others said their hair went orange or it all snapped off. All I can say is that none of this happened to me – my hair went blonde and faded really nicely into my natural colour. The shampoo supplied was gorgeous and I would say my hair actually feels in better condition than before I did it.

I’m really happy with it and would definitely use the kit again! What do you think of the ombre look? Would you DIY or go professional?!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Emirates Cable Car Experience

So…I’ve finally moved! It seems like I’ve been talking about this forever (because I have), but last week my new flat was finally ready. My boyfriend and I moved out of our hotel (I was sad to leave the full English breakfasts, but to be honest, I was beginning to fear obesity, and not being able to do any laundry was leaving me with some dubious outfit choices) and into our own place. I really love it, and have spent the last week trying to make it into our own little home. 

At the weekend, my parents came down to London for a visit to see if it met with their approval. I got ready with my new make up, which I'll do a little review of soon!

 We ate lunch on my balcony, enjoying the weather. I'm desperately clinging to the last of summer - I just don't want it to end.

We were happily wandering around the grounds of my apartment block in the sunshine when my Mum pointed out the Emirates cable cars floating by in the background, and asked whether they were any good.

I had to admit, somewhat sheepishly, that despite having lived in London throughout the Olympics and working close by, I’d never actually been on them. As it was such a lovely, clear day, we decided to rectify this and jumped on the tube. I really love spontaneously doing tourist-y things in London – it makes you feel like you’re on holiday when you’re not, and who doesn’t want to feel like they’re on holiday all the time?!

My boyfriend met us straight from football training in Greenwich and we joined the queue. It looked pretty long, but a friendly Tfl worker told us it would be less than half an hour, and in reality it only took 10 minutes. It costs around £8 for a return journey, £6 with an Oyster card discount (which we had), which I think is pretty reasonable!

You jump on and the cable car swings into the air. I’m actually pretty scared of heights, and I admit I was clinging to my boyfriend and not really looking out of the window to start with! 

Eventually I managed to take a peek.

The views really are fantastic. You can see right across London, over the sky scrapers of the Wharf into the city.

On the way down we saw a cute little beach (a beach! In London!) with happy tourists sunbathing and watching the wakeboarders and water skiers on the Thames.

My boyfriend had selflessly come to see us despite having missed lunch, so we got drinks and he got a chicken burger from one of the little food stalls dotted about. It really did have such a nice, holiday vibe (so bright in fact that apparently I couldn't keep my eyes open...)

And then we went back again! I really love my parents so it was nice to see them having a good time. 

It was really good to see the city I love from such a different view, and it's something I would recommend to everyone - whether you live here, or you've never been before. It's a cheap, easy way to get a great view of an amazing city, and spend some quality time with your family into the bargain. 

Have any of you been on the cable cars? What did you think? 
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