Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Bird Is The Word at WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre

martin mere family day out

Feeling a bit down a week or two ago, my family and I decided it was time to have an afternoon out somewhere. I'm super lucky in respect of where I live because there is so much, so close. Just on the edge of Lancashire and Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Manchester are both under an hour away meaning we had a lot of choice. After a bit of discussion, we decided to head somewhere I've not been since I was little, Martin Mere Wetland Centre. 

After a 40 minute car drive, we arrived at the Centre, a wildfowl and wetland nature reserve run by the WWT. On a grey and drizzly day you might not think walking around outside would make for the perfect afternoon outing, but you are wrong. It was perfect.

Walking through the main building, the roof of which has fascinated me since I was little, we made our way to the actual reserve. When I was little we used to spend ages in the main building because they do family activities such as crafts, which I was obsessed with. The day we went they were holding the North West Puddle Jumping Championship and it honestly took every inch of my will-power not to queue up with the children for a go. Kid's get all the fun.

Walking round the Centre

martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out
The Centre is set out so there is one big lake in the centre, then lots of little areas leading off it with different birds, animals and environments. There is also a natural wetland at the back where they have Hides that keen bird watchers can sit and spot rare fowl. You can usually buy bags of bird food to feed all the birds as you walk round the reserve but unfortunately, due to the detection of Bird Flu in Europe, and a few cases here in England, the centre has had to temporarily stop this. That didn't stop us having a good look around though.

martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out

It always amazes me how close the birds come to you, even without food. It should be pointed out that these are wild birds too. Some have been clipped, but the birds at the centre vary from season  to season, day to day, depending on migration patterns. Now, I'm no bird expert at all and only know the most common, but I loved seeing all the different species, and there was something quite soothing about walking round and listening to all the different calls and tweets mixing together. Even if we did have a giggle at some of the more bizarre ones. 

Watching Feedings

After having a walk round, we made a determined effort to watch the scheduled feedings the Centre offered visitors. The first on my list was to see the Short-clawed Asian Otters. The keepers explained that Martin Mere had actually successfully bred these rare animals and as a result, had sent some to other centres. Luckily they had kept 3 sisters to continue to educate people about why it's important to work with nature rather than against it. I'm such a wildlife fan so watching the otters try and find the crabs in their pond and break them open was something I really loved. They were so active and fun watch, each having their own personality. 

martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out

Dragging myself away from those little cuties, we headed to the main Discovery Hide, right in time for the big Swan feed. They call it the Swan feed but really it's a massive free-for-all on the natural wetland. What I loved was that there were super keen bird watchers there that were happy to share their knowledge with others, pointing out rare birds from other countries that have migrated here. Now I've fed a lot of ducks in my time, but I don't think I've ever seen as many birds in one place. It was crazy and something definitely not to be missed if you visit.

martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out
martin mere family day out

Our visit was the best pick-me-up and I'm already planning on going back in late May/June so I can see all the ducklings.

Where's you favourite place to get up close to nature?
xoxo
J
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Sunday, 26 February 2017

My New Favourite Bath Product - Aromatherapy Associates Bath & Shower Oil

Aromatherapy Associates Bath & Shower Oil Review

It's absolutely no secret that I'm a bath person. I love baths, and my idea of "me-time" is to lie back in beautifully scented water and forget the outside world exists. My weapon of choice is usually a bath bomb because let's be honest, everyone like watching something fizz around and turn their water into a rainbow (right?!). But out of all the bath products out there, bath oil isn't something I've tried too much. So one afternoon when I decided a haul was due I decided to try Aromatherapy Associates.

Aromatherapy Associates, if you don't know, is a London brand, focused on "Mindful Beauty by giving you time to stop and find balance in your life". Believing that essential oils are the key to truly relax, the brand has a whole host of products ranging from skincare to candles. Being the bath lover that I am, I was really intrigued by their award-winning Bath & Shower Oils and the miniature bath & shower oil collection gave me a chance to try the entire range. 

Collection Guide

Relax Deep One of the more fragrant oils, Relax Deep is a combination of Vetivert, Camomile and Sandalwood. Why this combination? Well Camonmile helps you to relax whilst Sandalwood acts as a comfort or and Vertivert helps you sleep. Perfect for the night before an exam or interview, this gave me the best nights sleep I've had in a while.

Relax Light Aiming to provide a gentle relaxation, this oil combines Lavender, Ylang yang and Petitgrain to help you unwind. 

De-stress Mind Life getting too much? Just need to think clearly? Try this blend of Frankincense, Petitgrain, Wild Camomile and Rosemary. One bath with this helped me to see everything I have going on clearly and stop getting over whelmed. 

De-stress Muscle If you're keeping up with your New Year's Resolutions (or Goals as I like to call them in this post) and hitting the gym hard, I've found your new best friend. Combining Rosemary, Black Pepper, Lavender and Ginger, all your muscles get the de-stress treatment so you can avoid any aches the next day. 

Revive Morning Big day ahead or just struggling to get out of bed? Try this Award-winning blend of Grapefruit, rosemary and juniper to make sure you're wide awake and at you're best. 

Revive Evening A perfect pre-party pamper, if you need an evening boost of energy, this is the oil for you. Combining Geranium, Ylang Ylang, Patchouli and Sandalwood, it's a really nice feel-good oil that gives you that extra bit of confidence. 

Support Breathe This oil is the perfect one to choose if you're feeling ill and under the weather. Containing Eucalyptus, Pine, Tea Tree and Peppermint it helps you breathe and think clearly, giving your entire body a refresh.

Support Lavender & Peppermint It's a well known fact that both Lavender and Peppermint are calming superstars so this one really excited me. What I was unaware of though that the Peppermint oil will help sooth digestive problems, even though you're not drinking it (!), whilst the Lavender relieves headaches. 

Support Equilibrium Uplifting and balance, this oil combines Geranium, Rose and Frankincense to perk you up when things get a bit tough and ground you when everything's cray. 

How it went

So as a complete newbie to bath oils I followed the instructions to a T. Aromatherapy Associates recommend that you massage the oil onto your torso before cupping your hands over your nose and inhaling deeply 3 times. You can then enjoy your bath or shower and see the benefits of your chosen oil. 

After using the oils I'm completely sold on the power of Aromatherapy and bath oils. Although the scent of each is different, none are too overpowering. I think out of all of them, the Support Lavender & Peppermint was my favourite as I suffer from migraines and I seemed to really help these. Like I said, I used all mine in the bath, but if you're a shower lover you can use them in there too! 

If you've never tried bath oil, I'd really recommend picking up the Aromatherapy Associates Bath & Shower Collection so you can try the entire range without having to really commit to a specific one. Also, the set would make the perfect gift for anyone needing a bit of a de-stress. The set is available from quite a few places, including Liberty London and John Lewis but I got mine directly from Aromatherapy Associates for £39.00. Price wise, it works out at about £4.33ish per bath, so basically the same as Lush.

What do you think? Are you a bath oil lover? I'd love to hear your recommendations!
xoxo
J
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Thursday, 23 February 2017

A Hollywood Red Lip with Charlotte Tilbury

charlotte tilbury bombshell lip kit swatch

charlotte tilbury bombshell lip kit swatch


I am not a make up artist. I like to think I have a couple of looks nailed, the neutral smokey, the black smokey, the no-make up makeup, but Pixiwoo I am not. And I'm pretty ok with that. As long as I can avoid looking like a clown I'm happy. Loving all things vintage, a red lip is my go-to for nights out and I've been searching high and low for the ultimate products for years. Well, say hello to my current favourite glossy red lip combo, all of which happen to be from the amazing Charlotte Tilbury. 

Lip Cheat in Kiss N Tell

There's no way to avoid it, you need a good lip liner for a red lip. I've tried so many liners, but I have to admit, the high end versions are usually worth their weight in gold. Velvet soft, it glides across your lips without a single tugAlthough the packaging makes it look a little bit orange, it's a true pillar-box red that does not budge. And by that I mean will withstand a couple of cocktails without making you look like the Joker. If you can only afford to buy one product, let it be this. 

K.I.S.S.I.N.G. Lipstick in So Marilyn

Formulated to pay homage to Marilyn Monroe whilst injecting a modern twist, it's buttery soft with intense pigmentation. What I love about Charlotte Tilbury's collection is that it's so well-thought through. Take this lipstick for example, it has a secret ingredient that protects your lips form UV damage and external pollution whilst the unique wax combo and light-diffusing pigments give everyone fuller looking lips. I mean, what possibly more could you want from a lipstick? To die for packaging? That's taken care of too!

Lip Lustre in Red Vixen

I'd be lying if I didn't say this gloss scared me. I want red, but this is some next level telephone box red. But its beautiful. Over the years I've gone off wearing gloss because each one I try seems to be super sticky with little pigmentation. But the Lip Lustre's are like the next generation. Non-sticky, creamy texture that stays put for up to 6 hours in a range of flattering shades? Finally a gloss that's grown up. I am obsessed with the vinyl texture and the fullness it gives your lips, it just screams old Hollywood! It's also worth noting that, if worn alone, this shade does leave a subtle stain to the lips. I quite like this, but I know it could sway people the other way. 

All of the products have been individually swatched in order from left to right, but the last swatch is entire combo in order so you can really get a feel for how beautifully they work together. 

You can buy them all separately, but I picked up all three in the Bombshell Lip Kit for £49.00, direct from the Charlotte Tilbury website.

What are your holy grail make up products?
xoxo
J

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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A Morning in Miami Beach


Miami BeachMiami Beach 
Miami Beach

After some very stressful confusion with hotel bookings, I would be lying if I didn't get a little excited by all the unique details of the Clay Hotel. Not only did it have a giant flamingo at the front, but my room also looked over the most amazing hidden courtyard. Don't those tiles scream photo op?! If that isn't Miami enough for you, Al Capone used the Clay for gambling when he was in town! With my Trek America tour finished I only had half a day before my flight back to England but I was determined to make the most of it. After checking out of my hotel I decided to have a walk down to Ocean Drive and enjoy what little time I had.

Miami Beach

Miami Beach

Miami Beach


If you like architecture as much as I do, Miami Beach is a must see. It has every style of art-deco building possible, ranging from the nautical, the bright and the just plain beautiful. I managed to find Casa Casuarina, better known as the Versace Mansion, and even stumbled upon Miami Ink! Of course my mum will be happy to know that no needles came close to touching my skin. After a walk around Ocean Drive admiring the pretty people, and even prettier cars, I decided no trip to Miami would be complete without a sneaky look at the Beach. 

Miami Beach
Miami BeachMiami BeachMiami BeachMiami Beach

Miami Beach

Miami Beach


After a spot of lunch in Lummus Park watching the cyclist and skaters, I went to look at Miami's most famous sight, South Beach. If miles of white sand, painted lifeguard towers and beautifully blue water is what you like, Miami is you first port of call. My first sight of the Atlantic Ocean and oh my the big blue is pretty. If I would have had more time in Miami I would have loved to spend a day topping up my tan and people watching, but alas, my flight was booked. With one quick last stop to make I left South Beach with the hope it wouldn't be the last time I saw those buildings and that beach. 

Make sure you follow me on Bloglovin' so you stay up to date with Trek Tuesday!

xoxo
J
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Thursday, 16 February 2017

S/S '17 Fashion Trends & Where to Buy Them || Part 1 - Ruffles & Waists

spring summer 2017 womenswear fashion trends

Can you believe it's a new season already? Whilst the temperature and odd flurry of snow are keeping my cosy jumpers firmly in my wardrobe, there's no harm at looking what's in store (pun not intended) as the weather warms up. Of course it's become a little bit of tradition of mine to round up seasonal fashion trends but last year I decided to make it a bit more real. It's ok looking at glamours photos from the catwalks but what happens when you don't have a stylist? How do you make a trend work for you and your budget? If like me you shop mainly on the highstreet then this style guide is for you. In a series of 4 posts, I'm going to tell you all about the key womenswear trends for S/S 2017 and how you can shop them right now!

Starting things of with two of my favourite trends this season, let's talk about ruffles and waists.

Ruffles

Now ruffles have been in the shops for a while. I've even justified a couple of purchases by saying "but look at the ruffles", but all this has just been a warm-up. Floaty and feminine, prepare for anything you wear to have a ruffle on it. Trousers, skirts, shoes and bag; stick a ruffle on it and you're good to go. Seriously though it is super wearable and pretty flattering. Take that pencil dress for example, the ruffled sleeves hide the top of your arms (I have a similar black one and it was my ultimate LBD), while the ruffles on a wrap skirt help to skim over any food babies whilst keeping it fun! Not keen? Try a frilled accessory, and you might be converted.

Waist-clinching

I don't care what anyone says, you can never have enough waist belts. From pulling in oversized tee's, to giving a dress a different vibe, they can expand your wardrobe. And boy are they flattering? Clinching you in at your smallest part, they take the attention away from any area you're not keen on and polish a look off like nothing else. If you've tried and tested waist belts and want a bit of change, look to clothes with handy waist-flattering features. That coat has a drawstring that pulls in your waist, whilst the tunic has a built in waist belt. But if you really want to tick all the trend boxes, opt for the trousers with a ruffle wait. 

Want to shop my collage? Here's the links (L-R, T-B)
Burgundy V Neck Frill Trim Pencil Dress - £29.99 - New Look
Khaki Drawstring Waist Duster Coat - £39.99 - New Look
Ruffle Joggers - £29.00 - Topshop
Light Pink Ruffle Maxi Skirt - £35.00 - River Island
Pale Grey Brushed Frill Trim Long Sleeve Top - £17.99 - New Look
Porter Ruffle Heels - £35.00 - ASOS
Embellished Waist Belt - £20.00 - ASOS
Midi Skirt with Paperbag Waist in Gingham - £30.00 - ASOS Curve
Ruffle Waist Mensy Trousers - £42.00 - Topshop
Dark Green Stripe Tie Waist Tunic - £24.00 - New Look

My wardrobe is already jam packed with ruffles, but I think a midi skirt or two might help me with the waist trend. Which trend is your favourite? 

xoxo
J
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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

5 reasons why it's ok to like Valentine's Day

ok to like valentines day

Valentine's Day plans? There's just something about today that splits people right down the middle. You can't be on the fence, you have to choose; love or loathe. Of course it also puts a firm divide between those of us who all loved up, and those who are single pringles. Usually it's the singleton's that are shouting anti-Valentine's Day messages from the rooftops, although I do know a few people in very happy relationships that are skipping today. Some people may call it bitterness, I say it's each to their own, but one thing I don't agree with is shaming people for liking Valentine's Day. So here's why you shouldn't hide your happiness today, straight from a single persons mouth. 

Love makes the world go round. One argument I read for ditching Valentine's day is that it's pointless. Look, I think there are enough songs, films, books (and anything else) about love being all you need for us all to agree that its true; love can fulfil you. So why can't there be a day to celebrate it? There's days to celebrate countries, days to celebrate friendship, there's even a day to celebrate pizza (which is love 2bh), so why can't we have one day to celebrate something that everyone agrees is important?! With all the hate going in on the world, it's actually quite a novelty to have a day of love dontcha think?

It's not for single people. Wrong. Wrong. WRONG!!!! Despite what a lot of people think, Valentine's Day doesn't isolate single people. The day is about love, and, speaking as a single person, single people feel love too. OK so not in the romantic relationship sense, but I love my family and friends. I love my dog. Why can't I celebrate that? Galentine's Day was yesterday (I made a little guide here) but there is nothing stopping you from carrying the celebrations over to today. You can even celebrate loving yourself. You know, here's to the people who are content with the way they are and don't give a fig what anyone else thinks. Love comes in so many forms; it's only purely about romantic relationships if you make it like that. 

It's not anti-feminist. If anyone tells you that liking Valentine's day means you don't support women's rights, feel free to ask them the date. The full date. As in the year. Seriously people, we are in 2017! If a women chooses to like something and celebrate a special day, the fact that she has actively made that decision based on her own values and opinions is a win for women's rights. Nobody has forced you to celebrate it, you've chosen to. If you don't like the holiday, opt out. If you do like it, opt in. See, you are now exercising you're rights. 

Everything is commercialised.  Well yeah. No argument here. Everything is commercialised. Because of a demand to celebrate holidays, gift and card companies provide items. It's business.  Christmas is commercialised, otherwise we wouldn't have pre-made Christmas cards and amazing Christmas gift-sets. Don't like it? Make your own. If stripped down to the basics, you don't actually have to buy a single thing for Valentine's Day. I mean, people do, but it's their choice (see, choice popping up again). There is no rule that says in order to celebrate Valentine's Day with your nearest and dearest you must buy roses, chocolates and a novelty teddy. You can celebrate without those things, you can show you're appreciation some other way. Not liking commercialisation doesn't stop you from not liking Valentines Day. 

It's your life! Ah, the ultimate reason to like Valentine's Day. Because you want to. Some people happen to be romantic so why make them feel bad about being how they are? If a couple went out for a meal any other day of the year no one would bat an eyelid. Because it's on a day where it's a holiday celebrating love they are looked down on? Well that makes total sense. If Valentine's Day appeals to you, celebrate it, and be happy with your choice. 

Where do you stand on Valentine's Day? I'd love to here what you got up to!
xoxo
J
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Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Perfect Valentine's Fragrance

So..? fragrance review

Christmas and New Year seem ages ago now right? I think one of the things I love about Christmas is all those festive scents mulling together; cinnamon, pine trees, my house basically smelt like the Yankee Candles factory. Now we've moved full steam to the next holiday; Valentines Day. Admittedly, its a bit of a marmite day. You either gush about little romantic gbestures and munch chocolate gifts, or, you hide away until it's 15th February, and munch discounted chocolate gifts. Whatever side of the fence you're on, a new holiday means a new fragrance and I don't think there could be a more fitting option than So...? Kiss Me. 

So...? Kiss Me (*) I think the So..Kiss Me body spray was my first step into fragrances. Everyone had one in their P.E. bag for a quick freshen up, and smelling it again now, I'm not really sure why I ever stopped buying it. Seriously though, its a lovely scent, and the eau de toilette is even nicer. It's super light and fresh with top notes of fresh blackcurrant, pineapple and citron, heart notes of sweet vanilla and base notes of musk. It's neither too sweet, floral, fruity or woody, just the perfect blend for a fresh scent. With gift sets ranging in the £7 range, or a 30 ml fragrance for £5.99, it's a complete steal.

So...? Body Mists (*) So there's no romantic connection with these mists, I just thought I should give you the heads up that So...? have a brand new range. And its amazing. The entire range is divine but my favourites are White Petals and Vanilla Milkshake. White Petals is this lovely light floral scent, ideal if you're dreaming of Spring, whilst Vanilla Milkshake is possibly the best vanilla spray I've smelt, with just the right balance of sweetness without being overpowering. They're now £3.99 for 100ml at Superdrug and again, such good value. I think I'll be snapping up the Watermelon version for a quick summer refresh.

Honestly, if you haven't smelt So...? Kiss Me in years, do it! What's you're favourite Valentines Scent? Have you re-discovered something recently?

xoxo
J
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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Discovering Magic at Universal Studios Orlando



With only one full day at Orlando, I was determined to pack in as much theme park fun as possible. I'm not a big rides person and I'm terrified of heights but with a whole variety of rides on offer I didn't hesitate to get a Park-to-Park ticket, allowing me access to both Universal Studios Florida and the Islands of Adventure, and of course that all important ride on the Hogwarts Express. After queuing for what felt like an age and playing countless games of Heads Up, I decided I'd quit being patient and opt for an Unlimited Express Pass. Although it didn't let me skip queues to the big Wizarding World of Harry Potter rides, it did let me make the most of my day. 




Of course there's more to Universal than just Harry Potter, and I was keen to see as much as possible.  We decided to start with Universal Studios Florida and, thanks to my fast pass, I managed to hop onto Despicable Me, Shrek 4-D and Men in Black all within an hour. Just as we turned a corner, we were super lucky to be met by Beetlejuice and a parade.  Although we arrived a week before the Halloween celebrations began, everything was decked out in cobwebs letting us still experience the magic. Stopping at Krusty Burger for a spot of lunch, we decided it was about time we head to the main attraction. Having caught sight of it across the water, I was more than a little excited. 







Universal Studios Florida is home to my favourite part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley. Tucked away in a corner just past the Knight Bus and Grimmauld Place, you could easily walk past the entrance. For someone who has grown up with the books, and then later the films, rounding that corner onto the Alley was something else. I've been on the Studio Tour in London, but this takes it to the next level. Every little detail has been thought of with dozens of shops all filled with themed goods. The inner child in me couldn't resist popping in to Olivander's to pick up a wand  and no trip would have been complete without a Butterbeer ice-cream. Preferring to sit out in the Alley and people watch, I didn't go on the Escape from Gringotts but so many people raved about the special effects. After watching the dragon breathe fire and finally getting a picture, it was finally time for the moment I had been waiting for, the Hogwarts Express.




Transporting you from Universal Studios Florida to Universal's Islands of Adventure, the Hogwarts Express is possibly the best form of transport. Ever. Set out like King's Cross Train Station, every little detail was taken care of. From departure boards to staff uniforms everything was spot on, making it more magical than I would have thought. Even though we couldn't use our fast passes, the line went super quick and we got seats on the next train. Stepping into a compartment, images flash on the windows and, after a close run with a Dementor, we safely arrived in Hogsmeade.  








In any normal situation there would be something weird about seeing snow-topped rooftops in 100 degree heat. But this isn't a normal situation, we were in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and I couldn't stop smiling from ear to ear. Catching a glimpse of the towering Hogwarts Castle over the village, we oohed and ahhed at the perfectly themed shops and couldn't resist having a drink in the Three Broomsticks. Luck seemed to be with us that day as we even arrived just in time to see  the Frog Choir perform. Think a magical version of Glee and you wouldn't be far off, as I drank Butter Beer listening to a mashup of Justin Bieber and the Smashing Pumpkins. After much exploring, and a tentative look at the the Forbidden Journey and Dragon Challenge rides, it was time to head back to the Park Inn by Radission for some time out of the sun. Mischief Managed.

Make sure you follow me on bloglovin so you never miss a Trek Tuesday post!

xoxo
J
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