Monday, 30 July 2018

Blogger Breakfast with Britax Roemer

When Britax Roemer sent me this event invite, I replied so quickly that I am sure I must have set some kind of world record for typing speed. Everything about this event sounded awesome - I mean, it is breakfast (the best kinda food) and I get to take the baby too. And it was just as good an event as I imagined it would be.

The event took place at the Bourne and Hollingsworth buildings in London (AKA the most instagrammable place on earth). The sun was shining, the rooms were filled with tropical décor and plants (including one that Ava may have bitten a chunk off of at some stage during the event), and all of the babies were playing together amongst the lego bricks and noisy car toys. The other bloggers slowly arrived and everyone looked amazing in their summer dresses but, most importantly, everyone was just so nice.

We chatted mum stuff and blog stuff as we waited for everyone to arrive. A couple of lovely ladies from the Britax Roemer team showed us the fancy looking pushchairs and car seats dotted around and we did some necessary boomerangs (well, everyone else did. Poor old me had broken her phone the day before).

Once everyone had arrived, we were taken through to be seated for breakfast. A slightly hungry Ava was popped into her highchair beside me as the food started to arrive. There were little rolls filled with either smoked salmon and cream cheese, bacon, or avocado (because it's not a blogger event without avocado). There were also lots of delicious pastries (I practically ate my body weight in cinnamon swirls) and fruit skewers that Ava devoured.

Whilst we ate, the Britax Roemer team gave us a small talk about the company and showed us a picture of the royals who had used their car seats and pushchairs over the years (I mean, if it is good enough for Kate and Wills, it can't be bad). It was interesting to learn more about the company as I knew of the brand name but didn't know much about it past that.

As the breakfast drew to a close, I took a rather grumpy Ava through the play with the toys and she was soon followed by a few other babies. The ladies from Britax Roemer then showed us the functions of the products they had brought along for us to test out and one baby even fell asleep in the swivel car seat so they are definitely comfy.

We mingled around and chatted with each other - and tried to pacify our overly tired children. It was really lovely to meet with other mums and spend the morning at such a relaxed event that didn't mind too much when Ava started getting whiney. And I even went away with a goodie bag full of cute stuff for Ava, a hand lotion for me, and one of those noisy car toys that may have mysteriously lost its batteries by the time we got as far as Swindon on the train.

I would like to say a big thank you to Britax Roemer for inviting me to this awesome event (and Rosie in particular for dealing with all my frantic emails over the last couple of weeks). And to the staff at Bourne and Hollingsworth for making us feel so welcome and giving us delicious avocado-based cuisine. And to all the lovely ladies I met at this event - you guys are awesome. 

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Things All Bloggers Do In Summer

Whether you're sat in the garden squinting at your laptop screen in the sun or sauntering around Peggy Porschen in a princess dress, bloggers really come into their element in the summer months. So, take off your reflective rose gold sunnies and take a break from laughing into an iced coffee in front of a pastel wall so you can see how many summer blogger clichés you can tick off of this list.

You have let your ice cream half melt so you can get that perfect pic of it held up in front of the sea
I mean, what even is the point of going to the beach if you can't post that classic insta? It doesn't matter if you spend twenty minutes waiting for the background to become clear of tourists and you have more ice cream on your hands than in the cone by the end because this post is guaranteed to bang (well, unless you forget to add the hashtags AGAIN).

You have broken into a field of flowers to take pics because you're so zen and in touch with nature
It was the farmer's fault for planting colourful flowers, right? If he didn't want grown women clambering over gates to get pictures of themselves dancing around Kate Bush style then he should have planted something a bit more vegetable-y (but not pumpkins. Or strawbs. Or watermelon. Maybe a carrot?).

You have definitely fake laughed at a sugary treat and/or iced drink
If aliens invaded the planet and got a Bloglovin' account, I am sure they would start thinking that donuts tell amazing jokes. Or maybe I am just not buying the right ones? Also extra points if you have taken a picture laughing at an iced latte whilst stood in front of one of the following: a house in Kensington, a flower wall, or a pastel colour wall.

You have written about how much you love eating salad every day but really still eat a bowl of cheesy pasta for most meals
We all love to say how much we are enjoying the fruit and veg in this heat but I can't be the only one who mostly just eats bread and pizza and cheese and copious cups of tea. The stomach wants what it wants and lettuce is decidedly on the 'not want' pile. Even in the summer.

You have bought a slightly more 'out there' outfit after seeing your fave blogger wearing it and immediately resigned it to the back of your wardrobe
Some bloggers just have a knack for pulling off everything and anything. These ladies can wear a baker boy hat without looking like an extra from Oliver Twist. They can wear sparkly crop tops and not look like they're heading to a 90s disco. They can convince us that anything is possible and we can look this good to. These bloggers are liars and that rainbow midi dress makes me look like an eccentric primary school teacher.

You have already bought something because 'it'll be perfect for autumn'
Even I'm guilty of this one - I bought a fuchsia denim skirt a couple of weeks ago to wear with a black turtle neck, tights, and boots once the weather gets a bit cooler. 

How many of these summer blogger activities have you ticked off so far?

Monday, 16 July 2018

£25 Outfit Challenge With Clarks Village


Clarks Village is a place that I associate with my childhood. I have so many memories of car journeys down the M5 to buy new school shoes during summer holidays. I even bought my prom dress there. And who could forget the Cadbury's outlet shop? As a kid, I was in awe of this place. It was like chocolate heaven. It was full to the rim with every chocolate bar known to man and even had a little chocolate train that would chug along over your head. What kid wouldn't love that?

So, when I saw Clarks Village were looking to work with bloggers for their 25th anniversary, I knew I couldn't let this opportunity slip between my fingers. I pitched to them the idea of doing a £25 outfit challenge and, much to my delight, they got back in touch saying yes!

I haven't actually been to Clarks Village since I was 16 (many moons ago) so I was excited to see if it was as good as I remember. In all honesty, it was better! There are now more chocolate shops (including a Lindt outlet shop that do pick and mix truffles) which I was very happy about and an awesome pasty shop. Most of the same clothing shops are there but I especially loved browsing in Sugarhill Boutique, Yumi, and Next (which stocked reduced items from brands like Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing as well as their own range). So, I was quietly confident that I would be able to get a full outfit for the £25 and a cute outfit at that.

The first place I looked in was Next as both my parents and my grandparents told me that this was going to be the best place to find a whole outfit within budget. They were right. After about 10 minutes I found this burnt orange leopard print shirt and absolutely fell in love with it. They only had it in a size 8 but I didn't want to let it go so I vowed I would squeeze myself into it by any means possible. I decided that this shirt would look great with a black skirt and shortly found a very wide range of black leather skirts. I chose this shiny fake leather skirt as I thought it was more interesting than just a regular, non-shiny one and I knew these items would look awesome together - albeit slightly Kat Slater-esque. The shirt and the skirt were £6 each bringing my total to £12 so far.

I then headed off in search of shoes and accidentally fell into the Body Shop outlet store where I stocked up on my go-to matte tea tree foundation for £7 instead of the usual £10. I may have also found Ava the cutest little jumpsuit and sunhat set in M&S for £6. But the shoes were definitely still on my mind.

Unfortunately, I didn't find any shoes that fit within my budget. I did find some gorgeous black boots for £24 but I decided to leave them there in favour of a yellow striped t-shirt from Sugarhill Boutique (for just £19!). The shoes I am wearing with this are old Primark heeled boots which, I believe, I bought for £15 which brings our total to £27. Slightly over budget but not far off which shows that you really can put together a smashing outfit on a budget. Especially if you live near Clarks Village.

Disclaimer: the outfit pictured was bought using a gift card gifted to me by Clarks Village

Thursday, 12 July 2018

The Highstreet Beauty Event You Can't Miss

Before I started uni, The Original Factory Shop was my main port of call for buying cheap (and super cute) homeware but the more I shopped there, the more my attention was swayed towards their beauty section. They always had so many big name brands but at amazing prices. My shopping trips soon went from excursions to buy storage and new pens to delving into the depths of the nail varnish counter to find the best shades at the best prices. And I once found a navy and purple shimmery Calvin Klein nail varnish there which I still own and use to this day so I really am testament to the greatness of The Original Factory Shop's beauty section. So, when they got in touch to tell me about their beauty event and all the great deals to be had, I knew I had to be a part of it. The lovely people at TOFS sent out a package full of goodies and a catalogue of everything they are currently stocking - including high end fragrances and best selling highstreet makeup products all at reasonable prices.

The products sent to me were by a brand called DDM Cosmetics which I hadn't heard of before so I was really intrigued by what they had to offer.

Each item came with instructions on how to use which were very useful as some of the products were quite different from my usual go-tos. The mascara* had two separate applicators. One was a usual mascara and the other was a brush with which you apply fibres to your lashes. The mascara wets the lashes, the fibres stick to the lashes making them look longer and thicker, and the mascara then seals the fibres to the lashes. I wore this for a whole day out in the sun and I found that the fibres stayed put well and didn't crumble onto my face or into my eyes which I was worried about. My eyelashes did look longer and I would definitely continue using this product - especially for events and nights out where I want to look like I am wearing falsies but don't want the hassle of actually applying them.

I don't usually use powder but this Mineral Makeover Powder* has been a godsend in the heatwave. The coloured dots are colour correction dots. I can't really vouch for how well they work as I put this on over foundation but I can vouch for the fact that this is a lightweight foundation that doesn't make your foundation go cakey which is a problem I have had with so many powders before.

The HD Fibre Brow* is the one thing I wasn't so sure on but that is probably because I am a eyebrow powder girl through and through. This brow product has the same premise as the mascara in that it uses fibres to make your brows look thicker and better. Personally, I found that my brows looked too intense after using this but, as I said, I am only used to using eyebrow powder.

Overall, I will definitely be popping into The Original Factory Shop to check out there deals (and to stock up on perfume). And you can get a discount online with the code BLOGGER10


Monday, 9 July 2018

Why I Stopped Reading Magazines And Started Reading Blog Posts

My whole life, I have been an avid reader. As a kid, I read all the books in our house (including the encyclopaedia and the dictionary) so, naturally, I started reading magazines in my preteen years. At the end of every week, I would go to the post office and pick up a bag of pic and mix and a copy of Mizz to read over the weekend. Mizz and Shout were my absolute favourites and I would scour them for the best neon crop tops and sparkly hairbands ready to wow whichever boy I had a crush on that week. I would devour the articles and loved the reader writes in section (I once featured in a Mizz magazine talking about my undying love for Mika). This then progressed onto magazines like Look, Glamour, Cosmo, and Company (RIP). I loved everything about magazines. I loved the glamorous lifestyles I saw in these magazines. I wanted to look like the models. I wanted to have as exciting lives as the people in the column sections. I wanted to become a self-styled version of Miranda Priestly - this was my big dream. I wanted to become an editor for one of these big magazines. Hell, that's why I even started blogging - yknow, to have it on my CV ready for my interview at Vouge.

But, once I got into blogging, I started buying less and less magazines and started reading blog posts. Bloggers like Sprinkle of Glitter and Zoella were my original favourites but it wasn't until I got a Bloglovin' account that I found so many more blogs that I love - and written by people just like me too! I really loved the relatability of the blog posts I was reading and that is very much something that I didn't find in magazines. Although I loved reading about the lifestyle these people in magazines led, I couldn't relate to them as a 16 year old working class girl living in Devon wearing size 16 clothes and donning a frizz-ball of a hairstyle (I use the word 'hairstyle' loosely). The women who featured and wrote these magazines were indefinitely middle class, white, and about 28 years old. They lived in London and shopped in Whistles and wrote about Dior makeup and Mulberry handbags. My 16 year old self just wanted Primark hauls and some tips on how to tame my barnet.

I bought this edition of Cosmo just to use as a prop but I did have a nosey through and it was almost laughable how unrelatable the content is for me. The editor's note talks about flying to Nice in its first line. There is a 4 page spread on holiday destinations in the West Indies. The outfit pictures all feature a size 8, white, blonde woman and the clothes are almost all designer. And then there is the beauty section. Nothing says relatability like a white woman talking about foundation shade range, right? And lets not even talk about the hairstyles page which are definitely only achievable if you have straight hair (*flashback to 13 year old me trying to achieve beachy waves and ending up with a more 'dragged from the ocean by her hair' kinda look*). The truth is, magazines are mostly geared towards a certain kinda person. And who can blame them? They know their demographic and they stick to it. But there aren't that many magazines out there for the people who don't fit the demographic and, I think, that is why blogging is really taking off. I can come online and find a hair tutorial that fits my hair type. I can read clothing hauls from shops that are within my budget. And I can identify with the writer on a personal level because they are just like me.

Blogging is an industry that is getting bigger and better by the day. Bloggers are producing magazine level content from the comfort of their homes and, get this, you don't have to pay a single penny to access it. You can talk to the creators and build relationships with them. Blogging is a lot more interactive and has become a space for people to discuss their interests and make friends as well as read up on the latest beauty trends and high street fashion faves. As much as magazines are so much more at the forefront of the fashion and beauty worlds in that they attend the top events and know about trends before we could even imagine them, blogging offers something different. When you read a blog post, you don't feel like you are reading something from an unknown entity but from a friend - sometimes even someone you have met.

Feeling a connection with the writer also means there is an element of trust there. Whilst I take what is in magazines with a pinch of salt, I am much more likely to engage fully with something a blogger has written. Be it a recommendation of a product or an opinion, I feel like bloggers are a lot less biased than many magazines are. In the blogging world, ads are almost always disclosed and gifted campaigns are also transparent whereas I am never sure of the affiliations that magazines have with certain companies and whether they are promoting certain things because someone has actually tried and liked them or are they a sponsor of the magazine or are there close ties between them? Also I feel like there is this sense of integrity that most bloggers try to uphold when they are recommending things and this makes me think I can place my trust into something a blogger is recommending to me.

Overall, I do like magazines and they do continue to have an influence but, personally, blogs are just a lot more personable and engaging which is why I enjoy them a lot more.

Do you prefer blog posts or magazines?

Monday, 2 July 2018

Places To Eat In Sidmouth: The Clocktower

It has been almost a month since we went to The Clocktower in Sidmouth for my birthday but I am finally getting round to writing up about it - and preparing myself for my return visit there. My husband was actually the one who had recommended that we go to The Clocktower for my birthday lunch as he had worked a few shifts there with an agency and was really impressed by the food and location. My husband isn't a big foodie and doesn't care all that much for cake or pretty interiors so I just took his word for it. But I was pleasantly surprised - he was right, it is a lovely place.

To get to the café, you have to climb up a bit of a hill which means that it has a great outlook from the café over the beach and sea. It is situated inside an old clocktower (hence the name) and it really makes the most of the location. The garden area looks like a Spanish orangery with the leafy canopy at the end of the gardens and white tables and chairs on the cobbles. The inside of the café has quite a modern with light, airy colour and some copper accents. There are flowers on the tables and dotted around the windowsills. There are plenty of blackboards displaying specials and lunch menu items which gives it quite a homely vibe. It is mega instagrammable too.

So, we decided to sit at one of the tables upstairs. As I assume it is a listed building, the upper part of the café isn't very accessible (meaning Isaac had to carry the pushchair up a flight of stairs) but the view is really worth the effort if you can manage to make it upstairs. We chose a sticky toffee apple cake to share and two hot chocolates after much deliberation. They even did homemade lemonade which really tempted me. And we were right to decide to share the cake as it was a huge portion - definitely enough for two people. Although my husband did pick up some crisps on the way out after so much sugary food. The cake was so light and fluffy with a real toffee flavour. The centre was toffee flavoured buttercream and, my gosh, it was heavenly. I felt like pushing my husband's fork away and having this delicacy all to myself.

The Clocktower is such a gorgeous café and they do a whole lot of cakes that all look amazing. Whether you feel like a cream tea or a slab of Bruce Bogtrotter style chocolate cake, they really have you covered. And with a view to die for, this is the perfect location to settle down with a mug of tea and just chill out and take in the view.

What is your favourite cake flavour?
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