Thursday, 1 August 2019

Creature, I name you Anxiety! - Facing your demons and removing their power

I recently I had a wobble. A crisis of confidence. I am not even sure where it came from but I cried. I cried a lot. I was tired because this underlying anxiety I feel most days wiped me out. I was tired from trying so damn hard to be 'normal' but then a good friend reminded me that there is no such thing as normal.

I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to pretend the anxiety doesn't exist because it isn't pretty. I convinced myself that nobody wants to hear about my struggles because it made me feel guilty that it makes them feel awkward.

Guilt is a huge underlying feeling for me because I never want to feel like I am putting someone else out. Like I am making someone else feel bad. Instead I beat myself up and internalise my feelings. I am working on taking that pressure off myself one day at a time and my CBT has really been helping. 

Anxiety, as my CBT therapist so brilliantly put it "likes to bring you down, the more down you are the happier anxiety is" it is its life goal. By acknowledging the anxiety and almost naming it you are calling it out. Remember in Doctor Who (any fans here) where he says "Creature, I name you Carrionite" followed by "I named her. The power of a name. That's old magic" He has called aliens out with their names a few times over the years each time with great results.

Now I am no sonic wielding time traveller but I am never one to ignore a Doctors orders. Call out that dark creature, learn all you can about it and take its power away! Of course, I joke, this is just fiction but can totally be applied in real life. 

The next step for me is to try and fill my life with positivity to outweigh the negatives that anxiety fills my brain with. I am reminding myself every day that my younger self would be immensely proud of the woman I have become. She wanted so hard to have a family of her own, a boy and a girl (luck sent me those treasures) and a caring husband in a beautiful house in the country side. We have that and I am grateful for it every day. 

I am also grateful for the strength I have inside to keep fighting those inner demons and not running away and hiding from them. I am working on a better, happier future for myself and for that I am proud.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

5 Busy Mum Makeup Favourites

I love makeup but rarely write about it because when it comes to beauty products mine need to do the job quickly and with minimal effort. Being a Mum of two young children I am strapped for time when it comes to getting ready in the morning. That means I need products that are easy to apply, cover dark circles and last all day. 

These are my 5 go to makeup items I use most days. They are also relatively cheap so perfect when budget is tight.

1. Concealer - Loreal Infalible

I picked this up after using up the last of my Collection concealer. I need something that is full coverage for my rosacea on my lower cheeks and this works really well. Actually most days I don't use foundation I just pop this on and some bronzer. It is quite a thick consistency but applies really easily and is a doe foot applicator which I prefer to brushes. 

I did notice that the brand call it the Infallible concealer but it says Infaillible on the product. I took to Instagram to see if I could get an answer but they didn't get back to me so who knows!

2. Foundation - Collection Iluminating Touch

I have always been a fan of Collection makeup since it was Collection 2000 back in the day. They were the one of the original low budget brands alongside Miss Sporty before the days of Revolution and MUA. The concealer is fab but while I was trying the Loreal one above I thought I would give the foundation a go and this is my second bottle. 

It is a medium to full coverage but doesn't feel too heavy. It makes me look super healthy too as it adds a dewy glow that is natural. I don't wear a lot of highlighter as lots can be a bit over the top but this achieves that glowy look without the extra product. I use shade Warm Beige which works perfectly with my skin tone. I can't believe it has taken me this long to realise I need to go for neutral undertones as opposed to pink ones. Making that one change has made a huge difference in the colour matching. 

I love the price tag on this too, having previously used the Lasting Perfection which is around the same price they are both great value for money. I prefer this one because the LP one is quite matte and made my face look a bit flat if that makes sense? This is perfect though and I will definitely continue to use it. Just seen it is down to £3.99 on the Superdrug website too!

3. Mascara - Loreal Miss Baby Roll

Mascara is an odd product. I have always found myself getting on better with cheaper brands, I like my lashes to have a proper coating and thickness to them without being clumpy which is hard to find in more expensive brands. They all seemed to be quite runny and although they coated my lashes naturally it wasn't the fullness I get from the likes of Collection and this Loreal one. The brush is really chunky too which is always a must have for me, I can't get on with those rubber ones.

4. Bronzer - Collection Bronze Glow

I have used this bronzer for a long time. Before this one I think I used a more expensive brand that was really similar and thought I would try this. I was converted it was exactly the same for a lot less money. It isn't too orange and I use it as an eyeshadow when I am on holiday to save space in my bag. 

5. Lipstick - Maybelline Color Sensational

This lippy is probably older than you are meant to keep a product for so I probably should get another. This shade Nude Embrace is a lovely warm nude colour and has a lovely creamy texture that lasts all day. It isn't drying at all and as usual the Maybelline packaging is simple but lovely. 

TOP TIP - Buy your makeup when there is an offer on, I know if I buy two items from the same brand there could be an offer in Boots or Superdrug to get something free and many of my lipsticks and nail varnishes have been totally free from these deals! 

Let me know in the comments if you have used any of these products or can recommend new favourites to add to my kit! 

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Skinny Tan Review - Coconut Water Tanning Mist

I worked with Skinny Tan a few years back and was really impressed with the products so when they got in touch to see if I would like to try their new Coconut Water Tanning Mist I was delighted! 

I am naturally quite pale, one of those people who gets asked if they are unwell on a regular basis because they "look a bit pale". I also understand the importance of sun safety and am always careful to apply plenty of sun cream throughout the summer. Which means if I really want a healthy glow then fake tan is my only option. 

I have tried a lot of products over the past year but they all have that biscuity smell that really isn't appealing. Skinny Tan however has a really lovely scent and the Coconut Water is no exception. I tested the product on my arm before applying over my whole body. After 5/6 hours my patch test had developed and you can see in the picture below that the colour was quite strong but not too orange. 

I made sure to exfoliate and shave the day before application and applied using the Dual Tanning Mitt which is super soft and velvety allowing a smooth application. The mist is clear so I did struggle a bit with the application, it is hard to know where the product has gone and where you have missed. It dried quickly though and left my skin feeling nicely moisturised. The benefit of this product is that you don't need to wash it off, you can just allow it to develop on the go. 



I applied mine in the morning and once dry put my clothes on. I didn't have a lot of transfer onto my clothing other than on the waistband of my dungarees so I would recommend wearing darker clothes just in case. 

I did get a really great colour with Skinny Tan that I have struggled to find in other brands, it is very natural. and I got comments about how good it looked. They couldn't see the patches under my clothes though. I had a shower the day after application and most of the excess product came off but the areas where I had applied a little too much product were still quite patchy. I really had to scrub my toes to get that off. 

The issue with the product is most certainly the fact it is clear, once it has absorbed into your skin you just can't see where you have missed. I think I would probably choose one of the other Skinny Tan products that I reviewed in the past over this one if I am honest, the 7 Day Tanner had a bronzed guide to help with seeing where you have applied it. 

Overall I don't know if I would pay the £24.99 price tag for this product but recommend lots of other products on the Skinny Tan website and the tanning mitt is one of the best I have ever used. 

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Weekend Break at Rockley Park Haven with AirBnB

Sometimes you really need to just get away from it all as a family to appreciate what you have. This year we have been away quite a bit but not ever just the four of us. Joe and I went on our cruise, I went to Alcudia with my family for my sister's birthday and we have had a few overnight stays in hotels for family events. All of these trips though and I felt like we just needed some quality time as a family. 

I made a promise to myself that this year we would plan more breaks with the kids and the first one was a trip to Dorset for a few days. I had already priced up Butlins, Centre Parcs and Haven with them all coming in higher than we wanted to spend. Being the back end of half term it was expected but with them all coming in between £600-£1000 for a long weekend (I mean seriously £1k for a weekend?!) I took to AirBnB* to find a self catering holiday home. 

I found lots of cottages and apartments that were lovely, there was a fab one in Somerset we liked but actually we all love Dorset so I had a look down there and came across the perfect little caravan in Poole. It was privately owned but based in Rockley Park Haven site. We got 3 nights for £200 which was such a good deal. We have been to Rockley Park a few times and it was the place Joe proposed to me all those years ago. 

We love the site and with Callie still being quite little we didn't think we would use the facilities (pool, clubhouse, entertainment) a lot so a private caravan without the extra cost of these was perfect. You can pay extra for entertainments passes at the below prices but given Callie is terrified of the characters and isn't overly confident at swimming yet it just wasn't worth the money for us. 
  • 3-4 Days - Adult - £35.20  Child (under 15) - £17.10 
  • Day Passes - Adult: £10 | Child: £5
Instead of buying the passes we spent our evenings on the beach before heading back for dinner and bed. The beds were suprisingly comfortable in the caravan and it was really quiet where we were. We have stayed at many a Haven site in the past where the evenings are spent wide awake listening to drunk people wandering home from the clubhouse. This being a private home we were tucked away down the hill from the entertainment complex and hardly heard anything at night. 

The caravan was immacculate and nicely decorated. We had plenty of bedding, the kitchen was well equipped and the personal touches of toiletries, milk, tea and coffee on arrival were what we usually miss when going on a caravan holiday. The little details make a huge difference. We also had some Dorset Tea and Biscuits as a welcome gift which were yummy!

Just down from our caravan, which had a beautiful sea view, was the private beach. This is a fab addition Rockley Park have as well as access to a nature reserve which we didn't get round to visiting. The beach though has a little cafe for getting hot drinks and ice creams, a park and area perfect for crabbing! We found the perfect time to visit was about 5pm when the tide had gone out and you could explore the rock pools. There is a boat club down there too with a huge list of activities which can be booked directly with Haven at an additional cost. 

Despite not having entertainment passes we could access the onsite shop, parks and takeaway places. We have had chips from the onsite fish and chip shop on previous visits but got a Papa John's this time. We were quite disappointed as it wasn't anywhere near as good as ones we have had in the past and Joe's pizza was wrong. It wasn't cheap either so we were glad we had stopped at Asda in Poole on the day we arrived to get supplies to cook our own dinner the rest of the break. The kitchen was well equipped so perfect for knocking up a quick pasta dish or jacket potatoes. 

I would definitely recommend checking out Luxury Holiday Homes Dorset if you are in the area and AirBnB for other privately owned caravans in the future. We will probably be heading to Somerset in October if I can find a good deal again. 

Where are your favourite places to visit in the UK? 

Let me know in the comments and we will add them to our list! 

*In order to be completely transparent this post isn't in collaboration with AirBnB but I have included a code which allows you to get £25 off your first home booking. And £9 to use toward an experience worth £36 or more. I then get a discount off my next booking with each referral. As I say this isn't in collaboration with the brand it is just a link I was given when booking! 

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Cotswold Wildlife Park

It has become tradition in our family to make a trip to the zoo every Father's Day. Since Ted was little we have been going to Whipsnade Safari Park in Dunstable but this year we decided to head to Cotswold Wildlife Park. I haven't been in years, since before we had the children so it was nice to go and experience it with them. Joe stayed at home as he is still recovering from sinus surgery but my parents, brother and sister came along. 

The weather the past week has been awful so we were a bit apprehensive about going. We were right to worry it did rain on and off all day but we made the most of it and in between downpours the sun came out. The kids also loved taking advantage of all the muddy puddles, Callie especially! 

Cotswold is just over an hour from Northampton but the drive is quite easy, parking is plentiful and if you book online you can get a better rate on tickets than on the day. I paid £23 for myself and Ted, Callie was free which is always a bonus. 

When we arrived the first stop was the walled garden, this area has penguins, meerkats, prairie dogs and a whole host of beautiful birds. The walk through Madagascar is only open 11.30 - 3.30 so we were too early to get in there. We did go into the Tropical House and spotted some Sloths but they were quite high up hiding from us! 

We played with the marmosets who are always so full of character. I set my phone up so that they could see themselves and it was hilarious to see their little faces so puzzled by themselves in their reflection. We also saw a beautiful white Tamandua or Lesser Anteater who was being fed as we arrived. It was adorable, the keeper was trying to train him to eat his dinner off of the perch but he wasn't having any of it. 

Next we went on a ride on the train, it was only £1 per person with Callie being free again. It took us on a loop around the park and we saw some Zebras that were actually not there when we walked past later. Callie loves a train ride and waved at all of the people as we went past. 

Off of the train and the kids were begging for lunch, I showed them the map and we decided we would do the Reptile House first and then head to the cafe to get some chips to go with our packed lunch. They agreed this was a good compromise, 5 points for Mummy, so off we went. Within the park there is a huge manor house, the outer buildings make up the Reptile House, Invertebrate House and Fruit Bat exhibits. These are always my favourite parts of a zoo, I find all the small creatures fascinating. 

We also saw an anaconda which always creeps me out, they are just so enormous and remind me of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book from the 90's. Something so unnerving about a snake that large. 

Coming out of the Reptile House we turned the corner to the restaurant, it was really busy directly outside but if you head to the other side of the building there is a kiosk that sells hot drinks, ice lollies and most importantly the chips! We had a packed lunch but with the weather being a bit chilly we thought something warm would be nice. It was £2.50 for a portion of chips which I thought was quite reasonable and the portion was huge, I got two between me and the kid and we had far too many. 

We enjoyed our chips under a big old tree, I had a hot tea in a flask which was greatly appreciated and we finished it all off with a nice cake. Amazingly it hadn't rained at all up until this point, we were really lucky! 

Next it was time to let the kids run off some energy on the park which is amazing. I remember thinking it looked good when I went last but I was too old to appreciate it, now I could share it with the children and they loved it. Ted went off with my Dad, the two of them get up to mischief when they are together so we left them to explore. Callie found a great toddler area with a miniature zip wire. It said for children aged 5+ but actually it was like a glorified baby swing so I felt fine letting her have a go. She had so much fun and was able to wander around the rest of the area safely too. There was a castle with slides at either end and a rope bridge that was enclosed for the little ones. 

Over the other side of the park was a huge wooden play area with multiple slides and climbing frames. Ted ran around like a wild child and braved the drop slide which I never thought he would be up for. It was so good seeing them let off some steam but the fun was cut short when the rain came tumbling down. We took shelter in the Invertebrate House.

We loved the leaf cutter ants, vipers and scorpions the most. The female tailless whip scorpion had her babies on her back, something we have never seen before and I must admit made all the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. 

Venturing back out into the rain we wandered over to the farm area where Callie sploshed in lots of puddles and ended up with soggy socks! The farm is great, there were huge hairy pigs, horses, goats, guinea pigs, rabbits, mice and rats. I particularly liked the little mice, I could sit and watch them all day munching on carrots and scurrying about.

Can you spot the cheeky rat climbing on the window ledge? The whole rat enclosure was set out like a farmhouse that had been taken over. The details at Cotswold are perfect. 

The kids had a run around with some goats, climbing over hills and rocks like mountain goats before more puddle jumping (there is a bit of a theme here). Next we headed over to the Giraffe enclosure where we were lucky enough to see someone feeding them. I was so close I could have touched the giraffes but the keeper was next to me so wasn't sure I was allowed. They are such gorgeous creatures and definitely a family favourite. These two were called Wallace and Century. 

Did you know a group of Giraffes is called a tower? 

We took a walk back past the lions, they may be "king of the jungle" but we missed the male roaring while we were at the giraffes and by the time we got there not much was happening. They can be really boring when they are just laying around! 

Ice creams were on Grandad next and I attempted to wash Callie's socks in the sink before we went into the Little Africa area. I found my favourite animals in here, the Naked Mole Rats! I know they aren't everyone's cup of tea but I love them, they are so wrinkly and the pointy teeth make me smile. 

We saw lots of birds, lemurs and tortoises around the park too, there were so many animals to see but in quite close proximity because they are mostly small creatures not requiring huge open spaces. It meant the children never had too far to walk between displays but we did take Callie's pram for her to retreat to when she needed a break. 

I think it is an ideal place to take smaller children for their first introduction to animals. Educating children about animals of the world is really important to me and although many people don't agree with them being in captivity there are so many species that wouldn't survive without zoo breeding programmes. So many adults don't know much about animals which always amazes me, especially the man we overheard call a Wallaby a "Kangaroo Rat"!!!