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Thursday, 24 December 2015

Review: Flemings Mayfair Yuletide Afternoon Tea


The afternoon tea at the renowned luxury boutique hotel, Flemings Mayfair is a truly decadent, gloriously British affair.

Since a lavish 14 million pound refurbishment earlier this year, the hotel – a proud member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, boasts an array of elegantly designed rooms and opulent apartments, offering a glamorous home away from home in one of the capital’s most exclusive areas.

Flemings is regularly frequented by well-heeled Londoners, jet setters with refined tastes and style-savvy celebs such as Kate Moss, Harrison Ford and Naomi Campbell - who all revel in the venue’s plush ambience and impeccable service.

The quintessentially English ritual of afternoon tea takes place from 12.30 to 5pm in The Drawing Room – a chic space containing Tiffany blue and grey velvet furnishings, elegant lighting, an original fireplace from 1851 and bookcases filled with biographies of famous designers and style icons.

Chocoholics can opt for the Chocolate Indulgence Afternoon Tea, featuring unique chocolate scones and cocoa-rich sweet treats, or treat themselves to the signature afternoon tea – a traditional assortment of sandwiches, cakes, pastries and scones.

During this merriment-fuelled period, I was eager to try the hotel’s limited edition Yuletide afternoon tea – similar to the signature tea, yet prepared with a suitably festive twist. I took along my gorgeous friend Rodica who is a self confessed afternoon tea addict - and takes really good photos on her swanky, complicated looking camera. 

Dry yet fabulously fruity rose champagne was presented at the table in exquisitely tall flutes before a three-tired tray arrives bearing an enticing assortment of baked goods and crust-less English finger sandwiches – all meticulously cut and brimming with various fillings. These include mustard-slathered ham, mayo-laden egg and cress, lightly seasoned smoked salmon and of course, that good old Brit classic - cucumber.

The melt-in-the-mouth scones were fresh out of the oven, made to a special recipe developed hundreds of years ago and are served with generous portions of clotted cream and strawberry jam, so make sure you go with a hearty appetite - and a naughty sweet tooth.


Flemings Hotel prides itself on its vast range of fine teas by the iconic East India Company, which includes green tea with jasmine pearls, buttery Lis-Han Oolong, spiced Bombay Chai and (our favourite) the hotel’s signature Breakfast Blend – a strong, fragrant infusion to suit most tastes.


This fabulously British afternoon feast also features adorable mini Christmas puds, chocolate and berry cream cakes and charming lemon tartlets topped with quaint turquoise Christmas trees that evoke essential Christmas cheer, and somehow manage to cleverly match the décor of the room too. 





I urge you to visit this magical place. Go in your finest clothes with a carb-loving buddy and prepare to nom yourselves to festive oblivion. 





Thursday, 29 October 2015

Review - Gel mani and pedi at Muse of London

All throughout my life I have been scolded by various folk for naughty chipped nail polish. Although I am a self confessed beauty addict, I have never had the patience to sit at home and paint my nails religiously or remove my polish when it's looking worse for wear.

This is why a good gel manicure every two weeks is essential to my life (nobody deserves to be mocked for ineptly painted nails).

Before a recent trip to the sunny Spanish isle of Mallorca, I booked myself in to West End pamper parlour Muse of London - renowned for it's cutting edge (see what I did there) hair stylists, eclectic decor and talented nail technician, the lovely Holly.

When I arrived, flustered and windswept, I was invited to relax in a stylish lounge area where I could choose from a range of herbal teas and glossy magazines.







Before I knew it, I was whisked downstairs to a rather glamorous sofa - complete with double foot baths - perfect for preening ones toes with a buddy or a feet-fondling lover.

After a good soak, Holly exfoliated my troubled tootsies with a pumice stone and soothing creme scrub before filing and painting my toenails a classic pillar box red.



My nails were then shaped and polished in a matching colour using Shellac, which has always been my gel polish of choice due to its long lasting nature and gloriously glossy finish.

I then left Muse of London to rush home and pack for my holiday in my usual last minute, frenzied state, yet with fabulously mock-proof nails.


 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Review - Secret Extensions and Zen Hair

I love thick, flowing, excessively-long, barbie-style hair. There. I said it and I am not ashamed.

For me, long hair is the epitome of femininity and sensuality. When my hair looks sad, I feel sad too, so it's essential I get that fabulously fresh weave in before an exciting holiday with the girls or a special night out.
I have been unashamedly in love with hair extensions for many years now, and thankfully due to the non-invasive methods of my regular stylist, Shannel Watson of Secret Extensions, my natural locks have remained in a pleasing condition.

Shannel shuns the use of toxic glue, which is the most common attachment method of extensions in the UK and is known to cause damage to the hair, severe irritation to the scalp, dermatitis and all manner of allergic reactions.

For those of you who prefer individual extensions, Shannel has invented her own hand-tied extensions called Brazilian Knots, involving the attachment of thin strands of natural hair to the roots by a tiny plait and organic cotton thread. The whole process takes about 4 - 5 hours but the results are truly worth it.

From my experience, I feel that as long as you look after your extensions (hold the hair from the roots before you brush, plait your hair before you swim/sleep, use high quality, nourishing hair products etc) and stay away from the ones that are attached by glue, your hair will be fine.


Shannel Watson smiling. Smiling, because those customers keep on coming back...
Whilst I've been lucky enough to find such an expert hair extension technician, it has been quite the conundrum to find the perfect hair to enhance my needy mane.
That is until I heard about Zen Luxury Hair Extensions - beloved by beauty bloggers, models in search of beautiful barnets and the sultry Kardashian sisters.

The company's website states that it has over 35 years of experience in the industry and that it uses a special source guaranteed to provide 100% virgin Remy hair of the highest quality.

As always, I was at first skeptical about such 'too good to be true' claims. I was overly familiar with such pompish talk from extension brands and would usually end up crying into a frazzled, shaggy mess after a few weeks of trying an unknown hair company's hair.

Zen Hair actually impressed me.

You can purchase three different 'series' of Zen hair - Pure, Luxury and Ultimate, which all increase slightly in quality levels.

I opted for three packs of the Luxury Series in 20 inches. This brand of hair is sold in a much smaller amount that other hair extensions, so you will need at least 3 to 4 packs for a satisfactory, voluminous look.

Each section of hair features a sticky section which is supposed to be stuck directly onto the roots of your hair. Being a pure weave advocate, Shannel simply sewed the hair into thin braids and the effect was outstanding.

The whole process took about 45 minutes and I was left with gorgeous long, shiny tresses, worthy of a cheesy shampoo advert - as you can see in the images below;


After blow drying only

After extensions are curled using heated rollers

I would recommend Secret Extensions and Zen Luxury Hair to anyone interested increasing the volume and length of their hair. After three months, the quality of my tresses are in perfect condition and for the first time ever, I am able to reuse the same hair when I get my weave redone next week. 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Review - Elli 100% natural body balm


Due to my unyielding love of fine foods, I have been recently posting about my various culinary jaunts across the capital - but today I feel like going back to my organic/natural beauty roots by writing about my ardent love for my latest skincare discovery.

I was given the Elli Body Balm by the lovely people at Herbs-APlenty - a South African face and body care company specialising in natural and organic products that smell of pure jubilation.

First of all, I must blather on about how much I love the packaging - simple, slightly retro lettering and chic bright colours.

Then I must express my adoration for the wholesome ingredients list. I can't explain the feeling of intense happiness I get when I read the back of a new beauty product and am faced with lovely herby names such as 'matricaria chamomilla' and 'lavandula Marie' - a stark contrast to the scary chemical titles of PEG-40 and blahblahparaben, so commonly found lurking on the ingredients lists of even the most innocent looking containers.

This blissful balm is described on the packaging as "a calming and nourishing blend of Shea Butter and Marula Oil, enhanced with indigenous African essential oils." 

Shea Butter is excellent for deeply moisturising dull, dry skin, whereas marula oil is said to contain a whopping 60% more free radical busting antioxidants than argan oil - ideal for treating sun damaged and crepe-like post summer skin. 






I admit that my skin did feel rather nourished and my mood calmer as I smoothed on this deliciously-scented body balm. The texture is gorgeous - not too greasy, yet rich enough to leave my post-showered self silky soft from head to toe.

I also loved the sexy sheen left on my skin after using this product - perfect for donning a little black dress before a glamorous night out in London Town. 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Olive leaf extract - the next green tea?

Gotta love Antioxidants - the feisty free radical scavengers of the universe, the buzz word of our health-obsessed era, the beauty-boosting badboys of the holistic world.

Blueberries, broccoli and kale are the most popular antioxidant-rich super foods commonly blabbed about by the mainstream media - but not many folk know about the immense health benefits of plain bog standard black tea.

Doctor Carrie Ruxton - member of the Tea Advisory Panel, stated after a recent study that, "All forms of tea contain polyphenols - a family of plant compounds which appear to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties. Almost half the UK intake of health-enhancing flavonoids come from tea."

Being a lover of a good cup of builders brew as I laze about on my sofa, this was welcome news to my ears.

But what's a girl about town supposed to do when she's mincing all over the capital, attending press events and meetings where she's expected to be alert and oozing with energy?

I'm a big fan of antioxidant consumption on the go and usually chug a big bottle of those cold green teas that you get in quaint oriental shops. These bottled beverages may look pretty, but they don't always taste that good. 

Damnit, sometimes I just want to down a refreshing, fruity drink that tastes of pure joy and isn't packed full of diabetes two-inducing sugar.

I have often prayed for a drink like this whilst I stand scanning fridges in supermarkets and newsagents, scowling at the vast range of sugar and artificial preservative-laden beverages on sale - complete madness in our health-obsessed times.

So, when I heard about a brand spanking new drink on the market called InFusion by Ovio, containing only fruit juice, water and antioxidant abundant olive leaf extract, I may have sung a silent celebratory ditty in my head.

These über hydrating beverages are completely sugar free, naturally low calorie and come in three refreshing flavours;

  • Lemon and Mint
  • Strawberry and Elderberry
  • Cucumber and Juniper (my fave)


InFusion - the perfect picnic pal
After trying the range of drinks at the brand's exciting launch, I couldn't believe how good they tasted and was impressed upon learning about the numerous benefits of their special ingredient - olive left extract.

This very special plant extract can boast the following;

  • Immune system boosting
  • Anti-ageing 
  • Blood pressure lowering
  • Anti-inflamatory 
  • Anti-viral 
  • Anti-fungal 
  • Detoxifying 





Because olive leaf drinks like to sunbathe too...

In addition to all the numerous health studies and articles, there's even a reference to this wonder leaf in the Bible for goodness sakes - "The fruit (of the olive tree) thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine." (Ezekiel 47.12)

This rather holy plant extract is also available in more concentrated supplements made by Ovio - which I merrily add to my smoothies every morning to give me an extra kick of wellness and an extra spring in my step.






Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Ultimate Sleep Experience with Duxiana


Having a good old snooze – it's by far one of the most important things in life.
If we don't get a good night's kip, our health suffers, our skin looks pitifully lacklustre, our concentration is dismal and we turn into moody gremlins who moan about seemingly petty matters to anyone who dares cross our snooze-deprived selves. 

Being a fan of a beauty-boosting '8 hours a night',  I was excited to be recently shown how sleep should really be done.

A good bed and the right environment is essential. The vast majority of us naughtily succumb to the bargain bed philosophy and focus our attentions on a snazzy duvet or eye-catching bedside furniture -- but the bed itself needs to be the real focus. 

We spend a third of our life in our boudoirs, so to show how important the bed buying decision should be, Swedish bed manufacturer Duxiana kindly invited me to try one of their High Performance Sleep Systems – aka the best bed in the world. The daddy of all beds. The bed to end all beds. 

You get my point....

So off I went with a sleep-loving loved one to Hanbury Manor in Ware, Hertfordshire, where I took part in the Ultimate Sleep Experience. 

The grandiose Jacobean-style manor was a scenic slice of escapism - just one hour away from the bustling city streets of London. Oh how we marvelled at the 200 acres of lush green grounds - complete with a shimmering lake and ample golf course.

When we got to our elegantly designed suite, we were truly in awe of the 'DUX 818' bed - a massive, yet stylish creation that was almost impossible to prise ourselves off.

Come to meh and rest your weary head

We discovered that it was expertly engineered by clever Swedish designers to give you the best sleep of your life. An extra hour of deep sleep in fact - a claim backed-up by nap-loving researchers at the Karolinska Institute.

The bedlinen looked and felt deliriously comfortable and oddly (yet in a good way), the pillows had springs in them! What the...?

I was later told that this was to enable air to circulate correctly around the head and to provide the right kind of support whilst you drift away each night. 

No more dodgy neck pains after waking. Yay!

We also noticed that there was a glowing Lumie Lights sleep machine by the bed, which uses light therapy and soothing lavender essential oil to help aid the relaxation process at bedtime.


The essential sleepy time kit 

There was even a nourishing serum by one of my favourite beauty brands - Rajeunir, to help deeply hydrate our skin during our regenerative sleep.

After managing to tear ourselves away from such an exquisite slumber haven, we decided to explore our opulent surroundings. 

We relaxed our weary urban bodies in the blissful spa area before embarking on a hearty three course feast in the hotel's restaurant. Oh how we nomed...





Nom Nom Nom
With our tummies nicely rounded, we rolled ourselves back to our suite to find that our Duxiana bed was still as inviting as ever and that the Lumie Lights machine had permeated the air with a soothing lavender scent.

We also decided to gorge on fine puddings whilst watching back to back OITNB on Netflix - an essential prerequisite before our bedtimes (screw this whole 'no eating after 7pm' malarkey).

As we gradually felt our eyes closing with tiredness, we cooed with adoration at the serious comfort levels of the bed. The mattress seemed different to other mattresses. We learnt that it was in fact,  not a single mattress at all, but a series of highly configurable elements which allow you to adjust where you want or need more or less support. 

The bed's 'Pascal Cassette system' means you can tailor it to keep your spine straight as you sleep -  essential for getting you to the key deep sleep part of your nightly sleep cycle.


Yeah baby

Here comes the science bit...

There are, as DUX researchers told me, 4 stages to sleep and it’s during these various stages that the body actually goes about repairing itself. The Karolinska Institue in Stockholm looked at a number of mattress types and helped the DUX engineers refine their designs to make the classic DUX bed, which cleverly adapts to your shape and weight - giving you the straight spine and support needed to maximise the benefits of sleep. 

During the night, the brain is far from resting. In fact it’s really active, but in a different way – processing conscious thoughts of the day, repairing connections, producing delta waves important in self-repair. 

Equally, our skin needs deep sleep in order to repair and regenerate. As the largest organ in the body, you will start to see the signs of its unhappy wrath if you don’t get enough quality sleep. 

The DUX 818 bed is also developed with a special lumbar support mechanism, which allows you to alter another element of the support “firmness." This is niftily adjusted by a little crank mechanism made of polished steel - a nice touch Duxiana.


The question is, did we get a good nights sleep?

We did indeed. I think I slept for an extra two hours than usual and woke to feel refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to start the day.

Ok, maybe I nearly missed breakfast because trying to leave this magical bed was almost impossible (not sure if this is a good or a bad thing) and I felt a niggling feeling of annoyance that  from that moment on I could never look at my once beloved bed in the same way ever again.










DISCLAIMER: Although my Ultimate Sleep Experience was a generally pleasurable experience resulting in a pleasing 9 hour kip, I feel obligated to say that once you have slept in a bed as good as the DUX 818, no other bed will compare - resulting in feelings of distain (and even anger) for other perfectly innocent beds.


Friday, 31 July 2015

Tips for fresh summer feet with Odor Eaters



A couple of months ago (dammit, I'm such a last minute blogger), I was sent a rather exciting invitation almost impossible to refuse.

I was offered a free pair of shoes of my choice from Office and the chance to have lunch with a group of fellow bloggers at The Charlotte Street Hotel, where we would learn about summer foot care.

They had me at shoes...

I was accompanied on this Girly Day O' Fun by fellow blogger, lawyer, glam enterepruener and ex Apprentice candidate, Lauren Riley - who was as excited as I at the prospect of fine food, beauty tips and....um.....free shoes.

The day started at one of my favourite shoe shops - Office, where we were each given a voucher and asked to mince about the store, eyeing up the various styles before deciding on our perfect pair.

Most of my new blogging buddies chose rather sensible footwear - trainers, flats and all that malarky. I on the other hand, chose a ludicrously high pair of black wedges that made my heart sing and my eyes sparkle with unyielding glee. 

Everything was excitingly shrouded in an intriguing veil of mystery, and as we bundled ourselves into taxis for the short trip to the hotel (hey, some of us were in heels), we blurted out numerous questions as to what lay ahead.

Lauren and her badass Converse

Once we got to the beautifully adorned private dining room, we were told that a new product was being launched by Odor Eaters called Slim Soles and that we had our very own pair to sample - already placed in our new shoes.

I have never worn anything remotely odour eating in my shoes but was intrigued. The black, velvety insoles cut to fit my elegant new wedges looked rather stylish.

I had always thought of insoles as smelly rubbery things that make your shoes look ugly. Oh how wrong I was.....

Come to my foots. They await you eagerly 

Before we were told about the benefits of this exciting new product (and before the plentiful noming was allowed to commence), bubbly beauty presenter Gina Akers educated us all in how to keep our feet fresh and pretty all summer long.


Here were her top tips;


Exfoliate

Use a refreshing foot scrub or exfoliant while in the shower or, if you're lucky enough to be poncing about a beach on holiday - walk on the sand barefoot and give those soles a good going over before rinsing off in the sea.

Walking on air

It is important for summer feet to be kept as dry as possible so pong-producing bacteria doesn't form. Give them a vigorous towelling after bathing and dry them with the hairdryer on a cool setting. 

Moisturise 

Hydrate parched, sun-baked feet by slathering on a rich foot moisturiser. For a nighttime treat, you can increase the sole-smoothing properties by slipping on a pair of cotton socks too.  

Tan and Toes

If you're partial to a spot of fake tan, heed this warning. DON'T FORGET THE FEET. There's nothing worse than white feet and a brown body. Patchy feet are also rather dodgy so make sure you mix some moisturiser with your tan before you evenly blend onto your skin.

Polish

Make sure you separate toes before applying polish and avoid garish blues or purples for that unfortunate bruised foot look. If your hand wobbles when paining your toes you can always clip a clothes peg to the nail polish lid for a longer reach. Who would have thought ay?

Perfect

Make sure you push back the cuticles and file the free edge for long lasting nail polish and clip straight across to avoid those pesky ingrown toe nails.

Finally! Keep feet fresh with Odor Eaters

These super slim insoles contain activated charcoal to help eradicate wetness and control the naughty bacteria responsible for unpleasant odours and dismal fungal infections. I have been using mine for two months now and can honestly say that they have kept my favourite wedges looking good and smelling fresh - and I have been on quite a few lengthly shopping rambles let me tell you...

The soles of the Slim Soles - cut to size!

The visible side. See - so stylish! So Wows.

The day ended with fine food and gloriously girlish chatter. We gorged on gorgeous healthy fayre and indulged in naughty puddings as we shared blogging tales and tips.





Lauren and I...and my rascal of a hand that has a life of its own

Thank you Odor Eaters for a such a fun and educational day out. My fresh feet (and belleh) are eternally grateful.