Hi loves, happy Wednesday! Today’s post is a little light hearted and just-for-fun, but I also REALLY need to have things to look forward to for my own sanity too. My Spring bucket list should have gone live a few weeks ago but due to everything going on in the world it just didn’t seem right to post it, knowing that we (and you!) wouldn’t be able to do anything on the list. We are still completely unaware of how long the lockdown will last for – in the UK our lockdown is expected to be extended tomorrow – but I think we all know we’re in this for the long haul. I keep reminding myself every day that passes is a day closer to this all being over, but I really like having things to look forward to. If you’re an essential key worker who is working through this terrible time in potentially dangers and definitely stressful environments please know how much you mean to all of us! We’ll never be able to repay you for all you’ve done so far and will do in the future, but from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I’m so grateful that me, Matt, our families, friends and community are safe and healthy, and although lockdown is NOT fun, it’s so necessary.
From probably day three of lockdown Matt and I have been talking about all of the fun things we’ll do when Boris says we’re allowed out again, and it’s crazy how much we (unknowingly) took for granted! So many people are upset about holidays being cancelled which is understandable but looking at the bigger picture is so much more important. We’re being realistic and we’re pretty sure our family trip to Florida won’t be happening in October – it would have been Matt’s first visit and it was to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday 😦 – which we’re all devastated about, but in the grand scheme of things it is NOT a big deal. We can re-book our trip when it’s safe to do so, and it’s really a small price to pay! Matt and I were hoping to squeeze in city breaks to Lisbon and Krakow this year but honestly I’m not sure how long it’ll be before flights are running normally and we feel comfortable with international travel again. Everything in this list is things we can do in the UK, and some are really quite silly… if you told me I’d be so excited about walking around Tesco or Costco a month ago I’d think you were crazy!
Spend time with Matt’s parents and our grandparents! This is what we’re most excited for, we miss them all SO much!
Go to the movies
Enjoy the biggest family meal with Matt and I’s families at our favourite restaurant, Lollo Rosso
Walk around ‘Big’ Tesco for like… hours
Spend an afternoon (and probably night) in the beer garden with our friends
Celebrate Matt’s birthday, his new job and my birthday! We’ve already missed two of these and my birthday (May 17th) looks like it will be spent under lockdown too
Go for all of the Saturday morning breakfast dates at Postbox Coffee
Enjoy all the beach walks we possibly can
Go for a long drive. I miss driving SO MUCH
Have a picnic at Linhope Spout
Go makeup shopping and enjoy using all of the testers. Anybody else missing “non-essential” shopping?!
Visit Bolam Lake
Host a BBQ
Walk around Costco aimlessly, buying stuff we definitely do not need just because we can
Head for the Costa drive thru
Book a staycation at our favourite hotel (hence the feature photo! I’d do anything for a cosy night away in our favourite place)
Enjoy our late night McFlurry runs again
Re-schedule our getaway to Harrogate
Enjoy ALL of the date nights
Have a picnic in the park
Spend the day at The Alnwick Garden and eat lunch in the treehouse
Drive up to the Scottish Borders and just find a B&B to stay at for the night
Get back on track with weekly grocery shopping and meal planning. I’m so excited about this!!
Go beer tasting at our local brewery
Spend a weekend in the Lake District
Drive to pretty spots to watch the sunset
Enjoy a couples spa day
Go for early morning hikes
Buy candles at Homesense. I wish I was joking but I’m running LOW! Hahaha
Go for more double dates with our friends
Take walks in the countryside (it sure beats walking around our estate, that’s pretty much as far as we’re allowed to go right now!)
Eat at Wagamama’s, it’s definitely our favourite chain restaurant!
Spend Sunday mornings at Tynemouth Market
Go outlet shopping in York
Enjoy a girls night
Go out for Sunday lunch at our favourite countryside pubs
I hope this made you smile and gave you a few ideas of things you can also look forward to when lockdown ends! What is the first things you’ll be doing/planning when lockdown is over? What do you miss the most right now?!
Happy Sunday, loves! Today I am sharing with you my beauty and lifestyle favourites, and it’s been a hot minute since I wrote a post like this. I really like chatty, honest favourites posts; they really feel nostalgic to me and I just think it’s so fun to share everything I’ve been loving over the past few months. I took these photos during Matt and I’s stay at Hotel du Vin and I loved how the exposed brick looked so much, I’ve been so excited to share them!
The Flat Lay Co. Makeup Bag I always store my everyday makeup in a makeup bag because it just makes it so easy! Everything is one place, if Matt and I are travelling or staying at his parents for the night I don’t have to worry about packing everything up, and I love to do my makeup in random places in our bedroom. Is that weird?! I have a vanity table (which was my dream since being a little girl, it still makes me so happy!) but sometimes I really like to sit on my fluffy rug, in front of my full length mirror and get ready. I think it kinda reminds me of high school and having friends stay over all the time, I don’t know why but I enjoy it so much! This makeup bag is genius; it opens up by loosening a drawstring into a large flat circle, and everything is just there right in front of you. No spillages, no rummaging through to find what you need. I love it, I really need to invest in more for travel!
Missoma Amazonite Necklace* Cute, dainty necklaces are my thing! I love love love Missoma and I always go for silver; because it suits my skin tone best and (I think) I’m allergic to gold. It’s a weird one, ha! This necklace layers perfectly with my initial necklace I wear every single day, and I love the pop of green. Amazonite is a stone that is believed to have physical and emotional healing properties, which honestly is something I could really do with right now as my anxiety has been through the roof! *similar linked, mine is in silver on a bobble chain but is sold out
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid My go-to skincare ingredient for the past six months has definitely been hyaluronic acid. Wow. It makes my skin feel/look so plump and smooth, and I’m slowly building my perfect selection of products that just work so well for my skin. I use this every day on top of La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo and underneath The Body Shop’s Aloe Soothing Moisture Lotion (another two products I adore) and it makes the most incredible difference to my makeup. My foundation sits better on my face and lasts longer through the day, I don’t get as oily in my T Zone and I just find my skin to look really good even after I take my makeup off. This is a bargain and I really can’t recommend it enough!
The White Company Winter Candle This is a candle I always purchase during the build up to Christmas, but this was a sweet Christmas present from my boyfriend. I had already burned one through November/December, and I’m so happy to have another to burn in the new year! The scent is so cosy, warm and inviting (kinda just like Christmas, to be honest), and it’s a scent that just makes me feel cosy and happy. I love how simple and pretty the design of their candles are, it looks so lovely whether it’s lit or not. Although the biggest perk has to be that once lit the scent fills our bedroom in minutes and can be smelled long after it’s been blown out!
Daniel Wellington Sheffield Watch This is an oldie but a goodie for me, I must have bought it at least three or four years ago and it still looks brand spanking new. I used to wear a watch every single day then went through a stage of just not wearing one, and now I’m so back on that bandwagon. I really like the look of a watch; I feel like it dresses up an outfit nicely, is a great compliment to my Pandora bracelet that I wear every day and I also really love the classic rose gold hardware with the black strap. I feel like this watch is really versatile as it goes with everything that I wear, although I LOVE this style too, and I really want to invest in another in the next few months!
Jordan Samuel Skin The After Show Treatment Cleanser I have a whole post coming on this in the next few weeks so I really don’t want to say too much, but this cleanser has changed my life! Seriously! I was SO EXCITED for Jordan Samuel Skin to be released on Cult Beauty (more on that in the upcoming post) and to finally have and use some of his products is just the most exciting thing for me. I really like using this to take off my makeup and it’s also great for a second cleanse every evening; it leaves my skin feeling clean which is a given, but it makes it so incredibly soft, nourished and hydrated. The smell is beautiful, it’s great to travel with and I really love everything about Jordan and his brand. Come back for my full review. I promise I’ve got so much to say on this beauty!
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara The one that got away. The one I always go back to. My holy grail mascara. Seriously, I freaking love this stuff. I only buy it a few times per year as I just use Maybelline Lash Sensational in-between (it’s pricey) but every single time I get to use it again I swear I fall in love all over again! The wand is perfect for creating thick, fluffy lashes, and I love how black the mascara is. It doesn’t smudge on me – although if you’ve tried it and it smudges there is also a waterproof option – which is such a huge plus, and I find it really easy to remove without irritating my eyes.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and getting a little look into some of my very favourite things right now! Have you tried any of the products I talked about in this post? Do you love them as much as I do? What are your favourite products of the moment?!
Last weekend Matt and I enjoyed a little staycation in our very favourite local hotel; Hotel du Vin, Newcastle. We’ve stayed there many times before and it always feels like such a treat, so much so that we rarely book anywhere else if we’re looking for a luxurious and romantic staycation! We especially love a night or two away from home because it’s just like a mini holiday for us, and we always treat it like that. We pack minimally, play tourist in our own city and just enjoy spending time together. I feel like it’s such a blessing that we’re able to take trips like this and I never want to take it for granted! I totally get this is not everyone’s cup of tea which is fine, but if you’re a fan of nights/weekends away I really hope this is helpful to you.
So, there’s several things to consider when you’re booking a staycation. Are you going to spend a lot of time in the hotel? Does it make sense to splurge a little more on your accommodation as you’re travelling less distance? Does the hotel look comfortable and cosy? Do you know of any friends or family who have stayed there before? Is it a suitable distance to the nightlife of the city/town you’re visiting? Is there anywhere to explore or play tourist nearby? If you want to really relax is there a spa facility?
Our checklist for a romantic weekend trip is pretty standard whether we’re staying close to home or travelling a few hours away. The five top things on our list are: – a little bit of luxury that feels extra special – the hotel being based close (ish) to shops restaurants and bars. We love to play tourist even in our own city and we went to make sure we can explore easily – a roll top bath, because why the heck not? – beautiful views – a good deal on the room price, bonus points if it includes breakfast
For us, the benefit of a staycation is we’re jumping in the car and driving less than thirty minutes to our destination, and we want to R E L A X. We spend a lot of time in the hotel room before we go out for dinner, and also like to make the most of our morning there too. A roll top bath is obviously not a necessity for a hotel room, but hey… when in Rome Newcastle… Truthfully we are bath lovers, and a bubble bath sounds like a pretty fun way to spend time during a romantic weekend to me. Little luxuries of boutique hotels like fancy toiletries and a mini bar are great, but we try to take any extras we need… including our own cans of Diet Coke. I wish I was joking, hahaha. We usually book breakfast as an extra little treat because most days we don’t get to eat breakfast together due to our work schedules. And you all know, we love a breakfast date!
Choosing the right hotel for you and your needs is important; I personally think it’s extra special to be in a boutique hotel because there’s so many extra little touches that you don’t get in a large franchised hotel. We’ve stayed at several HdV’s (seriously guys, feel free to work with me!) and all of them have the same feel of a grand building, muted colour tones, huge comfy beds – which makes no difference because we always wake up right on the edge of Matt’s side, oops! – and friendly staff who look after you. I personally think Hotel du Vin’s have a very ‘homey’ feeling, it’s just really relaxing and quiet which is perfect for us. Every time we stay we also go for a walk along the Quayside which feels like something extra special too, because it’s somewhere we both love to be.
BOOKING (& PACKING!) TIPS
– read lots of blog posts and Trip Advisor reviews if you’ve never stayed at the hotel before – look through the Instagram geotag to see real photos from guests – check there is parking available on site, but remember it’s often charged separately to your hotel room – set a budget beforehand so you aren’t tempted to book something too expensive – plan ahead; if you stay on a Sunday evening you’ll normally get the best rates – compare prices on different sites before booking, although often the best deal is with the hotel’s own website – bring your own champagne/wine if you fancy a tipple in the room and you’re going all out on the romantic feeling. Glasses are always provided for free! – you probably don’t need pj’s because hotel robes are the BEST – whether you’re eating at the hotel or at a restaurant in the town/city, book ahead of time to avoid disappointment – don’t overpack on the toiletries, it’s all there for you anyway – check the hotel’s amenities for things that are important to you. Is there a hairdryer / coffee machine / fridge etc? Chances are, yes! – make a (rough) itinerary of things to do and places to see so you aren’t tempted to spend all of your time lounging in your beautiful hotel room! – pack snacks, nobody wants to be getting hangry
I hope this post was helpful to you if you’re thinking of planning a staycation any time soon! I’m still dreaming of that bubble bath… Have you stayed in a Hotel du Vin before? What hotels are your favourite for a luxury staycation? Do you have any additional booking tips to share with me and my readers?!
Happy, happy Wednesday loves! I’m so happy to be back! I know I only missed one upload (more on that in this post) but wow it’s felt SO long, I missed blogging and I missed you guys! I love love love writing photo diaries and Weekend In My Life posts, and I appreciate that they always get such a great response from my readers! You can read my latest WIML post from way back in February here, and if you type ‘weekend’, ‘week’ or ‘photo diary’ in the search bar at the side, a ton more posts will come up!
Thursday May 16th
Thursday was my last day at work for the week, which meant early birthday celebrations! The girls in my office are so sweet and thoughtful, and as always they totally spoiled me with so many lovely gifts, including a Lush gift card that I’m super excited to use!
I finished work a little earlier than usual, and headed straight to the salon for an update to my balayage! I was there a good three hours, and I’m so so happy with how it turned out, my hair is WAY lighter and feeling ready for Summer. Erin at Rein & Co is the best; she’s so sweet and knowledgable, and there’s something about having your hair done that just makes you feel so dang good. I’d really recommend visiting the salon if you’re in the Newcastle area! I drove home via the beach (literally the sunset was SO pretty – I pulled over in the worst spot to take a photo but trust me it was beautiful. I love the beach so much!) While I was on my way home, Matt headed out to pick up Indian food for dinner for us and my parents, we always go to the same place and their food is delicious. After the quickest shower ever, Matt and I snuggled in to watch a few episodes of Brooklyn 99 and got an early(ish) night in. It was the perfect ending to my last day as a 24 year old!
Friday May 17th
I turned 25!! I woke up to Matt being the cutest ever (I mean, he is every morning, but he was extra cute on this day). We woke up around 7ish – no lay in for us! – as he was so excited for me to open my presents LOL. I love our little tradition on birthdays, Christmas and our anniversary of opening gifts in bed, it’s so cute. I also usually feel super awkward opening gifts from people, but when it’s just us two I don’t feel like that at all. Matt was SO generous and spoiled me like crazy, I love him so much and am beyond grateful! We spent a little time with my parents opening gifts from them and other family members, then my mum had to go to work. We ate birthday cake for breakfast (a must, right?), got ready for the day and packed up for our weekend getaway.
We visited with my grandma for a little while which was lovely. She absolutely adores Matt, it’s so sweet to see! We said our goodbyes and set off for Ramside Hall. We got there around 1.45pm and, as our room wasn’t ready, took a little time to relax in the bar area and grab lunch. Matt got a Heineken (of course) and I opted for a strawberries and cream gin with lemonade, and we both ate club sandwiches. We got cosy in the bar until our room was ready, then went up to have a look around. We’d stayed in this hotel before – I booked a surprise trip for Matt after he’d had such a busy time at work a year past April – so we had an idea of what to expect, but our room was way bigger this time! There was a HUGE bath – it doesn’t look as big in the photos at all, we were super excited to jump in haha.
After we’d unpacked (well, Matt unpacked. He’s the cutest and the first thing he does when we get to a hotel is unpack everything and hang his clothes up. I just love him!) we quickly threw on our bikini and swim shorts, and headed down to the spa. It was so warm and relaxing, we lay by the pool for a little then Matt went for a swim whilst I spent five minutes catching up on birthday messages (I was so overwhelmed with the sweet messages I recieved – thank you so much!) I joined him in the pool, and we spent a while just messing around, it felt like we were back in Kos for a split second! We stayed around the pool area for around an hour, but that huge bath was just calling our name. We caved and headed up to our room to take a long hot bubble bath and chilled the F out. It was bliss!
Afterwards, we got ready for the evening (I’m SO mad we didn’t get a good photo together) and headed for dinner at Fat Buddha. It’s one of my favourite places to eat – their honey chilli chicken is incredible! We spent the rest of our evening out at a place nearby called Missoula that had the prettiest decor, and really good music. We had a few drinks and were beat, so headed back to the room to snuggle up in bed with a drink from the bar. #25goingon85. We watched an episode of The Force: Essex and fell asleep, we’re so cool. Honestly, we aren’t always like that but I kinda love when we are, I wouldn’t have it any other way! I had the BEST day and I am so thankful for Matt making every day feel so special, not just my birthday. I love you so much, babe!
Saturday May 18th
Since we’d gone to bed pretty early the night before, we were up early and ready to take on the day. It was POURING rain out, so our plans to go for breakfast in Durham were unfortunately squashed as everything is outdoors, and we didn’t bring coats or appropriate footwear. #packingfail. Instead, we checked out, packed up the car and headed to the Metro Centre for a few hours of shopping. What else are you supposed to do when it’s pouring rain and freezing?! We ran a few errands, shopped in our favourite stores and ate lunch at our favourite place, Wagamama’s. I always get the same thing (either teriyaki chicken donburi or chilli steak ramen) and Matt ALWAYS gets chilli steak ramen, however this time I branched out! I got teriyaki steak soba noodles (without onions) and it was incredible, I think I’ve found a new favourite dish! We spent so long browsing Waterstone’s – book shops are one of my favourite places – and I picked up a few new books, I can’t wait to get stuck in! (I also made an Amazon order for even MORE when we got home as they were way cheaper on Amazon, I think I’m good for a while… LOL)
We left the Metro Centre, and headed home via Tesco, our second favourite shop. Costco is obviously number one, we literally LOVE walking around buying crap we absolutely don’t need, haha. We were in and out pretty quick, just picking up groceries to make dinner that evening (and my favourite chips and dip… I couldn’t resist). Matt’s parents were away for the weekend so we were staying there the whole time and when we got home Matt went out for a run whilst I snuggled up with a cup of tea and my new book. Although I was in tears by page three – it’s so sad, but also heartwarming, moving and kinda funny – I’m completely hooked. I also kissed and snuggled Matt extra hard for the rest of the weekend, if you read it you’ll know why! And if you haven’t, I’m linking it here and saying you need to buy it immediately, you won’t regret it. (Well, I hope not. I’m 145 pages in when I’m typing this up on Monday evening, and it’s honestly one of the best books I’ve ever read up to now).
Matt got home from his run and we watched the opening ceremony to the Man City match, I really love how exciting the atmosphere feels at big football games! We watched for a little while, then Matt got a post-run bath and I went straight back into reading my book. I really struggled to put it down! Matt ran me a bath (and he put a Lush bath bomb in, what a cutie!) and I soaked with a face mask on… yep, whilst reading my book. I used The Body Shop’s Himalayan Charcoal purifying glow mask which is one of my absolute favourites, it always makes my skin feel SO good afterwards. Matt usually joins in on face mask night but he was not feeling it this weekend… party pooper! After I’d had a lovely bath, exfoliated, shaved and washed my hair, I jumped out and got ready for the evening. We made dinner – roasted veggies with ham and mashed potato – and got cosy on the couch to watch a few more episodes of Brooklyn 99, we’re seriously obsessed! We went to bed pretty late, and snuggled in for a loooong sleep.
Sunday May 19th
Okay, so Sunday is where I FAILED with the photo taking. I’m sorry, I was on a roll for the first part of the weekend but then I was a #badblogger. To be honest, I felt a little bit off all day – I was really anxious and a little teary randomly. I’m not sure why as there was no specific reason but Matt was so good to me. He loved me a little harder all day and I thankfully felt so much better by Sunday night. We still had a lovely day, I just felt super anxious. So, what did we get up to? We lay in pretty late, and after a little too long snuggling I finally got out of bed to make Matt breakfast. We slowly started moving to get ready, and booked a hotel for a pretty spontaneous trip to Manchester this coming weekend! We’re road tripping down for a family reunion, and I’m so excited for Sunday’s post… can you guess what it’s about?!
When we finally got ready, we headed to Aldi to grab a few groceries we needed for the beginning of the week until I do a big shop mid-week. I typically grocery shop by myself when Matt’s at work or when I’m on the way home from work, so I always appreciate when we get to run errands together. We went to see my parents and open a few extra birthday presents that had been dropped off (my family are so generous!) and caught up on what we’d all been doing over the weekend. After, we went up to see my godparents – we love being at their house, it’s so beautiful and they’re so lovely! We stayed for a while, and got some puppy cuddles in with Phoebe. Isn’t she just so cute?! We went home via a pit stop at the Co-Op (I’m literally OBSESSED with going into any Co-Op we pass, whether I need something or not. It’s become a running joke between Matt and I, then my godmother said she totally gets it and loves going in too! HA we’re so weird. They just have everything you could ever need) and Matt got on with some work whilst I read some more of my book and started editing photos for this post. We showered, cooked the most amazing steaks for dinner and snuggled in for a night of TV on the couch with some yummy snacks. We of course watched a few more episodes of Brooklyn 99, then A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health, featuring several football players and Prince William. It was so insightful, and if you haven’t seen it I’d definitely advise watching it – and recommending it to any men in your life!
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed a look into my life from this past weekend! We had so much fun, and I’m always so grateful for all the quality time Matthew and I get together. Our schedules have been jam packed lately so we’ve had to make the most of our mornings and evenings, and he’s going away the first week of June – I miss him and am counting down to picking him up from the airport already! LOL. We’re enjoying every little moment together more than ever right now, and we’re SO ready for our holiday together at the end of June! How was your weekend, what did you get up to? I’m counting down to this weekend already, I can’t wait for another weekend with my love, and to spend time with family!
As this post goes live, we will be on our way to enjoy a staycation at one of our favourite hotels, Hotel du Vin at Newcastle Quayside. It’s a birthday treat for Matthew as he turns 25 tomorrow, and we’re making the most of it! We’re planning on doing very little; maybe a chilled walk along the Quayside, a bubble bath, dinner, drinks, and a whole lot of relaxing with yours truly. What more could he want, eh?!
Packing is my thing and I love reading packing related blog posts or watching ‘pack with me’ videos on YouTube, some of these incredible people fit enough clothes for three weeks in a carry on suitcase! Mind = blown. I am borderline obsessed with the whole process and find it so exciting, as soon as we have a trip booked I find myself beginning to plan my outfits, search through my stash of travel sized minis and find the Insta-worthy hotspots usually reserved for the locals. As much as I enjoy that kind of packing, there’s something real nice about heading for a staycation, less than thirty minutes from home. You already know the best places to go! Driving means no luggage restrictions! Full sized beauty products! The ability to pop home if you forget your favourite shoes… Also, it means I don’t have to hide Matt’s birthday presents as I can easily sneak them in the boot.
Really, the chances of me forgetting something on a staycation trip are pretty slim, as I tend to go with the ‘if you might need it, take it’ method of packing when there’s no weight restriction. Slippers? Our favourite blanket? Ski goggles? You name it, I’ve probably packed it. I feel I’m being a tad hard on myself as I’ve definitely honed it down from previous trips, but I’m still not the most minimalistic or streamlined packer, and for a one or two night trip close to home, I’m okay with that. Also, the best thing about travelling anywhere with your boyfriend? He takes literally the essentials. (By ‘he’ I mean me, because of course I end up packing for him HAHA). I’m sure all girls have read between the lines here and know where I’m going with this… extra space for our stuff, YAY!
*I’ve linked all of the items you can still purchase to save you having to find them!*
The Beauty Bits
My favourite part of packing is always my skincare, makeup and toiletries. As I mentioned above, I do love a travel sized mini, but there is something a little bit special about being able to take your old faithfuls without having to find a mini or decant them. Although I often take full sized beauty products on staycation trips, or really anywhere we travel to by car, I tend to take less products overall, and just take the things I actually need. Sort of. I definitely minimize my skincare and makeup routine, and don’t take all of the extra ‘just incase’ bits I usually keep in my skincare stash. I’m so happy with my daily skincare routine so I’m definitely taking all my must-haves for morning and night, even though it may seem like a lot to some. I talked about my current skincare routine in this post so please check that out if you’d like to know my thoughts on the products pictured, in more detail!
I also try to pack as little as possible in the category of ‘body care’ (I feel like there needs to be an actual name for this stuff?!) because A) it’s just a one night trip and I won’t be doing a full on pamper sesh and B) Hotel du Vin have Ren products in all of their rooms anyway, which is an amazing cruelty free brand that I love. Matt and I always share whichever shampoo and conditioner I pack, and we’ll use one of our own mini Molton Brown shower gels, then I need my shaving products, moisturiser and hair products to style my hair before I blow dry it. We very rarely use the mini toiletries provided in the room when we’re there as I (not so) secretly love to take them for future trips that may not provide them. That’s why they’re there, right?!
If this is your first time reading my blog you may not know that my aim for 2019 is to go fully cruelty free on my beauty products. I’m already there on my everyday skincare and makeup items, but body care is proving a little more tricky – I’m yet to find a razor that works as well as my beloved Gillette Swirl, and any other shaving gel apart from Gillette leaves my skin dry and/or irritated. I wanted so badly to love the Lush D’Fluff as it smelled glorious, but it really wasn’t right for my skin, and never gave me a close enough shave. My beloved Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt is a must-have, I use this almost every day and I love it; it reminds me of so many wonderful memories.
I love planning my outfits in general, and I find this the easiest category to pack for, even though I do like to have some kind of option, just in case. I’ll use the same bag both day and night – my Kate Spade crossbody is my go-to – and my trusty Vans will go with any day time outfit. I tend to be pretty hard on just taking one evening outfit for an overnight stay, as I know exactly what we’ll be doing – in this case, dinner at The Botanist and drinks on Grey St – but packing for the next day is a little trickier. We know our morning consists of Matt opening his presents (I’m so excited for that!) and us going for breakfast, but then we have the whole day to explore our favourite city and spend time with family, which is what birthdays are for.
I keep it minimal with my jewellery day-to-day, and I’ll be wearing my good ol’ faithfuls. My Missoma initial G necklace and mis-matched star and moon studs, my Pandora bracelet and various rings, and the rest of my earrings are silver, purchased from various stores. I very rarely change up my earrings as I love how they look, although it’s something I really want be more adventurous with this Spring/Summer! I’m also determined to try hoop earrings and to love them, other girls look SO good wearing hoops.
The weather is still very odd right now up North as we’re finally moving into Spring. Some days it’s warm, sunny and bright, and others it’s dark, rainy and freezing cold. This is my justification for taking two day outfit options, if you hadn’t already guessed what was coming. Also, we don’t take pyjamas as we never sleep in them, and we know from experience that Hotel du Vin robes are the bomb. I love to wear my hotel robe whilst I get ready for the evening and the following morning, so other than my two three outfits, there’s nothing else I need here! Except for a few spare pairs of pants and an extra bralette that I know I won’t wear. I can’t help it, it’s the overpacker in me. (Side note: VS thongs are the only underwear I buy, but I’m always looking for new options, and more sustainable brands would be great – if you have any tried and trusted recommendations please let me know in the comments!)
The Bits I Actually Need (And Definitely Do Not Need But Will Take Anyway)
Like I said, I’m not perfect when it comes to packing (or anything, ha) and I knowingly pack more than I need. I always make sure to pack our phone chargers and also squeeze in snacks for the room because we love to have our home comforts for the evening. We’ve got our favourite sweets to snack on, and we’ll also have a box of our favourite donuts thanks to the amazing guys at Proven Goods Co. Matt won’t know this until we get there, and I’m so excited to surprise him! The only thing better than birthday cake is birthday donuts, right?! We always make sure to take a few bottles of water and cans of Diet Coke to stick in the fridge in the room, because we’re cheap and can’t justify paying the mini bar prices LOL. For special staycation trips like this one, we like to take a bottle of champagne, because that’s half the fun of the amazing roll top bath, right?! Also, it’s my love’s birthday, and if he wants champagne then that’s what he’ll get!
We’ll be throwing an extra coat in the car and I’ve already packed an umbrella ‘just incase’ but with good reason; in Newcastle it’s not uncommon to experience every weather possible in the space of 24 hours! Ironically, I’ll definitely be taking my sunglasses as the optimist in me will be praying for a sunny day so we can take a nice morning walk along the Quayside; it’s one of our favourite places in Newcastle and it’s just so beautiful.
We’d never take our iPads or laptops on an overnight trip like this as we absolutely will not need them, so there’s no need to worry about fitting those in to our luggage. I would normally take a book with me, but I know I’ll have no time to read so I wouldn’t bother lugging it around. (Even though this makes me a little sad as I’m obsessed with my current book, Make Or Break by Catherine Bennetto, it’s the eighth book I’ve read so far this year and I hate putting it down!) I do always throw a tote bag into our luggage no matter where we’re going as they take up no space and come in so handy for tons of reasons. I mean, how else would I take all the miniature Ren toiletries home? I have to add, Poo Pourri comes in so handy on trips, I bought it originally as a joke when Matt and I went on our first weekend away together, but it’s actually a great idea (and still funny). Also, I think it’s a brilliant ‘gag gift’ for someone who’d laugh about it! Now, if only I could get him to use it at home…
I’m SO excited to relax and spoil my favourite person in the world, he deserves it so much. I hope you liked having a peek inside my suitcase, and if you haven’t already, you can check out my previous packing-related posts here and here. They’re the kind of posts you can come back to at any point for a little extra inspiration or motivation to pack! I’ll definitely be writing an updated What’s In My Carry On post when we go on our Summer holiday to Croatia later in the year, and we have a few city breaks in the pipeline too, I’m so excited to share more travel-related content.
What are your must-have items to pack for an overnight stay? Are you way more minimalist than me? I bet you are. Also, HOW do you do it? Please leave me all the tips and tricks in the comments, it would be very much appreciated! Thank you so much for reading!
I am so excited for the new season, and to finally say goodbye to Winter! It’s weird, we definitely didn’t have a super cold Winter like we have in past years, but it seemed to last so long, I feel like I’ve been anticipating Spring since January. Although most of our Winter was pretty warm, this past weekend we woke up to snow, I was not impressed haha.
Spring is a season of new beginnings, blossoming flowers and warmer weather, and I think this year it’s going to be one of my favourite seasons. Matt and I already have so much planned and it’s the best feeling to have exciting things to look forward to. I’ve been feeling very reflective over the past few days, and after having something unfortunate happen I’ve been truly counting my blessings more than ever. I feel so lucky for what I have; an amazing boyfriend that I love more than life itself, a solid family and friend network, a job that I enjoy, my blog, car and so much more. I’m feeling happy and ready for a fresh new season to bring a little more joy!
I shared Matt and I’s Winter Bucket List in this post, and we ticked off so many of our items despite being super busy, and had so much fun throughout Winter! I recieved messages from people saying they enjoyed seeing what we had planned and took some ideas from what we wanted to do, so I’ve decided this will definitely be a post that is updated for every season this year. Unfortunately we didn’t get to squeeze in a weekend getaway to Glasgow – we’re hoping to this season instead – but we did book our Summer holiday and we’re heading to Croatia in June, we’re so excited! We also went to five NUFC games (and we won most of them), took a few day trips up North, explored Northumberland and Newcastle SO MUCH, and we went for lots of breakfast dates and beach walks. We had lots of fun date nights – some with our friends, and just spent lots of quality time together. We also got to see my family who live in Alaska for the first time in almost five years, it’s so much better to see each other in person instead of FaceTime-ing. We went for dinner with them this week and had such a lovely evening! A few of the things we didn’t get round to in the Winter may have made their way into things we hope to do this Spring…
Explore more of Northumberland during day trips Spring-clean our wardrobes/lives (again) Marie Kondo style Enjoy a staycation at Hotel du Vin in Newcastle Go for more breakfast or brunch dates Make s’mores on a chilly Spring evening Go to a drive-in movie Spend a weekend away in Glasgow Celebrate bank holidays the way we always do – date night at one of our favourite restaurants! Start my new blog series. It’s been a while in the making but I’m so excited Enjoy a picnic in the sun Use up beauty products before I buy anything new to replace it. I’m officially on a ‘Beauty No Buy’ for Spring… UHOH Go to Alwnick Gardens during cherry blossom season Make/create new recipes together for warmer weather Buy fresh vegetables from a farmers market for the week Spend as many weekend mornings as possible walking along the beach Shoot a Spring fashion blog post (super nervous about this one!) Go to the Lake District Squeeze in all of the date nights – this will be listed for every season! Book a city break to Lisbon Feel comfortable wearing shorts in England as it gets warmer. Matt has no problem with this one, he’s been wearing shorts since February HAHA Celebrate Matt and I’s birthdays – we both turn 25 this season! Go to more NUFC games Buy all the bunches of beautiful peonies – prepare to see them in every blog photo Change up my hair colour/style a little (I’m thinking coppery, rich brown tones) Play mini-golf Spend an afternoon at The Garage Spa Write more ‘think pieces’ for my blog Pick fresh fruits at a nearby farm Begin shopping for our holiday to Croatia Plant new flowers in my grandma’s garden for her Take a road trip to somewhere we’ve never been before
Thank you so much for reading! What are you hoping to do this season? Are you as excited as I am for Spring?
There’s not too many brandsI would consider a ‘favourite’. Of course I have lots of favourite products from varying brands, but it’s not often I love so many products from one brand. One of the very few exceptions to this, is of course Lush. I’ve shopped in Lush since I was 13 and spent my Saturday’s in town with my friends, stretching £20.00 as far as it would go. Like many, my first foray into the world of Lush was bath bombs and bubble bars, and I still use them often now, over ten years later. I’m not as into the gimmicky products (although damn it I want that cute little Easter lamb!) but it still brings me so much joy to use bath bombs and bubble bars. Over the years I’ve turned my boyfriend and mum into self-confessed fans too, and I feel like I’m always recommending products to my friends.
As I’ve got older, I’ve enjoyed seeing what else Lush have to offer other than pretty coloured baths, and I’m slowly working my way through trying a bit of everything. There have been some products that didn’t work for me unfortunately, but for the most part I’ve found amazing products that I love to incorporate into my beauty routine and will re-purchase for years to come. I love the Christmas collections and Snow Fairy is my favourite scent of all time (but, I’m not into the gimmicky things. Remember?) although throughout the year they release so many new, innovative products. I’m currently trying out a few new-to-me items that I haven’t been using long enough to list as a favourite (although I do really love the H’Suan Wen Hua hair mask so far and I’m obsessed with the Sleepy shower gel – thanks to a recommendation from my friend Laura). I’m sure you’ll see them featured on the blog at some point!
Lush have been way ahead of most brands for years, and they are proudly a cruelty-free, vegetarian friendly and environmentally friendly company. They also use ethically sourced, organic ingredients and promote recycling and giving back. Basically, they’re awesome. If you buy products in the black tubs, please please please remember to save your empty tubs! Once you have accumulated five, you can return them to the store to be recycled and/or re-used, and as a bonus you get a free fresh face mask just for being a good egg and helping the environment. That sounds like a win-win to me! Lush employees are so passionate about their jobs and the products they sell, and I always find them to be very informative and helpful. I love shopping in store at Lush so much that I very rarely order online, it’s just such a fun in-store experience!
This is my most recent new-to-me purchase from Lush, and it’s already right up there as one of my ultimate favourite beauty products. I remember when this was first released I smelled it in store, it smelled very strongly of lavender so I wrote it off as being a product that wasn’t for me. Fast forward around a year, Matt and I were browsing in Lush and I decided to test it again, this time I loved the scent and it felt amazing on my hand. It does have lavender flower in there, but as someone who doesn’t really like the smell of lavender, I would say this is very muted and not at all overpowering. It’s also infused with tonka and oatmeal, and is the most delicious, calming scent (that even Matt loves, which says something because he thinks most of my moisturisers are too strongly scented). I’ve used this every night since I purchased, and it’s a very comforting, lovely smell. The moisturiser sinks into my skin and isn’t at all tacky, but keeps my skin soft and moisturised through to the next day.
This product has gained cult status within the beauty industry, and it’s not hard to see why. A millenial pink coloured face mask, that smells like roses in a fresh and feminine way and works a treat on sensitive skin. Sold. I use this mask around once per week until I use up a tub, then I always forget to pick up another for a few weeks before dragging Matt back into town for the sole purpose of re-purchasing this. This is a fresh face mask, which means it needs to be stored in the fridge, so it always feels cooling and relaxing when applied to the skin. It works pretty quickly, and I tend to take it off with warm water and a flannel after around 5 – 10 minutes when the mask begins to harden/crack. This mask calms any redness or spots I have and thankfully it doesn’t cause me to have breakouts, which is very rare from a face mask as my skin is super sensitive.
I still love bath bombs as much as I did when I was 13 (almost twelve years ago, wow) and I always feel like it’s a real treat to use them. I pick at least one up every time I’m in Lush, although I do try not to use them too often, as I think they’re pretty expensive for a one-use product. I always tend to reach for bath bombs on days I feel a little rubbish and need a pick-me-up, or before a date night when I want to feel a little bit special, and sometimes just because. I always take baths in the evening (people who shower/bath in the morning baffle me – surely those extra minutes are much better spent snoozing and snuggling in bed) and I find it’s a perfect way to unwind ready for the evening. As I mentioned above, I’m not super into the gimmicky products any more, but you can’t beat that feeling of joy seeing pretty colours and glitter swirls fill your bath. My skin always feels softer and smoother post-bath, and I love the varying scents in each option; they’re filled with essential oils. Goddess is my ultimate ‘feel-good’ bath bomb right now, and Avobath and Butterball are go-to’s year round. Matt also loves Butterball, although the first time I bought it for him he said he was ‘disappointed there’s no colour’. Bless.
This is an oldie but a goodie, and a product I’ve rediscovered in the past few weeks. Real talk: my hair is in dire need of help; years of bleaching, dying, straightening and too much dry shampoo have finally taken their toll, and I’m a little bit at a loss as to what to do to with it. I’ve been a big fan of piling on hair masks recently and I’ve also enlisted any other product that might make any difference to my dry and frazzled locks. R&B is absolutely a miracle in a pot, and I’m mad at myself for ever stopping using it! I take the smallest amount and rub between my fingers then applying to towel dried hair. I’m trying not to blow dry my hair every day, but my natural hair dries super curly frizzy so it’s like an internal battle every evening. All I want to do post-shower/bath is make dinner and get snuggled up in my comfies with Matthew, without worrying about my hair! I have to admit this product does make my hair much less frizzy (it’s a miracle worker I tell you!) whether it dries naturally or I blow dry it, and my hair looks/feels so much more sleek and smooth. It smells glorious, and it’s one of those scents that lingers in your hair until your next wash.
If I remember correctly, this was my first non-bath-bomb-or-bubble-bar purchase from Lush a few years back, and I’ve loved it ever since. This scrub is made with sea salt and isn’t harsh on the skin, but I find it does an excellent job of exfoliating and keeping my skin soft. In the warmer months I use this daily, although normally I reach for this around three to four times per week and I always feel so much cleaner when I’ve used it. It makes shaving a breeze, and then after I apply my body moisturiser post-shower my skin is silky smooth! This scrub smells very fresh and citrus-y, it’s always a scent that reminds me of Summer. No other scrub I’ve tried comes close to this, and I know I’ll continue to re-purchase for years to come. This product is multi-use and can also be used in your hair; I use it as a pre-shampoo treatment around once per week and my hair always feels so clean and fresh afterwards. If you try just one new thing from this post, make it this! (And pick up a new bath bomb whilst you’re at it, because well, we all deserve a treat!)
I bloody love this mask. I love the consistency, I love that it’s self-preserving (which means it doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge), I love the results it gives and I love the smell! Matt is a huge fan too, and on our pamper evening each week – usually a Sunday if you’re interested. We are such losers, I know – we often reach for this mask. This is great for oily/combination skin, and it works wonders when I’m having a bad skin day. It’s a little thicker than the fresh version, which I was told by a Lush employee is down to having more honey in the formula, but it works just as well, if not better, in my opinion. I find this balances my skin really well, and my skin always feels less oily the first few days after using this. Sometimes I multi-mask between this and Rosy Cheeks, and it’s definitely holy-grail status in my beauty regime. If I can ever feel one of those horrible under-the-skin spots coming on, I reach for this to use as a spot treatment on that area and by the next day things always look and feel so much better. This product is also multi-use and can be used to treat spots on your body.
Like bath bombs, bubble bars have been a favourite product for 10+ years, yet I always tend to re-purchase my tried and tested favourites. I’m less intrigued by new launches with the bubble bars, as I know I love the smell of these two so much I usually have little desire to try anything new. The exception to this is of course the Christmas themed products, but day-to-day these are the ones I reach for. I always break these up into multiple pieces (way more for your bang for your buck than the bath bombs!) and I get around four to five baths from The Comforter, and two to three from Creamy Candy. PSA: if you’ve never tried a bubble bar before, the way to use these is to crumble a section of the bar under the tap as your bath is running! I’ve seen so many people on Instagram complain about how rubbish the bubble bars are because they threw them in the water, but that’s not how they’re supposed to be used. Matt and I always take a bubble bar with us the few times a year we treat each other to a stay at a fancy shmancy hotel, because surely a gorgeous hotel room with a roll top bath is the best setting for a Lush bath!
Thank you so much for reading! What are your favourite products from Lush? Do you have any must-have items you always re-purchase? Let me know in the comments for my next shopping spree!
It’s officially the month of loooove and I am so excited about it! I feel like so often the real meaning of Valentine’s Day (which is, in my opinion, to show your love and appreciation for the special someone in your life) is taken away by an obsession to buy the biggest and best gifts. I know that when the 14th rolls around my social media pages will be flooded with photos of flowers, chocolates and probably a few extravagant gifts. If that’s what you and your partner like to do for each other, that’s great and you can bet I’ll be liking all of those photos! Matt and I do give gifts on Valentine’s Day, but we opt for smaller, thoughtful ones that mean something (and of course lots of chocolate). Instead of spending lots of money on material gifts, we prefer to spend a little extra on a fun date night!
This year, we’re celebrating the weekend before Valentine’s Day. I made reservations at our favourite steakhouse for this Friday, and I’m so excited! On Valentine’s Day we’re going to spend the evening cooking our favourite meal and enjoying a special dessert (you’ll see what that is in this post). Today I’m sharing with you some of Matt and I’s favourite dates, at all different price points, to give you a little inspiration if you’re stuck for something to do with your loved one this year. Remember; date days/nights don’t have to cost the earth AT ALL, it’s all about spending time with the person you love more than anything! I’ve added our local recommendations where applicable and linked websites for all the places that have them 🙂
Brunch date Early morning dates are my favourite! Matt and I go for breakfast or brunch together as much as we can and we try to squeeze in these dates at least twice per month when he has weekend days off work. We’re always trying new places but we generally order the same thing – Matt’s favourite is a full English, and mine is a full veggie breakfast! (The veggie sausage at Post Box are THE BEST!) Local recommendations: Post Box, Ponteland; The View, Tynemouth; The Butterfly Cabinet, Heaton
Mini golf This was one of my favourite spontaneous dates we’ve had! Matt plays golf for real so he totally kicked my butt, which is fine because we had SO much fun. He definitely gave me more goes that allowed, and it was fun to get a little competitive against each other. There’s something to be said for getting to be kids together for a little while and forget all of the #adulting we have to do in real life! Local recommendations: Mr Mulligan’s Space Golf; Dinosaur Encounter, Heighly Gate Garden Centre
At home movie night This is perfect if you and/or your partner have hectic schedule(s) or children and can’t commit to a few hours outside of the home, but want to take a little time out together. Grab all your favourite snacks, pick a few Netflix faves (or newbies!) and snuggle up together for a night of cuddles and chilling. We try to to do this at least once per week, and it’s always one of my favourite evenings!
Book a staycation Staying at a luxury hotel not too far from where you live is the best of both worlds; you get to experience a little luxury but you don’t have to travel for miles to find it. For us, it’s a welcome change to get out of our little home bubble for a night, enjoy a nice bath, wear comfy hotel robes (the best!) and go for dinner a stone’s throw away from our bed. Tip: take champagne for an extra special night! Local recommendations: Hotel du Vin, Newcastle; Ramside Hall, Durham; Vermont Hotel, Newcastle
Dinner and drinks It’s a classic for a reason, and you just can’t beat it. It’s our ultimate favourite date night and we try to fit this in as much as we can. It’s so fun to get dressed up and have fun with your partner, and to enjoy a nice meal out! We love to go for a few post-dinner cocktails when we can too, Matt loves a mojito and I love anything with gin! (All lemonade, no tonic!) Local recommendations: (dinner) Tomahawk Steakhouse, Newcastle; Branches, Ponteland; Ora, Tynemouth; (drinks) Tiger Hornsby, Newcastle; Pleased To Meet You, Newcastle; YOLO, Ponteland
Play tourist in your hometown Matt and I will be doing this until the day we die, I’m pretty sure! We love to spend a chilled day exploring new places and re-visiting old favourites, and it’s such a nice way to spend time together. You can also pop in to small bakeries or cafes for a bite to eat, and watch the world go by infront of you! If you’re in Newcastle, you have to make the trip just outside of the centre to Hoult’s Yard for Proven Goods Co. donuts; you won’t regret it! Local recommendations: Quayside Market, Newcastle; Tynemouth Market, Tynemouth; Beamish Museum, Durham
Fondue for two Due to Matt’s work schedule, this was how we spent our Valentine’s Day evening last year, and we’re doing it all over again this year (but with a mini version of this)! I melted our favourite kinds of chocolates, and added marshmallows, strawberries, Biscoff biscuits and bananas to dip in. We had a mini bottle of champange (the ones where you get literally one glass each, he had to be up at 5am!) and it was SO. MUCH. FUN. We had a cute, cosy night in that was so special to us.
Head on a road trip Okay we’re a little biased here, we LOVE road trips! Whether it’s along the coast, down to the middle of the country or into the nearby countryside, we’re always up for spending a day exploring together. Stumbling across places we’ve never even heard of is the best, there’s always cute cosy pubs to find. We actually did this on our very first date on the way home from York! Make sure to take some yummy snacks for the car, and comfy clothes for the long journey home! (I always bring a blanket too, like the 4 year old I am at heart, HAHA).
Take a walk at the beach/in the country Date days don’t have to cost the earth, but they can be about seeing what the earth has to offer. Corny enough for you?! I’ve said so many times that we’re super lucky with where we live because 10 minutes one way is the beach and 10 minutes the other is sprawling countryside. February in the North is freezing cold, so throw on all the layers and get your heart pumping on a long walk! Local recommendations: Tynemouth beach; Cragside; Bamburgh Castle
If you’re single this Valentine’s Day, don’t let that get you down! Instead, have a party for one, or invite all of your girls round on the 13th to celebrate #GalentinesDay. Pick a few of your favourite movies, all your favourite snacks and snuggle up in your pj’s for a movie marathon. There’s some amazing gin cocktails you can make from the comfort of your own home linked here, I think it would be so much fun to make some cute drinks. Maybe throw on a face mask and order your favourite takeaway too, why not?! Valentine’s Day is for loving yourself too!
Thank you so much for reading! I hope this gave you a little inspiration if you’re feeling stuck for plans in the next few weeks. How are you planning to celebrate this year? Also, bookmark this page and you can easily find your way back to this post for any future date inspiration. Whether it’s for an anniversary or just a regular date without an ocassion, there’s something for everyone! Happy (early) Valentine’s Day!