Clean, conscious beauty. – Vegan Edit box review

After my The Vegan edit – Latest in Beauty box review – initial impressions post where I stated I would spend 2 weeks testing the products in the box I have to admit…. It’s been the entirety of Quarantine that I have been testing these.

I’ve been so wrapped up in everything else that I hadn’t even gotten around to clicking ‘publish’ on that post till the other day. I have, however, given these products stringent testing now, a lot more than the 2 weeks i’d expected. The good thing about this is that lots of beauty products take time to see effects, so I’ve been able to test that. The bad thing, the box is now long out of stock. But Latest in Beauty cycle through boxes frequently, in fact, I may have accidentally made a 1am purchase of their latest one recently.

So let’s get onto my findings

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The amount of products in this box for the price was frankly phenomenal. I found 8 products I was seriously impressed with! Some were a shock like the sleep oil, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the lavender scent but it was so soothing at night, and overall was probably my favourite item in the entire box!

  • The Sacura activ gel serum was incredible, a great replacement for freederm. The scent was my favourite part of this!
  • I was not massively looking forward to moving away from my Ordinary skincare regime but the own brand hylauronic acid was also a great find! A little goes a long way and it’s still got a tonne left even after using it AM and PM
  • I cannot get over the size of the Faith in Nature Dragonfruit bodywash! It smelt incredible, lathered up great and the branding was on point.
  • The deodorant crystal was one I highlighted in my initial impressions post. I was excited to try this zero waste alternative. It definitely has the longevity you need, even on these hot summer days!
  • The natural toothbrush got a deep clean without irritation that some brushes give me. The stand that comes with it is great too because I’m really, really funny about my toothbrush being on the side or touching anything.
  • Sukin are a great brand regardless, although I’m not a personal fan of a lot of oils their cleansing oil works wonders. I’m not sure i’d personally buy it again but I can see the benefits for a different skin-type so thought it only fair to place in this category.
  • Ok, this may be my fault for not reading accurately but I thought the seaweed scalp mud was a lot more of an intensive treatment than leave it on for 3 minutes then wash off. Regardless it left my hair clean and smooth. The spreadability of it is probably the only thing I wasn’t too fond of.

Yellow and White Class Photo Collage (2)

Next we will look at the products I didn’t love, but didn’t hate enough to say I’d never buy them. Maybe they just aren’t for me…

  • Fruu’s shape for their lipbalm is adorable and glides on effortlessly. However both that and the Naturline are standard lipbalms, of which I have so many.
  • Northern Soap deep cleanser seems quite drying, this could be a skin type issue, doesn’t work wonders on me, but could for someone else, which is why it’s here rather than in products I outright did not like. This would probably be something that just sits on my shelf for too long and is just wasted.
  • The push up buttocks moisturiser is, of course, gimmicky. It’s definitely moisturising, smells great and is a decent size, but I think the way it promotes you getting in a routine of massaging that area naturally does more of a firming job than the moisturiser.
  • EcoDenta mouthwash fills your mouth and immediately dissolves down, it doesn’t massively feel like it’s doing anything miraculous but it’s a lot less harsh that its counterparts so great for people with sensitive mouths like myself.
  • The welleda body lotion is thoroughly moisturising and citrus is one of my favourite scents, but the amount of body lotion I get in gift sets that do the exact same thing means I’ve never found a brand i’ve been loyal to in a body moisturiser.
  • I don’t use hairspray, so it’s not really fair for me to review this. I love that it’s not compressed air, and it seemed ok from a girl who has no previous experience in this area.

Yellow and White Class Photo Collage (3)

Out of ALL the products in this box there are only four I flat out didn’t like, honestly I wanted to stop using these part way through but thought it only fair to give them a fair shot.

  • Urban Veda facial scrub had tiny microbeads in, these can tear your skin so I was already put off by that. I think the product isn’t strong enough to thoroughly cleanse without these though. The moisturiser did not sit well with me at all, the scent was so overpowering I felt like I was getting hayfever from using it! It was lightweight but I could not get over the scent.
  • 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner has no place in this world I’m just going to say it. Maybe if you’re travelling it’s acceptable but this hemp product did not scrub up well, it left my hair feeling stringy and frankly awful.
  • Aloe toothpaste is disgusting! It tastes awful, it leaves your mouth feeling awful and not fresh and if you use it before bed by the time you wake up your mouth feels like you went to bed without brushing in the first place!

OVERALL 

Despite having some harsh words on the last products they were such a small percentage that I’m astounded by this box! I found some products I truly loved and some I loved trying out despite probably not reaching for on the shelves again. I love the Latest in Beauty boxes! They’re a great way to discover new products and brands and I absolutely cannot fault their value for money. I am looking forward to trying new collections in the future!

The Vegan edit – Latest in Beauty box review

One thing i’m always up for is a good beauty product.

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On my mission to discover new vegan and cruelty-free brands as well as trying new products I was sent a link to Latest in Beauty – a site i’d never heard of before, but my friends know me too well and their Vegan Beauty Edit box in collaboration with Holland and Barrett was an instant referral.

As soon as I saw the price-tag I’d whipped out my card and put in an order. For only £30 you get an astonishing amount of products – worth £120/140 – but even without the RRP being a clear steal this boxes contents is clearly worthwhile.

Boxes like these are a great way to discover new brands as well as products you probably wouldn’t even spot on a shelf, never mind buy for yourself anyway, and it’s a great way to find new beauty musts.

What struck me about this is that it’s not a subscription box in any form. It’s a one off price so the offer isn’t some form of new customer bonus or lure.

You get 19 products in the box, and for ease i’ll categorise them and my initial thoughts here. After that i’ll test the products and in about 2-3 weeks (to give them enough time to get to work) i’ll do a ‘buy it or bin it’ review so stay tuned! For now though, let’s get into the products…

BATHROOM ESSENTIALS

Dr Organic Shampoo and Conditioner  – As this is a 2 in 1 it’s not something i’d usually use. Maybe for travel, but I can’t see something being able to fully wash out and also super condition on just one bottle. They seem opposite. Hemp is usually quite moisturising so lets see

Faith in Nature shower gel – dragonfruit smells incredible, I never buy myself showergel, I get so many beauty sets at christmas so not something ill buy as a treat but this is a good size and I love the branding.

The Toothpaste Collection -Coming in with 3 products here. Aloe whitening toothpase, black foaming mouthwash and charcoal toothbrush and holder. The zero-waste feature of the toothbrush is great. Black foaming mouthwash has come out of nowhere and taken the world by storm so i’m ready to see if the hype is worth it.

Seamagik Seaweed Scalp Mud – I love scalp muds and any kind of hair mask so i’m excited to try this out!

FACIAL COLLECTION

Hylauronic Acid – My entire skincare routine is made up of The Ordinary, and i’m pretty set with that, but I’ve heard a lot about hylauronic acid, I just never wanted to add too much into my routine but interested to give it a go.

Salcura activ gel serum – I used to use Freederm religiously as a teen, this seems to be a cruelty free alternative. It has a lot of organic, fresh ingredients and smells great. The only thing I didn’t like about Freederm was you couldn’t put it on then go out as it would turn into a visible white paste on your skin. Let’s see if this omits that.

Northern Soap Deep Facial Cleanser – Deceptive packaging, I feel like you don’t get a lot here, but maybe a little goes a long way. Usually this type of product is effective but quite drying.

Sukin Cleansing Oil – friend massively recommended this brand recently, lets see if she was right.

New Tries

Tisserand Sleep Better Night Oil – Despite being Lavendar, a scent I’m really not fond of, I’ve been sleeping awfully lately so adding this into my night time routine may work wonders.

push up buttocks – This moisturiser seems incredibly gimmicky, nothing gives you a ‘push up effect’ other than working out. I’ll go in with an open mind though.

Salt of the Earth natural deodorant – I’ve been thinking about this type of product for years, looking at lush versions etc. I love that you don’t hurt the environment with aerosols and also zero waste but really interested to see if it works. I will also be looking at the hygiene of the product after it’s been used but has to be stored.

Hairspray – Hairspray? In ‘new’? Well yes. I really don’t use hairspray. Usually if I do it’s in a compressed can as these types of bottles seem ineffective, I used to use salt sprays when doing loose curls but honestly just for me I hate the way hairspray makes your hair feel. I get a tonne of flyaways and frizz so I’m not sure this will work for me, but that’s my first impression, and even if it doesn’t work it doesn’t mean it’s a bad product.

Samples

Soothing day cream and facial polish from Urban Veda–  not big enough to test long enough to see effects really and probably best to use together. Lets see if a little goes a long way

Welleda body moisturiser – citrus smells AMAZING, seems like a handy moisturiser to just keep in your handbag.

Battle of the Balms

Natruline – vaseline like, this brand has different versions but this is the vegan version. Seems like your standard petroleum jelly though.

Fruu – watermelon flavour – As much as I like watermelon this must be a heightened smell as watermelon is …well….90% water.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Variety – 8/10 lots of basics, replacements of essentials with a few new things thrown in. would love to be challenged by new innovations like the natural deodorant

Value for money – 10/10, just cant compare, it’s less than £2 a product and all are full size barring 3 which make great travel essentials regardless. Even if some are generally bad or circumstancially bad for me it will still be a great percentage. Plus there were a small amount of samples compared to full size products

Brands – 9/10, learning new vegan and cruelty free brands whilst also seeing some fan favourites, great way to introduce new brands to loyal customers whilst introducing staples to anyone interested in more ethical living.

Check back soon for a more in-depth review, safe to say i’m really excited about trialling this box!

SHRINE on – Feeling Aquatic in isolation

Day one of social isolation – dying my hair like i’m 10 years younger.

Screenshot (14)Today, after a weekend up North I arrived at work and found it an abandoned ghost town, it seemed I was left out of the loop that everyone is now working from home. So whilst waiting for my work brief to come through I decided to test out a brand new product recommended to me by my best friend at home – Shrine Drop It Hair Drops. I chose something I’d always wanted – aqua, and Sarah chose pink. I always wanted dark hair with aqua at the bottom for winter then pink hair for summer, and even though today feels like the sunniest day in a long time I just had to try it.

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What’s in the box?

20ml Hair Drops – 200 drops per bottle

1 X silicone bowl

1X silicone mixer and brush

1 X instruction manual

 

 

The only things not included are gloves (due to the fact they advertise no single use plastic I presume) this should probably not be taken lightly as I now look like I’ve got permanent pneumonia in my left hand, but as it’s semi-permanent it should come out quickly.

The main selling points of this brand is the lifestyle associated with it. They rave about being vegan and cruelty free and I’m all for that! They also have a wide range of vibrant colours. Regardless of if I’m testing or not I never usually go for semi-permanent as I see it as a bit of a waste. The RRP of this product is £16.99 and I got it half price, it states it lasts 3-12 washes, I doubt I’d spend the full amount for that short amount of time usually, but it seems good for a night out or event.

 

So let’s get into the review.

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Initial impressions 

I knew straight away I wanted an ombre effect, so as instructed I took any white conditioner and filled the bowl, as I didn’t want a whole head of hair I filled it halfway and proceeded to add what I thought was 20 drops of the product. It’s quite goopy so it’s tough to tell what a whole drop is. Halving the quantity of conditioner I probably should’ve halved the amount of drops but I wanted it to be very vibrant even though it was already on pre-lightened hair. The box states there is 200 drops which can be up to 30 applications. It’s hard to tell but I feel like i’ve gone through half the bottle already. Hopefully that’s not the case!

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The Application

After mixing I very soon got rid of the mixing brush and went straight to hands to get a thorough application. This is where I realised not taking their advice of using gloves was a bad decision. Other than that it was incredibly smooth and easy to apply.

I decided to mix it with an intensive colour conditioner from a previous hairdye kit in hopes it negates any dryness or damage from the dye (my hair is renowned for being dry and strawlike at the best of times so I don’t need any help there)

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The Results

Ok, so firstly, I feel like I need to disclaim that it’s a bit patchy because I forgot to brush it through, but in saying that, it doesn’t clearly state that on the leaflet, my friends who regularly dye their hair told me to when I said about it being patchy. Overall I love the colour! It’s pretty phenomenal, I kind of want to just do my whole head now so it goes from dark to light, so watch this space.

The one problem with my application is (and this happens everytime I dye my hair and I never learn) I ALWAYS go heavy with application underneath and not on top, so from behind the colour is quite low and you can still see parts of the blonde. Nothing a good top-up won’t fix but that’s my mistake.

For dying, my hair feels incredibly smooth after, I love that you can just mix this with any white conditioner. Like I said, I used an intensive care one from a superdrug hairdye kit and I dont know if it was that or just the lack of harshness in the dye that resulted in such smooth results but i’m very impressed

I really hope it lasts towards the 12 washes, and with the amount of drops I used i’m hoping that helps. I think this is a great way to test colours before making a permanent plunge or even for a special occassion. I’m so tempted by a peach next, but I don’t know when that will be as i’ve pretty much immediately fallen in love with this colour, and for a girl that’s not really into commitment I see myself spending the forseeable future with this colour.

 

Pros                                                                                        Cons

Vegan and cruelty free                                                        Price-tag £16.99 RRP

No single use plastic                                                            Consistency is hard to tell drop ratio

Easy to use                                                                             Possibility of it leaving in 3 washes

Mix with any white conditioner

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Final thoughts

I’d definitely buy this again! I love the colour, I love the concept and brand, and i’m all for supporting anything cruelty free and vegan!

The pricetag is a big higher than i’d usually pay for at home dye (especially semi-permanent). I’d look more towards the £10 mark, but in saying that, I got it half price, it was well worth the £8.50, and hopefully to reduce waste I’ll be able to just buy the drops next time and not the bowl and brush, therefore making it both cost-efficient and incredibly effective.

God knows what else I will resort to to keep myself occupied over the coming weeks if I couldn’t even stand one day alone but I hope everyone is staying safe and focusing on their health in these times ❤

I like that Boulder, That is a nice boulder – 101 in 1001 [5]

Time to tick another off the list.

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I’d been ready to tick another thing off my 101 in 1001  list for a while. In fact, I think I massively need to up my game with this. Bouldering is something I’ve wanted to try for a long time, and a work friend had recently started going and saturating his snapchat with videos on his days off, so I just had to try it!

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I booked a boulder induction for 8.15pm on a Monday evening, perfect timing for most people who shy away from crowded places right? Wrong. It was insanely busy for the first half hour, they had just had their wall re-set, so there were lots of new climbing routes available and the place was packed. The session instructor – Sarah, was incredible though. She first took us on a tour of the facility and did the usual ‘common sense’ training. Finding a quiet spot we each took it in turns to climb up a Slab, Match and then work our way back down. The group took to it quickly so we soon moved on to overhanging walls and a few more complex places. Everyone in the group was either much taller than me or had climbed before so there was one route that I couldn’t quite reach but Sarah was so supportive, she told me bouldering isn’t about reaching the top, its about perfecting technique and progressing, so I may have been three holds off of completing it this time, but next time I should try one more, and i’d soon be at the top.

WhatsApp Image 2020-02-25 at 13.41.43The induction gave me some good tips and we finished off with 40 minutes of free-climb after. I challenged myself to a lot of different routes, and there is one climb right in the middle where you climb onto the top of it, walk along and dismount the other side. This is where I thought I would struggle. It’s not particularly hard, but I get nervous at heights, and with bouldering you have no harness, just a foam floor beneath you. I managed it though, and even went back for more.

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I traversed many routes, and can’t wait to build up my strength to try more. I’ll definitely be returning and am so happy, even with the amount of people at the start being quite intimidating I managed to do it and progress well!

Short but sweet, time to move onto conquering number 6, but bouldering will definitely be something I’ll keep up.

 

 

 

The Beautiful South – 10 things a Northerner has learnt from a year down south

The great 2020 battle of Lincolnshire vs Hampshire

January 2019 I moved to Surrey/Hampshire. A 5 hour journey from home. Not the other side of the world and similar in many ways, but there are definitely some homely comforts I miss, and some new traditions I am totally here for. Here’s 10 things I’ve noticed from my move.

  1. People just ‘hang out’ at service stations

Ok. This is something I noticed when I spent my first few months living in a  hotel and finishing work at gone midnight. The only places open for food were service stations and on many, many, many drives ‘home’ I noticed so many people just chilling in their cars, meeting up with friends and generally just hanging out. Not stopping mid journey, flat out making the drive there and back for that purpose.

When I bought it up to my colleagues (18-24 year olds) they got so excited saying they often meet their friends there or stop off for food after a night out.

9 months later I found myself doing the same thing, because absolutely nothing else is open at 1am. But I only did it twice, and it’s still a foreign concept to me.

2. Kebab vans are perfectly viable and not a ploy to kidnap and murder you

Ok this one I noticed when I used to just visit occasionally. The odd van just perched up in a dark off-set of a roundabout. I always noticed the same one, but they became more prevalent, and are pretty popular. As there aren’t many clubs around here you have to travel to them, and if you’re wanting anything other than a McDonalds then a kebab van is the way to go, rent is incredibly high here too so the flexibility and low outgoings are actually a good business model, but damn, there will always be something dodgy to me about stopping at one of them.

3. People tend to settle less – want to achieve more.

My friends have always been high achievers, but that’s a small group of people I know up North that have genuinely sought out better things for themselves. Most settle down early in 9-5’s, and that’s perfectly ok, but I notice so much more fight and tenacity from southerners. After all – working is such a large percentage of your life, why do something you don’t enjoy or work yourself ill to line the pockets of someone else.

4. Northerners are a facade of friendliness, southerners have tougher skin but will help you out way more.

I think it’s safe to say I’ve encountered my fair share of tough calls down here. One thing I was late to realise though was the sincerity of friendliness between the North and South is vast. It is often remarked on how Northerners are more polite and friendly, you’d meet your new best friend in a toilet on a night out, help the lady struggling with bags at the bus stop, pick up a dropped belonging of a stranger in the street. I’ve noticed a lot of generic politeness in the North, and more understanding, however down south there is so much more sincerity when people are actually nice to you, albeit the percentage of times it happens is smaller it is met with genuine vibes of wanting to help and going above and beyond to do that.

5. Phone calls.

The south is helping me overcome my crippling anxiety around phone calls. Voice messages are now the norm for me, and although I still screen certain unknown calls, I’ll actively have 40 minute phone calls with friends and family. I don’t think this was due to being away from them as we still text a lot, southerners just ring for anything and that’s something I’ve adopted. In such a fast-paced way of life down here you don’t often have time to sit there writing (much to the demise of my frequent blog posts) so multitasking anything saves bundles of time.

6. Safety.

Walking around Grimsby is nothing, when I go on midnight runs here everyone freaks out but its perfectly safe and my northern attitude sees to that, on the other hand I wouldn’t even dare leave a penny on show in my car up north but down here people leave laptops, purses, handbags and so much just on show in their car without a second thought.

7. Repression.

Everyone hides their problems up north, it’s so tough to talk about things and only a handful of people from home know my battles, here everyone knows, i’m actively open about a lot more without the fear of hiding because confrontation is the only fix and I have a solid support structure here.

8. Distance.

Driving 45 minutes for a meal would definitely not be a regular occurrence back home, you get stuck in a rut, or at least a pattern, it can become quite tiring. Here I have a large circle from Basingstoke to Reading, Outer London to Guildford, Portsmouth to Southampton that genuinely doesn’t seem like a lot of distance. It opens up a world of possibilities for activities and choices of entertainment, but isn’t friendly to your wallet.

9. Pace.

It’s absolutely non-stop down here. Things are expected to be done, and be done quickly. At times it definitely is overwhelming but realistically (and generally speaking) the constant procrastination of the Northern attitude means you are working little and often and not achieving a whole lot whilst you’re at it. Being pushed to do things sees a more positive attitude as you can measure your success.

10. Expenses.

The most obvious and given. Everything is more expensive down south.

12 hours in Belgium – 101 in 1001 [4]

4AM.

PASSPORT IN HAND.

WHERE AM I HEADED?

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Well there is a big clue in the title for you all, but for my snapchat audience my last day off posed that very question to them.

I had finished work at 7pm last Tuesday with little in the way of plans for my day off the next day. Ticking something off my list seemed appropriate – drive in another country? That is when a very impromptu day trip on the eurotunnel showed up.

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£30 later tickets had been booked for a 6.30am crossing and 10.30pm departure back. Who says days off have to be dull?

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I frequented France regularly when I was younger, and I would never turn down a trip there as I feel so at home.

Wednesday called for something different, but driveable. Bruges was a college trip for me, but you don’t get to see the best parts of a city on a college trip, an hour and a half from the eurotunnel – done.

 

 

Screenshot (10).pngI’d done little research into what to do whilst there but I wanted to find the right balance of doing activities and not feeling rushed or feeling like I was missing out.

Driving into Belgium we stopped in a small town called Jabbekke – purely because it sounded like Jabberwocky and made us laugh for some peculiar reason. I donned my big boots and climbed into the drivers seat.

I’m lucky enough to adapt quickly to things, it’s a blessing and a curse but this time was lucky. Driving around Jabbekke did not seem too challenging so I found myself on the motorway headed to Brugges, before long we were actually there and I was driving around the city centre. Parking was my downfall and it wasn’t my car so we pulled up and swapped before exploring.

WhatsApp Image 2020-02-11 at 13.25.32 (2)Walking around Bruges central square was beautiful! Immediately I knew I wanted to climb the Belfry tower to see it from above, but it was quite cloudy and due to clear up soon so we headed to a 10am brewery tour – because why not!

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The Half-Moon Brewery

The half-moon brewery is Bruges longest standing family run brewery with a lot of history. It is famed in Bruges for having built a pipeline underneath the city when they opened their bottling factory outside the centre in 2016. Locals joked about tapping into the pipe for unlimited beer as well as them uncovering lots of historical artifacts when the project was going on.

WhatsApp Image 2020-02-11 at 13.25.32 (6)I’ve never been on a brewery tour before, the best fact I heard was one of their beers is brewed in different recycled kegs each year. These kegs have imprints of their past alcohol which transfers to the beer for a unique taste. It’s certainly one way to keep punters returning. Previous years have played host to spirits such as port and cognac.

WhatsApp Image 2020-02-11 at 13.24.21 (13)The views from the chimney were beautiful.

WhatsApp Image 2020-02-11 at 13.24.21 (4)Trialling unfiltered Zut Blond topped the tour off.

The Belfry Tower

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Next on the adventure was climbing 366 steps of the belfry tower. 366 does not seem like a lot at all but it must have been the way it was laid out that made it challenging. Nonetheless worth it to see the stunning views from the top.

A repeat watch of In Bruges is needed after this trip.

 

 

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We felt like we had seen the highlights of Bruges, 230 miles from London, we may as well make the most of it – so next headed to Gent.

 

 

 

Gent.

Gent isn’t one of the tourist hotspots of Belgium but definitely has some unique places to see. After a little bit of shopping (I couldn’t resist when I saw one of my favourite shops that does not retail in the UK) we headed to the Castle – Gravensteen.

Next was time for some famed Belgium waffles, weirdly we didn’t opt for this in Bruges but it was just too early there. I had a light waffle – there are two types, with nutella and banana. The highlight was a Gent specialty that came complimentary with my coffee – Cuberdons. It is a sugary triangle of violet and berries.

Finally we headed to Graffiti street for some incredibly vain but much needed photographs.

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Gent had a lot of hidden gems, it seemed like an eclectic blend of art deco in the off-track square, traditional architecture and modern shopping buzz.

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I need to return to visit the Shoe bar (a bar with over 500 beers and they serve them in glasses shaped of shoes that are so big they take a shoe as a deposit so you don’t steal it, they put it in a basket and raise it to the roof!) and see more of the sights that are less tourist driven.

Driving back we arrived in plenty of time to visit cite-europe, a shopping centre next to the eurotunnel. We took a detour into the largest beer and wine shop that I have ever see and realised it was very much a place wives leave their husbands when they want to go shopping as there was a bar inside. It offered tasters of beer but these patrons were certainly doing more than tasting. I had a unique fruity beer – not a favourite but I wanted something light for the journey.

There’s not much to say about the return journey, the crossing was bumpy and there was at least 6 diversions on the way home but climbing into bed for as much sleep as I could get before a day of work topped off a fantastic day trip to Bruges and another thing to tick off my list!

Gone in 50 seconds – 101 in 1001 [3]

My day off this week was jam-packed with great food, great activities, great company and one massive hangover!

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I spent 8 months of this year sober. It wasn’t massively intentional, I just didn’t feel like drinking, and I’ve spent the latter half of this year using intuition as my best friend. Since I’ve been going out and doing a lot more recently though I have replaced a few of my essential smoothies for more beers in hand instead.

 

For someone whose alcohol tolerance has plummeted and only ate a punnet of blueberries all day though, maybe 8 pints was a bad idea. I mean, it was an eventful night, but the next day….

I woke up pretty early and realised I’d lost my glasses and didn’t have contacts. Great start. After solving my blindness I headed to a pretty cute greasy spoon for breakfast and then randomly ended up in Ikea for another slice of their infamous Diam bar cake!

I already knew Go-Karting was on the cards today, so why on earth I felt it was appropriate to drink that much last night is beyond me. But it happened, so I dealt with it.

WhatsApp Image 2019-12-08 at 14.17.40 (4).jpegI think I’m a pretty good driver, but Go-Karting is completely different. They’re electric and the lap was freezing so lots of skidding ensued. I had 3 x 15 minute sessions, the first was abysmal. I came 7th out of 8 and not to add to the stereotype of women drivers but we were the worst two. The second I did a lot better! I shaved my average down from 63 seconds to 52. Pretty impressed with that. The third I’d found my stride, My average was about 51 so not too different from 52 but showed that consistency. I’m pretty excited to go again and see if I can get under 50! I think without the worry of other drivers around I could easily do it.

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The day was a bit intense, lots of outside drama. I’m not sure why 2019 feels the need to barrel non-stop drama at someone who usually hides away anytime voices start to be raised but hey, what you gonna do but face it. I had an amazing time regardless and it just shows that I need to focus on switching off.

To finish the day we just needed to decide what to eat. We couldn’t. Shockingly there’s an answer for that though! Cosmo’s in Reading is a massive buffet of every type of cuisine around the world, I’d been to similar buffets before – Red Hot in Leeds and Taybarns in Sunderland & Sheffield, but neither compared to Cosmos! The food was so fresh and delicious. My favourite food is Mexican or Asian and these did not dissappoint, the pizza was also so good!

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Their dessert bar was pretty intense! I was so disappointed they were out of Churros but I honestly don’t know if I could have had anymore.

 

This post was originally written beginning of December 2019, awful lot of catching up to do so i’m throwing it out a month late and probably unfinished. Big things are planned for 2020 and I can’t keep working tirelessly on trying for perfection.

Good people make bad decisions.

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball, and you have no way of getting past it without hurting someone along the way.

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When you are in a relationship you naturally come to take on different personality traits to compensate, you may skip a night out because your partner has had a long day at work, you may choose to watch a drama even though you want to watch a comedy. Even the littlest things take away from who you are as a person and sometimes that’s OK. But sometimes it’s not.

This year shone a light on the fact my life isn’t anywhere where I want it to be, I don’t have anyone to blame for that, but it is me, and only me, that will be able to change it.

Turns out I went on a few dates with 2 people that happen to be friends, and that sucks. I was pretty blunt about the fact I didn’t want to rush into anything and was very non-committal. It’s not that I was just dating anyone who asked, it just happened to be a very awkward situation that I never expected myself to be in. I feel like things were pretty casual but somehow we were all rushed into making a decision on how we move forward, and for people who have only been on 2 or 3 dates it really isn’t enough to be making any kind of decision for someone who spends 10 minutes looking at a menu deciding if they want fajitas or a salad.

The problem is i’m not necessarily in any kind of position to be making ‘demands’ or saying I want to continue with both to see where it goes because I would feel the exact same if someone was dating one of my friends too, and honestly a part of me was ready to just walk away from this so there was no bad blood between them, but I also don’t think I intentionally did anything wrong. Good people make bad decisions.

I made a decision, and that’s that. Life sucks sometimes, but also there’s so many good people in the world and as cliché as it sounds everyone in this situation deserves to be happy. I’ll be disappointed if I loose a friend here, but I also understand if I do, and that’s just something I’ll have to deal with.

I Pho-King Escaped – Escape room -101 in 1001 [2]

Garfield hates Mondays, but really, the worst day of the week is Sunday! Everything closes early, anything that is open is busy, and it’s not like I can enjoy it anyway as I work. But when I finish at 5 I don’t want to go home. I want to escape. So that’s why this week I booked an Escape room to keep me occupied!

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Let’s start at the beginning shall we….

 

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I’ve always referred to Reading as a shithole…..I may have been wrong. The Christmas market is out and the choice of restaurants and bars along the canal are amazing. There’s so much going on here and it’s not far from where I live at all.

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They had this cute Jager bar that is a beach bar in summer and aprés themed bar in winter. There’s even little pods you can sit in. I didn’t have time to visit today but I’ll be heading back soon. Seeing all of the Christmas lights and preparation really got me into the festive spirit. Something I am usually dead against in November. As I have mentioned multiple times I HATE the cold! But getting cosy in wooden cabins next to a log fire is definitely something I can get behind.

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My plan for the night was lunch and the escape room, so I headed through The Oracle to the main set of bars and restaurants.

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I saw the restaurant Pho in Brighton and really wanted to try it so when I saw one in Reading I knew it would be the choice for the evening! I’d not eaten Vietnamese food before in particular but I know I love Eastern dishes and flavours.

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I opted for the spicy tofu dish. I’d been warned their spice is very spicy but it really wasnt. Still delicious! The plate to the left allows you to customise the dish how you want, so you can add as much crunch (beansprouts) spice (chilli) and a variety of herbs as you like to your flavour palette. I thought it was really interesting to eat this way and the food was delicious and you could tell it was authentically cooked and fresh. I wish there was more vegetables and tofu over the noodles as they were very prominent, but it was so tasty.

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I mean I haven’t been to Vietnam but it seemed really authentic both in decor, food and the general customs.

 

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For dessert I had fried bananas and mango sorbet. I love bananas but wasn’t sure i’d like them fried. I think they were a bit too doughy for me but the sorbet was delicious.

 

 

It was then time to escape…

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For obvious reasons they don’t allow you to take photo’s inside the game however I have to say I absolutely smashed it! When I was driving there I really thought I was going to be awful and started to get a bit anxious. The game master was great, he talked us through what was going to happen and most importantly got into character to set the scene.

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Like I said there was a variety of games to choose from and I chose The Last Vikings (it was a toss-up between that and Alice in Wonderland which I’d love to do next!) I won’t spoil it for you but the premise is that you are vikings trapped in a village about to be ransacked by ice giants and you have to prove your worth to the Norse Gods in time for them to grant you help.

 

We managed to escape in 57 minutes but (and I promise I’m not just saying this to make myself feel better) we solved a puzzle and then was stuck for a long time and tried different options. At the end a new game master came to get us and I’m pretty confident that the employees changed over at that time we solved it, so even though we might not have placed on the leaderboard we still escaped and definitely did it faster!

After escaping we headed to Brewdog for a catch-up. I’ve not been to Brewdog before and the board of drinks was pretty intimidating when I usually just order whatever larger is going but was recommended the Lost Larger, and next time I’m going to brave the molotov cocktail.

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That pretty much wrapped a Sunday night up perfectly. I loved doing the escape room and will definitely be going back, and I went past so many other places in Reading that I wouldn’t have ever known about if I kept saying to myself that Reading was awful from one impression a few years ago.

Have you ever done an Escape room?

Do you think you’d be able to escape?

Let me know in the comments below!

Bored Games? Never! 101 in 1001 [1]

My 101 in 1001 list has been out for 2 months. I think it’s about time we really get tucked into it, don’t you think?

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**Quick Disclaimer** Please ignore certain blurry photos from my previous two posts. It took me a while to get to grips with the stabilisation on my phone and they looked clear on my phone but not on pc.

I’m a massive gamer, as evidenced by the fact I work in a gaming arena, but there’s something different about immersing yourself in the physical rather than sitting in front of a screen for hours. So Sunday after work I drove to Guildford for a relaxed evening at Unplug & Play.

 

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The choices for the evening.

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We settled in with a cup of Chai and started out with Love Letter, a simple but fun game where you have to win the princess’ affection with a series of tactical moves to outwit your opponent into having a higher card than them. It was a lot of fun!

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It was neck and neck until the final round where I managed to win so 1-0 to me and onto the next game!

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It was my turn to choose next and my choice was inspired by my curiosity for Norse Mythology – Odins Revenge.

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This one was a lot of fun and probably my favourite of the evening where you have to fly around the world with your ravens by playing either land cards to move forward or Loki’s trickster cards to alter the flight path in some way.

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We kept outwitting each other and it was a lot of fun playing mind tricks. It came down to the final move where I was sure i’d made enough chains to win but last minute my opponent noticed a card he had and stole the victory last minute! That took us to 1-1 for the evening and onto the final game!

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To wrap up the evening we finished with The Fox in the Forest. A couple at the next table asked to borrow it whilst we played our first game so I was intrigued and took it as an unintentional recommendation.

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I have to say I was so thankful for the owner for running us through the games when he bought our drinks over as it was pretty confusing at first but a fun little game when you get to grips with it. It’s definitely not a short game though as you play tactically to either accrue a nice amount of points for yourself or choose to play tactically and throw every point to your opponent so they land in the ‘greedy’ territory and end the round with 0 points, something I tried for one round and managed to gain an unbeatable lead! 26 to 11 if I recall.

That wrapped up our evening and it was a lot of fun with great company! I’d definitely go back and have to say the owners passion for games really shone through and even though I would visit a board game café again I’ll definitely be making a return visit to this one in particular because of that.

It was great to finally tick off something from my list as i’m working on some but they are not a one and done activity so it feels like i’ve actually made my first real step!

I’m ready for November to check off a lot more activities so here’s to the true start of this series.

Have you ever been to a board game cafe? 

Comment below to let me know if it’s something you’d try out and if it is what game would you pick?