Friday, 7 December 2018

Lifestyle // M&S Opticians - A Spectacular Review

I used to be a contacts only kinda gal.

Then this last year I’ve struggled horribly with mystery allergies, including sore itchy eyes, and now I wear my glasses about 90% of the time. It’s got to the stage where I think I look a bit weird if I do wear my contacts! 

Glasses are so important, as not only do they allow you the gift of sight - obvs - but they can also totally transform your face and contribute to your whole look. The ultimate practical accessory. 


So when Marks and Spencer’s got in touch to ask if I wanted to try out their new Opticians service I jumped at the chance.

Synonymous with quality British fashion, you can always rely on M&S to be stylish yet affordable and I couldn’t wait to see how this translated into their new eye wear collection.

I toddled over to Westfield White City and into the huge Ma&S department store, where their Opticians service occupies part of the ground floor. It’s a gorgeous space - bright and white with rows of uber stylish frames.


The staff were all super friendly and I was taken into the first testing room to have x-rays of my eyes to check their shape and health, and also the dreaded puff of air to the eyeball (which I’m not actually sure what it does other than make me think of Rachel from FRIENDS and snort with laughter). 


The Ophthalmologist did send me back to retake my x-rays though as she was concerned by a black spot showing on my left eye and wanted to check it wasn’t just a misreading. This was shaping up to be a very thorough eye examination! 


After reassessing the new images, she explained that it was present on the new scans, and while it could just be a freckle on my eyeball (who knew that was a thing?!) it should be checked out by a specialist, so she’d be writing to my GP for a referral. Fingers crossed kids! 


It was then time for the main sight test - which I absolutely smashed. Though my right eye sight has dwindled further - yay old age - and my prescription has changed slightly. Every cloud though - new prescription means NEW FRAMES! 


As you’d expect from M&S they had some absolutely beautiful options to choose from, and just like their clothing range they’re all high fashion and low cost, with frames starting at just £40 per pair


As well as their own frames, M&S Opticians also stock designers like Michael Kors, Vera Wang and Marc Jacobs. I had a lot of fun picking out the frames that I wanted, with a bit of help from their shop assistant and decided on these ABSOLUTE BEAUTS


They’re basically my dream frames - tortoise shell which compliments my colouring, nice and light so they feel weightless on my face and thin arms so I can see easily out my peripheral vision when driving. YAS M&S!


I was so impressed with the service at M&S Opticians and will definitely be using this as my go-to Opticians going forward. The staff were friendly and professional, I’ve never had such a thorough eye examination and the frames are all absolutely stunning. SPECtacular! Sorry!

How often do you wear glasses? Or do you stick to lenses?

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*Thanks so much to M&S Opticians for inviting me to try out their new services  and frames. All thoughts - and dodgy poses - are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Lifestyle // Fortnightly Round Up #6

The last two weeks have literally whizzed by so quickly it’s actually a little bit crazy! 

Work has been pretty intense still and it feels like I’ve done little outside of the office, but that’s why I like these posts as they let me focus on the fun stuff I’ve been up to! 

There’s been wizarding fun, catch ups with friends, Christmas festivities, a holiday in Budapest and a LOT of Black Friday shopping. Let’s go...


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

When the first Fantastic Beasts movie came out, I was not a fan. I know. I’m ashamed of me too. It was just so different to the Harry Potter movies and I just wasn’t ready for it. 

Plus I was absolutely steaming drunk and pretty much fell asleep as soon as the lights dimmed in the cinema. Lesson learnt - bottomless brunch and cinema dates do not mix.

However, I’ve since become a HUGE fan of the franchise, and couldn’t wait to see the second instalment, The Crimes of Grindelwald. 

It was amazing and I am not quite sure how I’ll be able to wait for the next film - I need answers dammit! 

I’m also now desperate to visit Paris, where it’s largely set. Time to make 2019 travel plans!


Black Friday Shopping 

I hadn’t planned on buying much in the Black Friday sales, but ended up doing a fair bit of damage! 

I picked up a my favourite zodiac necklace from Bohomoon in silver and a new initial pendant in gold, stocked up on Green People skincare and HD Brows Eyebrow palettes, nabbed a gorgeous pale pink faux fur coat from New Look and a mega bargainous slow cooker from Robert Dyas

My Michael Kors bag also broke while I was in India so I replaced it with the classically stylish Ginny Crossbody at 20% off. No more shopping for me for a while!

Most excitingly of all, I also - FINALLY - purchased a blogger to Wordpress migration and design package from Pipdig. I’m so excited to take my blog up a notch for 2019!


47West Initial Morse Code Necklace 

As well as some purchased treats I also got lucky this fortnight and won this gorgeous gold morse code initial necklace from 47West. How cute is it please?!

Sam who runs 47West is an absolute babe and explained that E in Morse code is a single dot and I love it! 

I adore anything initialed and I love how unique the necklace is. The little gold disc is really delicate and its perfect for layering with other pieces.

Sam has some other really beautiful pieces on her site so go check out the range if you’re interested in some pretty, affordable and personalised gifts this Christmas.


Seeing Sofie

I met Sofie when volunteering in Africa last year and we bonded instantly over our shared love of Harry Potter and rather excellent swear words. 

She came to visit London last weekend and we had a lovely time catching up and exploring the city. I took her and her friend Maria on my tired and tested walking route of the Southbank and surrounding areas, with a few extra Harry Potter stops along the way.

This included the new Harry Potter department in Hamleys which was quite frankly hell on earth and no amount of money would make me go back haha! This is probably tied to the fact that no amount of money would let me afford anything there - it’s SO expensive - more so than even the Studio Tour! 

My advice is head up the road to Primark for some of the exact same stuff at literally a quarter of the price!


Getting My Nails Done

Nail salon time again! This time I went for a bright white which I BLOODY LOVE!

I know white nails are a bit marmite but I think they’re the best thing since covering your hands in tippex at school, and are my go-to at this time of year. 


Dinner with Sue (and a theatre disaster!)

I met my mum for dinner on Tuesday, before heading to see Kinky Boots at the theatre

We had a nice catch up and pizza at Prezzo before heading to the theatre, where sadly it all went a bit Pete Tong and we didn’t actually end up seeing the show at all. 

It was a real shame as we’d bought tickets months ago and had been really looking forward to seeing the hit show before it’s run ends in a few weeks. However when we were shown to our seats we found that mine had been removed to make way for filming equipment. It was all a bit of a shambles and we sadly had some really poor customer service from staff, but my mum did get a refund thankfully. 

Despite the drama, it was nice to go out with my mum just the two of us, and something I hope we’ll do a lot more of in 2019.


Work Christmas / Thanksgiving Party 

We had our work Christmas meal on Friday night, heading to Dirty Bones in High Street Kensington for a three course American feast. 

It wasn’t the best food but I did have a great time celebrating and hanging out with the team. I’m really lucky to work with an amazing bunch of people and it was really nice to chill out, have some drinks and hang out outside of the office.


Work Secret Santa

We also swapped our work Secret Santa presents last week.

I had my work wife Kate for the second year in a row and got her some cute Slytherin socks, a HP mug and a little candle, all from Primark. Love buying for a fellow Potterhead! 

My friend Niamh got me and the mega babe got me this incredible Harry Potter wooden desk tidy! I’m known for having a pretty chaotic desk at work and obviously for my love of Harry Potter, so it really was the perfect pressie!

This gorgeous little stand has space for pens - yes that is a wand pen - and even for my phone to sit, complete with a hole in the bottom for my charging cable to go though. Genius! It’s also personalised with my initials on the back!

Such a beautiful gift, thank you Secret Santa! 


Christmas City Break in Budapest

We spent the last four days having a lovely little festive city break in Budapest.

I’m going to do a full post about our trip but we had a really lovely time exploring, checking out the Christmas markets and I even met Father Christmas himself. Sheer delight!


I’m still not feeling totally festive, but with just a few more weeks to go until the Big Day, my big work Christmas party and plans to catch up with lots of friends and family over the next couple weeks I’m hoping I will soon! 

What did you buy in the Black Friday sales?

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Friday, 30 November 2018

Travel // Top 10 Things To Do in Soho

I love London.

There’s always something to see and do, no matter how many times you visit an area you’re bound to find something new.

One area that is constantly evolving and full of excitement and hidden gems is Soho. The bustling area has a rich history, links with the music, films and photography industries, and is a hub for restaurant, shops, hotels and street art. It is also home to some of the best Christmas lights in London!


Here are my Top 10 Things To Do In Soho 

1) Head for Coffee at Bar Italia

22 Frith Street 

London’s oldest Italian coffee bar, entering Bar Italia is like stepping back in time to old school Rome. It’s busy, it’s loud, and it smells INCREDIBLE! 

Nabbing a seat at the counter we were quickly bought over two deliciously strong cappuccinos as we goggled at the cannoli, tiramisu and various pastries and panini on sale.

Italian flags and artefacts line the walls and hang from the ceiling and the effect is authentic not tacky, added to by the loud chatter of the staff in Italian, and the Italian news playing on the tv at the back.

Check out the incredible old fashioned till which is still in working order too.  


2) Sweet Treats at Crosstown Doughnuts

4 Broadwick Street  

You can never go wrong with a good doughnut can you? Crosstown are renown for creating delicious hand made delights all marked with their signature cross, and I couldn’t resist FINALLY trying them. 

As we were eating with friends later that day, we just wanted a little treat, and our simple glazed ring and cinnamon swirl doughnuts hit the spot nicely. 

A great snack for grabbing on the go as you explore.


3) Get Magical at the House of Mina Lima

26 Greek Street

We all know I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan and I love seeing how the wizarding world is bought to life in the films. Did you know there’s a magical exhibition in the centre of London which houses 3 floors of HP artwork and graphic designs from the movies by Mina Lima? And it’s completely FREE?!

It’s an amazing find and a Must Do for any aspiring witch or wizard. Housed in a rickety old building, each floor holds different displays and there’s even a (not too expensive) gift shop too. It’s also totally #InstaGoals.

The graphic art department is my favourite section of the Warner Bros Studio Tour and the display is much wider at Mina Lima. You also get to get up close and personal to it all in a much quieter setting.

There’s also amazingly friendly staff who really know their stuff and are happy to chat and impart their wizarding knowledge on you. For example they have the original Marauders Map on display, which couldn’t be used in the films as there was an H missing in Whomping Willow, so they had to start the whole HAND DRAWING again! Merlin’s beard. 


4) Get quirky down Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street 

Carnaby Street is one of the most famous shopping streets in London. It’s also one of the most wonderfully quirky and fun. Home to some big beauty brands including Too Faced, Spectrum and Benefit, all of whom have over the top decoration. 

It’s a great place to while away an afternoon, and the shop fronts and buildings are just as fun to look at as the products themselves. You’re also just a few steps away from Regent Street and Oxford Street where you’ll find all your major retailers. 


5) Check out the Bright Lights

Carnaby Street 

Talking of Carnaby Street, it’s also home to some of the most fabulous Christmas lights and decorations each year. It’s definitely worth a special trip to Soho just to see these.

This year it’s paying homage to the new Bohemian Rhapsody film with the lyrics of Queen lit up above the street - Mamma oohhhhhhh - it looks EPIC (sorry, couldn’t help myself!)

Soho is famous for its bright neon signs, and there are all sorts of light installations up, both for Christmas and otherwise. Check out the bulb lights which hang over Ganton Street all year round, and the Giant Plug on the other side of Ganton Street which was first installed in 2005. Both of these change colours constantly and are pretty mesmorising to watch.


6) Find Focus in The Photographer’s Gallery

16-18 Ramillies Street 

What a find this was! Tucked away in a back street off of Great Marlborough Street, The Photographer’s Gallery is free to enter and has a selection of different exhibitions going on. 

There was an incredible exhibit of photos of India (Vasantha Yogananthan: A Myth of Two Souls) which was great for us having just come back and longing to go and discover more. There’s also a cosy little cafe and a wonderful gift shop selling all sorts of prints, films, cameras and lenses. I was in heaven! 

Soho is famous for its links with the film and photography industries and there are plenty of camera shops around the area too.


7) Go on a Street Art Hunt


Like it’s abundance of bright lights, Soho is also known for its cool street art. We stumbled across this awesome John Lennon and Paul McCartney piece (sadly ruined by Ben and Rachael) in D’Arblay Street. There’s also a huge painted wall mural on Little Marlborough Street which is fab for taking Instagram pics by. 

There’s also the famous Spirit of Soho Mural which pays homage to the area and its many streets, landmarks and associated famous figures. 

The buildings themselves are often works of art, with decorative signs, multicoloured walls and doors. As always with London - remember to look up! 


8) Food Glorious Food

Kingly Court, Kingly Street 

If you’re after some more substantial food than delicious doughnut snacks, there are lots of places to check out in Soho. A mix of well known chains and quirky independent restaurants, there’s something for everyone.

Check out Kingly Court (just off Kingly Street) for a concentrated area of feasting places with everything from Caribbean to Greek food on offer, all set in an adorable little courtyard which is always prettily decorated. There’s even an underground 1940s cocktail bar, Cahoots.

One of my favourite restaurants in London (which I’ve mentioned several times) is Aqua Kyoto - a high end Japanese restaurant with a sister Spanish restaurant and amazing roof terrace bar on the same site. 


9) Go Vintage Shopping at Beyond Retro

58-59 Great Marlborough Street 

If vintage clothing is more your thing, trendy Soho has several boutiques to check out. 

The biggest of them all is Beyond Retro which has a huge range of menswear, women’s wear and accessories. They’ve got an awesome selection of natty Christmas jumpers at the moment and we also loved this David Attenborough t-shirt!


10) Get Lost in Liberty London 

Regent Street

Opened in 1875, Liberty London is just as beautiful inside as it is outside. Famously posted on Instagram grids around the world due to its iconic Tudor revival exterior, wonderful window displays and floral displays, head inside for a uniquely ornate store.

With wooden staircases and balconies it feels cosy and friendly, despite selling some rather high end products. The beauty hall and food hall are my favourites and everything is always displayed beautifully.  


So there you go - my top tips for exploring Soho! I'd love to know your favourite places to go to in this neighbourhood - I really love using my weekends to explore the city more and find new hidden gems.

Let me know if you'd like me to spotlight more of London's neighbourhoods too!

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*This post was in collaboration with The spending money was gifted by, but all views - and doughnut eating enthusiasm - are my own. 

Monday, 26 November 2018

Lifestyle // My Top Tips for Recharging Your Batteries [Ad]

I’ve been making a conscious effort this November to make sure I make time for me. I've been ensuring I properly rest and recharge, particularly as we come into winter when short days and rubbish weather mean it’s easy to become sluggish and run down. 


In fact, new research by E.ON* has revealed that 42% of Brits admit to having lower energy levels at this time of year and needing a recharge, and around half (44%) of us are feeling more drained this year compared to last. Cheery eh!

With just 35 days left of the year I’m trying to get in good habits this side of Christmas so that come New Year I’m already on my way to bucking the trends and having a positive, productive and fully charged 2019.

Here are my top tips for unwinding and recharging -

1) Keep Busy...Doing Nothing

Nearly a quarter (23%) of us say we feel more drained because we’ve not had time to recharge our mind, body or soul.

I'm notoriously terrible for taking downtime - mostly because I feel guilty for doing so! There's always something I *should* be doing, rather than sitting back and relaxing.

I find reading so good for my soul. Audio books are amazing as you can get absorbed in a story, and still get things done.

I like to listen to one while cleaning and doing chores, so I don't feel guilty, or get stressed that there's lots of other things I "should" be doing. Plus it makes cleaning the bathroom go super quick! 

Colouring books can also be a great way for people who struggle to relax sit down and take some down time as you’re still doing *something*.


2) Exercise - No Matter How Tired You Feel 

16% of people say that not exercising makes them feel drained. As I said in my last Fortnightly Round Up post I’ve been making an effort to go for a good walk at the weekends to get some fresh air and light exercise, even if I’m not feeling like it at the time.

I always feel so much better after exercising
- even if it is just for half an hour or so. 

I feel less sluggish, my mind is always clearer, and it's great for mindfulness to focus on the surroundings of where you are. (Plus combining it with a coffee is a nice treat!) 


3) Banish the Sunday Blues with Bath Time 

You literally cannot beat a good hot bath to unwind. Throw in your favourite bath bomb, bath salts or bubble bath, turn on your favourite film or grab a book, light a candle and relax.

I’ve started to build bath time into my Sunday night routine - it’s a great way to keep those back to work blues at bay. It also gets me nice and relaxed ready for bed time so I start my working week nice and refreshed and recharged. A good nights’ sleep is invaluable!


4) Indulge your Passions

Yes my love for Harry Potter is borderline obsessive, but who cares?! Surrounding yourself with the people and things you love most can only do good things for your mind, body and soul.

To me HP is comforting and familiar - I grew up with Harry, nothing soothes me more than Stephen Fry’s voice reading JK’s genius words and I find it both relaxing and invigorating to see how the magical world has come to life.

I LOVE getting up early and going to check out the Primark Harry Potter range, adore visiting the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studios and always have the audio books with me, wherever I go.

If it makes you happy, then why not!


You can find more top tips from health and well being experts at at - including mega babe Melanie Sykes. 

She always looks fully charged so I’m definitely taking her tips on board for 2019!

What are your favourite ways to recharge your batteries? 

*This post was sponsored by E.ON, to help advertise their wide range of products and services. Although I was paid for this advertisement, all views - and Harry Potter excitement - are my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.
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