HayFever Tips and Tricks: Treating HeyFever Naturally with HayMax

I’ve mentioned previously that I suffer tremendously with HayFever. My season is typically mid March to end of September, meaning I’m probably allergic to all the different pollen and spore types that are flung into the air during these periods.

You can download various apps to track your symptoms, which also tell you what kind of pollen is about at that time, and as a result can give you more of an insight into which allergens you’re sensitive to.

There are loads of things you can do to help reduce your HayFever symptoms

  • Wash your bedding frequently, especially if your windows are open during high pollen periods.
  • Avoid exposure during peak pollen times of the day
  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses
  • Cover bedding and furniture during the day
  • Wash your face, hair and hands after being outside

Over the years I’ve been through all the different medications for HayFever. I’ve tried all the antihistamines to the point where there’s now only one that continues to work for me without side effects. What I’ve found works for me currently is an antihistamine each day, supplemented with nose spray and eye drops throughout the day. But still, I find once I’m up to my maximum dosage, I’m still suffering.

I also find I’m stuffy when I wake in the morning and if I’m honest I feel like I suffer from allergies throughout the winter too. But who wants to be dosed up all year around?

Enter HayMax. I was asked whether I wanted to try a few of HayMax’s allergy barrier balms. I’d seen them around but never tried them, so I said yes!

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They sent me a whole range of their products. Their award-winning balms are organic, drug free and depending on which one you pick up, contain natural oils.

Since they’re drug-free they can be used instead of or to supplement any other allergy meds you’re taking. Perfect for me when I’m up to dosage. It also means they’re suitable for kids and pregnant or breast-feeding women. You also get no side effects from the balms, so you don’t have to worry about getting drowsy – ideal when you’re driving or taking exams.

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To use HayMax you apply a little of the product around your nostrils and/or your orbital bones first thing in the morning, or whenever you need it, and can re-apply throughout the day. The balm traps allergens before they get into your body so you don’t get itchy or sneezy. Perfect!

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Let’s look at the range.

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Their Pure balm contains organic sunflower oil and beeswax. With no added fragrance or essential oils, this one is perfect for people who are sensitive to smells or have sensitive skin.

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HayMax Kids, which is new to the range, is suitable for children from birth, and is basically the same as the Pure product but the packaging is a little more kid friendly – so your child is more likely to entertain you applying it to their face! Every little helps!

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HayMax Lavender contains organic lavender essential oil. It’s calming properties make it fab for applying just before bedtime (I’ll come back to this in a moment) but it also claims to be helpful for people who snore and acts as an insect repellent.

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HayMax Frankincense contains organic frankincense essential oil, and is helpful for anxiety, coughing and asthma, which means it’s great for those whose asthma peaks at high pollen times.

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HayMax Aloe Vera contains organic aloe vera leaf juice powder and is soothing to the skin – so if you’ve been rubbing and blowing your nose a lot this could be your saviour!

Each of the pots contains 5ml of product and a little goes a LONG way. The pots are plastic and light meaning they’re easy to pop into your bag and use when needed.

I mentioned the lavender balm was great before bed. I’ve found when I apply it this way, I wake up less stuffy in the morning. In the warmer months I sleep with my windows open, and even though I change my sheets regularly, the mix of pollen and dust mites (urgh) which no doubt lurk on my bed sheets can do nothing but add to my congestion. The calming lavender scent and soothing balm is lovely to apply and I do feel like it’s making a difference.

I’ve been using the Pure balm on a daily basis when my HayFever is really bad and my medication isn’t cutting it. I apply it to the outside of my nostrils and also applied it before doing essential work in the garden and it helped reduce the after effects I always experience.

I’m pleased to have these little balms in my tool kit – they’re a saviour when I’m at my maximum dosage and really add a little bit of comfort depending on the scent I pick on that day.

If you’re suffering from HayFever and want to go down the natural route, or you’re needing something to supplement your current HayFever tool kit, look no further.

You can pick up HayMax at pharmacies such as Boots and health stores like Holland and Barrett for around £7 per balm.

HayMax sent me these samples for review, free of charge, in return for an honest review which I have provided. 

A Romantic Getaway to Chicheley Hall

I love my new home. Having been in it less than a year, there’s nothing I like more than to soak in the air and atmosphere I’ve created. But from time to time, I feel it’s important to get away, even if it’s to somewhere pretty close to home, so you can relax and enjoy a slower pace.

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Enter Chicheley Hall. When I was asked whether I’d like to spend a night away at Chichely Hall, I’ll be honest, I’d no idea where it was. It’s actually incredibly close to the office I work in, and located in 80 acres of stunning Buckinghamshire countryside close to Milton Keynes and the M1.

Offering 48 individually furnished bedrooms, this Grade I listed Georgian mansion oozes British history, but also offers comfort and beauty.

We arrived just after 3pm, eager to start our relaxing, romantic night away. Having watched the Royal Wedding only hours before, we were reminiscing about our own wedding almost twelve years prior, at a manor house in Hatfield (which sadly no longer hosts weddings). The feel of Chicheley Hall only helped to bring these memories back. As an amazing wedding location, Chicheley Hall would have definitely been on the wishlist of locations, had I been planning a wedding now.

Nevertheless, we felt incredibly lucky to be told we would be staying in the Bridal Suite during our stay.

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The Blackett room, named after Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett who won the Nobel prize for physics in 1948 (all of the rooms are named after notable scientists) was found on the top floor, down a corridor, through another private door and across from its own spiral staircase.

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A huge super-king bed, comfy chairs and beautiful windows welcomed us. The views from this corner room of the Hall grounds were breathtaking.

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There were so many touches in this room, which screamed history; the wardrobe door:

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Inside there was a tea-making tray, teas, coffees, biscuits, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, safe, bathroom and slippers (everything you need)

The carvings above the bed:

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and other touches like stunning mirrors and a huge fireplace.

The bathroom was in keeping with the room but lovely and modern

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And offered another lovely view

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Once we’d unpacked, we were eager to get outside, enjoy the weather and have a look over the grounds.

Chicheley Hall is steeped in history. Built between 1720 and 1724 for Sir John Chester, it is regarded as one of the finest examples of early 18th Century architecture in the country. It’s now home to the Royal Society, which has been at the heart of scientific discovery for over 300 years, and whose fellows include Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking. During World War II the house was requisitioned and used by the Special Operations Executive. A small-scale version of the bouncing Bomb was tested on the lake. With this much history coming from one small space, we wanted to soak it all in!

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On the first floor, after descending our spiral staircase, we saw a tea and coffee bench, where I assume you can help yourself to refreshments as you enjoy the Hall and grounds. The large staircase to the ground floor screams out for a bride and a long train to swish all the way down. A stunning tear-drop chandelier hung from ceiling to floor and pillar candles lined the stairs.

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Out the backdoor and we were greeted by a stunning path and topiaries, with a lovely sundial at the end.

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Lakes, complete with swan and geese, a couple of amazing old trees, so tall and old no photo could do them justice and some amazing colours from the various flowering plants – put together with the stunning weather – we were in our element.

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The grounds were kept immaculately. Guests were having afternoon tea on the lawn, and we occasionally heard the cry of George the resident peacock, though I didn’t get a glimpse of him during our visit.

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We worked out our room was the four corner windows on the top floor.

And then it was time for dinner.

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The small, and wonderfully furnished dining room was light and airy. A lovely and traditionally British menu was offered.

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I started with a warm Mediterranean vegetable and feta tart, served with a basil vinaigrette and rocket salad. This was lovely, and the flavours complemented each other perfectly. It was also just the right size.

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Next I had beer-battered haddock, with chips and mushy peas. The fish was lovely and the batter light, but the star of the dish was the chips. They were epic, cooked wonderfully and seasoned just right. I could have eaten another plate of them!

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For dessert I chose the tarte au citron, which was lovely, but very rich so I couldn’t eat the whole thing! I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I’m glad I gave this a try.

The dinner service was excellent, attentive and brisk. Our waitress was really lovely and made sure we had everything we needed.

After dinner we decided to take in more of the room, have a relaxing bath and watch some Netflix on our iPad.

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The next morning we awoke bright and early. That’s the only downside of having a corner room – so much window and so much light as a result. The gardens were stunning in the hazy morning light, promising another beautiful day. And what a way to bring in the morning than seeing those views!

Breakfast was a self-service affair, and I have to say it was one of the most impressive breakfast buffet turn outs I’ve experienced. The cooked breakfast options were great and plentiful. All well-cooked and very delicious. As well as cooked breakfast options were pastries, bread for toast, cereals, cheese and cold meat. Juices were available too, coffee (damn fine) and tea was made to order and brought to your table.

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I’m a full-English kind of girl so I chose my fill from the chafing dishes.

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Before we checked out of our room, we had a little peek into the library, adjacent to the dining room. All the books we spotted on our visit were about science, so if you were that way inclined you could get your brain cells ticking over with a quiet spot of reading in this room. So tranquil!

Our visit to Chicheley Hall was so relaxing. The staff were welcoming and friendly, and every guest we encountered was relaxed, slow-paced, and seemingly enjoying their time away from the hustle and bustle. Being so close to Milton Keynes, this is a perfect location to lay your head if you’re visiting the area for a concert, event, or convention. Its surroundings offer the perfect home away from home, and it reminded me how lucky I am to live in Bucks so close to both urban and rural life.

I can aslo see how it would also make an amazing and welcoming location for your small wedding, whether it be the whole ceremony and reception, or just the reception. The sweeping staircase, decor and grounds would make for stunning photos too! Maybe I’ll think about a vow renewal!

I was honoured to be welcomed to Chicheley Hall to experience such a relaxing and comfortable break away from it all. Both Gary and I felt tremendously refreshed after our night away, and so glad we know this treasure is there!

For more information on Chicheley Hall, its history, accommodation and weddings, visit their website.

Thank you to Chicheley Hall, who invited us to stay with them for a complimentary stay in exchange for an honest review. 

Meeting The Makers – Jewellery Crafting Masterclass with The Goldsmithy

This weekend I did something I never thought I’d have the chance to do. I attended a masterclass in jewellery making with a group of MK Bloggers at The Goldsmithy in Stony Stratford.

I love jewellery and though I don’t always wear a heap of it, I do wear quite a few rings on my fingers every day.  But (shame on me) I’d never really considered how they go from molten metal to something pretty and shiny. Despite a good friend being in this business, I’d never thought long and hard about it and had no idea what all the tools and such on her instagram bench photos meant. But today I was going to find out!

The Chapman family of Stony Stratford really opened my eyes to the art and passion of those doing it right. We arrived at their workshop bright and early, and after being introduced to Paul and Glenn, Paul started telling us about the history of their business.

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Glenn started his training in 1972, with Cartier, and down the line went into business himself, creating intricate bespoke pieces for people – their main focus being to create long-lasting, great quality, unique jewellery that people will want to wear every day. Paul, his son, is 3 years into his 5 year apprenticeship and you can tell he shares the same passion as his Father. You know each piece is a labour of love, just by hearing them talk.

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We started the class with Paul melting some silver down and telling us we’d be creating a ring from this. The raw metal seemed so dull and not like anything you’d want to put on your finger!

Being VERY accident prone, I was intrigued as to how I could possibly have a go at this, but hearing that ‘slow and steady’ is the general rule of thumb set my mind at ease a little!

At each stage, the whole group had a change to give creating this ring a go. From shaping, to filing, smoothing, to polishing.

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After the molten metal was moulded into a stick shape, it was stretched out using this mangle-like contraption. Paul stretched it to the point where it broke, just to show us how NOT to treat metal. These guys really take care, and using science and maths are able to create a piece of jewellery that really lasts – and the only way to do this is by knowing what mistakes can be made and how to avoid them!

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Filing, shaping, smoothing. So many tools, all with a purpose!

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I even had a go myself!

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This is tough work – slow and strong pressure filed down the tiniest amount of metal from this ring. My hand hurt very quickly and I barely scraped the surface!

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Within the space of an hour or so we’d created a rough ring. A little more shaping and filing and it was time to polish.

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And there it was! Nice and shiny! You can see the bottom edge has been left raw, to show the difference between the side we filed and how it started.

The most important thing I took away from this class is the passion Paul and Glenn have for gold smithing. They do this properly. They want you to bring in your heirlooms or your bespoke ideas and together create something unique and sentimental. They’ll work with you to ensure that family piece you keep in the drawer is created into something that still holds a huge place in your heart. And with 60% of their customers having a go at the bench, they’re allowing the wearer to have an amazing bond with the finished article.

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Using their extensive knowledge of gold smithing, they’ve even created a solution for arthritis sufferers, by adapting your ring to have a hidden hinge and clasp so you can pop it on your finger comfortably and securely and avoid any pain you might ordinarily get from putting your ring on or taking it off. Amazing! As well as offering cleaning and polishing services, these guys have such skill, if you have an idea for a piece you want, they’re the guys to go and speak to.

During the class we had the opportunity to sample some brunch foods from the fantastic Cameron’s Kitchen in Stony Stratford.

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We also went away with an amazing goody box with bits and pieces from local companies, including The Goldsmithy, Whitespace Studio, Popaball, Beeswax Wraps, Giraffe, Peel Juice Bar, Hello Stationery, Pasha Turkish Bar & Grill, Beauty Box By Alyson, Revolucion De Cuba, Rocky Road Treats and Maaya!

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It was a truly awesome experience, and meeting Paul and Glenn from The Goldsmithy was such a treat. These guys know their stuff, and instead of picking up something from a chain jewellers that isn’t made as well and could be found on anyone’s finger, why not visit your local gold smiths? They will work with you to create something unique and meaningful – and if you visit The Goldsmithy there’s a good chance they’ll let you have a go at making it yourself!

 

Thanks to The Goldsmithy, MK Bloggers and Brand Mission for this amazing opportunity!

 

Hosting a Share A Meal for World Vision UK

Back in September I shared World Vision UK’s latest campaign, Share A Meal. If you missed that post, head back if you want to read all about it.

This past weekend was my turn to host my Share A Meal meal, and I decided to make it Italian themed! Since my guests were vegetarian and I make a darn good tomato linguine (if I do say so myself!), it made sense to build a menu based on that!

Our new kitchen is a very social space, so I started the cooking once we’d settled in, whacked on a playlist on our Echo and we took the time to catch up whilst I cooked.

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Using my trusty Le Creuset pan (I love that thing!) I was able to make dinner easily, all in one pot which saved on the washing up and meant everything was a lot simpler.

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I chose to serve non alcoholic white wine, since I knew if I started drinking whilst I was cooking, we’d be eating burnt mush by the end!

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Dinner was served (albeit sloppily!) and we all had the opportunity to think about the simplicity of the food we were eating, in the comfort of a cosy house and how by eating this meal and coming together we could be helping people who were less fortunate than us.

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Next course was Sicilian lemon tarts, which I’ll admit were not made by me, but by Mr Iceland…..

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They were rather tasty nevertheless!

We finished the meal off with espresso martinis, though the creation of these was a little eventful when my makeshift cocktail shaker (a cheap Starbucks sippy cup) developed a large crack in the bottom and thus my kitchen sink got a good drink of our martinis….

Alls well that ends well, though, as my Costa sippy cup acted as a back-up and we ended up with some so-so martinis that still tasted good even if they didn’t look exactly how I wanted them (I think I need to invest in an actual cocktail shaker!)

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As the evening wound down, conversation turned to how my guests could use this meal to help World Vision UK. By visiting the Share A Meal site and clicking the Donate Now button, my guests can donate the value of their meal to World Vision UK. These donations will go towards helping vulnerable children in Uganda, who can’t feed themselves. No child should go without food and safety, so this money will help to provide a little more to those who need it.

At this time of year, when people are gathering together and sharing good food, it’s so easy to make your gathering a charitable one. For less than you’d pay for a meal out, by donating the cost of the meal you’ve eaten (or hosted) to World Vision UK, you’ll be making a difference.

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And don’t forget, by hosting, you could end up winning a meal cooked for you by star baker Selasi!

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See the World Vision UK Share A Meal site for more details on how you could win!

If you decide to host a Share A Meal event, I’d love to hear all about it. Please let me know in the comments!

 

EVENT PHOTO PROVIDED BY WORLD VISION UK. ALL OTHER PHOTOS ARE MY OWN.

Creating My Home Cinema aka Making the Most of a Scary Movie!

SPONSORED FEATURE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PANASONIC

If you read my blog regularly you’ll know I’m a massive film buff. You might have seen I’ve already started to share some of my old horror movie posts, ahead of some new ones coming up, all in the name of October and Halloween. So when I was asked if I’d like to talk about the new Panasonic 4k TV range, I of course said yes!

The first TV in my bedroom was about 4 inches square, had an aerial you had to move around. If you watched it at the wrong angle everyone looked like they were in negative. I then upgraded to a little tube tv which also had an aerial so when Channel 5 came in, I had to get up and re-tune it every time I wanted to watch Sunset Beach.

I have a vivid memory of going to a friend’s house to watch a show I’d watched many, many times, and they had a widescreen TV (which we didn’t have in our home), but they’d not tweaked the settings so everything was set to widescreen – even full screen shows – so my favourite characters were stretched and looked so odd. I supposed they’d gotten used to it, but I was baffled by the idea that people would happily watch things in a way that was, let’s face it, just plain wrong!

Times have changed immensely since then. Not only are televisions so much lighter to carry and sleeker in design, but they’re also incredibly intuitive and even customisable. Not to mention with the addition of apps, YouTube has simply become just another TV station to me.

But when it comes to my film viewing experience, I’m a bit of a geek. If I’m going to watch a scary movie, it needs to be perfect – how can you expect to get the required scares if there’s glare on the screen, the sound isn’t perfect or there’s actually ghosting on your ghosts?

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When me and G-Man decided to upgrade our old Panasonic TV from 42″ to 50″ a few years ago, we did our research, and ended up sticking with the same brand. I say we, but to be honest Gary’s such an AV geek that he did most of it, and then said to me “we’re getting this one”. Which I was fine with!

One of the things I love about our TV is that the blacks are REALLY black. Meaning, and especially for horror films, that you’re seeing things as dark as they were intended when they were filmed. So if films like Paranormal Activity are your thing, you’re going to see the dark shapes and changes exactly as you would in the cinema, with no additional shading or shadowing that could possibly spoil your experience.

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Another majorly geeky thing we did with our TV as soon as we got it, was to set up our own personal picture settings profile. There are loads of suggested setting changes on places like AV Forums and YouTube, specific to your make and model of TV. These people have done all the hard work for you, so you can simply make the settings changes to the darkness, red, green and blues etc (and make sure you take off the default IFC setting which alters the frame rate you view things at and smooths the movement) and then apply this custom profile to each HDMI slot you use (so Sky, DVD player, console etc…) I know, after doing this, that I’m watching everything the way it was intended to be watched! It’s so important to me.

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It might seem like a lot of effort (and it is a little effort) but you’ll be so much happier with your viewing experience.  And wow, this is all without even beginning to mention the clarity of a 4k display and how bright and beautiful the colours are. I can’t wait for the new BBC Blue Planet series to begin, because the trailer looked breathtaking on our TV.

When buying a new TV it can be so overwhelming. There are so many brands, all offering special things and so many different prices. But when it’s all said and done, and you’re in your living room it’s just you and the TV – and you want the best viewing experience possible.

We’re made up with our TV and the little cinema we’ve created in our set up. We just need to get around to getting some kind of surround sound system set, and my horror film binge sessions will be that much more enthralling!

DISCLAIMER: Though this post is sponsored by Panasonic, this TV was paid for by me and my opinions and choices are honest and my own.

Share A Meal with World Vision UK

I love food, and I love sharing food. Coming into the Christmas period (let’s face it, it’s really soon) we start to think about family, getting together and sharing food and drinks. But it’s easy to forget those in other countries facing diversity.

To promote awareness, World Vision UK have launched the #shareameal appeal to raise money for the refugee children in Bidi Bidi, Uganda, along with Great British Bake Off’s star baker Selasi.

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Selasi recently visited Uganda to see how we could make a difference.

“It’s heartbreaking to see pain and hunger etched onto the faces of orphaned children and hear their harrowing stories of rape and violence. It is vital that, as a community, we come together to do what we can to help provide these kids with a better future.”

Thousands of children flood into Uganda’s refugee settlements, escaping civil war in South Sudan. Many of these having seen their parents murdered and having to walk for weeks without food or shelter. This is a dangerous and frightening trek, having to hide from fighting to avoid being killed. They are along, traumatised and hungry.

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And this of course is something we just can’t relate to. But we can help, and World Vision UK have come up with a way we can help bring aid to these children, in a way we can relate to.

World Vision UK help feed these children and find them foster families, to give them a new start. However, global funding just isn’t enough and so to raise money, they’d like you to take part in #shareameal.

World Vision UK invite you to be inspired by Selasi and host a dinner party. It can be as small or large as you wish, just as long as you’re sharing a meal. Following the meal, you and your guests donate the value of the meal to World Vision UK and that money goes to the children.

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They’ve even made it really easy for you, but putting together a pack that includes everything you need – invitations, an exclusive recipe from Selasi and thank you cards for your guests too!

Visit http://www.worldvision.org.uk/get-involved/share-meal/ to download your pack!

Now, if this wasn’t fun enough, they’re also giving you the chance to win a meal for two, cooked by Selasi himself! To enter, simply post a picture of your Share A Meal event on Instagram using the hashtag #shareameal and tagging @WorldVisionUK! For more information visit www.worldvision.org.uk/shareameal

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So all that’s left to do is start planning your meal and who you want to invite.

With so many holidays coming up, you could host an American-style Thanksgiving, a Christmas themed meal, something for New Years or simply use some of the fantastic Autumnal ingredients that are starting to appear in supermarkets.

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It’s an excuse to show off your repertoire AND help the refugee Children in Uganda.

I’m already planning mine, so keep an eye out for my post about that in the next couple of months!

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Event photos provided by World Vision UK. All other photos are my own.

Infuse My. Colour Wash – Tried and Tested!

A few weeks ago I was sent a bottle of the new Infuse My. Colour Wash in Copper to try. I’ve been colouring my hair for 18 years now, so I’m always willing to try new products, techniques and anything that will help the condition of my hair and make things easier.

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The Infuse My. Colour Wash colours were created to be 100% vegan, contain no sulphates, parabens or silicone and were designed to boost your hair colour in between colouring.

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Since my hair is red/brown with copper highlights I went with the copper colour, but they do a whole range of colours to boost all tones and shades.

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My aim was to see whether I could bridge the gap between colouring sessions, and tone my mousey blonde roots to blend with the rest of my colour, as I intend on letting my hair grow out a bit before re-colouring again.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know I wash my hair backwards so for the purposes of using this product properly I decided to wash my hair the conventional way, to give it a fair go.

The method for using this, is to use the product as normal shampoo, wash it out as soon as the hair is coated, without waiting any time, and then condition as normal.

Here’s before I started with the colour wash:

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A nice picture of my dusty scalp…. But as you can see, I have quite a lot of warm tones in my hair, and then some lovely boring mousey roots poking through at the top.

So how did I get on? Well, I love the bottle. You get a hefty 270ml for just under £14. The cap is a push top, which means you don’t have to faff with unscrewing the cap and you can squeeze the product out. Because it doesn’t contain the nasties, it doesn’t lather as much as a standard drugstore shampoo, however you can spread it through your hair easily, and it smells amazing – like fresh, clean apples!

The product didn’t stain my hands or my bath tub, but I did feel I needed to scrub under my nails afterwards.

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My hair felt lovely during washing, and after, and I was able to comb my wet hair through easily. The water ran clear very quickly and no staining was left on my towel once I removed it.

On inspection of my hair after blow-drying, I saw no difference. There was maybe a little bit of a copper sheen to the red/brown colour underneath my hair, but honestly, there was no change. My roots were still the same colour, but I knew that part of my hair would be stubborn. So I decided to try again the next time I washed my hair.

The next time I washed my hair, I decided to mix it up a bit. I went back to reverse washing, popped on an Aussie 3 minute hair mask to the lengths of my hair, and then the colour wash all over, on top. I left this for a couple of minutes and washed it all out.

After drying my hair, I could see more of a difference. The blonder highlights in my hair were definitely more copper toned, and I felt like my hair was more of an even colour. My roots, however, were again completely as they had been previously. I mean, this isn’t a hair dye, and I know my hair is stubborn when it comes to colouring – I can usually only get a decent colour result using permanent dye.

Here’s the ‘after’ pictures:

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You can see that my roots remained the same colour as before, however I think you can tell from the picture above that the lengths of my hair were definitely more copper-toned.

The next time I washed my hair, I used my normal shampoo and conditioner and all of the copper colour I’d added washed out. So if I was going to maintain the copper colour I’d added, I would need to use this every time I washed my hair.

For the cost of this product, I wouldn’t be able to maintain this, but as the odd one-off for a particular occasion, it would be wouldn’t be bad.

I found the Infuse My. Colour Wash to be most effective on the areas of my hair that had been highlighted. But the change was very subtle and only happened once I’d left the product on for a number of minutes.

As a shampoo, it left my hair feeling lovely, and conditioned. I was happy that the ingredients would be good for my hair, and I would have no reservations using this regularly, from a hair care perspective.

I think if you had naturally strawberry blonde, or coloured ginger hair, or if you had highlights you wanted to turn peach/copper then give this a go. It’s a wash in/wash out solution and would help you make a change to your hair without the commitment. If you were looking for something that would be a little more long-lasting and possibly to help with root regrowth between colouring sessions, I’d probably not use this product.

But overall the pros outweigh the cons. I work my hair hard, and I like what I like. My choice for hair colour is unconventional so I can’t expect products to work just for my requirements.

If you have bleached blonde, or platinum hair, I’d love to see what results you could get from using the Infuse My. Colour Wash in the various different tones. If you’ve already used this product, I’d love to hear how you got on!

I also captured my trial of the Infuse My. Colour Wash on film, and have popped it onto my YouTube channel, which you can see here!

 

The Infuse My. Colour Range can be found at Boots and retails at £13.95. I was supplied this bottle for free by My.Haircare, in return for an honest review, which is what I’ve provided.

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Bears on Stairs with World Vision UK

Back when I used to take part in running events, I would raise money for charities close to my heart, but since giving that up due to injury I haven’t really been active in that respect either. When you’ve got a mortgage to pay, charity ads on the tv asking for money and people with clipboards knocking on your door, it can be easy to brush aside the work they’re doing to help others, whilst we get on, blinkered, with our own lives.

But it’s not just money that charities work to gain (though of course that’s really *really* nice) – they work incredibly hard to be heard and to spread awareness of what’s going on – sometimes far away and sometimes close to home. And even if you can’t afford to donate money, it’s so easy to donate your time.

All this week, World Vision UK (the world’s largest international children’s charity) are actively raising awareness about the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Uganda, where over 700 children arrive each week after fleeing the long-standing civil war in South Sudan.

These children are leaving their homes, separated from their families, often sick or injured, the majority having seen their parents killed and not knowing where they are.

Tomorrow, the 27th July, 700 teddy bears, each one representing one of these children, will arrive at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, and be placed on the steps to raise awareness of these children’s plight. The event is on for a few hours in the morning, so if you’re in the area please pop by and show your support!

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If you can’t make it, you can show your support in other ways! World Vision UK are asking for you to take a photo of your bear on the stairs using the hashtag #BearsOnStairs. By using your instagram or twitter platform and the hashtag, you’ll be spreading the world and showing your support to these children.

If you’d like, you can watch the event at St Paul’s on the 27th, by logging into Facebook and watching live on World Vision’s page.

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To find out more about how you can help South Sudan refugees, on World Vision UK’s crisis appeal page. Here you can educate yourself on what’s going on, and donate if you feel you want to.

I look forward to seeing your #BearsOnStairs – spread the word!

Playing Tourist with London Duck Tours

If you’re a regular reader of mine you’ll know I’m a big fan of London, and visit whenever I can – especially in Summer. So when I was asked whether I wanted to play tourist and go on a London Duck Tour, the answer was a resounding YES!

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I’d heard of Duck Tours before but wasn’t really sure what they were, having just seen the big yellow boat-like vehicles cruising through the streets of London. I was definitely intrigued. Me and hubby arrived at the Southbank on the day of our tour, and basked in the gorgeous sunshine until our transport arrived.

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The DUKW vehicles (affectionately referred to as Ducks and painted an appropriate yellow) are so-called thus: D = First year of production code “D” is for 1942, U = Body style “U” utility truck (amphibious), K = Front wheel drive, W = Two rear driving wheels (tandem axle). These vehicles were used to carry supplies and were most suited for this due to being able to go on both land and water. Fitted with a lovely roof, they are very accommodating on both grey and gloriously sunny days.

We hopped onto our Duck, Titania (all the Ducks are names after female characters from Shakespeare plays) and got comfy in our seats. Our tour guide Mark quickly gave us a brief of the journey ahead and then we were off!

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The tour started in Waterloo, then Westminster;

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Parliament Street, Whitehall, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, Piccadilly;

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Grosvenor Place and Buckingham Palace, MI5 and Lambeth Bridge before splashing down into the Thames next to MI6.

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We then travelled by water past the Tate Gallery, underneath Lambert Bridge and then turned around beside the Houses Of Parliament before heading back to dry land. Back on solid ground, we passed through the Vauxhall area and then back towards Waterloo.

Considering I’m a regular visitor to London, it was great learning so much about places I’ve seen many times, as well as noticing things I’ve never seen before and travelling through parts of the city I’ve never seen. I even learned that the Thames isn’t as dirty as I’d once thought, and its only the colour it is due to the constant churning of clay and soil on its bed. Who knew?! (Well, obviously Mark, our guide knew….)

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I loved the tour. Our guide was informative, funny and really knew his stuff. I honestly felt like I was on holiday, and the time we spent on the water was so relaxing!

I’m so pleased I got the opportunity to take this tour. I’ve seen that London Duck Tours also do themed tours including James Bond and D-Day. I might have to look those up! I visit London so frequently it’s so easy to forget about the landscape and history surrounding you in such a fast-paced environment. I LOVED playing tourist!

I was given the opportunity to take this tour for free by London Duck Tours, but at under £30 per adult ticket I’d say it’s worth every penny, for such a unique way to see and learn about London. You can find out more about their tours, and buy tickets and vouchers here, at their website London Duck Tours

Have you ever been on one of these tours, or even one of their themed tours? I’d love to know what you thought. Leave me a comment below, and tell me about it!

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I was given two tickets to the London Duck Tours for free, in return for my honest review of the experience. All views are my own and totally unbiased. If you like the look of the tours, go try one and see for yourself!

Fresh From the Teafields

I’m a weird tea drinker. Most of you will know I love my tea, but my habits come with some quirks. First of all, I really have to be in the mood for a cup of tea. I adore drinking it, but I usually won’t have it during the day because it relaxes me to the point where it’s all over. Secondly, I’m not a fan of green tea. I just never got over the whole ‘vegetable water’ thing. Thirdly, I can only drink my black tea with milk – I know this is wrong to some people, but that’s just how I like it. I won’t drink PG Tips, I only like Earl Grey as my every day tea of choice. Lastly I take my tea with coconut milk instead of cow’s milk and Sweet Freedom instead of sugar.

With these confessions out in the open, it’s time to get down to business. In around June a wonderful tea company called Teafields sent me a huge parcel filled with samples of their teas. I was overwhelmed. Ever since I’ve been promising them a blog review, and I feel terrible it’s taken me so long to get it done. BUT as previously said I have to be in the mood for a cuppa and I wanted to give these teas the attention they deserved. I will admit I didn’t get through all of them, as there was just one green tea that I haven’t sampled, mainly due to the fact I just don’t get on with green tea (but it’s the prettiest green tea I’ve ever seen!).

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Anyway, click on the Teafields website and you’ll see this isn’t any ordinary tea company. It screams quality. They call themselves a British (yay!) boutique tea company and this pretty much sums them up. Not only do they have an amazing selection of tea, but they’re all hand picked and within the descriptions of the teas you can find out where they’re from, the altitude they were picked from and even the temperature you should brew their teas at. AND they’re beautiful. I have to say it was a joy to shoot the teas and now I get to share them with you!

So, here goes!

Royal Breakfast

Royal English breakfast originates from Africa and India. It looks so pretty and I really enjoyed it. A smooth drink, I had mine with some eggs on toast one morning and thoroughly enjoyed it. Once brewed it was a beautiful golden colour. It has a very slight bitter edge to it (which I enjoyed!) so I had mine with some sweet freedom and a splash of coconut milk. This would be a perfect introduction to boutique teas for someone moving away from standard teabags.

Jun Chiyabari

Jun Chiyabari is exclusive to Teafields and is handpicked in the early hours of the morning in Nepal. It had a delicate flavour with earthy tones. Well worth a try, even if it’s simply for its decadence.

Jasmine Pearls

 

Jasmine Pearls are a scented green tea. Each pearl is hand rolled in China and this keeps their unique pearl shape. Brewed at 80c so as not to burn the flavour, this was the most pleasant green tea I’ve ever tasted. It was light, calming and very refreshing. Teafields also sent me a sample of their hand stitched tea bags with these pearls inside, photographed below. Look how beautiful they are, and Teafields are the first UK brand to have these teabags!

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Imperial Gold

Imperial Gold black tea also came in these stunning little bags, and once brewed had a citrus-like edge to it. Refreshing and light, I drank this is coconut milk and Sweet Freedom. I really enjoyed this one, and it was an easy drink.

Flowery Earl Grey

The most stunning of all the teas was the beautiful Flowery Earl Grey. I almost couldn’t brew it because it was so pretty. But I pulled myself together and got on with it. It didn’t disappoint. This Sri Lankan tea brewed beautifully creating a lovely delicate earl grey which would be suitable for every day drinking, but I would just save it for special occasions 🙂 It’s too good to spoil yourself on every day!

Emperor Sencha

Empora Sencha frightened me a bit. Looking like blades of grass, I really didn’t know what to expect. This Japanese tea was brewed at 70c and created a tea with a roasted scent. The taste was fresh and refreshing and not so scary!

Darjeeling 2nd Flush

Darjeeling 2nd Flush (2nd flush meaning second harvest of the season) I’m actually drinking as I write this. It has a fresh, ‘dry’ taste which I really enjoy and has a pleasantly fragrant flavour…. BUT

Darjeeling 1st Flush…. Darjeeling 1st Flush was the winner of all the teas for me. This was an easy drink, flavourful and really took me to tea heaven. It seems I’m a darjeeling girl! Once brewed it was very very light in colour and once milk was added it was the palest tea I’d ever drunk, but it really came across with flavour and I just can’t get enough of it!

If you’re a tea fan, you should really be treating yourself to some of Teafields teas. Some of their exclusive options are on the expensive side, but the cost really does show in their flavour and quality. You could even buy some as a gift for a tea lover – it would really spoil them and they’d thank you for it. Oh and the guys at Teafields are the most friendly bunch, so hit them up on twitter @teafieldsteas.

This being my first venture into boutique teas, I’m so pleased I’ve had the opportunity to try (and photograph) these beautiful teas, and I feel I’ve learned a huge amount about their origins too.

Thank you Teafields for letting me sample your products, and sorry it’s taken me so long to share – it was worth the wait for me, I hope it was for you too!

 

Tea samples were sent to me, at no cost, for sample and review. All opinions are my own. All photographs are copyright Erin Mason Photography.