SoprArno Suites, Florence
A hotel review of the Hilton Doubletree at Excel London Docklands.
This Christmas my parents surprised The Boy and I with a holiday: two nights in a yurt at Wild Northumbrian in dark sky country up by Kielder Water. We were both really excited and couldn’t wait for our yurt adventure. We decided to book it as a relaxing couple of days after my first work trip of the Spring, so I returned from Canada on Friday 27th March, and on Sunday 29th March we packed up our warm clothes, food, and bikes and made our way to Northumberland for our adventure.
We had chosen to stay at Brock yurt, a cosy 16ft yurt perfect for two. The yurt was located a short walk from where we parked our car and so we donned our wellingtons and made our way down to the stream to move into our home for the next couple of nights.
The yurt itself was perfectly formed. There was everything we could possibly need including a gorgeous little wood burning stove, which The Boy particularly enjoyed tending, and which kept us toasty warm at all times, and a gorgeous handmade wooden bed that was so cosy and comfortable that it was often difficult to leave.
With no electricity, mains water or gas, this really was an opportunity to get back to nature. There was no phone reception, so we turned off our 21century devices and adopted a simple, slow life for a few days. We listened to the sound of the wind, the stream, the birds, we read, we played cards, we talked. It was wonderfully relaxing. Everything took on a much slower place, and we were no longer slaves to the clock.
We experienced every sort of weather, including snow, but we did get some clear skies with and opportunity to enjoy the myriad stars above us. The yurt had handy star gazing binoculars which made this all the more fun.
And there is nothing quite so lovely as waking to the morning sun peeking through the roof light of the yurt, all warm in your bed with the chill morning air all around you, and getting the wood burning stove going for morning coffee. There is something very lovely about a back to basics life like that, and we thoroughly enjoyed our immersion.
We were both pretty sad at the end of our visit to have to leave our yurt and return to the 21st century. However, I’m sure we will return.
I have been a fan of Lush products for several years now, especially because of their ethical and vegan credentials, and so thought I would write a post about all the products that I really love, and use most regularly.
I started off using Daddy-O shampoo but after about a year of that I switched to Cynthia Sylvia Stout the beer based shampoo, and have to say that I haven’t gone back. It does wonderful things to my thick, frizzy, and somewhat dry hair, leaving it glossy and smooth. I quite like the smell too. It’s not too overpowering, which is a bonus in my opinion.
Conditioner-wise I have always been a Veganese girl. Well, that is until recently. The last two 500ml bottles of the stuff I’ve bought have not lasted, and have separated and gone into a strange consistency before I’ve had the chance to finish them. I took one bottle back to be exchanged in December, but unfortunately the replacement has done exactly the same.
I dropped into Lush this week to look at other conditioners that I might use instead because frankly, at £15 a bottle, I can’t afford for this to keep on happening. The guys in Lush were absolutely great, as always. They explained there had been a change in EU rules regarding the use of a certain preservative and so the amount used in Veganese has needed to be reduced. I certainly feel the change in recipe is having a detrimental affect on the product, but it appears Lush knows this is a problem and they are reformulating their conditioners to see if they can solve this problem. In the mean time, my Lush Shop Heroes suggested a solid conditioner so I now have Jungle to try out on my hair. As a solid conditioner I shouldn’t experience the same problem that I’ve been having with Veganese. The only down side, as far as I can see it, is that as a solid conditioner it’s far less portable for my travelling lifestyle, so I may need to buy a small bottle of liquid conditioner for my regular overseas visits.
And speaking of travel products, I recently bought The Boy one of Lush’s solid shampoos and a tin to keep it in for his wash bag. He’s a soap person, so this product is perfect for him to take out and about. From his reports, he’s found it great.
Whilst The Boy prefers a soap, I am very definitely a shower gel sort of person. Mind you, when it comes to Lush shower gel, I do tend to change it up fairly regularly. Popular choices for me include The Olive Branch, Grass, Happy Hippie, or Rose Jam.
For a while I was a massive fan of Xmas product Glögg. However, Christmas 2013 I was bought three massive 500ml bottles by family members who knew my Glögg addiction. Sadly, this appears to have cured it, and in January 2015, I still have at least two thirds of the final bottle left!
However, when it comes to Lush Soap I always make a bee-line for Sultana of Soap. It smells divine!
And in the bath I adore a good scrub with Aqua Mirabilis. It smells gorgeous and leaves my skin beautifully soft.
Baths are my indulgence. I usually enjoy one on a Sunday after spending the day hiking. And if I am having a bath there has to be a Lush bath ballistic in there.
There are many Lush bath bombs that I like. My three favourite are currently unavailable. Shoot For The Stars, which turns the bath a gorgeous dark blue speckled with silver glitter, Lord of Misrule, which is filled with lovely crackling popping candy, and Breath of God made of one half inhale and one half exhale and giving off a fabulous heady incense scent.
So, at the moment I turn to old favourites Blackberry, which smells like Sultana of Soap, Sakura, Avobath, Dragon’s Egg, or Sex Bomb.
After my bath or shower I always use a body moisturiser. I have very dry legs (for some bizarre reason) so always slather Charity Pot all over them. I really like Charity Pot: it smells lovely, but also, all the profits from this product go to Lush selected charities. What’s not to like?
On my upper body I like a bit of scent and so use Karma Kreme. I’m not a perfume wearer, but I do like the light scent that a scented body moisturiser can provide, and Karma Kreme is a lovely smell.
Also good for moisturisation, and sorting out muscle knots, is a good massage. I’ve used a few Lush massage bars, and don’t really have a favourite yet. I’ve used Wiccy Magic Muscles, Peace, and Hottie all of which do the job. There are a few new options based on tea and coffee that I want to try out soon, but I have to use up the stash I currently have first.
Face and Make Up
I have pretty sensitive skin, but it’s prone to blackheads and breakouts, and constant flights and travel, not to mention hotel air conditioning, drives it crazy! Lush products are about the only think at keeps my skin happy.
I’ve used Angels on Bare Skin for a number of years, but it just doesn’t seem to be doing the job at the moment. I tried Aqua Marina for a bit, but that didn’t work for me. I’m currently trying Herbalism, which seems to be working for me. However, I’m only a couple of weeks into trying it, so we will see how it goes.
For my facial moisturiser it has always been Celestial. It’s just a great product.
I don’t wear a lot of make up, but what I do wear is Lush. I use the Light Pink Foundation, Eyes Right mascara, and I use Believe on my cheeks as a blusher: just a touch and then blended right in.
And for removing make up: 9 to 5.
Lush Spa Treats
Finally, for a real treat, it’s lovely to visit the Lush Spa. I’ve been to three of the Lush Spas: Edinburgh, Kings Road London, and Leeds, and I’ve had two treatments: The Sound Bath, which is my favourite and I have enjoyed twice, and Synesthesia, which is Lush’s signature treatment.
Sadly, Synesthesia didn’t really do it for me. I’ve read so many things where people raved about it, and whilst it was pleasant, I wouldn’t bother to have it again.
The Sound Bath on the other hand, is wonderful, and I would have it again at the drop of a hat. There is just something so comforting about the treatment, and it leaves me so relaxed at the end of it. The music for this treatment is beautiful too. Highly recommended.
So, as you can see, I’m a bit of a Lush addict.
Are you a Lush fan too? If so, please do comment and let me know your go-to products, or based on some of my current favourites, why don’t you recommend something that you think I might like?
I was in Brighton for work last week, which is always a massive treat because Brighton seems to be the epicentre for awesome vegan eats and treats.
I visited last summer with The Boy. We stayed at Paskins Townhouse, and ate at Terre a Terre. We had an awesome time.
Paskins was a great B&B, and we enjoyed our stay there immensely. It was a little bit of a walk from the town centre, so this time, because work was paying, I stayed at the Hilton on the sea front.
I love seaside hotels with that faded Victorian glamour, and the Hilton had it in spades. Grand sweeping staircases, massive high ceilings, the full shebang.
Whilst my accommodation was different I was determined to return to Terre a Terre because I had nothing but great memories from my visit last summer.
I wasn’t disappointed either.
The restaurant, when I arrived at 6pm, was still almost empty. Even so, attentive wait staff showed me to my table and gave me the menu. I chose the set menu, because it had things on it that I would have chosen anyway, and seemed good value for money.
I don’t usually go for 3 courses: it’s usually too much food for me, but this time I thought ‘to hell with it’ as the food at Terre a Terre is too good to pass on.
My three courses were absolutely amazing, but like my last visit, I think my starter was my favourite.
I noticed that they also offer an afternoon tea, and I would love to experience that. Has anyone tried the vegan tea? What’s it like? I was also recommended Food With Friends by a local, has anyone had a vegan meal there, and how does it compare to Terre a Terre?
I also had a good mooch around the great vegan shops in Brighton, stopping into Infinity Foods to drool over all the amazing things they had on offer, and purchase some of their delicious vegan baked goods.
I dropped into Vegetarian Shoes to have a look at what they had on offer. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this brand. I like their products, but I think they are expensive. Also, the quality of the shoes is really hit and miss. I’ve had the Snowdon Walking boot and the Vegan Ugg boots from them, and they have been great, but other shoes I have purchased from them have not been great quality and have fallen apart in less than a year, which makes me reluctant to buy from them. Have you had is experience with Vegetarian Shoes? What do you think of their shoes and boots?
I also came across a gorgeous dress shop called Pretty Eccentric (http://www.prettyeccentric.co.uk) which had some beautiful stuff. Sadly a lot of it was a little out of my price range, but it was stunningly beautiful.
The young lady I spoke to explained that they design for the modern woman, but are inspired by design from the 20s – 50s. The result was just stunning.
I haven’t updated my blog for more than a year. Shocking.
But hey, I’ve been busy!
Highlights included much travel: Hong Kong, Norway, Turkey, Canada, USA, Finland and many wonderful UK locations in the last 12 months alone!
And meeting a rather lovely boy, who has been monopolising my time, but I can’t say I mind.
But I miss writing, so I am trying not to be so remiss about updating my blog.
I have lots of travel booked in this year and so plenty of opportunities to write about interesting places and food.
I’m in Toronto for work. It’s raining, and I’m listening to: