Pick your own!

Posted by Lipglossiping On August - 13 - 2013

I haven’t been strawberry picking since I was a small child, no doubt eating far more as I went along than ever made it into the basket.  In fact, I remember it being so much fun, I don’t know why it never occurred to me until now to take Leila, she’s an absolute fruit fiend (having hated vegetables from day one) and loves to feel “in control” of preparing her food.  A match made in heaven.

As far as I’m aware, there’s only really one major strawberry picking field left near us… we used to have one just down the road from my old house but it got carved up and used as a car boot field many years ago.  If you’ve never tasted pick-your-own strawberries, you’re truly missing out.  Sweeter, juicier, and far more tasty than the bland versions the supermarkets stock… they’re an absolute joy.

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There were marrows bigger than my bum!

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Strawberries as far as the eye could see

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The queen of strawberries

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Incase you’re wondering, she’d made the crown that morning… wasn’t giving it up.

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“Leila! Don’t eat them, we’ve not paid yet!”

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“You took my stwabwees off meeeeee!” (hush you, dwarf bean!)

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Winning!

There should be a couple more harvests left before the end of the month (and then it’s blackberry season!)… if you haven’t picked your own summer fruits yet this year, what are you waiting for?


Paris: A Visual Post (part three)

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 10 - 2013

At the risk of forgetting all about the fact that this is, after all, a beauty blog… I’m posting the final part of my Paris travelogue today. Most of you will be relieved to hear that it also includes a quick mention of the beauty bits and bobs that ended up in my basket along the way.

Day 3 started with an early-ish check out from the hotel who stored our suitcase until we were ready to collect en-route back to Gare du Nord. We wanted to grab some breakfast on the run, and being the thoroughly unhealthy sods that we are currently, we opted for a traditionally Parisian chocolate eclair from L’atelier des Pains. What?!?! WE WERE ON HOLIDAY!  In fairness, we shared.

For those of you who think that chocolate eclairs do not a breakfast make. Get off my blog.

Otherwise, as you were my friends…

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oh God, so good…

We began our final day of sightseeing by jumping on the Metro to Pigalle.  It was at this point that I realised why I hadn’t seen any fat Parisians… there are so many steps in the Metro system that it’s simply impossible to put on weight.  Talking of steps, when we reached ground-level I put my exercise-dodging plan into action and jumped on the Montmartrobus to take us up the back roads of Montmartre to its summit and the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur.

The bus was full of pensioners, physically unable to make the ascent under their own steam… whilst we sat there, being lazy bastards.  With a small amount of shame, I turned to look out of the window, watching the poor sods puffing up the hill alongside, sweat pouring down their faces in the extreme midday heat… cackling to myself all the while.  We got off the bus about 100m from the basilica and and mooched around the back streets and markets for a short while.

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Alphonse Mucha and Toulouse Lautrec are two names synonymous with this district

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I promise I didn’t eat any!

Then it was on to the church itself, a long-held personal favourite spot in the city.  I remembered visiting as a young teen and being about as impressed as a teenager can possibly be with a tourist attraction.  I have to say, despite the crowds and hawkers, it still didn’t disappoint.  So beautiful and so impressive towering over the city.

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you’re all spoiling my photo… get out of the way!

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more steps, suckers!

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the view from the top

We walked around the interior but I have to admit that the number of “squash a penny” machines jingling away didn’t do much to add to the atmosphere inside.  I donated some pennies and lit a tealight in memory of my Nan before heading back outside and down the steps for the descent back into the city centre.  Next stop, The Avenue des Champs-Élysée for a bit of shopping!

You can’t go to Paris without seeing two things.  One of them is the Eiffel Tower, and let’s be honest… it’s pretty hard to miss.  The other?  The Arc de Triomphe!  It’s one of those monuments that if you don’t tick off the list… you haven’t been to Paris!  Saying that, I hadn’t seen it before… well, not close up and I properly fangirled, laughing at the time on Instagram that it was probably a bit weird to fangirl a monument.

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I had to wait for 4 lorries, 2 vans, 43423 mopeds, and a bus to pass before I could take this photo

It was at this point in the day that Mr. L started to groan a little… you see, I had barely done any beauty shopping. I was being so virtuous and pointing out this fact every. single. time. I walked past the entrance to a pharmacy.  “Look how good I’m being!  Aren’t you glad you married me?”

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inside the “pharmacie”

Only, at this point… I caved a bit.  Mostly because I felt as though I was on familiar territory.  Infact… if I’m honest… I basically sprinted towards Monoprix and the next-door English-speaking Pharmacy.  Sure, it’s probably not the best-stocked pharmacy in Paris, and neither is it the cheapest… but I’ve always had really good, non-rushed service inside and I knew I’d be able to pick up what I wanted.  I was more disappointed with Monoprix though which seemed to have bumped most of its lesser-known French high-street lines in favour of the stuff we can get over here anyway.  I boo-ed.

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my Parisian beauty buys

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forgot to include this one in the last shot ha!

I’ll do another post on my purchases soon but the above photos should give you an idea that I was pretty well-behaved non?

Disappointed by my lack of makeup purchases and the fact that I didn’t have time to hunt down a Fragonard, I went and consoled myself with a giant Croque Monsieur and a Creme Brulee (as you do) and the world was (almost) completely mended again.

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Croque Monsieur at Le Comptoir Boetie

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can you hear the “crack”?

Alas, our time in Paris had come to an end and we returned to our hotel to pick up our luggage before heading back to the station for our train home.  All in all, it was a memorable 52-hours in Paris… horrendously expensive and physically exhausting but I wouldn’t have changed a single second of it.

Thanks for reading if you got this far xx

(click for part one and part two)

Paris: A Visual Post (part two)

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 7 - 2013

Our second day in Paris should have started a few hours earlier than it did.  Our alarm went off at 8am and I hit the snooze button with as much force as I could muster.  Over, and over… and over again.  We eventually left the hotel at 11am, having decided that without the early start under our belts, we didn’t have the resilience to deal with any potential queues at the Catacombs, which for safety reasons, only allows a restricted number of visitors in at any one time.

We opted instead, for a more leisurely stroll through Le Marais, starting at the Place de la Bastille.

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the Parisian Metro system

A quick note on the Metro system… we bought “carnets” of 10 single-use tickets as and when we needed them, instead of the daily Mobilis pass (travelcard), our decision worked out cheaper over the course of three days.  However, the downside was that these tickets constantly became demagnetized by going through security checks at the various tourist attractions.

The Metro staff are at least, clearly used to this and were happy enough to respond to my cries of “ça ne marche pas” whilst frantically waving the tickets about infront of them.  I got used to the eye-rolls eventually.  In other words, if your tickets fail to open the barriers… chances are, it’s not your fault.  Go and get them checked at the ticket window.

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Place de la Bastille

Now, I’m no French history buff but I spent every summer growing up in the West of France, in the Vendee… an area that has a reputation for its anti-revolutionary, royalist history which culminated in an uprising against the republic and the eventual defeat/massacre of over 150,000 Vendeen people… controversially described as the first genocide in modern history.  Infact, in the small field next door to our house remains an underground tunnel believed to lead all the way to the local Chateau which was built as a means of escape for when the going got tough for the local aristrocracy!

The storming of The Bastille (a prison originally located on the site of the above column) in Paris on July 14, 1789 by the city’s commoners led almost directly to the French Revolution.  If you walk around the Place de la Bastille you can see the outline in the ground, marking the location of the prison’s original towers – a hugely understated nod to such an important time in the country’s history!

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Place des Vosges

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The gardens at Hotel de Sully

We moved on in the direction of the Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris.  It was packed with people enjoying their lunch in the sunshine, and although we only stopped en-route (our tummies were grumbling for lunch), I really recommend it as a place to hide away from the masses.

Now firmly in the historic Le Marais area, we headed into the old Jewish quarter on the hunt for what is often described online as “the ultimate falafel”.  It didn’t take long to spot the lunch queues snaking up the Rue de Rosiers so we joined the line at L’As du Fallafel to get a taste of what we had been missing!

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the lunch queue

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the “falafel special” at L’as du Fallafel on Rue de Rosiers

In order to keep the queue moving quickly at peak times, your order (and payment) are taken whilst standing in line, this means that your food is ready and waiting by the time you reach the front.  Although the queue was long, it was super-efficient and we were walking away with the fattest falafel-filled pittas within 10-minutes of joining.

If you’re on a tight budget – at only 5.50€ each, they make a great purse-friendly option (especially if you find a local park to eat them in and combine them with a cheeky pastry from the patisserie up the road!)

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The Pont d’Arcole looking South West

Bellies filled, we roamed the back streets a little longer before heading across to the Ile de la Cité, onto the major tourist path with Notre Dame firmly in our crosshairs.

The city council have erected a huge (temporary?) grandstand infront of the cathedral, which spoiled every photo opportunity possible and we very nearly didn’t bother joining the queue – which again, was frighteningly long.  I’m glad we did though as it was the fastest-moving line I’d ever seen and we were in within only five-minutes.  What can I say?  Many of these Parisian queues are terribly deceptive!

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Notre Dame’s impressive exterior

Having said that, Notre Dame is definitely more impressive from the outside, not to say that the interior isn’t worth bothering with… but the carvings and sculptures that adorn the facade are something very special, as is the sheer scale of the building.

If you’re up for visiting any other attractions in the vicinity, I thoroughly recommend the lesser-known Sainte-Chappelle, only one block away, with its extensive 13th century stained glass windows which make you feel as though you’re standing inside a kaleidoscope.  It’s an unforgettable experience and truly atmospheric, having often been described as one of the world’s most beautiful buildings.

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the lower chapel at Sainte-Chappelle

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the upper chapel at Sainte-Chappelle

By this point in the day, our feet were killing us, so we escaped the island for somewhere to stop for a glass of wine and a treat before continuing.  As with most tourist cities in Europe, you definitely need to head off the main thoroughfares to get anything that comes close to resembling value for money and for your efforts, you’re generally rewarded with better service and food!

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some of the food choices along the main tourist routes (mmm brie)

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tartes, tartes everywhere!

We had originally planned to take a night-time Seine cruise with Bateaux-Mouches but our feet simply wouldn’t allow us to travel from our random location on the left-bank across to the Pont de l’Alma where these boats departed from… plus the fact that it was still only 6pm and around 3hrs away from nightfall!

In the end, we trudged a few hundred yards onto the Pont Neuf and took a cruise from the smaller company, Vedettes du Pont-Neuf.  It was “ok”, a little rushed perhaps but one of those “things” that you would probably regret not doing, you know?  If you book online in advance, you can get a 5€ reduction per ticket, making it a really affordable experience.

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Later on that evening, we passed by a peaceful demonstration of people showing solidarity with the Turkish citizens… the French sure know how to throw a good protest!

We finished the day with a real trip highlight, a well-timed jaunt up to the top of Montparnasse Tower to see the city’s lights laid out below us.  Rumour has it that the tower has been under threat of demolition for years… the city hates it and considers it a blot on the landscape.  The only thing saving the 210m tall building?  It’s absolutely riddled with asbestos and they simply don’t know how to take it down safely!

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the observation deck – a 360 degree view of the city

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a birds-eye view

For me, it’s one of the best spots in the city from which to appreciate the Eiffel Tower.  I just couldn’t believe how empty it was up there, it seems that so few tourists take advantage of this location and it was a magical spot to watch the sun go down over the horizon.  We spent a good hour up there until just before closing time when we headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep ahead of our last day of exploration.

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some instagram shots from day 2

Final day tomorrow… (and a peek at my beauty buys!)

Paris: A Visual Post (part one)

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 7 - 2013

Well that was tiring.

The fundamental problem with trying to fit 5-days worth of sightseeing into just over 48hrs is that, something… somewhere has to give.  In my case, it was very nearly my sanity (and my feet).

We arrived in Paris at lunchtime on Monday and headed straight to our hotel to make use of their left luggage facilities.  Fortunately for us, they were good sorts and just let us check in early instead.  Our hotel was the Astoria Opera, whose nearest metro stop, Rome, was only a 2-minute walk away.  It’s really well-located for using the public transport and has a great bakery around the corner for late breakfast treats!

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A pretty big room by Parisian standards!

The first thing that I want to recommend for your trip to Paris… is two iPhone apps that were paramount to our enjoyment of the city.  The first is Paris Metro, where a paltry 69p will ensure that finding your route across France’s capital is a doddle and this one doesn’t need a data connection to work either.

The second app that was invaluable for getting around the city was Digi Guide Paris, another inexpensive 69p purchase.  I didn’t really use it as a “guide” but the offline maps capability made sure that I was always headed in the right direction.

These two nifty tools really did ensure that our trip was as stress-free as possible.  A final, honourable mention goes to the free TripAdvisor Paris City Guide which had some useful last minute information on opening times (we found out that one of our intended museums was closed on a Monday thanks to this).  Just make sure that you download as much information as possible for the app before you set off.

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Exterior of The Louvre from Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre Metro exit

As soon as we’d dumped our luggage and caught our breaths, we jumped on the Metro and headed for The Louvre.  I knew in advance that I wanted to make a beeline for the quieter Porte des Lions entrance, and catching sight of the queues snaking into the Pyramid, I was keen to quickly locate it across the courtyard.  Unfortunately, it was closed!

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The Louvre with its famous pyramid!

I had a moment’s frustration (because it should have been open, damnit!) before I engaged plan B and headed for the underground mall at Carousel du Louvre.  Thankfully, we only had to queue for around 10 minutes to buy our tickets and get through security before we were in!

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galleries that go on forever…

When people tell you that it would take days, or even weeks to appreciate the museum properly, they ain’t lying.  If I used only one word to describe this Parisian gem, it would be: overwhelming.  The sheer size of the place is something you can only really appreciate in person but it’s worth ensuring that you’ve got a pair of comfortable shoes on your feet for when you attempt it!

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…end ever!

We literally only discovered about 3% of the museum by concentrating on the major sights but even with our guerrila-style attack on the attraction’s jewels, we still lingered over a few pieces that caught our eyes, in particular, everything on display by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson who I don’t mind admitting, I’d never heard of before.

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Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa face-to-face with her (many) admirers

I enjoyed documenting the crowds infront of the most well-known pieces more than the art itself.  Mr. L kept laughing at me that I was standing back and taking pictures of everyone else rather than pushing to the front to enjoy what they were capturing.  If you’re really into seeing these masterpieces, it’s well worth getting there for opening time as the ambiance is definitely spoilt by the sheer number of people around you.

You will struggle to have any kind of “moment” with these icons otherwise, so Google for an early-morning action plan, complete with the ideal route for getting through The Louvre before the throngs of people appear behind you!

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The Winged Victory of Samothrace

My favourite spot in the museum (well, of the bits that I saw) was this precise location above the Daru staircase in line with the majestic Winged Victory statue.  It was relatively quiet from up here and gave us a moment to gather our thoughts while gazing down at everyone doing their thing.  I couldn’t help but laugh at all the people taking photos with their iPads, it looks so funny and always puts me in mind of Penny from Inspector Gadget with her computer book!

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Another crowd-pleaser, the Venus de Milo

After our whistlestop tour of The Louvre, we were famished and headed back down into the Carousel du Louvre for a bite to eat.  Unfortunately, it was proper food-court stuff so we settled for a sandwich from McDonalds and promised to self-flagellate later in penance for our sins.  Keeping it real.

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Underneath the pyramid

We had pre-booked a behind-the-scenes Eiffel Tower tour to ensure that we bypassed the worst of the queues and I was so glad I did!  When we arrived, the queues were horrible, definitely don’t be thinking you can rock up to this attraction and wait in line for ten-minutes… we’re talking hours upon hours of queueing.  The excursion I booked was via Cultival.fr and cost around 22€ each which included a guided tour of the bunkers underneath the tower and the operating room of the pillar lifts which were installed over 100-years ago. Nerdy stuff!

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On the ground, looking up!

The thing about the tower is that it just doesn’t disappoint.  You see it in films, on TV, and immortalised in people’s holiday snaps the world over but it just doesn’t compare to standing infront of the structure and looking up.  There’s something about its skeletal form that trumps any skyscraper. Brilliant!

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The incredible view from the 2nd floor

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From across the other side of the river with one of the Bateau Mouches cruises passing by.

Once we’d bored ourselves senseless with the tower’s history, we headed across The Seine over to the Jardins du Trocadero where some daring skateboarders were piling up industrial-sized rubbish bins and ramps to impress the crowd. We grudgingly walked up to the Trocadero above, still not really wanting to leave the tower’s magnetic pull.

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Once we got to the top – dodging the numerous street hawkers on the way – we decided that it was surely time for dinner and headed for a bistro over the road where I’d spent a few happy (and slightly drunken) hours on my last trip to Paris: Cafe Kleber.  We expected to pay through the nose for its location but at 60€ for both of us for two courses and a glass of wine each, it could have been much worse by Paris’ expensive standards.

I’d been hankering after Steak Frites and am pleased to say that this one didn’t disappoint!

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We headed back to the hotel after a Nutella and Chantilly crepe from a nearby food stall overlooking the tower’s dazzling 10pm light show.  What a perfect way to end our first day in Paris!

Here’s some instagram shots from our first day, I was switching between cameras like a loon:

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Day two coming up tomorrow… tell me what your favourite sights of Paris are?  If you haven’t been, what do you dream of visiting in the city of love most of all?

The St. Ives Natural Beauty Challenge #StIvesNaturalBeauty

Posted by Lipglossiping On April - 21 - 2013

So, what does natural beauty mean to you?

Is it poreless skin without the help of foundation?  Laughter lines that show a life well-lived?  Perhaps it’s simply the beauty of an unspoilt vista lifting your soul in a way that city-life never could?

St. Ives – creators of iconic skin-scrubbiness – recently approached a selection of bloggers with a creative challenge which celebrates the company ethos of imparting confidence and exploring the radiance of natural beauty.

The brand, who have been around for over 25 years now, are dedicated to harnessing the power of nature within their skincare range.  To this end, their formulas do not contain parabens or phthalates, the brand use sustainably-sourced ingredients wherever possible, cut waste, and employ eco-friendly packaging for all their products.

The brief itself was simple: “capture and share an image of natural beauty”.  So simple in fact that it left a lot of room for interpretation, perhaps too much for a procrastinator like me!

I’m incredibly fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the world with the New Forest on my doorstep, beaches a few miles down the road and the rolling hills of the South Downs only a stone’s throw away.  But the problem was, that despite a wealth of inspiration surrounding me… beauty that I was itching to go and photograph.  I couldn’t get over one small detail…

The greatest source of natural beauty was sitting right next to me.

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A brush through the tangles, a crown of flowers, and a couple of “knock knock” jokes later and I had all the inspiration I could have ever needed.

Despite the rather obvious fact that she’s not pumping half a gallon of Double Wear onto her face every morning, Leila’s natural beauty lies in the fact that she is so wonderfully oblivious.  Every inner thought and feeling, like most children, is reflected upon her face: from the doughnut she can’t get enough of to the wonderment of seeing Sleeping Beauty’s castle.  From the pride that correctly identifying her ABCs brings her to the chutzpah that follows when she utters the words “I am rather marvellous, aren’t I?”

Her eyes are not only a window into her soul but a porthole, skylight, dormer, and sunroof… all untainted by the self-consciousness that adulthood brings with it.  She feels no need to mask her feelings or to “tone-down” her excitement, fearful of looking too eager or heaven-forbid, uncool.  If only we could all recapture some of that day-to-day, unbridled honesty in our faces.

And that is why she, and other children of a similar age, are such a joy to be around (in moderation, of course!) and for me, an unparalleled definition of natural beauty.

Do you allow your natural beauty to shine through in certain company or are you focused on maintaining a facade? 

If you fancy talking about what “natural beauty” means to you, feel free to use the dedicated #StIvesNaturalBeauty hashtag on Twitter.

* In the interests of full-disclosure, all photographic entries will be judged by beauty photographer Claire Harrison on behalf of St. Ives and displayed at a gallery-style event in London next month.  The eventual winner will receive a fabulous prize (and one to give away to a reader!) 

** On a plate beside Leila, sat a sausage roll… looking particularly beautiful.  To be honest, it was a close-run thing.

Lipglossiping (and family) do Disneyland Paris!

Posted by Lipglossiping On April - 1 - 2013

Happy Bank Holiday Monday, you can put the chocolate down now. Put it down.

I’ve spent the last seven days enjoying all the wonders (mostly food-related) that France has to offer, and loving every minute of it.  We spent two days at Disneyland Paris (on a budget) and three days at my parent’s house in the Vendee, encompassing a 1000 mile+ round-trip seated uncomfortably in the back of a Citroen C3 Picasso.  My daughter was an angel, not once did I hear an “are we there yet” emanate from her lips, I am truly blessed.

If you follow me on instagram, you will have seen plenty of photographic evidence of the aforementioned wonders, both food AND Disney-related… but in the event that you haven’t already been treated to these out-of-focus, overly filtered delights, allow me…

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It really is a bit magical

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I got photobombed by the happiest face EVER

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The Disney Dons

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The view from the Queen of Heart’s castle is pretty impressive

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New best friend. Could she be any prouder?

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New best friend also!

I know that some of you on Twitter were interested in the logistics of my budget Disney break, so… to quickly break it down… we got 2-days of park tickets via a Sun newspaper promotion last November (they do these regularly) for the grand price of £40, our return ferry trip with LDLines came to just under £80 (Dunkirk out, Le Havre back), and a three-night hotel/motel stay on the outskirts of Paris in Torcy (Premiere Classe) came to £110 in total for the three of us (though I think I’d stretch the budget for the next door Campanile hotel next time!)

For lunch, we picnic’ed on sandwiches and pain au chocolat bought from the hotel’s nearby Carrefour, whilst dinner consisted of the 12.99€ menus at the Disney Village Sports Bar and Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon, both of which were extremely reasonable and included dessert and a beer!  Finally, we bought a carnet of train tickets on arrival at Torcy for 26€ which covered travel to/from Disneyland to the hotel for the entire period.  I wish I’d factored in another day to travel into Paris itself but I wanted to visit my Mum and Dad’s house which I hadn’t seen since 2003-ish.

We may have scrimped in places but it certainly didn’t dampen our enthusiasm or enjoyment, it just meant that Leila got to bring home loads of Disney tat to be honest *le grand sigh*.

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It was quite busy and the fast-pass system was out of action on a few of the rides but we still managed to make the most of the 48hrs at our disposal.  Leila’s favourite rides (useful for parents of toddlers?) included: Alice’s Curious Labyrinth (mostly because I chased her around, calling her “Alice”), It’s a Small World (I still have the song stuck in my head), Dumbo, The Flying Elephant (but the queues are not worth it!), Casey Jr. – The Little Circus Train, Orbitron, and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.

Being rotten parents, we also dragged her on Phantom Manor (“noooo, it’s not scary!”), Pirates of the Carribbean (“nooo you won’t get wet!”)… etc. etc.  The shows were also great, Leila thought that Stitch Live! was pretty much the best thing she’d ever witnessed.

The only ride we missed out on (that wasn’t subject to height restrictions) was the Studio Tram Tour, everytime we went past, the queues were horrible.

Being only 3, I wasn’t sure if Leila was still a little too young to fully enjoy the experience but with the benefit of hindsight, I’d say that it’s a great age to take a little one – she was enchanted by the characters, shows and princesses in a way that only a 3-year old can be.  When she’s older, hopefully we will take her back to enjoy some of the more thrilling rides.

I hope my recap helps anyone who hasn’t been to Disneyland Paris before.  Being a bit of a cynical type who gets wound-up by the up-selling (“would you like to buy a bag/pen/DVD?”) at the local Disney store, I honestly didn’t think I’d enjoy it that much… but the truth is, I may have loved it even more than Leila.

Have you been to Disneyland Paris?  Want to go?  What were your favourite bits?

Photo Diary: An afternoon in Brighton!

Posted by Lipglossiping On March - 20 - 2013

As I’m writing this, it’s just gone 1am and I’ve not long got home from Brighton after spending a day enjoying the shops, doughnuts, sights, cocktails, and most importantly, the BIBA and Beyond Exhibition that’s currently being held at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.  I’m completely done-in!

Although it was bitterly cold today, the sunshine was generous and we spent the afternoon darting between the shadows in an attempt to defrost ourselves in its cautious rays.

I like Brighton but in all my years of living less than 65 miles away, I visited the city for the first time only two years ago.  I could lose myself in the Lanes forever looking at all the antique jewellery, and it often feels as though I have when the higgledy-piggledy back streets play their dastardliest tricks on my memory.

The North Laine area is a bit like Camden used to be, except I grew up paying rural-town charity shop prices for shabbies and can’t bring myself to spend ££££ on an old handkerchief vase or shirt-dress.  Bloody “vintage” ruining it for everyone 😉

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Shopping in The North Laine

Brighton tat!

Typical Brighton tat

The impressive Brighton Pavillion

The impressive Brighton Pavillion

Doing my annoying shooting-from-the-hip at Brighton Pavillion

Doing my annoying shooting-from-the-hip thing at Brighton Pavillion

Brighton Pier!

Brighton Pier

Pier Doughnuts!

Pier Doughnuts! (om nom nom)

Like the birds were gonna get a look-in, ha

Like the birds were gonna get a look in with the doughnuts, ha!

A trip to Brighton is never complete without...

A trip to Brighton is never complete without…

...a Black Forest Martini!

…a Black Forest Martini…

(or a Best of British - gin, rhubarb, elderflower, apple, honey and lemon)

…or perhaps a Best of British? Gin, rhubarb, elderflower, apple, honey and lemon

Choccywoccydoodah never fails to impress

Choccywoccydoodah never fails to impress

Choccywoccydoodah never fails to impress

…amazing cakes!

The Seafront

A lovely, albeit slightly moody seafront

A long but brilliant day!

I’ll do another quick post tomorrow or Friday on the actual BIBA exhibition, I wasn’t sure what I’d make of it but it was so incredibly well executed and I hope you don’t mind me going a little off-topic and sharing my thoughts.

Wotcha! Christmas 2012! (photo heavy)

Posted by Lipglossiping On December - 30 - 2012

Did you have a good Christmas?  Did Father Christmas prove that you’d been a good girl this year?

I won’t apologise for my absense because it’s been a lovely – if unintended – break from the blog.  I couldn’t believe that it had been over a week since my last post when I checked last night and I got the immediate guilts before breaking into another packet of dry roasted peanuts (diet starts next week, thank god), reaching for the orange juice (and the vodka) and settling down to a late-night blast of GTA IV with my husband.  You see, before L came along – we loved nothing more than playing video games late into the night and it’s something that we don’t do anymore… until this Christmas.  Cue lots of bleary-eyed mornings with Leila jumping on the bed and us begging her for five-more-minutes.  Kids are the toughest nuts to crack, the gestapo wouldn’t have broken her resolve, so we’ll need to get back into our normal routines again very soon before we die of sleep deprivation!

But, it has been nice… and I can’t wait for next Christmas… (don’t shoot me!)

I said goodbye to my sister and her family a couple of days ago when they flew back to Australia, it always rips my heart out a little… she emigrated when I was 8, you’d think I’d be used to it by now, but I always get a bit melancholy over a sister/sister relationship that we’ve never been able to cultivate due to the distance (and the fact that I’m rubbish on the phone!)  Anyone else have a similar bittersweet Christmas experience when it comes to relatives?

Anyway, Christmas is all about kids and I hope that I managed to make Leila’s magical.  As a three year old, I feel that this is the first Christmas that she’s really understood and I’ve layed it on as thick as I could.  The best Christmas gift I can give her is that unadulterated Chrimbo excitement that will hopefully follow her into her adult years so that she can pass it on to her children one day.  Having said that, she did have a plate of cocktail sausages for her Christmas dinner, so it might not be quite as fully traditional as I’d hoped!

Here’s some photos from our first family Christmas in our new home together, the first I’d had away from my Mum and Dad in 31 years!

Christmas 2012_01

Christmas nails with Butter London Knees Up and The Full Monty

Christmas 2012_02

Slightly healthy mincemeat and apple pies (but only ‘cos I didn’t make enough pastry for lids!)

Christmas 2012_03

Our first family Christmas tree!

Christmas 2012_04

Our 2nd Christmas tree (a mini 3ft one for the sitting room)

Christmas 2012_05

Our poundshop angel bought in panic when Leila decided life couldn’t continue without a tree angel after we’d bought a star *sigh*

Christmas 2012_06

Our mini tree – the only one we could squeeze in the sitting room!

Christmas 2012_07

Decs and cards!

Christmas 2012_08

Reindeer in the New Forest

Christmas 2012_09

Leila visiting a winter wonderland in the New Forest

Christmas 2012_10

She wasn’t too keen on Father Christmas, cool threads though!

Christmas 2012_101

It’s not Christmas without a dirty chicken tikka kebab…

Christmas 2012_103

… and a few episodes of The Avengers! (especially “Too Many Christmas Trees”)

Christmas 2012_102

Our bargain Christmas lamp from Tesco!

Christmas 2012_104

Packing up the Christmas Eve box full of excitement-making goodies

Christmas 2012_105

It’s CHRISTMAS EVE!!!

Christmas 2012_106

Christmas Pyjamas at my Mum and Dad’s house!

Christmas 2012_107

Someone is excited!

Christmas 2012_108

Don’t tell anyone, but we ran out of Mince Pies!  Father Christmas got the “pick” of the Celebrations box though…

Christmas 2012_109

JUST. ONE. MORE. SLEEP!

Christmas 2012_110

Nearly there!

Christmas 2012_111

We might be family, but all niceties are off when it comes to bowling.

Christmas-2012_12

My Christmas ballerina.

Christmas 2012_208

Christmas Dinner and Crackers!

Christmas 2012_207

Leila’s new coat! (and Calamity Jane outfit + Christmas Jumper!)

Christmas 2012_206

Christmas Dinner (pyrex jug for gravy = classy bird)

Christmas 2012_205

onion rings = even classier bird, what?!?!

Christmas 2012_204

Baileys in a Guinness glass…  I’ll just stop pretending now shall I?

Christmas 2012_203

…and he did!

Christmas 2012_202

No chimney here, thank God for magic keys!

Christmas 2012_201

Merry Christmas from us xxx

Bonfire Night, Alresford, Hampshire

Posted by Lipglossiping On November - 6 - 2012

Please excuse a photo post, it’s not Wednesday yet so I can’t even excuse it with a “wordless” prefix.  However, it is 3am and I’m yawning in time with my keyboard taps.  Thank you so much for your amazing comments on my post yesterday, it’s so good to hear that even in the most ridiculous of situations, there are always people keeping me company by doing exactly. the. same. thing.  You idiots 😉

Anyway, we promised Leila a trip to see the fireworks this bonfire night.  Last year, I was a bit more organised and we went to the big display in Winchester – which I thoroughly recommend.  This year, after a quick shout-out on Twitter, I discovered that the town of Alresford (about 14 miles away) was having a display, so after picking Leila up from pre-school, we hot-footed it up the M3.  £14 for two adults?  Ok, I know it’s for charity and you mustn’t grumble (I still grumbled) but don’t they know there’s a recession going on?!  AND there was no Starbucks this time.  BOO.

It was an “ok” display, hampered by a change in wind direction which meant that most of the whizz-bangs were let off from behind a great (or “gurt” as we say in this neck of the woods) big tree. We probably wouldn’t do this one again…

Here are some photos – they’re handheld and not the best, there was less people and subsequently less light than at last years display – you’ll notice I got busy with my fisheye again!

bonfire night alresford 2012

bonfire night alresford 2012

bonfire night alresford 2012

bonfire night alresford 2012

bonfire night alresford 2012

bonfire night alresford 2012

bonfire night alresford 2012

bonfire night alresford 2012

bonfire night alresford 2012

bonfire night alresford 2012

bonfire night alresford 2012

bonfire night alresford 2012

bonfire night alresford 2012

Did you get the sparklers out last night or over the weekend?

The secret lives of beauty bloggers…

Posted by Lipglossiping On September - 26 - 2012

Hi, my name’s Charlotte and I lead a double life.  In my spare time, I take photos of doors.

I’ve just returned from Prague, they have a lot of doors, cool doors.  Look…

I hope I haven’t blown your mind too much.  I am so much fun to go on holiday with.

Do you have any “interesting” hobbies you’d like to share in order to make me feel better about myself?

 

* but seriously, isn’t that sunflower door AMAZING?

** no, really

The photos that time forgot

Posted by Lipglossiping On May - 5 - 2012

About a billion years ago (ok, 4) a friend lent me a Canon A-1 35mm SLR and a 24mm lens.  My first taste of a film camera that pulled no punches when it came to working without technological stabilisers.  I loaded up a Neopan 1600 film (with some help from the internet) and took it off to London with me to shoot a couple of frames.  This was four years ago.  When I got back, I put the camera in a cupboard and to my shame, forgot about it.

My friend found himself getting back into film and about a month ago and I got a gentle nudge in the direction of “Oi, gimme my camera back”.  Remembering the film that was still in there, I headed out to Winchester and finished off the roll before sending it off for processing with my fingers crossed that the film hadn’t spoiled too much over time.  I got the pictures back yesterday and it seems so strange to look at those first photos of London that were taken long before Leila put in any kind of appearance…

London, Summer 2008.

Oh how things had changed by the time I’d browsed through to exposure #11 of a 36-frame film, taken 4 years later.

The exposures are all over the place and my focus is off on a few but now I want a film SLR to call my own and I want to learn how to develop my own, a project for the Summer perhaps!

An untraditional Easter…

Posted by Lipglossiping On April - 10 - 2012

…decorating gingerbread men!  L spotted these in Tesco and had been such a good girl traipsing around after me all day that I couldn’t resist giving in and promising her a morning of biscuit decorating.

super concentration!

caught red-handed giving way more sweeties to herself than the gingerbread men!

Mummy! You PINCHED one!

Mine, Leila’s and Mr. L’s masterpieces.

It’s a good thing they came with so many sweets ‘cos the actual biscuits tasted like shit.  And Tesco didn’t even bother to give them willies, I thought that was the law when it comes to gingerbread man baking?

Hope you beauty peeps have been spending some quality time with the people you love the most this weekend!

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