8 December 2016

Moments: November 2016

Gosh is it really that time of year already!  I know it’s a cliche but my god does this year seem to have gone fast, so much has happened!  I’ve enjoyed having this monthly diary to share with you guys and remind myself of what I’ve been up to every month.  However, I feel like it needs a shake up in the new year.  If anyone has any ideas on how to do that I’d love to hear them!  Here's to November:

I’ve Visited

New York!
I booked this in March as a gift for Harry’s 30th birthday so we’ve had a long build up!  Much like I said with Florida, there is simply too much to sum up easily here so expect many posts over the next year with reviews, tips and sights.  We did all the usual touristy stuff and got to spend Thanksgiving there too, it’s a wonderful city!
The Natural History Museum
The Kensington area of London contains a lot of world class museums that also happen to be free.  Because of this, it seems to be my go-to place to visit with friends from out of London when we just want somewhere to hang out.  The Natural History Museum is a favourite of mine, it’s my third time seeing the dino’s this year. it also was the first place in London I saw with its Icerink set up for Christmas.
The Science Museum
The science museum is one of the other museums in this same area, so I also came here with a friend this month. The museum is ok but it's not one of my favourites.  
Harry’s Nan lives here in this beautiful part of the country.  It’s only my second time visiting but it’s beautiful here, I’d love to get out and explore the area more next time if the weather is good.  

I’ve Read

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell
This is a booked I picked up from work and read at the start of the month.  A children’s book but the mysterious world and characters make it suitable for adults too.  I really enjoyed the cold harsh environment and the connection with the animals that seems almost magical.
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
A book I chose purely because of the cover while knowing nothing about it, luckily I really enjoyed it.  The book is essentially that of a middle-aged man going through a breakup and a midlife crisis.  The lead character is so lovable, relatable and enjoyable to read you can’t help but root for him. A really joy to read.
Top 10 New York City 2016
As I was heading over to NYC this month we of course got chance to finish this book.  As an overview this could not be better!  It gave us such a good starting point of places to visit based on area and interests, I’d really recommend it to anyone starting to plan an NYC getaway.
Wetlands by Charlotte Roche
Well, what to say about this.  It is a controversial book to say the least, and it was one that was recommended to me by a friend several years ago.  I am pretty open minded when it comes to mine and other's bodies, but this actually made me feel sick!  It’s shocking and crazy and I want everyone to read it just so I can talk to someone about it.

I’ve seen

Half a Sixpence, Noel Coward Theatre
This classical musical I saw for the first time on Netflix this year.  It is one of those examples where you don’t think you know the songs until you watch it and realise there are so many classics in there!  Seeing it live was plenty of fun, the lead has so much energy it was unreal!  A great, light-hearted show.
Fireworks at Alexandra Palace for bonfire night and Day of the Dead parade
Bonfire night is one of my favourite nights of the year, it reminds me of cosiness, bonfire toffee, hanging with friends and family and it means Christmas is just around the corner.  This year not only was I in London for the first time, but I had my parents and a few friends over, so we all headed to Alexandra Palace to see the fireworks.  It was busy, but the fireworks were beautiful, and the added Day of the Dead parade added a great atmosphere to the night.
Trainspotting at The Vaults
If you have seen my Trainspotting post or vlog you will have seen my thoughts on this one. A wild, fun show!
Dave’s band
My friend Dave’s band played at a pub in London, I had a good time checking them out and the other bands on.  I need to see more live music.
Putting Words in Your Mouth, Roundhouse
This performance has changed my life.  I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.  It’s a recording of three gay men who are members of UKIP, talking about their lives and what lead them to their beliefs, being mimed by three male actors of colour.  It isn’t what you think it will be by this description either.  It opened up thoughts about the world and myself that I never knew existed, it kind of tore me apart to be honest.  

I’ve been up to

Hanging with friends
I’m feeling sort of lonely and friendless down here at the moment, so it’s kind of strange to think I have actually hung out with quite a few of my northern friends who’ve been nice enough to come and visit me this month.
Showing my parents around Balham
They finally came to see my flat and my little area of London.
Hanging with Harry’s family
A few times this month we’ve had the opportunity to see each other and hang out which has been really nice.
Decorating for Halloween
Trick or treaters did not come to my third floor flat, but that didn’t stop me enjoying the night!  I loved having the flat decorated for Halloween, it felt so cosy!
Youtube channel re-launch
A long, long time ago before I blogged tried booktubing.  I failed, however recently I’ve decided to give it another shot!  I’ve reopened my channel, my first video is live, and I have a few more just waiting to be edited!

I’ve eaten

This is one of the things I really wanted to try in NYC and a quick look on Yelp made me find a really high rated place really close to our hotel, and OMG it was so good!  A whole post on NYC food will be coming up!
Thanksgiving dinner
My first and possibly only Thanksgiving dinner, right in NYC.  It was a bit of a poshed up version but it was seriously tasty, I’d happily have what basically seems like a second Christmas dinner every year.
Meat liquor
You guys know my addiction with this place by now so when my friends came to visit I had to take them here.
Magnolia bakery
A New York staple!  I went for the key lime pie cheesecake over the usual banana pudding though, and boy was it good.
NYC Diner

I went to a NYC diner one morning and had a stack of pancakes with bacon and syrup, delicious!

So there you have it, on to December and Christmas!

6 December 2016

Tis the Season to Do Battle: A Day Out Paintballing in London

Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, endless shopping streets — London has it all. But why not spend your time doing something a bit more unique?

For many people, a day out in the UK’s capital will consist of exploring the many different sights there are to see and spending some well-earned cash in the variety of shops. While this type of day is very popular, others may want to opt for some out-of-the-box thinking and spend their time doing something more exciting…  

...And it doesn’t get much more exciting than an adrenaline-fuelled day of paintballing in London.

Never Been Paintballing Before? Not to Worry

If you’ve never tried paintballing before, you’re bound to be a little bit nervous before you step out onto the battlefield. You’ll take your baby steps, fire a few shots at a nearby tree for some practice, and soon you’ll get to grips with how paintball works.

After your initial burst of child-like adrenaline and nerves have worn off, you’ll soon realise that you don’t have to be a fully-fledged veteran to enjoy a game of paintball. Sure, you’re bound to feel the inevitable sting of a paintball at some point, but this simply gives you all the more reason to go into stealth mode.

One of the most engaging things about paintball is that you can play the sport in whatever style suits you best. If you prefer an all-out attack approach, go ahead. Want to sit back a snipe from a distance? Find a nice spot and cause havoc from afar. Or you can adopt the ‘spray and pray’ approach; by firing so many shots you’re bound to hit something, right?

A Change of Pace

It’s safe to say that paintball offers you an entirely different experience to that of most other activities and sports. And not just because you’ll be wielding a paintball gun with the intention of shooting your closest chums.

Paintballing is also an excellent way to blow off some steam, putting you in an environment and scenarios where you can just enjoy yourself and let loose. Forget about work or any of life's stresses and embrace your inner commando!

Rally the Troops

While there’s always the option to go lone wolf and join in with a bunch of strangers, getting a group of family and friends will always be more entertaining. You can even invite younger siblings or relatives to take part, as paintball companies cater for all ages with the use of low-power paintball guns.

Another brilliant idea is to convince your employer to have paintballing as this year’s Christmas do. Not only does this give you and your colleagues a chance to bond, but it provides you with the perfect (and rare) opportunity to hunt down your boss with a paintball gun. All that overtime will seem so, so worth it for that.

Burn Off Those Christmas Calories

The festive season is upon us! At this time of year, everyone is guilty of overindulging, whether it’s one (or ten) too many mince pies or those extra glasses of mulled wine you couldn’t resist.

Anyone who has experienced it will be able to tell you that paintballing is quite the workout — a full body workout, in fact. Running, jumping, climbing, the irresistible urge to throw in a forward roll, and carrying around a weighty gun all day will all take its toll.

Luckily, the adrenaline of doing so will leave you unaware of how active you’re actually being. While you’re busy trying to win games and avoid being shot, you’ll be well on your way to burning off those Christmas calories.

A day of paintballing probably wasn’t on your to-do list this Christmas, but it definitely should be. While most people will be settling into their annual routine, you’ll be throwing an awesome spanner in the works by organising a day of paintballing in London this Christmas.

This is a sponsored post

5 December 2016

Jaguar Pace Fragrance Giveaway: Three Chances to Win!

Two giveaways in a row?  It must be Christmas!  This time I have teamed up with the wonderful guys at M&S to give you not one, not two, but three chances to win a bottle of the stylish Jaguar Pace fragrance, just in time to put it under the tree.

Now I don't know about you but I really struggle to shop for men.  Most of the men in my life are nerdy, so that makes things easier as at least we have something in common, but if not?  Well I'm totally stuck!  My dad is a prime example of this, every year I struggle to come up with ideas.

Now like quite a lot of men I know, my dad loves fast cars.  This new Jaguar Pace fragrance is based on the new Jaguar F-Pace, and the imposing design has been passed onto the style of the bottle.  The vibrant grey and blue glass bottle has a similar bold silhouette to that of the new car and is complimented by the blue-tinted perfume. The compact base is covered with a sophisticated lattice design reminiscent of the famous Jaguar radiator grill. The centre of the bottle is emblazoned with a shiny round silver insignia with the unmistakable brand sign of the legendary cat.

Sent wise, we have a stimulating trio of strong black pepper, fresh green apples and rosemary.  Great for a man who wants to make a mark!  If you want to pick up a bottle, just head over to http://www.marksandspencer.com/ where you can grab a 60ml bottle for £28, or a 100ml bottle for £44.  Alternatively if you want a chance to win a bottle, simply enter via the Rafflecoppter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!

1 December 2016

Vintage Cosmetics Beauty Giveaway

Christmas is almost upon us and it will soon be a New Year, so in this season of new beginnings and giving, it feels appropriate to host a giveaway.

Vintage Cosmetics are one of my favourite beauty companies, I love their style. let's face it, their it's totally on my wavelength!  I love the florals and polka dots, it really appeals to my love of vintage.  So when they reached out to see if I wanted to work with them it had to be a yes!  They’ve sent me a couple of products, and rather than keep them all for myself (although this is tempting) I’ve decided to pass them on to you. So there’s something to look forward to in the New Year!

The giveaway consists of two products:

Smokey Eye Makeup Brush Set (worth £16.50) *link*
This three-brush set contains everything you need to master your smokey eye looks.  Including the shadow brush, angled shadow brush and the smudger brush.

Luxury Beauty Cracker (worth £9.95) *link*

Forget your paper hats and bad jokes, this is a Christmas cracker with a difference!  It’s stuffed with beauty essentials, including full-size tweezers, duo pencil sharpener, emery board and more!

To enter and give a boost to your post-Christmas blues, simply follow the instructions in the Raffecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

29 November 2016

Multiroom Wifi Speakers by August: Review

Who else loves dancing around the house blasting music when they are doing housework?  For me it’s the only way to get through it.  It’s something I get from my mum, belting out Elvis and Motown as she mops the floors or does the ironing so I know I’m not alone!  For me it’s more likely to be pop-punk and metal, but either way I find it frustrating when you are going from room-to-room and the sound doesn't follow!

My mum has a bungalow, and I live in a one floor flat so you’d think you’d be able to hear the sound wherever you are but this isn’t the case, and it’s so annoying.  Having to plug and unplug speakers is frustrating and really impractical, and blasting the sound loud enough to hear everywhere distorts the sound (a real issue for my sound engineer boyfriend in particular!) and it’s a sure-fire way to annoy the neighbours.

Luckily August have come to my rescue for this issue by giving me two of their wireless, multiroom speakers to try out.  The first, the smaller WS150 retailing at £80 and the second, the larger WS300 retailing at £100.  

So let’s start with the basic; sound quality.  The first one offers a clear sound, with a decent base.  however when you turn it up to its maximum capacity the sound does suffer from some distortion.  Luckily the louder model did not suffer from this issue, with clarity and all volumes and a decent bass.  
Usability wise, both have large, clear buttons on the top which couldn’t be simpler to use, and a simple on-off button on the back.  The wireless function works well although the pairing of the speakers through the app took a few attempts to get them to work together.  The speakers charge through USB so they can then be transported wherever you need them without annoying cables or replacing batteries.  I love using them in the bathroom for this reason, playing some soothing music in the bath is best way to relax!  

There is only a £20 price difference between the smaller and the larger speakers, so I think if I were to choose one I would pick the larger WS300.  The sound difference alone is worth the extra money.  Plus, there is a special discount code you can get here for a HUGE 40% discount that actually makes it cheaper than the WS150, a total win/win!

What do you love to listen to at home?
*products sent for honest review, all words and opinions my own. Also contains affiliate links.

23 November 2016

Bath & Shower Skin Care Tips For The Winter Months

Bathing and showering are routine things we do every day and take for granted. But, it is a big part our skincare routine. Did you know that the most common factors that can lead to dry skin include; hot baths, harsh soaps, too much washing without the use of moisturiser, to name but a few. Dry skin is extremely common and can be worse in the winter months. When your skin is dry, it’s not because it doesn’t contain enough oil, it’s because the skin isn’t retaining its moisture (water). Keeping the skin moisturised is super-important, especially when bathing or showering. Here are my 6 top tips to do just that -


1. Limit the length and temperature of your showering and bathing.
This is a really hard one I know, and one that I often struggle with. Although pleasant, having a long hot bath or shower can actually rob your skin of that much-needed moisture. Try to limit yourself to water that is warm at best for no longer than 15-20 minutes.

2. Wash with a moisturiser based body cleanser
Try to use a shower cream / bath product with a moisturising element to it. This is a great way to replenish and lock the moisture into your skin.

My favourites are Dove Deeply Nourishing Body Wash and Aveeno Body Wash with Naturally Active Oat Essence for Dry & Sensitive Skin. Some soaps can be moisturising too - like Au Lait Luxury milk soap. If you love a bubble bath like me then I love to use Lush Bath Melt Ceridwen's Cauldron - it contains organic fair trade cocoa butter and creamy oatmilk.

3. Use Bath Oils
Adding just a few drops of a moisturising oil - such as argan, coconut, jojoba, olive or even grapeseed oil can make all the difference in keeping your skin moist and supple. (just be careful as these can be slippery! Always wash the bath after use! )

4. Blot your skin gently with a dry towel
Blotting your skin instead of rubbing his helps to quickly remove water from the skin before evaporation has an opportunity to dehydrate it. It also helps to keep a lot of the moisture in the skin. Avoid rubbing - gently blot dry!

5. Moisturise immediately after bathing within 3 mins after bathing
For maximum hydration, apply a moisturiser and try to finish doing this within three minutes after bathing or showering, according to the National Eczema society. Get your timers on! hehe

6. Use an ointment OR cream rather than a lotion.
After you towel dry, increase the moisture content in your skin by applying the right moisturisers immediately. Ointments and creams are more effective and less irritating than lotions. Look for a cream or ointment that contains an oil such as olive oil or jojoba oil. Shea butter also works well. Other ingredients that help to soothe dry skin include glycerin, lanolin, and petrolatum.

Both bathing and showering are equally effective in keeping the skin hydrated... But as you know, I'm partial to a warm relaxing bath. ;-)

These simple and easy to do shower and bath routine tips to help you avoid dry skin this winter.

About me
Hi, my name is Aj. I'm a 30-year-old Piscean with a penchant for luxurious baths and indulgent pampering and self-care. I pretty much love everything bath and bath related…. I just can’t say no to a gorgeously packaged and scented bath product! On my blog, www.allthingsbathnbeautiful.com you can find content not just related baths and skin care, but also tips on meditation, wellness, relaxation, lifestyle and interiors. I hope you have a look around. Much love, Aj x

14 November 2016

Trainspotting Live at The Vaults

Irvine Walsh is one of my favourite authors,  and I have vivid memories of seeing Trainspotting when I was far too young.  Sneakingly catching a late night showing on Channel Four, and it's not just me.  Trainspotting has become so iconic, so infamous, that is is almost part of the national conscious.  So you'd think that a production in 2016 might be impossible to do without it seeming like a mimicry.  Well, when the ticket you are handed is a glow stick you get the feeling you might be in for something a little more unusual.  Not only does newly opened production at The Vaults prove to be as fresh as it was when it was first discovered, but it will leave you wanting to coming back for more.

This production feels new and whilst also being pleasantly familiar.  The nostalgia is present, but so is the sense of edge-of-your-seat excitement.  Not least because you are worried what might be hurled at you next, quite literally, in this in your heightened theatre performance.

Speaking of which, this performance manages to be shocking without feeling like it's trying too hard, there is a sense of fun about it rather than it being a full on attack on the audience.  It's heart-racing, adrenaline-producing, stomach-clenching stuff, which is ramped up by the great use of sound and lighting.  The Trainspotting movie has one of the most well-remembered soundtracks in British cinema, and likewise the music is used well here to add a sense of immediacy as the show careers onwards.  My only slight criticism is that the smoke effects could have done with being dialled back a little at the start, as I struggled to see the actors through it for the first few scenes.

The Vault's dingy decor, with the ever audible rumble of tube trains,  add to the feeling of grimy, claustrophobic, unpredictable life of the drug addicts in this piece.  The unusual stage setting added to the sense of unpredictability, with audience members seemingly sitting anywhere they can be crammed into.  And don't think you are safe from being part of the action of you choose a traditional theatre seat either!  Unfortunately our seats, which were side on facing a wall at one end, meant it was very difficult to see and I felt like I missed a lot of the action.  I would recommend getting there early, grabbing a can of beer securing a good position.

This isn't despairing, mellow dramatic stuff as you may expect.  There are more laugh loud moments in this then there has been in most comedies I have seen this year, and it's ability to play on your emotions, from anxiety to laughter, is what makes this performance a real winner.

This show is masculine, aggressive and whilst still being heartfelt but it's certainly not for everyone. If you are easily offended it's fair to say this one isn't for you.  I think it is best summed up in this quote by Irvine Walsh after seeing the show:

"I was shocked and I wrote the fucking thing!"
I did my first vlog this day as I went to check out the show:

Trainspotting Live is on till 15th of January 2017


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