Sunday, 28 December 2014

Yoga for beginners

I am always one for trying new things - whether this be food, clothes, wine - I am your woman. A fitness fanatic (as I often like to call myself), it's only fitting that I came across the wonders of yoga at some point. Prior to attending my first yoga class, I had heard many great things from various friends of mine about this mindful practice. Often said to test your strength and stability, this is a workout like no other. Of course, this could only make me eager to find out more. I went along to my first yoga session not only for the workout element (which I have to say didn't quite live up to my expectations), but to open my mind, to feel liberated. The latter I certainly achieved. This was a very relaxing session where I got to stretch my body to new limits and clear my mind of any worries. For those of you who aren't sure what yoga is, or if you are reading this because you want to find out more, and possibly try it for yourself then do read on.

We began then with a quick warm up- stretching our bodies in all sort of ways, and of course finding out who were the most flexible ones amongst us. I have got to give it to our yoga instructor - she was not only very friendly but also very spiritual too. After a quick warm up, it was time to try out some of the more testing exercises (if that's what you call them). Luckily for me I have quite good balance - my weekly gym sessions certainly made me look like I had been doing this for a while. Some of the moves I was already familiar with thanks to my Wii fit back in the day. We finished off the session by turning off the lights and sleeping. Yes - sleeping. I didn't quite know what to make of the sleeping part and I can't say I was overly keen. I was expecting my money to be well spent and to feel like I had actually worked out afterwards. That's not to say it wasn't enjoyable, I just think a lot of the moves you could do in the comfort of your own home using the wonderful Youtube of course (god bless the internet). I ended up in fits of laughter and walked out with a rather red face. Maybe I am not cut out for this spiritual stuff after all...

As you may know, I have an avid interest in anything concerning mindfulness, which has acted as a constant theme on my blog posts recently. I often find myself over thinking things, especially at night due to recent trauma in my life, and yoga is a brilliant way of de stressing - there is no denying this. However, just like meditation (which I will be focusing on in one of my next blog posts), this is something you have to practice in order to get the most out of it. Even though this isn't a strenuous workout, you are testing your core stability and strength which makes this an art form in its own right. Remember, training your mental health is completely different yo your physical, and this is something we need to be more concious of.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Exploring Dublin

So last weekend I embarked on a spontaneous trip to Dublin with two of my best girl friends - a well deserved break if I say so myself! After grabbing ourselves a bargain return flight for just £36, we couldn't wait to explore this marvellous city. I have always wanted to visit Ireland - and even though this wasn't a true representation of all that Ireland had to offer - it still beats staying in the Midlands! Everything, from the strong Irish accent, to the sweet Guinness stew and numerous street performers dotted about the cobbled streets made this the perfect little getaway before Christmas. 

Now I would be lying if I said Dublin exceeded my expectations - it didn't. But what it did do was make me a whole lot more grateful for the prices of amenities back in the UK (just kidding). It was awfully pricey though, which a lot of people had warned me about beforehand. For some reason I had also envisaged the city to look a lot older that it did, and feel somewhat more Irish (if that's possible). However, it was clear from the moment that we stepped foot into this city that it was a thriving one; one that welcomed tourists and their wallets! Saying this, the night-life was brilliant (more on this later). There were lots of little Irish pubs and bars to check out around the Temple Bar area, which again were a haven for tourists like myself. $7 for half a cider - they must think we are all from London!

After arriving at our hostel, we dropped off our bags and headed straight out in search of the Guinness Factory. Prior to this trip, I had heard very mixed reviews about this place, and I can't say I was overly impressed as I walked around the first floor after handing over 18 euros. However, after reaching the fourth floor and getting the chance to not only pour - but enjoy my own pint overlooking Ireland on the eighth floor - I was happy I went along after all. Now a certified member of the Guinness academy - I can go to sleep knowing I have achieved something with my life...




After a quick pint of Guinness (or in my case - a swig) we headed back to the hostel for a quick nap. By this time we were starving and ready for some grub. However, we had not prepared ourselves for how cold it was that evening. First off, we decided to walk, which was brave in itself, but the sheer lack of clothing we had decided to go out proved to be an awful idea. By this time - it was too late to turn back. In a desperate bid to find the famous Temple Bar we got out our crumpled map and hoped for the best. Luckily we came across this little beauty - The Hard Rock Cafe where food was promised, and lots of it! Luckily we managed to grab a table fairly quickly and dig in to our delicious burgers. I have always loved Hard Rock cafĂ©'s and can now say I have dined at one too. After we had filled ourselves up to the brim, we decided to do what every Irish (and English person for that matter) loves to do - get merry. It is the season after all! Live music, cheesy music, Irish music - this place seemed to have it all. I had a brilliant night mingling with the locals and getting my groove on...

The next day, we decided to check out more of the city, including the many shops (of course). After a fairly early wake up call, we started by heading down to the renowned Christ Church which was stunning. As if the Church wasn't enough, it even had its own little Christmas Market in the crypt which I fell in love with, and live music from the church orchestra. I could have sat there all day listening to that. After this we headed down to Dublin Castle, which again I was very impressed by - it was beautiful inside. Luckily it wasn't too busy so we got time to stroll around at our own leisure. After a quick bite to eat - Guinness stew in my case, we then headed to the shops - where the real magic happens. I didn't realise how big this city actually was - it' s only until you start really exploring it and all its little backstreet's that you realise how wonderful it truly is. Of course the shops were rammed with those last minute Christmas shoppers but this didn't phase us. I think we could have easily spent half the day browsing around Penneys (the Irish version of Primark).

Exploring the city

Lunch is served
After we were all shopped out, it was time to head back to the hostel. I couldn't wait to rest my poor feet after walking around in heels all day - bad choice Atkins! By which time, it was time to get ready all over again for our last night in Dublin. Once more, we decided to take a leisurely stroll into the town (this time in warmer attire) grabbing a quick bite to eat and few drinks along the way. This was the perfect end to our little break. And there you have it - Dublin in a nutshell. Would I go back - yes! This is such a great city and so easy to get to from the UK.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Body Shop Haul

As promised, here is my Body Shop haul including those goody bag goodies I picked up from the Birmingham Blogger event last week. First off in my goody bag was this clever little Starbucks reusable mug, which offers 25p off any future Starbucks drink. I don't really go to Starbucks that often but I am sure this will come in handy for when I do! Along with this we got this delicious bag of popcorn, a Christmas lollipop and some mini Christmas edition body butters. The final little gift from The Body Shop was this Body Shop card which I still need to claim in store (I could be in with the chance of winning £100 off any products of my choice).

As it was 50% off everything in store, I couldn't resist picking up a few treats of my own - it would have been rude not to! After receiving a mini makeover during the event, I just had to get my hands on this amazing bronzer/highlighting kit (see below) which was only £7. I hadn't tried any of The Body Shops make-up prior to the event but I have been promised many great things Along with this bronzer/highlighter, I also picked up one of their matt primers, which again at half price only cost me £8. I usually use the Benefit primer but there is a huge difference in price as you can imagine. Finally, I decided to pick up some of the Hemp hand cream as part of one of my Christmas gifts, a lovely strawberry scented body set and some of their delicious Christmas Glazed apple products. I think the damage was £34 in total which isn't too bad considering how much I could have spent and how much some of the other blogger girls did spend! I am definitely going to be visiting  The Body Shop more often now, especially as I am more familiar with their product ranges and what suits my skin type. Again, I want to thank Abbigayle and the other girls for making this such a wonderful event. Tasty nibbles, bucks fizz and lots of pampering - what more could a girl ask for?

My Body Shop goody bag courtesy of The Body Shop

The amazing bronzer/highlighting kit

Do you shop at The Body Shop? What are your favourite products?

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Birmingham Blogger Meet - The Body Shop

I first heard about this event over on the Birmingham Blogger Facebook page - which if you're from the Birmingham area - I am sure you have heard of by now. This was the second Birmingham Blogger event organised by the amazing Abbigayle, and again, she did us all proud. I went along to this event not knowing what quite to expect. I managed to grab a ticket last minute after rearranging some of my former plans for that evening, and I am so glad I did! What I did know was that this event was being held at The Body Shop in Birmingham which meant lots of shopping and a hole in my bank balance! The Black Friday weekend brought along all sorts of madness. Trying to get through the determined shoppers as well as the German market visitors was a challenge to say the least. I found The Body Shop in good time, bearing in my mind I didn't really know where it was. I can't really say I'm a huge 'Body Shopper' to be honest. I love their products but unfortunately I don't have one on my doorstep so it's not somewhere I regularly visit.  

But back to the event - once everyone had arrived and settled in, we got started with a Birmingham Blogger event favourite - the cupcake challenge. We all had to come up with a cute innovative saying for our cupcakes and upload them to Instagram. After struggling to get wifi, I uploaded my terrible attempt at being witty (as you can see below). After this, we all chose a celebration of our choice as part of the ice breaker challenge. Depending on what celebration we had, we all had to answer a question each. I was asked where I would most like to visit if I had the choice, which for me was a treat in itself as it just so happens that I am going off on my travels next year. The answer being Australia.  After this we got a formal introduction from The Body Shop manager and were split into three groups. In our groups we got the opportunity to go round the store and test out all the wonderful products. Along the way we also had to try and solve the answers to a little quiz Abbigayle had created which listed questions based on The Body Shop ethics. This was used afterwards in a prize drawer at the end of the night. 

My adorable cupcake
The first station
Massage time!
I really enjoyed testing out all the products I must say, including our wonderful hand massages and mini makeover. The Christmas products in particular smelt amazing and I couldn't wait for the interval so we could finally shop. As expected, I got somewhat carried away and ended up buying a lot more than intended. However, I did manage to pick out a few Christmas goodies in my sweep which made me feel a little less guilty. I also got the chance to mingle with some of the other girls, a few of whom I had met at previous events including the amazing Lenny, Kirsty and a couple of new faces including Tashpantz and Sarah. I was definitely impressed with the organisation of the event. Even though we didn't manage to fit everything in, we definitely had an action packed evening. It was a very chilled and went far too quickly for my liking. 

So, after we were all shopped out, it was back to more games and nibbles including the classic charades which was the perfect team building excuse.  May I also add how amazing the popcorn was that evening! We all got given a free bag of this in our goody bags which I will be sharing with you in my next post. After the games drew to an end, it was time for the raffle and competition prize givings before saying our goodbyes. I can't wait for the next event already!

Nibbles and more...
And again...
Body butter heaven
The strawberry products have to be some of my favourite
One of the blogger games was to upload a photo of three to five of your favourite body shop  products - here's mine!
Time to shop!!!!
All of the #bhmbloggermeet beauties together 
Have you been to any blogger events recently? What do you think of this body shop special?


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