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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

April 28, 2017

Real Talk: Stop Saying Sorry

Something that I think an awful lot of us can be guilty of is saying 'sorry' when we really don't need to. I'm *that guy* who someone will say "stop apologising!" to and I will always, unintentionally answer with "I'm sorry!" to only be met either an angry defeated sigh or a clip around the back of the head. It's something I've always done and as I've gotten older, I've gotten better at not doing it in certain situations and worse in others. I don't know if it's tied to my anxiety, my low confidence, or just the fact that I don't like confrontation, but either way it's always been apparent and an unfortunate trait of mine. But now sitting here at 26, I've realised there's many things I apologise for which don't need to have a "I'm sorry" anywhere in sight. I'm talking about the things that make me *me* that others don't like, would prefer to change, or just outright like to disappear. So to those folks and those things I feel the need to apologise for, I'm giving you a big ol' middle finger and here's why:

"I'm no longer sorry for not drinking alcohol."
I'm not going to start all guns blazing, but something that I always apologise for (and I'm still doing at the moment I've sat down to write this) is not wanting to drink alcohol. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to sit here and say I'm T-total as I'm partial to the odd alcoholic ginger beer when it's sunny outside however I just don't like alcohol. I used to go out quite regularly when I was younger and in my early twenties and whilst I'll get nostalgic about the memories of those hilarious nights out, I just didn't enjoy the drinking part. Generally, I'm a good drunk and just act exactly the same but sillier, but sometimes it has played havoc with my mental health and in turn made me ill for days. I just don't even enjoy the taste of almost all alcoholic beverages but people can't seem to deal with that. "Don't be such a bore" should be printed on a tee for me to wear where I decline an invite out for a night on the toon - I just don't want it. I still will occasionally go out for an afternoon of cocktails with my best pal, but drinking til you're blind drunk? It's a no from me and guess what? That doesn't make me boring in the slightest.

"I'm no longer sorry for being an introvert."
Which leads me onto possibly one of my biggest peeves about myself due to the reaction of others - I am not sorry for liking to stay in in my PJs reading with a cuppa instead of going out to a loud bar, a crowded shopping centre etc etc etc. I've talked about why it's okay to prefer this kind of lifestyle before, but it's honestly something I've had to convince myself is okay to do. It's encouraging to see that more and more young people especially seem to be comfortable with identifying as a bit of a homebody and it doesn't seem to have as much stigma attached to it any more however, it is still a big hurdle for many.
"You're so boring!"
"Don't be so anti-social"
"You need to get out more"

All these phrases are thrown around and so many times in the past I have ended up giving in and doing what others want me to do but do you know what? I'm not boring - I get to do what I enjoy whether that's reading, painting, blogging, going out for walks, visiting a museum etc. - it's all on my terms. And you know what? I'm 110% anti-social and I don't give a damn. I really enjoy my own company. I like the company of small groups of people I really love and like. I don't want to go out and meet 20+ of your mates and pretend I'm having a good time. I don't need to get out more because actually? I feel pretty fulfilled and content yet happy to switch things up and continue to grow which to me is the balance everyone strives towards so yeah - no more apologies here!

"I am no longer sorry for having a small friendship group."
I guess this one is linked to what I spoke about above, but I'm really not sorry for enjoying my own company and only that of a handful of individuals. I've even had close friends in the past feel almost pity for me because I relish in this social style, but I no longer feel bad about it. There's lots of people who love surrounding themselves with lots of people and there's also people who like to be with me myself and I and of course, plent of folks in between. I like trusting only a handful of people and I'll be honest - I'm a bit of a sucky friend as I don't constantly check in to see how my friends are, what they're up to etc. so having only a few friends I actively want to keep track of because I care about them makes me happy.

Images courtesy of Grime & Glamour Photography

"I am no longer sorry for my interests."
Although this is something I've never necessarily apologised for, I have sometimes played down my interest in certain things in order to fit in with the people I'm speaking to or to avoid confrontation/mocking. This is something I do less now and I think a lot of it is to do with getting older and becoming more comfortable with who I am and my personality, but it's also because I'm really not sorry for what gives me joy.

"I am no longer sorry for changing."
How many times have you apologised for not liking something anymore? For not being interested in a person anymore? For changing your opinion on a particular political argument? We all change and grow as people and very few of us like the exact same things we did when we were 16 as we do when we're 26. It's just a natural process as incidents in our lives change us and that could be big events, people we meet, or just something small and personal that is extremely unique to each individual. As I mentioned earlier, I no longer want to go out dancing til 4am after 1O+ drinks and would rather be in bed by 1Opm with a good skincare routine. It's something we all go through and we all change at different rates so we need to accept that other people - especially those closest to us - might point out these changes and we need to address them. But address them in a positive way. If the change is benefiting you; if it's making you a better *more you* you then "sorry" shouldn't be anywhere in sight.

"I am no longer sorry for asking silly questions and voicing my opinions."
The last thing I want to mention is the fact that I no longer apologise for asking things and educating myself. I'm a firm believer that people should be able to speak their minds and it is the duty of all of us to accept and tolerate that and if that opinion is something we don't personally agree with? Challenge it. Ask the individual why they think or feel that way. Ask what brought them to that particular conclusion. Something I see an awful lot of on Twitter especially is people saying down right silly shit like "If you believe *insert thing I don't personally agree with* unfollow me right now!" and you know what? Those of you who do that are foolish. You are! If someone believes the complete opposite to you or says something that offends you, explain to them why it is offensive. Explain why in your eyes it isn't a solid argument. Do that in case that person didn't have all the information and therefore their opinion may be formed on lies or skewed truths. The opinion could be held on the foundation of naivety. You can actually help others and also yourself by being open and honest about what knowledge you are lacking. Whilst some sillies might be dismissing people based on the surface of their opposing views on the likes of Twitter, there are also young people asking about advice on matters such as the current election in the UK in equal measure. And that, that is worth so many pats on the back for those unapologetically curious folk.

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April 26, 2017

Spring Nail Colour Palette

Another Wednesday, another post celebrating makeup and the fact that it's spring time *applauds can be heard for miles around*. Although the weather hasn't been great all of the time recently, it is slowly getting there and it always makes me want to switch up a lot of aspects of my makeup. A couple of weeks ago I told you guys all about my current favourite lipsticks for spring so I thought I better tell you my other fave makeup product to switch up for spring - nails. Classically, nails are always pastel shades when it comes to spring and easter time and whilst I do love pastels, I also like using bright vibrant shades during this time of the year too to shake things up a little bit and celebrate the fact that we're seeing the lighter mornings and flowers in bloom. This year, I've been wearing a range of shades already so here are some I keep coming back to week in week out this spring:

Barry M Speedy Quick Dry in 'Pit Stop' and 'Pole Position' | £2.99 each - Barry M's Speedy Quick Dry range is my go-to range for gorgeous pastel shades. I own quite a few of this range in a range of colours, but two shades I've been wearing the most lately is Pit Stop and Pole Position. Pit Stop is a really unusual lilac/mauve/grey shade that is unlike anything else I own in my collection and Pole Position is a gorgeous pastel green. Unlike most pastel greens, this shade isn't your typical minty shade and is more lime in shade so again, it's a little different. These nail polishes are great for us lazy impatient girls as they really do dry down quickly and you only need two coats and you're good to go. Some of my other favourite shades in this range for spring are Eat My Dust (a gorgeous cornflower powder blue) and On Your Marks (a true pastel buttercup/daffodil yellow).

Rimmel London 6O Second Super Shine by Rita Ora in 'Neon Fest' | £2.99 - Another great drugstore range that is cheap, quick, and easy to use is the Rimmel 6O Second Super Shines. Again, I own a lot of these but my current favourite is a colour I would never usually choose as it's pink. Bright pink. I'm not a pink girl but I *love* how this shade looks on my nails and I think it sits on my skin colour so so well. It's going to be a great colour for summer too but I'm loving it right now too. These 6O second polishes are even nicer to use than the Speedy Barry Ms as they are really smooth to apply and extremely pigmented so you can get away with just one coat with a lot of the shades. Perfect for those lovely sunny spring days when you just need to get ready and go asap.

From left to right: Superdrug cosmetics bag, Topshop Nails in, Barry M Speedy Quick Dry in 'Pit Stop', Barry M Speedy Quick Dry in 'Pole Position', Rimmel London 6O Second in 'Neon Fest', and Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine in 'Almond'

Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in 'Almond' | £3.99 - My absolute favourite nail range needs to be mentioned now and that's the Barry M Gelly Hi-Shines. These polishes are so glossy and gel nail-looking but for a fraction of the price. I love so many colours in this range but a shade I'm particularly loving right now is Almond - a muted soft beige/brown nude that looks so sophisticated and classy. This is such a nice colour to wear if you work in an environment that doesn't allow bold nail shades or even if you simply just don't like them! And it's a great alternative to the traditional pastel spring colours. These polishes are my favourite because they're so shiny and I have so many favourite colours in the range. The formula is very opaque and as they're more of a faux-gel formula, they last so long on the nails without chipping. They're definitely worth the extra quid compared to the normal Barry M paints!

Topshop Nails in 'Green Room' | £5.OO - And lastly, a favourite from a range I haven't actually delved into that much but certainly will be after the few I have tried from them and that is the Topshop Nails range. This particular colour, Green Room, is such a lovely vibrant turquoise and will look amazing in summer but also looks great with pastel-coloured clothing during spring. I wouldn't say the formula of these polishes is my favourite as I find them a little bit watery and sheer, however they do dry down super quick so layers are easily buildable. The range seems to vary continuously in their shade and formula range but occasionally they bring out some absolute gems that are really unique and I'm definitely going to be picking up some more.

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April 24, 2017

Ruffles, Mesh & More

Happy Monday folks! I'm currently packing my suitcase in preparation for leaving my beloved north east and heading back to Winchester, ready to go back to work after a glorious few days off (I know, woe is me). This outfit is something I've been wearing a great deal over the last couple of months and is usually an ensemble I reach for on grim rainy cold days (hence the *brilliant* quality in photos - sarcasm everywhere). I've mentioned a million times just how much I love these jeans, but teamed with these platform very 70s boots and this lovely flowing top and I feel a little bit extra sassy. It's nice wearing all of these things together on the grey days as it's an outfit that's not too hot or not too cold in these turbulent weather changes. This top from Bershka is especially amazing as the embroidery detail gives it a great pop of colour and manages to incorporate that boho kind of vibe I love so much into a very goth/grunge style top which also pleases my inner scene kid.

Bershka Layered Top (similar) | Asos Jeans | Reclaimed Vintage via Asos Embroidered Bag (similar) |
Boohoo Platform Boots

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April 21, 2017

Book Club No.7

Hello lovely folks - are you super pleased and surprised with today's post? I know. Another Book Club post already! I've been ploughing my way through so many books recently and I'm so incredibly pleased with myself. For the longest time I wasn't reading regularly because I didn't have time but I've made a conscious effort to change that this year and I've already smashed my target for amount of books read for 2O17 so I won't be putting a halt on it anytime soon. So here's a little round up of some things I've been reading lately and what I've thought of them:

Daughter by Jane Shemilt
Wowee wowee, where do I start with this book? I picked this up on a pure whim - I read the blurb and thought it sounded like something I would like:

She used to tell me everything.
They have a picture. It'll help.
But it doesn't show the way her hair shines so brightly it looks like sheets of gold.
She has a tiny mole, just beneath her left eyebrow.
She smells very faintly of lemons.
She bites her nails.
She never cries.
She loves autumn, I wanted to tell them. She collects leaves, like a child does. She is just a child.

Naomi is still missing. Jenny is a mother on the brink of obsession. The Malcolm family is in pieces.
Is finding the truth about Naomi the only way to put them back together?
Or is the truth the thing that will finally tear them apart?"

Sounds pretty interesting but your standard crime/thriller novel right? Wrong. I loved this book so so much and let me tell you why. Daughter is a Sunday Times bestseller and a fave of Richard & Judy's Book Club and it's because it is brilliantly written. The story follows the Malcolm family - a bog-standard English family who have two busy career-driven parents, 3 teenage children, and a wee dog. One night, one of the children (Naomi) goes missing and the story follows what happens as a result. The story is not linear and tends to jump back and forth between the events leading up to Naomi going missing all the way up to the effects of it on her family afterwards. It's such an easy read as Shemilt is a fantastic writer so it never feels like a chore, but her writing also somehow manages to do that beautiful thing with your mind where "just one more chapter" happens again and again when you try to put the book down. The raw emotion of how the mum feels in the story about her daughter going missing is so palpable throughout the story that you can't help but get sucked in. You feel her frustration, her upset, her guilt in feeling joy when she feels she should be upset... It all resonates so strongly with the reader. I also loved that the book kept me guessing all the way up until the last few pages as to what had happened and what would occur next.

As soon as I finished Daughter I took to Twitter and felt compelled to tell Shemilt how much I bloody loved it. She was a sweet lady and tweeted me back and I've swore ever since to pick up her other work during this year. If you enjoy crimes or thrillers or if you've loved books like Room in the past, definitely give this one a go. You can pick it up in various formats here.

Fairest in All the Land by Bill Willingham
Next up let's discuss some graphic novels I've been reading and we'll start with Fairest in All the Land. The Fairest series is a companion series to one of my absolute favourite comic series ever, Fables. It is essentially a mature version of every classic fairytale/Brother's Grimm style story you have grown up with since a young age and Fairest is a spin off focusing on the female characters from the Fables franchise. Although Fairest is a companion series, this Fairest in All the Land is a stand alone edition to the whole Fables universe as it doesn't particularly follow any of the happenings in the Fairest stories. It does however follow some of the characters and namely focuses on Cinderella who is trying to investigate some murders and strange happenings that are going on in the Fables universe. I really enjoyed reading this as the story was told from the Magic Mirror's point of view which was a lovely spin on the usual style. It meant that you got a real feel for the storytelling aspect as the comic book story kept dipping back into characters sitting patiently in a room with Magic Mirror, listening to him telling this tale. It was just something a little bit different. The comic also celebrates a range of artists throughout each part of the story and it's great to see so many different art styles in one book and so intriguing to see how each artist portrays each character differently.

Although I really liked this little addition to the Fables world, I wouldn't recommend it to readers unless you are familiar with the original Fables series. This is because Fairest in All the Land relies heavily on the reader being aware of the backstories and relationships of the characters and the Fables world/environment in general. So if you think you'd be interested in Fables, check out my favourite graphic novels post for more info on the whole series, and if you're already an avid reader? Check out this standalone story if you just want some more Fables stories in your life (and you'll be pleased to know Willingham's excellent writing and humour doesn't falter at any point!). Pick up a copy of Fairest in All the Land right here

Low Volume 1: The Delirium of Hope by Rick Remender
Another graphic novel that I've read recently is Low. Low was something my mama bought for me for Christmas and I was super stoked to get stuck into it as it's from one of my fave comic publishing houses, Image Comics. It is a relatively new comic series that follows a family in the future in a post-apocalyptic kind of world. The story focuses on a time after the sun has started to burn up the earth and causes intense radiation so humans have descended into the oceans and are now living deep in the sea to hide from certain death on the surface. The humans who now inhabit the sea have adapted really well and send probes to look for other galaxies and planets which could be inhabitable for them to move to in future and go hunting in the sea on ships like some sort of underwater pirates. However as you can imagine, this underwater lifestyle can't be maintained as the oxygen supplies are running low and there's no way of collecting any more so Low starts to follow one family in particular when this issue begins to be more pressing.

The thing I really like about this comic is the art style. It reminds me of watercolour paintings and is very flowy and I guess, carefree, and seems almost in soft focus. A gorgeous colour soft colour palette is used throughout too so it's just a pleasure to flick through. The story itself is great and is a little different to the typical post-apocalyptic space story but I have to be honest, I found it kind of difficult to get my head around at first. It's a comic that jumps straight into the story and doesn't go out of its way to explain anything so I found myself flicking back a few pages a few times to get to grips with what was what. However once I was over that initial hurdle, the story was smooth sailing. Even just in this first volume, it's dramatic, gritty, and mature in a gripping but not over the top way. I'll definitely make sure to read the next volume as I honestly don't know how the story is going to unfold as it's quite unique and for that reason alone (if the artwork hasn't convinced you enough already), you should pick this up too.

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April 19, 2017

Rimmel Volume Shake Mascara

Happy hump day you wonderful lot! Just a quick review from me today as I'm currently sat in the café at the airport awaiting my flight to my glorious homeland, Newcastle. I'm having a couple of days break at home to see family and friends because I had the horrible realisation the other day that I haven't seen them all for 4 months and well, that just will not stand. I've managed to blitz through duty free and spend money (why does this always happen?!) so some more beauty review posts will be coming in due time, but for now, let's talk about the latest lash offering from Rimmel London: The Volume Shake mascara.

This latest offering retails for around £8.99 in most drugstores (definitely available in both Boots and Superdrug) and intrigued me because it promises clump free mascara and volume. Often those two things don't go hand in hand and to be honest, I'm usually not that fussed if I have a bit of clumping, but some mascaras (I'm looking at you Maybelline Great Lash!) have a little too much clumping for this lass to handle. So as it was on an introductory offer of around a fiver, I thought I'd give it a go. If you've been a reader of NB for a while, you'll know that I'm not fussy when it comes to mascara - until recently I didn't have a favourite that I continuously repurchase - so it's the one product other than lipstick that I will try and test as many as I can get my hands on.
So, let's talk about the product instead of waffling!

The first thing I noticed about this mascara is the weight of the product - guys if you're used to drugstore brand mascaras feeling cheap because well, they are, this one will make you question reality. The product is really weighted and the bottle is sleek in it's design reminding me of a cocktail shaker. Because of the shape and the promise of no clumps, I somehow convinced myself that the mascara would have a click to it's shake - just like those nail varnishes with the balls in the bottom to stop the formula from going gloopy or the click in canister sprays - but alas, it doesn't. When you actually open the product and inspect the wand I've got to be honest, it didn't seem like anything special. The wand is a good standard length, the lid is a nice size and shape to hold for application, and the wand end is your classic bristle style. The formula on the wand seems very thin and guess what? That's how it transfers onto the lashes. If you're a girl who likes lightweight, barely there mascara, you will probably like this. Although this mascara is black in shade, as it is such a thin formula, I personally feel that it doesn't coat the lashes as darkly as many of my others do. Inspecting the wand even closer though, one great thing about this mascara is the stopper/formula/magic of it prevents it from sticking to the wand meaning you don't waste any product so it's certainly good value for money in that respect.

Now, when I first put this on my lashes I absolutely hated. it. It seemed very much like a nothing product so I waited then applied another layer and oh my good god, I hated it some more. Although it did stick to its guns and remain clump free, it somehow managed to separate my lashes into about 5 individual ones by clumping them together. Not to blow my own trumpet, but I've got really good natural lashes - they're one of the few things I like about my appearance and I guess that's why I'm usually not fussy about mascara as they naturally have a good curl, length and volume to them but a mascara that was eradicating all of these pluses? *insert Simon Cowell "it's a no from me" gif here* - I think I'll pass. It honestly felt like the formula was *too* wet for it to work - I know that sounds silly as you obviously don't want a dry mascara, but this seemed to just slip over the lashes instead of grabbing and coating the lashes. I tend to like full lashes so I wanted a lot more volume than this guy could give.

I didn't want to give up on it though as I've managed to make most mascaras work for me at least until I've used them up and swore to never buy some of them ever again. So after persevering with it, I think I've got it cracked. One thing I will say about this is that it is extremely true to its word - it doesn't clump and the formula stays so so fresh in the bottle. Unlike many other mascaras I own and love, this formula doesn't seem to dry out which I'm convinced has got to be some sort of witchcraft. Whilst I know a lot of people will love that quality of it, I personally like a mascara that dries out a little as I feel it clings to the lashes so much better and is much more manageable. So to counteract it's freshness, I tend to remove the wand from the bottle and leave it chilling on my bedside table whilst I do my eye makeup/brows. By time I'm finished, the formula on the wand has gone a little more tacky and seems to work so much better for me. If you're someone who likes really natural lashes, barely there makeup looks, or doesn't wear makeup often and therefore finds a lot of their makeup products tend to dry out/go out of date, this is definitely one for you to try out. I've learned to like aspects of it but I probably wouldn't buy it again as it's more effort to put on than any other I own - even those that tend to make my lashes clumpy! Another redeeming thing about it though is if you have used a mascara that has clumped up your lashes to no end, this is a great little product for putting on top as it somehow smooths out clumpy lashes and makes them long and fluttery again. I would still recommend the Wonder'full mascara from Rimmel over this one if you want a natural, fuss free Rimmel option. If you hate the feeling of heavy lashes, both of these mascaras are great choices.

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April 17, 2017

Silver (Satin) Surfer

I know satin slip dresses as daywear/evening out out wear isn't a *thing* anymore but quite frankly, I don't care. I still love wearing this one I picked up last year from New Look as it's got to be one of the comfiest and strangely, one of the most versatile pieces of clothing I own. With tights, no tights, tees underneath, on it's own, over jeans, with converse, with flats, with heels... The options for it seem endless and although I'm usually more of a gold girl, this subtle silver grey is such a beautiful colour that goes with everything - even gold jewellery. This dress is very much a "I'll just throw this on because it looks like I've still put a bit of thought into what I'm wearing" option for my increasingly lazy day-style dressing and I will continue to wear it just because of that. It's a great transitional piece when the weather can't quite decide what it's up to, too.

New Look Slip Dress (same but shorter) | Primark Tee (similar) | Asos Belt |
Poor Boy Vintage Saddlebag via Asos Marketplace (similar)| Asos Leopard Loafers (similar)

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April 14, 2017

A Few Great Things To Do in Winchester

I've been itching to get back to writing more travel posts as it's been a hot minute since my last one, but with the less than desirable weather for the most part of 2O17 thus far, it's made it difficult to be enthusiastic about photography out and about. That has instantly impacted my ability to think creatively too but now that the sunshine seems to be making a comeback, I thought I'd give you a run down of some great things you can do in and around the Winchester area just in case you're ever knocking around my neighbourhood and need a few pointers of stuff to do.

Architecture - Winchester Cathedral
Okay so naturally I need to start with possibly the main attraction in Winchester - the gorgeous Cathedral. As Winchester was the capital of Britain once upon a time, you can imagine just how grand and wonderful the cathedral is if you've never visited it before. I was lucky enough to graduate in the beautiful building, but it is open to the public every day and you can photograph both inside and out 'til your heart's content. At particular times each day, you can go up to the top of the tower and the views across Winchester are breathtaking. You can also get a guide whilst up there to give you a bit of background info and a history lesson if that's your sort of thing. To visit the cathedral there is a charge, but it is worth the look around. Outside of the cathedral is also gorgeous and the lawns make a great place to sit during summer with a picnic or visiting during winter will give you the chance to visit the brilliant Christmas market and ice rink. Nearby you also have the Great Hall (with the supposed Round Table of King Arthur), the King Alfred Statue, and the old St John's Hospital (right next to the statue!) if more history and architecture tickles your pickle. And of course, just roaming around Winchester's historic streets will be a delight for all you fellow architecture lovers - check out this post if I haven't convinced you enough already!

Nature - St Catherine's Hill
I really shouldn't need to mention this because lord knows I've blogged about it enough, but Winchester has some absolutely gorgeous spots when it comes to walks, hikes, and bike rides. A great thing about the city is that it is so small that if you walk for about 10-15 minutes in any direction from the city centre, you'll suddenly find you've left the hustle and bustle of the city behind and stumbled easily into scenic quiet countryside. An amazing spot to visit is without a doubt St. Catherine's Hill which is an old hill fort site that gives the most incredible views of the city and the surrounding area. There is a mizmaze at the top of the hill too and it is a must-visit spot for anyone who really loves nature. There's plenty of signs so you can follow set out routes, and there's notice boards detailing local flora and fauna. And an added bonus? There's usually cows or sheep roaming around the hill too so if you get a bit giddy about these cute farm animals like me (not even ashamed), then you'll definitely love this spot. If disability or having young children is something that is putting you off visiting the area - don't fret. There's a beautiful walk along the base of the Hill which is completely smooth tarmacked and wheelchair and pushchair friendly.

Another great walk with exceptional views is St. Giles Hill at the bottom of the city centre. Only about 15 minutes from the busy centre, St. Giles Hill provides a brilliant view up the winding main high street and also of the cathedral and the castle. Heading just outside of Winchester, you can find many great walks heading towards Harestock and Sparsholt too as well as gorgeous walks along the River Itchen towards Shawford. If you like clocking a few miles, especially in the summer like me, Winchester can give you so many picturesque options.

History & Culture - Many'a Museum!
Although I've already mentioned some historic hot spots in the "Architecture" section above, Winchester is so rich in historic culture that it's any history or archaeology nerds dream paradise. Not only do you have buildings like the Great Hall and the Cathedral minutes away from the city centre, there's also some fantastic free museums open to the public too. Winchester has a lot of medieval history and records but it also has some great evidence from the Roman, Victorian and World War eras. The Military Museum is a short walk from the city centre and is not only a great museum, but also a lovely place to wander around. Although a lot of the lovely tall columned buildings are actually peoples' homes, they provide a great backdrop for any photography aficionados and there's a beautiful water fountain right in the centre. If war history isn't quite your thing, head over to the City Museum right by the cathedral for a little more variety. This museum is fantastic - especially for families - as they tend to have activity days and also have volunteers dressed up as things such as Roman soldiers to educate kids in a fun and interactive way. The local library is also a sweet spot to visit as attached to it is the Discovery Centre. The Discovery Centre has an array of stuff going on at all times - Comic Con, talks and readings by authors, free movie nights, and taxidermy course to name but a few! If you're planning a visit to Winchester, it's worth keeping an eye on what they have going on each month.

One last place I need to mention here is the planetarium. I know. I'm not going to waffle on about this place too much as I haven't actually visited it yet (I know, I'm disgusted with myself too), but if you're willing to drive out of the city centre for 10 or so minutes, the Science Centre with it's planetarium showings would undoubtedly be an experience to remember.

Entertainment - Marwell Zoo & Hillier Gardens
As great as Winchester city centre is, there's also a lot to see and do just outside of the city. When it comes to "entertainment" I guess I prefer the more *adventure day out* sort of thing that a trip to the theatre or going to a bar. Sure, Winchester has a great theatre which covers everything from panto to adult comedy shows and it has many old English pubs to boot, but I need to give a quick shout-out to two of my fave more "family friendly" spots. Marwell Zoo Is a 10-15 minute drive from Winchester (or a regular shuttle bus ride away during peak times) and is honestly one of the best zoos I've ever visited. I know not everyone agrees with zoos existing, but Marwell has so much open space and animals aren't crowded that I feel I can't help but like it. It has a great range of different animals there from giraffes, to meerkats, to various species of monkey and is obviously extremely family friendly offering different routes depending on whether or not you can walk a long way or not. The zoo has a little train to get you from A to B too in case you're accompanied by little legs and the park offers a variety of photography courses and out of hours experiences too. You can even get married there!

Another more *nature-esque* place I love is Hillier Gardens. The gardens are closer to Romsey than Winchester but again, jump in the car for 15 minutes and you're there in no time. If you want a gorgeous spot for a picnic or want to go somewhere for an art class - this is the place to be. The gardens are stunning and peaceful to walk around - no matter how busy they get - and there's lots to see despite it essentially being just a very large garden! The place is stooped in history and any avid plant lover will enjoy a look around. They often have activities on for children and adults too so there should be something to keep everyone happy. They also have a little café, art gallery and shop, a gift shop, and a garden centre if you want to take a piece of the place home with you.

Food & Drink - Mighty Good Grub
When it comes to food and drink, Winchester has got pretty much everything covered you could possibly need. It's got your favourite chains such as Zizzi, Ask Italia, Wagamamas etc. but it also has some utter gems when we're talking independent establishments. Whether it's breakfast, a quick light bite at lunch or a full 3 course dinner you're after, you can find it all in various independent spots throughout the little city. My favourite spot for a greasy fry up English breakfast or some pancakes is definitely Ruby Reds. This little American-style diner is not only extremely reasonably priced, it's quick, relaxed service. They also do amazing burgers, burritos and hot dogs for lunch and dinner and often have "if you can eat all this we'll give you a voucher" competitions running. They also have great afternoon deals and deals for students so you get a lot for your buck. If you want a fresh smoothie or delicious milkshake, you need to head to Ginger Two for Tea for a typically English breakfast/afternoon tea style set up and want the best roast dinner of your life? Head up towards Sparsholt to The Plough.

The Plough is one of my most favourite spots and Matthew & I are regulars there as it's at the end of our street (and by that I mean it's a good 45 minute walk along beautiful country lanes) but it's always worth the walk. The food there is delicious and sitting outdoors in the garden is so peaceful even when the place is super busy. Rain or shine, that pub has never let me down and although the prices are a little steeper and you have to book your table in advance because boy oh boy does this gastro pub fill up quick, it's all worth it. And I know I know, I hear ya fellow pizza worshippers... Fancy a 2O inch pizza with crazy cool toppings like pork crackling, Turkish lamb & mint yoghurt, or butternut squash and chilli? Head over to Pi, a woodfired, made to order little pizza joint that never disappoints. This gem is tucked away behind the train station and I'll be honest - Winchester is worth the trip just to come and sample it's delights.

Of course there's loads of amazing places and sites I haven't even mentioned here that are worth a look in Winchester (especially when it comes to food oink oink) but I just wanted to give you a glimpse into why I love this place so much and why I'm happy and proud to call it my second home. A lot of the places I've mentioned I've reviewed or written about on NB before and the others? Trust me, posts on them all are coming this way in the near future. But for now, I hope you've all decided that Winchester is worth a visit and y'all are planning your trips to my home city right now.

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April 12, 2017

Lipsticks for Spring

Another Wednesday is here and another spring-themed post will unfold! As a spring baby, I do have a fondness for this time of year and particularly the fresh dewy minimal makeup I associate with this time of the year is pulling at my heartstrings more so than it has in previous years. One staple makeup item for me no matter what is lipstick but especially during spring, I love switching up my usual contenders and going for more natural and quite girly (for me) shades. I've always been someone who doesn't feel quite themselves in pink lipstick but I'm finding more and more shades I love so here's my top picks for this spring:

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lip Colour in 'Flirtation' | £8.99: When I first got a couple of these HD Matte Lips I wasn't too sure of them because they don't really dry down and are kind of tacky to the touch however I can honestly say that I love them now. They are sickly sweet scented and smell like summer in a tube but what I really love them for is how opaque their colours are and how seamless the application is. This particular colour, Flirtation, is such an usual shade in my collection which I can best describe as a watermelon pink yet muted? It's not too bright and in your face but is still vibrant for spring time. This is definitely a top pick for me this spring as I haven't worn it since summer last year so I can't wait to dust it off again.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Lipstick in 'Nude-ist' | £8.99: I originally bought this shade when these lippies first came out years ago now and honestly? I didn't totally love it. Fast forward to this year and I bloody love this shade now. A true dusky rose pink, this shade is great all year round but it's a nice one for spring when I want to still rock a blush pink sort of shade but want something that looks a little darker against my pale skin. The formula of these lipsticks isn't my favourite for all day wear, but if I'm only going out for a few hours, these are great as they dry down relatively quickly and they don't budge. This particular colour tends to flake on me when I eat/drink compared to other shades I have in this range, but I can deal with that!

MUA Luxe Velvet Lip Laquer in 'Tranquillity' | £3.OO: The MUA Velvet Lip Laquers have been some of my favourite liquid lipsticks for a couple of years now and my absolute top shade is Halcyon (a peachy nude) but another shade I love and I've been purposefully trying to wear more and more is the shade Tranquillity. This shade is your perfect nude - it's not too brown, not too pink - and looks lovely on my skin tone so fellow pale princesses, you might enjoy this one! These lipsticks are super fast drying and fuss free with great colour pay off. They do tend to flake when eating oily foods or if you're wearing it for more that 4-5 hours, but honestly for three quid I don't give a hoot.

Collection Cream Puff Lip Cream in 'Fairy Cake' | £2.99: Before everyone went wild for the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams, Collection released their Cream Puff Lip line which was basically the same thing for even better value for money. The range had only 4 shades which were all nude/nautral/pink colours and I fell in love - strangely - with Fairy Cake which is an almost cotton candy pink but much deeper and looks beautiful on pale skin. You can pick up Fairy Cake and the other shades on the likes of eBay and Amazon overpriced, or pick up the shade Cotton Candy from their Velvet Kiss range for the same effect and original price point. These lipsticks are feather light on the lips and are more like a whipped mousse (similar to The Body Shop's Matte Lip Liquids which I reviewed here) consistency so they're not sticky or drying. Obviously this lip option has the least longevity of them all but it's so easy to apply and so lovely on the lip that it can be overlooked. For £2.99, you can't grumble can you?!

Swatches from top to bottom: Lime Crime Perlee in Third Eye, Collection Cream Puff in Fairy Cake, MUA Lip Laquer in Tranquillity, Bourjois Velvet in Nude-ist, and Revlon Ultra HD Matte in Flirtation

Lime Crime Perlees in 'Third Eye' | £14.OO approx: My last pick is weirdly enough a shade that I was raving about back over the autumn seasons for it's deep mulberry tones but it seems to transition into spring really well, too. I really like the Lime Crime Perlees (catch my full review here) and wear the copper shade Penny a ton but Third Eye is definitely getting it's fair share of wear time on my mush. Although it's a nice shade for autumn, it kicks out quite pink and vibrant on my lips so it's a nice shade for spring too. I tend to go for more neutral and natural shades in spring but if I want a darker, more bold lip, this is the one I'm reaching for. It's also the only lippy I keep picking out that has a metallic finish whereas all my other go-tos recently are a matte finish so it breaks up the matte muted pinks/nudes quite nicely. The formula of these are great and are really long wearing and comfortable so they're excellent value for money.

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