The Ivy Brasserie Norwich | Review

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This week I was kindly invited to The Ivy’s preview evening before they open next week. The whole evening was such a delight. As you enter you are greeted by this sophisticated yet vintage 1930’s/40’s aura- large elegant chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceilings, bright and cheerful wallpaper taking a playful take on the Norfolk broads accompanied by colourful vintage prints and locally referenced artwork inspired by Norwich, Norfolk and the surrounding areas.

On arrival a glass of bubbles or freshly squeezed orange juice was served. As we meandered around the restaurant and the private dining area a range of savoury and sweet canapés were served- the king prawns were by far my favourite!

Not only was I invited to the preview evening, I somehow managed to bag a breakfast taster session for my partner and I. If you know The Ivy well, you’ll know it’s not just about the food it’s about the whole dining experience. The whole encounter was pretty exceptional, including the service. To start with my partner and I shared there breakfast pastries served warm with butter and preserves (£4.75). Matthew tucked in to a full English breakfast (£13.50) whilst I indulged my avocado and spinach Benedict with freshly made hollandaise sauce (£7.95). Not only is there food super instagramable but the drinks are too! My green juice (£4.00) definitely took the wow factor over Matthews latte (£3.25).

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The Ivy officially opens on Tuesday 21st August 2018. They serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, weekend brunch, dinner, cocktails and everything in between. I am already looking forward to another wonderful dining experience at The Ivy, I’ve got to go back and try there hot buttermilk pancakes! To make a reservation call 01603 273888 or book online here.

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TUI SENSATORI Resort Ibiza | Review

Ok, so if you know me you’ll know I love a good luxury holiday. When I go on holiday I like to 100% relax so I knew that it had to be a TUI sensatori holiday because they offer fabulous luxury holidays set in five star surroundings. I booked the package holiday online via the TUI website to include flights (Easy Jet) and hotel which was 5* all inclusive. At the time of booking they were running a promotion offering £50 off holidays departing before 31st August 2018- my initial thoughts were an extra £50 saving means another new bikini!

I’m so glad we decided on the Ibiza resort, the hotel itself has a very stylish and contemporary feel. We booked an adults only double room which was lovely. When we arrived it was around 1:00am local time so it was dark outside I remember opening the balcony door and being so excited I could hear the sea- I didn’t realise how close we would be. Our room was equipped with all the usual i.e. iron , ironing board, flat-screen TV, fridge, safe. They had made us a platter of food and left a bottle of red wine which I thought was such a thoughtful touch, even though I didn’t drink it because I don’t like red wine!

Location wise, it overlooks the beach and because of its hillside location it offers some of the best sunset views. The best sunset views can been seen from the sunset bar where we relaxed most evenings with a cocktail or two whilst enjoying music from the in house DJ! However in addition to this there is also The Show Lounge and The Boardwalk where most of the evening entertainment happens. One evening we watched the fantastic Lloyd Wade perform, he is an incredible soul singer who knows how to work a crowd- he had all the audience joining in, even me- cringe!

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The dining facilities were out of this world- hence why I returned 6lb heavier! The resort has six restaurants;

All Inclusive Restaurants

  • Es Vedra & S’eparta- This is the main restaurant which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s set over two floors so can either dine upstairs or downstairs both have separate family and adult only dining areas. The food here is fabulous and everyday there is a different theme meaning you don’t get bored of eating the same food. The waiters and chef’s were all so friendly, not once did we have to wait more than a couple of minutes for a drink top up.

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  • Sunset Mediterranean restaurant- This is one of the restaurants we didn’t get to try only because we had such a tight schedule. I was a little disappointed as I love Spanish cuisine especially paella!
  • Trattoria La Torre Italian restaurant- Here they specialise in classic Italian cuisine including pizza, pasta and risotto- literally carb heaven! Unfortunately this was the other restaurant we failed to dine at however I’m slightly please as that 6lb may have been 8lb!
  • The Retreat- This restaurant is a five-minute walk from the heart of the resort, you will find a Pan-America eatery open for buffet lunch and a la carte dining by night. We only had lunch here once just because we stayed at the main resort most days, I would say the ‘The Retreat’ generally is aimed at families as the restaurant is located next to the splash park/waterpark.

Payable Restaurants

  • Le Souk restaurant (Supplement of €25 per adult and €12.50 per child 2-12 years)- Oh wow! So this had to be my absolute favourite place to dine, it’s definitely worth the additional supplement fee. We enjoyed a range dishes from Asia and North Africa all courses were so yummy, we both left feeling rather bloated.
  • T-Beach restaurant- Supplement of €40per adult and €20per child 2-12 years- This restaurant is beautifully located on the beach, so the perfect setting for either lunch or dinner. We ate lunch here a couple of afternoons. At lunchtime they offer a set menu but again with something for everyone, my favourite was the cheese & tuna pitta with a side of chips and salad! (there is no supplement for lunchtime dining). Unfortunately we didn’t have time to have dinner here but I hear its pretty amazing! They serve sushi or you can cook you own steaks and seafood on a hot volcanic stone.

All restaurants required booking for dinner apart from Es Vedra & S’eparta, you could book up to two days in advance which worked well, the only downside to the booking system is you couldn’t book on the same day- if your like me I can be very indecisive so same day booking would have been ideal! Oh and boys make sure you pack long trousers or tailored shorts for dinner time. In regards to drinks there are lots of different bars around the hotel and just a little heads up- the staff are in no way stingy when it comes to pouring.

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The hotel offers six pools; main pool, adults only pool, outdoor pool (located at The Retreat), children’s splash pool, outdoor activity pool and spa pool. We spent most of our time at the adults only pool because we don’t have children, it was super close to the beach and I loved the in-water sun loungers. On the last day I left my partner by the pool whilst I went off for a pamper session at the spa. Within our welcome pack we were given a spa welcome voucher offering 20% off but because I’m so forgetful I forgot to use ours and ended up paying full price- but the back, neck and shoulder massage was worth it so I didn’t mind. The spa itself is beautiful, very modern and sleek. As well as the pool they also offer a thermal zone, sensation showers and ice fountain perfect for a day of relaxing and revitalising.

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Overall the holiday was superb! I think personally the thing that impressed me the most was the service received at the hotel- it was second to none. On arrival our luggage was taken to our room for us by reception. The maids cleaned our room roughly everyday, changed our towels and topped up our water in the fridge without request. On the second to last night we were called and offered room upgrade to a swim up room but we didn’t take them up on the offer because we only had the one night left and in all honestly I had stuff everywhere so couldn’t be bothered packing to unpack again. I would definitely recommend this hotel if your looking for the perfect holiday, with great views, entertainment and facilities.

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HD Brows Sculpt, Glow & Sun Sticks Review

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HD Glow Stick (Rose Gold £22.00)

HD Glow Stick (Champagne £22.00)

HD Sculpt Stick (Warm £22.00)

HD Sculpt Stick (Cool £22.00)

HD Sun Stick (£22.00)

Up until now I have never tried HD brows make-up, I just knew they were the brand behind the UK’s number one brow treatment. I was lucky enough to be gifted the five sticks to try, at which time I decided to collaborate with my friend Rebecca Perfect MUA– She is a qualified make-up artist specialising in glam style makeup so I knew she was the right woman for the job!

HD Glow Sticks

Both shades are just fabulous! Out of the whole range of products these two sticks are my absolute favourite- they’re simply gorgeous. Before using these products I always highlighted with a powder, I think like most ladies I’ve just stuck to what I know. However since trying these highlighter balms I’ve changed my opinion- because I have quite dry skin they worked incredibly well! They gave me a lovely natural glow, lifting  and brighten my entire face. I will be intrigued to see how long lasting they are as I know cream products usually have a little less staying power than powders.

HD Sculpt Sticks

I was really excited to used these two sculpt sticks as I usually contour with a cream but from a contour palette, so I thought it would be so much easier to apply the product using sticks and then blend out with brush or beauty blender. I did end up with a lovely seamless contoured look but I felt the formula could have been slightly more on the creamy side as they were a little difficult to blend. Rebecca used a mixture of the two shades whilst creating the look, simply to see how they both came out against skin tone. Whilst I think shade ‘warm’ most suited my complexion I do feel that a darker shade could be added to the collection, as well as a concealer shade to apply in the areas you want to make stand out. I will keep experimenting with the sculpt sticks but probably will combine them with the palette I normally use, unless HD Brows decide to launch a couple of extra shades.

 

HD Sun Stick

I don’t know about you guys but I love anything that gives me a summery glow! And this sun stick defiantly does that… It’s the perfect shade. This is going to be so ideal for my holiday, I will apply this to my bare skin as during the day the weather’s too hot for a full face of foundation. I found the sun stick complimented the sculpt sticks impeccably well!

All five sticks are paraben free meaning there completely free from any harmful chemicals. They come in matte black, lightweight packaging making them super easy to transport in your make-up bag. Girls if you looking for that natural summer glow then look no further- find your local HD make-up stockist here, go and try there new sculpt, glow & sun sticks for yourself, go get sunkissed!

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HenDrew | Centre Parcs, Elveden Forest

So last week we celebrated Ellis Drew’s hen do at Centre Parcs, Elveden. She actually organised her hen do herself with the help of her two cousins- I know a little unconventional but I guess she knew what she wanted; a hen do that everyone could afford to be apart of- which ruled out going aboard! She wanted it to be somewhere relaxing yet fun/entertaining, therefore she decided upon a week stay at Centre Parcs.

In total there were eight girls which was a perfect number as it meant we could all share one lodge. Our four bedroom woodland lodge was situated to the rear of the park in the Maple area which was the brilliant location because we were central to all the facilities. The accommodation itself was sensational comprising; entrance hall, cloakroom, open-plan living area, kitchen area, four bedrooms (two double & two twin), shower room and bathroom. Outside there was a small patio area with a brick build BBQ stand perfect for summertime dining. The first thing we did on arrive was made Ellis go and unpack whilst we decorated the lodge hen do style!

 

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The lodge was completely fully equipped but it was self catering so we plan our meals before we went and done a massive food shop on route. We did also dine out a couple of times; firstly we went for dinner at Huck’s American Bar & Grill, I decided on chicken fajitas- oh my goodness, legit, they were the yummiest fajita’s I’ve ever had! The presentation was fabulous they were served on a three tier fajita tower which is such a good idea when your in a big group otherwise the table becomes cluttered very quickly, especially when your ordering cocktails by the dozen- which of course we were! We also had to sample The Pancake House so once we had checked out of the lodge Friday morning, we headed straight for brunch. After eyeing up everyone’s pancakes on entrance I went for the banoffee stack- it was such a good decision!

 

We had already pre-booked some activities before arriving which gave us structure to our days and allowed us to fully relax and make the most of our break. Centre Parcs offer so many activities, both indoor and outdoor- so there really is something for everyone. The activities we pre-booked were; raft building– I don’t do water, so I helped with the build the raft but didn’t climb aboard to find out if it would sink or float. Bollywood dancing– was such a laugh, the prosecco beforehand obviously helped! Adventure golf– allowed everyone to get a little bit competitive. Aerial adventure– not for the faint hearted, I don’t do heights so my feet stayed well and truly on the ground. Pottery painting– I think we were all surprised how much we enjoyed this, I’m so happy with my burger (money box), lets hope Matthew likes it! Obviously we also spent a lot of time in the subtropical swimming paradise which was so much fun, I enjoyed the whirlpool and lagoon pools, whilst the more adventurous ladies amongst were thoroughly entertained by the slides, rapids and wave pool. Half way through our stay we decided we wanted to play badminton and take a kettlercise class we booked by simply login in and booking online- so quick and easy, again making it a completely stress-free experience.

I had the best week at Centre Parcs with all the girls. Ellis, Amy & Georgie done an incredible job planning a fun filled week. I’m not a very outdoorsy person so Centre Parcs would never have crossed my mind for a hen do but I have to say it was absolutely fantastic, I had such a lovely week. I will definitely returning in the future, even if it is just for The Pancake House!

Celebrations | The White Lodge, Attleborough

What a fantastic afternoon celebrating James’ 30th birthday at The White Lodge.

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We were royally looked after by our lovely waiter, Scott. The food and service was completely faultless, which is pretty impressive considering there was 27 of us dining. Being a large group we had pre-ordered our food via email, which made the whole dining experience perfect. Everyone’s food arrived at the same time, all the food was freshly cooked and the portions were of substantial size- I don’t know about you but I hate going to restaurants were there is tiniest amount of food plonked in the middle of the plate and you walk out still feeling hungry. The presentation of every course was spot on and nothing was too much trouble. The menu they offer is so diverse offering everything from ‘Drunken Beef Yorkie’ to your classic pub favourite ‘Steak & Ale Pie’, in addition to the set menu they also have a specials board which is undated regularly.

Within our party we had two people with special dietary requirements, one being gluten free and the other having celiac disease meaning she is gluten intolerant as well as being dairy intolerant. The White Lodge catered massively for both, there were still so many options from them both to choose from which is remarkable for your local pub! The menu is very reasonable price, we had three courses for £20! Monday – Thursday they offer a meal deal two listed main meals for £20, such a good deal for high quality home- cooked food. Children are welcome, they offer a separate children’s menu and have a fantastic outdoor area with a wooden climbing frame and a large grassed- we enjoyed a family game of cricket after the meal.

The room in which we were seated had been set out brilliantly, the tables were in a horse shoe shape enabling everyone to interact without shouting. It was a fabulous place to for a celebratory meal, thank you to everyone at The White Lodge for a great first dining experience- I’m sure I’ll be back soon!

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Beautiful Hair Makes A Happy Head

I’ve never been one to experiment with my natural hair, I’ve always wanted straight, silky hair. Having gone to school in Norfolk I was one of the small minority of children with curly/afro hair and to be honest I hated it- for some reason everyone wants to touch your hair when its curly, why? By the time I reached the end of high school GHD’s were my best friend, I used to straighten my hair religiously and (dare I say it) I used to wear clip in extensions to gain volume and length. This continued for many years until a friend introduced me to bonded extensions, at the time I thought hallelujah! Although these were convenient I found that they thinned my hair very quickly, but maybe that’s because I used to remove them myself rather than visiting the salon- I’m not sure. Being unsatisfied with bonded extensions left me uncertain what to do with my hair so I left it curly for a period, adding a bit of blonde here and there. This kept me content for all about 12 months, which is when a very good friend recommended trying a weave- OMG! I absolutely loved it and haven’t looked back since.

I’ve been going to Revelation Hair & Beauty in Ipswich for about the last 2 Years, it’s not my local salon but I don’t mind traveling because I know Sally & Tina always do such a fantastic job. The salon is split over two floors; the salon upstairs and the shop selling everything hair related downstairs.

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I am super lazy when it comes to my hair so when I visit the salon I have the full works; take-out, shampoo, condition, hair treatment and weave installment. I have a full weave with a closure or 360 frontal both are quick to install, easy to maintain and there is no blending hassle. On this occasion I purchased my own hair from HC Hair, I decided to buy Peruvian straight hair (18”) with free part closure (16”). It’s of natural colour but can be dyed and bleached however I like to keep it as it comes. The hair is double weft weaving with minimum shredding and each bundle is 100g. I used two bundles because I have a small head but depending on how much volume you want you could install all three.

The process…

My natural hair is completely braided to create a base for the wefts of hair to be sewn onto using braiding thread and a curved needle.

Maintenance…

As I’ve said previously I’m super lazy so I go to the salon to have my hair washed and blow-dried usually weekly or every fortnight. There is no set rule on how often you should wash your hair, it is recommended not to over wash your hair as this can result the braid base loosening and shedding to occur. Dry shampoo is my best friend! I usually use Batiste dark dry shampoo (400ml £6.49) however I have seen the new, award winning COLAB dry shampoo (200ml £3.49) advertised, it apparently has an invisible formula that removes excess oil without leaving white residue. The whole range is currently half price in boots so I’m definitely going to be trying this!

When you first have a weave installed obviously it feels tight for the first couple of days, as does all universal braiding. After about three days once the hair has had time to settle in it begins to feel more comfortable and looks much more natural. I absolutely love the end result, the thickness is perfect and I don’t have to worry about humidity- Hooray!

My First Blogger Event | John Lewis Norwich Showcasing The Best Of Their Summer Fashion & Beauty Collection

When a direct message appeared in my inbox from Florence inviting me to the first ever John Lewis, Norwich blogger event I felt overwhelmed with excitement. My first thought was- what am I going to wear!?! Being a weekday I knew I would have work during the day therefore I needed an outfit that was smart/casual, so I went for the classic white shirt paired with khaki skinny trousers.

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Shirt (Next sale)

Trousers (Next sale)

Sandals (Next sale)

Bag (Mulberry)

Eventually the day came of the event and in all honesty, I had no idea what to expect. All I had to go off was the formal invitation I had received via the post, which read:-

Join us on the night for;

A chance to view our exclusive women’s summer fashion collection

Try beauty products from Clinique, Dior, Mugler, Origins & Sisley

Hair styling demonstrations by GHD & Dyson

Nail polish updates by Jessica Nails

Cocktails by the Rooftop Garden

Nibbles by Waitrose”

I had organised to meet Hannah Marie, a fellow Norwich blogger beforehand, we took a few photographs nearby  and then headed for John Lewis customer services where we were told to meet for 6 o’clock. We were two of the first to arrive, we were seated before being shown through to a room that had been set up purely for us- Yes, it was off the shop floor which made it feel that little bit more exclusive. The room was set up beautifully with counters from the following brands Sisley, Dior, Clinique, Origins, Jessica Nails, Mugler, Dyson, GHD, IzziRainey and Boden. In addition to this the Rooftop Gardens had their own bar area serving cocktails & mocktails- unfortunately I was driving so opted for the Virgin Strawberry Collins mocktail (£4.50) which was so refreshing. Waitrose & John Lewis had put together some nibbles which included a mixture of both savoury and sweet options- there was even a vegan selection. I headed straight for the breaded king prawns- OMG yum!

On arrival everyone was every polite, it took all of about 10 minutes before everyone got there cameras out photographing/video recording. Gradually as everyone became more comfortable the room got louder and louder…

Gin

I was greeted by a lovely lady offering a small sample shot of gin- I didn’t need asking twice. There were two options to choose from, either Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb & Ginger Liqueur (50cl £15.00) or Firebox Unicorn Tears Gin Liqueur (50cl £40.00). I love something a bit fruity so I went for the Edinburgh Gin- it was delicious, you could definitley taste that it was infused with rhubard & ginger, but it wasn’t overpowering. It would be lovely served straight over ice or simply added to a glass of prosecco.

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Dyson

I watched a demonstration by the lovely stylist Lydia showing how to blow dry your hair into pin curls to achieve big, volumised, wavy hair. When it comes to my hair i’m super lazy, currently I go to the salon to have my hair washed and blow-dried for pure ease. However, after seeing how super lightweight and easy the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer is to use my hair routine might be changing sooner rather than later! Apparently, it’s all about the airflow not about the heat- Dyson have enhanced the size of the airflow to create a high-velocity jet for faster drying. They’ve also made all the attachments magnetic making it extremely quick to click them on and off during styling/drying. Finally, the feature that sold it for me was the weight of the product- its superlight meaning you don’t end up with an aching arm half way through, instead you can achieve the perfect salon blow dry in the comfort of your own home.

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Sisley

Debbie on Sisley showed me the wonderful Black Rose collection :-

Black Rose Cream Mask (60ml £105) InStyle Best Beauty Buys Award Winner

If you’re looking for ‘instant youth’ this is the product for you. Debbie applied this to my hand first explaining you’d leave the product on for about 10/15 minutes (in this case she didn’t as time was getting on) then removed it using a cotton pad- it left my hand so soft!

Black Rose Precious Face Oil (25ml £150) InStyle Best Beauty Buys Award Winner

The face oil was then moisturised into my hand which I have to say, smelt incredible. It does seem rather expensive, 25ml of product for £150 but Debbie explained you only need the tiniest amount- a little goes a long way.

Black Rose Skin Infusion Cream (50ml £134)

Debbie finished the with the infusion cream leaving my hand visibly brighter.

I was surprised how silky my hand felt after all three products had been applied, there was no stickiness from built-up of product. I would recommend popping to the Sisley counter in John Lewis, Norwich for a skin consultation. It’s definitley not the cheapest skincare range but whats the saying? You get what you pay for.

Origins

Origins x Madeleine Shaw Glow-Co-Nuts Hydrating Coconut Moisture Mask (100ml £26.50)- Simply Wow! Lorna pampered me with this limited edition moisture mask which is made with coconut, apricot, orange and lime oils- it smells amazing. You can either apply it morning or night after cleansing for 10 minutes or you can leave it on overnight to let it work its magic whilst you sleep- that’s what I’m going to be doing once a week! I have very dry skin so more hydration the better, I can’t wait for my skin to feel soft and hydrated. Go and see Lorna on the Origins counter in John Lewis, Norwich for your FREE feel good mini facial. Also follow her on Instagram to be kept up to date with new launches, offers and advice.

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GHD

The talented Jessica styled my hair on the evening. I popped my bum on the seat allowing her to do what she wanted with my hair in hope that she would curl it- which she did! Jessica began curling my hair with the GHD hair straighteners whilst informing me about the limited-edition stylers available. The GHD Limited Edition Hair Straighteners (£139) are available in two shades earth gold and pure gold both coming with a heat-resistant bags which would be so handy for when I’m travelling! The new straighteners are curved making curling your hair so much easier- Genius! They reach up to 185c in 25 seconds and have an automatic sleep mode that turns them off after 30 minutes of non-use, I don’t know about you but I’m forever leaving the house then calling my mum to check I’ve turned my straighteners off! Overall, I think the new improved GHD’s are stylish, practical and well worth the money, I’m going to be adding them to my Christmas list- too soon?

The evening went so quickly that I didn’t get round all of the brands- some people say I talk way too much! In this case it’s clearly true. On exit we were all given personalised (yes, personalised! I know…) gift bags filled with lots of goodies and treats for us to try. A huge thank you to John Lewis for putting on such an amazing first event, I can’t wait to see what’s next…

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