Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Pamper Grotto with Sanctuary Spa and giveaway - Merry Christmas!

Last week I joined lots of other bloggers in London for the PZ Cussons Christmas beauty blogger Pamper Grotto. Hosted at the lovely St Martin's Lane Hotel, this was an opportunity to get to know four of the company's brands a little better - Sanctuary Spa, Fudge Urban, St Tropez and Charles Worthington haircare.

It was a great evening, catching up with a few old faces and meeting new ones. I enjoyed a couple of glasses of Prosecco, canapes and Percy Pigs (gummy/jelly sweets) - and had my nails done, all the time with Christmas songs playing and Bing Crosby's White Christmas on screen in the background.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Pocket-friendly skincare launch

Interesting news at the Waitrose spring summer 14 launch last week - the supermarket is working on its own brand of natural skincare. The core range of eight products will contain 95% natural ingredients, is fragrance free and suitable for sensitive skin, but the really interesting thing is the most expensive item in the collection will cost just £2.99!

I know, I can't believe it either and I'm excited about trying the products in the New Year. It's all very well to have a low price point, but they have to deliver in moisturising and skincare terms also otherwise who will buy them? So let's hope the range delivers what the enthusiastic folk I spoke to at Waitrose believe they will.

I tried the facial oil on the back of my hand and it was soft, but it's hard to gauge any real effects with just a drop of product, so I'm looking forward to really putting the range through its paces when I receive samples in January.

I'm not sure what the collection will be called - the samples I saw are still at the no label stage and were perhaps not even in their final packaging - but I'm told it will go into stores in March.

Could this raise the bar in terms of inexpensive skincare?

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Phil Smith Be Gorgeous Total Treat Argan Oil Cream - review

Hair products and I often don't get on. I don't have time to spend hours sorting out my hair so I don't tend to use lots of different products, preferring to stay with a couple of tried and tested favourites instead.

My hair has also become more frizzy over the years, and when I find something that tames the frizz and stops me looking like I've been dragged through a hedge backwards, I tend to stick with it.

So when this arrived through the post I had no expectations about it at all.

I tried it - and I love it. I have been using it for a couple of weeks now and I can really see a difference in the smoothness of my hair; it looks more groomed and shiny than before.

I had all of my hair cut off a few weeks ago in a drastic move to signify a new start in my life, and because I was so sick of having to wear it up all the time (it looked a mess down). I now have a short bob, which incidentally is the best do I have ever had.

Back to Total Treat. Blowdrying has never been my forte, so I rough dry my hair then use the straighteners on it to iron out the frizz. You are supposed to apply a pea sized amount of the product after washing, then style. I use more than that, but I have thick hair and haven't had a problem with greasiness or stickiness from using too much.

I'm really impressed with this. The tube is going to last for ages, but when it does run out it will be on my shopping list as it now ranks up there with my beloved Illuminoil as one of my favourite haircare products.

Friday, 18 October 2013

A day in London town - Dot and me

During the summer holidays Dot came with me to London for a couple of product launches. We made a day of it, meeting up with her dad for dinner and eating her favourite food in her favourite food place - Chinese in China Town.
Before that we spent time at the Thorntons Christmas in July show, where she sampled lots of chocolates (I had a few too) and patted an enormous chocolate dog. I'd got the times wrong - no idea how I did that - so there was hardly anybody there when we arrived and they were starting to pack up to go home, but we still enjoyed the fake snow and seeing the goodies Thorntons are launching for Christmas 2013.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Life's a peach - The Body Shop peach body butter

Well this is a blast from the past. I think the fragrance of peaches is the first I associate with the Body Shop from a long time ago and I'm really happy to see it (or should that be smell it) again. 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Mary Berry's Cookery Course - A step-by-step masterclass in home cooking - review

For fans of Mary Berry and Bake Off this book is one for the Christmas list.
Mary takes us through all kinds of dishes, from starters to mains, soups to salmon, and each recipe features lovely photographs to whet your appetite (and show you what the result should look like, handy if like me you're not a great chef). There's also step-by-steps, which are something I always look for in a recipe book, especially if it's something I haven't cooked before and I'm not sure how it should look at the different prep stages.
I love the blurb for the book, which states: "Technique Masterclasses and Secrets of Success features show you how to do things 'the Mary way'... Find out how Mary gets her roast chicken skin so crispy and how she ensures her apple pie never has a soggy bottom..."
Crispy chicken skin - yum; soggy bottom - there's nothing worse for chafing.
I hope to try out one or two of the recipes in the next few weeks and when I do I will post pictures of my efforts on here.
Mary Berry's Cookery Course - A step-by-step masterclass in home cooking, is published by DK and costs £25. Mary also has a website - who knew? It's at maryberry.co.uk 

Monday, 7 October 2013

Burghley Horse Trials 2013

I meant to upload these images from this year's Burghley Horse Trials a couple of weeks ago, but better late than never. I cannot tell you who is who in the photographs, also I took loads of pix but only a few are any good.

Jock Paget was the winner this year (with the help of Clifton Promise of course). He's a very skilled horseman and he's very good looking, what more could you ask for in a man? Unfortunately we didn't get to see him accept his trophy as my friend Kelly and I were only there for the cross country day.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Lots of lush lovelies by Lush

On Thursday I popped down to Carnaby Street on my lunch hour, as you do, to take a look at the Christmas collections from Lush for this year. As far as I know these are in the shops now - I think they launched yesterday - but if they're not then they won't be long.

There are so many good things coming up this festive season from Lush, some new, some old friends. The Christmas penguin is one of my favourites; he's a bubble bar you just crumble into bath water and his design is inspired by the smallest penguins in the world, found in Australia (I know, who knew they had penguins in Australia). But... I don't think I could crumble him, it would be too cruel.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Getting down with the kids - me and Maybelline Baby Lips

I love these lip balms I picked up in Boots on Thursday. I don't think I would have bought them if it hadn't been for the fact that they are now apparently the must-have in high school and Dot has been going on at me to get hold of them for a while.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Book corner - Step-by-Step Cake Decorating

I'm the first to admit I'm no great cook, but I do like cookery programmes and I've really gotten into the latest series of Bake Off. I know baking isn't the same as cooking, not everyday cooking anyway (definitely not of the sort you get in our house), but baking has me hooked.

Step-by-Step Cake Decorating, by Karen Sullivan, published by DK, £16.99, dk.com

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Pic-k of the day - The Library of Birmingham

I love these images of the new Library of Birmingham - it is as far removed from the breeze block library I used to use as a child in the north east as it is possible to be. Mind you, breeze block stands the test of time as that library in Felling is still open today as far as I'm aware.

Designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo, the library opened for business on 3 September. What a stunner.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Back on the ball - picking it up again

Time to get back on board with the beauty reviews and news.

I have a list of products as long as my arm to talk about and there’s some great stuff out there at the moment, being human though they have had to take a back seat for a while as I tried to juggle life and work. (I hate the term juggle, coined I remember by a magazine that is now defunct – couldn’t manage the juggling I guess). Well I’ve been dropping balls, lots of them, but now I’m beginning to pick them all up, and though it will take a while until I’ve got them all in order again, I’m working on it and feeling more positive than I have in a time.

Life can be a bitch, but it’s also exciting and beautiful, and that’s where I’m at currently, that’s where I’ve decided mine is going to be from now on. Mine and Dot’s.

It’s a new chapter for us and I’ve got a bunch of plans. Bring it on.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Summer photos from North Essex

What a difference a few months makes. Walking the dog today I was stunned by the changes in the wood since my last visit, obviously the snow has gone but the plants and trees - everything has just shot up, the oilseed rape was almost as tall as I was in the fields and poor little Spice was hidden by the grass. If you need a reminder of what this view looked like not that long ago then take a look here

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Travelling to West Pomerania in Poland

This past week has been an amazing one as far as travel is concerned - I was in Luxembourg and Germany for a press trip to Villeroy & Boch, a company that makes gorgeous bathroom products and tableware, then I travelled to Poland as part of an organised visit to see what that lovely country has to offer.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Moving to a new home - Chloe leaves

Saturday was a sad day for me, Chloe the horse (of Chloe and Freda fame see here) has now gone to her new home and I will no longer be required to stand in for horse (and sheep) sitting duties.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Preteens – Dot is bored and I don’t know what to do

Dot when she was easier to handle

I’m at a bit of a loss parenting-wise. I know being a parent is hard work – and children don’t come with a manual for how to get it right – but this time, coming up to her 12th birthday, seems to me to be the hardest bit so far.

Her terrible twos were terrible and her troublesome threes none the less so. She has always been very strong willed and I didn’t cope so well with the toddler years – the tantrums, screaming and all that comes with them. When they’re that age though you can scoop them up and carry them away with you to wherever it is you want to go and they don’t. You can’t do that when they’re almost teenagers.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Summer scent - Figue Sauvage from Les Senteurs Gourmandes

With the outbreak of warm weather we've had this past week or so I've gone into full summer mode when it comes to perfume. I've put away the heavier scents along with my winter jumpers and dug out my favourite light fragrances, including the fresh citrus one I told you about here.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Things I Love - book review

This is a book of four parts and includes a practical collection of design tips as well as a section of inspirational pull-out postcards, to whet your home stylist appetite. Megan also introduces a number of people she admires – designers, artists, models, collectors and photographers – through interviews that give insights into their creativity. 

Finally, Homes I Love is a look inside houses across the world that have had an impact on her, thanks to their style and the people who live in them. Informal in tone and easy to read, this book will quickly engross you.

Things I Love by Megan Morton, £25, Conran Octopus

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Replenishing Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner

Yes, this shampoo and conditioner from Alterna does contain caviar extract, which is something I’ve eaten in the past, but never put on my hair before. Happily they bear no resemblance in smell or texture to that fishy delicacy.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Gatineau Melatogenine AOX Advanced Rejuvenating Eye Serum

As I get older I find it’s the skin under my eyes that gives the game away – I get up in the morning and it’s like I’ve been creased during the night, the lines seem to stick together almost, creating horror of horrors WRINKLES.

I can’t get away with calling them laugh lines these days (who laughs that much?) so I find the answer is just not to focus on them too closely before about 11am and to send in the big guns, aka eye creams, in the interim.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Joy to the nose

When you’re feeling down there’s nothing like a fragrant pick-me-up to, well, pick you up. So when I received this fruity number from The Body Shop the other day I sniffed away my blues.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Horse (and sheep) days – Chloe and Freda

This past week I’ve had the privilege of looking after the most wonderful horse and sheep duo while their carer has been away. I wasn’t sure it was a good idea, as I’m still hurting over the loss of my wonderful boy John, but I did it anyway. It goes without saying I’ve fallen totally in love with the two of them. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Pets in plant pots - oh yes

Oh my goodness, I know it's been ages but life got in the way. Not in a good way, more in a work-I-have-bills-to-pay way, and despite my best intentions I didn't have the energy or the inclination after 10 hours a day at the computer.

It seems though that the laugh may be on me. I hope to God I'm wrong, but it's looking very much like I'm not going to get the money owed to me for the work I did, that I will have to chase the company that owes me through the courts and even after that, even with a court judgement against them, they may not pay. How fair is that? It's a rant for another day - 'Does freelancer mean skivvy these days and where do companies get off treating us like something on the bottom of their shoe'.

And soooooooo in the spirit of not letting it get to me and not depressing you, dear readers (that's if I've got any left after my prolonged absence) I present to you....

Kitty in a plant pot and Bunny in a plant pot. I don't know why but this is the favoured seat for both Rosie Raditt (our cat) and Cookie AKA Mrs Bun (our rabbit).

The two of them sit in plant pots for hours at a time, awake or asleep, it doesn't seem to matter. Still, as long as they're happy. Have you seen the size of her ruff - she is as big as the cats and they run away from her. Does anybody else have pets with strange quirks? Let me know, I'd love a laugh xx

Monday, 11 March 2013

Why Mother's Day is the happiest - and saddest - time

Yesterday was Mother's Day and it was the noisiest Mother's Day I have ever experienced, with Dot shouting even more than usual. Don't get me wrong, it was lovely and she made me the most beautiful card, but boy can she shout.

It's always a funny day for me - on the one hand I have my own Dot now, and it's a very special time with her; on the other hand I don't have my mam anymore, which is very painful. Usually it's more a constant dull ache than a sharp pain - it will be 30 years this August since she died - but Mother's Day is one of those times when it hurts like it happened yesterday.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Fresh food, freezers and falling rain

This amazing sight is just outside Vinopolis. Very appropriately, it was chucking it down when I took this photo

Yesterday was rather a busy day, I was in London for the launch of a new cooling range from Zanussi, which was held at Vinopolis, a place I've wanted to visit since it opened.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Reasons to be cheerful

The Angel of the North - I know I'm home when I see this. Image from www.picturesofgateshead.co.uk

Hello, hello, helloooo. I bet you thought I'd fallen off the edge of the world, I've been so quiet these past couple of weeks. Nothing so dramatic, but to be rather melodramatic, I've been trying to sort out the rest of my life!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Lush giveaway - for Valentine's Day!

How was your Valentine's Day? I hope it was fabulous and you're all loved up and ready for another  great 40s Chic giveaway.

Today, just to stretch out those warm, fuzzy feelings of yesterday, we have up for grabs The Kiss Lip Gloss from Lush, packed full of shea butter, almond oil and organic mandarin oil for hydration and softness. It has a fruity scent but is not overpowering so won't clash with your fragrance.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Girls: on the edge of their future - The Gallery

This week's gallery over at Sticky Fingers is entitled Girls. I don't think I've joined in with the Gallery before, but this theme spoke to me when I saw it and I couldn't not join in.

Sweet hearts from Love Hearts

If ever there was a brand destined to fit with Valentine's Day then surely it's Love Hearts. These little sweets have been around for ever - I know, they were around when I was little - and the people that make them keep thinking up new ways to share the love.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Kiss and brush up - Denman for Valentine's Day

With Valentine's Day just a few sleeps away I thought I would introduce you to a few love-ly gift ideas I've come across this year.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Horse meat in lasagne - what's the big deal?

I have just been watching the news and all the furore over horse meat in food from Findus, Tesco and Aldi, and I just had to write this. It's outrageous for lots of reasons, one of the main ones being that if I wanted to eat horse meat I would buy horse meat. If I buy something that is labelled as beef lasagne then I expect it to be beef - otherwise the product is lying yes?

MAD Blog Awards - how should I say it... I'd love to be nominated!

MAD Blog Awards

It is not in my character to ask people to do things for me - I'm really quite shy and always have been, but this time around I'm going to act out of character and ask my followers and anybody who even quite likes my blog to nominate me for this year's MAD Blog Awards.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Face mask with less fuss - Yon-Ka Masque No 1

Skincare is very important to me (and as I get older it gets more important), but I'm often pushed for time and can't be doing with lots of faffing around. That's why I'm particularly taken with this hydrating face mask from Yon-Ka: you apply it and then just leave it, no wiping away, no rinsing, you just let it get on and do its job.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Project 365 - week ending 2 February 2013

Dot walking Jerry - why does she never walk her own dog?

Ben in front and Jerry behind - looking after the neighbours dogs for a couple of days

What remains of the Roman gate in Colchester, the Balkan Gate

A glorious blue sky, you wouldn't know it was freezing would you?

My job is so glam - washer woman for the day, all in the name of journalism

One of the more aesthetically pleasing street lights in Colchester

I hadn't noticed this church until recently - not that I walk around with
my eyes shut or anything!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 1 February 2013

Kiwiherb organic remedies for winter ills - giveaway

With the forever changing weather – snow, rain, wind and (thank heavens) sun, it’s no wonder we feel under the weather at times, coughing and spluttering our way through to spring. Never fear, 40s Chic has come to the rescue with our latest giveaway, designed to get you through this tough spell in one of the most natural ways possible.
Thanks to the guys at Kiwiherbs we have a few herbal lovelies to help soothe your cough, boost your immune system and banish dry lips (the chapped look just doesn’t work).

Monday, 28 January 2013

Inspiration and weight loss goals

These are my favourite jeans. Why, I hear you ask, is she showing us a pair of Levis? Good question. It’s because they don’t fit, and haven’t done for quite a few years. But they will. Again.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Project 365 - my weekly round-up

I'm going to go with a weekly 365 round-up from now on as sometimes it's difficult to find the time to upload every day. Going from left to right and top to bottom this week in my life shows

Dot having fun in the snow the day school was closed. Unfortunately this only happened on Monday and she had to trek to school in the snow for the rest of the week - which you can imagine didn't go down well.

A snowy scene into the distance as Spice and I headed cross country.

Spice, the little man himself, enjoying the snow.

Homemade soup - yum. Tasty and warming, even if I did put too much pasta in it. This soup lasted for ages and fed Dot and I for quite a few days, in Dot's case, sometimes twice a day (she loved it.) I'm not a cook so I'm very proud of this, especially as I didn't follow a recipe but made it up as I went along.

The view across the fields taken from the wood where the dog and I love to walk. All the rain has made the wood very difficult to get through due to the mud and mulch, but the snow and cold hardened it all up so we took advantage and enjoyed a leisurely two-hour stroll.

Another view through the wood, honestly it is so beautiful in the snow that I could take photos of it all day. It's the white against the bare branches that creates the fairytale look, a bit Narnia-like.

My Christmas poinsettia still looking great. I'm hoping it will stay healthy and last until next Christmas...

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Looking for - and finding - the happiness in life

You're not from round here

Sometimes my daughter winds me up so much I feel like I'm going to explode. She can be so cheeky and the amount of back chat I get from her brings steam shooting out of my ears. One of those times happened tonight, over the silliest thing. Anyway, it's over now, she has gone to bed and I have calmed down. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Home hair colour - Schwarzkopf Color Mask

Today I coloured my hair. It's not my favourite job, as I get the stuff everywhere - sink, ears, boobs, neck - but when you're blessed with hereditary greys as I am, it's a total necessity.

Monday, 21 January 2013

A coffee break with... Sarah Silvester

In the first of what I hope will become a regular interview feature at 40s Chic we catch up with natural beauty expert Sarah Silvester.

Sarah is the founder of Laidbare Skincare, a brand that uses only natural ingredients in its formulations; she also sources natural beauty products – including fragrance and make-up – from around the world through her company Touch My Face.

The company donates 10% of its profits to Sreepur, a charity that through education, supports more than 100 destitute mothers and 450 children in Sreepur village, Bangladesh.  


The view from the woods - I have no idea why it has come out black and white!


Sunday, 20 January 2013


This is my beautiful Christmas poinsettia, which is still looking amazing even though the festive season is long gone now (or so it feels to me anyway). The next image I took using the macro setting on my camera - I'm told it's better for close-up photographs but I don't see any difference really. I think I need to read a book on photography and improve my skills. Another thing to add for the list this year.


Saturday, 19 January 2013

The art of fashion

I love this dress from the Ruby + Ed spring summer collection. It looks like summer – all those colours, very like one of my favourite paintings, Water lilies, by Monet. 


I love this little trio of carol singers. Dot made them for Christmas in year 6 at primary school and they have adorned our living room ever since. The are too cute to just put out at Christmas so they have in fact become a year round choir.