Getting My Spring Fashion Fix with Birmingham Bullring

Friday, April 18, 2014
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast

Last night I was kindly invited along to the Spring Fashion Fix event happening at my favourite shopping centre, Birmingham Bullring. Running from 12pm until 8pm, the day was centred around getting the four step Fashion Fix you need to be on-trend this Spring, whilst treats treats from your favourite shops and restaurants with bespoke offers and activities throughout the day. 

Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast

Umberto Giannini were on hand throughout the day, offering complimentary appointments at their pop-up dry bar, which they offer regularly in-store for £20. The staff were offering fabulous hair-ups and blow-dry looks to those who'd been quick enough to snap-up a slot, and I chose to have an up-do just before the fashion show started. I am utterly useless at trying to do things with my hair other than straightening it, and letting it dry naturally, so this was a great opportunity to try something different. The stylist ran a French plait up the nape of my neck, backcombed the top up to Amy Winehouse-esque heights and then finished it all off with a  classic top-knot. Pretty, huh?! Urban Decay were also offering make-overs, and the star of Nails By Rosie was show casing polishes from Topshop, Claire's and Urban Decay to create nail art inspired by SS14 trends, of monochrome, pastels and bolds.

Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast

The five key trends of SS14 are 'Pretty Things', featuring all things cute, floral and pastel; 'Sports Luxe', incorporating traditional sportswear styles and upgrading them for classy, everyday looks; 'Going Global', where tribal prints, interesting textures and clashing colours comes into play; 'Monochrome', the classic, reinvented for 2014 and 'Colour Palette', bold brights and crazy neons to carrying your straight through 'til Summer. There were several catwalk shows throughout the day, teaching you how to adapt the new season's trends to suit your colouring. 

Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast
Spring Fashion Fix Event at The Birmingham Bullring 2014 Style Trends Forecast

The super fantabulous Emily Jayne was also on hand for complimentary colour consultations, to get rid of the urge to wear black and grey all year round, find out which colours suit you best, and how to combine them for the perfect colourful capsule wardrobe. Turns out I was perfectly dressed to suit my colouring, as I fall between the Light and Soft palettes, which is conveniently perfect for this season. Emily also offers bespoke colour and style consultations from her studio; more details of which, along with lots of reviews, fashion news, and advice on how to wear colour can be found on her website.

It was such a fun night, great to catch-up with Emily and Alev, and the folks from Urban Decay in Debenhams, Hotel Chocolat and Kiehl's in Selfridges gave us some awesome goodies to see us into Spring, which I'll show you soon (apart from the chocolate...I kind of ate it). Also, can we all just take a moment to appreciate how much the male model looks like Dave Franco? Bravo Bullring, bravo!

*I was invited along to this event courtesy of the Bullring PR team, no further compensation was received.

Review: Burt's Bees 'Almond & Milk' and 'Beeswax & Banana' Hand Creams

Monday, April 14, 2014
Burt's Bees 'Almond & Milk' and 'Beeswax & Banana' Hand Cream UK Beauty Blog Comparision and Review
Burt's Bees 'Beeswax & Banana' Hand Cream - £9.99 - Link
Burt's Bees 'Almond & Milk' Hand Cream* - £9.99 - Link
I'm a complete sucker for hand creams, and I am always on the look out for a cream with the perfect balance of non-greasy, nicely scented and super moisturising, and I think I've found 'The One(s)', in the form of the Burt's Bees 'Almond & Milk' and 'Beeswax & Banana' Hand Creams. These haven't exactly been a recent discovery for me, in fact it was my best girl Laura that originally told me to invest in some. I don't often take 'beauty' advice from my friends, mainly because 90% of them are guys, but she legitimately has the softest hands in the entire world, so I thought I'd listen to her.

Burt's Bees 'Almond & Milk' and 'Beeswax & Banana' Hand Cream UK Beauty Blog Comparision and Review
Burt's Bees 'Almond & Milk' and 'Beeswax & Banana' Hand Cream UK Beauty Blog Comparision and Review

First up, the 'Beeswax & Banana' variety, an all-natural product like most of the Burt's Bees range that is super thick and super moisturising, and one which I've actually just finished...no mean feat when you're a self diagnosed hand cream hoarder like myself! The formulation boasts added aloe vera and vitamin E to moisturise dry skin and beeswax to help seal and shield your hands from the elements. I suffer from dry skin, especially in and around my nail beds all year round and this was a miracle worker for me over the winter, my nails now are probably the longest and healthiest that they've ever been. My favourite aspect however has to be the cream's sweet smell of banana and custard; who doesn't want to smell like a childhood dessert?! (The answer to that should be no-one, by the way). When rubbed in however the banana sadly fades slightly, leaving behind a more dominant scent of the beeswax, but one which is still pleasant nonetheless. I've recently repurchased this to make the most of an offer that was on in Waitrose, and I'm super happy to have it back on my bedside table.

Burt's Bees 'Almond & Milk' and 'Beeswax & Banana' Hand Cream UK Beauty Blog Comparision and Review
Burt's Bees 'Almond & Milk' and 'Beeswax & Banana' Hand Cream UK Beauty Blog Comparision and Review

Nu3 recently sent me the 'Almond Milk' variety to try out when my first pot of 'Beeswax & Banana' ran out, and it has launched a similar love affair. It has a pretty similar formulation, except this time made with sweet almond oil alongside the vitamin E to nourish extra dry skin, along with Burt's Bees' signature beeswax to lock in the moisture. Both of the creams are ever so slightly greasy, and due to the glass packaging I tend to use these at night with some cotton gloves, as they're not very handbag friendly, instead sticking to my all-time favourite (and subsequently most-repurchased) Neal's Yard Bee Lovely Hand Cream for use in the day. If you were a fan of The Body's Shop's Almond Range back in the day, you definitely need this in your life. 

If I were have to recommend one, I'd definitely pick the 'Beeswax & Banana' variety, purely for the scrummy scent, although both are exceptional, giving me baby soft hands after just 2 or 3 nights of light use. To summarise, I love you Burt, and I love your bees, keep up the good work.

*One of these producst was gifted to me for consideration of review, the other was purchased by myself; no further compensation was received.

Out of Office: Day Seven

Monday, April 14, 2014
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger

After a terrible night's sleep (or lack there of, having gotten in so late the night before), and missing breakfast for the 3rd time, I quickly changed into my swimwear, threw on a sun dress and what seemed like 50 million layers of suntan lotion, fearing Round Two of the sunburn from hell. We headed out of the JW Marriott to our taxi, ready to take us back to the Royal Phuket Marina for our last outing of the trip, a speed boat trip to the islands around Koh Phi Phi. 

Much like the excursion to Krabi on our second day in Thailand, we met the rest of our travelling companions by the main marina, picked up our snorkeling gear and flippers, and stormed ahead of the crowd to try and secure the seats at the bow of the boat; five minutes later, mission complete! As there were fewer people on the trip this time round, we had the front to ourselves, making for a much more comfortable journey, free of hairy Austrian men and their beer bellies. 

Our first stop of the day was Bamboo Island, a picture perfect strip of white, oddly squeaky, sandy beach, to the east of the main Phi Phi archipelago. Geology fact of the day (much to my excitement at the time), was that the sand squeaks because it's so pure, and so well rounded, the calcite-covered quartz grains rub against each other when you walk on them! *ooh, science* We stayed here for about an hour, enjoying the sunshine and taking our first snorkel of the day. As the area was so close to the beach, there was little to see other than some shoals of tiny silver fish, even though the water was perfectly clear, so I headed back to shore for a spot of sunbathing (avoiding my back, of course!)

First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger

After a quick stop for buffet lunch at the Andaman Beach Resort (with their horrifying toilets that you had to pay for the privileged of using, which may well turn out to have been the source of the virus in the 28 Blanks Later series), the next port of call on our trip was a place called Monkey Beach, a tiny little strip of sand on the west side of Phi Phi Don. We thankfully weren't allowed to stop and get out here (although apparently some people do according to Trip Advisor), so our boat had to fight its way into a space along the shore to allow us to take some photographs. It is home to some of the largest groups of monkeys in the Phi Phi Islands, and they come close enough for you to carefully throw them some bananas or their favourite nuts which our captain provided to us, but not close enough for a 'monkey attack'; they are wild after all! Sadly, as with the nature of man wanting to destroy anything beautiful, tourists have clearly trained them to open and drink from beer cans (witnessed first hand) and gain a taste for the junk food from people's lunches; the evidence is littered, quite literally, along the beach. Sadly, for all the money this area seems to make from tourists wanting to see what must be one of the most beautiful places in the world, no-one is tasked with clearing up the rubbish which is so clearly ruining their natural habitat. 

First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger

Just around the corner from 'Monkey Beach' was our next stop, 'Viking Cave', a bizarre looking area which I originally thought was a shipwreck of some sorts. Its name is actually derived from cave paintings that can be found within that resemble ancient ships, although the area is actually closed off to the public. This is because the 'shipwreck' is actually a series of ledges used by local people to scale the cliffs to harvest for the thriving ‘bird nest soup' industry. This Asian delicacy often reaches the eye-watering heights of $2,500 per kilogramme of the raw material, or roughly $100 per bowl of the stuff...bird spit and faeces soup anyone? I think I'll pass.

First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger

After a detour to Camel Rock and Nui Bay, a rather humorous rock formation for reasons I'm sure you can imagine, we headed to Loh Samah Bay for hands-down one of the best experiences of my life. The bay is home to a beautiful and protected reef, deep enough to avoid damage from boat propellers but shallow enough for you to see hundreds of fish and coral in perfect detail, including some spectacular black and white Angel Fish, famous for their shape and travelling in life-bonded pairs (how cute!), the occasional nemo, hundreds of yellow and blue fish and numerous ominous, but Soot Sprite-esque sea urchins living on the limestone seabed. I've kicked myself every day since for not buying or sourcing a Go Pro before I left, as the video footage I could have captured would have been incredible...next time! If there was one thing that makes me want to go back to Thailand, it's definitely to go snorkeling here again.

First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger

As the day was starting to end, we headed to Maya Bay on Phi Phi Don, which is arguably the most famous beach in the world, of course for its appearance in the movie ‘The Beach'. Sadly, Leo wasn't there; myself and El had been hoping he'd decided to take a holiday there for old time's sake, but alas it wasn't to be. The bay definitely isn't like the quiet serenity it was depicted as in the film, as for the hour or so we were there is was crowded with both boats and people (and the occasional jelly fish!), but you can take a little trek into the jungle behind to get away from the crowds if you fancy it, although the temperatures and humidity seem to soar in the shade of the canopy.

First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Phi Phi Speed Boat Excursion - UK Travel Blogger

To round off our trip, our final stop of the day was Koh Rang Yai, the only remaining pearl island off the coast of Phuket, where the semi-precious gems are still collected by locals in the shallow waters. Famous for it's bamboo bungalows, erected post-Tsunami, and it's rural beach-front 'bars', this was a perfect end to the day, with half an hour in the shade with the world's best banana shake in hand...bliss!

First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Khao Lak Merlin Resort - UK Travel Blogger
First Choice Out of Office Blogging Competition - Thailand Day Six  - Khao Lak Merlin Resort - UK Travel Blogger

After heading back up the coast to Khao Lak, and somehow managing to get showered and ready in 15 minutes flat, all 3 of us headed around the headland for dinner at another of Thomson's hotels, the Khao Lak Merlin Resort, from the same chain which we stayed in on our first night. The Merlin is a deluxe resort, styled throughout with traditional decor, inspired by Thailand's rich culture. It's closer to Phuket Airport than the JW Marriott was, situated approximately 50 minutes away, and set amongst peaceful tropical forest landscape and tranquil beaches. Best of all, it has direct access to 190 meters of Khao Lak Beach front and is surrounded by 15 acres of lush tropical gardens, all for the guests to enjoy. We chatted with the manager and the holiday rep for the local area, enjoyed the food the Tropical Garden buffet had to offer (including the world's greatest red and green pesto) and grabbed the last cocktail of the trip, before heading back to our own hotel for a frantic pack-a-thon in time for our 8am check out the following day.

*I was invited to spend the week in Thailand, courtesy of First Choice. Other than the time of my life, no further compensation was received. 

MAC By Request: Glam and Hoop Lipsticks

Sunday, April 13, 2014
MAC By Request Spring 2014 Glam and Hoop Lipstick UK Beauty Blog Review and Swatches
MAC By Request Spring 2014 Glam and Hoop Lipstick UK Beauty Blog Review and Swatches

This is definitely one of those times where I have to curse myself for checking my emails at lunchtime, as the first thing I saw was a newsletter saying the this year's By Request launches had hit the MAC website. I didn't even know they've been released, but when I saw that two of the three lipsticks were matte shades, in my basket they went. What’s old is new again, and the most loved shades from the 90s and 2000s have returned for an encore performance, and this year the three lipsticks and corresponding Lipglasses are 'Glam', 'Hoop' and the third I regretfully didn't pick up, 'Pink Poodle'.

MAC By Request Spring 2014 Glam and Hoop Lipstick UK Beauty Blog Review and Swatches
MAC By Request Spring 2014 Glam and Hoop Lipstick UK Beauty Blog Review and Swatches

'Glam' is described as a 'vivid, bright pinky-red' with a matte finish. It’s super rich and vibrant, creating quite a statement on its own without any heavy eye make-up. It's fairly cool-toned, with a definitely blue undertone, making it similar to my all-time favourite, 'Ruby Woo' and it's counterpart 'Riri Woo'. It's a classic, rich red, but if worn quite sheer, it tends to look quite pink on me, and as it fades away this is also the case. It's applies surprisingly well, seeming having a much more creamy formula than the other matte shades I've tried (Woos, I'm looking at you!), having a finish more akin MAC's other 'Satin' formulas. While this makes the lipstick neither hydrating nor drying, I still wouldn't preferred a finish closer to those of the 'Retro Matte' formulations. On me it wore for around 7 hours, although it left a stain after removal that was still visible the following morning. The dupe list for this particular shade is probably endless, as there doesn't seem to be anything to it which sets it apart from others that I own.

MAC By Request Spring 2014 Glam and Hoop Lipstick UK Beauty Blog Review and Swatches
MAC By Request Spring 2014 Glam and Hoop Lipstick UK Beauty Blog Review and Swatches

'Hoop' is described as a 'mid-tone rosy pink', which is quite a bright shade both in the bullet and on the lips. It has subtle warm undertones which work in my favour, as it doesn't wash me out to much which often happens with pale lip colours. Upon application I noticed a subtle sheen, which made me check the packaging. Matte lipsticks are my absolute favourite finish from MAC's range, so I was slightly disappointed to find out when they arrived that 'Hoop' had been mislabelled on the website, and on all of the American pre-launch blog reviews, claiming it was Matte when it in fact has a Satin finish. It's not the worst mistake, as Satin lipsticks tend to have a semi-matte finish, but it's still disappointing nonetheless, especially as 'Glam' wasn't particularly matte either. Despite the similarities in formula, 'Hoop' is not as long-lasting as 'Glam', wearing away after around 4 hours, due to the lighter, slightly more creamy formula.

The MAC By Request collection is available exclusively from the MAC website and is online now, costing £15 for the lipsticks, £14 for the corresponding Lipglasses and £12.50 for the eyeshadows.