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Sopwell House, St Albans

A few weeks ago I was utterly spoilt and taken for a weekend break to Sopwell House in St Albans.

Located out of the hussle and bustle of the City and nearby towns, this spa and hotel is set back in beautiful grounds. As you can imagine the whole place is peaceful and quiet, just what you need when escaping for the weekend.

The original part of the building is grand and old fashioned, but the interior and additional buildings are modern and sleek. A really lovely juxtaposition that just works.

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On arrival you are greeted with non-alcoholic punch, which is a nice touch, and after a quick check in we were off to our room.

The rooms echo the general styling of the interior, with modern sleek fittings and luxury bedding. I really could have slept there forever!

Sopwell House St Albans

Sopwell House St Albans

Sopwell House St Albans

Alas with a spa just two flights of stairs down I was eager to relax and enjoy some downtime, not sleep. We each had a full body massage in the spa, the therapists were helpful and despite a mix-up with bookings they managed to accommodate us both.

Prior to your massage at Sopwell House you are offered a choice of massage oils. With options from relaxing to energising you really can be put in any mood that you want! But with an early afternoon appointment and dinner that evening I didn’t want to be left too sleepy, so opted for the energising oil which smelt amazing and seemed to have a light minty edge to it.

After our treatments we visited the spa area; equipped with loungers, a pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna we truly felt relaxed and de-stressed after a few hours of use!

Sopwell House Spa

That night we were booked in to the restaurant and so we returned to the room to get changed.

The food within the restaurant itself was delicious. With canapés to start and champagne sorbet between courses it was hard not to be left feeling satisfied!

Sopwell House Restaurant

Sopwell House Restaurant

Sopwell House Restaurant

Sopwell House Restaurant

After dinner we spent the rest of the evening in the cocktail bar, resulting in us being one of the last few left awake! No doubt all that relaxing made early bedtime a necessity for many.

I had such an enjoyable stay at Sopwell House and would highly recommend it to anybody looking for a UK break away. You can find more information here.

Herbage County Park

Weekend Break in Essex

Sometimes it is nice to escape normality and get a little bit of peace and quiet. It was for that reason that the weekend just gone I decided to escape in to the country and get some well needed r&r!

What I love about Essex is that you have the contrast of built up towns with lots to do, and quiet country areas with nothing but a few fields and the local pub!

We stayed in a lovely two bedroom log cabin (here) and I spent my evenings in the hot tub looking up at the stars, with a glass or two (or three) of chilled Champagne in my hand – it really was perfect.

Herbage County Park
On Saturday we visited West Mersea, somewhere I had not been before. It is about an hour from me in Leigh-on-Sea but you have to time your drive over there well or else you might risk the car being flooded on the road over when the tide comes in!

We parked up and visited one of the local restaurants for some seafood. It really doesn’t get much fresher than here – the lobsters were being cooked right outside, having been caught from the water just a few feet away! We shared some especially tasty dressed crab, lobster and king prawns cooked in salt and garlic that were to die for.

West Mersea
West Mersea

After all that food we retired for a few drinks at a nearby pub, looking out over the water.

It was a great way to start my last week at work, before I change jobs and start heading in to the City each day. The only problem is, now I want to go back again!

Where do you escape for some rest and relaxation?

Blistex Intensive Moisturiser, Nivea Sun Protection Lip

Protect your Lips this Summer

During summer months we (most of the time) take care of our skin with sun lotions full of SPF. However, you are most probably missing one very vital area of skin that is especially sensitive to the sunshine.

Your lips.

I read recently that around 70% of people don’t think to apply any form of sun protection to their lips – and I understand why. I previously would never have thought to possibly put anything on my lips that would protect against the suns rays. Whilst some days I may choose to put a little lipstick or gloss on, I didn’t realise that I could be damaging them by leaving them without SPF protection.

So, in order to keep them in great condition this Summer and avoid any further damage I have invested in some key lip products.

For the daytime I searched out a lip balm with SPF protection in it. I am constantly applying lip balm throughout the day and so by having a product that has this protection in it already, I avoid the need to keep having to apply a separate product. This Nivea Sun Protection lip balm (£3.46) with SPF30 in it is pretty tasteless thankfully, as who wants to have the scent or taste of a sun tan lotion on their lips! It applies easily as it is in stick form, goes on sheer and lasts a good amount of time before it needs reapplying.

Blistex Intensive Moisturiser, Nivea Sun Protection Lip
Blistex Intensive Moisturiser, Nivea Sun Protection Lip

After a day of using this product, as well as eating and drinking I like to treat my lips to a little bit of pampering before bed. So I liberally apply this Blistex Intensive Moisturiser (£2.30). Just like your face and skin, your lips need moisturising too to keep them hydrated! This lip product is slightly thicker than others I have tried, it looks almost cream like in consistency. It has a menthol taste and smell to it but is not overpowering at all and a pleasure to use.

Blistex Intensive Moisturiser
I keep this on overnight before reverting back to my Nivea lip balm during the day.

Since starting this routine my lips definitely feel softer and I have avoided any dry or chapped skin. I am also now a little bit more comfortable in the knowledge that I am actively protecting my skin from further sun damage.

Are you one of the 70% that doesn’t apply lip protection in the Summer?

Oxygenating Foundation

Oxygenetix Foundation

As much as I love the recent influx of barefaced photos on Twitter and blogs they are just not for me! I am just not ready to bare my face to the whole internet.

For me a layer of foundation in the morning is a confidence builder, and allows me to leave the house feeling that little bit happier and brave enough to face the day.

But come summer a layer of foundation is sometimes a little too heavy, and can leave your face looking a little odd when it begins to sweat off! So I have been looking for a summer alternative. BB/CC creams were my first call as I thought they would be lighter, however these seemed to leave my skin looking and feeling greasy. I was getting through blotting papers like they were going out of business!

So when I heard about the Oxygenetix foundation I was intrigued. The main selling point of the product is that it is summer suitable, which makes it perfect for a day at the beach, dinner al fresco or for watching your favourite band at a festival.

Coming in a range of 14 shades, there is more than likely to be a colour that will suit your skin tone. Keep in mind that if you tend to tan in the summer months you may want a slightly darker shade than you are used to – or just by two for the transgression between the two.

Oxygenating Foundation
Oxygenating Foundation

Now, a lot of products claim to do wonderful things and I am always a little bit dubious as to these claims. Oxygenetix claim this foundation is sweat-proof, something that has certainly been put to the test this week with the hot, humid weather. But just how well did it fare?

I am really pleased to say it did very well. Despite a walk to and from the station in the hot, humid weather and a day at work it performs a lot better than other products I have tried. After application and throughout the day my skin feels soft and moisturised, plus I haven’t needed to use so many blotting papers as my skin doesn’t look and feel as greasy anymore.

Not only am I pleased with the performance of the product, but knowing that it contains SPF 25 is great too. This means I don’t need to add a further product to my morning routine in the shape of a facial suncream, as this doubles up and protects my skin from harmful rays too.

Retailing at £45 this is a fairly high-end product, but it does work very well. The consistency of the product is fairly fluid so it does go a long way. You can take a look at the shades available and purchase here.

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Citybase Apartments – Fraser Place Canary Wharf Review

This bank holiday weekend I was lucky enough to stay in Canary Wharf for the weekend. As one of my favourite places in the City of London I love spending time here – especially at the weekend when its ghost town feel is a complete contrast to that of central London.

With a range of bars, restaurants and shops Canary Wharf is a great place to stay if you are visiting London. It isn’t far by tube or DLR in to the centre of town and it is just 5 minutes to the 02.

Usually when I stay up in London I choose a chain hotel for convenience but this time I thought I would try something a little different. I started to research apartments for the weekend on Citybase Apartments and came across Fraser Place Canary Wharf.

A purpose built apartment block located about a 5 minute walk from the tube state, Fraser Place is polished to a very high standard and features fantastic views across the area. On arrival I was greeted by a friendly reception team who quickly got me booked in to room 313 which was a one-bedroom apartment.

Check-in isn’t until 4pm which I thought was fairly late, but if you do arrive early you can either leave your bags with staff and go off to explore the area or relax in their café area with a complimentary magazine and hot drink.

Once checked-in I made my way up to my apartment and was delighted! It looked almost brand new and you could tell a lot of thought had gone in to the design of the place. From the super comfy bed, rainfall shower to the iPhone docks in every room – it really was a luxurious home from home.

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I was really pleased that my apartment had a balcony from the living room too; it is always a bonus to get some outside space to yourself in the city! It was lovely to sit out here with a few glasses of champagne watching the world go by.

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The kitchen was fully equipped with cutlery and crockery, as well as a washing machine, dishwasher and all the other essentials. The only problem I would highlight is that there were no scissors in the kitchen – I know this may sound silly but you don’t realise how often you use them to open things until they aren’t there!

There was a nice selection of hot drinks and biscuits waiting for me in the kitchen, a really nice touch especially if you have had a long journey. Remember to bring some milk/cream in with your en-route however! There is a Waitrose a couple of minutes walk from the apartment should you forget.

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I mentioned before the shower in the bathroom and it was a true delight to use. I love too that the shower had a separate hose should you not wish to use the main rainfall style shower. Of course as an avid beauty blogger I was delighted to spot L’Occitane products for my use in the bathroom – I really think that little touches like this make a stay so much better!

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The apartment was totally spotless and there was enough towels, dishwasher and washing machine tablets, etc provided for our stay. Note that if you stay less than 7 days there won’t be any housekeeping, although I have no problem with this as I don’t change my towels/bedding daily anyway!

Overall I was really very impressed with my stay at Fraser Place; I will certainly be staying there again in the near future. Prices start from just £107 a night, which is a total bargain considering nearby hotels charge from £175 per night. I also really enjoyed the freedom you have with your own apartment as you can cook food as and when you like, without relying on eating out your entire stay.

Find out more and enquire about prices here.