Ken Picton Cardiff Bay – Wow, What a Hair Salon!

Ken PictonJust before Christmas I went to the Ken Picton Salon in Cardiff Bay to have my hair ‘done’ and was, to say the least, very impressed with the whole ‘experience’.

I’ll start from the beginning ……. 6 weeks or so before I ended up going to Ken Picton, my hair-dresser’s Dad died and, to add insult to injury, the poor woman had to have a wrist operation the day after his funeral. Now Chris has been cutting my hair since Year Dot and I’m not a fan of trying out someone new although obviously over the years I’ve had toKen Picton Hair Salon resort to other hairdressers when Chris simply couldn’t do it.

In a nutshell then I put off choosing a new hairdresser as long as I could. Chris knows my hair, knows me and never gets it wrong whereas I’ve been known to cry my eyes out after some disastrous visits to different hairdressers!

Ken PIcton receptionAnyway, I had a look around and decided to try out the Ken Picton Salon down in Cardiff Bay. I checked out the prices beforehand and they seemed to be on a par with, if not lower than similar salons. I’d walked past the place a zillion times but had never been in before but bite the bullet I did and in I went. It looks like your usual smart, high-gloss trendy hair salon but when you go upstairs, well…….My words were ‘It’s like a flipping Tardis in here!’ It’s really, really huge with endless mirrors, basins and chic stylists in black everywhere.

Ken Picton Cardiff Bay

Paul Ken Picton colouristColour Director Paul, who did my half-head high- and low-lights and put a ‘gloss’ on to finish it off, seems to be a ‘colourist extraordinaire’. He’s won so many awards including Hair Colourist of the Year and is much in demand training colourists for L’Oreal – a right jet-setter he is! He was very easy to talk to and the time just flew. I had my Kindle with me but I didn’t even take it out of my bag.

Rachelle, the stylist who cut my hair, was as easy-going and lovely as Paul and seemed to know exactly what I wanted. She snipped, she cut, she sliced, she chatted, offered me a coffee, talked about her Rachelle Ken Pictonupcoming Wedding and then dried my hair. It was ‘just right’! I hate looking like I’ve just had my hair ‘done’ and have gone home from a hairdresser’s appointment many a time and wet and restyled my hair straightaway. Not this time though. Rachelle did a brilliant job! The basic style was similar to what I had before but with a few twirls and flourishes she managed to make it look better somehow. She showed me a few tricks of the trade when blow-drying and I’ve used her tips every day since she cut it.

So, will I be going back? A resounding YES! I couldn’t fault them. I loved the cut , the colour and the whole experience. The Ken Picton salon really was spot-on!

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Clever Skincare -TEN- Skincare Range

-TEN- skincareA little while back I started using the -TEN- Skincare Range from Clever Skincare.

Now I’m going to be completely honest with you and say it didn’t go off to a good start as I had a bit of a reaction to the eye cream from the range. I persevered and carried on with the moisturisers though and after a week or so I tried the -TEN- Revive Eye Contour Range again but the same thing happened.

Nonetheless I’ve been using the -TEN- products below for over a month now and love them to bits!

-TEN-Luminescence Skin Exfoliation Cream

-TEN- Instant Lifting Face Cream

-TEN- Anti Age Complete Regenerating Care

-Ten- anti ageing creamI particularly love both the moisturisers as they sink in beautifully and smell divine. I’m not entirely sure that any of the products make me look any younger or less lined but my skin looks and feels lovely.

Clever Skincare

The Luminescence Cream is such a mild exfoliant that you wouldn’t even know it was exfoliating if you hadn’t read the blurb. There’s none of that gritty feeling to the cream and it doesn’t leave your face looking as if you’ve been in too close contact with a cheese-grater (which happened to me with one well-known apricot scrub!)

Ten Anti Ageing MoisturiserThere’s loads of information about the -TEN- Skincare Range here at www.cleverskincare.com . They say it all so much better than me!

Suffice to say I will be buying this range again but maybe not the eye cream!

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Afternoon Tea from Delimann

Delimann afternnon teaA little while ago, we were treated to a real surprise –  a courier basically turned up on our doorstep to deliver a gift of a Traditional Devonshire Afternoon Tea from Delimann!

Nope? I’d never heard of them either but now I know who they are, they’re going to be one of my go-to websites for ordering gifts which are a little bit different. To be honest I think I’ll probably order from them again just for us. After all, why should everyone else get all the treats?! Why not treat ourselves?

Delimann scones and jamAnyway back to our little basket of goodies …. The Devonshire Afternoon Tea from Delimann included 4 big home-made scones, a pot of delicious strawberry jam (with massive great strawberries in!), Farmhouse Clotted Cream, Teabags, traditional Tea Bread (like fruit cake but not so rich), ‘Tea Lover Biscuits’ and to top it all some organic clotted cream fudge …….. To be honest, my mouth’s watering just remembering that afternoon!

The Delimann website has lots of different options for various types of tea and culinary delights and believe me, it’s well worth a look. I love going out for Afternoon Tea, as you know but this has got to be the next best thing!

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Surprise, Surprise – It’s BuyAGift!

This Christmas Buyagift.com, in true ‘Surprise, Surprise’ style, embarked on a mission to surprise some real Christmas Heroes with a special gift on their doorstep. The heroes had unknowingly been nominated by a loved one for something they have selflessly done or been through. Buyagift captured their reactions and the reasons why people nominated them in a heart-warming video.

5 year old Joel Collins from Romsey was nominated by his Mum Alison.  Joel was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was only 3. As his diabetes is unstable, young Joel has an insulin pump attached to him 24/7 amongst other unpleasant things. His illness can cause complications and so he spends a lot of time in hospital on a drip. His condition has had a massive effect on how he is able to live from day to day and he often misses out on playing with his friends and understandably gets upset about all his injections and blood tests.

His Mum says “Everyone that knows Joel cannot believe what a sweet, happy boy he is despite having such a hard to control, life threatening illness ….. He makes his Dad and me very proud. Two holidays have been cut short due to emergency hospital admissions but he goes through life with a huge smile on his face; he is a very brave boy and is a huge inspiration.”

Alison chose the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Family Theatre Break as Joel’s surprise gift as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of his favourite films!

Joel was thrilled to receive an early surprise visit from Santa and said a very big thank you, before telling him that he had in fact watched the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film that very day! You can’t win them all! :)

Sponsored Post for Buyagift.com

Ayurveda Pura Natural Wellbeing Survival Kits

So you’re really stuck for ideas for what to buy for someone for Christmas? You know what I mean – the person who earns enough to be able to buy the usual bits & bobs for themselves and also happens to have virtually everything he/she wants. Well Ayurveda Pura, which I thought was just a ‘fancy’ spa in London, have the answer! Ayurveda Pura Rise and Shine Kit

They’ve come up with a series of ‘kits’ to suit everyone. Ayurveda Pura Natural Wellbeing Kits are lovely gifts and some of them are very reasonably priced too. I was a bit shocked by the price of the Timeless Beauty Kit, it’s got to be said, but there again, a couple of theatre tickets can cost more!

On their website, they say………… “Drawing on the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, India’s traditional system of health, these 100% natural kits will help you maintain your health and beauty at little effort, without compromising on your daily life.” Well I’m not sure about all that, but they are pretty good gifts and contain some lovely products!

Ayurveda Pura Natural Wellbeing Survival Kits

The range contains a Calm Your Mind Kit, Anti Hangover Kit, Daily Detox Kit, Get Fit Kit, Stay Sharp kit, Rise & Shine Kit and the aforementioned Timeless Beauty Kit. Each kit contains appropriate products for the ‘theme’ and these can be anything from Herbal Tea to organic skincare products. There’s also a ‘How Ayurveda Pura Face Creamto Guide’ in each kit which tells you all about the benefits of the various products in your kit and they throw in a cute cotton drawstring bag too.

I have the Rise & Shine Kit and have already fallen in love with the creamy Daily Replenish Face Cream and the lovely Radiant Beauty Daily Face Wash but the De-Tox Ayurvedic Herbal Tea isn’t up my street at all. You win some, you lose some as they say.

Whatever your preconceived thoughts are though on this type of gift, I’d say give it a go. They’re not bad prices and The Anti-Hangover Kit for a mere £16.99 could be the perfect present for someone you know.

You can buy the kits from AyurvedaPura.com

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Christmas Gifts 2014

Most of us Mums start our Christmas shopping pretty early on in the year as it Katerina Recipes Foldergets pretty expensive if we leave it all to the last minute. I started my Christmas Gifts 2014 shopping in the January Sales when I bought a few knock-down Body Shop bits & bobs for the numerous ‘girls’ in the family.

I picked up a couple of things in WHSmith a while back now. I particularly love this Katarina Recipe Folder and I think the intended-recipient will love it too. I have lots of recipes I’ve printed off over the years or scribbled down hastily and I’ve got nowhere really to put them. Really I should have bought this for myself …. in fact I’m wondering now if I should keep it or not…. just for me?! While I was in theBenecos nail polish shop I also bought the Katarina Cosmetics Bag – a design I think most women/girls will like. Haven’t quite decided who to give it to yet though. But I’m putting some Benecos Nail Polish in it for whoever does get it as someone told me once it was bad luck to give bags or purses to anyone without popping something inside – even if it’s only 2p, apparently you have to put something in?!

These Zip Earphones are perfect Christmas gifts too. Earphones are renowned for getting tangled-up in your pocket or in your bag. But these earphones simply zip up when not in use so you don’t end up with the wires in one big knotty tangle.Zip Earphones Take a look – they’re pretty ‘cool’ aren’t they and come in colours for boys and girls alike – perfect for anyone who listens to music on their phone!

For Blokes

TVs these days are odd! Our 5-year old Philips was ‘state-of-the-art’ in its day, and even though it is officially a High Definition set, the built-in Freeview receiver is somewhat limited in its abilities and has no High Definition channels itself. When we bought it we connected a Humax recording thingy box so that we could record programmes that we wouldn’t be there to see. Then along came things like Netflix and other streaming services, together with the options of ‘catch-up TV. All this started to get a bit complicated, especially with the limited number of inputs the TV had.ROKU

This is where the Roku Streaming Stick came into its own. A small, easy-to set up device, the same size as a normal memory stick now gives us all the catch-up and streaming channels we could ever wish for with a brilliant remote, which incidentally can be installed on tablets and smartphones too if the need arises. It really makes watching a huge array (1000 apparently) of channels including Netflix, NOW TV, Sky Sports, ITV, Demand 4, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport and many more a piece of cake!

Well done on a clever and innovative little piece of TV entertainment kit!

Available from major high-street and online retailers for £49.99 RRP and a Gadget Shopbrilliant Christmas present!

I know I’ve already mentioned WHSmith above but if you go there, you’ll find plenty of GadgetShop thingummijigs like the GadgetShop Twist’n’Turn or TheGadgetShop Genius Puzzleman. I can see many a man whiling away the hours playing with one of these over the Christmas holiday period and to be honest I can see everyone in the family wanting a turn. Great affordable gifts from £5.99 – a veritable bargain! They also have lots of science activity kits like the Tumbling Robot on the left. I know one 9 year old boy who’ll love this!

Here’s a Christmas Chocolate Gift Guide too with chocolatey gifts which I think most members of the family would appreciate!

ODYLIQUE Lemon Butter Hand Smoothie

You know how much I love my hand creams and the new ODYLIQUE Lemon Butter Hand Smoothie is rapidly becoming my favourite hand cream.

Odyliqu Lemon Butter Hand SmoothieIt has quite a light fresh fragrance which pleases me no end as I can’t stand sweet-smelling hand creams where the scent follows you around all day. One of the things I like best is that the Odylique by Essential Care cream sinks in pretty quickly and it doesn’t leave your hands all greasy for ages.

Odylique Lemon Butter Hand Smoothie

The Odylique hand cream consists of hydrating coconut and cocoa, organic sea buckthorn, aloe vera (great for healing) and a lovely fragrant blend of skin soothing essential oils. Its active ingredients are:

  • Antioxidant, hydrating coconut and cocoa butters
  • Vitamin-rich avocado (especially high in vitamin E)
  • Pro-collagen, protecting sea buckthorn
  • Soothing, regenerative aloe & calendula
  • Toning lemon

I really like the fact that this hand cream has NO artificial ingredients like parabens & petrochemicals and it’s 100% natural and 93% organic! The fewer ‘unnatural’ things I can use on my skin the better as far as I’m concerned.

And do you know what the best thing is about this fab hand cream? My hands feel sooo soft and smooth to the point where I kind of spend half the day stroking them and asking Mr. C to touch them because they feel so nice! The Thumbs Up for definite to  Odylique and by the way the Lemon Butter Hand Smoothie is £12 and seems to last for together – at least there’s no sign of mine running out!

Here are a few of my other Hand Cream Favourites

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Brownie Heaven and Coffee Hell

Dark Chocolate BrowniesI’d been seeing the name @BrownieHeaven everywhere on social media so wanting to find out what all the fuss was about, I ordered some of their brownies. Suffice to say, I now know why the company is called Brownie Heaven as the brownies have got to be the best I’ve ever tasted. (Although the Mum of one of my daughter’s ex-boyfriends could make a mean brownie too, it’s got to be said.)

A while back I tried making gluten-free, chocolate-free and it would seem everything-free brownies and it turns out they were fun-free and taste-free too. As it happened, they were the most expensive brownies I’ve ever made too. What a waste of time and money they were.

Jaffa Cake BrowniesAnyway, back to the marvellously tasty and mega-delicious brownies from Brownie Heaven…. I particularly liked the Dark Chewy Chocolate Brownies but the Jaffa Cake Slutty Blonde Brownies were pretty much out-of-this-world too. (Not a fan of the name though at all!) The brownies were delivered in a really smart gift box, which I have resurrected since to pack a birthday present – yup it was that nice!

If you’re wanting to send a slightly different gift to someone say for Christmas or a birthday or even ‘just because’, then Brownie Heaven has got to be worth a visit although they’re not cheap. I’ll be going back for definite but goodness knows how long it’ll take me to choose which brownies to order as they all look so scrummy and there are so many mouth-watering flavours to choose from!

Nescafe AzeraAnd from Brownie Heaven we go to Coffee Hell. Years back we bought a Gaggia Classic coffee machine – the best buy of our lives. We use it every day and it makes perfect ‘proper coffee’. But we always have instant coffee in the house too for ‘quick cuppas’ – why I don’t know because every type of instant coffee I try is rubbish?! The latest is by far the worst though. Nescafe Azera claims to be ‘Barista-Style Instant Coffee’! Pah! If I went to a coffee shop for a latte or whatever and they palmed me off with this powdery, dusty cr@p, I’d ask for my money back sharpish!

In a nutshell then Brownie Heaven get The Thumbs Up big-time but the other product doesn’t even deserve a name-check although it gets the biggest thumbs-down I’ve ever given anything.

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Martinhal Beach Resort and Hotel

September is a lovely time of year to go on holiday in The Algarve – not too busy and not too hot. We’ve just returned from a perfect week in the Martinhal Beach Resort and Hotel near Sagres which is right at the furthest south-west tip of Portugal.Martinhal beachWe’ve been to Martinhal before and have been singing the resort’s praises ever since. There’s something about it which I wish the owner’s could bottle and sell to other beach resorts as I don’t think there are many other places out there which get it so right.

The Location? Tick.Hotel Martinhal Beach Room

The Food? Tick.

The Accommodation? Tick.

The Facilities? Tick.

Weather? Tick.

Staff? Tick.

Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel

Martinhal is a 5 Star resort in an incredible location on an unspoiled part of The Algarve. We were in a Beach Room and we had a beautiful view of the sea, cliffs, beach and grasses fluttering in the light breeze. No nasty, high-rise hotels to spoil the view, no hordes of sunburnt holiday-makers taking up every single available space on the beach! It was bliss. We had our own private, tranquil terrace to sit Martinhal gardensand read (or sleep) and soak up the views and we made the most of this every day.

It was just a short walk down the path from the Beach Rooms to get to the lovely beach below us. The sea was crystal clear and the beach was clean and quiet – all-in-all idyllic really. A little beach bar serving nice cold beers amongst other things pretty much sealed the deal for us. What’s not to like?

Most mornings we were up earlyish to go for breakfast in O Terraco Restaurant where there was the option to sit outside – always nice to do when you’re on holidays! There was plenty of choice in the breakfast buffet and you could order O Terraco restaurant Martinhalextras if you so wanted. I had crepes one morning and Mr. C had an omelette but to be honest the buffet was so good that we tended to choose from what was on offer. The breakfast pastries were particularly good as was the fresh fruit and most important of all, the coffee was good, hot and plentiful.

The evening meals in O Terraco were excellent, well-presented and reflect the hotel’s 5 Star status. We both ate the fish of the day in As Dunas one evening and it was to die for.  I don’t know what secret the management team have here at Martinhal but on both our visits there, we have only ever come across brilliant staff. The restaurant staff are spot-on with the right balance of friendliness, chattiness and professionalism. The service is  kind of ‘informally’ formal, if that makes sense. The waiting staff do everything exactly as they should but you don’t get that awkward constant hovering seafood risottoobsequiousness you get in some 5 star places.

Since our last visit they’ve opened up a new bar called The M Bar. Great cocktails, decor and staff but sadly lacking in atmosphere at the moment which is a real shame. Perhaps as it becomes an established fixture at Martinhal it will fill-up in the evenings and they’ll get a bit more of a buzz going on? I hope so as it’s a lovely addition to the Resort.

Martinhal poolThere are 5 different pools areas at Martinhal but our favourite was the Club 98 one. Whichever pool you went too though, there were always ample sunbeds and umbrellas (other hotels, take note!) and people to take that vital order for ‘2 Mojitos please’!

We’re the sort of people on holidays who just want to lounge around reading, relaxing and doing nothing in particular except perhaps go for a swim to cool down and enjoy good food and drink. However for those of you who like a more active holiday, Martinhal has activities galore on offer like surfing, sailing, cycling, tennis, Zumba, Pilates and Yoga. Personally I don’t understand how Finisterra Spaanyone can play a tennis match when it’s so hot. I have to escape under sun umbrellas just to read my Kindle! I did avail myself of the wonderful Finisterra Spa though and ‘chillaxed’ so much, I actually fell asleep having my facial.

Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel is a brilliant place to go for a holiday whatever sort of holiday you want – self-catering, B&B or Half-Board. It’s as perfect a place for couples as young families or families with older children too. We saw quite a few multi-generational famiies there while we were there – handy having Granny and Grandad to babysit occasionally for you to have some ‘Couple-Time’!

Would I recommend Martinhal? Yes I would, of course I would. I can’t imagine how anyone couldn’t have a good holiday there – it’s simply perfect! Book at www.martinhal.com Monarch

We flew with Monarch from Gatwick to Faro with the minimal of fuss and used Holiday Extras to book our parking and a hotel the night before we travelled.

 

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The WOW! Factor

September 2014 in Pictures