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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September 2014 in Pictures


Celtic Manor Resort

Women say it’s always hard to buy presents for a man.  As a man I tend to disagree: we’re easily pleased really.  A bottle of beer, a new toothbrush, some new socks – they’re all nice to have.  Of course the older we become, the easier we are to please too, I think, so when presented with the gift of a stay at the Celtic Manor for my birthday, I wasn’t just pleased, I was very pleased indeed!Celtic Manor Foyer

By now most people know the Celtic Manor as that place where Obama and Co. stayed for the recent NATO summit.  While we were there, all the preparations were taking place for the upcoming event, with miles of reinforced steel fencing, concrete blocks on the approach roads and, in our own opinion, an impending sense of doom.  Celtic Manor Atrium Front WindowBut once past the ring of steel you can immediately see why this is fast becoming a globally known hotel/resort.  Since its hosting of golf’s prestigious Ryder Cup back in 2010 it has become more and more ‘on the map’.

Once parked in its own internal multi-level car park we made our way into the impressive cathedral-dimensioned foyer, which is encased with curves, modern artworks and sculptures and loads of light from the huge glass atrium and enormous front window which rises the entire height of the building.

After checking-in we were shown to our room – sorry, ‘suite’, which looks out over the lower Usk valley and over to the Severn Bridges.  The resort is shrouded by its own woodlands and the magnificent golf courses, including the renowned ‘Twenty Ten’ where the aforementioned Ryder Cup battle took place.  The room was huge, with a lounge/dining area, a small loo near the entrance, a separate bedroom and the bathroom.  Each room had floor-to-ceiling windows and a little terrace from which you could get a panoramic view of the picturesque surroundings.Celtic Manor - View from our room

Now I, as described at the top of this post, am easily pleased and I thought the Celtic Manor was a really lovely place, with luxurious furniture and beautiful views.  The bathroom was huge with a big double-bath and separate walk-in shower.  Mrs C, however being a little more discerning than me is a stickler for detail, so when she pointed out things like the lighting in the bathroom as being a bit ‘Aaaaarrrggghhh’ with little control and even less ambience – and the decor as being a little short of ‘contemporary’ I immediately started questioning my own sense of judgement. Celtic Manor - The Bathroom Why have all these fancy little cornices and carvings, which are a right pain to keep clean, when you could have new smooth lines which look so smart and have no integral dust-traps? she asks. (Not that they were dusty, of course – everything was immaculate!)  Having forgotten to bring my own duster with me I hadn’t even considered the practicalities of domestic responsibility on this occasion, but perhaps she did have a point.

I, meanwhile, was pondering the evening’s meal choices at the fine-dining ‘Terry M’ restaurant, which certainly didn’t disappoint at all.  The meal was fantastic.  I chose a Sewen (Sea Trout) starter and a Beef Fillet main, both of which were as close to perfect as I’ve ever tasted.  Each course was interspersed with petits amuse bouches, all of which were delicious and our choice of Portuguese Douro Valley wine complemented it all perfectly.

Drinks in Merlin’s Bar were lovely too and again, as I’d forgotten my j-cloth and Cif spray I was blissfully unaware of some cleaning issues dutifully pointed out to me by Mrs C who, returning from the loos, was a little disappointed by the state of play at the time in the ladies.

Breakfast the following morning was …. busy!  It was akin to doing battle with the Boxing-Day sales, with all three buffets 3-deep with malnourished, starving guests who had trekked for days across wilderness and desert to find sustenance in bacon, egg and waffles.Our room at Celtic Manor  In all fairness, the buffet was very well stocked and I enjoyed my ‘full monty’.  Even though it all seemed like a military strategy, the walkie-talkie-clad staff managed it all effortlessly and it ran like a well-oiled machine.

Putting aside Mrs C’s natural tendency to nit-pick, the Celtic Manor is a big, impressive and high-class establishment with so much to do for grown-ups and kids alike; whether it’s a pamper session in the Elemis Spa, a round of golf on one of the 3 courses or simply burying yourself in a good book in a comfy sofa, this place has it all and you’d be hard-pressed to find much better resort in the UK for an ‘away from it all’ break with – or without the family.

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Top Tips For Healthy Hair

Winter is around the corner, and that means bad things for my hair although to be honest my hair’s not in brilliant condition right now either after my recent holiday in Portugal.  Extreme conditions, whether cold or sun, have never been my friend, so I learned long ago that I have two options. One, I go into hibernation every so often which simply isn’t practical or two, I get help from the professionals

The Chapel hair salonBelow is some advice from The Chapel hair salon, Sevenoaks who also happen to have some brilliant tips and helpful hints and videos on their blog. (I love the video tutorial below on how to do a French Braid!)

Top Tips for Healthy Hair:

Let your hair air dry (partially)
It’s winter, it’s cold, so you go straight from the shower to the hair dryer. According to the experts, this is the wrong move. Instead, you should let your hair air dry while you do other parts of getting ready. It’s OK to get the excess off with a bit of dryer time, but most should be allowed to dry naturally. When it’s about 80% dry, it’s the prime time to go into styling it, making sure you use a heat protection serum as part of the routine.

Use only the products you need

There are so many different hair care products available, it can be tempting to fill up an entire bathroom with just things for your hair. However, check what you actually need for your particular hair type and hairstyle. A hair salon can also help you with this, so ask your stylist for recommendations for what you need and what you don’t. Most hairdressers will give you advice even if you don’t have your hair cut with them.

Don’t colour from the box

cutting hairAsk any professional stylist their hair pet peeves and they’re bound to say box hair colour. While it’s convenient and cheap, the stuff you buy in the shops can do some major damage to your hair. Instead, go to a stylist and get the colour done right. It will look better, last longer, and can be more easily touched up as it grows out.

Choose the right style

Amazingly, having the right hair style for your face and lifestyle can make a big difference to the health of your hair. It makes sense, though. If you have long hair, but are constantly pulling it back, you can be causing damage. Instead, consider a shorter style that meets your needs.

Don’t wash it too often

This can be a controversial topic for many women, but the general consensus is that over-washing is a bad thing. Have a think in the mornings whether you really need to wash your hair. In the winter, you might find that you only need to wash your hair every few days. This can help keep the natural oils in place, resulting in healthier hair.

Watch what you eat and drink

The final bit of advice for healthy hair is to keep healthy in general. Like any part of your body, your hair will suffer if you aren’t eating and drinking properly. Good nutrition and lots of water are essential to having great hair. It’s not to say you can’t have a few treats, but keep them in moderation if you want a good hair day every day.

One more thing – I’ve always been pretty useless at doing stuff like French Braids but this video below showing you how to do a French Braid is brilliant!

Docteur Renaud Iris Lift Pore-Reducing Gel-Cream

 Docteur Renaud Iris Lift Pore-Reducing Gel-CreamThe last week or so, I’ve been using Docteur Renaud Iris Lift Pore-Reducing Gel-Cream instead of my usual moisturiser and so far so good…….
One of the things that happens to our skin as we get older (wrinkles, fine lines and loss of firmness apart!) is that our pores become more visible. I can genuinely say that until a couple of years ago, I’d never thought too much about my pores. They’ve never been particularly visible and I’ve never really suffered from blocked pores. Then another ‘big birthday’ passed and woah….where did all those pores come from?! Now of course part of the problem is possibly the fact that my skin tone is less even nowadays and of course the light bounces differently off older skin. This means that imperfections show up even more than on peachy young skin.

Anyway, I was sent this anti-ageing gel-cream by Doctuer Renaud and thought it was worth trying it out to see if it actually did what it said ‘on the box’. It’s absorbed quite quickly which is a definite plus as I hate having to wait ages for my moisturiser to sink in before I put my make-up on in the mornings. Every minute Docteur Renaud logomore it takes to get ready in the morning is another minute less in bed after all!
Some reviewers have said that it leaves their sking feeling velvety but I can’t say I’ve noticed that at all.  It also claims to have a ‘radiance-boosting’ effect but Mr. C hasn’t noticed. At least he hasn’t said ‘Hey you’re looking remarkably radiant today’ recently so I don’t feel I can comment on the radiance-boosting properties.

The crunch question is ‘Would I buy it again’ and the answer to that would be ‘Yes, probably’. Not an unresounding success but definitely worth trying if visible pores are your ‘thing’.

The Thumbs Up to Docteur Renaud Iris Lift Pore-Reducing Gel Cream.

PS. The ingredient which helps tighten the dilated pores and reduce imperfections is ‘pistachio tree resin’. Who’d have thought hey…..?

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My Bread Maker

I bought a bread maker a while back which has been languishing in one of the kitchen cupboards since the initial flurry of excitement and fresh bread every day for a fortnight! A couple of loaves in a row failed to rise and served to dampen our enthusiasm – as it does! The bread-maker was put away and as you know, once you remove something from sight in a kitchen, it very often gets forgotten about.  Anyway I’ve dug it back out again with the intention of baking our own bread again and this time, by hook or by crook, I’ll be keeping it out on one of the kitchen work surfaces to remind me!