Monday, 31 August 2015

Chrissie Manby Book Launch // Royal Princess










I was recently invited by Princess Cruises to the launch of Chrissie Manby's new book, A Proper Family Adventure. The book is based on a family cruising around the Med so Royal Princess was the perfect backdrop to the book launch. Royal Princess was launched in 2012 by the Duchess of Cambridge and it is a truly stunning ship. I've been brought up around cruise ships all my life so I was really excited to be able to go on board for a tour and lunch as well as the book launch. 

I've read Chrissie Manby books for years so it was great to be able to have a Q&A with one of my favourite authors. I was also given a copy of the book to take home with me so I'm determined to schedule in some down time so I can settle down and get stuck in. 

It was an early rise on 13th August as myself, Mandy and Jess had to be at Ocean Terminal in Southampton for 10.30am to get our passes and get through security to be able to go onboard Royal Princess. The entire time we were onboard it was pelting it with rain so exploring the decks were a little slippery. We stepped into the Piazza Atrium first which was stunningly beautiful. Spiral, gold staircases, with dropped star lighting and a piano playing in the back ground. It was exactly how you expected a cruise ship to look. We were then led through to the spa, lounge bars, restaurants and upper decks before going through the Princess Live for the book launch.






After the launch we were treated to three course lunch in Sabatini's, a specialty Italian restaurant onboard Royal Princess. The service from the moment we stepped foot in was exemplary. Our chairs were pushed in, napkins laid upon our laps and iced water served immediately. There were two options for starters and main and a single option for dessert. I opted for Cold Smoked Salmon and Soused Crayfish Tails marinated in Bloody Mary. It was beautifully presented and tasted incredible. I love seafood and the crayfish was meaty and the bloody mary marinate complimented it really well.

I also chose the fish option for main which was Trout Amandine cooked in brown butter with toasted almonds accompanied by creamed leek and parsley potatoes. Again the dish was beautifully presented and the trout was cooked to perfection. Over lunch with the girls we got to chat to Jessica from Princess Cruises about the ship, the launch and cruise life. A dessert of Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Souffle followed as well as coffee with homemade Gormandises. We were well and truly spoilt on Royal Princess and I loved getting the chance to walk around the ship an see how grand it was. After being walked off the ship we were greeted again by Mark and Jessica with goody bags with all the details on the launch, Chrissie Manby's new book and a Garnier Summer Body lotion which is one of my favourites. 

I had the best afternoon with the Princess Cruises team and I can't wait to get stuck into my new book!

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Sunday, 30 August 2015

Bee Good Facial Exfoliator





I've reviewed and tried almost all of Bee Good's products on Annie Writes Beauty, the only two products I'm yet to try is the Daily Moisturiser and Hand Repair. I've loved each and every product so far so when I found out about their newest item, I was eager to try it. The Honey & Camelina Facial Exfoliator* was recently released and I had a tube fall on my door mat so I could give it a test drive.

I love exfoliators, the grittier the better for me so I took my make up off with Bee Good's Cream Cleanser and Cleansing water ready for a good scrub. The Facial Exfoliator contains Honey and Camelina which moisturise the skin deeply while the milled Lavender flowers do the tough bit exfoliating your skin while causing no irritation. It comes in a handy tube so you can control how much you use, dispensing a cream with little granules in which is very much the same consistency of their cream cleanser. It smells divine and very natural which is exactly how I like my skin care. My skin was left buffed, smooth and really clean. I've been using it twice a week and my skin has been loving it.

The packaging is the same as other items in the range with the exfoliant being in a lemony yellow shade. This might be a weird observation with no meaning but I took mint green to mean face products, lilac their hand products and yellow for lip products so I was expecting the exfoliator to also be in mint green packaging. I do love the packaging though, it's modern while still being cute and the majority is a matte texture so they don't slip out your hands when they're wet.

If you're yet to try Bee Good.. Why?! The range really is fab and it's available online on their own site and Urban Outfitters. It's also available in some Waitrose and Fenwicks but you can check which stores on their website.

If you have tried Bee Good before let me know what you're favourite product is.  

*PR Sample
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Friday, 28 August 2015

Bournemouth's Hidden Gems




I recently travelled down to Bournemouth to stay with Travelodge and came across some places that I wanted to share with you. I love a hidden gem* and know of many in Southampton. The three places I found in Bournemouth will seem quite touristy but I find that sometimes the most wonderful places are staring you right in the face, places you possibly wouldn't go because they're so obvious.


Patisserie Valerie - 2-6 Post Office Road BH1 1BA

I'd never heard of Patisserie Valerie before but since coming back from Bournemouth it seems like they're all over the country. Not quite a hidden gem as such but a gem none the less. I only found this place because I needed a cash machine and walked past their beautiful windows full of treats. The patisserie was like stepping into Paris. The service was impeccable, the coffee perfectly roasted and the individual cakes divine. I tried both the chocolate mousse and double chocolate gateau because... why not? I'm so eager to go back and try more.


Brays Fish & Chips 7 West Cliff Road BH2 5ES

Brays is about a minutes walk from Travelodge Bournemouth Seaview and as we arrived quite late the first night we dived into the nearest chippy. We were recommended Harry Ramsdens down by the pier which we did try but Brays was so much better. The owner was so friendly and even chucked in an extra bit of fish on our second night, we ate there twice while in Bournemouth. You can sit outside or take away which is what we opted to do both times so we could sit down on the beach. There's nothing better than golden battered fish and salted chips while watching the tide. 



Bournemouth Beach 

The most obvious gem for me is Bournemouth Beach. I am a real sea baby, I've always lived by it and couldn't imagine living anywhere but near the sea. There are seven miles of sandy beach to walk along and explore. From your typical arcades and ice cream huts to winding coastal walks along the cliffs, the best bit being that it's completely free. The South Coast is beautiful in the summer (when we have one) and I think a lot of us forget how much we can do and explore for free. Staying with Travelodge made it really easy to do this as it was right on the door step. 

Where do you live and what would your three hidden gems be?


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Thursday, 27 August 2015

V Festival with Boots UK












When I first received an email from Boots about V Festival it was a few days before the Southampton Blog Event and I didn't read it. The lovely Sarah emailed me again reminding me about the email and that they'd need to know by the Monday and I'm so glad she did because when I finally read it on the Sunday at around 11pm I couldn't believe what I was reading, Boots wanted to take a friend and I to V Festival for the weekend! I still can't believe my little, old blog brings me these amazing opportunities, I'm so grateful! 

Friday rolled around and with work done by 4pm, Ro and I went off to the station to make our way to Chelmsford. We were given weekend camping tickets but as Ro's sister lives in Chelmsford we stayed there for the weekend. We woke up to hangovers after a BBQ and late night drinking session with her sister, blistering Sunshine and the urge to eat everything on Saturday. 

After getting ourselves festival ready with Boots festival essentials kit we made our way to V to see James Bay, Annie Mac, Hozier, Sam Smith, Kasabian and so many more. We spent most of the afternoon sitting in the sun by the The Glee Club comedy tent before seeing the main headliners. Sam Smith was incredible and I've been listening to his album non stop since Saturday. I could not of got through the weekend without the Seventeen BB Magic Blemish Balm and I've used it every day since. It's just the perfect amount of coverage to give you a dewy glow!

After getting a decent nights sleep, we were ready for Sunday in our flower garlands and wellies. Thankfully it only rained for a couple of hours which we spent in the comedy tent again watching Suzi Ruffell and Russell Kane. The sun finally started to peek through around 3pm and the rest of the day was spent watching The Kooks, Sigma, De La Soul and Duke Dumont in the sunshine while getting quite merry. Sunday's headliners were Calvin Harris and Paloma Faith who were amazing and we had the best day! I wish I could do it all over again.

Massive thank you to Boots for sending Ro & I to V Festival! I've definitely caught the festival bug! You can see more photos from the weekend on my Instagram, just search - alicespake.

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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Safari Supper Club // West Quay



West Quay is one of the biggest shopping centres on the South Coast boasting 150 shops including John Lewis, Jack Wills and soon to be Victoria Secret. It also holds a pretty impressive dining area which is what myself and four other bloggers went in to experience a couple of weeks ago. As part of West Quay's Summer Dine event taking place until the end of August, you can download their new Plus app which gives you lots of discounts and offers on numerous restaurants. 

We were treated to a three course meal with each course taking place in a different restaurant. First stop was Yo! Sushi which I've been to once before. I'm a big Sushi fan so I was more than happy to start here. After being talked through how the menu works again, I helped Jess eat some Cucumber Maki and Beef & Garlic Teriyaki then had Chicken Gyoza which is my favourite and some Salmon Maki. I also tried Ramune Soda which was so good!



Next course was taking place at The Handmade Burger Company, a place I'd never eaten in before. If you love burgers than this is the place for you. The menu is incredible as there is so much choice. You can switch your bun, cheese and meat ultimately building your own burger. I went simple and straight off the menu with the Chicken & Chorizo burger. I also chose some Rosemary Salted Chips but didn't manage to finish them as there were so many. The meal was delicious and made even better with a couple of glasses of chilled Pinot Grigio.



The last stop was Ed's Easy Diner for dessert. Ed's is an all American retro diner with mini juke boxes on the tables and red leather booths. You just need the staff on roller blades! I tried to pace myself but the burger got the better of me so I didn't quite finish my dessert. I went for the warm waffles with maple syrup and vanilla ice cream. I also had a Mocha Milkshake that was possibly the best milkshake I've tasted in a while. I want to go back and try Ed's again while the Summer Dine event is going on as they're offering 20% with the Plus app.




After a lovely evening with my blogging friends and Tristen we all left to nurse our food babies and dig into the Hotel Chocolat goody bags we were given. What is your favourite restaurant in West Quay? 


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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Clinique Face Forward Event








I was recently invited to a Clinique Boots Southampton event to showcase their Face Forward campaign which features bloggers and is encouraging people to start a skin care routine from an early age. I am 100% guilty of not doing this and even though I've upped what I use, I'm still pretty lax with what I do use. I took my mum along to the Clinique event as she's been a life long Clinique wearer. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and learnt some new skin facts for herself too. Just goes to show you can help your skin that little bit more at any age! 

Hannah who presented the evening seriously knew her stuff. There wasn't a product she didn't know nor a question she couldn't answer. If every Clinique counter was like this I'd be a very happy shopper. Our event was held off the shop floor in one of Boot's meeting rooms with a spread of cupcakes, prosecco and a mountain of Clinique products for us to try and be talked through. 

Starting with their legendary three step routine, we were also talked through the Anti Blemish range, Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion and Gel (I didn't know they did both?!) and the Turnaround range. The one product that really impressed us all was the Take The Day Off balm, it was velvety soft, like nothing I've ever tried before and I've loved using my sample I was given. Soft, plump cheeks here I come.

If you're yet to have a decent skincare routine then I urge you to head to your local Clinique counter, book in for a consultation, talk through your concerns and treat yourself! And if you're lucky enough to live in Southampton then pop into Clinique at Boots and book in with Hannah and the team, you will not regret it!

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Monday, 24 August 2015

Bournemouth with Travelodge




Bournemouth is so close to where I live in Southampton but I've never been there so when Travelodge emailed me about being part of their campaign called #bloggerslodge I said yes straight away. I was able to choose which Travelodge I wanted to stay in and Bournemouth Seaview was a no brainer. Right on the cliffs over looking the beach with beautiful views of the sea. We arrived in Bournemouth around 8.30pm and walked from the station in time to watch the sun set over the cliffs. Welcomed in to Travelodge with smiles, check in was painless. The room was on the fourth floor and had beautiful views of the water which  we couldn't quite appreciate until the following morning. After a quick food stop in a local chippy, friday night was spent chilling in the hotel, watching the fireworks out of the window and an early night in time for spending Saturday exploring.



We awoke to clear skies, blue seas and the sun shining on Saturday morning. Breakfast at Travelodge was a buffet and the team were absolute stars for finding soya milk for me. After making a coffee, grabbing some croissants and Nutella pots, breakfast was spent in bed looking out the window. I'd pre-booked tickets for the Oceanarium in Bournemouth to visit the Penguin Beach Encounter, most of you will know I am obsessed with Penguins and I wasn't going to B'mouth and not seeing them! The tickets allowed you to go in and out of the Oceanarium all day which was good. 

I haven't seen animals in captivity since I was a child so seeing it as an adult was quite upsetting. I just wanted to free all the penguins as the space looked quite small even though they said there was space for 24 penguins. I'm sure they take fabulous care of them but I can't help think it's slightly cruel. Especially as Private the Penguin was attacking Darwin, maybe I'm just too soft when it comes to Penguins.




After a few goes round the Oceanarium and watching the Penguins get fed, Harry Ramsden's was calling. To feel a bit better about having more fish and chips we walked along the beach to the pier, down the pier and back up to the beach huts where Cath Kidston had redesigned four. It was difficult to get a photo of all of them as people were in them and I didn't want to take photos of families trying to relax. Harry Ramsden's tasted incredible and definitely filled a hole. Next on the agenda was to hunt down a cash machine which resulted in falling into Patisserie Valerie and picking up two chocolate mousses. After a long trek back to the hotel, we sat eating the chocolate mousse in the window before having an afternoon nap.




After nap time it was time to venture back down to the beach. We don't have a beach in Southampton so we were determined to make the most of having one on our doorstep for the weekend. After buying some dinner and wine, we walked down from West Cliff and on to the sand to catch the last of the sun and just take in the views. We sat for hours, collecting shells and walking in the tide before sitting and watching the sun set. It was the perfect evening and I wouldn't of wanted to spend it any other way. I've grown up around the sea so it's the one place I can go and feel completely calm and relaxed.

Sunday morning was spent lazing in one of their new kingsize beds, eating breakfast and watching old re-runs of The Bill (my guilty pleasure) as check out wasn't until 12pm. Again the breakfast staff were fabulous and one of the woman recognised me and brought out the soya milk straight away. The hotel was fully booked this weekend but each member of staff treated you like you were the only ones there. For a budget hotel, it made all the difference. Dan checked us out in the morning with a big smile and he also called us a taxi to the station and wished us a safe journey home. It was such a lovely weekend and we're already at looking at coming back down to stay with Travelodge again in Bournemouth as the location is so perfect. We'd have to have room 419 again though as the view was just incredible.





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