Friday, August 30, 2013

Family Fun...

Each year, I go on a family holiday to France to visit our relatives and this year Ben came along with us. As it was his first time to the Dordogne, we made sure it was an action packed week; as well as showing Ben where my Nan grew up, we also did plenty of activities. We started the week canoeing down the river that runs threw the region.
It's safe to say that canoeing doesn't come naturally to me but we got there in the end! Canoeing down the river was the perfect way to show Ben the famous chateaus in the area whilst catching some rays. The next day, we ventured to a near by town called Padirac to visit the grotte. It's basically a huge hole leading to giant set of caves that have been carved naturally by water running through the ground. Inside there are giant stalactites and stalagmites that are thousands of years old.  

The Dordogne is full of pretty little villages and we took full advantage of having a car and bikes to explore many of them. I took so many photos of the places we visited, it was so hard to pick the ones to include! I think my favourite thing about going to France each year is revisiting all these picturesque places. I love the stone walls; when I was little, I used to think that they were princess houses as the stone reminded me of castles. 

We stayed in my great grandma house in the countryside so couldn't not go to the local market. Nothing beats getting fresh fruit and veg from the local farmer to go with your locally reared chicken! As the town where my great grandma lives has become more touristic, more street performers have started to make their way to cobbled roads. Throughout the day and night there are an array of performers; acrobats to mime artists roam amongst the tourists providing brilliant entertainment.

Sarlat market

Street entertainment in town
The final thing we did was take Ben to a duck farm to see how foie gras is made. I know that foie gras is a somewhat controversial food but the Dordogne is known for it's duck farms and duck produce and Ben wanted to see the process. My family and I have been to this farm before when I was 8 so knew that it was a good tour to take Ben on. I personally don't have any issues with foie gras and how it's made but for those who do please be warned I am including an image of a duck being force fed by the farmer's wife.
Ducks roaming around the farm
The size a force fed duck's liver reaches
I already miss being on holiday; there's something about being at my great grandma's that feels so homely.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Marvellous Monday...

Today was marvellous for two reasons; one, it's a bank holiday so no work and two, Ben and I went on a countryside adventure. This morning we decided that as it was a lovely sunny day we would head out in the car to a charity event Ben had heard about a few weeks back. We drove to a village called Horton Kilby where The Fighting Cock's pub was holding a dingy race on the river running behind the beer garden. Basically, two couples race each other in dingies whilst onlookers fire water pistols at them!

After many entertaining races and some food, we jumped in the car in search of a countryside walk. We ended up in Sevenoaks so popped into Knole Park for a stroll with the deer. I love Knole Park, it's a brilliant place to just chill out and spend the afternoon relaxing in. As it's such a large park, there's plenty of areas to go walking in as well as a tea shop that has some scrummy cakes! It's a pretty special place - a deer even wandered within touching distance of Ben and I as we sat resting by the side of the path!

As the weather was so sunny, it was the perfect excuse to put my new Primark tea dress and necklace on. I am in love with this feather design necklace and even more in love with the fact it was only £4! You can't beat Primark for cheap on trend jewellery.

I hope you've all been able to enjoy the bank holiday weekend - shame every Monday isn't a bank holiday!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Love always, Charlie"...

I decided to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower after I saw the film earlier this year on the flight to New York. As a general rule for films of this kind, I always like to read the book as well as watch the movie. It's taken me a while to get around to reading this mainly because the library never had a copy in but also because I was finishing off my degree.

Random fact: I hate it when books do this with their covers, I much prefer the original fronts!
Having seen the film, I knew the main plotlines and that the story centred around a teenage boy called Charlie. Instead of chapters, the book is split into four parts each made up of several letters Charile has written to an anonymous friend. The letters are about Charile's everyday life and all follow the same format of ending "Love always, Charlie". 

Initially, it took a few letters to get used to the way that Charlie spoke but once I got into the swing of things, I really started to like the way Charlie wrote to his friend. The character writes how he speaks so that it is almost like a transcript of him talking out loud - it provides a lot of detail for the reader and an insight into the querky ways of Charlie. When reading, I found that knowing the main parts to the story only increased my urge to finish the book as I wanted to see how accurately the film portrayed Steven Chbosky's original story. 

The review on the front cover of the edition I had compares The Perks of Being a Wallflower to The Catcher in the Rye, but for me, this story makes more sense. There appears to be a point to it whereas I found The Catcher in the Rye seemed like a random sequence of events thrown together for the purpose of a book. The Perks of Being a Wallflower feels like a tale that has a purpose. It tells you Charlie's struggles with life and being "normal". I think teenagers of any walk of life will relate to the midfield of high school that Charlie struggles with. Once you adapt to Charlie's way, your heart warms to him and you feel his confusion at the world. I found myself investing in Charlie's life, caring about what happened to the fictional character - I think this says a lot about Chbosky's abilities as a writer and how he can draw an audience in. 

On finishing the book, I felt satisfied that I'd understood Charlie's story and didn't feel cheated out of my time in the way some authors fail at adequately ending a story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone; whether you're a teenager going through school or you're slightly older and have been through it before this coming of age novel is a pure delight. 


Sunday, August 11, 2013

What's In My Bag - Holiday Edition...

Seeing as it's the summer holiday season, I thought I'd do a "What's In My Bag - Holiday Edition". For me, the holiday feeling starts as soon as I make a list of all the things I need to take with me. I'm a planner so I know exactly what needs to be in my hand luggage about 2 weeks before any trip. This post will be what I'm planning on having in my bag when I go away this month. 

When travelling, I like to take the largest bag I can find in order to get all my precious must haves on the plane with me (it also leaves plenty of room for any duty free!). My current go-to bag is my green polka dot Cath Kidston Travel Bag. I got this particular one from the outlet at Portsmouth. So far it has not let me down and I adore it.

Obviously the most important things in my travel bag are my much needed travel documents. Sticking with the Cath Kidston theme, I have a travel wallet in order to keep all my important things organised. This handy little wallet keeps my passport, health card, insurance details, flight info, tickets and money safe. 

I always like to pack a little make up bag with basic essentials in for a flight - I'm slightly paranoid about leaving all my make up in my suitcase and it getting lost in transit! It usually consists of foundation, concealer, mascara, powder and vaseline to moisturise my lips on the dehydrating flight. I also carry my perfume in my hand luggage so it doesn't get broken.

No trip would be enjoyable without a little entertainment for the flight - cue my electricals!  I never go anywhere without my iPod and iPad mini. The endless music, games and tv shows make any flight whiz by. I always keep my chargers in my hand luggage for the same reason I have my make up bag. I can't imagine how annoying it would be having the electronics but nothing to charge them with! I also always make sure I have a pen and notebook as you never know when blog inspiration may strike!

This is pretty much what I take on any holiday I go on. Do you have a set list of things that must be in your holiday hand luggage?


Monday, August 05, 2013

Eradicating Eczema...

All my life I have suffered with eczema. When I was little it got so bad that my parents took me to a homeopath as prescribed creams weren't working. She suggested that I change my diet (replace cow’s milk with sheep’s milk etc) and gave me a herbal remedy. Luckily, what she suggested worked and my eczema pretty much cleared up and I've gone back to eating what I want.

Every now and again however, I still get flare ups. If I’m particularly stressed or there’s a dramatic change in the weather (like now) patches of eczema appear on my hands and the back of my legs. For the past few years, I have been going to the doctor and getting a steroid cream prescribed. Obviously whilst this clears up the eczema, it isn't necessarily the best solution as it is a strong cream and can cause damage to your skin when used in the long run – I've noticed that the parts of my legs prone to eczema no longer tan as the steroid cream has damaged the skin. Also, in the recent months, I've noticed that the cream hasn't been working as effectively as it has done in the past.

By complete coincidence, I have stumbled across a miracle worker. To cut a long story short, my sister orders her sun cream online and with her last order they threw in a little freebie. Enter Barefoot SOS a cream that states it is for extremely dry and sensitive skin prone to eczema. I've used this cream for the last week on my eczema patches and they have improved so much more than when I've used my prescribed cream! And what makes this little tube of delightfulness even better is that it is made with completely natural ingredients so no more damaged skin! The ingredients also give the cream a nice scent, one that I can only describe as lemon with a hint of herb (honestly it smells a lot better than my poor attempt at describing it!).

I would highly recommend anyone with eczema to give this cream a try - for £5.95 you can’t really go wrong!

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