20 May 2017

Hollywood Bowl Portsmouth Grand Opening!

On Thursday night I went to the newly refurbished Hollywood Bowl in Gunwarf Quays, Portsmouth with my BFF/housemate Sarah. It used to be Bowlplex for anyone local who remembers awkward first dates there. It was lovely to step out from the pouring rain into a busy evening, with lots of local businesses trying out the newly launched bowling allies.

The event was launched by a Marilyn Monroe look-alike who cut a ribbon to the VIP section. The VIP section was pretty cool - we had curtains around us and the incredible "princess Beth" kept popping in to see if we were ok. She was lovely, and I love they made her name badge say Princess (she's the one next to me in pink)

 So Sarah and I got down to bowling! Turns out I'm pretty poor at it!

Interesting technique Lauren...

Turns out fanning my arms around doesn't make the ball curve and do what I want. Look at me jumping around like a silly 


Sarah was much better at bowling and got two strikes! However the more wine she drank, the more I caught up (the pink wine is amazing). I also love that we didn't have to wear bowling shoes - no more stinky second hand shoes. Unless you're wearing stilettos, they are happy for you to wear whatever shoes you like. 

They still have the arcade area with pool tables, although we didn't venture that far. They've also built an American diner with loads of retro food. We tried out lots of it, including popcorn chicken, hot dogs, and the DELICIOUS veggie burgers which were better than the regular ones. 

They also did milkshakes and the oreo ones were just amazing. Here's me trying to pose like Audrey Hepburn in the background. The VIP lanes have Hollywood celebrity themes, and I love that I was paired with Audrey.

Obviously being me, I took the time to pose. I got a sticker for trying, and Sarah got some for being a winner. I'm wearing my favourite new top - this gingham Primark peplum blouse, with my ASOS Ridley jeans 

It was a really fun night! I can't believe I hadn't been bowling in 10 years! I really enjoyed the experience, it was a real laugh. I also remembered that I used to not enjoy it because it wasn't cool to enjoy bowling when I was younger. I'm pretty sure at 16 it wasn't cool to enjoy anything (just like the super-cool T4 presenters who thought everything was lame).

If you're planning a visit, remember under 18s can't go in alone in the late evenings due to the alcohol. The bowling is fairly disability friendly, and I'm told they're trying to find time to create an autism friendly bowling slot.

14 May 2017

Long Tall Sally weekend outfit #StyleHasNoRules

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Long Tall Sally. They have a new campaign where they found 80% of children wear what makes them happy, but for some reason as adults we don't feel this way. They got a group of 6-8 year olds to style some adults and the results were so cute! Check it out here

In the spirit of this, I chose an outfit I think my 8 year old self would have picked. I was mad into the Spice Girls when I was 8 and would wear anything denim. I often dressed as sporty spice in leggings and a crop top, and would try to steal anything faux fur to be scary spice. This weekend I went to Point Clear in Essex to a family beach house and decided to dress in my 90s favourites

I chose a denim button through midi dress - £65 and the Sash leather slip on sandals - £35. The relaxed but flattering dress is made of a super soft denim (trust me, my post-prosecco nap was very comfortable) and has a drawstring waist and pockets! It reaches my calves but has a cheeky little split to the knee which makes it modern and gorgeous. Plus the adjustable straps allow you to make as much cleavage as you want. 

The sandals were also really comfortable. The large soft band of leather was really comfortable for wondering on the beach with Teddy dog.

I think 8 year old me would have liked this outfit - cool enough to look like a trendy adult who knew what they were doing, but fun enough to feel like I was in Spice Girls or B*Witched! Maybe even Misteeq.

Having a weekend away in the beach house with little to do except hanging out with family and drinking prosecco is the dream. We've not done much, but sometimes doing nothing at the weekend in different surroundings is exactly what I need to do!

Sadly today is back to real life and work, but I'm going to try and make the most of lying in a different bed in the morning, walking on the beach and staring out the window at the sea!

4 May 2017

Starting Netball as an Adult

I thought I'd write a mini series of posts on hobbies and starting hobbies as an adult. I know for me, when I finished studying and moved back in with my parents after university, I was a bit lost. I was trying to get a job and move out, my friends weren't around anymore as we'd all gone off to all over the country for uni. I started exploring new ways to make friends as an adult which is surprisingly hard. I thought I'd share some of my ideas for hobbies I've developed over the past 6 years. The first one is getting into netball!

Getting into my late 20s, I've started playing netball for the first time ever! After I had my spine fused  at 16, I was really scared to do exercise in case I damaged myself. However this time last year I finally joined a gym. I was finally doing exercise and actually enjoying it. In Autumn last year, one of my friends, Marie, told me about her netball team.

I'd played a little netball in school back when I was about 10 years old, but not really done much after that. Once I'd had my back operation, I thought organised sport was off the table for me. However, Marie introduced me to her netball team and I went along to a couple of practices. It was SO nerve-wracking to go along and meet all the girls, who had mostly been playing continuously since leaving school and were amazing. However they were really lovely and supportive and really helped coach me gently into learning the rules and remembering how to play. This is me after a training session!

I signed up to the team after a few practices with trepidation. We play for a Royal Navy affiliated team, and started going along to matches thinking I would be watching. The team were short of players, so I was thrown into the deep end of competing almost straight away. Luckily with their kindness and shouting at me from the sides, I managed to get by and quickly learnt how to play. I think playing matches really helped me learn on the go. I also felt less guilty that I wasn't great, because they reminded me that without me there, they were a player short! A rubbish player has to be better than none at all!

Through their training and matches I've learnt to "be more mean" (that's what I get shouted at me each week!). At 5'9" I'm pretty tall, so I tend to play in the goal ends where there is a bit more shoving, defending, attacking... you have to be tough. Initially I felt really uncomfortable pressing my body into a goal shooter to keep them away from the goal post, or pressuring the goal attack out of the half circle. Now I'm slowly getting more attacking and enjoy learning how to play each position (except centre and any of the wings... I'm too gangly and slow for those!)

All in all, I love it. I still get a little nervous before matches but I absolutely love it. It's so exciting to go down and play, even when we're on a losing streak. We have a little whatsapp group and so much chat goes on there. We also have in-jokes and all the other aspects of "belonging" which I love about the team. I look forward to meeting the girls on the court each week, and going out together outside of matches

Now I'm an affiliated England Netball player, I've discovered it's a thriving network, with clubs in most towns and leagues of adult women wanting to play. They are hugely passionate about promoting the game and getting more women into playing beyond school years. You can start with the Back to Netball scheme as a gentle re-introduction, or you can go to one off coaching sessions with Netball Now. Beyond that, google for your local netball league and see if you can join a team, or help out teams without enough players as a floater. Finally, older people with less athletic ability can start Walking Netball. Give it a go!

26 Apr 2017

Review: MAC Fluidline Gel Eyeliner in Shade

 As someone who wears eyeliner every day, I have tried lots of different ones. I used to stick with little brushes in pots liquid liner, but at work I noticed my supervisor had a gorgeous eyeliner on - it looked matte black, as she moved around and moved her eyes, I noticed it was actually a dark green when it caught the light. I loved how subtle it was and said (embarrassingly) "please take this as a compliment - I love your eyeliner because it reminds me of magpie feathers when they catch the light". It could have gone badly, but my supervisor (being the lovely woman she is) took it well and told me it was MAC

That weekend I ran to MAC and said "I need an eyeliner you do which is kind of black but actually green" and thankfully the lady knew what I was gabbling on about and said "oh that's called Shade". I immediately bought it and began playing around with it. It's £16.50 and I got it from Debenhams

For the purposes of this blog, it was so hard to photograph. I took photos of it in the pot, out of the pot next to black, with and without flash... and it was so hard to tell it wasn't black in the photos. I managed to get some though. With this eyeliner, the more you apply, the darker it looks on the eyes.

It's a lovely smooth texture, but firmer than their classic black eyliner "blacktrack". However it smooths out evenly and can be built up to look darker. I found it quite hard to apply to a perfect "point" at the ends however as it kind of fades out as you'll see in the photos. I also had a difficulty with this colour when it dries as it seems to stay "wetter" than the black eyeliner from the same range and therefore can transfer to the browbone when I look up. This might be because I layer it on quite thick to get the black/green colour, so I have to make sure I don't look up! However once it is dry, it's not budging and will last all day without smudging or running off!

The best way to demonstrate how it looks is with photos of it on my face! So here is me at a normal distance

I like to think you can't really tell it's green on first glance, but it makes my green eyes look brighter. Then as I talk and move around and hold eye contact maybe you might start to notice it's green? This is indoors, in darker light.

Then close up...

and in brighter light...

Also quick question to dyed blonde girls - what do you use on your eyebrows to define them, but so they don't look too dark or ginger. This is Wunderbrow in blonde and I've just realised how orange it is!

23 Apr 2017

Review: Wella Color Fresh 7/44 semi-permanent hair dye

Every now and again I fancy a change with my hair. I've dyed it lots of different colours with wash-in, wash-out dyes but I fancied something a little longer-lasting about 6 weeks ago. My close friend/hairdresser Jen did some research and recommended Wella Color Fresh - a "true semi" meaning it really did fully wash out. She got it from a trade store, but it looks like you can get it online.

I wanted to go ginger, so we used 7/44, a "medium intensive red blonde" on my highlighted, dark blonde hair.

IT went on VERY red! We left it for around 20 minutes before washing it out. The pack came with gloves which were necessary as it was a very messy dye. You apply it to shampooed, towel-dried hair, making sure you apply it evenly and comb through each section. You then thoroughly rinse, and you get...

Little mermaid hair! I love that this snapchat filter came out on the day I had little mermaid hair so I could fully pose.

The fade-out is documented through my phone photos so apologies for quality at times...

Day 1:  My hair was very red! I loved it and it got lots of compliments and attention!

After one wash it was much less bright!

and after two washes it was the perfect, natural ginger which I wanted to achieve!

and it continued to fade through rosey tones

At this point it was more pink than I wanted, so I layered on some Superdrug Colour Effects dye in rich red (See my review here) to help it continue fading more ginger.

After a few weeks, it was entirely gone! It stuck a little longer around my roots compared to the ends, because I have more bleach there. However it came out the bleach entirely, and was helped along by a little Head and Shoulders at the end stages. If you look at recent blog posts you'll see it's gone. I do have quite "warm" hair (I think that's hairdresser term for a bit strawberry) so I wasn't sure it wad washed out, but when I put my blonde hair extensions in, they blend in just as well as before.

Overall, for around £7.80, it was great fun! I also have another application's worth in the bottle.

20 Apr 2017

Outfit Post: Wearing a Tutu (again!)

I am obsessed with my tutu from Reathua on Etsy! When I went to London to take photos with Southampton Wedding Photographer Ryan Hewett the weekend before last I knew I had to pack it to get some photos!

We went to the Tate Modern and got told off immediately for using photography equipment in the gallery. So we only got a photo inside the amazing, concrete structure. Such crazy architecture, I loved how opposite it was from my fluffy skirt. Instead we ventured outside and found an amazing steamy installation outside

I wore my tulle skirt with an ASOS white shirt tied up, to try and make it more casual than the last time I wore my tulle skirt with a sequin crop top

I discovered I'm not the only one who loves my tutu. I put it on the bed before I put it away last weekend and my dog refused to get off it. I found him dragging it around the room following the sunshine that afternoon. Since then it has lived on my bed during the day for Teddy to snuggle in! 

Any ideas on how I can wear my tutu again? I'm lost for ideas now!

18 Apr 2017

The Ordinary Skincare: Pigmentation Regimen First Impressions

If you're not on the Facebook group Mrs Gloss and The Goss, you're missing out. The group is full of clever, talented people who adore makeup, skincare and beauty and offer amazing advice. One of their top recommendations is The Ordinary skincare range so obviously I had to check it out. I've linked The Ordinary's website in the links, but I actually got mine from ASOS because I got student discount and free postage

The range is packaged in quite a "medical" way - lots of glass bottles with formulas in pipettes. It really appeals to the scientist in me! Some of the solutions are also in tubes which are a silvery-bronze. The most striking thing is the names of the products - the ethos of the brand is providing cheaply priced, good quality products to the educated skincare consumer. This translates as chemical names, without added scents or fancy names and little explanation on the bottles for what they could be used for. This means to buy them requires some research before you invest. The Ordinary have 3 recommended regimes for Ageing, Pigmentation Issues (and spots) and Dehydration, although you can tweet them questions and they appear to have really helpful customer services. 

I bought the range for pigmentation issues because I have some residual scarring from old acne, and because the products also prevent spots from forming. They suggest

  • AM: Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate Solution 10%
  • PM: Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% or Advanced Retinoid 2%

So what I had to do was write all these down, and then click and read the description of each one. I'll share my research for you 

Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA - £7.00. Alpha Arbutin reduces the look of spots and pigmentation. HA (Hyaluronic Acid) acts to hydrate and plump the skin
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% - £5. Niacinamide is the fancy name for Vitamin B3. It reduces blemishes and skin congestion. Zinc helps reduce oiliness.
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate Solution 10% - £7.80. This is a form of Vitamin C. The Ordinary offer several forms of Vitamin C and have a thorough guide here. I selected this one because it was recommended for brightening properties
Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% - £5.50. Brightens the skin while making it look more even in texture and reducing the apperance of blemishes.
Advanced Retinoid 2% - £8. Visibly reduces the signs of ageing without irritation by helping cell turnover. Also helps reduce spots. Can make you UV sensitive so make sure you wear SPF

I also bought
100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil - £9.00. The oil is rich in linoleic acid, linolenic acid and vitamin A. It reduces signs of photo-ageing and discolouration. It's high in fatty acids and reduces fine lines and hydrates skin. Many people also find it reduces the amount of oil their skin produces despite it being an oil itself. It's a dry oil so gets absorbed quickly. (Read a lovely review here)

So far I've been using it for two weeks and I am super impressed. My skin is becoming much more even in tone and texture, and my spots are behaving themselves. I've also spent two weekends makeup free which is very rare for me! I notice the biggest difference in my skin the morning after using the Advanced Retinoid 2%. I'll keep it up for a month and let you know how I get on. However my first impressions are:

- 365 day refund policy
- Excellent prices
- Do not test on animals
- Free of parabens, sulphate, mineral oil, animal product, formaldehyde and various other nasties 
- Potent formulas without fragrances
- I can see the difference it's making to my skin
- No break-outs or reactions despite having sensitive skin

- Maybe not that user-friendly to someone new to skincare
- Packaging isn't that pretty
- May smell a bit chemically
- I find that sometimes the way they leave skin feeling might interfere with foundation application. e.g. can pill up around my eyebrows
- You can only apply up to three formulas in one application - I'm too eager to bung everything on my face at once! 

I'd be interested in trying their AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution - I've always wanted a chemical peel. Sadly it wasn't on ASOS but for £6.30 I might have to order it


16 Apr 2017

Review: Colour Freedom Blondes - Rose Blonde on darker blonde hair

When doing my usual stroll through Superdrug I noticed the Colour Freedom range. Two caught my eye - the toners for blonde hair. They're £4.66 each at the moment so I bought both the white blonde toner and the Rose Blonde one

Colour Freedom Blondes - Rose Blonde was created for blondes with bleached sections or those with totally peroxide hair who want to tone out the brassiness, but add warmth with a peachy pink tone. They claim to neutralise the brassy oranges whilst giving the glow which will be pink in very white bleached hair, and more peachy in darker blondes. I'm a highlighted golden blonde with a hint of strawberry so thought I'd give it a go.

Inside the box is a pair of gloves and the extra large tube which would do two applications on my very long hair. The formula also said it was nourishing with Shea Butter and Argan Oil, and contained no peroxides or ammonia (so won't lighten darker hair). Any colour will last 6-10 washes.

The instructions are pretty easy - wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo, towel try completely, and then use the toner. You put on the gloves, and then massage in the toner from front to back at the roots. You then use a non-metallic comb to pull the product through the lengths. I also sectioned off my hair into quarters and rubbed the toner into each section from root to tip, and then spent 10 minutes thoroughly combing with extra product where needed. The toner is slightly purple which is handy as a guide to indicate where you might have missed sections. You leave it on for half an hour, and then rinse out until there is no more purple visible in the water (basically make sure you wash it all out).

Here are the results. These photos are taken in the same window to get natural light, at the same time of day, on two days. (that's as scientific as I could get it)

I feel the colour change on dark hair is very slight - my hair does appear more ashy and some of the orange tones have been neutralised, but it's not very ashy or white. I can also see my hair looks smoother, shinier and in better condition after using it. It doesn't smell very strong - with Sam saying it smelt "a bit like hay" which I'd consider quite a nice smell.

Overall, I'm really pleased with the result! My hair looks sleeker and in good condition and is slightly less brassy. I also have enough in the tube for a second application. I think this is a great product for a weekly pamper, or to use before a night out or event. Obviously the result would be much more obvious on those with lighter blonde hair, but I think it also makes quite an impact on darker blonde too.

14 Apr 2017

Outfit post: Smart / Casual?

Last weekend, I went to London with Ryan Hewett, a Southampton photographer. He's a wedding photographer, but wanted to try out some different photography techniques and asked if I'd join him. What a great excuse to get outfit photos! 

I wasn't sure what to wear so I went smart/casual with heels, jeans and a shirt. 

I am wearing ASOS Ridley jeans in Lily Pretty mid wash blue - they're tall too for gangly girls like me! They were £28. I paired it with ASOS 3/4 sleeve white shirt £16, which I tied up. It's a lovely thick material - no bras on show! I may be dim, but I never thought there was such as thing as a waist AND hip belt, but this one for £8 from ASOS fits both because it has lots of holes! I got my black suede heels from New Look a long time ago, sadly not there anymore. However these Office ones are similar and on sale!

Makeup: I wore MAC Studio Fix Fluid foundation and MAC Pro Longwear concealer. I used NYX tinted brow mascara in blonde, MAC fluidline gel eyeliner in blacktrack and NYX Doll Eyes Mascara. I used MAC Ruby Woo Lipliner and Lipstick. Finally I used NARS Orgasm on my cheecks

Finally, Ryan took some couples photos of Sam and I together. He was so good at putting us at ease and making us laugh. It was lovely to get a flavour of our relationship in the photos rather than posed pictures I normally take. 

In this photo I'm wearing New Balance 420 mesh trainers! I couldn't walk around London in heels all day!

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