Category Archives: Reviews

Destination Lincoln

As part of my husband’s ongoing cycle training for the Grand Depart Classic in Brussels (first leg of the 2019 Tour De France) on Saturday 29 June 2019 – he is riding on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK (find out more HERE) – Adam took part in early May in the Lincoln GP Sportive (Lincoln Grand Prix). Although the Brussels ride is around 125 miles, the 75 mile Lincoln GP ride was excellent training as the finishing line was at the top of a 23% gradient cobbled hill – aptly named Steep Hill – and the cobbles were something Adam had not yet faced and the Brussels ride features two cobbled hills of steep gradients – so Lincoln was the perfect training ride. Fortunately the hills in Brussels are not at the end of a gruelling 75 mile undulating cycle ride but occur when legs are still relatively fresh, so to speak. Our two youngest sons and I were in Lincoln to cheer on Adam and to give him some moral support as he attempted the cobbles. In the meantime, the boys and I had about 6 hours to kill whilst Adam was poodling around the Lincolnshire countryside so we did some exploring of our own around the city of Lincoln…

This was the first time I had actually spent some time in Lincolnshire – I had travelled through the county on my way to Yorkshire, Newcastle and Scotland in the past – so I was looking forward to spending some time in Lincoln. I must admit I was under the impression that Lincolnshire was a flat county – however, I now know that Lincoln itself is pretty steep and Adam assures me that the Lincolnshire Wolds that surround Lincoln were pretty undulating too! Having arrived in the evening, in rain, it was great to open our hotel room curtains and have a terrific view of Lincoln cathedral and blue skies. The boys and I decided the first place we will be exploring was to be Lincoln Cathedral.

View of Lincoln Cathedral from Premier Inn Lincoln City Centre

It was a 10 minute uphill walk to the Cathedral and on the way we diverted into a small park with trees planted in dedication to university staff who had died. It was a pretty place to wander around with a small outdoor gym. I must admit I was hoping that there was an underpass or shortcut across the busy main road via the park but I was disappointed that the park’s path was a circular route (oh well, just think of those Fitbit steps!)

Lincoln cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral is pretty impressive. It was first constructed in 1072 in the gothic style of that era. In fact, from 1311 – 1548 it was the tallest building in the world. Nowadays it is the 4th largest cathedral in the UK after Liverpool, St Paul’s, and York Minster. The original Cathedral was damaged by an earthquake on 15 April 1185 – an eye witness described the Cathedral as having been “split from top to bottom”. All I can say is that the reconstruction must have been sturdier as the Cathedral looked strong to me! Lincoln Cathedral is one of the few English cathedrals built from the rock it is standing on. The Cathedral’s stonemasons use more than 100 tonnes of stone per year for maintenance and repairs. It was in maintenance mode when we visited, but the building still looked splendid. You might have seen Lincoln Cathedral in films: it doubled up as Westminster Abbey in “Young Victoria” and in the Netflix Shakespeare film “TheKing”. Lincoln Cathedral also once housed a copy of the Magna Carta – now it is housed in Lincoln Castle …

Lincoln Cathedral

Out of Lincoln Cathedral, past the Magna Carta pub, we ventured onto Lincoln Castle with its extensive grounds and intact wall. Visitors can now walk the full circumference of the wall, which is an impressive third of a mile long. The views over Lincoln and the countryside are supposed to be stunning but I must admit that the clouds started to roll in and a cup of tea beckoned so we retreated to the cafe that was set within the castle walls & the Victorian prison instead. Lincoln Castle was built by William The Conqueror in 1068. The Victorian prison was added on in 1788. In the Castle grounds was the impressive building of Lincoln Crown Court, alas not open to the public. The boys though were more interested in the Lego Space Exhibition being held in the grounds. Presented and built by Bricklive, the exhibits included larger than life models of The Earth, astronauts and the Space Shuttle.

Lincoln Castle Walls
Lincoln Castle Walls
Lincoln Crown Court
Lego “Earth” at Lincoln Castle
Lego Astronaut
Lego Space Shuttle

Next stop, Steep Hill. This cobbled hill & its adjacent street, Mickelgate, was where the finishing line was. We still had a bit of time to visit a shop on Steep Hill that I had discovered online some months previously: Roly’s Fudge Pantry! I couldn’t wait to discover this little fudge enclave and I thought Adam and his fellow team cyclists might appreciate fudge once they passed that finish line. Let me tell you, the fudge pantry did not disappoint! The sweet aroma hits you as soon as you crossed the threshold and there was fudge being made in front of our very own eyes. So many flavours to choose from ! The fudge was appreciated by the cyclists at the end and we came back the next day to buy more before our drive home . We tried the following flavours: Maple & Walnut; Honeycomb; Strawberry & Prosecco; Mint Chocolate; Hot Cross Bun; Whisky & Ginger; Chocolate; Salted Maple & Pecan….. it was hard to pick a favourite but my 3 faves were salted maple & pecan; strawberry & prosecco and whisky & ginger. Apparently you can now buy them online.

Roly’s Fudge Pantry

Other shops on Steep Hill worth checking out are Pimento Lincoln’s Original Vegetarian Cafe for their soya hot chocolate with vegan whipped cream & marshmallows; Annushka Russian Dolls Shop (!) and the Mouse House Cheese Shop & Coffee Bar ….for marmite scones …

Steep Hill

Around 2.30pm, my boys and I were halfway down Steep Hill ready to cheer on the cyclists as they make their arduous way up the steep cobbled hill. Adam and his teammates made it up the hill in one piece and are ready to face the Belgian challenge.

Steep Hill
Adam on Steep Hill
Made it!

Lincoln is a university town so after dark on a Saturday night the place was buzzing with bars, clubs and restaurants – it was especially vibrant down by the waterfront. We ate in Zizzi’s and I highly recommend their King Prawn Linguine.

Lincoln had so much to offer that I didn’t manage to explore the shops, the Museum of Lincolnshire or The Collection Usher Gallery …. but I will endeavour to visit next time ( a repeat visit to the fudge pantry would be on my itinerary too)

Check out my previous blogpost about Adam & his prostrate cancer cycling rides: https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/one-in-eight-men

For Pinning Later

Linda x

Photographs are by Linda Hobden

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Hunkemoller Review

On trend this season – the rise of “loungewear/ leisurewear/ nightwear” – no longer are pyjamas taboo outside of the bedroom. Although I am still not a fan of the onesie – the other combinations of long pants/leggings/shorts with the combination of camisoles/sweatshirts/T-shirts have definitely grown on me. Comfortable to lounge around in whilst watching television in the evenings, as a warmer alternative to skimpier nightwear in bed, to wear before getting fully dressed in the day, respectable enough not to bat an eyelid on the school run, for those sick days…. the uses are numerous to say the least. One of Europe’s largest lingerie specialists, Hunkemoller, have one of the best ranges of loungewear I’ve seen in a long time …. here’s my review…. 

DISCLAIMER ALERT: The loungewear/nightwear has been supplied by Hunkemoller for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

First of all, the website – www. hunkemoller.co.uk. It came across to me as an easy to navigate website, clear descriptions  and placing an order is simple.  We are talking luxury lingerie and nightwear of the highest quality – and I found that the prices were very reasonable indeed.

Delivery:  After you’ve placed your order, despatch is pretty quick, arriving within 2 – 3 days.  When I received my package, I was impressed.  Inside the large logo clad box, was enclosed my sumptious green velvet camisole and green loose fitting pyjama pants.

Velvet Lace Cami:

The company claims that this camisole:

  1. Feels super sexy and feminine.
  2. Has adjustable shoulder straps
  3. Velvet Fabric Finished With Sexy Lace Details
  4. Material: 95% polyester/ 5% elastane.

Well, on all 4 points the company are spot on! The velvet camisole certainly looks luxurious, it is soft to touch, has a slight stretch, feels comfortable to wear and is prettily edged in lace. The lace trim and the camisole itself is in a gorgeous dark green shade – I picked the colour as it is my favourite – but there were other colours available on the website including a pretty pink and a rich burgundy red.

Lace Edging On The Bottom Of The Camisole

Loose-Fitting Pyjama Pants:

The company blurb:

  1. Super comfortable
  2. Elasticated Waist
  3. 95% viscose/5%elastane
  4. Tie Closure
Tie Waistband

The pants I picked to match with the camisole were also dark green with black leopard print like spots. They had cuffed ankles and a comfortable elasticated tie waistband. The trousers were a lovely fit – not too baggy and not too tight. I’m a size UK10/12 and the “medium” was spot on. Lengthwise, I’m 5ft3” and as you can see from my picture below, the trousers sit comfortably on my ankle. The cuffed ankle was a feature I had not really considered before but apart from looking stylish, it helped to keep the trousers in place but to be honest, there wasn’t a lot of excess material gathering at the ankle, so the trousers may be a bit short if you are over 5’6”.

Cuffed Ankle

Laundry Advice:

There is a recommendation to wash on a gentle 40º wash cycle – no ironing, tumble drying, dry cleaning or hand washing. The material is virtually crease proof.

My Verdict:

I loved them more than I expected to! The colour is gorgeous, the quality is superb and they are really, really comfortable. I would have no hesitation buying other products from this company – the designs are fabulous and the workmanship is first rate. 10/10

For pinning later

My thanks goes to Hunkemoller for allowing me to sample their products – you’ve got yourself a fan!

Happy Shopping!

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden.

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What Happens in France: A Book Review

If you are anything like me, I do like a good book to read, especially when I’m on holiday.  I like a variety of genres… I must admit to loving the gritty thrillers, horrors and mysteries; although I just as readily delve into the realms of the classics, the historical sagas, the travel journals and the fun loving feel good romantic comedies.        So when I was given the chance to read “What Happens In France” by Carol Wyer before it’s publication  on January 28th 2019, it was a more than a pleasure.

Carol is an author I’m well acquainted with – I read her book Three Little Birds and was smitten with her feel good romantic comedy style. Thankfully she agreed to an interview (read the interview HERE) and I’ve been following her career ever since.  I’ve read every book she has written since then too. Carol has written romantic comedies like “Life Swap”; she has written non-fiction such as “Grumpy Old Menopause” which won the People’s Prize for non fiction 2015; she has written thrilling crime in 2017 – the 1st book in her DI Robyn Carter series “Little Girl Lost” shot to #2 best selling spot on kindle, #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible, and a USA Today top 150 best sellers; and now Carol has returned to writing a heart warming romantic comedy – “What Happens In France”.

“What Happens In France” in a nutshell….

For years Bryony Masters has been looking for her long lost sister Hannah.  When her father has a stroke, Bryony realises that time is running out and she is even more determined to find Hannah to reunite the family before it is too late.  Bryony spots an advertisement for candidates for a new prime time game show and  fondly remembering that Hannah was a TV game show addict, decides that applying to take part might be a great way of getting her search for Hannah in the public eye…hoping that Hannah herself would come forward.  Of course, Bryony gets through and that’s when her adventures begin…. a private jet,  stunning French countryside, a handsome team mate, interesting and unique personalities, game show antics….. and a delightful pug dog called Biggie Smalls….

What I loved about “What Happens In France”….

  1. The details.  Over the past year, I have spotted Carol on TV taking part in daytime game shows and I know that she has spent a lot of time in France … Carol has always embraced challenges in order to write truthfully about experiences – it shows in this book: the game show process, the characters, the knowledge of the part of France where the fictional game show is set.
  2. The characters.  Believable characters.  And the delightful pug dog, Biggie Smalls.   I loved how all the characters came alive in my head and were so relatable – the handsome team mate Lewis, the vain and pompous quizmaster,  Bryony’s ill father who asks for Hannah all the time.  Bryony is a fab character – she holds a place in my heart – I wanted her to believe in herself at times! 
  3.  The storyline.  It’s a different angle to most romantic comedies. It is really hard to do a review without giving too much away as quite often I want to tell every minute detail but although I want to  reveal all I am really going to zip it!  Suffice to say I really hope Carol follows up on this story with a part 2 … about  what happens  after France … I need to know what happens next! 
  4.  It is an easy going, feel good  romantic comedy that embraces friendships, family, love and laugh out loud moments. It is one of those books that the pages keep turning and you can lose track of time….  Ideal for relaxing by that pool, perhaps in France…. 
  5.   If you like authors such as Marian Keyes, then this book is in the same ilk. You won’t be disappointed. 

Book Info….

“What Happens In France” by Carol Wyer is published by Canelo. Release Date:  28 January 2019.                                                                                 ISBN: 9781788632768.                                                                                                   Pre Order from  Amazon  HERE.                                                                                

To learn more about Carol, go to www.carolwyer.co.uk or follow Carol on Twitter: @carolewyer. 
Carol also blogs at www.carolwyer.com

 For Pinning  Later.

Credits….

Thanks goes to Carol Wyer and Ellie of Canelo Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read the book before general release. I loved it. 

Thanks to Carol for her kind permission for allowing publication of the photographs (except the pinning photo which was taken by myself (Linda Hobden) in France).

Linda x

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A Visit To The Orla Kiely Exhibition

Earlier this week, fellow blogger Carol Cassara and I met up in Bermondsey, London to visit, among other things, the current Orla Kiely exhibition “A Life In Pattern” being held at the Fashion & Textile Museum.

The Fashion & Textile Museum was founded in 2003 by the zany, iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes – who happens to be one of my favourite designers ever! I was very tempted to knock on her studio door just a few yards away – perhaps another day as this particular day Dublin -born designer Orla Kiely was the focus of my attention.

Orla Kiely’s career really started when she was commissioned by Harrods to design wool felted hats – but she very quickly expanded into bags.  And what lovely bags! As soon as Carol & I entered into the museum foyer, there was on display of the most gorgeous private collection of big, bold Orla Kiely bags. I loved them all. Carol headed straight to the gift shop to purchase a bag or two… disappointingly for her, no bags were available to purchase at the shop.  As Orla Kiely products are available in over 33 countries, we quickly googled & found an outlet to ensure we get our “bag fix” another day! 

Orla Kiely’s textile patterns are very distinctive – she is recognised globally as the designer of the iconic “stem” pattern…as well as various flower designs.  Not only are the patterns replicated onto bags but on a range of other items including scarves, shoes, pumps, flower pots, notebooks, and even a birdhouse ( which Carol took a liking to).  

Orla shares my love of the colour green – she uses every shade of green known to man (!) from moss green to seaweed.  The colours she uses reflect her Irish background – the greys, browns, and mustard yellow represent the Irish skies, the rolling hills and the gorse & wild flowers of the roadside verges. I did wonder about the splashes of orange, though. I then read in the book that accompanies the exhibition, that her colour preferences were also influenced by her family kitchen that had olive green worktops and  units …and a vivid orange shiny ceiling. Mmm… not creating a delightful picture to me but I can understand where the orange colour fits in! I wonder if she had an avocado green bath too?!

 

The main room of the exhibition that really stood out was the “Alice In Wonderland” room. Hanging from the ceiling were enormous dresses and coats, made of fabric. Along the walls were dolls wearing the same outfits but miniature versions of them.  Really well thought out and fascinating.  The outfits themselves were very much of the late 1960s/early 1970s era – very Mary Quant – I remember my mum wearing similar styled dresses when I was very young.  Carol & I both preferred the colourful trench coat – the  colours & pattern were eye catching – great to wear over a black polo neck top,  black drainpipe jeans and black knee high boots! 

The museum had a cafe (delicious cappuccino) and a small gift shop  which sold lots of knick-knacks (sadly no Orla Kiely bags) – but they did have a superb collection of fashion coffee books  including the book published to accompany this  exhibition – “A Life In Pattern” by Orla Kiely, published by Conran Octopus Publishing.

The Fashion & Textile Museum in Bermondsey was a little gem. The museum receives no public funding – it holds exhibitions such as this one, and hosts some fabulous workshops instead. The museum was founded by Zandra Rhodes, but is owned by Newham College London (one of Europe’s largest further education colleges).  It is the only museum in the UK solely dedicated to showcasing developments in contemporary fashion. It also provides inspiration, support and training to those working in the industry.  Lying south of the River Thames, close to the Shard and between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, it is definitely worth checking out next time you are in London.

The Orla Kiely exhibition runs until 23 September 2018. The Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday from 11am.  The next exhibition will be “Night And Day: 1930s Fashion And Photographs” from 12 October 2018 – 20 January 2019. 

For more details check out the website: www.ftmlondon.org

All photos are by Linda Hobden.

 

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Keeping Hydrated With ION8

If you feel inspired to participate in any sporting activity, it’s important to keep well hydrated, especially if you are:  sweating away in a poorly ventilated gym; lobbing a shuttlecock over the net in a sports hall; cycling up and down the hills and country lanes; hiking in the wilderness;  scoring goals on the football (soccer) pitch or netball/basketball hoops.  In fact, keeping well hydrated daily is a must, even if you are not particularly active.  Drinking water regularly as been shown to: increase energy, relieve tiredness, boost the body’s immune system, improves the skin, promotes weight loss (water has zero calories!), aids digestion, relieves cramps and headaches.  Schools in the UK encourage children to take in a water bottle to use and sip throughout the day to help them keep alert and use those brain cells.  Having 5 children and an active cycling mad husband, I have a drawer full of water bottles – not all are the same and when I was given by ION8 their water bottle to review, I was looking forward to seeing if the ION8 stands up to my family’s scrutiny!

My 12 year old son Jack was the perfect reviewer/critic. He has had  3 water bottles since the start of the school term. One was lost; one leaked badly due to the spout snapping off that he had to have a new rucksack; and one split.  He takes a water bottle to school and refills it throughout the day; the water bottle has to endure a bus journey there and back; and Jack doesn’t treat his bag with kid gloves either. So, the ION8 has a lot to live up to! This is what Jack expected:

1. NEEDS TO BE REUSABLE & ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY.

Jack drinks a lot of water during the day – it is important for him to be well hydrated as he does suffer from migraines and water helps to alleviate the headaches.  It is also cost effective according to Jack as it gives him more money  by refilling his water bottle to buy another chocolate muffin! Refilling bottled water bottles isn’t a good idea as tiny cracks often appear in the bottle after its initial use and these cracks can harbour germs such as the dreaded norovirus.  Reusable bottles have been designed for multiple usage.  The ION8 is reusable, is bpa free and is made of non toxic Tritan – a material that is highly resistant to odours, can be easily cleaned & is dishwasher safe.                                                                                               10/10

2. NEEDS TO BE STYLISH.

The ION8 is definitely stylish.  The product was winner of the Reddot Design Award 2017. I wasn’t sure until the water bottle arrived, what colour I would receive.  There are 14 different colours to choose from – I was hoping it wasn’t going to be pink as I have 4 boys and a daughter who doesn’t go a-bundle on pink – but as luck would have it, I received the black glossy onyx colour. This was the preferred choice.  Jack approved. I think the colour was the main deciding factor for him.  From my point of view the range of colours was a fabulous idea especially in families where each person can have their own water bottle identified by a different colour.  Like packs of toothbrushes in assorted colours….. I’m sure you’ve got the drift 🙂  Only downside to the design that Jack mentioned was that opening and shutting the lid, the click was loud especially when he was taking a quick swig of water during his lesson and the classroom was relatively quiet.                                                                                           9.5/10

3. NO LEAKS.

Having been through various water bottles that have leaked despite being upright for the majority of the time, this was a major consideration. Soggy schoolbooks are a no no. Soggy gym kit – not amusing. ION8 claim to be 100% leakproof 100% of the time. They also offer a lifetime guarantee.  The lid lock offers that peace of mind  as well as the inner seal (which can be replaced).  Most water bottles have just the spout at the top which opens and closes – where most leakage occurs – so the lid is a pretty good idea.    The ION8 has lasted 10 days with no leaking so far….                                                10/10

ION8 comes with a tough carry strap, but I did not test the strap. Another difference is that the spout is at the side and not in the centre like most water bottles.  Drinking out of the water bottle is like drinking out of a cup – you need only to tilt the bottle slightly.

The aperture on the ION8 spout is wide to allow a uninterrupted flow of water. Water bottles, including the ION8, do not have thermal properties, such as keeping a hot drink hot or a cold drink cold – but the ION8 is capable of holding cold beverages as low as  -10C as well as hot beverages up to 96C.

The company mission is to produce the simplest and safest BPA free, spill free, leak proof water bottles, hydration products and drinking vessels.  My son and I are very impressed with what we’ve seen so far.  As far as water bottles go, the ION8 is the bees knees and we’ve been converted! 🙂

ION8 is available to buy via Amazon UK, Amazon USA, Amazon DE (Germany); Amazon ES (Spain); Amazon IT (Italy); Amazon FR (France).

For further information: www.ion8.co.uk

Disclaimer:  ION8 sent me the ION8 water bottle to review.  All views are entirely my own (and Jack’s).

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden. 

 

 

 

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Destination Rocamadour

Set in a gorge above the River Alzou, a tributary of the River Dordogne, in the Lot Department of South West France, lies the small cliff top village of Rocamadour.  Rocamadour attracts pilgrims from all over the world and has done for centuries – famous pilgrims from history include Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II of England; Kings Louis IX, Louis XI & Charles IV of France. In summer, this little village in the middle of nowhere, is jammed packed with visitors.  Apart from its stunning location, Rocamadour is known for its Cite Religieuse complex of religious buildings, accessed via the Grand Escalier Staircase. The complex includes the Chapelle Notre Dame, with its Black Madonna statue and the Romanesque – Gothic Basilica of St Sauveur.

In August, Rocamadour’s campsites (of which there are many), are invaded also by music lovers – the Festival de Rocamadour include chamber music, orchestral music and soloists.

Interesting though the village is, for families with children, the prospect of climbing the steep stone stairways viewing ancient buildings in the August heat isn’t really appealing.  BUT, Rocamadour to me and my family isn’t really the village – we head to the north east corner of the village to a magical place we first discovered in 2006. This place is La Foret de Singes (Monkey Forest), a park where around 150 Barbary Macaques (aka Magots) live and roam free in a forest environment. 

The Barbary Macaques are an endangered species, originating from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The idea of the park is to provide the apes with natural living conditions as close to their native conditions as possible in order to preserve the species and once numbers increase and they are no longer endangered, they will be ultimately reintroduced into the Atlas Mountains. 

Raising public awareness about threats to the species is another aim.  Entering the park there are strict regulations for visitors – both for the safety of the visitor and the apes.  The park is well secured… there are gates to enter in and out of the forest itself .. but other than that, no other zoo like feature exists.  Regulations include not going too close the apes, especially the babies as the parents could consider the visitors as a threat; the young apes are prone to taking food out of people’s pockets/bags and hats off heads  – the young ones are braver and will approach you to take food off your outstretched hands.  You can get bags of popcorn at the entrance so you can feed the apes you come across as you follow the paths through the forest – and there are also set feeding time  areas where the rangers feed the apes whilst explaining (mostly in French) their work, the apes and the conservation aims.

Wandering through the forest, some places reminded me of scenes from Disney’s Lion King – I was expecting Simba the lion to appear on a rock and roar! 

The highlight of the day for us all was being able to feed the apes, although on our first trip my eldest son was very wary and was too scared to participate – but the others were a lot braver and enjoyed the experience.  Outside the gated area is a shop with the inevitable shelves lined with soft cuddly Barbary Apes; and a cafe where you can get a well deserved ice cream – or have a picnic indulging in freshly made baguettes with the local goats milk cheese, “Rocamadour”, which was awarded AOC status in 1996! 

As a family, we’ve always visited in the height of the season in August – the roads to get into Rocamadour are often congested but away from the centre, as you head to the forest the traffic is fairly light and the park itself, although busy, does not feel crowded even at lunchtime.  If you get a chance, just along the road is the Dinosaur Park – a cleverly laid out park winding down a hillside featuring some fabulous dinosaur statues – very pushchair/wheelchair friendly and wasn’t crowded whenever we’ve visited, either. 

The La Foret de Singes was opened in 1974  – it has other parklands in the “group” in Europe where you can experience the work of the Barbary Macaques conservation associations.  These are: La Montagne des Singes (France); Affenberg Salem  (Germany); Trentham Monkey Forest (England).

If you wish to visit the forest, it is open March – November. 

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden. 

 

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Under The Spotlight: Maybelline Superstay Lipstick

My friend, Kat, and I talk about many things when we get together or when we message each other over the years.  We both like the same sort of music, we like the same style of clothing, we share the same tastes in footwear, but one thing we adore (and talk about a lot!) is make up by Maybelline. Mainly their mascaras and lipsticks. Especially Maybelline’s Superstay Lipstick.

Maybelline Superstay Lipsticks have been a feature in our make up bags for a while – I think it was Kat who first told me about its virtues.  For those who don’t know, the lipstick has fantastic staying power and the range of colours suit everybody’s tastes.   I prefer the pinks and nudes of the colour spectrum; whereas Kat is a big fan of the reds and burgundies.

Me, at Gatwick Airport at 4am, wearing my Superstay lipstick ….

In September/October, Maybelline had a range change and had repackaged and reformulated some of its make up items – including our favourite lippy! Being a  Superstay Lipstick guru, Kat had concerns about whether the lipstick is still as good as it used to be – so she decided to give the new look Superstay Lipstick a try and here’s her review …..

I’ve been a big fan of Maybelline Superstay lipstick for some time now, as its the only one I’ve found that actually does what it says on the tin. I have three shades that I use regularly and since moving to a Scottish island earlier in the year, have been stockpiling these so that I don’t run out. Especially as, much to my horror, I was advised a year or two ago that there were plans to discontinue the range and replace it with something else.

Earlier in the year, I found a range that was labelled Superstay and tried them, but without success, and had therefore stepped-up my stockpiling efforts. In the meantime, I have also found what I believe to be new shades in what I have come to think of as the ‘traditional’ Superstay 24 range (see photo), and have now added a fourth shade to my favourites. So maybe there is hope that this traditional range is not for imminent demise.

Whatever the truth of that assumption may be, you may also have seen the recent TV advertising campaign showing us a new Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink lipstick range: as you may imagine, I’ve been quite excited to try it out. Earlier in the week, I found a range of these lipsticks in the Orpington Boots Maybelline concession. How could I possibly resist!

I bought their shade No.45 Escapist (a very dark purple – again, see photo) and yesterday, I wore it all day.

 

I first applied it at around 8am. Out of the tube, the applicator seemed quite clogged, but it was easy to wipe off the excess on the top of the tube, and very easy to apply. At first, without the lip balm that came with the traditional Superstay lipstick, it felt quite cloying and dry on my lips, much like the traditional one does when it’s almost ready to apply the balm – not quite as bad, but bad enough to persuade me to open my traditional lipstick and apply the balm section. After that, fine and comfy.

I took the first photo immediately after eating breakfast. There was no residue on the spoon or my tea mug. My lips still felt perfectly comfortable. So far, so promising.

Without taking either the lipstick or the stick of balm (or indeed, any balm), out with me, I then left the house for the day.

The second photo was taken shortly after lunch – at around 1.30pm (or 5-6 hours after application). Again, there was no staining on my cutlery or my wine glass. However, I was beginning to be conscious of the lipstick on my lips, and I believe you can see a very small amount of colour fade, at the inner edge of my bottom lip.

The third photograph was taken around 7pm (11 hours after application). At this stage, I had drunk a further cup of tea (still no staining) and had not applied any further balm since first application that morning. As you can see, the colour fade has intensified slightly – and I was slightly more conscious of wearing the lipstick.

The fourth photograph was take around 9pm, after having eaten dinner, and drunk a further glass of wine (purely in the interests of research you understand). Again, no staining on my cutlery, but a very slight smudge and a speck of lipstick on my glass. I feel this is reflected in a further fade visible in the photograph.

By this time, my lips were feeling dry enough that I bit off the merest flake from the surface, so I applied more lip balm, this time Nivea Pearly Shine (which is supposed to give a slight sheen to naked lips. It does, but I find the ‘slight’ is further towards the ‘vague’ end of the spectrum). Normally, the traditional lipstick does not fare well when used with a different balm – and as I so rarely find I need to use one, I try not to.

The last photograph of the day was then taken, after also having drunk a cup of hot chocolate (oh how I have suffered in the interests of being thorough). No staining on the cup and only a little further colour fade, which did surprise me slightly, given my comments above.

Before I took to my bed for the night, I again applied the balm from the traditional Superstay lipstick, instead of wiping the lipstick off, so that I could take a final photograph when I woke up. I won’t tell you what time I took the photo this morning, but it had definitely been on for over 24 hours at this point! As I think is clear, it’s not perfect, but it’s definitely still there.

I used to find that the traditional lipstick did not always last as applied for the whole 24 hours, but easily lasted all day out and about, and more than easily coped with a night out, without fading at all. It did occasionally require an extra application of balm, but this did not always help with the staying power of the colour however (especially, as noted, if I used a different one than supplied with the lipstick). My husband also has a full beard and moustache, which can be a bit of a wire brush on lipstick, so am quite happy that it does last overnight, if only in the style of old-fashioned lip liner by the time I wake up! People have stopped me in the street, or over lunch and/or drinks and complimented me on my lipstick and its staying power, and I’ve been happy to recommend the traditional Superstay range.

This new range seems on this evidence to be very close. There was slight colour fade during the day, but this was not obvious until after 11 hours after first application, and though I was conscious of it after 6 hours, it was not noticed by my companions sitting across the table from me. I would also note that the shade I was wearing was very dark, so any fade would be much more noticeable. On any normal day this would be perfectly acceptable, and more than acceptable for a night out. I would prefer however that the lip balm had not been dispensed with.

I will not be ditching my stockpile yet, and very much hope that this is not a replacement for the traditional Superstay range, but merely an addition to the Maybelline offering (they do, after all, offer an almost bewildering range of mascara too, all of which are also great). On the other hand, if this were their only Superstay offering, I would definitely stick with it. But perhaps I would also be keeping the unused balm sections from the traditional range, to use in conjunction”.

Thanks for the review Kat!  It’s a pity about the balm not being incorporated anymore …but I am looking forward to checking out the new range for myself very soon.

Do you use Maybelline’s Superstay range?  Do you have a particular favourite? Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

Photo Credits:

Review photos – Kat Sparshott;  Pin & other photo – Linda Hobden

 

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Destination Boa Vista

I have had Cape Verde hovering around the top of my bucket list for a quite a few years.  I was wooed not by photographs, as at the time I hadn’t seen any.  I only knew two people who had been there – both said it was very windy and not much there apart from sand. Neither showed much enthusiasm.  No, I was fascinated by these islands because of their location and they were “new” to the travel scene, fascinated as only a geography/travel/map geek could be.  Over the last couple of years, Cape Verde has crept into those holiday brochures – pictures of exotic pools with swim up bars, palm trees …. and I was sold. Sort of. What I didn’t realise was that Cape Verde was made up of 10 islands and the main “tourist” island was an island called Sal.  However, just south of Sal is the island of Boa Vista – just opening up to tourism – and that was the island I was lucky enough to be visit  in August this year.

Cape Verde lies midway between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator, approximately 300 miles off the coast of Senegal in West Africa. The island of Boa Vista, nearest island to the African mainland, is the 3rd largest island, but it is still tiny, taking just under one hour driving from end to end  – roughly 240 square miles … the size of the city of Chicago, in fact.  The population of the entire island, according to the official Cape Verde website, in 2010 was just 8,564. In fact it is the least populated of all the islands – the capital of Cape Verde, Praia, is on the island of Santiago.  Most people on Boa Vista live in the capital, Sal Rei … in fact my hotel located in the extreme south of the island, the biggest Rui hotel in the world, was bigger than the villages and towns! 

Diego Gomes, a Portuguese explorer, discovered the Cape Verde Islands, way back in 1456 – they were all totally uninhabited. By 1587, Cape Verde became a Portuguese colony.  The Portuguese used the archipelago as a stopover for slave traffic between Africa and America. From 1620, slaves were employed in the salt mines – processing the salt in the mountainous areas, hidden from pirate attacks.  The salt pans are still here, although more common on the island of Sal, but the industry has dried up due to the technical advances in the industry in other parts of the world. Cape Verde declared independence in 1975. Today, the population is mostly a mixture of Creole, African & Portuguese … with small pockets of Italians, Spanish & Chinese. The signs are all in Portuguese but the people speak a Creole language – the atmosphere is pretty laidback and has a Caribbean vibe in Boa Vista;the other islands have a more European feel.  

“Inside” the airport’s departure lounge

Most people on Boa Vista work in tourism in some way – either in the hotels, as tour guides or souvenir sellers.  Date-farming too. The airport, the grandly named Aristides Pereira International Airport, was opened in 2007.  The International Airport on Sal has navigational runway aids (runway lights) and looks like an airport – whereas the airport on Boa Vista is on the edge of the desert, is open air and has no runway lights.  The flight time from the UK is just over 6 hours – the plane is not large as the airport is too small to accept the modern Dreamliner jets.  There are only 3 or 4 planes landing a day so long queues rarely exist! Expansion plans are already being made.  As Boa Vista is hot and dry all year round, having an open air airport isn’t really a problem apart from the fact that it is hot and shade is limited plus at the end of August/September is Boa Vista’s “rainy” season (short sharp showers about 4 days a year!) so if it does rain, you’ll get wet! The airport is located in Rabil, the 2nd largest town and former capital. Rabil is known for its pottery and the longest river in Cape Verde, the Ribeira do Rabil, flows through it. Well, it should on the map look as though it should flow, but in reality it was a puddle with some trees around it (planted in the 1990s).

My sons sand boarding in the Viana Desert

Boa Vista is known for the sand dunes and moonlike volcanic landscapes of the Viana Desert.  The desert was formed by the accumulation of wandering sand grains from the Sahara.  The sand dunes in this desert are vast. One morning we travelled to the Viana Club Restaurant for an early breakfast of “catchupa” – the national dish, a sort of corn stew, served with fried egg and spicy sausage – and a refreshing glass of iced hibiscus tea. We then hit the dunes for a sand boarding session. It was hot, it was sunny and it was lots of fun!

Me, on Santa Monica beach

Boa Vista has a stunning coastline – it’s most coveted beach is the Santa Monica beach (named after the Californian beach) which extends 18km from the island’s westernmost point to the southernmost point. It is said to be one of the top 20 best beaches in the world.  Currently, the beach is devoid of hotels but not for long as a large hotel resort/spa  is being built – due to finish in the next 5/10 years.  In a decade, Boa Vista will be unrecognisable – I’m not sure whether that is a good thing or not – on the one hand more tourism will help to raise living standards but on the other hand, Boa Vista will lose its uniqueness.

Launderette in Sal Rei

Cape Verde has only just been upgraded from Third World category to Second World category – it is still pretty poor.  When visiting the capital, Sal Rei, the “launderette” was a row of concrete slabs where women scrubbed their clothes as they have done for centuries.  My guide said that the Chinese have recently introduced washing machines  but they are not widespread as yet. Next to the washing area was the water station. Water is scarce on the island so people come to the water stations with their wheelbarrows to collect their daily water tanks. The richer people can afford to have their water delivered. Our hotel had its own water desalination plant for its needs.

Santa Maria

Another nice beach was in the far north of the island, renamed Santa Maria, after the MS Cabo Santa Maria, a ship that ran aground there in 1968. The ship was carrying gifts from the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco on its way to Brazil and Argentina – the gifts apparently included sports cars! Thankfully, the crew escaped unhurt and the goods were salvaged. The wreck is still there, just a rusty shell now, slowly crumbling away after years being battered by the wind and constant waves.

I was mesmerised by the waves – the Atlantic breakers were very powerful and during my stay the red flag was constantly flying. Managing to paddle, the water was as warm as bath water – around 28 degrees centigrade.  I expected the sea to be colder. That is not the only thing that surprised me about the temperature.  The climate is warm all year round – August to October are the hottest (and wettest months) and the temperature hovers around 32/33 degrees during the day falling to around 27/28 degrees at night – what surprised me was that it was such a humid heat – I had thought it was more a “dry” heat like I’ve experienced in the Mediterranean. The humidity was often around 80% which meant that the constant breeze was a cooling blessing indeed although it was a false blessing as the island’s location meant that the sun’s strength was equatorial, and Factor 50 liberally applied was needed.  Tropical island – but I didn’t see any mosquitos but I did see plenty of wandering goats and the odd cow! Sea turtles are known to nest on the shores, while the coastal waters are a route for migrating humpback whales.  

Boa Vista has a few mountains, the highest being Mount Estancia at 1,270 feet.  Cape Verde does have an active volcano – on Fogo – which last erupted in 2014.  On the slopes of the volcano Fogo coffee is grown …absolutely delicious! 

Route 66

The roads.  The road from the airport to the capital and the roads in the towns/villages are mostly cobbled. There is a small patch of tarmac, south of the island, which was built by the Rui hotel chain to try and establish a good route from the south to the airport and Sal Rei. However, it is not finished and quickly goes from tarmac to unmade road. Some routes are not signposted but are tiny tracks meandering through the desert, naked to my eye.  Drivers drive on the right but, to be honest, it really depends on which side has the least potholes. I didn’t see one private car – I did see a police car, a couple of motorbikes, quad bikes, tour guide jeeps, tour buses, buses and the odd truck and taxi.  Boa Vista has another American equivalent – they have a Route 66 too – the cobbled road doesn’t lend itself to smooth riding on a Harley Davidson though! 

Estoril Beach

Food & Drink.  The RUI hotel I was staying in imports all its food and drink from the Canary Islands.  This is quite a sensible idea because the island doesn’t produce enough to cater for the number of tourists staying at the hotels. However, it does mean that those people staying put only in the hotel miss out on discovering the island’s cuisine.  The national dishes are quite hearty – stew features a variety of meat and fish – I tried the octopus stew which was very tasty.  

Lobster at Morabeza Beach Restaurant

At the Morabeza Beach Bar Restaurant  we ate freshly caught lobster served with exquisitely cooked vegetables …and drank Coconut ponche and Cape Verdian white wine.  It is the first restaurant I’ve been to where you can eat with your shoes off, the floor is the beach, and reggae music is playing in the background. It was here we watched fire eaters do their thing and my sons had impromptu African drumming lessons!

Guest House Migrante
Library Guest House Migrante

Apart from the big Rui hotels, the island has a couple of smaller hotels, apartments and guesthouses – mainly on the beaches around Sal Rei. I stopped off at the Guest House Migrante – a delightful guesthouse with a distinctly European flavour with a bar/cafe attached. It is the grandest looking building in Sal Rei and they serve the most delightful coffee (from Fogo) and grog (Cape Verdean rum).   The guesthouse had a gorgeous library area and an inner courtyard.  In Boa Vista I found that when it came to food and drink, you should never judge a bar/restaurant by its outside look – inside these places are clean and the food is out of this world – ask the locals for restaurant recommendations too.

Like any place in the world, people’s viewpoints on the same place differ vastly, and not everybody is going to fall in love with a place.  Boa Vista attracted me and is now engraved in my heart because of its ruggedness, its beautiful desert scenery and the people are so smiley.  Where else would you high five the airport officers as you board your plane home? Where else would you see brightly coloured birds tweeting in the passport control area as you land?  Where else would you see miles of untouched white sand beaches not lined with hotels? The hotel was gorgeous and clean but to be perfectly honest, being by the pool, you could be anywhere hot and sunny in the world. What made the holiday was the chance to explore outside of the hotel.  Boa Vista is not like the Canary Islands, despite the glossy holiday brochure pictures – but perhaps in 10 years it will be. 

If you enjoy self catering, then Boa Vista isn’t the place for you yet.  In Sal Rei, there is a small working fish market and a small fruit/vegetable market & a couple of shops where essentials can be found.  

Street Life

If you enjoy walking from your hotel to restaurants/bars, pick a hotel close to Rabil or Sal Rei where you can walk along the beaches to beach bars.  The RUI Tuareg at the south of the island is in a fab spot but it is only surrounded by desert scrubland.  The hotel has plenty of bars though! Alternatively, look at the neighbouring island of Sal, which is more geared towards tourism.

If you can afford it, splash out on the trips either operated by your tour operator or by Giggling Geckos ( a tour company on the island)    and see the island away from the hotels.  Quad bike tours have been highly recommended too. 

And try the local grog … apparently after four shots you end up talking fluent Creole …..

Linda x

All photos by Linda Hobden

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Spotlight on Golden Lady

The Golden Lady Company is a hosiery company that was founded in 1967 in Castiglione Della Stiviere, Italy. The company boasts 12 production sites  located in Italy, USA and Serbia with an overall production of 400 million tights per year, distributed in 70 countries worldwide. The Golden Lady Company is, not surprisingly, the market leader in Italian hosiery with a share of 35% (according to their website) and a key player in all the major European markets including France, Germany, Spain, and England, through its subsidiaries and sales agencies.  That’s an awful lot of tights!

It’s not just tights that they specialise in – although their classic styles are well made and pretty ladder resistant – they also do a range of knee highs, socks and footlets.  Their range of opaque tights is amazing – you can choose from various deniers ranging from 60 to 200 – and last winter, there was “warmy” tights which were a thicker denier and polar fleeced tights which had a thin fleece lining inside.  I bought some of the latter for my husband’s gran for the winter months – she was delighted because they certainly kept her snug and warm, without looking bulky!  Fashion tights have ranged in the past from polka dots, sparkly silver & gold, ribbed, to lacy – ideal to wear under ripped jeans. I’m looking forward to seeing what the new season range will bring.

In the UK, you can buy the range from Asda supermarkets and  online from Golden Lady UK website. Golden Lady’s American brands are No-Nonsense and Hue – available from Wal-Mart stores. I have also discovered Golden Lady products online on Tights UK website and on Amazon.

Golden Lady UK was established in 1989 with its Head Office and Distribution Centre based in Nottingham.  Golden Lady UK are currently celebrating the launch of their new online service and are offering a free pair of socks with your first order. 

I have worn Golden Lady tights – opaques in winter – for a number of years and have found them long lasting, good range of shades, well fitting and the cost is reasonable too.  I’ve got my free socks… are you going to give them a try?

Websites:

UK:  http://goldenlady.org.uk

Rest of the World:  http://www.goldenlady.com

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden.  

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Take 4 ingredients – Frozen Chocolate Bites

I enjoy cooking. I enjoy cooking meals for my large family. Over Christmas and other family occasions I normally cater from around 15 family members.  I love cooking main meals … but when it comes to desserts my repertoire is limited.  I can make apple pie, rhubarb pie, summer fruit pudding and… erm… banana and walnut cake.  Year after year, I churn out the same puddings! Looking at a copy of the Slimming World Magazine I came across a recipe for Gold Bullion Bites. These frozen chocolate-toffee treats looked easy enough to make, so I decided to have a dry run to see if they turn out alright and if they do, I thought that I’d make them for the next family do.

I bought all the ingredients, made the bites and all turned out well. So I decided to experiment a bit more with the recipe, and lo and behold I found a new dessert/snack to add to my repertoire – and the best thing is that you need only 4 ingredients!

So here is my version of the recipe…

Makes 14

Ingredients

  • 45g bar  Dairy Milk Chocolate (I used  Cadburys Dairy Milk), broken into pieces
  • 175g pot of SMOOTH yogurt (I used MullerLight Smooth Toffee, Mullerlight Raspberry & Cranberry, Strawberry)
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • Edible gold glitter/ gold cooking spray to decorate
  • Ice Cube trays ( flexible plastic ones that pop out ice cubes easily)

Method

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Once melted, remove from the heat, stir until smooth and leave to cool for a minute.

Quickly mix in to the chocolate 1 tablespoon of your chosen yogurt, to loosen, then add the rest of the yogurt. Add the cocoa powder and mix well.

Fill the ice cube trays – allow about 2 teaspoons per cube. Gently tap the trays to level the mixture. Put in the freezer for around 3 hours, until set.

When you are ready to serve as a dessert, turn out the chocolates and arrange on a serving dish, sprinkle with cocoa powder and gold glitter or gold spray.

These were so popular that I made several more batches and once frozen I put the chocolate cubes in plastic bags and stored in the freezer. Whenever anybody fancied an iced chocolate snack, they just helped themselves straight from the freezer.

I am hoping to try the recipe using dark chocolate and some new flavours of yogurt, such as Mullerlight’s After Dinner Mint. If I can find orange yogurt, that might go down well too.  Do let me know if you try the recipe and what chocolate/flavour combination did you use!

Linda x

Photos by Linda Hobden

Inspiration by Slimming World.

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