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    Monday, 25 November 2019

    iPIXEL LASER RESURFACING AT MARLOW FACE & BODY CLINIC

    Over the last year or so, I've been attempting to take better care of my skin. As a teenager (and also in my early twenties) I was very much guilty of going to bed without taking my make-up off - or lazily dragging a face wipe across my skin rather than actually taking time to have a proper skincare routine.

    I've been fairly lucky too because I've managed to avoid having major break-outs - but what I have always struggled with is oily skin and enlarged pores. It's my biggest skin complaint and one that I've taken a keen interest in trying to fix over the last few months. I recently met Elisbeth, a fabulous Canadian lady who owns a aesthetic clinic in Marlow and she peaked my interest in a brilliant laser resurfacing treamtent to really help get my skin into its best shape.

    A little about Marlow Face + Body Clinic...
    It's a gorgeous luxury clinic based over in Marlow - offering high-end face and body treatments. The owner Elisabeth is super passionate about all aspects of aesthetics and skincare and really puts 100% into her clients. The clinic itself is stunning - decorated with luxury hints of gold and deep blue and has a really premium feel as soon as you walk in. They offer a whole host of treatments - including everything from body contouring and fat freezing to dermal fillers and laser facials. While chatting to Elisabeth, she recommended the iPixel Laser treatment to me - and explained it would really jump-start any skincare routine I was about to embark on.
    What is iPixel Laser Resurfacing?
    Made by Alma on the Harmony XL Pro machine, iPixel is a fractional ablative laser treatment which works by penetrating little tiny microscopic holes into the skin. Following the treatment, the tissue between those holes will contract and tighten, before forming little scabs which over the next week or so will fall off, revealing silky smooth skin underneath - essentally resurfacing your whole face. It's great for large pores, pigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles and can be used on the body.
    Prepping for the treatment
    Before your appointment, you'll need to make sure your face is completely slathered with numbing cream. Elisabeth gave me a tub of Lidocaine which I rigourously applied all over my face and left it for at least an hour before our treatment began. This step is SO important because the laser will essentially fry your face so you need to make sure that it's appropriately numb so there's no discomfort during the procedure!
    The actual treatment
    The whole process only takes around 20 minutes or so to complete. I was given safety goggles to wear to protect my eyes from the laser and then Elisabeth used the Harmony Pro machine to work her way around my face, moving the laser in paths to ensure my whole face was covered. As mentioned above, the laser essentially burns tiny holes, deep into the skin to help stimulate collegen production and repair. Each area of the face will be covered at least once, but if there's any areas of particular complaint - these can be gone over several times.

    Does it hurt?
    I won't lie - the procedure isn't very comfortable. Despite applying the numbing cream, you can still feel a very warm sensation on the skin - especially in areas where you need to have more than one pass. The worst parts for me were the sound (almost like an elastic band snapping) and the smell - because it is essentially burning skin. Elisabeth had a fan which I could direct towards my face which really helped to keep my skin cool and also counter-act the smell which some people might find quite uncomfortable.

    The most painful part of this process is definitely immediately afterwards, you will feel like you've got really very severe sunburn (see photo below!). As soon as Elisabeth had finished running the laser across my face, she applied a cold flannel to my skin to help take some of the heat out - I can't stress how much this helps! You really need to keep the face as cool as possible in the hours following the procedure to speed up your healing time.
    Is there any down-time?
    Oh yes - do not underestimate the length of time that you'll need to heal from this treatment. If you're planning to have it done, you'll need to make sure you keep the next two days following the treament clear so that you can heal properly - and definitely do not make plans for the same day! As soon as I got home, I put a cold compress on my skin and kept a fan on it for as long as possible to take the heat out. I was quite lucky as the hot feeling subsided after around two hours following the treatment but some people find sleeping difficult so it all depends on how your skin reacts to burns.

    What to expect during the healing process
    The first thing I noticed the following day was that my skin had started to feel like sandpaper. The scabs form in an almost grid-like effect on your skin so you need to make sure that you keep your skin super moistured to aid the healing process.

    You also need to be really strict on what you put on your face so read the label of ingredients on your moisturiser to make sure its super simple and doesn't contain anything harsh like salicylic acid which will aggrevate your skin. Your skin is so fragile right now so putting any harsh ingredients on could cause long-term damage! Here's a look at how my skin healed over the days following the treatment...

    Day One - still very red & starting to peel in places. You can see the darker areas where the scabs have already started to form on the surface of my skin.

    Day Two - Still slightly red and the scabbing is really starting to show. You can clearly see where the scabs are forming into the grid pattern - my skin feels really rough to touch.
    Day Three - Most of the redness has gone down by this point. Scabs on my cheeks have started to slough off already - I could put make-up on if I wanted to go out but I don't want to clog my skin so have stuck to minimal products and a really simple moisturiser.
    A Closer Look At The Grid Formation Scabs
    One Week Following Treatment - As you can see, my skin tone has returned to normal and almost all of the scabs have healed and dropped off revealing clearer skin underneath. My skin feels SO soft to touch and my pore look smaller too - overall really pleased with the result!
    How much does it cost?
    It all depends on the size of the area that you want to treat. Prices start at £150 for the crows feet area and increase to £1200 if you wanted your whole abdomen treated. For a full face (like I had) Marlow Face + Body charge £600.

    Would I do it again?
    100% - it was SO worth the slightly uncomfortable process and down-time. My skin is so much clearer and feels so soft - making my make-up application an actual dream! It's actually something which I'm considering doing again next year - as a yearly treatment to help rejuvenate my skin. 

    Massive thanks again to the lovely team at Marlow Face + Body Clinic for making the whole process a really lovely experience. If you're interested in trying the treatment for yourself, you can find all the details over on their website: https://www.marlowfaceandbody.com/

    * My treatment was complimentary
    Opinions are my own and honest

    Monday, 23 September 2019

    BAR + BLOCK STEAKHOUSE, WIMBLEDON

    If I had to pick my absolute favourite thing to order when I go out for dinner - it has to be steak. There's just something so indulgent about a perfectly cooked rib-eye (medium rare for those asking) washed down with a delicious glass of wine. That's exactly what we got when we visited Bar + Block, a steakhouse located over in Wimbledon a couple of weeks ago - here, let me show you around...
    There's several Bar + Block restaurants located across the UK in areas such as Bath, Belfast, Birmingham and across London. It's part of the Whitbread group so you'll usually find them connected to Premier Inn hotels making them a great place to eat if you're staying over the night somewhere.

    The menu is extensive - with a range of dishes prepared on the grill as well as favourites like Fish & Chips and curries. We grabbed ourselves a couple of glasses of crisp white wine and got our heads stuck into the main menu...
    The best way to attack the starters is with a selection of the 'Grazing Plates'. There's everything from pulled beef tacos to mussels marinere - each designed to be mixed and matched. The waitress suggested we order three between the two of us so we went with the Korean BBQ Ribs - sticky slabs of pork slathered in a spicy BBQ sauce as well as a portion of the Cheese and Jalapeno Dippers...
    and the incredible Middle Eastern King Prawns - these are served shell-on and tossed in a roasted red pepper, tomato, harissa and garlic sauce. My absolute favourite of the three dishes - just look at them!
    For main course, we had to go for steaks - of course! The classic cuts served at Bar + Block come from British breeds reared across the Pampas in South America. They are aged for a minimum of 28 days and hand cut on site - meaning you can ask for your steak as big as you want it - all you need to do is ask.
    Instead of going for our standard Ribeye order, we decided to try out some options from the speciality menu like the 10oz Spiral Cut Fillet and the Tira De Ancho

    The Fillet was served as a long strip of steak, having been marinated in garlic and parsley for 24 hours for added tenderness and flavour whereas the Tira de Ancho is a 14oz spiral cut ribeye, marinated in garlic, parsley and chilli and served with chimichurri.

    Each steak is served with samphire and your choice of salad or beef dripping triple cooked chunky chips (which is a no-brainer surely!) plus a choice of sauces as an added extra.
    If you've got room for pudding - you're in for a treat! We finished off our meal with the Chocolate Churros Sundae which is packed with vanilla ice cream, brownie chunks, churros coated in cinnamon sugar as well as cream and chocolate toffee sauce. 
    Bar + Block Wimbledon is open seven days a week untill 11pm - head over to the website to find the nearest location to you and to book a table! Thanks again to Bar + Block for having us!

    Bar and Block
    153-161 The Broadway
    SW19 1NE

    * I was invited to review Bar + Block

    Wednesday, 31 July 2019

    MR KIPLING REDUCED SUGAR CAKE SLICES + GIVEAWAY [AD]

    What’s the only thing better than a piping hot cup of tea and a slice of cake - ‘guilt-free’ cake of course…

    Yep, those clever people at Mr Kipling have found a way to make their heavenly cake slices using up to 30% less sugar but every bit of the same delicious flavour.
     The Mr Kipling Chocolate Slices are now available with just 99 calories and 6.2g of sugar per slice and the Angel Slices weigh in with a saintly 100 calories and 6.1g of sugar.
     The main difference between the regular cake slices and the new reduced sugar variation is less icing on the top - these feature a light swirl which is just enough to take the edge off those 4pm cravings!
    If you fancy trying them for yourself, you’re in luck because the lovely team at Mr Kipling have kindly given me a whole hamper of cakes to giveaway to one of my readers. All you need to do is enter via the Rafflecopter below - good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway T&Cs: Competition closes at midnight on Saturday 17th August. UK residents only. 

    Mr Kipling Reduced Sugar Cake Slices are available to buy from all major retailers priced at £1.75 for a pack of six.
    *This is a paid post with Mr Kipling

    Monday, 3 June 2019

    INTRODUCING THE NEWEST WAY TO ENJOY YOUR BOUNTY CHOCOLATE [AD]

    You know how much I LOVE a good chocolate bar, don’t you? Settling down to one of my fav Netflix series, with a bar of chocolate is my absolute favourite past-time and now I’ve found the ultimate bar to tuck into! Bounty Milk Snacks.
    Yep. Remember when I tried the Mars Milk Snacks a few months ago? Well, this is the exact same concept, only this time those clever people at the chocolate factory have found a way to transform your favourite Bounty bar into a deliciously chilled version!
    These bars combine a soft layer of sponge with a creamy, coconutty mousse which is then coated in deliciously thick chocolate – sounds dreamy, right? They’re fab for summer and strike that perfect balance between a choccie bar and an ice cream!
    If you love Bounty as much as I do, get yourself down to your local Sainsbury’s where you can pick up new Bounty Milk Snacks for just £2 for a pack of four - just head to the chilled desserts aisle!

    *This is a paid collaboration with Mars Wrigley Confectionery 
    All opinions are my own

    Thursday, 16 May 2019

    AUTHENTHIC ITALIAN AT TERRA ROSSA, ISLINGTON

    I've been contracting in North London recently which has encourage me to explore more of the restaurants in the Clerkenwell and Islington areas. You might have seen that I visited 12:51 recently and today's find is another great place just a few doors down on Upper Street.

    It's called Terra Rossa and it's fab little Italian, showcasing the very best dishes from the Southern region of Puglia. The restaurant itself has a stripped-back airy feel with rustic wooden tables and chairs, a white-washed bar and wood-panelled walls. The menu reflects this laid-back Italian affair with dishes from Southern Italy, packed with flavour and using the finest ingredients from Italian suppliers.
    For our starters, we ordered the creamy Burrata (£10.90) served with roasted peppers which is a must-order dish whenever I see it on a menu. Those that haven't tried it before, it's a bit like a softer, creamier version of Mozzarella but in my opinion, a lot tastier!
    We also went for the 'polpo a pignatu' (£10.90), a traditional dish of braised Mediterranean octopus and potatoes in a black pepper sauce served with thick chunks of bread for mopping up all the juices.
    For our mains, we both went for pasta dishes but there's also a great range of pizzas on offer. The team at Terra Rossa have installed a custom built pasta station where the chefs hand-roll fresh pasta every day so it's super fresh and cooked perfectly al dente.
    I went for the Paccheri Al Ragu Di Mare (£14.90) which is the restaurant's twist on a bolognese ragu, but which uses minced octopus instead of meat. It was a really interesting and tasty dish, slightly sweeter than the traditional version but really enjoyable.
    Tom went for the 'Maritati & Popette' (£13.90) which combines the signature pasta with homemade meatballs and a rich, tomato ragu and plenty of ricotta cheese!
    We finished things off with a creamy Tiramisu and a Hot Chocolate Souffle - the perfect way to round up a delicious, decadent meal.
    We really enjoyed our visit to Terra Rossa. Each dish was beautifully presented and really made you feel like you were being transported across to Italy. The prices are reasonable too however I have to give a special shout out to the set menu on offer which is just £28 for three courses and a glass of prosecco which is brilliant value for money. Head to their website or Opentable for reservations.

    Terra Rossa
    139 Upper St, The Angel, London N1 1QP

    * We were invited to review the restaurant
    Our food was complimentary but all opinions are honest

    Wednesday, 15 May 2019

    RESTAURANT 12:51, ISLINGTON

    Hands up who else loves watching Great British Menu? It's one of my absolute favourite programmes to put on while I'm eating my dinner and I'm constantly making notes on the chefs, determined to try out their restaurants. A couple of weeks ago I got an invitation to try out last year's 'Champion of Champions' James Cochran new outpost and I can't tell you how excited I was! It's called 12:51 and you can find them over in Islington - here, let me show you what the food is like..
    The menu is designed for sharing with smaller portions encouraging you to order several dishes between you - or if you'd prefer, you can go with the tasting menu option instead. The dishes are 'modern British' with influences all across the global (including James' Scottish and Caribbean heritage) and focus on using quality, local ingredients.
    We kicked things off with a round of small plates to share between us and absolutely LOVED the Jerusalem artichoke (£12) topped with a creamy smoked egg mayonnaise, chive and garlic - wish I'll be honest I wasn't expecting.
    One of my favourites dishes was the buttermilk jerk chicken (£5), which were super crunchy on the outside but juicy and succulent within. These are topped with corn nuts for a little extra crunch and a delicious scotch bonnet jam, perfect for slathering on top.
    The BBQ leek (£14) was another hit for us, with its gorgeous smokey chargrilled flavour, however the price feels a little steep for a veggie dish (which is probably down to the use of truffle). It's topped with cured egg yolk, shiitake mushroom, hazelnuts and melted feta to balance out all the smokey, salty and slightly sweet flavours.
    Next comes the beautifully presented Cornish cured mackerel (£13) served alongside pickled cucumber and topped with a punchy N'duja and pork crackling for an added crunch.
    From the larger plates menu, we ordered the roast haunch of new season lamb (£22) which comes perfectly pink in thick slices and served with creamy sheep’s curd, roscoff onion, mint gremolata and topped with almonds.
    The slow braised short rib of Dexter beef (£24) was my star of the night however. The presentation was just incredible, with a huge chunk of beef which almost melted as you cut into - paired with wild garlic, miso, oyster, salsify, oyster leaf and bone marrow. Simply delicious.
    We had at an absolute feast at James' restaurant and I was so impressed with every dish that we were served on the night. Yes, the food is on the pricey side, but the standard of cooking and quality of ingredients certainly makes it worth it - especially as a treat or for a special occasion. While chatting to our waiter, he let slip that the BEST thing James cooks is a roast dinner, and having seen the photos on Instagram, I am most definitely heading back soon to give that a try! If you fancy trying 12:51, it's advisable to book as the restaurant is small and in demand!

    Restaurant 12:51
    107 Upper Street, Islington
    N1 1QN

    * We were guests of 12:51
    Our food was complimentary but all opinions are honest

    Tuesday, 23 April 2019

    THE BUTTERFLY KISSES AFTERNOON TEA, IVY MARLOW GARDEN

    Hands up, who else absolutely LOVES afternoon tea? It's one of my favourite things to do with my mum - ever since I was little, we used to go on day trips to different hotels or tea-houses around the country, trying out all the afternoon teas on offer. So when I got an invitation to try the new afternoon tea at The Ivy in Marlow, I knew exactly who to take along with me. 
    The new afternoon tea is a collaboration between The Ivy and one of France’s most historic Champagne houses, Perrier-Jouët. For £26.50, you're treated to a delicious array of cakes, sandwiches, tea and a glass of their delicious champagne, all under the restaurant's conservatory, where 600 green, white and gold origami butterflies have been delicately suspended from the ceiling.

    It's a gorgeous way to spend an afternoon, especially when the weather is nice and you can sit outside in the conservatory. 
    As with every good afternoon tea, you're served a delicious array of sandwiches including truffled chicken brioche roll and a traditional cucumber & dill...
    Plus a whole host of delicate homemade cakes including a gorgeous lemon tartlet and a soft, pillowy doughnut - and plenty of warm fruit scones, served alongside lashes of jam and cream. 
     My absolute favourite though was this little chocolate pot - filled with creamy chocolate mousse and topped with little edible butterflies, tying in with the English Country Garden theme.
    As an extra-special touch, at the end of your tea you're presented with a butterfly card which will unfold to reveal a message of well wishes, or for 200 lucky guests, a prize. Some of these prizes on offer include a three-course dinner for two at The Ivy Marlow Garden, and a complementary bottle of Perrier-Jouët Champagne.

    The Butterfly Kisses Afternoon Tea is only available for a limited time so you'll need to book now to make the most it, otherwise the standard Ivy Afternoon Tea is equally as good! Make sure you book yourself a table in the conservatory to make the most of this wonderful weather we're having at the moment!

    The Ivy Marlow Garden
    66-68 High Street, Marlow
    SL7 1AH

    *We were guests of The Ivy Marlow Garden
    All opinions are honest

    Monday, 22 April 2019

    IMMERSIVE DINING AT THE TOP SECRET GINGERLINE

    This next blog post is going to be a little strange as I have something really exciting to tell you about – but I can’t really tell you anything about it at all!

    I’m not making any sense, am I? Let me explain, I recently went to an immersive dining experience with the Gingerline – an evening which blurs the lines between dance, theatre, food and design - but the exact details of which are always kept top secret. It’s all part of the magic and keeping the excitement alive for next round of visitors.
    Everything about the Gingerline is shrouded in mystery, from the location (which isn’t shared until 4pm on the day of the show via text message) to the food and the entertainment itself. All that I can tell you is that it’s an assault on the senses and makes for a really fun and interactive night out!
     The tickets cost between £60 and £75 which includes a five-course set menu, plus a welcome drink and around three hours of non-stop entertainment. Be warned though – this show is interactive – so if you’re of a nervous or shy disposition….make sure you bag yourself a middle seat!
    If you're a fan of immersive experiences, the Gingerline is certainly one you won't want to miss! To book tickets for the next expedition, keep an eye on the website as they always sell out super fast!

    * Our tickets to the Gingerline were complimentary
    I attended on behalf of Love Pop-ups London
    All images provided by Rob Grieg