Monday, 13 August 2018

Hand luggage must haves

I'm travelling to Belgium at the weekend, and I'm travelling hand-luggage only; so I'll have my cabin-size suitcase with my clothes and toiletries in it, but I'll also have a handbag filled with the stuff I want to have at hand. (I feel like I've written the word 'hand' way too much already...) So, here's my hand luggage must haves for a short haul flight - fingers crossed Ryanair don't cancel it, eh?

While the bulk of my toiletries will be in my suitcase, I'll have a few bits in here: hand sanitiser, some moisturiser, deodorant and lip balm. Planes are, as we know, notorious for drying your skin out and as mine is dry enough already, skincare is a must have for me. I'm not the sort of person to do a face mask on a short haul flight - though if you are, you have my utmost respect - but these little bits are essentials in my hand luggage.

I'll obviously have my phone with me, for various reasons: my boarding pass/hotel confirmation, Spotify for podcasts and music, and also to let my family know I've arrived safe and sound etc. My headphones and portable charger are a given, too, but as for electronics that's where it ends - with it only being around a 1.5 hour flight, I don't bother with films on my laptop or anything like that as I just find it to be more hassle than it's worth!

Books, though - I always take two books in my hand luggage in case I a) finish the one I'm reading or b) absolutely hate the one I'm reading. For this flight I'm taking Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals* which is a poetry collection from Patricia Lockwood, and Nightfall Berlin* by Jack Grimwood - I'm sure there will be reviews of these soon!

Snacks are an absolute essential for flights, imo. Even though you can't take liquids through security, you can take food - so I'll be heading to ASDA the day before my flight in order to stock up on reasonably priced snacks, as opposed to paying a tenner for some crisps and a cereal bar in W H Smiths in the airport. Might even make a full on packed lunch. Who knows.

It goes without saying, my passport will be in my hand luggage - or, more likely, in my hand so I know where it is AT ALL TIMES. I'm always misplacing it, and Holly bought me a travel document folder for my birthday so I'll have that in there with all my necessary holiday information and my passport inside.

What are your hand luggage must haves? Let me know!

Saturday, 11 August 2018

IT Cosmetics CC+ Illumination // review

Finding a foundation that actually works on my dry-and-flaky-but-also-a-bit-oily-and-covered-in-spots face is no mean feat, so I’m always trying out new ones – I’ve reviewed quite a few foundations on my blog over the years from Catrice to Charlotte Tilbury, and when a new one lands in my collection it’s always exciting. IT Cosmetics sent me one of their newest foundations recently, the Your Skin But Better CC+ Illumination with SPF50 which retails for £30 in Boots. I was excited to see what it would look like, because other than maybe some brow products a while ago, I’ve not really tried anything from IT Cosmetics before.

First of all, I love the packaging – I really like foundations that come with a pump, but I find glass bottles to be a bit precarious so the tube-and-pump combo is absolutely perfect for me. It looks really sleek, too, so it’s an all round winner in my eyes. In terms of shade range there are 7 shades ranging from fair to deep, so it's not great if we're all being completely honest. As usual, I got the lightest shade because I’m pretty pale; it’s definitely not the palest foundation I own, so if you are ghostly white like I was as a kid then you’re probably not going to find a shade to match you. But it’s not orange, and I think it’s a good colour for me. So far so good, right?

With the words ‘CC Cream’ in the title, I wasn’t expecting much coverage – and it’s not full coverage by any means, but it’s not as streaky and low-coverage as some BB/CC creams that I’ve tried in the past. It’s also not greasy, not too dewy, and looks really natural on the skin. I didn’t powder over it, because my skin is so dry, and I found it didn’t really transfer much and it lasted well. All the things you want in a foundation, really.

it cosmetics cc illumination foundation review
wearing here with no powder!
I also find that some foundations leave my skin irritated when I’ve taken them off, but this didn’t. Add to this the fact that it’s got SPF50, looks and feels good, comes in cute packaging – well, it’s safe to say it’s quickly become one of my favourite foundations.

EDIT: I wrote this post a couple of weeks before posting it, and I am still head over heels in love with this foundation; however, the writing on the packaging is starting to wear away AND it seems to be running out really quickly so is currently being reserved for special occasions which is sad. But like I said, it's still one of my favourites!

What foundations are you loving for Summer? Let me know and I’ll probably end up buying them because I’m easily swayed

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

You Me Everything // book review

I think the setting of a book can, sometimes, really make it – I felt that way about Two Steps Forward, and I was so excited when You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac came through my door (along with a little bottle of rose wine, thanks Simon & Schuster!) to see that it’s largely set in the Dordogne, in the south of France. The first time I ever went camping in France we stayed in the Dordogne, and it was genuinely one of the best holidays ever. I met so many people and did so many things, and the Dordogne is truly beautiful.

you me everything catherine isaac book review

You Me Everything follows the story of Jess and her son William as they set off to spend a summer in the Dordogne with William’s dad Adam, who is historically a bit of a dick but now owns a châteaux in southern France that he has renovated into a hotel. I know my mum will love this book purely for this reason, because her and my dad are obsessed with a Channel 4 program where people buy run down French castles and do them up, which is fairly exciting. Anyway, Jess and William head off to France, although she’s in two minds about it because of the aforementioned dick-ish nature of Adam, and also because of the degenerative condition her mum is living with that is becoming increasingly debilitating. Some of Jess’ friends come to stay in France, too, bringing booze and babies and helping Jess hold on to her sanity as she navigates her son’s fragile relationship with his mostly-absent father. There are day trips and football games and clumsy kisses with other holiday makers, barbecues and arguments and extreme weather, and mostly a lot of fun.

But alongside the family holiday fun, which Catherine Isaac does a wonderful job of portraying, there is a deeper/darker element to the story: the illness that is slowly attacking Jess’ mum’s body will one day take over her own, although William and Adam don’t know this, so Jess is worried about telling them (which she thinks she should, or Adam at least, so that he can step up and be the father William will need) and she is also worried about how her own dad, an ex-alcoholic, is coping back at home. Again, these emotions are impeccably written into the story – the aching worry, the confusion and the internal struggles are so real, and so well juxtaposed against the stunning French backdrop and the happy memories Jess and her son are making.

Ultimately, this is a book about how love is stronger than fear and how important it is to have good people around you – it’s a gorgeous story that’s beautifully written, with a happy ending that made me cry on the train. It’s out now and I’d definitely recommend if you’re looking for something that’s not too heavy but still has a solid story line, lush descriptions and funny, heart warming moments.

Monday, 6 August 2018

What I want to do in Belgium

I've mentioned it a few times on here, but I'm off to Belgium later this month: I'm staying in Brussels, taking a day trip to Ghent and then doing an overnight stay in Bruges. The first 2.5 days I'll be traveling solo (for the first time ever - tips appreciated) and then I'll be joined by my bestie and her other half. I'm looking forward to both parts of the trip; it will be so nice to do my own thing at my own pace and just completely chill out but at the same time, I'll be glad when they're there to play cards and take great Instagram photos. You know?

brussels football mannekin pis statue belgium
pls this was like 4.5 years ago
One of the things I'm really looking forward to is the museums - I am a huge fan of museums, and I've got a Brussels card (more on this in an upcoming post, when I'm home and have used it, but shout out to the Brussels tourist board for working with me on this!) which means I can get in to all the museums for free. I'm particularly excited about the musical instruments museum, the comic strip museum, Brussels City museum (which has 100 little outfits for the Mannekin Pis statue) and obviously the beer and chocolate museums. I love to learn new things and museums are definitely a good way of doing this - plus it's meant to be pretty hot while I'm there, so it'll be nice to get out of the sun.

Holly and I are also hoping to visit Mini Europe, which is an outdoor park full of scaled down versions of some of Europe's most famous landmarks. It looks brilliant and I think more than anything it'll definitely be a bit of fun! Mont des Arts (art hill) is meant to have spectacular views over Brussels, so I definitely want to go there, and there's a pretty palace up there too which I can't wait to see.

In Ghent, I really want to see Gravensteen which is a 12th century castle that looks like something straight out of a fairy tale - seriously stunning. As I've only got the day in Ghent, I can't do anything major but I'm completely fine with that; I want to visit a few record shops, as there's meant to be some really cool ones, and see the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, which is a famous painting housed in Ghent's St Bravo cathedral.

brussels belgium february weather
mostly I'm just hoping the weather is better than the last time I was in Belgium
I have wanted to go to Bruges since I saw In Bruges with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson - but there's nothing there that I am absolutely dying to do. Apparently there's a lovely park hidden in the city which has sheep roaming around (amazing) and there are free harp concerts in the city which I think would be really cool to see. Mostly, though, Bruges is just beautiful and I can't wait to see the sights with my pals.

If you have any recommendations for anything to do/see/eat/visit/photograph in any of these Belgian cities, I would love to know - leave me a comment below and get in touch on Twitter please!

Saturday, 4 August 2018

The Sweet Club // subscription box review

I love the concept of subscription boxes; it's like a regular present from you to you, and I also think they make great gifts for other people, too. The Sweet Club is exactly what you'd imagine: a subscription box that's jam packed with sweets, delivered to your door every fortnight or every month. They sent me a box to review, so here's how I got on...

The sturdy red box, shrink wrapped for extra security/freshness, felt heavy when I picked it up and ripped it open - inside I was greeted with eight bags of sweets, in those little half paper/half plastic bags that made me feel SO nostalgic for my childhood summers spent at play scheme with a quid in my pocket for sweets from the tuck shop each afternoon.

Anyway, you can choose which sweets you want in your box, or choose one of the ready-made selections which come in variations such as sour, sugar-free and best sellers. As I was getting mine for review purposes, I let the team know what sort of sweets I like but pretty much left it up to them, and I was pleasantly surprised with what they chose for me. My box contained magic mushrooms, apple green paintballs, tango bon bons, gummy dolphins, chocolate strawberry pigs, duo fudge, candy sticks and my favourite sweets in the whole world ever, rhubarb and custard chews. You get a really decent amount of each sweet (around 100g of each type, I think) and you can change your selection with every box. You can get all sorts of stuff, from American candy to lollipops to popcorn, and I think it's just such a nice treat.

I also like that there's no commitment with these boxes, and you can cancel at any time; the boxes are £11.95 monthly, and £10.95 if you're getting one every fortnight - and you can use the code katysblog20 for a whole 20% off. You're SO welcome. If you've got a sweet tooth then this is definitely a good subscription box for you - and even if, like me, you haven't got that much of a sweet tooth it's still great, because you could probably make the sweets last all month 'til the next box comes!

What's your favourite subscription box?