Sunday, 13 October 2019

Hotel Riviera, Santa Susanna | my experience

If you know me or follow my blog, you'll probably know I don't really do relaxing all-inclusive holidays. Nothing against them, obviously, I'm just more of a city break girl. And I book everything myself. But when my friend suggested we go on a trip together and spend some time just doing nothing I thought yeah, why not - then I went on Holiday Pirates and booked a week at the Hotel Riviera, Santa Susanna. Here's everything about my experience...

Booking the trip

Like I said, we booked through Holiday Pirates who are part of Love Holidays. The holiday cost £720 for the two of us - flights, transfers, 1 20kg suitcase, and one week in a premium room on an all-inclusive basis. That's £360 per person, and we paid a £50 deposit each on the day. We paid the remaining cost of the holiday over the next 4 months - it was SO easy! I would highly recommend booking with Holiday Pirates as they find some great deals without you having to do any legwork.

Hotel Riviera - first impressions

During our transfer which was, to be fair, not the best (it just took so long and the driver was pretty rude) I decided to re-read the Trip Advisor reviews for the hotel. Obviously there was nothing we could have done at this point, but I had time to kill and I think I wanted to find out something about food times or whatever. Anyway, some of the reviews from the previous few weeks were awful. I'm not going to re-write them here but you can click the link and read them if you feel so inclined, just know that they're wrong and I honestly think these people stayed in a different hotel to me.

One side of Hotel Riviera
We arrived and checked in, which was easy, and had to pay the tourist tax upon arrival which I'd kind of forgotten was a thing - just worth remembering, or checking if it's included in your booking etc. You also have to pay a €10 deposit for your all-inclusive wrist band; if you hand it back by midday on your last day you get the money back, and if you continue to use it past midday you don't, but you also continue getting free food & drink so it's up to you!

Our room was on the 6th floor, and there's a glass lift overlooking the pool that goes up there. There are normal lifts too, but they don't service every floor. There are toilets on the ground floor as well as the gym and spa - both are really basic - and pool tables, air hockey, plenty of seating both indoor and out, and the bar area.

Everything looked really clean, and while the reception staff weren't the most joyful people I've ever met, they certainly weren't rude either.

Hotel Riviera - the rooms

We were in a premium room, as I mentioned, on the 6th floor. You walked in and there was a bathroom on the left - really clean, decorated in white and grey with those fancy tiles, a huge sink unit, toilet and massive shower. Like, one of the biggest showers I've ever seen. The bathroom door definitely wasn't see-through either, which I'd read about on Trip Advisor. Honestly...

Cute artwork in the room
More of the room!
There was a desk area with a mini fridge underneath (empty and free to use) and TV above, a big wardrobe with plenty of hanging and shelf space, two single beds with COMFY mattresses and a little bedside table area on each side. We also had a balcony with a table and two chairs which overlooked the side of another hotel - not the best view but it didn't matter to us!

The room wasn't massive but it definitely wasn't small; it had everything we needed and more, was cleaned daily and didn't smell funny. I was made up!

Hotel Riviera - food and drink

We were all inclusive which meant breakfast between 8 and 10, lunch between 1 and 3, and dinner between 7 and 10. It also meant drinks between 11 and 11 - as many as you wanted and contrary to one Trip Advisor review you could order multiple drinks at once, like you can in every other hotel I've ever been to...

The food was basic but fine. At breakfast there was bread, pastries, pancakes, cold meats, cheese - everything you'd expect, and that typical hotel orange juice too. One morning there was chicken nuggets which was unexpected but fantastic. Lunch and dinner were similar to each other: always a salad bar (with chocolate buttons????), chips, plenty of meat/pasta/veg/fish/bread and also a selection of puddings.

Vodka-Fanta Lemon by the pool
Drinks at the bar - beer, sangria, various cocktails (quite weak) or local spirits and mixer. They did all the normal fizzy drinks, as well as slush and milkshakes, with water available too. There's also all sorts of coffee on offer!

My overall thoughts

Honestly, I had the best time at Hotel Riviera, Santa Susanna. It's a quite, family-friendly hotel within easy reach of an English pub, various bars, shisha, supermarkets, a pharmacy, market stalls and the beach. The staff are lovely - special shoutouts to Miguel from the restaurant, who knew our drinks order by the second day, and Isabelle and Manolo who ran the bar of an evening. For £360 per person for a week's holiday, and that's everything, I think we really got lucky! If you're looking for a budget Costa Brava break, I'd recommend Hotel Riviera every time.

Sunrise on our balcony
So that's what I ended up with when I booked my first ever all inclusive holiday. I was pleasantly surprised and I'd definitely go back! Cheers to Holiday Pirates for finding banging bargains all the time and that x

To see my favourite holiday outfits, CLICK HERE

Friday, 11 October 2019

Eight recent reads | oct19

I'm back with another recent reads post and this one is long. Having recently been on holiday, I've read SO much lately - which is never a bad thing! I'll just crack on with it, though, so here's EIGHT recent reads...

First up this month is Girl Unknown by Karen Perry. I loved this - such a tense storyline and I really didn't see the twist coming. It's about a university lecturer who finds out about a daughter he was previously unaware of, and how she slots into their family. Would recommend! BUY HERE

I finally read Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan after having it on my bookshelf for around six years. I didn't hate it but I also didn't exactly *get* it, and I love YA so it's not that. I just found it really odd - maybe too far fetched? I'm just not sure what to say about it! It follows two young lads, both called Will Grayson, and details how their lives intertwine. There's also a big musical at the end. BUY HERE

I picked up another Karen Perry book, Can You Keep a Secret?, which I enjoyed - not as much as Girl Unknown, but it is a really interesting storyline and I liked the way it was written. The story is about a woman who goes back to a big house that her childhood best friend lived at, for one last hurrah before the house is sold. Needless to say, everything goes a bit skewiff. BUY HERE

I found Second Glance by Jodi Picoult at a 20p book stall which sees to pop up in my local shopping precinct every month or so. May I continue to reiterate that this is a FANTASTIC way to stock up your bookshelves if you're a fast reader! Anyway, this book was beautiful. Almost poetic in style, it's about a tiny town in Vermont where all this unexplained stuff is happening, and about a guy who is still trying to get over losing the love of his life. It is truly one of her best books and I would highly recommend it! BUY HERE

The Missing by C L Taylor was my next read; I really enjoyed this one, except for the proofreading errors. The story and writing were great, though - it's about a woman who's son has gone missing, and they're six months down the line still trying to figure out what happened and how to heal. Definitely read if you're into your psychological thrillers. BUY HERE

Next up I read Try Not To Breathe by Holly Seddon which was fantastic - SO clever. It's from two POVs: an alcoholic journalist, and a coma patient who survived a brutal attack. Their lives come to overlap, and it's just brilliantly written. I did guess the twist, but only just! Would really recommend this one, I loved it. BUY HERE

I then read Into The Water by Paula Hawkins - and truthfully I found it a bit meh. I've never read Girl on the Train, but it's so revered that I expected this book to be incredible. And it was just okay, really. It's about a woman who's sister is writing about women who have died in this drowning pool in the village where she lives, and then she (the writer) dies there herself so the sister has to come and sort everything out. It's alright, but I wouldn't say it's a must-read! BUY HERE

Last but not least, another YA book - Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Bloody hell that book is just gorgeous. Set in the 80s, it's a double POV story about a boy and a girl who meet on their school bus. It's so overwhelmingly lovely and heartbreaking and raw, and I really do think this is one everyone should read. BUY HERE

So that's everything I've read recently - I'm getting ever closer to having read 50 books in 2019, which you can follow along with on Twitter if you're interested...

For more book reviews, CLICK HERE

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

My favourite holiday outfits | Spain 2019

Oh god, what's this? A fashion post? Been a while since I did one of these but I wanted to share some of my outfits from my recent trip to Spain! I'm not one to spend a lot of money on clothes, and I think I did an alright job of looking half-decent on a budget. So without further ado, here's some of my favourite holiday outfits from my week long trip to Spain...

I'm obsessed with this dress - I bought it in Asda two summers ago for about £12 and I've worn it countless times. I wear it year round, with tights and boots when it gets colder. It's so flattering and comfortable and also just really pretty. I'm wearing it here with a yellow hair scarf (on a bobble, which is handy) from Primark which was around £2.50 earlier this year and I think complements my hair quite nicely!

As soon as I saw this shirt in Primark I knew I had to have it - it's from the mens section and I paid a fiver for it in the sale (I was going to get it full price but didn't get around to it and now I'm glad I didn't bother...). I love the colours in it, and it's so soft. I paired it with a sparkly black cropped top from SheIn which cost me about £3, one of Primark's basic black body con skirts. Accessorised with a basic black choker and silver hoop earrings, too!

I love this top, which I got on sale at Forever 21 - their buy one get one free sales are nuts, and I got four items for around £16 when I last went in, including this blouse. The white jeans are from Dorothy Perkins, and I think they were around £15 a few years ago. This bag was a birthday present and I know it's from New Look; I love it.

Okaaaaay these pants were probably THE bargain of my holiday shopping - £3 in the sale section of Primark?! They're slightly too big but I love them. That's just a plain back t shirt tied at the back (tucked into my bra actually) and they're Birkenstock-style sandals on my feet. Vivienne Westwood necklace was a gift for my 18th and I love it so much.

Big love for this Matalan dress; I think I paid around £18 for it earlier this year, and I've worn it plenty of times to gigs, parties and BBQs. It's so comfy, a lovely length and just so easy to chuck on! I paired this with the yellow hair scarf again and it looked really cute - plus the black sandals, duh.

Like I say, I really don't do fashion posts on here but I did want to share some outfits, so I hope you liked them! I felt like a queen pretty much every day and I guess that's what matters, right?

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

One day in Kendal | September 19

During August, I spotted that Northern Rail were doing a 10p ticket sale. Sadly I didn't wake up in time to nab the best deals, but I did get my return ticket to Kendal for 20p, and then paid 10p for P's outward journey and £7.30 for his homeward journey. So for a whole £7.60, we got two return tickets to Kendal. Not bad, right? So here's what we got up to on our day out...

Our train was at half 11 from Lime Street, and we had to swap at Preston Lancs. Everything was going well until we got stuck at Wigan - meaning we'd probably miss our connecting train and have to come straight back to Liverpool as the app was saying there wasn't another train to Kendal until 3 hours later. When we eventually rolled in to Preston Lancs with 1 minute to spare, we dived off the train and went flying up and down two flights of stairs only to have missed it.

After getting our breath back and snapping some photos of a gorgeous steam train, we tried to decide what to do. While we were pondering, we saw another train that was going via Kendal - it was about to leave so we just jumped on it without giving it too much thought. Even though it wasn't our train, the staff were fine with us being on it as the delay was (clearly) not our fault. We finally arrived in Kendal a while later, and the weather was cloudy but dry.

Kendal is such a picturesque place, which is lucky really as everything is closed on a Monday. Not everything but certainly the museums, and a few of the pubs. We headed from the train station into town over a bridge, and after a little wander round soaking in the atmosphere we found a lovely little pub called the George & Dragon. £4.90 for a dark fruits and a cask ale? Smashing. We sat in the beer garden for a while and then decided to head up to Kendal Castle.

It only takes around 15 minutes to walk to the castle ruins from the town centre - just walk along the river and up quite a steep road lined with gorgeous houses that you'll immediately want to buy, and then up a bit of a grassy hill. And there you have it. There's information and maps and absolutely stunning views, so we sat up there for a while just chatting and eating crisps in the sunshine. Bliss!

We headed back down into town, and explored a bit further. By this time it was already around 4.30pm and we popped into Ye Olde Fleece Inn, the oldest pub in Kendal. It's absolutely beautiful, decorated so beautifully with really modern twists, but the prices are shocking. We headed back out after a pint each, in search of Kendal mint cake. Alas, we didn't find any - the shops were shut. I'm still kicking myself for not buying any earlier in the day, because I've never tried it before.

With an hour to go until we had to get the train home, we headed back to the George & Dragon where the bar staff were made up to see us again. More pints, more chilling in the beer garden - and then the rain started and we made our way back to the tiny train station to wait for our (slightly delayed) train.

It was a whirlwind of a day - a quick visit to a quaint little town. If the museums had been open I would have liked to explore them but as it was, we had a lovely day out anyway!

Have you been to Kendal before? Leave your recommendations below...

For the lowdown on my trip to Nottingham, CLICK HERE

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Urban Decay Stay Naked Foundation | review

I used to do a lot of foundation reviews, because I was always trying new ones out - but then I found a few staple ones that worked for me, and my foundation reviews fell by the wayside. But recently I got my hands on the brand new Urban Decay Stay Naked Foundation*, and I knew I had to share my thoughts.

A bit of background

I've tried other Urban Decay foundations in the past (see here) and I love them as a brand. I'm very pale, and my skin is dry but prone to spots. I have a lot of scarring, too. I work behind a bar, and it gets quite hot and sweaty. I like a full coverage, and would go for glowy rather than matte.

a bottle of urban decay foundation on a grey blanket

But enough about me! The New Urban Decay Stay Naked Foundation is vegan-friendly, and comes in 50 shades with a variety of undertones and all that good stuff. It claims to be waterproof and to last for 24 hours, but I've not tested that yet - maybe when I head to Spain... It retails for £29.50 and you can get it on the Urban Decay site, and on Look Fantastic, as well as in their standalone stores/at counters nationwide.

My first impressions

When I very first tried it (applied with a damp beauty sponge, of course) I wasn't entirely sure. But by the time I'd finished the rest of my make up, I was completely sold on it. It's quite a low-coverage, which is new for me, but it looks so healthy and natural that I do really like it. It's also more matte than I'm used to, but I've since experimented with a more glowy primer and some extra highlighter, and it looks fab.

an up close shot of my face
Pictured without flash
It also lasts really well - I've tried it with both The Ordinary's High Spreadability Fluid Primer and my favourite primer of all time, the HA Blur by Hylamide. I feel it lasts better with the HA Blur, but the difference is minimal!

I've also tried it mixed in with the Flormar Liquid Illuminator* and it works really well for a bit of extra glow without changing the consistency or lasting power of the foundation itself.

My final thoughts

All in all, it's a brilliant foundation. I get so many compliments when I wear it, and even though you can still see scarring underneath I don't really mind - because it really does look great regardless. There are a variety of shades to choose from, and I don't think its *too* pricey either.

a selfie, me wearing a black top with a checked shirt open over it and pouting
Pictured with flash.
Should you get the Urban Decay Stay Naked Foundation? Yes, absolutely!

For my thoughts on the Revolution Conceal & Define Foundation, CLICK HERE
This foundation was gifted to me for review; please see my disclaimer for more info.