Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Celtic Manor Resort Champagne & Beauty Bar #NationalSpaWeek

Our 21st century lives can be hectic and stressful and it seems life rushes by quicker than ever before. We are told to eat wholesome food and exercise to combat stress and fatigue but little treats and time out can also have a big impact on your wellbeing. From the 30th October – 5th November 2017, thousands of spas and salons across the UK are uniting to offer lots of exciting treatments and offers to encourage people to try a spa and enjoy some relaxation. 

I was invited to review the brand new Champagne & Beauty Bar at Celtic Manor Resort to get a feel for the #NationalSpaWeek festivities. Celtic Manor is a five star luxury travel destination which is only a five minute drive from my house. I have visited the resort previously for an afternoon tea  but I've never really been one to get spa treatment or spend too much time grooming myself. 

this is a picture of 100s of bottles of nail polish lined up


this is a picture of a nail technician applying gel polish



this is a picture of a latte at the cleric manor champagne and beauty bar

The beauty bar is the perfect addition to the resort and a pretty spot (love the gold details) to enjoy a little pampering. I was treated to a file and polish using the Jessica nail polish collection. I had gel polish which is hard wearing and is still going strong two weeks later. The selection of colours was a little overwhelming so the lovely therapist chose a cute pink shade for me which is perfect for someone like myself who never gets her nails done and wanted something subtle. My hands were nourished by the oil applied, looked incredibly neat after a file and I had the opportunity to have a natter with my friend who joined me and the team at the Beauty Bar.  

It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience but I would love to return on a day when I don't have to go to work so I can sip on some cocktails and bubbly whilst having a treatment. My coffee hit the spot but some champagne would have been even better.




I highly recommend taking some time out during National Spa Week to do something with your friends or family. Put away your mobile phone, back away from the group chat and enjoy some time face to face. 

*Thank you to the Celtic Manor for hosting me. My treatments were complimentary, opinion and words about the service provided are my own. 

Gemma
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Monday, 23 October 2017

North Coast 500 honeymoon roadtrip - Loch Lomond & Glen Coe

After a beautiful but tiring wedding day Martyn and I only had one night at home to relax, read all the lovely wedding cards we received and head off on our honeymoon road trip. There's nothing quite like the freedom of the long open road and this is why we chose to embark on a Scottish highland adventure - taking in Scotland's finest coastal scenery on the epic North Coast 500. The NC500 is Scotland's answer to Route 66 and starts in Inverness, weaves its way along the coast taking in Ullapool, Caithness and John o' Groats before heading south again through Dingwall and finally back to Inverness. 

A road trip to remote and peaceful locations seemed like the ideal antidote to modern life and suited us perfectly as we meant we could take our dog Coco with us on the honeymoon - we wouldn't want him to miss out and we would have missed him if he was at home with our family.

View of Loch Lomond from Milarrochy Bay loch lomond campsite

I highly recommend doing some research before you had off to the NC500 and download a free GPS map that you can use offline or with no signal as you will be visiting some remote and rural locations.  Visit the official site at www.northcoast500.com for everything you need including suggested itineraries.

The route is perfect for campers, motorhomes, a motorbike tour or a cycling tour and takes in some of Scotland's must see sights and destinations. We managed to visit the following destinations (I'll break the trip down into 3 posts):
  • Beautiful beaches at Big Sand and Clachtoll
  • Loch Lomond and picturesque fishing town of Ullapool 
  • Smoo Cave and Eilean Donan Castle

Our North Coast 500 route - you can find all of our stops and campsites here. 

As we started our journey in South Wales we had to break up the journey before we could actually start on the NC500 route. Unless you are flying into Scotland and hiring a car I definitely recommend a night in the Lake District or Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park before you head into the Highlands  - it gave us the opportunity to get used to the van and stock up on supplies. 

We used the Campervan overnight parking facebook group and Scottish Motorhome Wildcampers to find a spot to park overnight in Kendall on the way up and for recommendations for the best campsites and spots to wild camp. 

We hired the camper van from Morning VW Camperhire in Newport and it was equipped with everything we needed for the trip - we just had to pack our clothes and food. The first night in the van was a complete disaster! Martyn and I now refer to it as #Poogate as we woke up to the most awful stench as Coco had been sick and had an upset stomach all over the bed. GRIM. A long journey and unfamiliar surroundings must have taken its toll on poor Coco and we bundled everything into a bin bag and drive straight to Scotland and to our first proper campsite to get everything in the washing machine. 

This is a picture of a vw campervan

Our first stop in Scotland was at the Milarrochy Bay campsite on the shore of Loch Lomond. The excitement of the wedding and long journey to Scotland had exhausted both of us and we spent the day looking out over the lake, reading and getting used to setting up the campervan and using all of its facilities. 

The site was very well maintained and had all the facilities you could possibly need but we did pay a premium for a loch side view and if you're backpacking or looking to keep costs down you might want to consider wild camping in this area.  Wild camping is permitted in Scotland but there are some restrictions in very popular areas to protect the local environment - full details can be found here. It's hard to believe that a spot so tranquil is only an hour away from Glasgow. 


This is a photo of my shih tzu lookng out of the campervan window

Our second evening was spent in Oban at the Oban Caravan & Camping Park - another site with spectacular views but the facilities were a little more basic. We had torrential rain all day and had to take cover in the van but we did have a little break in the weather to pop out for a fish supper and take Coco for a stroll on the beach. Oban is an ideal place to stop before heading over to the Isle of Mull and is known at the Seafood Capital of Scotland so a great foodie destination. 

Our third day in Scotland included some pretty epic scenery and drives past Loch Linnhe and Loch Creran on the way to our next base - Fort William. Before finding our campsite for the night we drove through Glen Coe. 

This is a pictre of glen etive near glen coe

Glen Coe really is one of the most beautiful places in Scotland and you may recognise it from films such as Skyfall and a number of Harry Potter movies as well as Braveheart and Highlander. The dramatic landscape matches the locations history and was the site of the Glencoe massacre in February 1692. Chieftain Joseph Campbell and some of his clansmen, accepted the MacDonalds' hospitality and then, under cover of darkness, murdered 35 men. Many fled as their homes were burned and perished in the cold. The attack caused outrage as it violated clan hospitality. 


This is a picture of the three steep ridges in glen coe

I don't think my photography skills capture the scale and grandeur of Glen Coe, it really is stunning. I would have loved to have had more time to explore this area but we only had 11 days to cover a lot of ground and head to the north coast of Scotland so had to push on with our whistle-stop tour.


I thought the views during the first few days of our honeymoon were impressive but the best were yet to come... Next time I'll be sharing my snaps from our time in the Nevis Range area and the grand Glenfinnan viaduct. 

Gemma
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Monday, 9 October 2017

Dining room makeover

Martyn and I purchased our home around 18 months ago and there is still a lot of work to do to get it just right. When we initially moved in we gave everything a coat of fresh white paints and tidied up some of the bad DIY carried out by the previous owners. We haven't really done much to the house since then apart from getting some work done on the roof and the leaning front wall to make the house more structurally sound so it did feel a little bland and didn't really represent us. 

We have started to add a little more personality to the house with colour and fun accessories. The dining room is the favourite room in the house with it's large bay window letting in loads of light, the original picture rail and cabinet. It looked lovely in the grey we originally put up (you can see that here) but I think the navy blue we used to paint the feature wall really ties the room together and fits perfectly with the age of the house. The paint is Dulux Feature wall Sapphire Salute - the coverage was great and one pot did the whole wall with some left over for touch-ups. 

This is a picture of a gold wire fruit bowl

fruit bowl - Red Candy

This is a picture of a navy blue feature wall

Wire fairy lights - eBay
Print - etsy


I had hoped to have a blue velvet snuggle chair for the bay but since ordering it back in August Next have still not fulfilled my order. A two week wait has turned into two months and apparently they can no longer source the blue velvet fabric I want so who knows if I'll ever get it... In the mean time the bay is filled with my eBay bargain cushion cover and charity shop find chair. Both the gold fruit bowl and magazine rack come from Red Candy who have a great selection of modern and funky homeware. Both items came in at under £40 which is a bit of a bargain.  


The retro Royal Ducal coffee set is another charity shop find. The set had been stored in my mums garage for years but they complimented the navy blue wall perfectly so they were dusted off and now take pride of place in my dining room. I would love to replace the ikea bookshelf with a antique dresser at some point so I have somewhere to display my glassware and retro kitchenware - I'm on the lookout for something that fits the space perfectly.

This is a picture of a retro 70s coffee set


My gin cart is another charity shop bargain and a gift from my brother. I'm hoping to do a make over on this and cover the ugly dark wood with some marble effect sticky back sheets or paint it. I'm hoping to have a bit more time for DIY projects now what the wedding and all the planning that came with it is out of the way.

This is a picture of a gold drinks cart


A lot of the walls in our house are pretty bare, most of my prints are leaning against the wall on top of fireplaces or are stacked up in the spare room. I'm looking forward to getting my wedding photos back from the professional photographer and planning out a gallery wall in the hallway and mixing up the prints I've collected over the years with photos from the wedding and honeymoon.  Apart from a freshen up with paint I've not done anything with the hallway so I think that room will be my next project. The neutral cream walls and light fitting are functional but dull so I think I could make a big impact with minimal changes. I can't wait to get stuck in! (with the help of my DIY guru mum)


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Gemma
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Sunday, 1 October 2017

Post-Wedding Blues


This is a picture of a bride and groom outside the national museum wales





I've got a severe case of post-wedding and honeymoon blues.

This time two weeks ago I was heading to the hotel to get my hair and make up done and I was both anxious and excited. Now all all of those feelings have disappeared and I've been left feeling empty. What am I supposed to do now? What did I do before I spent a year pinning wedding hairstyles and labouring over table plans? 

I've spent the weekend packing away all the decorations and wedding supplies that I've been busily collecting for the past few months, sticking photos into albums and small items from the day are all going in a keepsake box. I guess that now that the best day of my life is over I need to start living the rest of my life. Yes, the wedding was amazing - I will never forget the tears in Martyn's eyes at the end of the aisle waiting for me and the feeling of contentment that comes with having all of your loved ones in the same room. But now I have a marriage to look forward to and I know this feeling of sadness will pass. 

There are lots of things I want to focus on now that the frivolity of the wedding is over. Our honeymoon in a camper van has given both of us the desire to travel more, aiming to live a more simplistic life and I'm hoping to start an exciting venture with my driven mother and creative brother. The wedding has taught me to seek out things that make me happy and to focus on those, it's time to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life with my husband (so weird calling Martyn my husband) and Coco. 


this is a photo of a memory or keepsake box



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Gemma
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