Posted in beauty, fashion, favourites

Fave Five – March 2017

March was fantastic – here are some fantastic bits and bobs I enjoyed this month!

1. Fenjal Luxury Crème bath oil

This is not a new product. This has been around forever, but I only just discovered it thanks (strangely) to The Guardian online comments section. I love a bath. I’ve mentioned my bath love a few times on this blog because it is a great place to read and because I am constantly injuring myself, pulling muscles, falling over and generally aching – and a bath helps that.


I’m always on the lookout for new products, and of course I love a Lush bath bomb. However, this has been a revelation. First off, ignore the awful name. It sounds like you got it on prescription but you just have to let that go. Secondly, go big or go home. The recommended use is a capful in the bath – sod that, chuck a load in. You’ll still get your moneys worth. This is, quite simply, the best bath product I’ve ever used. The smell envelops the whole bathroom and you feel like you are in a spa or something, it is relaxing and herbal and delicious – it is definitely a unisex scent (although really isn’t everything? Come on it’s 2017). The smell really lasts and when you are in the bath you can feel the oils nourishing your skin. My favourite thing about it though, is that when you get out of the bath you smell wonderful, and you smell that good for ages. It really lasts and I’d have a bath with it every day if that wasn’t completely over the top indulgent. Mmmmm. MMM.

 

2. Nars Eyeshadow Duo in Isolde

Again, something I am so late to the party with! If you watch Zoella on YouTube, you’ll have seen her mention this eyeshadow a number of times. As a lover of all things gold and copper, and a real fan of Nars I decided to invest based on all the hype and it has barely been off my eyes since.


The shadows are creamy and buttery, they blend like a dream and each colour works as well on its own as well as it does in my tried and true “blend the darker colour into the crease” method! The slightly orangey tone to the golds really brings out the green in my hazel eyes, which is something I am constantly trying to emphasise. I also really love how well packaged it is – as you would expect from Nars. The size is great, you don’t need to worry about de-potting or anything, and the mirror is a good size and great quality. It is super handy to take around with me, a day to night look is so easy when you have a beautiful gold to rely on, and it was well worth the investment (normally I’d balk at spending £25 on a pair of eyeshadows!) A definite one for the holiday makeup kit, I can’t wait to see how this looks with a tan!

3. Jeanne Arthes – L’eau de Rose

This came in my February Glossybox and I can safely say it is the best thing I have ever received in over a year of subscription. Rose is one of my favourite fragrances, and I really appreciate finding it in a lovely fresh perfume – because unfortunately I can’t use any rose moisturisers or oils on my face, I go all red and blotchy! What a pain – at least I can wear fragrance without irritation.


For someone who loves rose, I also hate overly sweet smells. So I struggle to find that balance between fresh and floral without turning into pure Turkish delight. There is one exception to this – Jo Malone Velvet Rose and Oud which is very, very delight-y (!) but it is also stunning, magical and I wore it on my wedding day so it holds a very special place in my heart. However, it is also £112 a bottle, OUCH. Finding a perfume around the £20 mark that I love and has that gorgeous rose scent is a real success. I have worn this so many times, and have layered it successfully with other fresh scents. I really really love it, and the size is perfect for throwing into a handbag for on the go spritzing. However this success comes with one (huge) issue. I have no idea how to buy more. I can’t find any links that I trust to buy this, I’m already 1/3 through the bottle, and their official Facebook page is in German. ARGH.

4. Belvoir Elderflower and Rose Cordial

Continuing the rose theme, this delicious cordial makes the traditional off-piste tail end of the fave five. Yep, cordial is full of sugar and completely unnecessary for a grown up who should just hydrate with water and be done with it. BOOOO. This is an aromatic, sweet, springtime concoction that comes alive in either my ubiquitous glass of fizzy water (I live on the stuff) or to fancy up a glass of prosecco. It is sheer bliss. I have been harping on to everyone about this since I treated myself to a bottle earlier in the month and now have to ration is to save both my purse strings and my waistline from all those sugary sugary empty calories. Divine. I can’t wait to sit outside in the spring sunshine with an ice cold glass of something fizzy with a drop of this in and a book in my hand. Try it, you won’t be disappointed (and it doesn’t taste offensively sweet, it just has that syrupy sheen you get from really good cordials that let you know it really is a treat).


5. Tocci Animal Print Bangle from Oliver Bonas

Manchester now has a giant and very exciting Oliver Bonas. I could have spent thousands in there already but have actually been very restrained. I did however treat myself to this fantastic bangle which I’ve worn nearly every day this month.

Ignore the “animal print” description. I wouldn’t call this animal print, it more just looks hammered and textured. I’ve been searching for a plain gold bangle all year, and since I don’t have a spare £5k to drop on a Cartier love bracelet, I thought this for £14 was rather reasonable. It has ticked the boxes of everything I was looking for – fits well, without being too big or tight, has a nice heft so you feel like you are wearing a chunky piece, is a lovely bright gold, and doesn’t irritate my skin. I don’t think the print is overwhelming at all – although I really wanted just plain gold, the texture really catches the light and adds a nice dimension without being distracting or loud. A really versatile piece that I have really enjoyed wearing, and a nice addition to any outfit. Brill. Now, if you could just release a rose gold version please OB??


So there we have it, our March mixed bag of good things. I’m so, so excited for April (aka honeymoon month) and hope to bring back a load of treats from Sephora, Bath and Body Works and the rest for next month.

E x

 

 

Posted in blog, fashion, food

A Cosy Chat – 7/04/17

This time next week I will be in Las Vegas! I can’t believe that our honeymoon is finally here, 5 months after our wedding. I’m really pleased we have had the extra time to enjoy being married and to have time we can dedicate solely to planning and saving for an incredible holiday, rather than trying to juggle that alongside wedding prep. I am so ready for a break, we are going to one of my favourite places in the entire world to begin with and then onto a load of new sights and locations… and we get to sleep on a train! It is going to be an incredible trip, and I feel very lucky that we are in a position to be able to take it – thanks in huge part to our incredibly generous friends and family who contributed to our honeymoon gift registry. I intend to make the very most of our good fortune and not waste a second of the experience (ok, maybe waste an hour being in a food coma after our Caesar’s Palace buffet experience, but afterwards, enjoying every minute).


I decided that I needed a pink hoodie to go with my jeans for holiday (always good to have something to throw on when it gets chilly at night) and I found this after determining that all the usual high street and online suspects were “not the right pink” (or only in a size 4, thanks Primark). I’ve bought one pair of boots on Amazon before and decided to risk this. The reviews helpfully said that it was true to size, too big and too small all at once, so I went with my actual size and hoped for the best. Size is fine. The colour on the other hand… well I love it but when it says neon, it means neon. I took it out of the packaging and it lit up the kitchen. It hurts the eyes! At least there is no risk of Mr Cosy losing me in a crowd. I’m not sending it back, I wanted bright pink and I got it… maybe a few washes will tone it down just a little bit.

Ouch

Last week Mr Cosy and I celebrated 4 years together, which has both flown by and feels much longer in a “can’t imagine life any other way” type way. Soppy. We celebrated with a gorgeous bottle of champagne gifted to us by some good friends all the way over in Bermuda, and I cooked up an Asian “fakeaway” feast. I made pork and chive dumplings, spring onion pancakes, crab summer rolls (yummy but such a faff to make when you aren’t super dextrous!) and the piece de resistance, grilled prawn toast (recipe here). We both love a Chinese takeaway, but it isn’t the healthiest, and deep fried prawn toasts are as bad for you as they are delicious! Finding out how to make these has been awesome, and they taste even better than the fried versions because the prawn flavour comes through much more. The prawn topping (or “glop” as Mr Cosy calls it) looks super gross, but it is definitely worth trying out! I will admit that I take a shortcut and blend the mix rather than finely chopping as suggested in the recipe, it is so much easier! I love a long potter about in the kitchen, and I really enjoyed making all this food. The most difficult thing is the timing when you are working on a few dishes at once, so I probably wouldn’t recommend trying anything like this for more than say 6 people – unless you are a less stress-headed host than I am (not hard)!


BUM WATCH UPDATE (awful). It is just about better! Had a mini pain-relapse this week, but I plan on taking a warm bath tonight and treating myself to some pamper time. I think I’ll get through the flight without too much difficulty, I just need to keep my general fidgetiness in check. I have learned my lesson and now slippers with proper grips are worn on the stairs at all times. Goodness, I hope when we buy a house we get one with a less steep staircase!

Speaking of buying a house, that is hopefully on the agenda for this Summer. One of the key things we want is off-road parking. Where we currently live, the parking situation is all on-street and a permit-less free for all. Most of the time we get parked without much of a problem, but there simply aren’t enough spaces on the street for all the cars that belong to the people that live there. Being the highly strung person that I am, I do sometimes find the struggle for a space a bit aggravating, but not anywhere close to the level that other people seem to have hit this week! One car apparently outstayed it’s welcome and ended up with a rather curtly worded note (laminated!) stuck to the windscreen. I will admit that I am a sucker for a bit of passive-aggressive drama, but only when I get to be an observer. If that was my car I’d be mortified… and I certainly wouldn’t ever dare put a note on someone else’s car! Roll on a house with a driveway – and some chill neighbours I hope!


Finally, my goodness have you seen the Easter eggs in M&S? They are all amazing looking but if you only get one thing may I be so bold as to recommend the salted caramel and chocolate ganache eggs? You get a pack of 4 and when you pick it up you know they are going to be amazing because the pack weighs a ton! They. Are. Delicious. Seriously. Delicious on a scale of I-wish-I’d-never-found-out-that-these-exist. Lucky that we go away soon so I can’t get through any more. Yum.

So that’s me, eating chocolate while I wait for on-street drama to unfold, classy as ever. I hope you have all had a week as yummy as those eggs, and I can’t wait to send my next update from the USA! Roll on Thursday…

Have a lovely weekend,

E x

 

Posted in books

March Reads – Into the Woods

You know when you get in the mood for a certain aesthetic or theme and it consumes you? For me, that commonly happens with the woods. I crave that “cabin-in-the-woods”, lost amongst the trees, what-is-hiding-out-there feeling, and there is something just so mysterious and atmospheric about books set in this type of location.

In March, I somehow ended up in a woods-set books spiral – I skipped genres and countries and pacing but there were a lot of trees in what I read! I started off with Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, which I had been really looking forward to reading since I spied it in Waterstones during a lunchtime browse. I have to say, the book itself ended up being not quite what I imagined. From reading the blurb I expected quite a spooky horror book, but really this is a thriller. I enjoyed it, but it definitely turned out to be not what I anticipated. If you enjoy thrillers then I would recommend this, but it isn’t at all scary if that is what you are after. It also heavily involves missing children – something a lot of people find very upsetting so do be aware of that (not a spoiler it says it on the book!!).

From there, I continued the thriller angle with The Back Road, which was set in Cheshire – about 30 mins from where I live (I love Cheshire). It was an enjoyable, quick read, but I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed that I guessed the whole outcome of the book. I’m not usually an expert at that sort of thing, and generally try not to – but really you could see it coming a mile off. Perfectly fine entertainment, but not exactly challenging. A good purchase for 99p on Kindle when it was on offer though!


I read a couple more “woods” themed books, and then switched over to work through the immense pile of library books which I managed to accumulate. I tend to reserve books I want to read from the library rather than going in and browsing, and this month I was unlucky (or lucky, depending on how you look at it) enough to have 5 reservations all arrive at once. I started working on them right away, and found a couple of new series’ that I have gotten stuck into.

First up is Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. This is young adult – a genre I have read a lot of over the last few years, and am really quite enthusiastic about – especially when it comes to fantasy. This was fairly enjoyable, enough so that I will continue the series, but it wasn’t on a par with say the Sarah J Maas books (which I love so much I plan on dedicating a whole post to when the new ones come out!). There were some interesting ideas, but also frustrating moments. And can we have a young adult fantasy without a love triangle at some point? Please?

Much more successful was a new (to me) urban fantasy series by Benedict Jacka which I started this month with Fated. This is SO GOOD. I love urban fantasy at the best of times (Ben Aaranovitch is amazing) and it was great to find some more that I could really get into. The book grabbed hold of me instantly, and introduced some characters that I really look forward to seeing more of. I genuinely had no idea what was going to happen at some points, and the way that magic is dealt with is a really interesting and different take. Even better news is that I am really late to this series, so I have 6 more books to read and another coming out this year. Yay! I’d really recommend this, it is so accessible compared to a lot of fantasy and a great introduction to the urban fantasy genre.


Overall a good month. 6 books read in total, with one in particular that I really loved. April brings with it holiday, and I’ve already picked out some reads for the plane and pool. My kindle is fully loaded and ready to go – now to finish 3 more library books before I depart… wish me luck!

Posted in blog

A Cosy Chat – 31/03/17

Is Spring finally here? As I sit writing this I can see bright sunlight shining through the window – but the goosebumps on my arms say otherwise! I’m more than ready for a change in weather and wardrobe, which I’m going to get in 2 weeks whether the UK climate decides to comply or not!

Yes, the <1 month countdown to our honeymoon has begun, and I’ve been spending most of my week researching, list writing and shopping to get myself ready for our wonderful trip. I managed to find my dedicated honeymoon notebook which had been lost for weeks (it was inside my D&D kit, of course) and my itinerary spreadsheet is now colour coded and fully filled in – it even has a new page, solely dedicated to the happy hours of Las Vegas. I love holiday planning for two reasons. One, it helps me get excited – seeing all the places I want to visit, learning traveller tips for the area and planning meals and nights out. Two, it helps calm me down – the more organised I am beforehand the more I can relax on holiday. I don’t need to plan every minute of every day, but if I know that I have a full list of all accommodation, booking references and timings for the points where we have to be at a certain place at a certain time I am 100% happier when I get to the airport.


Yeah that’s a multicoloured planning spreadsheet…

So, what else has been going on – it has been ages since I last wrote a blog post and that is largely because I’ve not had a lot to write about! Work has picked up to being super busy, and with a big holiday coming up I’ve been saving money where I can. I’ve undertaken more long drives by myself and the confidence of being a “new” driver rather than a “learner” driver is coming to me. I’m slowly but surely getting over feeling like “I can’t do this!!” and becoming happier behind the wheel. My parallel parking is still appalling though!


I’ve been reading during most down-time, as I made the mistake of reserving too many books at the library – which of course all came in at once. Now I’m working through the stack I picked up a week ago, and am trying to exercise restraint when it comes to my current reserve list. March reads is looking like it’ll be a bumper edition! There are some great recommendations coming with it though, so watch this space.

If anyone has been following the sad tale of my sad tail-bone, good news! It is just about healed. It went from 5 weeks of agony to basically mended over the course of three or so days, and now I largely don’t notice it  unless I’ve been sat for a while – watching a film or something. I’m so relieved, it truly was a painful experience. Now I can get back to running, the plane journey will be merely boring rather than miserable and I no longer wince every time I stand up. Things are good!

Expect a number of makeup posts in the coming fortnight, I’ve been trying out a number of new products ready for the brighter, warmer weather and I have some duds and some successes to report on. A PSA for you high street brand fans – Max Factor have a really good quality free gift if you spend over £15 at the moment. Well worth it for the mascara alone, which is one of my all time favourites.

The weekend brings more holiday and life admin. It is time for the semi-annual wardrobe swap. I’m getting my spring/summer clothes out of hibernation and swapping out the most wintery of my winter stuff. I always use this as an opportunity to have a clear out, and to identify any gaps (ie where the hell are all my plain t-shirts?) – this time around I really need to get into gear and check I have what I need for 16 days in a variety of climates. I might even be really organised and throw some stuff on eBay. I want to run a relaxing bath and grab my book just at the thought of doing all this!


Finally, my dress down Friday. This week I am wearing (I promise, but it was still dark when I left this morning!):

  • Jeggings -I live in these, they are the flippin’ comfiest
  • Harbour Top – Joules make amazing tops. They’re more expensive, but great fit and quality. Plus, bees!
  • White Nikes (the joys of fitting kids sizes!) – breaking these in for holiday

Love this outfit, simple, comfy and still manages to look like I at least thought about it this morning!

Have a great weekend everyone,

E x

 

Posted in beauty, reviews

Review – Pixi x Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse

Hoo boy was I excited for this skincare release! I am a big fan of Caroline Hirons  and whilst I still like to test and research skincare products for myself, I generally find that her recommendations are good ones, and her skincare cheat sheet for routines has really helped me change up the way I take care of my skin – here, at 32 my skin looks the best it ever has and I accredit that in part to the wisdom of Ms Hirons.

One of the things that I’ve really taken to heart is the double cleansing technique – i.e. removing makeup then cleansing the skin. I normally use a balm cleanser for my first cleanse, then follow up with a clay or mud. This works really well for me, but you can’t have too much of a good thing and a cleanser developed by the lady herself was something I couldn’t pass up. I ordered it as soon as it was released… and thats where this review nearly fell on it’s arse.

I can safely say, the service from Pixi was some of the worst I’ve experienced in recent times. It took over 2 weeks for my order to arrive, and at one point the order was marked as dispatched more than a week before it was actually sent out! I gave it a full week of hearing nothing before I called the company, and was told that they didn’t know what had happened but that it was probably a popular product and they would call me back that afternoon. Nobody called me. Then, once it arrived, it had a huge air bubble in the cream side of the pot, so it was almost 1/3 empty. Not cool. I emailed customer care but never heard back. After the delivery debacle I just gave up at that point. If I repurchase, I won’t be using Pixi direct, that’s for sure! I understand that it was a huge release, but you think they would be prepared for that, and to not answer emails or return calls… that really is poor. All in all, if I didn’t love glow tonic so much I’d be tempted to stop buying from them altogether!


But bad service does not begat bad products, and I have to say, this is a bit of a winner. It has its problems (which I’ll go into a bit further down) but with such high hopes it is always going to struggle against expectations. The divided pot contains a first cleanse makeup remover in the form of a solid oil, and a soothing cream for a second cleanse. Neither product contains mineral oil or fragrance – it is designed to be functional and usable for the most people possible – so cutting out comedogenic or irritating ingredients. Of course, this makes it a less sensory experience than a more scented concoction, but as someone who has fallen foul of beautiful scented products irritating their skin this is welcome. Let’s look at this on a cleanse by cleanse basis:

First cleanse – the solid oil. This does not mess around. The oil melts into your makeup right away, obliterating all in it’s path. I can wear a full face, including double wear, liquid lipstick and lashings of mascara and it’ll be gone in seconds. No panda eyes, no foundation on my pillowcase, just clean fresh skin. It hasn’t been beaten by a product yet, and I can always rely on it to take the day off without rubbing or scrubbing.


Second cleanse – cream. This feels lovely on the skin. A real delight to use. Although unscented, it still feels like a luxurious treat and I love massaging it into slightly damp skin after I’ve wiped the oil stage off with a muslin cloth or flannel. It doesn’t sting, burn or clog and leaves me with beautifully soft skin, just waiting to have serum massaged into it. I also like it as a morning cleanse, as it doesn’t dry out skin so you end up with a lovely base for makeup, and a reduced amount of oil breakthrough during the day. That point leads me nicely on to my problems with the product…

Firstly – the ratios of each product. Aside from my cream cleanser being limited to begin with (eye roll again), because I tend to use this for morning and second cleanse when I’m travelling (which is the main time I find myself using this), the cream side is running out much quicker than the oil. It isn’t the end of the world, but if the 50:50 ratio was adjusted to account for this – I doubt I’m the only person that has this problem – it would be greatly improved. Because I think it is such a handy product to take on holiday with you, it would defeat the point if you had to take a second pot just to cover when you inevitably run out of the cream with a load of oil left.

My second issue is the design of the pot itself. I can’t deny that it looks and feels great. The swirl is a nice design and the pot itself is heavy and luxe feeling (it is plastic, but it still feels like a quality item that you have spent a bit of money on). However, putting the extra cover on before the lid is kind of a faff, and if you lose this element of the packaging, the cream is going to go everywhere when you carry it around. I keep remarking how much I like this as a product for travel, and on that note the packaging could cope with being a little less bulky. It’s a rather large and heavy pot – great for the bathroom, not great for reducing bulk in your luggage! It is still better than two large pots, but there is a lot of redundant heavy plastic that they could do away with. I’m nitpicking though and I know it.

So overall, would I recommend and will I repurchase? Yes and… probably. It costs £24 for 50ml which isn’t the best value when you look at similar products (for example, Clinique Take the Day Off balm is £22 for 125ml) but there is no denying that both cleansers work really well and leave yourself with lovely skin. It’ll be going on honeymoon with me as my sole source of cleansing and I feel confident that I won’t have any skin issues during that time despite the fact that I’ll be wearing a full face of makeup and SPF everyday. However, for everyday cleansing, I think I’ll be sticking with my tried and true combination of Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter (£10 for 90ml) for makeup removing and Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip (£35 for 125ml) as second cleanse – more on these coming soon when I post about my morning and evening routines. Looking at these price comparisons it does seem that you are paying a little more for the convenience of having one pot. Not a deal breaker for me, but I’ll definitely be saving this for when I travel.
 

Posted in beauty, favourites

Fave Five – February 2017

Slightly later than planned, here are my favourite things from February!


1. Ouai volume shampoo and conditioner

When I cut my hair back in November 2016, I went from super long hair to a shoulder length cut. I absolutely love it, but without the versatility of being able to throw it up in a messy bun if it looks a bit lifeless, I needed to make sure I had shiny, manageable hair with bags of volume. I decided to try this brand based on blogger and Cult Beauty user reviews, and the popularity of Jen Atkin (who’s brand it is) amongst celebrities with gorgeous hair! At £20-£22 a pop, it is not a cheap shampoo, and a far cry from what I am used to using. It is sulphate free, and smells delicious. I’ve been using it for a few months, but have decided to add it to my February favourites based on just how much I’ve noticed the difference this month. I’ve had a tonne of bleach put into my hair, and rather than it being dry and dull, it is still soft, shiny and easy to work with. I definitely put this down to my change in shampoo. There is none of the build up that I’ve experienced with other brands, and I really do adore it. You also don’t need much and I’ve found that my hair is lasting longer between washes, so my initial £40 investment lasted me through to the end of February – whereas before with cheaper shampoos I was just rinsing through them – quite literally. Definitely worth the splurge and I feel like I won’t go back to high street brands now.


2. Soap and Glory Supercat liner

In January I decided that I wasn’t going to do winged eyeliner anymore. My lack of skills, shortsightedness and awkward hooded eyes meant that I struggled to get anything looking remotely acceptable. But, of course, I couldn’t stay away and decided to give the look one last shot with a new pen and a more refined technique (read: smaller wings). I bought this on a whim when it was reduced to £4 (usually £6) – and even better, it is easily available in Boots. Particularly helpful when I lost the lid to my first one and it dried out!! This is by far the easiest liquid eyeliner I’ve ever used. The black is really black and doesn’t pull your eyeshadow off. I have such great control, I can get delicate or dramatic wings depending on how I approach the pen, and it doesn’t sink into my crinkly eyelids. Even better, it dries quickly so I don’t get duplicate lines on my upper eyes. It’s affordable, easy to use, and performs well. I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone that isn’t a natural with eyeliner, and it has now become a daily (winged eyeliner daily!) staple in my routine. Fab.


3. Leafy and Lovely Summer Meadow hand cream

I got this as part of a Christmas present from one of my very best friends, and it has lived in my work rucksack ever since. It’s a nice sturdy tube and I don’t feel like it is going to explode which is a relief. First off, the smell is gorgeous. Gorgeous. It is delightful, fresh and floral without being soapy, and it is perfect for the Spring that is now trying to peek out from behind the clouds. It also absorbs really well, quickly and with no greasy residue. It moisturises very well and the only reason I ever apply it more than once a day is because it is such a pleasurable experience! Yummy yummy yummy, I’ll be getting some more as soon as I run out (and maybe a smaller size for travel – fingers crossed they make one!).


4. Twinings cherry bakewell green tea

Time for me to go off piste and pick a couple of items outside of the beauty spectrum to include. First up, something I’ve been ignoring since I first spotted it on the supermarket shelves! The idea of cherry bakewell flavoured tea sounds silly at best, and coupled with green tea (which I generally don’t like) I was having none of it. However, a commenter on the CasualUK subReddit mentioned that it was delicious and was so enthusiastic about it that I ended up buying some that lunchtime and giving it a go. Blimey, he wasn’t wrong. It is great! It does have a subtle almond and cherry flavour, a certain sweetness, and the leafiness that I normally dislike in green tea (putting it mildly, it tastes like dirty dishwater) is toned down and works with the flavours. I’ve drunk litres of the stuff. Give it a go, if you like it great, and if you don’t – send it my way!

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 14.54.48

5. Sunless Sea

Last up is a Steam game. Sunless Sea was originally a Kickstarter game that sprang from the free-to-play online game Fallen London which I was pretty obsessed with a few years back. My interest in the mechanics of that game waned, but the world and the stories still held my attention, and I bought this game just after it came out in 2015. Since then, I’ve played around 100 hours, and in mid Feb, laid up with a broken bum and in a grump with a new game beset with crashing errors (eye roll), I spent a few days immersing myself in the world and starting afresh. I’ve still not completed the game, which is notoriously difficult to do, but I’ve gotten further than ever before and had a lot of fun doing it! You take the role of a captain, navigating your ship on the “Sunless Sea” – a subterrenean ocean that contains numerous islands and locales to explore. The story changes each time you play based on the choices you make and random occurrences so the level of replayability is really high. It is available on Steam for PC and Mac and at £13.99 is a good price for how many hours of enjoyment you will get. It’s Steam as well, so keep your eyes peeled for a good sale price!!

This is what I was loving in February – what about you? March is well under way and I’m having a brilliant month, so expect some fun products showing up next time too!

Posted in books

February Reads – Mischief Managed

In February I added a grand total of one book to my Goodreads challenge. Oops. The less said on that book the better (it was a bit of a trial), so without further ado allow me to launch into a really good excuse for not reading anything new in February (my rule for entering a book into Goodreads is it has to be the first time I am reading it): I was re-reading Harry Potter. All is forgiven, right?

As I mentioned in one of my Cosy Chat blog posts a couple of weeks ago, some friends and I took part in a Harry Potter quiz earlier this month. In preparation, I re-read up to Goblet of Fire and after the quiz was over I kind of just… kept going. Anyway, as this is a blog about “the things that make life nice” I thought I’d dedicate my February reads post to one of my happiest places – sat on my bum with one of JK Rowling’s finest in my hands.

What can I say that hasn’t already been said? As a HP fan I’m surely in the majority. I started reading the series in high school and from the fourth book onwards I was a midnight-release-read-in-one-day Potterhead. It is pure, magical escapism with characters you fall in love with and a story that keeps you guessing and changing your mind right to the very end.

I’ll admit that I am known for my love of the books within my group of friends – so much so that my utterly epic hen do was even a HP murder mystery party (yeah, it was awesome). Homemade alcoholic butterbeer, quidditch beer pong and floating candles really set the whole night off – I’ve got some incredible friends!

I honestly could ramble on about this series of books for as many words as they contain, but in an effort to actually retain some percentage of readers to the end, I’ve gone meta and have done a post within a post; my Harry Potter Fave Five. (SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY)

1 . Minerva McGonagall – my goodness, I love Professor McGonagall. She is the most kick-ass character. Fiercely intelligent, brave, loyal and with a sense of humour. She puts Umbridge in her place with brutal burns. She leads the defence during the Battle of Hogwarts. She takes on a team of aurors to defend Hagrid… and you just know she had to hide her amusement at the Weasley’s antics. She’s brilliant isn’t she?

2. Hermione Granger – this may come as a shock to you (arf arf), but I was a bit of a nerdy swot in school. Reading about a character that plays a huge role in saving the wizarding world through hard work, cleverness and a love of books was brilliant for me, and I’m sure will continue to inspire people similar to me for many years to come. Plus, she gets one of the best lines in the entire series; “I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed – or worse, expelled” – I loved her for saying that then, and I love her for it now.

3. Dumbledore’s Army – one of my favourite occurrences in the series is when a group of students gets together to learn Defence Against the Dark Arts without Professor Umbridge finding out. The way the group work together to take control of their own need to defend themselves against a threat that those in power refuse to acknowledge is truly inspiring and gives you one of those ‘punch the air’ moments. It also introduces the Room of Requirement properly and starts Neville down the road of being a stone-cold badass. Which brings me neatly on to…

4. The Hogwarts Resistance – the moment that Harry emerges from the Hogs Head tunnel into the Room of Requirement in Hogwarts to be greeted by the students defying the Death Eaters and defending their own school is quite possibly my favourite moment of the whole series. Hearing Neville tell of his rebellion (and his Grandmother’s!) and seeing all the characters we love enter the room in swathes ready for the battle is fantastic, and when I read that I knew something big was coming. The battle itself was incredible, but the build up for me is the best bit (not least because all our favourites are still alive).

5. The little details – ok so I’m cheating a bit because this encompasses a lot but I really wanted to draw attention to the incredible world that JK Rowling created. From the book titles and authors, to the totally believable Ministry of Magic and the shops of Diagon Alley, you really became immersed in the wizarding world. You cared that Florean Fortescue went missing from his ice cream shop. You felt the nerves of the students taking their apparition tests. You really didn’t want to receive a howler. In short, you attended Hogwarts with Harry, Ron and Hermione – celebrated with them, grieved with them and grew up with them (literally in a lot of our cases).

I’ve had a bloody lovely month returning to Hogwarts and the friends I made there. Reading these books again has picked me up on my down days and has left me with that bittersweet sense of it ending all over again. Really JK Rowling said it best:

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