Made Up Monday – Lip colour

Made Up Monday Lips MacThis year I got fed up of my lip colour, it got to the stage that I couldn’t really be bothered to put it on. But I reserved the right to be completely jealous of the gorgeous colours I saw others wearing.

Most of the problem was the rut I had fallen into, the fact my Mac lipstick is called Bare pretty much sums up why some days it felt as much not to have it on. To be honest, I love the feel of it with the Dervish lip liner, and for nights out adding Lustreglass made it absolutely perfect. 

But my only other lipstick of choice was  a Benefit lipstick in ‘Make Nice’ but was practically identical to Bare with a bit more sparkle.Made Up Monday Lips Charlotte TilsburyAnd so I decided to treat myself. As everyone I had the courage to compliment on lip colour had turned out to be a Charlotte Tilbury shade, I decided on finding out there was a pop-up at John Lewis in Cardiff to go for it.

Whilst I wanted a really red shade (not willing to think about the fact I’d end up looking like a clown), on the advice of the Fairy Godmother I opted for asking for the advice of the team there. The adviser who looked after me  was wonderful, advising that a lip liner to colour in the lips first will help hold the lipstick for longer, and to apply with a lip brush to avoid putting onto much.

The adviser recommended a matte lipstick as I had been specific in wanting a daytime shade, and Bond Girl. I have to admit I absolutely love it. My budget that day didn’t stretch to the lip liner recommendation of Pillow Talk. I have picked up a budget lip liner from Rimmel and a Revlon lip brush which is great as it retracts to fit with my lipstick in my bag.

I love the new colour, and am so tempted to pop back to get another colour for nights out. If only I could get a few in the diary!Made Up Monday - Lip colour

Peter Pan Jr – Cardiff Open Air Festival 2016

Disney’s Peter Pan Jr is this year’s fantastic production from Everyman Theatre for the Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival 16 focused on a younger audience. The summer production has become a hot ticket for families, the reputation of previous years productions setting the bar high. 

Director Emma-Jayne Parker has returned for a fourth year, so the magical formula which leaves younger audiences wow-ed is in very safe hands. As Beauty and the Beast did in 2015, Peter Pan left my children spellbound, and the best of company for the rest of the day.
Peter Pan Jr - Cardiff Open Air Festival 16The performances are the perfect duration for the audience, running at just over an hour, the shorter version kept the attention of children and adults alike. And of course, there was all the magic of Disney, with favourite songs, pixie dust, and happy endings.
Peter Pan Jr - Cardiff Open Air Festival 16Of course, CM at 7 was awestruck by Tinkerbell (Meg Jones). Like my 7 yo, Tinkerbell was performed perfectly- summing up the naughtiness and tenderness of the fairy. I couldn’t help but resonate that like fairies, perhaps children are only capable of holding one emotion at a time. It would explain a lot!
Tinkerbell - Peter Pan Jr - Cardiff Open Air Festival 16The boys were completely impressed with Peter Pan (Emily March) who brought a fantastic energy to the stage and all three got involved as Captain Hook (Brian Smith) took to the stage and the adventures really began.
The Indians at Peter Pan Jr - Cardiff Open Air Festival 16Because whilst the main characters of the Peter Pan story were absolutely fantastic, the joy of this production really was in the ensemble moments- of Mermaids, Fairies, Pirates, Indians and the Lost Boys. Aled Gomer in the role of Chief Tiger Bamboo brought some wonderful comic moments to the performance, and for me, Georgia Tonge as Tiger Lily absolutely stole the moment with the power of her voice. 

And there were the moments which keep the children talking. Whilst none of them guessed how Peter Pan would fly correctly (it was all they talked about on the drive to Sophia Gardens), all they could talk about on the way home was the crocodile- between bursts of  ‘Never Smile At A Crocodile’, one of my favourite Disney songs. This song, as others, was interwoven perfectly with the clever choreography which was consistent throughout the production.

And just to make the magic complete, the children were delighted to be able to meet their favourite characters before we left to explore Bute Park.Peter Pan Jr Cardiff Open Air Festival does performances aimed at young people wonderfully, and Peter Pan Jr ticks all the boxes across age ranges. A magical way to while away an hour in Cardiff.

Peter Pan Jr is at Sophia Gardens from the 23rd – 30th July 2016 with tickets available via the website.

Photography credit: Natalie Johnson-Rolley

Disclosure: We received a family ticket for the purpose of this review. All opinions and views contained are our own.

Romeo & Juliet – Cardiff Open Air Festival 16

It is a brave decision to take a classic to stage, naturally comparisons follow. The right decision to reinterpret, rediscover moments of a text is brave. And in the decision to bring Romeo & Juliet part of the Cardiff Open Air Festival 16 has no doubt given all who are fortunate enough to see it an alternative glimpse into the words of Shakespeare and the relevance of the themes.Romeo & Juliet at Cardiff Open Air Festival 16The decisions made by co-directors Mark Modezelewski and Jack Paterson create all the success of the piece. There is a real feel for how much the actors were involved in the process of bringing the words to the stage. A complete ensemble is created with each role on the stage having a contribution to the play’s energy.

The production pulls on the darker themes, and in doing so the play seems gritty and new- the story the same but with added elements, created through the ensemble there is an innovative feel, bringing it truly into a now.Romeo & Juliet at Cardiff Open Air Festival 16Decisions on roles added another dimension to the production. With Benvolio becoming two roles- Ben (Edward Kettle) and Volio (Stephanie Smith)- the gender balance brought new context, Tybalt is played by Asha Cecil, and Balthasar by Carys McQueen. All contributing to the creative energy within the production.

The principle roles of Romeo and Juliet were brought by Mikey Howe and Helen Randall. Romeo seemed more youthful, Mikey Howe successfully brought a sense of likeability to the role, alongside the conviction of the actions which unfold. Juliet was beautifully portrayed, Helen Randall bringing a personable and likeable character to life. And for the two, there was the chemistry needed to make the audience fall into the play.Romeo & Juliet at Cardiff Open Air Festival 16As now seems to be the joy of Cardiff’s Open Air Theatre, it was the second act and the beauty of the surrounding which seemed to bring reality and creation into an equilibrium, the reality of the outside world entirely adding context and beauty to the play in which we were absorbed. Romeo & Juliet at Cardiff Open Air Festival 16There is much to compliment in the production. And between the interpretation, the cast and the environment- it is definitely a must-see.

Romeo & Juliet is at the Cardiff Open Air Festival 16 from 21st – 30th July 2016 with tickets available on the website.

Photo Credit: Keith Stanbury

Disclosure: I received a complementary ticket for Romeo & Juliet for the purpose of this review. All opinions and views contained are my own.

Schools out with The Hunting of the Snark

It’s been the most ridiculous countdown to the summer holidays, the children have been exhausted and tempers have been nearest to frayed. There’s been a little light at the end, with Sherman Cymru cleverly programming the world premiere of The Hunting of the Snark to coincide with the end of the school year.The Hunting of the Snark - Cast AnnouncementLewis Carroll’s much loved nonsense poem, The Hunting of the Snark promises to be brought to life with the Sherman trademark of superb story-telling partnered with actor-musicians, in an adventure for everyone aged 7+. Running from 19– 30 July 2016.

Given my somewhat tempestuous relationship with my seven year-old daughter, the opportunity to have some quality time with her in an environment which I know would bring a few rare smiles in my company, and the best of memories definitely ticks the boxes. I write confidently, but with truth. Because the thing I know the Sherman does well is in creating the moments which come up again and again, in months and years, when you don’t think they’ve remembered, it turns out they did, and they held it close.(C) Kirsten McTernan - The Hunting of the SnarkThe musical comedy adventure promises puppetry, lashings of silliness and an original soundtrack that will delight, excite and entertain in this new summer family production by the Sherman Theatre in association with Alice House Theatre and RGM Productions.

With the riotous ragtag band of bold adventurers including the Banker, the Boy, the Butcher, the Baker, Mr Bellman, the Bandersnatch, the Boojum and the knitting Beaver, as they set off on an epic quest to catch the elusive Snark, much adventure is set in store. 

And if the rehearsal photos are anything to go by- promised should be believed:(C) Kirsten McTernan - The Hunting of the SnarkWritten by Annabel Wigoder and directed by Gemma Colclough, this production is a true ensemble piece and music features strongly, with an original composition by Gareth Cooper.

The Hunting of the Snark is at Sherman Cymru from 19th-30th July 2016 with tickets available (although grab them quick because many are already waitlist!) via the website.

M by Montcalm Shoreditch Tech City

There are the things in your diary you really look forward to as they approach. Britmums Live was one of them for me, admittedly less so for the event itself and more so for some quality time with friends. Sara-Jayne and I decided to share a room, club our funds together and splash out on a room at M by Montcalm Shoreditch Tech City.M by Montcalm Shoreditch Tech CityM by Montcalm Shoreditch Tech CityI say ‘splash out’, but I doubt anyone can question that you get what you pay for at a Montcalm hotel. I was absolutely devastated to find out as I checked in that I had free access to a spa. I know I overlooked this when booking but I used to hate the idea of a spa, however having recently celebrated a special birthday for a best friend in a spa hotel, I am a convert.
I felt my afternoon was a little less full for not being able to take advantage of the facility.

I’ll also admit to feeling dressed in the wrong attire. Anyone who knows me well knows I am an ill-informed goth. On this particular Friday I chose to rock up in my coral sweatshirt with gold font ‘Winging It’ emblazoned across the front. To a hotel where guests and employees all received the memo about black attire- it feels that stylish.M by Montcalm Shoreditch Tech CityAs I inspected my room all qualms about not spending my afternoon in the spa were quashed, for I spotted the pièce de résistance of the room, the place to while away some time without interruption. M by Montcalm Shoreditch Tech CityAnd it was lush. I read. Answered emails. Wrote a blog post. Chatted on the phone. Perfect.

And then Sara-Jayne rocked up. And I had to come clean. Her dream of an evening away from the family relaxing in a bath was over.

We only had a shower. It was a great shower. But yes. That’s me- lover of a great shower, hater of the bath talking. It’s true, our room didn’t have a bath- and that’s a bit rubbish.M by Montcalm Shoreditch Tech CityThe good news is as well as the fandangled technology which is explored a little in the taster video at the end (but not half as much as I found out- the curtains close at the push of a button, you have numerous colours for your mood lighting, the room fragranced to your preference… the list really does go on), most importantly, the bed is fantastically comfy. M by Montcalm Shoreditch Tech CityYou do pay for the luxuries you get. And when I phoned the hubby I joked that all I ever need is a good shower and a comfy bed.

But I admit, every once in a while, we’re worth the luxury, I’m worth spending a little extra on.

The evening away with a friend catching up.
The morning spent taking the time with our appearance.
The day spent just being a person, without immediate responsibility.

Would I do spent this sort of money all over again?


Made Up Monday – Powder and Blush

Like my previous Made Up Monday posts, my basis for a good powder is based on years of habit. My choice of blush is based on the make up recommendations of my wedding, and I’ve only recently decided to start using a bronzer after one of my besties gifted it to me.Made Up Monday

Like previous posts my Christian Dior Loose Powder has been a staple for ever. And I’ll be honest I’m missing it. It’s expensive but I think it last well.

In my bid to think more about my purchases I decided to check out the next price point down, and went with Benefit’s Hello Flawless in Champagne. This was from a consultation in John Lewis in Cardiff, and I was really happy with the match and the quality of the product. The only problem is, is that I feel like I haven’t had it that long, and I have already found the bottom of the product. I’m not sure what it is with compacts which makes the middle ‘go’ first (perhaps the swirling motion of the brush), but this has happened with my powder already and it makes me sad. With loose powder it was just balanced, and for me, really lasted.

So, at the moment I’m with spending more money on a powder if you want one as part of your routine.Powder and BlushBlush. Blush is one of those things I never used to use. I was recommended one as part of my wedding make-up. And it sat in my make-up bag from that day forth.
And then I caught sight of myself in the mirror one day, and I just felt a ghostly pale (big black eyes bring accentuate this!) and so I started gently using my Mac Blush again, and I don’t mind it.

Which got me to thinking about bronzer. I’ve never used bronzer for fear of looking to fake and shiny. But I do like the idea of looking healthy- something with a full-time job and three young children I aspire to. So, I dug out my Guerlain bronzer a friend gave me a while ago (which a child has found and scraped their nail through!). And I love it. I sweep just above my blush and across the tops of my forehead and down my nose (very gently) and I think the world is a good place. And more than that, the two days I’ve felt ridiculously rough and I’ve turned up in the office people have complemented my appearance. And I think it’s because I suddenly look less like a goth (I may also turn up dressed in black with DM boots on my feet) and more, yes, healthy.

So yes, blush and bronzer have the thumbs up.

If you need a powder (I so do), I think I’d stick with a loose powder, unless you just like it for reassurance. Made Up Monday

myStyle Surf Style Jewellery

myStyle Surf Style Jewellery set was a perfect introduction to jewellery making for CM. Whilst it is designed for children aged 8+ the fantastic part of the set is that the projects are of varying difficulty, meaning that at age 7 CM was able to make some bracelets and necklaces, supervise others, and have some wonderful additions to her beach-themed additions for her school project.My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryOn being presented with the third element of her beach themed project, CM quickly got to work looking at the projects, deciding to whom she would gift each, in what colour way, and in what order we should do our making.My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryThe set contains everything you need bar a pair of scissors. From lengths of two thicknesses of cord, jump-rings, beads, clasps, and pendants- the instructions even have a handy ruler across the top of each page to help you out.
My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryThere were parts of each project which CM was more adept at than others. The projects which have charms as their focal points were more focused on single knots, which CM was able to create and got to grips with threading beads and manipulating jump rings.My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryAnd CM was really pleased with the fruits of her labour, and mine. Some of the projects are more straightforward, and perfect for 8 year-olds. The effect of your efforts is pretty and particularly complemented by the pendants included in the set.My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryThe overall result of projects which can be undertaken between a 7 year-old and their mother is shown below. It was a good project for us to work on together. Some (where there were plaits) took more effort from me than her, others were just me making sure she had her knots and measures so the bracelets were of a good size.
My Style Craft Surf Style Jewellery There are other projects which are more testing, which is a natural progression in the suggested projects. I have to admit on a few even my patience was challenged. Much of this is due to my lack of spacial awareness and appreciation- but in honesty some projects have been returned to the case for another look on a brighter day.My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryBut then were the projects where as soon as she had finished making her brothers demanded they were theirs.My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryThe myStyle Surf Style set retails at £9.99. Making 12 projects it is value for money and has the ability to stimulate creativity in young people. The range of projects available to create ensures it offers stimulation to a broad age range.

 Disclosure: We received the myStyle Surf Style set for the purposes of this review. All opinions and views contained are our own.

Starfish Craft Canvas

To go with the starfish made from papier mâché, CM decided to create a seascape. I feel the need to declare my fault from the outset, I misunderstood her instruction for how the sand should be represented, and the fault with this starfish craft canvas is entirely mine. And no, my seven year-old does not control me.Starfish craft canvasSo, the way this should work is that if you laid it down on a sandy beach it would be an extension of your next footstep. Think horse racing in Mary Poppins.

We started (as always) with reasonably priced acrylic paints and a canvas from Home Bargains, and set to work creating the sand and the sea.Starfish craft canvasI messed up a little at this point. CM asked to incorporate orange, to show the difference between wet and dry sand. As she added the first, I added a second. I really shouldn’t have. It didn’t work. There would only be one part of dry sand. And I apologise sincerely for this oversight.Starfish craft canvasCM then set to work creating the starfish, by this point I had learned my lesson – to let her get on with it or only follow instruction. 

With a printable starfish template the first starfish to take shape was the one which would take the most time.Starfish craft canvasThe sequin starfish was a good idea because it would create sparkle. But it also took a lot of sequins and pins. I have to admit to helping out on this one. As did the boys. I contributed by picking up spilt pins. And trying to add order to their efforts. I should know better. Starfish craft canvasThe next was more straightforward. A golden starfish using glitter glue. I didn’t think this one through. As soon as CM had created her starfish I put it aside to dry, forgetting it was glue and that the template would adhere to the canvas. The starfish has a lovely outline as a result.Starfish craft canvas

Starfish craft canvasThe final starfish only came about because I finally gave into CM’s demands for DohVinci. In fairness to her I’ve been putting her off since before Christmas convinced it would be like the Moon Sand I’d previously thought was a good idea.

Fortunately DohVinci is something which I can just leave her to get on with.Starfish craft canvas

Starfish craft canvasAnd so, CM has a piece of art. 

Full of stars.Starfish craft canvas

Heacham Manor, Norfolk

I was looking forward to staying at Heacham Manor in Hunstanston. We have accommodation on-site at work so the chances of escape at slim. Many years ago I worked on-site Monday to Wednesday and the days you were told it was fully booked were cause for celebration – the bid for freedom. 

And so I thought the stars were aligned, there was no room at the inn, and Heacham Manor popped up on the booking system. It wasn’t somewhere I had stayed before, and the name implied it would be a good stay.

As it was I didn’t get to really enjoy it. This is the photo I took as I was leaving:Heacham ManorI had need to work until 5pm which meant the drive on South Wales would mean a late arrival. I contacted the hotel in advance to let them know. When I arrived, slightly ahead of time I was warmly greeted. After the long, non-stop drive I was of course at my most conversant:

Hotelier: “Please could I take your car registration number?”
Me: “Oh. I’m sorry. I don’t know it. I’ve taken my husband’s car. It’s silver.”
Hotelier: (Nodding understandingly) “That’s fine.” (Reads notes) “Oh, and you’ve arrived in good time.”
Me: “I know. I didn’t hit anything on the way here.”
Of course I was referring to traffic.

Obviously appreciating who they were dealing with, they kindly offered to show me to my room.

I guess this was the bit where I was caught off guard. Heacham Manor has a wide range of accommodation. I think (from talking to colleagues) all their deluxe rooms are within the main building, standard rooms (mine) are a short walk from the hotel itself, and they also have pet friendly accommodation as well as self-catering. I was really impressed with the diversity.

I wasn’t as impressed with my room- although it was perfectly fine and more than for the budget. It had a smell to it- again, nothing offensive, but I had come to think of it as the ‘Bircham’ smell (the next day colleagues nodded, for the first time the acknowledgement that that was what it was), I thought the ‘Bircham’ smell was solely restricted to our on-site accommodation, and it made me uneasy. I did appreciate, it’s the little things, that along with a good range of teas, that there were biscuits. I sense budget constraints have meant a lot of hotels have stopped, having missed an evening meal for the non-stop journey, I was overjoyed and allowed them to represent my well-balanced diet.Heacham Manor roomI was really impressed with the bathroom. If you know me you know I don’t function without a shower. I was really happy to find, despite any initial misgivings, that the bathroom was wonderfully kitted out. With a shower and a bath, and a really good shower. Well I was happy.Heacham Manor showerAnd whilst I had brought my new camera in the hope of visiting the beach the next morning, which I understand to be a short walk across the golf course, it was absolutely weeing it down. Which was around the point I realised I had left the house without a coat. 

Again, colleagues who have stayed have commented on how good it is to leave the office and enjoy the fresh air and views. I believe them. Criticism comes easier than a compliment. 

Made Up Monday – Primers and Concealers

Made Up MondayI’m following last week’s look at foundations with a look at my Primers and Concealers – much-needed when it comes to putting make up on given early mornings and three children.

I only recently started using primer. Based on the recommendation for my wedding make-up, I’ve been using Mac’s Paint Pot for years as a base for my eye-shadow, and I noticed a real difference in the staying power of my eye-shadow. Thinking the same thing might be true for the rest of my make-up I decided to start wearing a primer.

I initially tried L’Oreal’s Studio Secrets. It’s a mousse and I wasn’t overly impressed, not entirely sure it was making any difference.

I then tried Rimmel’s Stay Matte primer, which I’ve much preferred. I find as long as I give it time for my skin to absorb it does create a real good base for me to add foundation. Made Up Monday - Primers and ConcealersConcealer wise, I am happy to try anything. Anything which means I don’t turn up at work for people to tell me how tired I look. Most of the week I have no routine- this week is case in point, Monday I need to leave the house before 6am, I’ll finish meetings around 10pm. Tuesday I’ll be delivering a workshop at 8am, and get home at 11pm. Wednesday more workshops, but leaving at 8am and home by 5pm. Thursday I’ll work from home, and Friday is my day off. Concealer fills the void of a body clock.

For years I loved YSL’s Touche Éclat but after children it felt like it wasn’t doing its job as well, it was too light. I needed war-paint rather than uplift. I started using the Benefit Boi-ing which was a part of a set I had bought, and I loved it. It really to do the job. But oddly, when I popped in to buy it as a separate I stopped liking it so much- it now seemed like war-paint (I’m so difficult to please), and whilst it hid the circles it accentuated the creases. In sheer desperation I popped into the Superdrug at Edinburgh Airport (it was 8pm after the 5.30 pick up, and I had caught sight of myself in the mirror). I picked up two Rimmel concealers- when I got them home I much preferred the Match Protection, liking how it seemed to lighten and blend, but I’m really not liking the application. At first I was using the Wake Me Up more as an added layer on bad days and for blemishes. Now I’m finding I’m using less of the Match Protection, really because of how quickly I like to apply make up and I can’t be doing with the faffing.

Hopefully, a bit more of a routine, more exercise, a better diet and more sleep will help these concealers do their job. I don’t suppose it will stop me trying to invest in another concealer at Edinburgh Airport tomorrow evening though.Made Up Monday