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Thursday, 29 November 2012

As explained in my previous post, I recently spent a mini weekend away in Bruges with my sister and my mum. Over all the weekend was fairly cheap - we went from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon and because we travelled by Eurostar, generally the travelling part of the weekend was cheap.

We realized however that Bruges as a city isn't actually as cheap as we hoped! The food is quite expensive and other than sightseeing, the main thing to do in this beautiful city is to shop - so off course it wasn't as cheap as we thought it would be. However we managed to stay in a really cheap B&B and managed to find really cheap places to eat at and cheap things to do so in this post I'll tell you all about these places if any of you ever choose to go!

Accommodation 

We stayed in the beautiful B&B Maison de la Rose which was more than ideal for us. This cosy Bed & Breakfast is only a five to ten minute walk away from the city centre (Bruges is a very small town) and we found that the brief walk was actually enjoyable because it involved walking down lovely cobbled streets and seeing loads of picturesque sights in the process. The B&B is family run and has three large rooms - one of which is family room - as well as a loft/apartment. We stayed in the family 'Grey' room and had more than enough space for just the three of us - we had two large double beds (one of which was made up of two single beds which we could pull apart if we wanted to), a desk, fridge, TV etc and our own en-suite bathroom. Off course the room was warm and clean and was from €63 per night, an extra 10 euros for breakfast which we had on our first morning. The breakfast was delicious and filled us up for the day and we found the owner to be lovely - he gave us a guidebook with all his personal recommendations in it, and we loved that he suggested not only cheaper places but also places that were less for tourists and more for locals which I thought was nice.


B&B Maison de la Rose
Ezelstraat 11, B-8000 Brugge, België

Eating Out

We found that generally, as beautiful as they all were with their crackling fires and festive decorations, most of the restaurants within the main square were quite expensive. So I googled and had a look on trip adviser to find somewhere to eat and we found the recommendation for this real local bar/restaurant called Bierbrasserie Cambrinus. It was literally on one of the streets just behind the main square and we walked in to find it extremely busy and filled with locals, wishing we'd thought to book a table ahead of time. Luckily they had one table spare for an hour before it was reserved again so we took that table and we immediately understood why it was so busy. It had such a warm and friendly atmosphere and we weren't the only English people in there so despite being a favourite for locals, we felt very welcomed. It had an impressive menu of local beer and the waitress recommended some delicious beers for us and was very helpful. We ordered quite a lot for just the three of us - we decided to share everything between us so ordered a selection of hot and cold snacks, some garlic bread and a salad with Goats cheese & Bacon served with Raspberry vinaigrette (whatever that is!). Everything was delicious and overall the food came to just €38 between the three of us. So cheap, especially compared to everywhere else!







Cambrinus,
Mgr Roelensstraat, Ardooie, Flemish Region

It tasted SO good!

On our second day we were quite full up from breakfast so just caught something on the go - we had some beyond yummy hot dogs from one of the stands at the Christmas market (they also did the most delicious Bailey's hot chocolate) and we found there were a few English places to eat too such as a chip shop, Starbucks and Subway. We also stumbled across a craft fayre one of the local schools put on for charity which was situated in one of the beautiful old buildings and they had a Bistro set up there too. That was really cheap and the food was so nice that we went back twice - the coffee was only €1!

Places To Drink

Obviously because we went as a family, going out drinking or clubbing wasn't really on our to-do list but we definitely wanted to try some of the local beer and found one nice bar which we spent a few hours in. Belgian Beer Pub Don Quichotte (what a mouthful!) was this tiny bar we found just off the main square but I loved it, it was so tiny and quirky! There was a nice atmosphere and it was really decked out in some funky deco, as well as having a large selection of beer and loads of different flavours (including chocolate!). Oddly enough, as we first arrived and propped ourselves up at the bar (it was so, so tiny but cute!), I felt like I was in America! We ambled in with our coats, scarves and gloves and it was so warm and inviting that we pulled them all of immediately and got ourselves ourselves comfy at the bar. You could tell it was a real genuine local place, some people had brought board games to play with them! However saying that, again it felt very welcoming and even had the English football on. It really reminded me of the type of pub you'd stumble across out in the cold then come into and just get warm and spend your whole evening in good company, chatting and having a laugh. Naturally I loved it.

Image NOT taken by me, image taken from 365pubs.com, please click image for link.
Belgian Beer Pub Don Quichotte, 
Eiermarkt 14, Brugge, West-Vlaanderen 

Although we didn't actually go clubbing/drinking, whilst in this pub we were obviously in the more lively area of Bruges where people do go for a night out as we spotted loads of pubs and clubs in this area.

Things To Do

Attraction wise, there isn't actually much to do in Bruge. We found some leaflets for an Aquarium and theme park - though we didn't know how far away these were - as well as a show/museum in the centre but this had quite bad reviews. We were quite content strolling around and just enjoying exploring though and getting involved with the culture. We found a lot of guided tours being offered - walking tours, bike tours and even Segway tours! There were also horse drawn carriage rides which I thought were beyond romantic as these ran into the evening when it was dark and all the lights were on. We would have loved to have gone on a bike tour but the weather wasn't nice enough - though really everything was in walking distance anyway.

We did go on a boat tour though which I would absolutely recommend. Bruges is filled with canals and waterways and there's so much you don't see just by walking around - we saw a completely different side of Bruges by boat and it was so lovely.





I can't remember how much the boat trip cost and there were a few different companies offering them but they were all really affordable. Each trip lasted maybe 20-30 minutes and included a commentary about the history of Bruges. It was really nice and something I'd definitely recommend.

Because the city didn't offer many attractions apart from museums and art galleries, I'd definitely suggest visiting during Christmas when there is a lot more on. The Christmas fayre was beyond pretty - each stall had decorations, food, hot drinks etc and then off course there was the actual ice skating rink as well. It was really lovely grabbing a hot chocolate or a hot dog and just wandering around the fayre slowly in the evening, everything lit up, or stopping to watch the ice skaters with Christmas music in the background. It really put me in the Christmas spirit.

And that's another thing about Bruges - they play music EVERYWHERE! Most streets have speakers along them so you'll hear the radio or different music playing as you stroll around - it's all really cheery!

The Chocolate!

Bruges is best known for it's chocolate (and beer, and er lace) and you'll discover that as there are chocolate shops everywhere. You literally cannot get away from them and each and every one was so cosy and inviting, luring me in with many delicious smells and displays of chocolately goodness...yum! Our favourite one however was Chocolatier Dumon - a place we actually found by accident but was so thankful for! We took a different route home one night and stumbled across it, peering through its windows with all it's beautiful displays. It was beyond tiny too, it was literally just one room and a second one kind of on a lower floor. An elderly couple stopped and looked too and told us they knew the owners and had had it recommended it to them - therefore we HAD to find it again the next day when it was open. We did so and were very glad because the chocolate was absolutely delicious and actually quite affordable to! I think we loved it so much because it was recommended to us - a lot of other chocolate shops we found were clearly there for tourists, but this was very genuine and obviously another favourite of the locals.


Chocolatier Dumon, 
Eiermarkt 6, Brugge, Belgium 8000, Belgium

So overall, we had a really nice weekend which was actually quite affordable once we looked around a bit and took into consideration other people's recommendations. I hope that if anyone reading this chooses to go, this post helps a bit! Bruges can be expensive, especially for tourists, but it doesn't have to be if you really want to fit in with the locals. I would also without a doubt recommend visiting around Christmas time too - we went from the 23rd November which was actually just as the Christmas markets started which was very lucky. It's worth noting as well that despite being in the middle of winter, it wasn't actually that cold. Even though it rained a lot one day, because it was such a picturesque city, I don't think it was really a problem as it was a city break as opposed to a summer weekend away to sunbathe!

We had the most amazing time and would definitely go again and visit some of the places listed in this post.

P.S Feel free to check out the travel tag for some more travel related posts!

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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

I recently went out and purchased Kate Moss Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in shade 107 and it has fast become one of my favourite lipstick shades ever. Not only is it affordable but I absolutely love the shade and the vintage feel it has to it. I've been after a deep, dark red shade for so long now - it's so hard to find a deep shade that isn't a bright red or doesn't make you look like a clown - so I'm so glad I've found it, I just wished I'd found it sooner!


I can't get over how beautiful the shade is - although it may not look it in the photo, it's a really dark gothic shade and just gives me that edgier look when I wear it, especially if I'm feeling particularly rocky that day, dressing in *those* type of clothes. It feels really nice on as well, my lips feel soft after using it and it's really long lasting. My only concern would be that it could be considered a bit of an out there shade so it should be only worn if you're feeling really confident or dressed to impress - i.e I wouldn't say this is a day to day casual shade to wear at work or something.


Isn't it just such a lovely shade?! I only wish I'd purchased it before I went to The Maine gig a few months ago as for ages before hand I was looking for a shade exactly like this in the hopes to wear it to the gig! Nonetheless I've worn it loads since, especially to other gigs and I've constantly been getting loads of compliments on how great it looks and how edgy it is.

There are four other shades in the Kate Moss Matte Collection - ranging from a light nude shade to a summery coral shade - but with the collection being launched back in October, you probably have all already read loads about the collection. However I just can't get over how beautiful this shade is and I've definitely listed this as one of my best/favourite beauty purchases of 2012.

This (and the other lipsticks in the collection) retail at an affordable £5.49!

P.S Feel free to check out the beauty reviews tag for some more beauty related posts and beauty reviews!

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Monday, 26 November 2012

Over the weekend myself, my sister and my mum went to Bruges, Belgium for a lovely girly weekend away over Christmas. It was a really nice city break - we went Friday to Sunday afternoon and came back feeling very much in the Christmas spirit! Overall it was really cheap too as we travelled by eurostar, something I continually recommend to people. It's such a cheap, quick and easy way to travel - it's so stress free and easier then flying! The whole journey took about half a day which was perfect because we left early and arrived in Bruge for the afternoon, meaning we still had time to look around, rather then spending the whole day wasted by traveling.

Bruge is the most beautiful city ever - it's so oldy wordly and filled with narrow cobbled streets and small local bars - it's really ideal for weekend breaks, especially over Christmas when everyone has their decorations up. For a start, the buildings were just amazing. They were all different with odd roofs and most with a victorian feel - it was like walking around in a different time era!












We went at just the right time - the Christmas markets were just starting and it was really like walking through a magical world with so many beautiful fairy lights and decorations everywhere.



In the center they had a beautiful Christmas market which was filled with stalls selling decorations, local beer and Bailey's hot chocolate - yummy! There was also a lovely ice skating rink and it all looked so pretty and seasonal lit up at night with Christmas music blasting out too.

Attraction wise there wasn't actually much to do there other than looking around museums and shopping - but it's such a nice town just for sight seeing. In Bruges there are two main town squares and everything is in walking distance with sleepy boutiques and shops in side streets leading off each center.

This post was just to show you some pretty photos of the picturesque town - all throughout the weekend I couldn't stop commenting about how beautiful it was! Later during the week I'll put another post up explaining more about what we got up to and our recommendations for where you should visit should you ever choose to come here. We found Bruges to be a very expensive town but luckily found some cheap and affordable places to eat!

P.S Feel free to check out the travel tag for some more travel related posts!


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Monday, 19 November 2012

I can't deny the fact that one of my favourite parts of Christmas (although I love EVERYTHING about it) is giving and receiving presents. I'm quite lucky because my birthday is only two days before Christmas so not only does it mean extra celebrations but it also means extra presents! Here's what I'm hoping for this year...

Leather Jacket, Miss Selfridge

I've wanted a leather jacket for ages now, something long lasting and that will keep me warm and as soon as I spotted this in Miss Selfridge I fell in love. At only £52.00 it's also a bargain - for a leather jacket anyway - and would be perfect to keep me warm on the way to/fro all my gigs!

Exaltation, 8123

Exaltation is a collaborative project between my favourite man at the moment - John O'Callaghan of The Maine, and Dirk Mai, a friend of The Maine and a photographer who the band continually work with. John O'Callaghan has become my idol lately, not only because he's so amazingly good looking and has an amazing voice but he also writes the most beautiful lyrics and comes out with inspiring quotes all the time. Exaltation is a book filled with his poems, accompanied with photography by Dirk Mai, and what I love about the book is that each poem or photograph is printed on a piece of card so you can either keep it as a book or frame or stick your favourite poems on the wall. I just know it's going to be amazing.

Giraffe Onesie

I know they're really geeky but I just really want a onesie to keep me warm this Christmas...

Black Converse Trainers

I don't actually own a pair of trainers so I would love a pair of these for just casual wear. I actually used to live in converse trainers when I was a teenager - I had a pink pair that I used to wear everywhere. I actually recently found them in the attic and it's really funny because I've scribbled loads of random crap on the white bits which I used to do when I was bored in school and I've listed all my favourite bands and music on them ha!


Instant Camera for iPhone, www.the-impossible-project.com

It's still being developed but I'm really hoping it's ready to buy by Christmas or at least before my big American road trip next year! This fab idea is a instant camera you can attach to your iPhone so that you can print photos out instantly - how nifty is that?

John O'Callaghan

And finally...this man. I would KILL or pay thousands to have this man. Not even naked in my bed but to just have him in any way possible - even if that's just the opportunity to have a coffee date with him. This man is literally the sexiest man alive and I don't care who you are but if you managed to get me a date with him (or more!) I would marry you and like spend my whole life being your slave or something. Not just because he's sexy, or has an amazing voice, or even because he writes & sings beautiful things. He just seems like a genuine nice person (and trust me, he is, I met him) with such a great insight to life and such an amazing inspiring attitude. Plus you just know by looking at him that he would be amazing in the bedroom, just saying. And even better, he wants me too, it was so obvious when we met. He remembered me and gave me a kiss and singled me out by talking to only me in the crowd throughout the whole gig. If that's not a rockstar wanting me then I don't know what is...

There are off course loads more things I'd like (that I can't think of right now!) but this is the main gist of it. I will also do a dream wardrobe post soon as well! What are you all hoping for this Christmas?


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Friday, 16 November 2012

As you may have noticed, as well as posts dwindling over the past couple of months, I've been making a conscious effort to keep my personal life separate from this blog. I've stopped doing my weekly Sunday round up posts and although there wasn't anything in particular that spurred me on to do this, I just felt I wasn't comfortable with having so many details about myself and how I was spending my time on my blog for anyone to see. However I've noticed that my favourite type of blogs actually embrace these factors - I love seeing what my favourite bloggers have been up to and reading about their lives as I think having a certain personal element to a blog is what draws readers back. To me thats the different between a blog and a website - a website is more of something virtual, whereas a blog is almost like a friend sometimes - it's language is more casual, you see the bloggers as friends and off course it means you're more likely to trust their advice or recommendations.

I'm still considering doing my weekly Sunday round up posts of what I've been up to, but perhaps changing it to a monthly feature. In the meantime though I thought I'd update you all on what I've been doing as without posting it might seem like I've just disappeared a bit!

In the last week of October I saw the comedian Chris Ramsey as he had a gig on in Luton. If you don't know who Chris Ramsey is he's a comedian from South Shields (which is near where I used to go to uni, I also used to visit South Shields a lot!) and often appears on Celebrity Juice. He also currently stars in Hebburn. Although I'm not really into comedy, I think he's hilarious so I definitely made sure to go down. It was something a bit different and my cheeks hurt from laughing so much - it was such a funny night!


I didn't do much for Halloween as it happened to fall in the middle of the week! The weekend before myself and a friend had a night out although we didn't dress up in costume - though to be fair I think I looked like a bit of a goth! During the week we carved some pumpkins and attempted to drive to some local haunted places. I also got into the spirit by painting skulls on my nails and watching a few spooky movies on actual Halloween night.


A couple of weeks ago I went and saw some local bands in town which was a really great night - I saw them at The Hat Factory and it was a reminder of how I used to spend my days as a teen - I'd always go down there with a bunch of guy mates when I was in college and watch local artists play so it was a real flashback! The bands were all great, I've found some great new local music to listen to and as a bonus I knew a few people in the bands which is always a good thing!

Me and my friends have made it our weekly tradition to play Bingo down the local pub on a Sunday evening - as boring as that sounds! The Chequers does great food and we always have a laugh having a couple of drinks, playing a few games of pool and just genuinely being in good company. It's a nice way to unwind before going back to work on a Monday and we always have such a laugh.

I've also been really getting into my cooking lately - Nan teaches me how to make some really nice dishes some evenings after work and recently me and Mamaw made some very yummy mince pies for Christmas, which we added Amaretto to ;)


Other than that I've not been up to much except working a lot and making a start on some Christmas crafts! I also got my hair done last week and I really, really love it!


I've just got myself a second proper job so I'm working constantly at the moment, but it will mean some extra cash for Christmas! Tonight I'm off to an all night rave in London (well it's till 5am anyway which should be interesting!) and next weekend me, my sister and Mamaw are off to Bruge for the weekend which I can't wait for :) I'll make sure to blog about our girly weekend away and keep you more updated with what I've been up to.

I'm really, really looking forward to Christmas - now that fireworks night is out of the way and that it gets darker earlier, I'm allowed to be excited! I've got some great birthday plans and Christmas is my favourite time of the year so I can't wait for everyone else to be in the Christmas spirit. Next have already been stocking Christmas stuff so working with all the festive decorations constantly hasn't helped haha!

Hope you've all been well and have been having as much fun as me lately! I'll be blogging soon about my Christmas wishlist so keep your eyes peeled!

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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Tonight's post is all about a little secret I'm going to tell you all - my favourite place to get my hair done at. Us ladies all have secret gems from our favourite hidden away independent shops to the places to get the yummiest coffee and/or hot chocolate. And most of these places are discovered through word of mouth or recommendations from friends or family members because you trust their judgement.

Well tonight I'm going to tell you about Salon B - a place where I've always gotten my hair done for beyond cheap but always with amazing results. I'm aware that not all of you live local but the message behind this post will hopefully still apply to you in that this salon is actually run by a college and the hairdressers that cut and style your hair are actually students!

Now I know originally if someone had recommended me to go and get my hair cut with someone that is still learning I would never have followed through with their recommendation so I can understand why anyone reading this might be wary. I love my hair. And I mean I love my hair. I love dying it different colours or if I can, going for extreme cuts, so the idea that someone who may not be fully trained might raise their scissors to my beautiful hair does scare me.


But oddly enough, I've had some of my best haircuts at Salon B and have actually found that as the students are still learning, it means I've been more relaxed knowing that they've had more than necessary proper training in all different skills and lessons in cutting hair. When you book to get your hair done at Salon B, it is always cut by the level 3 students who have the most experience and you might even find that they have more experience than hairdressers in another salon you might have seen or a friend of the family for example. Everything they do is also overlooked by a professional teacher to make sure that they are qualified to make a particular cut or apply a certain dye for example.

Salon B at Barnfield college, Luton, also offers extremely affordable pricing with a ladies cut & blow dry starting from only £8.50 and a full head tint only costing £18.00. It is also obviously a salon so offers beauty treatments such as facials, hand & foot treatments, eyebrow and eyelash treatments, hair removal, cleansing and makeup treatments and a variety of different massages or body treatments. As well as offering student discount (to current students at the college), it also runs a variety of different discounts and special offers throughout the year. For example, at the moment they are offering 30% discount from a full head tint with a cut & style/blow dry thrown in for free.

I am terrible with my hair, constantly dying it different colours (over the years I've been blonde, black, brunette, red, purple, ginger and god knows what else) and trying different hairdressers but I continually find myself coming back to Salon B, ever since I was a student at the college myself. I never cease to be amazed at just how excellent they are with their treatments, in the past I've walked in with long, boring brown/red hair and walked out with short, styled and choppy blonde hair, all costing me less than £40. Aside from the fact that the salon has just had a swish makeover (it's looking very classy and relaxing and spa like these days!), the students are beyond friendly, constantly checking you are okay and talking you through every step they do.



Furthermore, what I love about the salon isn't just about the excellent haircuts I've ended up with by going there. For me I've always loved how great they've made or even 'fixed' my hair when I've walked in with it in a terrible condition thanks to constantly attempting to dye it myself at home. I know whenever I've ruined my hair with too much dye or have cut it wrong, they will never fail to fix it and get it in another great condition.

So with those reasons above and also the fact that it's so cheap, I would without a doubt recommend Salon B to anyone local! If you're not local, I hope this post has helped you realize that might be worth visiting your local college to see if they offer anything similar if they do any hair and beauty courses. A lot of colleges (and salons, I know Tony & Guy do) also offer free haircuts if you are willing to be a 'model' for their students/hairdressers to practice or try out new styles on. It's really cheap and I definitely hope after reading this post you have considered trying this option, even if it seems a bit risky, it can actually work out not only cheaper but also much better than going to a well known branded salon.

Salon B
New Bedford Road Campus
New Bedford Road
Luton
Bedfordshire
LU2 7BF

Barnfield college also have an actual salon in Harpenden too.

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Thursday, 8 November 2012


All images are taken from Tumblr.com

P.S Feel free to follow us on Tumblr @Inspire Mag for some fashion inspiring photos!


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