The BEST Mascara I’ve Ever Had – Topshop DOE EYED LASHES

Hi all. Big news in the world of Coco. I recently gave up my eyelash extensions. *cry* After eighteen months of waking up and not applying any eye makeup, of having random strangers ask me how I got my lashes so perfect, of managing to avoid the dead eyes look on a hangover, I had to accept the harsh reality that it was also eighteen months of bleeding my bank account dry over a simple beauty non necessity. Something had to give, and sadly, it was the lashes. I let them all fall out, and began my hunt for a mascara to fill the void. My faith in mascaras is generally pretty low, but it seems after eighteen months away, things have actually improved!

I have always really liked Topshop’s makeup range, and find it is actually miles ahead of some premium brands in the beauty aisle, considering its a brand extension of a fashion retailer, and the prices are pretty reasonable. I had their original mascara, back in the day, but since then they’ve released a few. I really feel like I’ve missed some serious developments in my time away in lash land! I went for the DOE Eyed Lashes mascara, purely based on my usual investigation of how appealing the brushes look in the testers. It was Β£10, so a real bargain, and its really fantastic. I’m so glad that the first one I tried was perfect, and really works with my lashes. I always find that my lashes really struggle to stay curled up and voluminous all day. They can look great as I leave the house, but two hours later they’re flat and straight, and it looks like I’m barely wearing any at all. But two coats of this mascara holds me for several hours. Sometimes I touch up in the afternoon, but its not always necessary. It doesn’t smudge, but still comes off with wipes really easily. Overall, a 10/10 from me! I would definitely recommend it!

Here’s some photos of how well it worked for me. Give it a try for yourself!

First thing in the morning after two coats:

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At the end of a busy day:

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Homemade Hair Mask!

So, while I adore summer and have, in recent years, gone from ms slim shady (a shade fanatic) to a complete sun worshipper, my pet hate is the condition the sun leaves my hair in!!! This week, we popped down to my hometown in Bournemouth for some time on the beach and to visit my parents (yes, a meet the parents visit for poor boyfriend. Luckily my ex-cop father was too busy to meet. I definitely felt him breathe a sigh of relief at the news!). Anyway, upon returning to the big smoke, my hair positively resembled the cuisine of a fine donkey. Yes. Hay. Wirey HAY. The birds nest on my head carried more salt than my local chip shop, and my sand laden strands made me look like I had somersaulted through the Sahara. This, combined with a week in Lanzarote where while avoiding the sand attack thanks to the lack of beaches, I didn’t use conditioner on my hair at all, had left me in a knotty mess. I thought about dashing to Boots and buying a hair mask for some deep conditioning, but I find they rarely do more than my normal conditioner, so I turned my investigations to natural hair masks made from things I probably had in the cupboard at home.

After some google searches and a fridge and back-of-cupboard audit, I chose an amalgamation of honey, egg yolk, olive oil and avocado, which was great timing as I had half left from my lunch and was quite frankly panicking about what to do with the other half as I was on the clock before the inevitable browning commenced. So, as they say, two birds.

The ingredients apparently serve these functions, as far as my investigations have lead me:

Eggs – Use the yolk for dry hair, and the whites for oily hair, or the entire egg for normal or combination hair. I used the yolk for my haystack.

Honey – Honey is a natural humectant, so it traps and locks moisture, so its a great lift for sun damaged hair.

Avocado – The oils in avocado resemble the natural oils in our skin and scalp much more than any chemical packed product you’ll find in the store. Its perfect for taming and smoothing hair. I will tell you though, it is a real challenge to get out of your hair if there are ANY lumps in your mixture. Mine was quite lumpy, and I was picking the lumps out in the shower during my rinse. For the least hassle at rinsing, try and smooth the avocado as much as possible, into a paste.

Olive Oil – As you probably guessed, this one moisturises your hair and scalp a treat, though go easy if you have an oily scalp already.

Its as easy as that! Some mixtures I looked at used specific quantities, but I opted for a ‘squeeze of this and dollop of that’ method, and it worked fine! A splash of oil, a squeeze of honey, half an avocado, and one egg yolk. Mix everything into a bowl, smooth together, and apply to your hair right from root to end, and massage into the scalp, and leave for around 15 minutes, or as long as you can, and rinse. Its best to rinse with lukewarm or cold water, especially if you’ve used eggs, as the heat in hot water will cause them to cook, and you’ll have scrambled eggs forming in your hair. While it sounds hilarious, I can’t imagine its funny if it happens to you!

My hair felt instantly softer as I was rinsing, its been seriously tamed down and is much more manageable. I’m going to try and do one of these once a fortnight to keep it moisturised during the heatwave!

Have a good week ahead!

Ciao

Coco xx

Reviewed: Newtons Restaurant and Bar, Clapham

Hi all. I hope the week has started well for you all. Today its time for another review, this time of a great restaurant I went to recently. Anyone familiar with the Clapham area, might have heard of Abbeville Road. Ive been down there a few times and every time vowed to try the range of enticing independent restaurants, but never got around to it until now. Me and boyfriend have developed a slightly above average love of sharing platters and deli boards recently – it all kicked off after a visit to a vineyard in Australia where we indulged in Sauvignon Blanc and hummus, bread, olives and deli meats, and it has kind of spiralled out of control since then! Anyway, this in mind, we stopped at a restaurant called Newtons, and spotted a charcuterie board on the menu. Gleefully, we mentally booked ourselves in for Friday night as the weather was set to be scorching (and scorching it was. 31 degrees to be precise!) and they had an adorable outside seating area, which looked perfect to watch the world go by and the sun set.

We made a reservation online, through their very smart looking website. I really appreciate a good website, particularly for independent restaurants. I often find that small business often scrimp on the website and don’t see it as hugely important if they’re not a huge chain following endless brand standards, but it really makes a difference. The way we live now involves seeing something that interests us, and instead of finding out more in person, what do we do? We google it. I saw Newtons and it looked great. Did I go inside and book a table? No, I googled it to see more. A bad website can put you off somewhere instantly. Anyway, the website was really cool. So that was an irrelevant rant really wasn’t it. Sorry.

Their booking system is hosted by Open Table, and by booking through them we got 20% off our food bill, which was great. What’s more, when we arrived, we were told it was happy hour and all cocktails were 2 for 1. Pretty good for a Friday afternoon. That was all the encouragement we needed to get straight onto the mojitos, and thus we did! The staff were really welcoming, and having requested a table outside, we were seated straight away. We informed our waitress that we would start with some starters and potentially have mains afterwards, as we weren’t sure how hungry we were, and she was fine with that. We started with the charcuterie board and the bruschetta, which were both really really good. The board had a great and plentiful selection of meats, pitted olives, salad and artisan breads (though the bread lover in me would have liked a tiny bit more bread to go with the quantity of meats). The bruschetta was amazing as well. Laden with buffalo mozzarella and balsamic glaze, it was warm and delicious. I could have eaten 20 of them! Having concluded we were both still hungry, but not hungry enough for a full main, we shared the supreme of chicken, which was stuffed with mozzarella and pesto, and served with potatoes. We also ordered some chunky chips on the side as they looked so good on the table next to us! It was really good food, reasonably priced, and a really good selection. I could easily go back there again and have something different every time. There is a lot of seafood that sounds delicious, but I’m allergic, although I expect it would be very popular among fish lovers. Check out their menusΒ here.

All in all, it was a great visit, and I would definitely recommend it for a special occasion or just a weekend treat. Thank you, Newtons!

They do use Twitter, though they haven’t tweeted for a while, but you can follow them atΒ @newtonsclapham, and catch them on Facebook here.

Here’s some pics I took of the visit and our food! Enjoy, and make sure you pay them a visit soon!

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Reviewed: Hesperia Hotel Lanzarote

Oh wow, a whole month has passed since I last blogged. Where has time gone! I’ve been super busy, and yes, boyfriend finally arrived from Australia, so I’ve got blog post ideas coming out of my ears from the time I’ve missed!

Last week we got back from a week in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, and I just had to review the hotel we went to. I’ve actually been here before, would you believe it, FOUR years ago with a friend, but we went in January (the Canaries are hot all year round, so its perfect for winter sun ideas, FYI!) – the vibe was definitely different in July, but we’ll get to that.

Anyway, we went for 5 nights (not a whole week sadly, but I had to comply with my work rotas), but it was the perfect little break. I came back feeling totally relaxed and inevitably disgusted at the slap in the face we call reality. But still, even though I was back at work, I was doing so all bronzed and sunkissed, and we all know that anything you do – ANYTHING – is better with a tan, right?!

LOCATION
So, the hotel. Hesperia Lanzarote. Its a 5* property and its located in Puerto Calero, the cutest little marina town just set aside from the main bustle of Puerto Del Carmen, which is one of the main resorts. It really makes a difference to be in such a secluded spot. It was so peaceful all the time, and the hotel is just a 5-10 minute walk to the marina area, where there are loads of really good restaurants and bars, and a supermarket and pharmacy. There is also a selection of elite shops, like Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Lacoste. The entire atmosphere is just divine.

POOL
The island is volcanic, so the majority of beaches are laiden with jet black sand (the ones that aren’t are artificial), so always pick a hotel with a good pool offering, as you’ll end up doing most of your tanning here! The Hesperia certainly offers that, with 5 pools set among rocks and bridges, with a variety of islands and pool bars to swim around. Its a real wow factor pool area, to say the least.

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Don’t get me wrong, the hotel was A LOT busier than in January when we previously visited, which is to be expected, but there was never an issue getting sun loungers, or the daily fight to place your towel before breakfast, which quite frankly makes me nauseous, and such behaviour belongs in Benidorm, if you ask me! The entire pool area, around all the pools is really open, and so there isn’t a prime spot to fight for. Anywhere you choose gets the sun all day, generally, so its a really nice and relaxed approach.

THE ROOM
When we checked in, around noon, (as our 7am flight from London Stansted had got in to Arricife at around 11.15) our room wasn’t quite ready, so we were told to wait until around three. We were given cards to collect towels from the pool lifeguard, and shown where we could change our clothes. I won’t lie, I was a little dissapointed that the room wasn’t ready, but I hadn’t gotten around to emailing ahead to let them know we would be arriving early, and I’m not a frequent summer traveller – I usually go at quieter times, and love winter sun trips, so I’m often used to hotels being empty and my room being ready immediately, so I really couldn’t complain. Around 2.30 we went back to the desk to ask if our room was ready, and it was (hurrah!), and my my my, it was definitely worth the wait. Our bags were carried to our room for us, and we had been upgraded to a pool view room, and were given a south facing balcony which got all the best afternoon and early evening sun. Our room was packed with upgraded amenities, like robes and slippers and toiletries, but the location was really the best part. We had been in our room all of 10 minutes, when we received a call from the Guest Relations Manager welcoming us to the hotel. About 10 more minutes passed, I was sunning myself on the balcony taking it all in, recovering from the 2am start we had earlier that day, when there was a knock at the door. A waiter was standing there with a platter of olives and mini breads with various toppings. He passed it to me, and left. I was baffled to say the least, assuming it was a mistake, until I saw a handwritten note from the Guest Relations Manager informing us that the platter was in fact for us as a welcome gift! The service really was impeccable.

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FOOD
We took the Bed and Breakfast board option at the hotel as I knew the great range of restaurants nearby, though it appeared that the majority of other residents had booked All Inclusive. The breakfast was absolutely fantastic. I knew it would be, as it was last time, but there really was everything you could possibly imagine. Every type of cheese, bread, yoghurt, bacon, sausages, pastries, juices, teas, and fruit. The chefs were cooking eggs to your liking in front of you, and a the other end of the buffet was a pancake bar, also serving omelettes and grilled sandwiches. The only thing we could fault was that upon arrival you were seated by the host, and then another member of staff came to take your tea and coffee order. The first three mornings this ran smoothly, though on the last two mornings, we were completely ignored, and it seemed as though everyone around us was being offered hot drinks except us. Very minor moan, but quite annoying! Other than this, we couldn’t fault anything about the breakfast offering. It really exudes 5* quality. You can certainly set a 5* apart from a 4* based on breakfast, and this lives up to expectations.

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Though we never got around to eating there, we heard very good things about the evening buffet dinner, where you could have various cuts of fresh meat all cooked to your liking by the chef at the open grill, and there were two other a la carte restaurants to dine at, but were very strict on booking times. If I’m honest, I found the staff at the El Risco restaurant to be quite rude upon our enquiry as to whether they had available slots one evening. It was 9.30pm, so I had expected it not to be peak time and that perhaps there would be a table, but we were abruptly informed that they only take four tables per half an hour. Instead, we got room service. This was just one evening that we had lost track of time and couldn’t muster the energy to walk to the marina, and we were also quite full, so just wanted something small. The room service was disappointing. The menu seemed quite limited, though does say if there is something else you would like, we will try our best to provide it. With that, we called and ordered a pasta carbonara, and a delhi sandwich. The pasta had four options of which style of pasta, and four sauce options. We selected tagliatelle and carbonara, but were phoned back later to say they only had penne, which wasn’t a big deal, it just seemed odd. The sandwich was listed as containing pork, but on the phone I had asked for chicken instead, but the lady seemed baffled and acted as though I had asked for unicorn meat instead, so we held out no hope. When it arrived, it was okay, but nothing exciting. On another occasion we ordered the chocolate fondant, which came cold and hard, so I went to reception and asked for a new one, which was slightly better, but still average. We also ordered beer, which came in glass bottles with no bottle opener, so we had to go and get those opened as well. In sum, the restaurants are great, but avoid room service!

LOCAL AREA
We tried a few restaurants in the local area of the marina. The Mexican restaurant was amazing – we had nachos and shared fajitas and enchiladas. It was full of flavour and really really tasty. We also had steak at Cafe Milla, which was really good, and we had pan friend chorizo for a starter. Delicious. Azure does great mains and snacks – we had coffee here on our first day, and a couple of milkshake runs throughout the week! (yes I have a weakness for shakes!). La Papardella served nice Italian food, though don’t be put off by the fact they insist on showing photos of the food on the menu. We had a tomato, mozzarella and avocado salad, followed by fresh pastas, and they were surprisingly good. Bad first impression, but good food and lovely staff. We became named the “Kangaroo Couple” upon our waiter seeing my boyfriend had an Australian bank card! We met friends who were also on holiday on the island at Buda Bar for cocktails, which is a cool chill out bar with sofas outside on the marina. Great Mojitos and Pinacoladas!

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All in all, it was a great holiday, made better by this amazing hotel. Despite a few tiny niggles, and the worst and slowest check in experience ever, its still one of my favourite hotels I’ve ever visited, and will definitely be going back as soon as I can!