Digital Detoxing | Wellness Loading by Andi Lew | How to Do a Digital Detox

Ah, detoxing. Juices, teas, cleanses… everywhere we look there’s an opportunity to reverse all the bad, undo your mistakes and ‘detox’ the crap out of your body. Problem is, all we seem to do right after a detox, is retox. No, you can’t undo years of bad eating with a 3 day juice cleanse. Shock. The key is repetition, and learning from your mistakes, and making new, better habits each time.

Last week I attended Andi Lew‘s Wellness Loading book launch with the lovely Zee from Insincerely Her.

Let’s take a quick moment to appreciate those times when you meet someone for the first time and you just click instantly. You might be completely different people, with different types of jobs and at different stages in your life, but somehow, something clicks. The conversation doesn’t feel totally forced, and you’re actually interested in what the other person has to say. Despite us being at a PR launch for a book advocating a digital detox, I’m grateful for the internet for bringing me together with people like Zee. 

Anyway, we slurped some vegan, sugar free ice cream (which was surprisingly good), mingled and heard a motivating and refreshing chat from Andi, about how stepping outside of our comfort zone, cutting off from the digital world and appreciating the world around us can be a total mind cleanse.

I’ve often wondered about giving up Facebook or my smartphone, for a period of time or even forever, but the nature of my work does command me to keep up with digital. I can’t manage brand’s social channels without an account myself, nor would I want to profess to be a social media guru if I was shunning it behind closed doors. But that doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from a digital detox.

Wellness Loading takes you through the benefits of a digital detox, and how to do one. Even if it’s no phones on date nights, or at the table, or after 8pm, or even turning off your 4G so your iPhone is just a normal telephone for a few hours. Cut yourself off. You’ll soon realise how accidentally addicted we’ve become. *sings accidentally in love from Shrek*.

I’m now trying to put my phone in another room overnight. That way, if I can’t sleep I won’t be tempted to check out snapchat, and I won’t waste hours before falling asleep on Instagram and Pinterest. Anything that needs to be done can be done by 10pm. I’ve recently got a sleep spray for my pillow with lavender in. I think it’s helping me sleep deeper and wake less during the night, and I notice an even better change when I cut off from my iPhone earlier the evening.

Sure, I’d love to say phones away as soon as I get in from work, particularly in my field, but without wanting to sound like I’m making excuse after excuse, my friends and family in the UK are all waking up around 6 or 7pm Australian time, so I do like to be on hand then to keep in contact. But, once that’s done, it’s night night phone. I’m finding it really refreshing, and hey, if nothing else, it makes Instagram a hell of a lot more exciting when you’ve not been refreshing it every few hours!

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Image via APL Photography.

Have you tried a digital detox?

Coco xx

 

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Coffee Skincare | botanicES Caffeine Skincare Review

I love coffee. I love the taste of it, I love a caffeine buzz, I love the smell – basically a warm flat white in a takeout cup is like a giant hug for me. So when I received a package from botanicES Natural Caffeine Skincare range, I was so excited I bounded to my Nespresso machine and popped a Kazaar in like a boss.

Anyway, what I received was three 15ml bottles, one face cream, one eye cream and one body cream. They have pumpy lids which I LOVE, as my last eye cream was a tiny pot from benefit and I spent 90% of the time I used it scraping excess cream out of my baby finger nail. So yeah I eventually concluded I’d rather have wrinkles.

But the botanicES eye cream was super easy to apply, and was really light and not at all ‘claggy’. I’m actually really keen to use eye creams regularly as looking after your skin from a young age is totes important, and ya know I’m staring down the barrel of 25 in one month’s time, so I really need to up my game.

I’ve had pretty good skin all my life, so I can’t comment on how the creams react to problem skin, but if anything mines a little dry, and it definitely helped give me a more hydrated, plump look. When I asked my boyfriend if I looked younger he said ‘yeah you looked like 19 the other day’. So you know, there’s a credential if ever you’ve heard one.

After applying the face cream and eye cream morning and night, and the body cream to my legs because, ya know, chlorine legs ain’t cute, my skin defo feels softer, and maybe this is weird but it feels like my foundation sits better and has better staying power. botanicES has given me a great even base to build on, without overpowering skin that’s genuinely just ‘normal’.

PLUS, the small bottles still last ages, and they’re perfect for traveling.

Only downside, they didn’t smell like coffee as I expected, but they do have a light, non-synethetic smell which probably comes from the olive and coconut oils in the base. It’s really nice to see coffee skincare in a form other than a scrub. I love love love coffee scrubs, yes you Frank, and you Lush Cup o’ Coffee, but these serum like skincare babes are the perfect addition to my collection.

Off to fire up the ol’ aeroccino for a foamy Voluto.

Ciao xx

Thank you botanicES for the products and Shopping Links for the collab. 

botanicES Eye Creme

Why you have to try this peanut brittle | The Australian Sweet Co.

Hey there,

So this week my pals at Australian Sweet Co slipped a morsel of happiness through my letterbox to brighten up my Friday. And by slipped through my letterbox I clearly mean I got a missed delivery card and had to head over to the industrial estate where dreams go to die to pick it up. But yeah.

I’ll be honest. I don’t usually like peanut brittle. Every time I’ve tried it in the past I’ve had to forage about for tools just to break it in half, and then wonder ‘hey, do calories even count when the entire thing is lodged in my molars?’.

But the Salted Caramel Peanut Brittle and the Chocolate Covered Peanut Brittle from The Australian Sweet Co was actually delish. It shattered easily so you can, you know, actually chew it, and the hint of salt was delicate and not at all overpowering. It’s quite sweet, but that’s actually pretty good for me because if something can be consumed in one serving, I will consume it in one serving – so having this little slab of joy on hand for an afternoon tea break was ideal.

Thank you Australian Sweet Co! (p.s. they do personalised rock candies too. So if anyones birthday is coming up, you’ve been warned.)

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This product was gifted but all opinions and brittle love my own. 

The Juan and Only Mexican for Me

Okay so let’s get this straight. I effin’ love Mexican food. Partly because it’s all carbs and cheese and spices and more cheese and allll the avo and sour cream I could dream of, and partly because of the plethora of puns that come hand in hand with Mexican chat.

So today I’m gonna taco ’bout some rad Mexican food I scoffed last week. See what I did there? Dw, I’ll stop now.

So last week Jess and I went to the Gold Coast, and somewhere between acting out all the scenes from the Inbetweener’s movie we managed to squeeze in a dinner at Beach Burrito Co. in Coolangatta.

Coolangatta by the way is well worth a visit. When people think of Gold Coast they think of Surfer’s Paradise. Take it from me. It ain’t paradise. Paradise to any self respecting female is chilling on a hammock in Bora Bora while staff fan you with palm tree leaves while sipping mojitos. Surfer’s Paradise is basically the Southern Hemisphere’s answer to Magaluf. Coolangatta is way more up my rapidly aging twenty-something’s alley. Plenty of pensioners, not a nightclub in sight, and a dessert bar IN THE APARTMENT BUILDING. Yup, Max Brenner. You dawg.

Anyway Beach Burrito. With an insane view of the clear blue ocean, the European style white decking and Corona laden interior, it was the ideal place to refuel after a mental day basically having Wet ‘n’ Wild to ourselves (and me nearly peeing my pants after having to be launched backwards down a vertical drop in a shared dinghy with Jess on one of the slides).

Jess had bribed me with the Mexican feast to get me on every ride he could at Wet ‘n’ Wild to relive his childhood (while I almost burst a tonsil screaming at every twist and turn), so I’d already earmarked the chorizo and halloumi plate for starter.

Beach Burrito Co Chorizo and Halloumi Plate
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While not what I expected, it was delicious. It was sort of like an open wrap. I even ate some of the corn which was inconveniently hidden in every crevice of the halloumi goodness – and for those who know how much I hate corn, this is a milestone. FYI I really hate corn. The cheese was as springy and salty and omg so good – as I’d want halloumi to be, so I was happy.

For main we had burritos. Big, foil wrapped, juicy, can’t fit my chops round it burritos. There are few words. I couldn’t get a decent Instagram worthy snap of it unfortunately, though if I’m honest I only gave it a few trys before I sunk my orthodontically offensive gnashers into the mighty diameter of my Tofu and Bean babe. I had tofu because I’ve sort of given up some meat because I don’t really know why but yeah. Lol yes I know, I had chorizo for starter, but whether or not meat causes cancer, soz life but chorizo is where I draw the line.

I washed this down with a larger, cos, ya know, when in Rome and all that. Aside from the burps that followed my lad style pint was a delight (might I add, Jess had a lemonade, so I did fully embrace the butch beer drinker image). I woulda had a Corona but frankly I find it weird when I sip it and the lemon touches my lip so yeah, went for the Cooly beer on tap (Cooly being the irritating abbreviation of Coolangatta).

All in all, a top place for a Mexican chow down. The tacos looked incred as well and I kinda wish I’d had a few of those instead as they were little tapas-y ones, but… next time! The nachos and loaded fries were all too tempting, but they’ll need to go on the wishlist, too. Even my appetite couldn’t stretch *crys*. I hear there’s one in Fitzroy so yeah, you’ll find me there (this time, taking better pictures!).

Beach Burrito Company
Image via http://www.beachburritocompany.com

Adios amigos

Coco x

Of Course Social Media Isn’t Real – But Social Image Never Has Been

In this day and age (hey grandma), social media and online personalities are constantly coming under scrutiny for presenting a dangerous, unrealistic image to the entire world.

Instagram accounts of skinny girls with perfect hair and perfect eyes encapsulating everything we think we want to be – none of it’s real, and recently, more and more people are piping up looking to be given credit for announcing that oh my effing gee, they used a filter on their Instagram photos. Shock.

The internet is packed with ‘inspirational’ declarations from those coming clean about how their life isn’t as perfect as it seems on social media, how much they were paid to post something to their multitude of followers, and the plethora of deep seated problems behind each and every inch of that golden glowing skin that’s splashed across their Facebook page.

What I want to know is, why did we ever think any of the bullshit that we present to those who judge us ever was real?

Think about it.

Before social media, generation Z and the likes, loves, follows, OMGs and every other public reaction we’re now surrounded by, we were never honest about who we really are.

Take cars. One of the most expensive things most of us will ever buy in our lifetime, yet not a single penny of return on investment. Your white Mercedes plummets thousands of pounds/dollars/yen/monopoly money the second you drive it off the lot, so why do we buy them?

They are an expression of our wealth. And yes, nowadays we display that on social media.

So shoot us.

Before social media, we still would’ve told our friends about it incessantly, snapped pictures on our (albeit dodgy) camera phones or disposables, and showcased our gleaming beacon of glory and success in any way possible.

Because that’s how humans work.

Nobody buys an expensive car purely to get from A to B. We have an inherent need to evoke envy in others.

Hey, for all anyone knows you could’ve landed a killer job with a six figure salary and bought the car with your hard earned cash. You could also have scraped together a down payment and be paying the car off monthly and barely making rent.

If you’re in the latter boat, you’re hardly going to surrender the truth to the world and drive around in a clapped out blue Nova with three wheels just so you’re being honest with the world, are you?

Let’s look at birthday presents, just in case I’m losing you.

Sure, birthday hauls are hella annoying on social media. But we’ve always been doing it. Just because it’s not scrollable, doesn’t mean it never happened.

At school when your mates asked you what you got for your birthday, of course you’d lead with the sassy Miss Sixty jeans and Hooch hoodie, and not with the Blue Tac you needed for your room or the boring old socks from ya Nan.

We’ve always wanted people to think the best of who we are.

That pretty girl you see on the street. That guy who’s just purchased the cool TV. Those friends who go on three holidays a year. Social media or no social media, these things are the very best of who we are. We don’t stand in the street with a sandwich board on shamelessly declaring the bad things about ourselves.

“I ate three doughnuts not one”.

“I got dumped last night”.

“I’m a size 14, not a 12.”

“I’m broke. I’m barely making rent because I earn minimum wage.”

“I have anxiety.”

“I didn’t make many friends at Uni.”

“I miss my ex.”

We’ve always wanted the outside world to think the best of us. It’s how we’re programmed. There’s actually nothing wrong with wacking a bit of Rise or Amaro on our Instagram pics, upping the saturation on our selfies and waiting for the weather to be perfect before uploading that on-point holiday snap.

Really, how is that any different to getting our eyebrows done before a party, wearing makeup and omitting that rainy day from your account of your beach vacay?

Sure, some people on social media take things too far. Some people in real life take things too far, too.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, we need to stop blaming social media for demonstrating an unrealistic expectation of who we are.

It’s not social media’s fault. It’s our own. We were naïve to think the world was ever an honest, upfront place. All social media has done is magnify the audience for our rose tinted reflection of our actions.

The only thing unrealistic is expecting ourselves to be completely honest about who we are 100% of the time.

So let’s wake up. Stop dreaming of the ‘honest’ world before social media, because frankly, there never was one.

24 Things All Girlfriends Hear When a Game of Fifa is Being Played

This post comes to you live from my den of procrastination, aka my entire life. I’m still high fiving myself after executing a sublime swerve on a fatty subway breakfast this morning after ducking in for a bottle of water and allowing the sweet sweet smell of all the meatball subs set up camp right inside my nostrils.

It was a near miss, to say the least.

It’s moments like this that remind me that I really need to get my head out of my arse and stop telling people I’ve ‘changed my relationship with food’. I clearly have not.

Anyway, Fifa.

This post has been a long time coming, but I’ve realised enough is enough. Women of the world need to share the mutual despair of that feeling you get when your sweet, loving, (in my case quite shy) boyfriend turns into what appears to be a raging maniac on bail for GBH. The victim to such: the Playstation controllers. Poor bastards. Thrown across the garden, slammed on floors, cursed at the world over.

If I’m honest, I never thought my boyfriend playing Fifa would bother me. I’m not a football hater, far from it. I support Liverpool *bows head in shame and sheds a tear for what could have been* – I was even hella good at Pro Evo, but I’ve now learned that those two words are utter blasphemy, because somewhere along the line Pro Evo got shit and Fifa got good. Well I must’ve had my head firmly wedged in a jar of peanut butter because nobody told me.

Anyway, here’s a bunch of shit my boyfriend does when playing Fifa.

  1. “I’m going to play Fifa for a while”. Translate: I’m about to become as aggressive as Grant Mitchell off Eastenders and make you wonder why we’re together.
  2. *Plays Bayern Munich against Bayern Munich*. Wtf?
  3. “ARGHHHHHHHH.”
  4. “FUCKS SAKE.” U ok hun?
  5. *throws Playstation controller*. “I should never have bought this Playstation. You read my mind.
  6. “WHAT A WASTE OF FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS.” Cost per hour you’ve played it is about 1p so not really.
  7. *punches couch* Mind my upholstery god dammit.
  8. “GET INNNNNN.”
  9. “FUCK YEAH IM FOUR NIL UP”. Good for you huni.
  10. “Great tackle”. Modesty is key, I see. 
  11. “Arrrgh the other player quit the game because I’m winning.” WHO DOES THAT. You. You do that.
  12. FUCKS SAKE I’M FOUR NIL DOWN IM QUITTING. See.
  13. Me: “I am dying/bleeding/am in labour/will have sex with you/am making you dinner/am crying”. Response: “Huh? I can’t pause I don’t have the ball.” Ok kl I’ll just die then.
  14. “I’ve just got Wimbledon FC into the Champions League”. Expect a call from the FA any day now baby.
  15. “ERRRR THAT’S A FOUL!” Was it though?
  16. “FUCKING REF.” Yep defo his fault.
  17. “Ooh yay free kick.”
  18. “FUCKING LAG.” Wtf is lag?
  19. “Fucks sake stupid Playstation.” Oooooor you’re just shit.
  20. “World Class is too hard. I’m going down a level but don’t tell my friends.” I will definitely tell all your friends.
  21. “Woooooo I’m so good at Fifa.”
  22. “Oh WHAT.”
  23. “NOT THERE.” I’ve learned that this is shouted when the console goes on a mad one and apparently doesn’t read your mind and switch you to the player you wanted. 
  24. Me: “Because I’m so totally awesome I spent $80 on a second controller so you can play when Tom comes over.” *Has Tom over to take it in turns to stare at each other playing online on ONE controller.” All the clothes I coulda had with that $80. Sigh.

Gals, the struggle is real. I feel ya.

Ciao x

jay

 

Eating Healthily in Restaurants (an insider’s guide!)

Hello! Goodness me, how on earth is it March. It was Christmas five minutes ago. Lets just take a moment to absorb that we are almost a quarter of the way through 2015. Yep. ONE QUARTER. But its a new month, another of the 12 new starts we promise ourselves each year, and your ‘third time lucky’ stab at your New Years Resolution to be the new and improved hybrid version of your already oh so fabulous self. SO. On that note, I can bet  my life’s worth (which isn’t a great deal more than the laptop I’m writing on, an economy seat on an upcoming Qantas flight, and a coffee-cup filled Peugeot 206 with no stereo I’m afraid) that a good 50% or more of you made the resolution to shape up and be healthier this year. Whether its for weight loss, general well being, or getting toned for summer, we all have such grand expectations at the beginning of the year, but more often than not, something gets in the way. Be it a friend’s birthday, a wedding, an emotional event, a break up, or just a bad day at the office, we always seem to find ourselves back in the arms of our favourite chocolatey snack, or reunited with the only man who ever truly stuck by us, Ronald McDonald (great guy, the cheeseburgers are just a happy bonus).

Anyway, working in a restaurant (spoiler alert, its Pizza Express), and being the nosey little ratbag that I am, I often find myself not-so-accidentally overhearing customers’ conversations about their weight loss flops, and the traps and pitfalls they’ve encountered. Having been on a fitness and healthy eating spur for almost a year now, during which time I have shed around two and a half stone and kept it off since September *takes bow*, I somewhat know my way around the ol’ nutritional values chart of the Pizza Express menu, so I am still able to take advantage of the free food they fling at us daily, without drowning in oil, cheese and carb heaven. BUT, with knowledge comes great responsibility. That responsibility being holding my tongue when customers order things that they THINK are healthy, but are actually marinated in a mountain of hidden calories. Ive found a few common patterns, and its incredibly difficult not to start reciting the nutritional value chart to every customer I hear is on a diet. They are out to dinner with a friend or their partner, they do not want to hear me bang on. If they do, they can ask. Thus, I keep schtum. But all this pent up frustration towards what people THINK is healthy, has lead me to this blog post. Here I will tell you the best ways to eat healthily at Pizza Express, and what to avoid at all costs due to the hidden calorie content!

STARTERS

The Pizza Express starter offering is similar to that of other popular Italian restaurant chains, and to some people’s dismay, yes, a lot of it is dough based (shock, we’re a Pizza chain). Obvious things to avoid are the Bruschetta, Bruschetta con Fungi, and Garlic Bread with Mozzarella. While delicious, they each use half a pizza dough, and are laden with pesto, butter based béchamel sauce, and fatty mozzarella (respectively).

The obvious healthy option is the Leggera Gambaretti Picante, coming in at only 200 calories per serving, packed with metabolism boosting chilli, and carb and gluten free. If you don’t eat prawns, switch them in for chicken (my trick as I harbour a severe seafood allergy!).

Now for the devil. The devil item on the starter menu is the Melanzanine. Served in an adorable mini al forno dish, this gluten free starter layered with vegetables sounds like your friend. NO NO NO. Do not fall for its charm. This starter is like the guy you met in that club one night that ended up playing you for three months. It is not what it seems. Inside that innocent looking al forno dish is layers of fatty mozzarella and oil, all neatly wrapped up in almost 17g of fat. The bad boy older brother of the devil starter is the Mozzarella and Tomato salad. Yeah salad. I was fooled too. How dare they call it a salad and then pack in THIRTY NINE grams of fat. Yep. 39. What you are actually eating is an entire full fat mozzarella ball, tomato slices, drizzled with oil and pesto. Sure, it tastes divine and feels light and fresh, but stay away from this if you’re watching the waist line for sure.

PIZZA

This is a fun one. A lot of people opt for the Classic pizzas, upon hearing that they are a meer 11 inches wide in comparison to the 14 inches that the Romana base boasts. What some waiters won’t tell you is that the same dough is used uniformly. The size difference purely depends on how far the dough is stretched. Conversely, some people choose the thinner Romana base thinking that’s healthier. Its actually a tad worse for you as you’re getting three extra inches of toppings. Similarly, the two pizzas topped with lots of vegetables on the menu, the Giardinera and Il Padrino, are both made with pesto bases, so while you’re getting your greens in, you’re also eating added fats from the pesto base, while the rocket topped Emelia and Rustichella pizzas top out at over 1000 calories due to their added truffle oil and caesar dressings. Most of the pizzas come in at around 750-1100 calories, depending on toppings, but thats not really here nor there. Pizza is what it is. I do however recommend trying one without cheese sometimes. Its actually not as bad as you think. But anyway, what I’m really trying to say here, is if you want a pizza, have a pizza. The low cheese Four Seasons stays under 700 calories, and the Veneziana and ever popular among young females Pollo ad Astra pizzas keep their junk packed in tight under 800 calories. The Devils: the Calzones, both topping 1100 calories each.

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LEGGERA PIZZA

My issue is the poor lost souls who come in and have a tomato and mozzarella salad for starter, and then fall into the trap of having a leggera pizza for main course. Sure, this sounds healthy. The leggera range is all under 500 calories, its a half base of dough, rolled thin and with a hole cut out which is replace with mixed salad. The issue is, combining these 500 calories with the 450 from the starter, not forgetting those 39 grams of fat, you may as well have had a main course pizza!!

leggera pizza

SALAD

Its not news to you that salads are one to watch in restaurants, and Pizza Express is no exception. While the Superfood Salad and Salmon Salads stay true to their word at under 350 calories (roughly), I present to you The Devils of the salad offering: Pollo Pancetta Salad, Warm Vegetable and Goats Cheese Salad, and Grand Chicken Caesar Salad, which are all laden with rich Gran Moravia (like parmesan) cheese, dressings and worst of all, dough sticks. While dough sticks are a fine accompaniment to your main salad, if you’ve already had a dough based starter (garlic bread, bruschetta and so on as mentioned earlier), you’ve actually eaten an entire pizza base PLUS your dressing and cheese packed salad. If you’re having a starter, ditch your dough sticks and ask for your dressing on the side.

superfood

PASTA

The pasta category is a fun one. Generally, most guests watching their weight will completely ignore the pasta section of the menu, as its no surprise that these cheesey carby letharios are just waiting to sit firm on your hips and not budge for months. The Devils are the obvious Pollo Pesto, coming in at almost 1000 calories on a good day, while the main course sized Melanzane Parmigiana as mentioned in the starter section packs in almost 800 calories and 56g of fat (so yes, it is just as bad if not worse than the starter portion. Do not be fooled by its gluten free vegetable packed puppy eyes). However, most of us would probably, upon reading this, shun the layered favourite Lasagne Classico, too. However, sitting pretty at only 650 calories, and with the lowest fat content of all the pastas, this isn’t actually a bad choice if you fancy something a little bit naughty.

So, the lesson to be learned here, is THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. Often what sounds healthy really really isn’t, and you can sometimes even have something totally gluttonous and indulgent for the same amount of fat and calories as your so-called healthy option!

I hope this has been somewhat helpful to people looking for healthy options at Pizza Express (though really all i’ve done is tell you that all your healthy ideas are rubbish).

What I’m trying to say is, you can totally eat out when on a calorie budget, but I hope this post will help you avoid the common pitfalls of what sounds healthy, and what you can actually get for your calories! Your favourite naughty meals are back on the menu! Buon appetito!

Over and out,

Coco xx

Hubba Hubba – A Review of HUB by Premier Inn

Oh hi there. Happy New Year and all that. I hope you all had a good one. I certainly did…I managed to score it off work on account of boyfriend flying in for the occasion, so that was a treat. We spent it in London, which was more hassle than it sounds on paper. If you’ve ever tried to find somewhere to stay on New Years Eve in a major city without it costing the earth, you’ll understand the struggle. Every one of our go-to hotels had hiked their prices up to about four times the usual rate, but rightly so if you ask me – it is the biggest night of the year, why the hell wouldn’t they. Just as we were about to succumb to paying the extortionate rates, I took a punt at checking the Premier Inn website. I don’t often bother anymore for London hotel searches, because, and I wonder if anyone else has noticed this, Premier Inn got premier prices! Often we’re managed to bag a night in a 5 star Tower Bridge spot for almost the same price as a PI, with rates often exceeding £150 per night even on weeknights. Anyway, I came across the new HUB hotel, which is a new brand under the Premier Inn umbrella. I had briefly heard about the concept a while back, but wasn’t aware it was already underway. The idea is basically smart techno compact hotels in key cities, which don’t claim to boast ample space or leisure facilities, but do offer savvy space saving rooms for both business and pleasure travellers. This was priced at £140 per night for Tuesday 30th and Wednesday 31st December (so right over NYE). In comparison to other offerings, nothing else at this price was anywhere near as central.

We read some reviews before we left, and were a little concerned about the space, noise complaints, and the apparent glitches with the completely new and innovative app controlled in-room features, but having been ourselves, I really felt I needed to write this review as people are clearly unrealistic in their expectations of this hotel concept, and are not seeing it for what it is. UTTERLY FANTASTIC. The existing reviews do not do it justice at all, so give this a read before you snub the Hub!

It opened late in 2014, and is snuggled in between Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden, on St Martin’s Lane. The location is undoubtedly faultless. One step outside and you’re in the middle of theatreland, a few minutes walk from any tube line or us route you want, more restaurants and bars than I can count, and loads of tourist spots (Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, The Strand, Covent Garden, Oxford Street….to name but a few!).

Upon check in, I was greeted by a friendly receptionist, and I proceeded to one of the check in points. I stood there for a second glaring at it questioning how, at 23, the technological era seems to have swallowed me up and spat me out, and it began to dawn on me that a five year old in this day and age could probably decode this robot better than I could. Luckily, the aforementioned receptionist trotted over and began to translate. She instructed me to open my Hub by Premier Inn app on my iPhone and bring up my booking and the QR code that came with it (that’s those funny splodges that look like space invaders that somehow contain data). I scanned it and my booking appeared on the screen. I filled in the necessary details, and chose whether or not we wanted any breakfast delivered during our stay. I declined, but don’t worry, you can order it at a later time using your app! You then pick up a room card from the stack on the machine, swipe it, and tah-dah, you’re checked in! Despite being filled with glee at my exceptional check in experience, I proceeded to our room with a slight apprehension at what would await. Half of me was expecting a pokey dormitory fit for an army of mice, but I remained positive. The corridors were wide, everything was sparklingly new and sleek.

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We had been given an accessible room, as that was all that was available at the time of booking, so I had hoped our “mouse dorm” might have a bit more space. WELL. A bit more space you ask? It. Was. Huge. Room 501 greeted me with a large wet room bathroom, ample floor space, a large double bed, plenty of storage for suitcases, and a million well-placed plug sockets (which is a real game changer for me in hotel rooms). Previous reviews complained that there was no tea and coffee making facilities, which, no, there wasn’t, but a complimentary lounge on the ground floor serves hot drinks free of change 24 hours a day, which is really better than a few tea bags and long life milk on a tray, isn’t it?!

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One of the coolest features of the HUB, is the use of the app to control in-room features like temperature and lighting. Don’t panic, if you’re still in a happy relationship with your Nokia 3310, you can still stay here. Please please ignore all the reviews that are marinated in a snide “you’ve got to have a smartphone” tone, because you don’t. There’s a modern panel above your head in bed with touch buttons, which contrary to some reviews, you absolutely DO NOT accidentally lean on with your pillows, unless you insist on sleeping on a 10 foot pile of cushions. The air con was brilliant to cool the room down, and the second it got to chilly, turning the temperature back up quickly adjusted the room a warmer setting. It really bothers me when hotel rooms are too hot or too cold, so it was really nice to be able to adjust it yourself. Noise was not a problem at all. We expected a certain level of noise with it being New Years Eve, and expected other couples like us to be coming in quite late, but we didn’t hear a peep out of anyone, despite the hotel being full.

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I would say the only downside is that their isn’t a phone to contact reception. Our smart TV was playing up, but I called the main hotel number from my phone and they sent someone right away to fix it. The staff were pleasant, check in and out was super easy, the rooms were a fine size and extremely well equipped, and the location was faultless. Overall a fantastic stay, not to mention the crash course in 21st century technology that comes with operating the intelligently stylish features.

If you’re looking for a plush, boutique hotel stay with ample leisure facilities and room service, then no, this isn’t for you, and I won’t pretend it is. But a high number of visitors to London are simply looking for a reliable, comfortable crash pad, close to everything they want to see and do, without it costing the earth. This is certainly that. Overall, a fantastic addition to the Premier Inn group. I can’t wait to try more locations!

Click here to see the Hub by Premier Inn website and book your London stay now!

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 £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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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 menus 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 at @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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