I’ve used Hydraphase range from La Roche Posay in France for the last few summers. It’s fab, really hydrating, light and non-irritating. I particularly like the light daily moisturiser with broad spectrum SPF20 and the intense serum for a serious of hydration.
But I’m in the UK at the mo and this was on offer in Boots; plus in the heat-haze I was sucked in by the ‘Aloe Water’ quenchy tagline.
The Aloe sap and Hyaluronic Acid are its top billing ingredients. The ‘liquid care’ texture is a hybrid gel/cream that’s a super light-weight water-based formula. I cleanse as normal then when my skin is still damp I slather a pump or two of this on. It’s sucked in super quick, doesn’t leave the skin tacky and I know it’s a skincare cliche, but it does feel like your skin’s had a drink. It smells really good too – a summery, marine fragrance. I then apply my sunscreen over the top (Ultrasun SPF 30) and I’m good to go. I use more targeted skincare in the evening (wrinkles, pigmentation etc), this isn’t going to do much on that front, but for keeping your skin hydrated and peachy during the day – it’s a winner.
I think I’ve reached the age, and stage in my marriage, where lingerie is not all about push-up bras, chaffing undercarriages and bells and whistles (was it ever?!). Whilst I’m not ready to give in to the sensible belly button warmers quite yet, I now yearn for comfy, everyday staples offering enough support for my post-baby bazookers, with just a hint of sexy mama.
Especially for summer, I like soft, sheer fabrics in pastel shades from the likes of…
Intimissimi When in Italy, I can’t resist buying Intimissimi lingerie. I love their lacy bralettes, peeping out from a linen or chambray shirt. I think this set from their ‘Summer in Sicily’ collection (above) is so, so pretty. Their swimwear is fab, too. Floral embroidery triangle bra, £47, Intimissimi
I’ve been writing about Bodas for over a decade – in fact my first ever shopping feature was for Grove magazine, a luxury lifestyle magazine for Notting Hill, home to Bodas’ flagship store. I extolled the virtues of their cashmere soft, comfy, pretty lingerie then – and my opinion hasn’t changed. I love this blush pink for summer. I know it doesn’t look that ‘wow’, but trust me – it has underwiring but no padding, giving a really flattering, natural shape. It’s beautifully made and oh-so soft. A proper underwear staple that still feels special. Smooth Tactel Underwire Bra, £45, Bodas
La Perla Okay, how beautiful is La Perla lingerie? Sigh. It’s like candyfloss, frothy and sweet… shame it’s ruinously expensive. Maybe I need to find a Parisian lover who will keep me in luxury lingerie…. Or, perhaps more practically….
I put a little shout out on Instagram last month for this buggy as my first impressions were pretty good. I picked it up on a pre-loved site because while our day-to-day buggy, the Britax B-Motion 3, is completely brilliant, sturdy and a total workhorse (I honestly can’t recommend this buggy enough) – it is a behemoth, super heavy and not great for travelling.
We nipped over the Naples last weekend (read my guide to ‘Naples with kids’ from last year here) and I knew from taking the Britax last year I wanted something that would cope with the cobbled, uneven city streets, be easy to hop on and off public transport and super lightweight. The Quinny didn’t miss a beat.
Okay, in short:
Pros: It’s a simple 3-step umbrella style closure and it closes up REALLY small (27″ x 10″ x 11″) and weighs a featherweight 7.5kg (the Britax weighs a hefty 11kg). Great for small car boots, overhead lockers – or grandparents who don’t want a massive, whielding bit of kit to hump around.
Although the wheels are solid moulded ones, rather than proper air-filled tyres like the Britax, they took the nightmare Naples streets in their stride.
The 3-wheel formation was a breeze to steer.
Cons: We found it tipped back alarmingly easily. If the 2-year old (who only weighs 11kg) threw himself back hard in a strop it flung the buggy backwards. Not ideal. Obviously if your toddler is better behaved than mine (not hard), you can over-look this first point.
It’s quite short. I’m 5’10 and I found myself hunching a bit. I definitely wouldn’t recommend for over 6fters.
The shopping basket is tiny. And the sun visor too short to offer any real protection.
The back doesn’t have the option to lie-flat. So no chance of a quick nap. That said, in the middle of Naples, naps aren’t really likely, and the nosey 2-year old loved his upright vantage point. EDIT: The new generation Zapp Xtra 2 *does* have lie-back options, and you can switch the seat around from forward to rear facing.
Verdict: It’s not the perfect buggy and if I had to use it everyday it wouldn’t be practical (not sturdy enough, not enough storage, not good off-road), but if you’re looking for a super light-weight holiday/travel buggy, it’s a winner.
You know when music can immediately zip you back to an exact moment in time – or can conjure up a feeling, period in your life or milestone in the first few bars?
This album by French chanteur, Christophe Maé is already going to be exactly that for me, this summer. It’s pop-y and beaty and catchy (yes it’s in French and I only understand 30% of what he’s singing, but it’s still catchy – okay?). Christophe Maé’s voice is Gauloise-smokingly gravelly (ding-dong) and the acoustic versions are dreamy. I appreciate Christophe is an award-winning, HUGELY famous singer in France but hey, he’s a discovery to me, okay?
Erm, I don’t know, how do you review music? I heard one of his tracks on the radio (I love listening to French radio, it’s like non-stop Eurovision) and immediately googled it as I couldn’t get the chorus out my head all day, then hey presto, I bought the album. That’s a pretty ringing endorsement, right?
This new cookbook from Leon has seriously upped my salad game in time for summer in France
Is anyone else completely uninspired by the prospect of ‘salad’ this summer? We arrived in France on Sunday and on a whim I grabbed this new book from Leon in Waitrose before I left, in the hope that it may be my salvation over the next two months and help steer me out of the cheese aisle.
I have no excuse not to eat well here, our nearest market town has the most incredible bi-weekly street market – yes there are cheese and cured meats aplenty to indulge in but also tons of fresh, local fruit and veg – 101 different types of lettuce leaves and tomatoes (why do European tomatoes taste SOOOOO good?!)… but what else do I need for a killer salad? I can make a mean Niçoise and a half-decent Caesar, but that’s about it.
I’m only 4-5 recipes in but it has been a total game-changer. And a bit of a ‘duh’ moment. It’s full of really simple ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ combos. I really like that I can find all of the ingredients easily and inexpensively at the supermarket (capers, gherkins, avocados, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, oils, vinegars etc), and lots of them double up. There’s nothing worse then having to buy a dozen ingredients that you only use a teaspoon’s worth off before letting them fester on the top-shelf of the fridge for all eternity.
My winner so far is the ‘chargrilled chicken and chorizo club classic’ a meaty, garlicky, finger-lickin’ salad. It was so good I FaceTimed my husband back in the UK to share the a-mazingness. I’m good like that.
Plenty of veggie, fish and meat options – all divided into ‘Classics, Naturally Fast (great for speedy lunches), Lunchbox (ditto picnics), Food for Friends, Food for Family – then a great section at the back for ‘crunchy things’ (who doesn’t love a crouton?!) and dressings.
It’s just a fab little book. If you need some oomph for your summer lunches, or ideas to pimp your BBQs, look no further. It’s rare that I find a cookbook where I know it is going to be my ‘go-to’ foodie inspiration week after week – this summer, this is it.
After travelling a dozen times to France in the last 18 months, plus last week’s jaunt to Italy and various UK staycations with the 4yo and 10mo in tow, I feel pretty qualified to impart my top bits of kit for travel with under 5s. For what it’s worth. None of these are sponsored and we own and love them all:
Snooze shade £24.99, www.snoozeshade.comThe 10mo is a stickler for routine, he likes his daytime naps and on holiday when it’s impractical to keep nipping back to our base so he can nap in his cot, this is a godsend. It keeps him shaded from the sun/wind/rain and gets things nice and dark. It’s universal and pops over pretty much any buggy. Imagine a sheet over a parrot’s cage. It’s a bit like that.
Travel blackout blind, GroAnywhere, £24.99, www.gro-store.com The only stipulation my two have for a good night’s sleep is a room that’s darker than Lord Voldermort’s soul. It literally has to be ‘can’t see your hand in front of your face’ black. Which is fine at home with their industrial strength black-out blinds, not so easy in European high summer where it doesn’t get dark till 10pm. This travel black-out blind folds down to nothing and converts any window into a blackhole. Literally not a chink of light. Genius.
This was a last minute purchase for Italy last week, how did I live without it?! It come in a teeny weeny bag that pops into my handbag or under the buggy and unfurls to reveal a slightly complicated to get your head around, yet non-the-less brilliant chair harness that converts pretty much ANY chair into a safe highchair for babies 6-30months. Just watch the assembly video before you go.
We did the 15-hour journey to France when our youngest was 5-weeks. And have been doing it every 6 weeks since. I know. We must really love our new house. Recommendations are that babies under 6 months don’t sit all hunched up in their car seats for long journeys. Their spine doth protest. This lay-flat car seat from Britax is FAB. I was sceptical as self-titled ‘Captain Safety-Conscious’, but once fitted it is literally super-glued to the back seat and they have a three-point safety harness inside. It’s not compatiable in all cars and takes up pretty much all the back seat, but he was so snug and comfy and it clipped straight onto our Britax B-Agile 3 buggy base too, so we could whip him in and out the car with ease. Best bit of kit we’ve invested in so far. Our offspring are vertically challenged (seriously, on the 2nd percentile), but longer babies might not fit in this for the full 6 months. He was touching the bottom by 4. EDIT: Shit, I’ve just seen this item has been ‘retired’ by Britax. It’s still available from other online retailers, SNAP ONE UP WHILE YOU STILL CAN!
I won’t have a bad word said against this travel cot. Yes, cheaper travel cots are available, but I defy you to find one with a comfier, thicker mattress, nor one you can set up one-handed while holding a sleeping baby. I rest my case. This still looks like new and our 4yo slept in it almost weekly till he was 2.5yo. It’s roomy, but folds into a neat travel case that wears a mere 6kg. That’s less than my cat. For us it doubles as a playpen during the day on hols and you can unzip it all from the sturdy steel frame when they projectile vomit at 2am. Bonus.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know your tried and tested travel essentials!
I walked into Space NK in Bristol on Saturday for a quick nose around and walked out 10 minutes later with this glorious new velvety matte lippie from the Lipstick Queen. It comes in a midnight blue velvet box, then a rather glamorous gold casing. The bullet itself has a really silky, mousse-y texture, it’s really lightweight and although it is matte, it goes on smoothly and doesn’t dry out (it does have a rather off-putting minty, tingly smell/feel that I’m not that fond of, would have rathered a rose/floral scent to go with the old-school Hollywood glamour feel). When I swatched it on my hand in the shop it left pigment on my hand for the rest of the day and I’ve been wearing it since 8am this morning and it’s nearly lunch and it’s stayed pretty well I think:
Because of the texture it does have a tendency to bleed slightly (Lipstick Queen does a great invisible lip liner to fix this) and I have found the best way to apply is either with my finger, just blotting it into my lips for more of a ‘wash’, or in a dabbing motion to build up the colour gradually.
It is a classic pretty raspberry, but not too cold. I have been wearing Tom Ford’s corally ‘Ginger Fawn’ and pillar box ‘Smoke Red’ pretty consistently this winter, along with my beloved Laura Mercier palette but I think this is going to be my staple spring lippie this year.
I wanted to wait a month before I posted about my latest gadget, as I really wanted to put it through its paces. In Mid December I was kindly given a Fitbit Flex by my boss, after coveting hers all year. In my role as Creative Director for a new health and wellness brand, a lot of self tracking devices have crossed my desk in the last 12 months and I do think this is the best of the crop.
Okay, so it’s not the most attractive of bangles, but it’s pretty inconspicuous. You wear it day and night (you can even shower in it, but not bathe) and it tracks the steps you take, calories you burn and distance travelled. It also monitors your sleep patterns and tells you how ‘efficiently’ you’ve slept (determined by your restless and awake periods).
Perhaps a bit ‘Big Brother’ for some, but studies have proved that by measuring your activity levels not only gives you finite goals (you can set yourself challenges to walk X number of steps a day, or so many miles) to work towards, but simply by wearing it and being aware of how active you are in itself increases your fitness and interestingly, keeps you motivated.
I can agree with this, I am now fanatical about hitting my ‘10,000 steps a day’, making sure I factor in one 20-30 minute walk each day to ensure I reach my goal. By tapping the display on the Flex 5 flashing dots denote your progress in 20% increments. 5 dots and you’ve reach 100% of your target. You then simply sync the wireless Flex with your laptop or phone to see the facts and figures (for geeks like me there are lots of comparable charts and graphs which is very pleasing). The dashboard also has the facility for you to track your food intake and water consumption, too. However, I already use My FitnessPal app on my phone to track my food as I’ve found it has the most comprehensive database of food brands/items, so makes for accurate calculations.
So, faddy or useful for a health kick? Because it is so effortless to capture the data (you really do forget you’re wearing it) and the quantitative goal-setting really means you have something tangible to work towards, I think it’s a really clever bit of kit that goes beyond the ‘novelty’ factor to actually be a really useful motivation tool. I’m not looking to run a marathon, but simply increase my day-to-day activity levels to become healthier and fitter and the Fitbit Flex is keeping me on track!