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Do you ever sometimes feel like just throwing the bare essentials in a bag and switching off for a few nights? Well, that’s exactly what I did back in April, when I headed done south for a bit of an English road trip. We packed up the car and went, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun it was. We saw a surprising number of attractions and got to explore some of England’s most beautiful countryside.

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One of the perks of all that exploring was finding fabulous hotels and inns, which we’re already planning return visits to. We had very kindly been taken care of by The Epicurean Club – a collection of inns and pubs which are chosen for their impeccably high standards.

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In Berkshire, we stayed at the Crab and Boar – a historic coaching inn which has been welcoming travellers for hundreds of years. It’s even said that Oliver Cromwell stayed here prior to the Battle of Newbury.

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Happily though, the Crab and Boar is more luxurious now than perhaps it once was in Cromwellian times – there are 14 rooms in total, and we were lucky enough to have a Luxury Room complete with hot tub! Unfortunately the weather wasn’t quite on our side, but getting to enjoy the hot bubbles when outside was so cold and miserable was heavenly!

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On such a grey evening, we were lucky enough to have reserved a table at the restaurant, and there was nowhere else we’d have rather been. The Crab and Boar is renowned for fabulous, local food, and the dining room itself couldn’t have been lovelier.

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We grabbed a table by the window and perused the menu and discussed our plans for the next day.

As we debated our options (the menu is that good), we started on some freshly baked bread – a wholewheat roll and freshly baked ciabattas were truly sublime. Rather incredibly, the Crab & Boar’s head chef previously headed up the kitchens in the Four Seasons Hampshire. The bread was feather-light and absolutely delicious!

The first of the starters we went for were the Pan Fried Scallops (£11). Brought in still dripping with seawater that morning, they were perfectly cooked, and served on the most beautiful clamshell. I loved the rich hollandaise sauce, and it was a real star dish.

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I couldn’t resist trying the Crab and Boar (£11), the inn’s signature dish. Hand-picked soft-shell crab cooked in a light tempura batter was placed on top of a slice of pork, garnished with handpicked crab and radishes. It was a fabulous mix of texture and flavours – and who couldn’t love the tie in with the name!?

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Mains were a similarly hard choice, but we first settled on theHimalayan Salt Aged Pork Cutlet (£22). This felt like the very best Sunday roast you can imagine – real comfort food with a gourmet edge. The pork was perfectly cooked, and the contrast between the rich meat and tart cabbage was absolutely divine! The smoked apple puree gave the dish a sweetness which was nicely offset with the rich gravy – and that crisp? Insanely good!

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There was no way I could resist the Lobster pasta, and honestly, this is one of the best dishes I may ever have tasted. Again, the lobster had been brought into the kitchens live that morning, so the freshness of the meat couldn’t have been better. And just take a look at that claw – it was monstrous!

The claw was placed on mounds on the most delicate freshly made pasta alongside a light tomato sauce. The pasta was absolutely divine – light and flavourful, it paired perfectly with the delicate lobster meat, and honestly, if I had to choose a last meal – this would most definitely be it!

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Even though were were completely stuffed – a look at the dessert menu soon had our mouths watering! As a disclaimer, I’m not usually a fan of a deconstructed dish – they’re usually odd and perhaps a bit lazy. But at the Boar and Crown? Genius.

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The Bread and Butter Pudding (£7) was incredible. Chunks of pudding – soft with vanilla custard were gloriously rich. The orange segments and marmalade really cut through the heaviness of the pudding, and the cinnamon ice cream was truly heavenly.

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The sound of Tiramisu’ C&B Style (£7) was also too good to resist. Tiramisu is such a guilty pleasure, so to see such a chic take on a classic was great fun. An indulgent mascarpone mousse sat atop a coffee sponge, whilst coffee ice cream crowns a pile of chocolate crumbs.

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The classic mix of flavours brought together in such innovative ways was just a joy. We savoured mouthful last into the night. It was a glorious end to an absolutely incredible meal!

You can find out more about the Crab and Boar here.

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Years and years ago, before blogging was even a ‘thing’ I remember reading a magazine article all about how you should pair new fragrances with fun new experiences. Whether you were starting a new job, or simply jetting off on holiday, pairing it with a fresh scent, the article explained, would mean that in years to come, a spritz of the perfume would bring back memories more vivid than a simple picture. It’s something I’ve taken to heart, and certain periods are strongly tied to fragrance for me – first year at uni is bound up with Agent Provocateur’s signature scent, whilst holidays spent in East Hampton will forever smell of Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom. And now, the summer of 2018 will go down as Clean Reserve’s Acqua Neroli.

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Clean Reserve are a brand I’ve loved for a few years now, and I’m obsessed with the ethos of the brand. Rather than creating scents which are immediately identifiable, they produce fragrances which just smell good. Warm Cotton, Sueded Oud and Blond Rose are all favourites of mine, and I cycle through on a near daily basis, so when I found out that they were releasing new scents for this summer I couldn’t wait to try them! I was very kindly sent Acqua Neroli, and it’s everything you could ever want from a summer fragrance!

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Even from the photos, you can tell how much I love this scent! I normally wait to make sure everything is brand new in pictures, but with Acqua Neroli, I just couldn’t wait! Sprayed directly on the skin, the first notes I get are strong neroli and bergamot. It’s punchy and zesty and wonderfully fresh. As the perfume dries down I get the zesty citrus notes of lemons and limes. It’s one of those rare perfumes which almost get better with wear, and I’m completely obsessed with it!

Clean Reserve Acqua Neroli is priced at £82 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

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When I visited the Zen Lifestyle Anti-Ageing event a week or so ago (you can read about it here) not only did I get to learn about the multitude of anti-ageing treatments on offer, but I also got to find out a little more about the brands stocked in the salon. As you can imagine, each product has to pull its weight, so when we left laden with goodie bags, I was ecstatic to find a tube of Murad Age Reform AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser in there!

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Murad is a brand I’ve not explored too heavily, but I’ve only heard good things about their products, and honestly, their AHABHA Exfoliating Cleanser has become a bit of an HG product. The tube contains a generous 200ml of product and the formula is gentle enough to use both morning an night. What I love most about it is the mix of chemical and physical exfoliation it gives skin – gently gritty, I use it on damp skin each morning and evening. It’s gentle foaming, so it effectively removes makeup, and once it’s on, I leave it on skin for a minute or two, to let the chemicals get to work. After wiping off with a damp flannel, skin feels super soft, smooth and clean and never too dried out or stressed. I finish off with a good dose of moisture afterwards, and my skin feels like I’ve had a facial. It’s perfect for keeping skin in check all summer long!

Murad Age Reform AHA/BHAExfoliating Cleanser is priced at £35 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

 

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As fun as a bright lipstick can be, on a day to day basis, you’ll find me in clear balms and nude glosses. I’m not someone who has the time, or the patience, to make sure a red lip stays flawless all day. So, as you can imagine, I’m always on the hunt for a fun daily find, and I’m not sure you can do much better than Winky Lux’s Flower Balm!

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Packaged to look like an oversize pill, the bright colds and shiny gold cap means this isn’t something that’s going to get lost at the bottom of your makeup bag! My one issue with the packaging is, if you had multiple balms, it’s going to be nigh on impossible to know which one is which without taking the caps off. Not the biggest deal breaker in the world, but something to bear in mind nonetheless.

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Once you get inside the Flower Balm, you get to notice how very pretty it is. Real chrysanthemum petals in varying colours are arranged at the base of each balm in varying colours. The balm itself feels silky smooth to apply, and the light coconut scent feels perfect for summer.

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Thanks to the magic of pH, on the lips, Winky Lux flower balms a perfect shade of pink. Unlike other products of its type, which can veer too bright or too plummy, Winky Lux’s balm leaves lips with a perfect strawberry pink tint, which lasts for two to three hours per application.

Winky Lux Flower Lip Balms are priced at £13 each and are available here (UK) and here (US)

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When it comes to new makeup, I’m never more excited than when I’ve got a new eyeshadow palette in my hands. It’s not that I ever create the wildest of eye looks, but all those colours sitting unused brings out my artistic side.

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My latest acquisition is the stunning Superhero Palette from It Cosmetics. It’s a brand I’ve not really explored before, but if this product is anything to go by? It’s a winner. The palette is a mix of twelve good sized shadows which range from nude bases through to glitzy bronzes and inky blacks. Laid out in three colour-groups, it makes getting ready an absolute breeze, and you can pick and choose from neutrals through to punchy liners. The shades are designed to work on all skin tones, and they’re easy to build on, so if you’re looking for a day-to-night option, you can pop the palette in your bag, and vamp things up come nightfall.

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As you can see from my photos, my palette was a bit mistreated by the courier, so it’s something to note if you’re planning on packing it to travel – it needs to be carefully handled. Other than that though, it’s a keeper! It’s one of the first instances of ‘eye foundations’ I’ve come across, and three shades can either be used as a base for shadows, or as neutral shades themselves. Thanks to the mix of neutrals and shimmers, they’re wonderfully brightening, and really can hide late nights!

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The Superhero ‘nude’s trio is a mix of three cool toned nudes including a perfect taupe (Limitless) and matte blush (Powerful). The shimmer bronze (Aura) makes a great day-time liner for subtle touch of sheen.

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The middle shades are a touch more dramatic, and work well to warm up smokey eye looks. I’m just obsessed with the warm golden shimmer (Unforgettable) and patted straight on the lid, it gives a great does of glam! I’m also partial to the warm rust shade (Fearless) which adds a flattering does of warmth for summer eye looks.

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The last trio of shadows are the liners, which can be used wet or dry depending on the intensity you’re after. For daytime looks I love the warm brown (Daring) smudged into the lashliene, and for evening, Superhero – a deep black looks suitably dramatic.

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It Cosmetics’ Superhero Palette is perfect if you’re looking for an everyday palette which will see you through day looks to night. The balance of shades and shadows feel well thought out, and the texture of the shadows is buttery soft, so they apply well, and blend like a dream. The colours also stay true all day long, so it’s my choice for mornings when I know it’s going to be a long day!

It Cosmetics Superheroes Palette is priced at £31 and is available here (UK) and here (US)