Bobbi Brown Brightening Blush – Warm Cocoa*

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Bobbi Brown’s latest collection Wine & Chocolate is all about celebrating indulgence. Perfect for winter, it’s full of the richest shades imaginable, and it’s just the thing for giving your makeup a dose of winter luxe!

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The Brightening Blush in Warm Cocoa is designed to warm up cheeks thanks to a formula which is infused with shimmer. It’s a three-formula product which really breathes life back into the skin, leaving it looking glowy and healthy, right in time for Christmas party season!

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Warm Cocoa is probably best suited to slightly more tanned or deeper skin tones than mine, but it’s a stunning coffee colour, which looks really beautiful brushed on the top of cheek bones. Since I’m paler than a ghost at the moment, I’ve been using it with a light hand, as something of a bronzer-topper, as well as a neutral eye colour.

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As well as looking absolutely glorious on cheeks, it gives lids a slick of neutral colour which is beautifully shimmery, and perfect for everyday wear. I can’t get enough of it!

Bobbi Brown Brightening Blush in Warm Cocoa is priced at £35.00 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

La Roche-Posay Toleriane 3 Step System*

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When it comes to skincare, I have two main concerns – hydration and beating redness. Keeping skin hydrated is pretty easy – I can list a few moisturisers which are incredibly nourishing, but dealing with redness is another issue. I’m not keen on piling on colour correctors, so using skincare that targets it is the absolute dream.

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La Roche-Posay has made dealing with sensitive, reactive skin incredibly easy with their Toleriane 3-Step System. Featuring three of the brand’s best-loved products, the 3-Step system is great way of seeing which products really work for your skin, or if you’re travelling, it’s the perfect thing to pop into your hand luggage.

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I’d never tried the Toleriane Dermo-Nettoyant cleanser before, but it’s a real gem of a product. Used on a cotton pad, it completely eradicated any traces of makeup without stinging my eyes or leaving my skin feeling stripped.

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The tin of Thermal Spring Water is a mini of one of my favourite products from La Roche-Posay. I’ve loved it for years, and there probably isn’t a day I don’t use it! After cleansing, I give my face a light mist to prepare to for moisturising. It’s also how I prep my skin pre-face masking, as it’s the perfect way to slightly dampen it without having to mess around at the sink.

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The Toleriane Ultra Intense Soothing Care is a new find for me, it’s a wonderfully lightweight, soothing moisturiser, which is perfect for hydrating skin without overwhelming it. I only need two pumps to prep my skin for the day. It’s completely scentless, so it’s perfect for sensitive skin, especially now we’re moving into the cold weather!

La Roche-Posay Toleriane 3 Step System is priced at £22.55 and is available here.

Dinner at Jesmond Dene House Hotel*

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I’m not sure about you, but when I’m on holiday, I really love to treat myself to a couple of really incredible meals. It’s such an indulgence, but honestly, sitting back, enjoying wonderful company and sampling delicious food simply cannot be beaten! I had heard wonderful things about the restaurant at Jesmond Dene House. It’s been awarded three AA Rosettes, and reviews are entirely positive, so to say we entered the dining room with high hopes is an understatement.

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The dining room itself is housed in the hotel’s former music room, and is decorated in warm tones, designed to draw the eye upwards, towards the most beautiful plasterwork. After admiring the room, and perusing the menu, we were treated to a selection of freshly baked, still warm from the oven breads. From a choice of three we opted for a slice of traditional sourdough and a sun-dried tomato brioche roll. There was a selection of butters too, and I went for the seaweed option. It’s not something I’d ever tried before, but it was absolutely delicious. Delicately flavoured, and deliciously savoury, it was the perfect way to start off the meal.

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I couldn’t resist the Chicken Liver Parfait which was served with Onion Marmalade and Toasted Brioche (£8.50). The parfait was an absolute delight – despite having a deep, rich flavour, it was whisper-light and satiny smooth. Piled on top of the freshly baked brioche toast, it was a study in comfort, and the onion marmalade was perfect for cutting through the richness. The salad which was served alongside was fresh and peppery, lending the dish another layer of complexity.

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We also couldn’t resist the Hot Smoked Salmon (£10) which was equally delicious. A mix of smoked salmon and salmon mouse, it was a such a wonderfully flavourful dish. The smoked salmon was rich in taste, with a perfect, firm texture. The mousse was flavoured with horseradish (one of my favourite flavours) which, along with the generous slices of gherkin cut through the richness of the dish. We both agreed that our expectations had already been exceeded, and they were the perfect start to the evening.

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Somewhat unusually, we both went for the same main course. You couldn’t not really. The Himalayan Salt Aged Cote de Boeuf (£35) was just too perfect not to try. Almost prehistoric in proportion, it was exactly what I was in the mood for! Served with Cafe de Paris butter alongside a garden salad and hand cut chips, it was the just the thing to enjoy on a cold, damp night.

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If you’ve not tried the Cote de Boeuf cut yet, you really must! It’s a rib steak with the bone still attached, and is the most perfectly succulent, flavourful steak you can imagine. Cooked medium rare, it was just the most wonderful supper. Crowned with a slab of mustardy Cafe de Paris butter, I could have feasted on this all evening.

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Honestly, this has to have been one of the best steaks I’ve had, probably ever. It was so tender and juicy, and the flavour was just out of this world! It was such a treat to be able to sit and really savour it.

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Along with a delicate garden salad (complete with edible petals) the Cote de Boeuf was served alongside a bowl of what could easily be the world’s most perfect hand cut chips. Served piping hot with a light sprinkling of sea salt. They were so crisp, with fluffy insides, they were an absolute joy!

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We couldn’t resist ordering a couple of desserts, and, the first to arrive was the absolutely gorgeous Lemon Meringue Pie (£8.50). It was a study in delicious contrasts – rich, buttery pastry held the most delightful sharp lemon curd. This was crowned with the most perfect swirl of meringue. Served with a refreshing quenelle of raspberry sorbet, it was a perfect way to end the meal.

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I had plumped for something a little more dramatic – the dark chocolate sphere (£10.50). I’d seen similar puddings plastered all over Instagram, and honestly, I couldn’t resist. Served a couple of beats behind the lemon meringue tart, I was a little baffled when a parade of waiters arrived table-side brandishing the gold-foiled sphere and a jug full of hot chocolate sauce.

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As the sauce was poured over the sphere, the magic really happened – the crisp outer shell simply cracked in two, revealing home made caramel ice-cream sitting on a disc of buttery shortbread. This was resting on a hunk of the most delicious caramel, as well as crisp salted peanuts.

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It was one of the most delicious and dramatic desserts I’ve ever encountered! It was such a decadent experience, and I’m it was just one surprise after another – I absolutely adored it!

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As you can probably tell, I had an absolute ball, and I have to say thank you so, so much to Jesmond Dene House for inviting me for both dinner and an overnight stay! It was a truly wonderful stay!

Real Techniques Bold Metals Diamond Sponge*

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I’ve said it a million times, but I would pretty much marble my entire life. I’m doing it slowly – my bathrooms have undergone something of a marble makeover (although I’m still lusting over a bath carved entirely from the stuff), and I’d kill for Carrera marble counters in my kitchen. Until then though, I’m satisfying myself with slightly smaller finds.

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Real Techniques’ Bold Metal Diamond Sponge is my latest acquisition, and to say I’m in love is something of an understatement. Shaped into a diamond and dip-dyed to look like marble, this is a sponge which is almost too pretty to use. I say almost – I had to buy a second one as they are just so pretty!

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Not only does the sponge look amazing, but it’s pretty damn effective too! Made of incredibly soft sponge, it can be used both wet or dry, and I’ve been loving it slightly dampened to apply a flawless base. The diamond shape is so useful – each facet can be used for different areas of the face, and the tip is especially useful for getting into awkward areas around my eyes and nose without messing up my makeup!

Real Techniques Bold Metals Diamond Sponge is priced at £12 and is available here (UK)

A Stay at Jesmond Dene House*

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Just over a fortnight ago, I took a week off work for the first time in what felt like a lifetime. Realistically, it’s more like a year, since I had so much time off, but it was very much needed! To make best use of the time, we decided on a bit of a road trip to explore down south and see a little more of England.

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Whenever I have a spare weekend, I tend to find myself in Cheshire, so, on this trip, I wanted to venture a little further afield. The first stop was the stunning Jesmond Dene House located in the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I’ve never really visited Newcastle before (unless a school choir competition counts), and since it’s only about a two hour drive from Edinburgh I don’t really have an excuse, but since visiting the stunning Jesmond Dene House, I think I’ll be back far more regularly!

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The hotel is situated in the centre of the city, within a stunning parkland. It was built as a mansion for a Victorian industrialist, and you can only imagine our oohs and ahhs as we drew up in the pouring rain. The hotel is a study in Arts & Crafts architecture, and is absolutely stunning. After trying to dodge the rain to take a few photos, were were ushered inside by the concierge, who whisked away our bags, and showed us to our room.

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Honestly, the welcome couldn’t have been warmer, and it was absolutely fascinating  to learn about the history of the house. There are nods to the property’s history throughout – with photographs on the walls and original features in some of the bedrooms.

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We were shown to room 2, located just off the lobby, with views to the back garden, it was the perfect spot to spend a rainy evening.

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The room was previously a library, and benefits from almost double-height ceilings, turreted seating area, and copious original features. It was an absolute gem, and we couldn’t have been happier with it!

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I was absolutely obsessed with the nook, which overlooked the gardens. It was such a cosy little spot to answer emails and enjoy the rain pounding outside.

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The room is fully stocked with everything you could possibly need. The wifi was super fast, and, importantly for a hotel, free of charge, and the cupboard was filled with fluffy robes, a mini bar and complimentary coffee and tea. Needless to say, we fixed ourselves a few cups of tea and settled down to enjoy watching the rain outside.

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The room was wondrously spacious and benefits from a double bed, which can be split into two singles depending on your needs. Swathed in super-soft white linens, they were absolutely heavenly, and so comfortable to lounge on!

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I loved the mix of contemporary decor within the traditional room, and it was the perfect place to relax and begin to unwind.

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After arriving we had a couple of hours to fill before our supper reservation (more on that tomorrow!), so I did what anyone would, and drew myself a long, hot bubble bath.

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You can see why I wanted to spend so much time in the bathroom – it was stunning! With a huge bath which was perfect for wallowing in, as well as a double sized shower and two sinks, it was absolutely heavenly!

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The bath was set beneath an original doorway, and getting to soak in a bath whilst sitting under all the carving was absolutely glorious! Despite being pretty much in the centre of town, the hotel was so tranquil, it was the perfect place to begin our vacation!

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Soon though, it was time to tear myself away from the room, for supper, which we enjoyed in the hotel’s dining room. Jesmond Dene is probably best known for it’s restaurant which has been awarded with 3 AA rosettes. Honestly, it was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time (and you can read about it tomorrow) and I can see why it’s so beloved.

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Positively stuffed, we were thankful that the room was only a few footsteps away, and sank into the beds. Perfectly comfortable, we both remarked on how well we slept, and how cosy the hotel felt.

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All too soon though, it was time for breakfast, which we enjoyed in the conservatory. Still full from dinner the night before, we didn’t really take advantage of the breakfast like we should have. Guests are free to choose hot items from the menu (there are mouth-watering options including French Toast and Porridge which is served with a hint of Single-Malt Whisky and stewed fruits) or from the buffet – there really is more than enough choice for everyone.

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The buffet is a Continental affair, with a wide array of yogurts, breads, cereals, patisseries, meats and cheeses. I so wish I had been able to squeeze in a pain au chocolate or muffin, as they looked and smelled absolutely divine!

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Despite the array, we chose to keep it simple, ordering black coffee and orange juice, and sharing a plate of smoked salmon and watermelon.

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Despite sounding simple, they’re some of my favourite breakfast foods in the world, and so easy to get wrong. At Jesmond Dene, however, they were perfection. The coffee was delicious, and strong enough to shake off any morning snooziness, whilst the orange juice was freshly squeezed and wonderfully zesty.

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Our watermelon was perfect – firm and juicy, with wonderful flavour, and I’m still dreaming about the smoked salmon! Home cured in dill, it was rich and flavoursome, and the perfect way to round off a truly enjoyable stay.

We both had an absolutely wonderful stay at Jesmond Dene House, and are already looking at dates for our return! Our stay was complimentary, but the room rate was £250 per night including breakfast.

 

 

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