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If you’re looking for something new this weekend, I’d seriously recommend heading over to Harvey Nichols Edinburgh Forth Store to try the limited S. Pellegrino Itineraries of Taste. Until October, the Restaurant is serving dishes from Michelin-starred chef Elizabeth Allan. I popped in a week or so ago to give the new menu a spin, and I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed!

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We started the evening with an S. Pellegrino cocktail – a mix of gin, grapefruit and sparkling water which was just delightful. Rather embarrassingly, I had come straight from a full day’s work, so I’m afraid I drank the cocktail before I could whip out my camera.

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The meal started off with Pasta, Egg Yolk, Bacon Dashi, Black Garlic and Chives. A supremely savoury dish, I loved how dramatic the presentation was.

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Once the Dashi was poured in, it created a rich and almost creamy broth, with the handmade pasta as the perfect dose of carbs. Beautiful as well as absolutely delicious, this was a deceptively simple way to kick the evening off!

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The meal continued with Picked Potato, Clams, Sichuan Oil and Caviar – a light, fresh and incredibly punchy course. What looks like noodles, was actually the pickled potato, and the mix of salty clam and spice was absolutely delicious . I loved the salty kick from the caviar too!

Perhaps my favourite course was BBQ Beef, Tare Sauce, Cauliflower Puree, Veal Sweatbread and Raw Mushroom. It sounded like quite an eclectic mix at first, but the combination of tender beef with the cauliflower was just incredible! The richness of the sweetbread contrasted well with the raw mushroom, and honestly, I could have munched on this all night!

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We rounded off the evening with Buttermilk Pannacotta, Shiso, Sorrel, Pickled Cherries and Honey Jelly, which was an absolutely delicious way to end the meal. Much lighter than most puddings, the buttermilk lent an almost yoghurt-y tartness to the dish. I was absolutely obsessed with the the shore granita on top, and I can’t even tell you how great the pickled cherries were!

Getting the chance to hear from Elizabeth Allan and hearing her take on the dishes was such an incredible experience. She is such an accomplished talent, and I can’t wait to hear about her new restaurant which is opening up in London!

You can enjoy the dishes in the Forth Floor Restaurant until October!

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This morning I was up early. Super early. Like 4.30am early on a Friday, and to be honest, there isn’t much which would tempt me out of bed this early, especially when I have a whole work day ahead of me. But then, it’s not every day that Rihanna launches her new beauty line. If you’re in the UK, Harvey Nichols is the only place you will be able to get your hands on the brand, if you’re in the US, your best bet is Sephora at JCPenny.

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There’s been serious buzz building online about the brand. The most obvious message is one of diversity. First off, there are 40 foundation shades, meaning that no matter your skin tone, you’re going to find a match. No matter how light or deep your skintone, you’re going to find a true match here. Split into 4 categories, there are warm, cool and neutral undertones available, and the foundation applies as a lightweight liquid and dries down to a soft matte finish. There is also a gorgeous primer which provides skin with a hit of hydration whilst smelling delicious.

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The Match Stix are similarly varied in shade. These are real hero products – available in mattes and shimmers you can use them as a stick foundation, as concealer, a highlight and even as contour. There are all the usual skin-tones as well as a rather fabulous Unicorn and Confetti. These blended out leave a dusting of iridescent glitter which has to be seen to be believed! You can grab a trio of the Match Stix is colours of your choice – and a fun little extra? The packaging is magnetic so they all clip together – buh bye makeup bag!

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One of the most intriguing things about the line was the lack of lip product. Lipsticks are normally seen as a real workhorse of makeup brands – but at Fenty Beauty there is just 1. A universal Lip Luminzer – Gloss Bomb. A universal rosy nude which adds both gloss and colour with an added dose of sparkle!

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The products which grabbed the most attention though were undoubtedly the Free Style Highlighters. Ranging in tones from icy white (Metal Moon) to the sparkliest of golds (Trophy Wife) and deep coppers (Ginger Binge / Moscow Mule) every skin-tone is going to find their perfect glow.

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The collection isn’t limited to makeup either – there are a whole ranges of brushes and even a beauty blender! My favourite was the Cheek-Hugger with a specially designed shark-tooth design to hug and sculpt cheekbones.

The collection is incredible – well balanced, thought out, and executed, I can’t wait to give it a real go! The new counters in Harvey Nichols stores are just beautiful, and you can book in for a ‘Fenty Face’ and ‘Fenty Face Extra’ appointments which are complimentary. Within 20 and 40 minutes, you can grab a little of that Fenty glow. I guarantee – you won’t be disappointed!

Fenty Beauty is available exclusively in-store and online at Harvey Nichols here.

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When it comes to dramatic makeup, Lipstick Queen always come up trumps. I’ve tried and loved their frog prince range (review here) which turns from green to pink, but that seems like nothing compared to their Black Lace Blush.

A dinky little compact covered with what looks like the finest French lace, Black Lace Rabbit is one of those products you’re going to want to apply in front of friends, just to see the looks on their faces! Describing itself as a ‘haunting black’ which turns into the perfect berry shade when applied, this is one magic trick which you don’t need to reserve for parties!

Shot through with a delicate golden shimmer, even though the blush looks like a true black in the pan, when applied it’s a sheer berry which can be built up depending on how dramatic you want your look to be. Talking of buildability, it is possible to go overboard with the blush, so take it slow at first. A gentle pat with fingertips give cheeks a perfect tinge of colour, whilst on the lips it looks berry-stained.

It’s such a great product for autumn (and especially Halloween) and the berry is a flattering change from my usual pink and nude shades of lipgloss and blush. The formula of the blush is an absolute delight too! Designed to mimic silk stockings, it’s incredibly lightweight – leaving a sheer trace of colour on the skin. It lasts for a good eight hours as a blush and around two on the lips without feeling in any way drying.

The Black Lace Rabbit Blush is priced at £22 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

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When it comes to eyebrows, it’s far too easy to go very wrong. I’m terrified of leaving myself looking perpetually surprised, so I tend to leave my brows alone, picking up a few stray hairs here and there when absolutely necessary. So, when I heard that Shavata herself (she of the eponymous brow bars) was headed to Edinburgh, I threw the tweezers into the back of the drawer, and didn’t so much as look at them for a good two months.

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The result was brows which were more than a little bushy (to be honest, I didn’t realise quite how out of control they were until I was in the chair). Not to worry though, Shavata got to work using only a few strands of thread. A completely bespoke service, Shavata (and her specially trained therapists) look at your face shape and structure to find the shape which best suits you. Then brows are snipped and threaded into submission. Without so much as a twinge, fifteen minutes later my brows were transformed – gone was the mess, and in it’s places were sleek arches.

The difference that perfect brows have made to my makeup routine is insane. Rather than trying to deal with unruly brows, a quick flick of a pencil and gel and I’m done!

You can find out more about Shavata and Harvey Nichols here – threading appointments start at £18.

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When it comes to top spa treatments I’ve ever had, the Margaret Dabb’s Medi Pedi (review here)  I tried earlier this year comes pretty much in the number one spot. Seriously relaxing and even more effective, I don’t think my feet have been that soft since childhood.

So, in an effort to keep everything as silky feeling as when I left the salon, I got my hands on Margaret Dabb’s Fabulous Feet Discovery Kit. Filled with 4 mini versions of the brand’s hero products, it’s the perfect way to try out the brand for yourself.

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If I’m giving myself something of a spa evening, I start with the foot soak. I add a couple of pumps to a bowl of warm water, soaking feet for 5-10 minutes. It’s the perfect antidote to a long day on my feet, or if I’m feeling a bit blah.

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Then, once everything has been adequately soaked, I take a little of the Exfoliating Foot Mousse, paying particular attention to problem areas like my heels. This sloughs away dead skin, and leaves skin feeling nourished. Then, using lukewarm water I since my feet, and gently dry them with a towel.

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If my feet aren’t feeling too dry, I follow up with a slick of Foot Lotion. This is a lightweight yet nourishing formula which sinks in to skin. I then pop on a pair of clean cotton socks to keep in all the goodness.

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If I’ve been on my feet for days, or if I know that I’m going to be in scrappy shoes, I opt for the foot oil. Not greasy, this gives a real dose of moisture to skin and nails. Again, once  I’m done I pop on a clean pair of socks and head to bed.

The products are absolutely magical – you wake up with the softest feet in the world. It’s (almost) as good as heading to the salon!

Margaret Dabbs Fabulous Feet Discovery Kit is priced at £39 and is available here.

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When I read up about the Principal Manchester, one of the (many) things which stood out about the hotel was the restaurant, Refuge by Volta. A huge space serving food all day, it’s one of those places you can pop in if you fancy a bite, or head to when you’re in the mood for something a little more special.

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The concept of the restaurant is an interesting one – globally influenced, you can pick from tapas-style dishes which range from salads to steak and everything in between.

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Since the menu has so much to offer, we opted to enjoy some olives (£4) and Dad’s Persian Lime Sodas (£2) as we perused the menu. The joy of these small dishes is that you can order a real mixture of flavours, and they’re brought out as and when they’re ready, rather than in the more traditional courses.

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The first dish to arrive was the Crispy Duck, Watermelon and Pomegranate Molasses (£8.50). Absolutely delicious – the mix of juicy watermelon, crisp duck and peppery rocket was a perfect way to start the meal.

Then came some of the biggest, juiciest tiger prawns imaginable served with chilli, and lime butter (£9.50).

To mop up some of the chilli’s heat, we opted for the cooling Mutabal (£4) a middle eastern style dip with beans and aubergine, as well as Bread for the table (£4.50). The mix of breads was delightful – the flatbread felt perfectly paired for the dip, whilst slices of soft herby bread dipped into the olive oil was delightful. My favourite though, was the slice of coal black charcoal bread. It had a soft, almost cakey texture and subtle charred taste, it was like nothing I’ve ever had before.

We couldn’t resist 6oz Flat Iron Steak (£11) with a portion of hot and crispy Fries (£4). The steak was perfect – nicely pink in the middle with a flavourful char on the outside. Served with a hollandaise sauce, it was the perfect duo.

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We had the best of intentions when it came to dessert, but then the waiter left us with the  pudding menus, and honestly we couldn’t resist. The promise of Cardamom Creme Brûlée (£6.50) just sounded too delicious to miss. When it arrived we were far from disappointed. The burnt sugar top smashed delightfully revealing the creamiest of custard, delicately scented with cardamom.

The Ice Cream Sandwich (£6.50) also sounded too good to miss. Two of the biggest chocolate cookies held three scoops of ice-cream (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry), it’s no wonder the waiter told us this was his favourite dish on the menu!

Thank you so much to Refuge by Volta for having us – we will be back soon!

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This summer has been a busy one, between work and a hundred other things, I’ve never had a minute to look at trips abroad, let alone book one. So, in an effort to feel like I’d had some sort of vacation, I headed down to Manchester to spend a night in what is possibly the city’s newest, and most fabulous hotel – The Principal.

Located in the heart of the city – The Principal Manchester is a stunning red brick Victorian delight. There are a tonne of parking options nearby, which meant it was super easy to stash the car for the night. Walking up to the hotel was an absolute joy. At the rather formidable gates you’re met by the friendliest of doormen, who whisk your bags off you, allowing you to fully explore the Manchester Florist who has set up shop in the entryway.

It’s composed of three buildings – one a very grand former insurance building, and The Principal have really made the most of it. From the warm welcome outside, you’re led into the most incredible lobby. A former turning circle for horse and carriages, the stunning glass dome ceiling was salvaged from a Scottish train station, whilst the huge statue of a horse harks back to it’s original use.

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After oohing and aahhing over the decor we were led upstairs – our room, on the second floor overlooking the side of the hotel. The rooms at The Principal Manchester have to be the most stylish in the city.

All muted grey tones and soaring ceilings, it was the most glorious base for a night in the city.

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With a bed as perfect looking as this one, it was all we could do not to jump in it right away, but we had dinner plans at the on-site restaurant Refuge at Volta.

So instead, we lounged around for a bit. The hotel had very kindly left all the necessary bits a pieces for a Manchester-distilled G&T. Since we had a little time to kill, we got to enjoy our drinks on the comfy tweed sofa.

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We headed downstairs to enjoy a fabulous meal at Refuge by Volta (review to come tomorrow), and we couldn’t resist heading back upstairs to enjoy a comfy night in.

I made good use of the ensuite – enjoying a bubble bath and a book.

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Much to my surprise, the hotel toiletries come care of Azzi Glasser. I actually got the chance to meet Azzie (you can read about it here) so getting to enjoy goodies in her fabulous Mr Vetivert scent was an absolute dream!

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Getting to lounge around in the kingsized bed was beyond perfect. I don’t know what Principal Hotels do to their beds, but they are just perfection. A puffy duvet and tonnes of pillows meant I got the perfect night’s sleep – exactly what I needed to prepare for a busy day in Manchester.

After enjoying a leisurely morning, we sauntered down to enjoy breakfast. Served in the Refuge by Volta, it was lovely and buzzy with families and couples all enjoying everything on offer. The meal is a hearty affair at the Manchester Principal – we feasted on sausages and bacon, although the baked goods looked incredibly tasty!

Between the stunning hotel rooms and the incredible friendly and helpful staff, I’m already planning a return trip!

Thank you so much to the Principal Hotel Manchester for having us! A 1 night stay with breakfast starts at £120 and is available here

 

 

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When it comes to facial oils and serums, if you’ve got oily or pimple-prone skin, they can seem like the last products you’d be picking up. But new-to-me brand Odacite have you covered with their Black Cumin Serum which is a Pumples Solution Serum.

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It’s a dinky little bottle, complete with dropper applicator, and can be used as an all-over treatment for problem skin, or as a sort of problem-fixer if your skin is normally ok. Since the product is a serum concentrate, it’s also a bit stronger than your regular serum. This means you can add a drop or two to moisturiser, or just apply it direct to skin.

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The Serum Concentrate has a rich, yet not greasy consistency, and absorbs right into skin. The active serum helps to achieve blemish-free skin and smooth the complexion. The purifying properties of Black Cumin oil control the spread of breakout-causing bacteria while therapeutic Cajeput acts at the source of the problem with potent antiseptic properties, helping to prevent further pimple eruption. It’s an absolutely genius little product which stops breakouts in their tracks!

Odacite B1+C Black Cumin + Cajeput Serum Concentrate is priced at £27.50 and is available here

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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but I’m currently knee-deep in planning my October trip. I was planning on getting a little sunshine during the autumn, but the allure of a fun driving holiday won out.

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I’m currently looking at destinations (I’m debating perhaps York again, and I’m definitely hitting The Cotswolds and Cheshire again. One place I hadn’t thought too much about was the Lake District.

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The newest world heritage site, The Lake District is only about 2 1/2 hours from Edinburgh, and it is stunning. I’m currently debating which hotels to visit, but one which caught my eye was the Ees Wyke Country Hotel – an adults only retreat where Beatrix Potter once holidayed!

Are you planning any trips soon?

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The moment you hit 25 your collagen production starts to really slow down. It’s a sad , but happily it’s something you can combat super easily with a sachet of Daily Dose’s Absolute Collagen. It’s an easy, and affordable addition to your beauty regime, and honestly, the results within a week or two of using the sachets are recognisable. Skin feels hydrated, softer and fuller, and with prolonged use with benefit hair and nails.

A 2 week supply is priced at £29.99 and is available here.

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When it comes to lippies, I think that Too Faced may just have my heart at the minute – their new Melted Latex glosses are just perfection. Glossy enough to look cute and summery, and balmy enough to wear on a regular basis, I am such a convert to these little tubes.

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My most-worn shade is Peekaboo – a peachy toned pink which is just a step up from my natural lip shade. This means that a slick of the gloss can easily be used to balance out a smoky eye, or add a little something to an otherwise neutral face. It’s a seriously comfortable gloss to wear – it’s not sticky or gloopy, and it wears well into two hours.

Too Faced Melted Latex Glosses are priced at £19 and are available here (UK) and here (US)

 

 

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