Punting on the River Cam

Punting in Cambridge

Carrying on from last week’s post about a drizzly weekend in Cambridge with Travelodge, I’m going to share a few photos about our punting trip on the River Cam. 

I always enjoy exploring places from water, Tom wasn’t particularly keen but I wore him down in the end. 

There are a few punting companies in Cambridge, and plenty of students walking around selling tickets at different prices, however you can haggle with them easily and they will match the price the Tourist Office give. 

We booked our tickets and met outside King’s College just before 11am. A guide took us from there down to the boat, and we got chatting to her about her home country (Italy), what she thought of life over here in comparison to Italy, and her studies. 

At the boat, we met our guide, hopped on, and set off down the River Cam. Our guide told us about the history of the buildings we passed, traditions, and interesting stories. 

Cambridge garden party

We punted (Sailed? Drove?) past a few garden parties. I’m guessing students were celebrating the end of the year. We also saw lots of students who looked worse for wear and couldn’t figure out if they’d got incredibly drunk very quickly, or were still drunk from the night before. 

My favourite story was one that involved Lord Byron and a bear. The poet went to Trinity College in 1805 and tried to take his dog, but was told that dogs and other “domesticated pets” were forbidden. The dog went, and Byron came back with a bear. 

No where in the college’s rules did it say bears were not allowed, so the bear stayed. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t delight people as the bear apparently tried to have a little gnaw on a few people. 

Mathematical Bridge on the River Cam

Mathematical Bridge, Cambridge

The bridge in the photo above, is called Mathematical Bridge. The story is that when it was originally built, there were no nuts or bolts. Careful planning meant that it held together all by itself. It was also alleged that Sir Isaac Newton built it, which was impressive given that he had been dead for 22 years when the bridge was built. 

Apparently, students then took the bridge apart to figure out how it worked but couldn’t put it back together without the use of nuts or bolts, which is supposedly why the bridge now has nuts and bolts. 

It’s all untrue, as it was designed by William Etheridge and built by James Essex, and it did contain some kind of nuts and bolts when it was built in 1749. 

While I’m sharing interesting facts with you, there is no bridge in Cambridge called Cam Bridge. 

That’s it, I’m all facted out. 

Have you ever been punting? 


InstaNatural Hyaluronic Acid Serum & Eye Gel *

I’ve got my cleansing routine nailed, but for the past few months I’ve felt my moisturising and skin care routine was lacking because my skin looked dull. 

InstaNatural got in touch to find out if I wanted to try their hyaluronic acid serum, and eye gel, and I jumped at the chance after discovering they were cruelty free, vegan, and use natural ingredients. 

I’ve been using both of these products twice a day for the past two weeks, and my skin looks much brighter than it did before, and feels much softer. 


InstaNatural Hyaluronic Acid Serum – £13.97 on Amazon

Many skin care adverts harp on about hyaluronic acid, and to be honest I always thought it was a gimmick so I’ve never really paid attention to it.

Before I began using the serum, I did a bit of research and discovered that it’s naturally present in the human body in eye and joint fluids. It has multiple uses from being a moisturiser to being used in eye surgery. The reason it’s in so many moisturising products is because it retains over 1000 times it’s weight in water in skin cells. 

As you can probably tell from the bottle, this serum comes with a dropper. It’s quite runny, so you only need around 4 – 5 drops to cover your face and your neck. 

It feels really light on skin, and dries quickly without leaving a sticky layer, so it’s easy to add into your existing routine. 

Since using it, my skin has looked much clearer, brighter, and it feels more hydrated than it has done. I noticed an improvement after a couple of uses, so I think this is something I will repurchase when I have used this bottle. 


InstaNatural Eye Gel – £14.95 for 50ml on Amazon

Along with the hyaluronic acid, I’ve been using an eye gel under my eyes and on my cheeks. You can use it on your whole face if you want, but as I use a moisturiser over the top, I’ve only been using the gel on areas where my skin is naturally drier. 

The gel is dispensed by a pump and like the the acid serum, you only need a small amount to give good coverage. It sinks in quickly, and doesn’t feel sticky, though I have found that if I use too much it can feel a little tacky.

Having never used a specific eye product before, I’ve really noticed an improvement after using the gel. The skin under my eyes feels softer and firmer, and looks brighter. 

I have got some fine lines around my eyes and they appear to be less noticeable after using this for a couple of weeks. 



I’ve been using the serum and the gel twice a day for the past couple of weeks, and I have noticed a definite improvement in my skin. It feels softer, is more hydrated, and looks brighter than it did before I started using it. 

I have combination skin which gets quite oily towards the end of the day, and I always worry about adding new products to my routine in case they make things worse. I found that these two products have actually helped to control the oiliness though. 

On a few occasions I’ve just worn the serum and gel and my skin felt great by the end of the day. Whereas if I just wore moisturiser, my skin would feel oily towards the end of the day – I think I need a better moisturiser to be fair. 

The two products also make a good base for makeup as well. 


My favourite thing about both of these products is that they’re cruelty free, vegan, and they’re not harsh on your skin at all. 

* I received both of these products in exchange for an honest review, this does not affect my opinion at all. 

Any recommendations for a combination / oily skin friendly moisturiser? 


LUSH Oatifix face mask review

LUSH Oatifix fresh face mask

I’m beginning to wonder if my obsession with LUSH is making me sound like a broken record? Either way, sit back and a grab a cuppa, because I’m talking LUSH’s Oatifix fresh face mask. 

My go-to LUSH face masks are Cupcake and Mask of Magnaminty. I’m so obsessed with them that I don’t tend to consider picking anything else up. A couple of months back I took a five black pots back to LUSH and got a free face mask, so I decided to give Oatifix a go. 

Containing bananas, illipe butter, oatmeal, ground almonds and kaolin, LUSH say Oatifix will moisturise dry and sensitive skin, and gently exfoliate it. 

The texture is like rubbing mashed bananas on your face, which makes sense given that it contains bananas. It’s fairly smooth with some lumps, but there are no harsh or gritty particles, which means it glides onto your face. 

It’s not a drying face mask either, so it’s easy to wipe off and you don’t have to worry about picking dry bits of face mask out of your eyebrows three hours later. Just me? Ok. 

Unsurprisingly, it smells like bananas and oats. It’s not a harsh or overpowering smell either. 

Oatifix makes my skin look and feel really clear, and it’s gentle on my skin. In comparison to Cupcake and Mask of Magnaminty, I don’t feel it made my skin feel quite as soft, or look quite as bright, as they do. 

That said, I have no doubt that I will buy this again, especially if my skin is being a bit naughty and needs something gentle, or is dry during the winter. 

A 75g pot of Oatifix costs £6.50 (correct at time of publishing), which might initially seem a bit steep, but you will get a few applications out of it. I would say I got at least five applications out of this, so when you work that back it’s much more cost-effective. 

Since it’s a LUSH product, you can slather this on your face happy in the knowledge that it’s cruelty-free, and Oatifix is vegan also. 

To conclude: A gentle face mask that makes your skin look clear. 

Have you tried any LUSH fresh face masks? 


Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill Review


 Only Ever Yours was recommended to me a few weeks back by someone on Twitter, and it turned out to be much more intense than I first expected. 

Synopsis: In a not too distant future, girls are no longer born, they are created to be perfect. They spent the first 18 years of their lives at school, learning how to look perfect, never say anything to intelligent, and be just what a man is looking for. 

My first thought when I began reading Only Ever Yours, was one of horror. After a couple of pages, I could tell that this book was going to get me riled up. 

The writing is captivating, and gripping, it’s the content that was getting me frustrated. And I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. 

As you may imagine from my synopsis, women are treated like objects. They’re not supposed to be intelligent or have any kind of opinion about anything; their job is to maintain their weight, and look pretty. 

On top of all of that, there’s a really horrible atmosphere the girls have to grow up in, in which they judge each other’s appearances freely, generally bitch about one an other, and try to consume less calories than their classmates. It’s programmed into them that their appearance is the most important thing they can contribute to society. 

When they are punished, they listen to a voice over telling them they are fat and useless. And at night, they are played recordings of voices telling them they have a long way to go and improve. 

Basically, Only Ever Yours takes issues both women and men face in the society we’re currently living in, where the media tries to brainwash us into thinking appearance is all that matters, and magnifies it by 100. 

Our main character is called frieda (that’s without a capital letter, women’s names are not capitalised in the book, while men’s are) and you can’t help but feel for her. The book is slightly stressful to read because you feel some of the pressure frieda is under, and it’s overwhelming. You feel the frustration and pressure from all of these girls who are bitching, and are dragging her into it. I cannot fault the writing in Only Ever Yours at all; it is so gripping and enthralling. 

The ending does not really give much of a conclusion; it’s sudden, and you’re left there thinking ‘wow’, and your brain just begins whizzing. 

Nothing nice, or happy, happens in this book. It’s not easy a happy, or easy read; not the kinda book I can imagine reading around the pool on holiday. 

It makes a point about society, the way we’re taught that appearance is everything, and how women are objectified. Obviously, it’s taken to extremes, but the points are valid all the same. 

In short: A shocking, enthralling, captivating, and eye-opening read. 

Have you read Only Ever Yours? 

Only Ever Yours Book Cover Only Ever Yours
Louise O'Neill
Young adult, dystopian,
July 3rd, 2014

In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.

For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. ..
And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.

Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known. . .


A drizzly weekend in Cambridge with Travelodge #BloggerLodge

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Four red telephone boxes, Cambridge

When you think of England, one of the first places you might think of is a beautiful, old city like Cambridge. Despite it only being a couple of hours away, it’s taken me 22 years to visit Cambridge. 

Earlier this month, I was invited to stay in Cambridge Newmarket Road Travelodge for a couple of nights. Before we go any further, I want to point out that I wasn’t paid to say anything nice, and being offered this chance would not affect my opinion in anyway. View Post


Vegan hair heat defence by Desert Essence

Desert Essence heat defence spray

Finding cruelty free and vegan beauty products has been fairly easy; but finding vegan hair products has been a bit harder. 

It might be because I don’t buy that many hair products, to be fair. The only products I really use are dry shampoo (which LUSH has covered) and heat defence. I tried to find one on the high street, and it was hard, so I took to the internet, and came across Desert Essence Coconut Defrizzer & Heat Protector. 

The reviews are very mixed for it, but I was running out, so I decided to go for it. 

Desert Essence say that the blend of coconut oil, and ‘four desert botanicals’ work together to protect and repair damage to your hair, to leave it smooth and healthy. 

As a heat protectant, it does what it says on the tin. I’ve not spotted any heat damage from my hair, and it doesn’t leave my hair feeling sticky as other heat protectors have done in the past. 

I’ve seen a few reviewers mention that the smell isn’t particularly pleasant, and I can kind of see where they’re coming from.

It smells like coconuts; it’s not a super sweet coconut-y smell that we’re probably used to, it just smells like coconuts. I saw one reviewer describe it as smelling like sick, which it absolutely does not; if it did, there’s no way I’d be using it.

To be honest, I don’t even notice the smell at all unless I spray lots near my face, which probably isn’t an entirely smart thing to do anyway. The smell doesn’t linger on your hair, so I wouldn’t let reviews about the smell put you off. 

As for taming frizz, I have noticed an improvement, especially when I use this when I use this and then use my hairdryer. My hair can get really poofy when I dry my hair, and using this does help reduce the poofiness.

Whether I use straighteners, or a hairdryer, my hair does feel smoother and a little more under control if I use this. 

The only downside to this is that it’s a a 237ml bottle, and if I was travelling and only had hand luggage, I wouldn’t be able to take this with me, so I’d need to either try and find a smaller bottle, or decant it into a smaller spray bottle, and I don’t know how ok airport security is with that. Aside from that, I have no complaints. 

I’ve been using this since about February / March time, and I’ve probably used about 1 / 8th bottle so far, so it will easily last me over a year. 

When I eventually run out, I can’t see any reason why I won’t repurchase this; it protects my hair, helps control some of the frizz, and is cruelty free, and vegan. What more could I need? 

What are your go-to hair products? 


Book haul #7

Book Haul #7

At the start of the year, I began a book buying ban, and though it's over I'm not buying books nearly as much as I used to. I've bought a few physical books and Kindle books over the past couple of weeks, so here's my first book haul of 2015! (Can you believe it?) 

The Code of the Woosters - P. G. Wodehouse

The Code of the Woosters - P. G. Wodehouse

When I was in Cambridge last weekend, I was wandering around a book shop when I spotted a whole shelf dedicated to P. G. Wodehouse. I've wanted to read some of his books for a while, and The Code of the Woosters is featured on my British Book Challenge for this year.

This is such a beautiful edition, that I had to have it. Plus, I don't think you can get it on Kindle, so I had to have it.

The Gospel of Loki - Joanne M. Harris

The Gospel of Loki - Joanne M. Harris

My friends and I are big fans of Thor, and at our last gathering someone mentioned this book and said it was really good. Plus, this is a signed edition; I'm not sure that makes it all that special because I saw signed copies in Waterstones too.

A Darker Shade of Magic - V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic - V. E. Schwab

I've been meaning to read something by V. E. Schwab for the past couple of years. I read the first few chapters of xx off Net Galley just before it came out, and loved it, but I've not got around to reading it yet.

Over the weekend, I saw a tweet from Cait at Paper Fury saying that this was 99p in the Kindle store. I had a look at the blurb and was hooked, so I pressed the button.

Only Ever Yours - Louise O'Neill

Only Ever Yours - Louise O'Neill

I downloaded this a couple of weeks ago after someone on Twitter recommended it to me. It's taken me two weeks to get halfway through it, because I'm so busy at the moment. On top of that, it's not an easy book to read.

Not because of the writing at all, but because of what the story is about.

Only Ever Yours sees girls trained to be pretty, thin, and to not be intelligent, so that they will be chosen by a man one day to be his wife. As you can imagine, that makes for hard reading, and makes me want to rant a lot.

The Royal We book cover

The Royal We - Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

This is a pre-order at the moment. It was supposed to be released on Kindle by now, but for some reason it's been pushed back to July.

It's a romance which mirrors Will and Kate's, but obviously the names are all changed. 

Living in the UK, I get a bit bored of hearing about the Royal Family. It's pretty cool that we have them, and it's not really them I get bored of, it's the relentless media coverage. It gets tiring, but Will and Kate's story is kinda sweet.

However, you imagine there must be downsides to marrying into the Royal Family, such as a lack of privacy and not really being free. From the reviews so far, it seems that this is covered in The Royal We, so I'm really looking forward to reading it.


Never Always Sometimes - Adi Alsaid

Never Always Somtimes - Adi Alsaid

I read Let's Get Lost  by Adi Alsaid last summer, and loved it, so as soon as I spotted this on NetGalley, I requested it. 

I've started this, and so far I'm really enjoying it and I'm exited to find out what happens. 

The Heartbreakers Ali Novak cover

The Heartbreakers - Ali Novak

This sounds like it could be a really good, light read, which is exactly what I feel like I need at the moment. 

Forever For A Year - B. T. Gottfred

Forever For A Year - B. T. Gottfred

What attracted me to Forever For A Year, was that the blurb says "an up-close-and-personal story of two teenagers falling in love for the first time, and discovering it might not last forever." It was the last part that really caught my attention; so often in YA, romances are thought of as big, grand things, that will last forever, so I'm intrigued by a book which explores the idea that first love might not last forever. And for the majority of people, first love doesn't last forever. 

Have you bought any books recently?