Welcome

Blog Freebies

Friday, 14 October 2016

The Secrets of Happiness - Book Review



If you're looking for a pick-me-up, feel-good, classic chic-lit book then Secrets of Happiness by Lucy Diamond is an absolute must-read.

I picked it up at Gatwick in readiness for my trip to the US last month with the intention of it seeing me though the 10 days I was spending there. Alas! 6 hours into my 8 hour 40 minute flight it was with sadness-because-I'd-finished-it that I read the final paragraph.

This book follows the lives of estranged step-sisters Becca and Rachel. Despite having a cold-hearted attitude towards her younger step-sibling, Rachel is forced to accept help from Becca when she ends up in a hospital miles from home and with absolutely no way of getting in touch with her two young children.

The Secrets of Happiness explores an array of subjects from a parent re-marrying after the death of the other parent, to divorce, the relationship between mothers and their teenage daughters, and a whole myriad of other topics that we find ourselves facing on a day-to-day basis.

Unlike some chic-lit books I've read Secrets of Happiness does not come across as far fetched at all and actually has you believing that you reading about the lives of real people. Don't get me wrong, there are some "poetic licence" moments but there were two that I can think of: one when the sun chose "that moment" to come out from behind the clouds, and the other when a particular something (I won't say what that something is in case in case anyone reads the book) conveniently becomes available so that everything falls nicely into place.

In terms of the characters: Rachel is the one I initially thought I'd identify more with, but as I learned more about her I wasn't quite as keen on her as I thought I would be.

Becca is such a sweetheart, taking knock-back after knock-back from her older sister without really batting an eyelid. Part of me wanted Becca to tell Rachel where to go but part of me wanted her to hang around in case they had a happy ending.

I devoured this book in one sitting, barely stopping to check the 747's progress across the Atlantic.

Was I disappointed when I finished the book? Yes
Would I read it again? Most definitely
Would I recommend it? Yes!

If anyone is in need of a feel good book then you should buy this; you'll love it.


And I loved it so much that I downloaded two more of Lucy Diamond's books to read while I was on holiday.....reviews on those will follow shortly :-)

Love, Kelly x

Monday, 27 June 2016

5 Ways to a Better Day


How is it that some days you wake up and you just know it's going to be one of those days? Well last Monday was one of those days. I knew that the Monday Morning Blues would hit me hard again but I also knew that before I even opened my office door I'd be able to hear my desk groaning under the weight of all the work that was waiting to greet me.

So I already wasn't looking forward to the day ahead.

Then I got to work and things got a tad worse. There was no milk in the fridge for my morning cup of tea! Oh dear. This really is a bad day...

Then to make matters even worse I'd completely forgotten I had to have a head shot done for our internal intranet. Do you think I'd made any extra effort with my outfit, hair or make up? Like hell I had! Great. Just great.

Anyways, I'm here today to impart some of the secrets that can turn a sh*tty day into a bit less of a sh*tty day.

So here are a few things that are (almost) guaranteed to make that happen:
(Warning: to be read totally tongue-in-cheek but with some serious undertones and connotations)

1. Wear high heels

No matter how much you may want to slump and slouch around the office in a mood, your high heels simply won't let you. Those bad boys aren't made for slumping or slouching. They'll make you stand up straight. They'll make you hold your head high. They'll make you clench you're butt cheeks when you walk. They'll make you feel like you own the place and with any luck you'll be concentrating so much on not falling off your heels that you'll forget all about the crap day you were having!

But seriously, high heels can completely alter my mood. With the change in posture that wearing heels requires comes a can-do attitude. Maybe that's just me though. #dontthinkimweird!

2. Lingerie

Wear some "special" underwear, not just your usual run-of-the-mill, comfy Bridget Jones's.

No one apart from you will know what's going on underneath your clothes but knowing you're wearing a flattering (and matching!) lingerie set will give you reason to smile every now and then. And smiling is much better than scowling or frowning, right?

3. Clothes

Put on a nice dress or outfit that accentuates your most flattering feature/s. Coupled with the high heels and underwear you'll soon forget all about how terrible day the day started out!

4. Make up

Come on girls, just because you're in a sh*tty mood it doesn't mean you have to look it as well :-)

Make an extra effort and you'll be rewarded every time you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror :-) If you look good, you feel good right?

5. Accessories

To really put the icing on the cake bust out some jewellery you usually save for a "special occasion" or a handbag that you only use for "best".

Every day should be a special occasion. After all, who said tomorrow is guaranteed?

Employing any one of these five things, or a combination of a few, usually makes me feel better and tons more confident but if I do them all then I feel like a million dollars. And isn't that what is important at the end of the day; how we feel?

Whilst there are many more (arguably more satisfying) things in life that can cheer me up way more than these things can - a cuddle, or a conversation with someone I know will make me laugh and pull me out of my slump - realistically I can't have either of those things when I'm sitting at my desk. At least these things, as material and shallow as they may seem, will see me through the whole day until I get home and can fall into the arms of someone I love or pick up the phone to someone I know will make me laugh.

Have you got any easy-to-employ tips for making a bad day a bit more bearable?


Sunday, 12 June 2016

5 Tips for Getting to Bed Sooner


I love my bed. I love sleeping. It feels so good and so nice. Bedtime is, hands down, my most favourite time of the day. Yes even ahead of 5pm when it's going home time. Or dinner time even!

But being a morning person means I don't have the staying power that some of my friends have to stay up until 10/11 o'clock every evening, and come 9:30pm I'm sometimes struggling to keep my eyes open. But I appreciate that I'm 34 years of age and by spending so much time in bed asleep I'm "wasting" so much of my evening, every evening, every week.

And so I have a rule that I try not to break very often. And the rule is that I won't allow myself to go up to bed/start getting ready for bed before 9pm, thereby giving me more of an evening (*life*).

Now there are some days when I'm literally counting down the minutes until 9 o'clock so I can drag my half-asleep self upstairs. And there are other days when I am so incredibly tired that my rule gets broken and even though it's only 8:47 I'm already on my way upstairs. That may or may not have happened last week!  :-o

But is there anything worse than being so tired but it dawning on you when you're halfway up the stairs that it'll be another 5 minutes (at least!) until your head will be hitting that pillow thanks to the nightly "rituals" you need to perform? I hate that feeling and I sometimes find that, by the time I've done everything that needs doing before bed, I'm not even tired any more!

So here are my 5 top tips for getting between the sheets quicker.

1) Make-up

If you know you're not expecting visitors that evening or you know you're not going out again once you get home from work (or wherever you happen to have been) take your make-up off as soon as you get in.

Not only will this benefit your skin because you're removing your make-up sooner and are allowing you skin to "breathe" for longer, but it's one thing less for you to have to do before you can get into bed.

Who's guilty of going to bed without taking their make-up off due to sheer tiredness? I'm guilty! But if you take it off as soon as you get home you don't have to worry about not-being-bothered later on. Win-win, right?

2) Jewellery

I didn't used take my jewellery off until I was getting into bed; it'd be one of the last things I did. But some days this was just a drag, especially if I was layering my necklaces that day and stacking bracelets/bangles. It just felt like it was taking forever to take it all off.

So now, once I'm home, my jewellery comes off and is put away and it's one thing less for me to
have to do before I can get into bed.

3) Cushions & Pillows

I love a scatter pillow/cushion and my bed has no less than 10 on it. Luckily they can be taken off the bed in as few as three separate "lots"; two lots of 4 and one lot of 2, so it's not too bad :-)

But when you're desperate to get to bed and fall asleep, the last thing you want to be doing is worrying about taking the cushions and pillows off your bed and making sure they stay in the right order ready for them to be picked up in the same 4,4,2 formation the next morning!

The only time I used to "allow" the scatter cushions to be off the bed was when I was in it. Now however I'm happy for them to be off the bed once I'm home from work - even though it looks ugly and the bed looks bare :-( - because I know I'm saving myself a few precious seconds later on in the evening when all I'll be wanting to do is get into my bed!

4) Clothes

Once you've changed out of your work outfit, don't leave the clothes in a pile on your bed.  Hang your jacket up straight away. Ditto with your scarf or pashmina. Put your dirty clothes in the washing basket. Otherwise, come bedtime you'll need to spend time putting them where they need to be just so you can get into bed! (or maybe you'll just chuck them on the floor ready to be dealt with in the morning!)

5) Water

If, like me, you're prone to waking up in the night with a raging thirst you'll need a glass of water
next to the bed.

Why not bring the glass of water up to the bedroom with you once you get home and are going upstairs to get changed?

If you don't like the idea of the water "sitting" there for the few hours between you getting home and you going to bed you could just take it up at some point during the evening rather than going up to bed, realising you've forgotten it, and having to go all the way back downstairs just to get it!

I know these sound like really silly, minor little things but when you have to do all of them before getting into bed, the 5 minutes or so they take can feel like an eternity.

Do you have any tips for getting to bed sooner? I'd love to hear them!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Spotlight on...Colleen's at Greve d'Lecq


One of my favourite go-to breakfast spots is Colleen's. It's located on Jersey's rugged north coast, mere meters from Greve d'Lecq beach. That's where we headed last Sunday for a brunch date with some friends. Luckily the temperature was high enough for us to be able to sit outside without me getting cold but it wasn't too bright that we had to squint against the brightness of the sun! 

Here's a peek of where we were situated.....

It's not my first jaunt to this place and so I knew the only decision I needed to make was Full English or American Breakfast? 

The last few times I've been there I've opted for the American so today it was Full English's lucky day....but hold the mushrooms and tomatoes (yucky-face emoji here, please).

So what did my money buy me? Two sausages, three bacon....heck just take a look for yourself....


How did I rate it? Honestly it wasn't great. The bacon was a bit too well done for my liking (which has never been a problem before) and there was an obvious temperature difference between the sausages and the bacon, and the rest of the food - the hash browns, the fried toast and the beans. Probably because, and this really is just me speculating, the meat had been cooked and was laying in wait until needed, whereas the other items came straight from the frying pan/saucepan etc....


The American breakfast, which I didn't get a picture of sadly, mainly because the husband had already tucked in before I could say "let me take a picture of that", consists of two sausages, eggs and traditional English pancakes covered in maple syrup and icing sugar. Being a traditional Brit I positively turned my nose up at the thought of mixing sweet and savory breakfast items and avoided it for ages. But one day I gave in and tried it. And I haven't looked back since!

As well as the Full English or American breakfasts, they also offer vegetarian and healthy alternatives, although I couldn't tell you what those those options include as I've never entertained the idea of either; sorry!

And if your breakfast doesn't fill you up (which is unlikely!), you could bag yourself a cheeky home-made cake to savour in the car on the way home with a cuppa once you got home. I haven't sampled their home-made delights personally as I literally never have room for even the mere thought of food, let alone buying anything to eat on the way home, but they look and smell amazing!

If this had been my first visit to Colleen's I wouldn't have been that impressed and probably wouldn't be inclined to return. But it wasn't my first visit and so I know I'll be back....maybe a bit earlier next time though! We were there at about 11:15, and breakfast finishes at 11:30.

And if the food isn't enough to tempt you back, the scenery and setting will be
Overall you should definitely take a visit to Colleen's if you're in the area. Oh, and go for the American Breakfast any day- you'll love it!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Film Review...Money Monster

This new film stars Julia Roberts and George Clooney and is directed by Jodie Foster. 

Clooney plays Lee Gates: a bit of a cocky investment adviser who has taken to the small screen to air a weekly, tongue-in-cheek finance/investment advice show, produced by Patty Fenn (Roberts).

One of the investments he recommends to his millions of watchers goes south and one unlucky investor, Kyle Budwell takes it upon himself to get answers for the stock price tumble and to hold Gates accountable......live on air during one of Gates' show. 

Did I mention that he has a gun and two suicide vests and his thumb on a dead-man switch? One of the vests is soon wrapped around Clooney. The other, we find out, is for the mastermind behind the company that lost $800m, including $60k of Kyle's inheritance. 

The film follows Gates' journey to realisation and understanding of the real-life implications of his actions and recommendations and how everyday, hard-working people, like Kyle, listen to his advice and invest, in some cases everything they have, based on his tongue-in-cheek, mimic-based approach to investment advice. 

Needless to say Gates takes a defensive stance when this all kicks off, trying to explain the loss away as a computer glitch. We learn later in the film that he actually does believe it was a computer glitch. 

All the while, in the background Fenn is simultaneously keeping Gates calm and giving him advice via his ear-piece, and digging to find answers. Answers that will make Kyle see sense and stop pointing the gun at Gates' head. 

She uncovers that the CEO of the company at the heart of this, Walt Camby, is missing and they need to find fast him as he is the only one who can provide the answers Kyle is looking for. 

Fenn hits the jackpot when she uncovers the truth and it's not until he realises he may have had the wool pulled over his eyes too that Gates also wants answers and together he and the gun-wielding Kyle go in search of Camby. 

They find him, the cameras are still rolling and the footage being aired to millions across the globe thanks to the ever-dedicated Larry on the mobile camera who has been with Gates the whole time, and Kyle comes face-to-face with the man who lost his entire inheritance. 

In an about-turn, Kyle orders Gates to remove his vest and instructs him to secure it to Camby. Words are exchanged and we see that Camby is as arrogant now as Gates was when we first met him. 

Kyle makes towards Camby and a shot is fired....but who has eyes on the deadman's switch? 

All in all it was a good film but not a great one. It didn't have me on the edge of my seat or waiting with bated breath. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of suspense and if I had to rate it is probably give it a 7/10. 

Have you seen this film? What did you think?

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Spotlight on....Chateau La Chaire

A few weeks ago I “celebrated” the fact I am now in my mid-thirties (enter the hysterical crying emoji, here) and The Husband had declared the whole weekend my "birthday weekend".....and I was not going to argue!! 

I had no idea where we were going or what he had planned for my birthday weekend but in true covert-esque-style I received a text message from him during the day on the Friday telling me not to make any plans for the weekend from 1pm onwards on Saturday. I'll admit that my appetite for knowing everything was whetted.

He gave me another "clue" on Friday as to what we would be doing when he simply told me that I needed to dress "smartly" for dinner as we would be eating at a nice restaurant. My interest was further heightened by this little titbit of information. However I left it at that as I didn't to want to pester him and try and make him cave by telling me what the plan was, and ruining his surprise.

My patience was duly rewarded somewhat on Friday evening when, returning home after having consumed a healthy amount of alcohol, he said "I've told you to pack smart clothes for tomorrow night haven't I?" 

Ah ha, the Sherlock Holmes in me was all-over clue number three...... So I needed to "pack" my dinner outfit. Meaning we wouldn't be making our way to the restaurant from home. Meaning we would be based elsewhere. The poor chap couldn't think of a way to back track quickly enough, and for fear of telling me anything else decided to stop speaking and go to sleep. Although I highly suspect that his decision to sleep was more down to the fact that he was drunk.

And so dawned Saturday: the day of the secret getaway. We had a lazy start to the day (which may or may not have involved me crying stupidly for absolutely no apparent reason and me almost having a hissy fit because none of my "smart" dresses fit me any-more) and having packed the car up (why does one overnight stay require SO much stuff? Please tell me I'm not the only one who struggles here) eventually left home around 11:30.

Even though geography is not my strong point (in fact it can be described as atrocious at the best of times!) it was difficult not to be able to narrow down where we were headed on a small 
9 x 5 island.  We were headed out east so I knew we were not destined for Hotel Christina, La Place or, well anywhere that was in the opposite direction to the one The Husband was driving me in!

Nowhere on Jersey is far and within the blink of an eye we had pulled up to Château La Chaire which was to be our home for the next 24 hours. 



Nestled in 8.5 acres of Jersey's north-eastern idyllic woodland in Rozel you will find Château La Chaire. It is as imposing as it is charming and welcoming, and the setting could not have been lovelier; especially for a girl who dreams of living in a country parish one day.

La Chaire, which means “pulpit”, dates back as far as the middle of the 18th century when famous botanist, Samuel Curtis, created the finest gardens of their day on the site. La Chaire was so called due to a large rock that overhung the nearby hillside, although thanks to the Napoleonic wars, and the fact that Rozel was to be commanded by a battery of 24 guns, not much is left today. But not all is lost; a remnant of the guns’ placement is clearly visible today.

La Chaire has changed hands on a number of occasions since the days of Samuel Curtis, and it would not be until after the end of World War II that La Chaire would open its doors to the public as a hotel.

What did I think of the place? I'm glad you asked because here are my unbiased pro’s and con’s of the lovely Château.

Cons:

Parking

The car park is set a bit of a way from the main hotel entrance. There is no parking directly outside the entrance due to limited space so you can either walk your bags up from the car-park, or you can drive up to the entrance, drop your stuff off, drive back down to the car-park and walk yourself up to check in.

What did we do? We went for the walk-it-up-yourself option because between the two of us we did have enough hands to ferry all of our stuff up the not-too-much-of-an-effort set of stairs.

Room decoration

The room we stayed in was called “Poppy”.  The decoration was outdated and in my opinion a makeover is long overdue.

The Husband said that the hotel is in the middle of renovating its rooms and as he booked quite late he thinks we got one of the ones that are yet to be redecorated. I don’t want to be too negative as it’s just unnecessary but the room was a huge disappointment.

Room facilities

There were no tea/coffee making facilities in the room. Say what?!? I don't know about you but I like a good old cup(s) of tea. Or at least the option to make myself one (or two, or three...) So I was a bit disappointed about this. 

To overcome this the hotel does offer to bring you a tea/coffee to your room in the morning. But not only do you have to tell them the time you'd like it brought to you the next morning when you "book" it, they charge you for the pleasure. Being a 4* hotel I thought this was a bit cheeky.

Breakfast

A Full English is probably one of my most favourite "meals". I've had my fair share of them in the last 34 years so I think I know a thing or two about them. Some have been amazing and some have been not so amazing. For me a Full English isn't complete without a few key components, one of which is Heinz Baked Beans. Sadly they were very much absent when my breakfast arrived. Plus there was only 1 sausage (and a long skinny one at that!), and only one egg....which was brought out separately on a side plate....the bacon must have been nice though as I don't remember being disappointed by it!

If I was there again I would definitely order the Eggs Benedict - The Husband ordered that and it looked amazing.

Pros:

Our welcome

As soon as we arrived we were offered a complimentary glass of Prosecco. I don’t think I need to expand on this point do I?

The reception team was very friendly and quick to check us in and generally make sure we were well looked after and catered for. 

Common areas

The Drawing Room was very elegant and a lovely space to relax and sip our Prosecco in. It was decorated to suit the style and period of the hotel. What do you think?





And after enjoying the coolness and fizz of the Prosecco we sat down to enjoy our cream tea before being shown to our room. 



The home made scones were the perfect consistency of chewy and moist and made the perfect backdrop for lashings of Jersey cream and home-made jam.





The Husband wasn't too impressed that I didn't leave any of my half-share of the cream for him...oops.




Probably one of the best parts about the Drawing Room was the stash of sweeties that was just waiting to be devoured. They were displayed in gorgeous glass apothecary jars, the sort that I just love, and never did Rhubarb & Custard boiled sweets look so delicious and edible!

The restaurant & food

Situated in a room just off reception the walnut-clad walls of the restaurant speak of a time of decadence and elegance. Of a time when it was the norm to "dress up" for dinner. 

Our food was cooked to perfection but the East End girl in me definitely did a double-take when I saw the portion sizes....or should I say when I almost didn't see the portion sizes. Yup the portions were small but definitely perfectly formed. 

The only negative comment I would make is that our wine bottle was kept in a cooler some distance from our table. This meant that on the few occasions when our glasses ran dry and there were no waiters in-situ to refill them, we were unable to do so ourselves without walking to the other side of the small room to retrieve our bottle and then returning it once we were refilled. Obviously neither of us were that desperate for a top-up, but I didn't expect to have to ask for some more wine to be poured. 

The setting

In my opinion the setting and location are definitely the hotel’s saving grace and combined are its unique selling point. Just take a look for yourself....




See that cute little set of stairs...? The Husband and I decided to go on our very own countryside adventure. Do you want to see what we discovered???

The answer is.......not much actually. We saw this greenhouse....



.......And that was it! So much for my countryside ambling excursion.

We meandered lazily through the green lanes of one of the prettiest parishes, if not the prettiest parish, Jersey has to offer, stopping every now and then so I could snap a picture or two. I was also on the look-out for the wartime plane that is rumoured to lie buried somewhere in the grounds! (Spoiler alert: I didn't find it, so no cool pictures of that coming up!)




And in true Petty-style, a debate or two ensued. The first being about what house we should live in; this one:


Or this one:


What do you guys think? Which one would you go for?

Our second debate was about this sign right here...


I said it needed an exclamation mark after "Slow" to warn drivers/cyclists to slow down (or at least a comma). As it stands right now the sign implies the squirrels are just slow....mentally? Physically? Too much ambiguity! Needless to say The Husband didn't agree with me - does he ever? - and we decided to agree to disagree.

Anyone with me on this argument? Or am I just wrong?

And so it was with one eye on the look out for slow squirrels crossing, and the other eye catching a last glimpse of the gorgeous surroundings, that we waved goodbye to Château La Chaire. 

Would I go back for another stay? Probably not, at least not until all of the rooms have been renovated but despite this I had a wonderful, perfect getaway. Thank you, The Husband. 


Sunday, 25 October 2015

You can follow my blog........

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/11650731/?claim=g2p4s5vps37">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>