Sun Worshiping (safely)

Talk about “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”, when the sun shines i am instantly drawn to it. Im the girl who crosses the street to walk on the sunny side, but then again good sunny days in the UK are worth savouring. 


Travelling to hot countries for more than sunbathing has led me to appreciate the art of surviving in a hot climate (i.e. walking on  the shady side of the street) but sometimes you really do just want to embrace you inner salamander and bask in those glorious golden rays. 

Over the last few decades we have grown more aware of the dangers of over exposure. Science offers us protection from UVA and UVB and there always seems something new to be aware of. What it really comes down to is your body is reacting to an external source, sunshine gives us essensials the body needs but like all things excess is never good. I love an espresso but know that two will make me wobble and need to lay down. 

While not being a scientist or skincare expert these are a few things which help me look after myself when sunbathing.


Good Timing

Listening to an audiobook takes all the hassle out of reading on a sunbed, no more trying to get comfortable on your stomach or trying to avoid the shadow your book makes on your stomach. The Audible app has a timer so the book will automatically stop when you tell it allowing you to manage when its time to change position or take a break in the shade for your skin to relax

Dont Forget your Bum!

When applying sun cream I always do all over coverage, even the bits you don’t think will be exposed because you never know when your swimsuit is going to shift position slightly. (I learned this one when I was 19, owch!)

Re-application

Someone may have said “horses sweat, men perspire, but women merely glow”, but if you are lying in the hot sun on a towel you will sweat and I am pretty sure that will remove some of the effectiveness of your suncream, especially if said towel is wiping it off. Dont forget to reapply your suncream!

Hydrate

When in the sun your body is going to dehydrate so keep a bottle of water with you and take care of your skin afterwards with body cream. Im loving a tub of coconut body butter i found in the pound shop, works as a perfume too. 

Happy Feet

Don’t forget the soles of your feet. This can be messy so put the cream on when you are sat down. Alternatively if i’m on my front with the soles exposed I just put flip flops on


Love your Gadgets too

Apple.com says that the iphone 7 has an opperating ambient temperature of 0-35c, however if you want to take care of your technology it probably doesnt want to come sunbathing with you. I like to keep mine protected in a small clutch type bag which I can run my headphones out of if i want. I love my new Betsy Johnson bag (although it does seem to be suffering from slight “flaky skin” in the sun)

All in all you dont want to burn, I have heard people saying it will turn into tan but they wouldn’t be saying that about an oven burn. The one I have on my wrist is still a slightly purply blotch after several months)

Scents of Autumn

What I love about perfume is the variety you can give yourself. One day I can smell like a flower garden and the next I can be a spice garden. Despite spending my teenage years with a bright pink bottle from the market of ‘like’ YSL Baby Doll, I have always had a delight for the woody and spice colognes and autumn and winter is a perfect time for these.

It was my mum who, when i was little, taught me to look at the ‘mens’ perfumes as she had done. In the 70’s there was probably much more distinction between what was women’s perfume and mens aftershave, whereas these days it’s often just down to the marketing and scents are much more interchangeable (I remember buying my first bottle of unisex CK One and feeling very grown up). Anything with the following words will always catch my eye, sandalwood, pachouli, oud, wood etc.

Here are a few utterly gorgeous woody spicy incensey scents

Tom Ford – Sahara Noir

Top Notes: Bergamot, Mandarin, Violet, Ginger, Basil. Heart Notes: Grapefruit blossom, Orange blossom, Tobacco, Black pepper. Base notes: Amber, Cedarwood, Patchouli, Oak moss, Leather (source)

perfume-sahara

Floris – Mahon Leather

Top notes: citrus, jasmine. Heart notes: iris, leather, saffron, vetiver. Base notes: amber, labdanum, musk, patchouli, sandalwood, tonka bean

perfume-mahonleather

Creed – Original Santal and Royal Oud

Santal – Top notes: Orange tree absolute, Jamaican ginger. Heart notes: Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, Juniper berry. Base notes: Absolute vanilla, Sandal wood from Mysore, Virginian cedar, Benzoin from Thailand, Ambergris, Tonkin musk

Royal Oud (eek I saw the price only after smelling this one) – Top notes: Lemon, Pink pepper, Bergamot. Heart notes: Angelica, Bitter green galbanum, Lebanese cedar. Base notes: Sandalwood, Oud, Musk

perfume-santalperfume-royaloud

Crabtree & Evelyn – Indian Sandalwood

Top Notes: bergamot, cypress, elemi. Heart Notes: lavender, ylang ylang, cinnamon. Base Notes: vetiver, sandalwood, cedarwood

CESandlewoodperfume

There are some new ones ‘Persian The’ and ‘Oud Assam’ but alas my local shop closed and so I haven’t been able to sample them (bigger problem – where will i get the worlds greatest lipbalm!)

Unfortunately I do have rather expensive tastes in perfume. However in the case of Tom Ford, a little really does go a long way; you only need one squirt of Black Orchid (i’ve had this for years and it only comes out on occasions) and it lasts all day (and if you get it on your clothes all week!). This is one of the reasons I will always go for eau de cologne or parfum as you really are investing in quality (although I do have some everyday Yardley EDT)

Making Beans Better

beansingredients

I am probably right when I guess that almost everyone probably has a tin of beans in their pantry. I mean they are a store cupboard staple and beans on toast is such an easy win when you cant be bothered to cook.

But, they can be a little bland and I find some brands can be very sweet (my tin has 21g sugar in!) so here are a few ideas to make your beans the best they can possibly be. (use whatever ingredients you fancy but this is what i’m having tonight). Bonus! only needs one pan

Finely chop half a red onion and fry in a saucepan in a little olive oil. Chop and add some chorizo and one clove of garlic. Once the onion is softened to your taste add 1/4 tsp chilli powder (or whatever your spicy taste), 1tsp paprika, splash of balsamic vinegar and stir. Add in the tin of beans, mix and heat till done. You can also add a little tomato puree if you like.

I had a jacket sweet potato rather than toast (super yum, seasonal and only 10 ish mins to microwave). Top with grated cheese, pepper and a sliced spring onion. I would usually make a salad with a jacket but this time its broccoli

Owning a pink kettle

instagram pink tea

My kettle is pink, and i mean bright fuchsia pink. As much as I adore the colour pink i am not usually a fan of any sort on technology being pink (for a start it can often look really tacky), however one day I decided I wanted a pink kettle so I bought this one from Amazon. Being plastic it was reasonably cheap (under £20) and it does tend to spill a bit if you arent pouring very slowly but I really think it was worth it. It makes me happy every time I boil it. Here are a couple of other options. My favourite is the Smeg one, its a lovely shade of light pink and very classy.

smegpinkkettle

 

Kenwood also do pink, its very vibrant (and personally i prefer the yellow)

kenwood_pinkkettle

There are some things in life that you use every day and if possible make it something you really love. My toaster is the most epic toaster ever, its sage green and looks like it came out of the Jetsons kitchen.

A seasonal healthy boost

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When the seasons start to change, its a natural transition and makes me feel inspired to make changes too in my life. I know its still technically summer, and it is generally warm but hey have you seen outside recently. If summer wants one last fling I’m all for it but I know a lot of people are already starting to feel autumnal.

My focus at the moment is to be more healthy in these areas

  • Take greater care of my teeth
  • Start a proper skincare regime for my face
  • Eat more fruit
  • Go to the gym more
  • Take vitamin supplements

You may have seen some of this in my instagram posts but I will be focusing much more on each of them here. What’s great is that doing this has made me feel a lot more positive about things and checking things off in my planner makes me feel I have achieved something (even if it’s small)

Girl Geek Dinner

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On Thursday evening I went to my first ever Bath Girl Geek Dinner evening. Geek Girl Dinners was set up 10 years ago by Sarah Lamb who realised how isolated many women were in the science and technology sectors, and wanted to build a community to break down the stereotypes of women in science, encourage those with an interest in technology and figure out where the barriers were. This I can vouch for after attending computer science lectures at university where the ratio of women to men was less than 1 in 10, although as i specialised, my field has always been about 50:50. Men are by no means excluded, though the focus of the group is focused on women in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industries. Since the original meet in London, other branches have started up not just all over the country but all over the world.

I think I first heard of the Bristol group, however I was uncertain about attending as I am not a programmer and was worried that I would have nothing to say. It wasn’t until I met the Bath ladies at one of the ‘Bath: Hacked’ events that I felt encouraged to come along

girlgeekdinner_jan3

I arrived to the fairy light and candle lit vaults of the Porter to a glass of wine and a friendly welcome. I didn’t know anybody except the organisers and speakers, so took a deep breath and started to say hello to people. After a time of meeting and mingling the talk by Leigh Dodds began. This month the topic was Bath: Hacked, the Open Data organisation in the Bath and North East Somerset authority who’s aim is to ”liberate data and make useful things” as well as promoting open data to the wider community (not just techies). You can read more about Bath Hacked in my previous posts here and here

girlgeekdinner_jan2

Then came the sandwiches which were truly delicious, I had beef ones and bacon and chicken. There were also these divine little salad pots with salad leaves, olives, croutons, cornichons and pine nuts. After a bit of chatting and munching our food Leigh then introduced us to the City Data Store hosted by Socrata to start the hands on session. Not only does it store the data but has tools for interrogating and analysing the data into reports, graphs and even maps. Its great, you can fiddle about on the site and produce results without any specialist skills.

So that was the first meet up for 2015 and the upshot is that I will definitely be going again to meet new people and learn new things 🙂

p.s. Sorry for the dark photos. Although the lighting was very lovely in the vaults it wasn’t great for photos and I didn’t want to use the flash

 

Leopard Print Duck Tape

I used to regularly pass a car accessory shop and in the window was leopard print duct tape. I thought this incredibly cool but somehow never got round to going in. However it was when I learned about the use of wash tape in crafting I thought it would be rather fun to have some (particularly for making pockets in my filofax)

DucktapeCollage

 

I started to look online and discovered that the tape was from the Duck company which does a mega range of pretty patterns (even Disney’s Frozen!), and though of course the various animal prints are my favourite this ‘dill with it’ one is rather cute

gherkin duck tape

Scotch do patterned duct tape also and I absolutely adore the lips pattern. Unfortunately my local The Works doesn’t have any of their tape (bottom left of collage) as they have a zebra one i’d quite like and its currently 99p

One further thing I found out is you can also get scented duck tape, however if its anything like my scented nail varnish I think i’ll stay away

scented duck tape

Amanda Grange’s women running away from houses

AmandaGrange

What I really love is a good old fashioned gothic romance, where a young woman has to solve the mystery of a dark and terrifying castle by candlelight (and a bit of running through corridors away from frightening noises doesn’t go amiss either)

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen summed this up brilliantly. Teenage girls in the 17th and early 18th century were gripped by orphaned heiresses trapped in renaissance Italian castles. Later on the Victorians brought the terror into gaslight London, and Daphne Du Maurier brought the mystery up to date in Rebecca. The problem is that ‘Gothic Romance’ isn’t really a genre you can easily search for, even amazon’s ‘people who bought this also bought’ section wasn’t helping me much (when in the past it has found me loads of things to add to my ‘to read’ list) as it tended to only bring up books by the same author. If you were in a bookshop (i adore the rummaging in the second hand one in my local market) you would probably find some of this genre in ‘historical romance’, but I don’t just want the romance, I want a good mystery plot too. The rest you would probably find scattered amongst general fiction (and maybe horror) but weeding them out can be hard.

A while ago I came across a website called ‘Women running away from houses’ which documents many book, often from the 60’s and 70’s where a heroine is gripped by the terror of whatever is happening in the building behind her. This seemed to be a good starting point to search for some of the authors in bookshop and library categories. Another good source I found was lists on Goodreads which pointed me in the direction of some authors.

Im not entirely sure how I came across Amanda Grange, but I am so glad I did. I think i was searching for the word castle in amazon. The first book that caught my eye was Stormcrow castle. The kindle version had a title of Castle of Secrets and the cover was just a girl in a pink dress, but on finding the hardback, there was a painting of a rather worried looking girl in had and cloak with an imposing mansion behind. This got me hooked and luckily my library seems to like Amanda Grange too.

Stormcrow Castle by Amanda Grange: When Helena goes to visit her aunt, the housekeeper to Lord Stormcrow, she is shocked and disturbed to find that her aunt has left (suddenly in the middle of the night) to care for a sick relative. Knowing that this is not true, and being mistaken for the new housekeeper Helena is determined to investigate from within. What secrets are Lord Stormcrow hiding and who’s grave does he visit in the dead on night, what are the noises in the attic and can she stay calm in front of suspicious servants while getting to the bottom of the mystery. This book was so good and I never guessed ”who dunnit’

Carisbrooke Abbey by Amanda Grange: Miss Hilary Wentworth takes an appointment at Carisbrook Abbey, despite the urges of the locals for her to turn back. The gruff Lord Carisbrook does not welcome the presence of women in his house and although he frightens her he also enthrals her. But there is real danger in the castle and a secret which must be kept hidden yet threatens to break free causing destruction and maybe death.

After this I have been raiding the library’s supply of Amanda Grange. I went for the ‘mystery in the castle’ stories first and am curious to see what else is in store. What I didn’t realise is that I already own an Amanda Grange novel, Mr Darcy Vampyre, but I haven’t got on to reading it since I got it  for last Christmas.