John Masters Shampoo, Detangler and travel setThis is not a blog about hair products but I’ve just spent £60 on the John Masters range, without so much as the flicker of an eye. I love them, so I bought them. My ever-so-calm purchasing power, got me thinking about how things (me) change. 10 years ago spending a small fortune on hair products just wouldn’t have happened. Request them for birthdays, yes, but me spend that much on a ‘treat’ for myself; absolutely not.

Throughout my 20’s I was a cheap-shop shopper. Addicted. In my 30’s, I realised the amount of money I was wasting on £5 tops and just how awful “fast fashion” really can be. So I launched a business, Daisy Green (with Suzanne), and over-compensated for my “throw-away” lifestyle buying nothing new for 12 months. Instead, I became the queen of the charity shops and clothes swaps. It was fun. I still love a good rummage in a nice charity shop; people throw away the most amazing stuff.

Recently, I was chatting with the very lovely Sharon McArthur, The Leadership Confidence Coach, who is in the business of making us more confident (check out Red Handbag). Our conversations are lively, but we always come back to the same conclusion; know yourself, love yourself, and everything else follows.

Through my bad years (about 12 of them), I didn’t like myself let alone love myself. But that time is long gone. So even though I know that happiness does not come from buying stuff, happiness does come from treating myself. I am worth it.

At the top of my “things I love to treat myself with” list are:

  1. Taking friends out. When I have money, I’d spend every penny I have on them. And what a nice feeling that is.
  2. Holidays. Weekends away. Every 6 weeks if we can. It has to be done!
  3. Looking after myself:
    1. Make up. I have nearly given up cheap brands. And swapped to more quality brands. (Still feels weird.)
    2. Hair products. Let’s face it, if your hair isn’t right, you just don’t feel good.
    3. My first great quality white shirt. A bargain in the sales from Fenwick. I’ve never paid £60 for a shirt. But it started life at £160. So, it’s a bargain. Especially when I absolutely love it.
    4. Clothes in general. I am sick of buying clothes that last 2 minutes. I always recycle the items I no longer love, but I’d much rather buy things that will last.
    5. Shoes. Shoes. And more shoes.
    6. Magazines.

Melissa Jelly ShoesAnd those feelings of guilt about spending on myself? Or taking breaks? Or enjoying my friends’ company? I used to carry enough guilt to lifetime. I’m off to the shops.

Nicola x

 

Who wouldn't want to go walking here?It’s January. Everyone hates January. The darkness. The wet. The short days. I could go on. I think we have to search for things to enjoy in January, so I’m sharing a favourite beach of ours.

This picture, full of winter sunshine, was taken at Druridge Bay, Northumberland in late December 2015 and it couldn’t have been more glorious. Cold, bright and beautiful.

For all of us living in the North East, we’re definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches, walks and getting out into the fresh air. And mostly, they’re not overcrowded.

Druridge Bay is simply stunning. And at seven miles, is long enough to really get out and stretch your legs. We parked the car at the Country Park and set off for lunch at Amble. On this particular walk, we passed cyclists, surfers, a couple of horse riders (and the horses) and a few people surfing the sands which looked like awesome fun.

You’ll come across sections of the beach that are black; in the 19th century coal was mined nearby and some of it is still there on the sand. You’ll see anti-tank blocks and pill boxes too, on the coast to help ward off a German invasion during World War II.

 

Coal on the beach, Druridge Bay, Northumberland

From the Druridge Bay Country Park to Amble it’s 3.5 miles and should take about 70 minutes, depending on how many times you stop to take pictures, collect shells and mess about!

The Old Store House, Amble

After about 3.5 miles, you reach the little town of Amble. You’ll see the caravan park on your left so be sure to come off the beach there. The sign is wonderful; Amble, The Friendliest Port!

A couple more minutes along the road, you hit The Old Store House. We’d never been in so we decided to give it a go.

Perfect for walkers, the floor is stone… no worry about the mess. The pub is light and friendly (as are the staff) and the food was perfect for us hungry pair.

Mike chose the Northumbrian cheese platter, which for £8.75 was about the best value, largest platter we reckon we’ve had. And for me, some sweet potato wedges, £3.75 and creamy garlic mushrooms on lovely toasted rustic bread £5.75, enough carbs to power us back along the beach.

We’d definitely recommend The Old Store House and you can see what you’d fancy on their menu.

If the sun does come out in the dreary old month of January, the blue sky on this beach gives a different meaning to January Blues.

Nic x

 

LoveNorthEast

Nicola's Murad skin analysis

Murad Skincare. Heard of them? No, I hadn’t either until we attended the Murad event launching this new-to-us beauty brand in House of Fraser at the Metro Centre, Gateshead.

First things first, there were lots of the usual claims pronouncing the actual and real difference these products would make to our skin. (I’m jaded. I need skincare evidence).

Keeping an open mind, it was a good start learning that the products were developed by Dr Murad, a dermatologist, for his clients as a direct response to their individual skincare needs.

Having my skin analysed via the Murad Youthcam, I was told it was in pretty good shape, great to hear given all the sunbeds and excessive sun bathing of my youth.

The analysis gives a glimpse into the future, projecting what my skin might look like in 5 – 10 years time if I did nothing to protect it. It wasn’t that much of a surprise, in ten years time I’ll be 50 and won’t look like a teenager. But it did make me consider a better beauty routine.

Murad Invisiblur Perfecting ShieldStep in the Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield. I’ve been using this product for about 2 months now and I absolutely adore it. The texture is gorgeous, it basically is a one-stop product to “replace your treatment, primer and SPF” whilst “immediately blurring and correcting whilst combating the signs of ageing”.

I always use it over my facial oil (once that has had some time to sink in) and I do notice a slight smoothing of the pores and the texture of my face.  Knowing it is SPF 30 is one of the best things about this product as I’ve always had trouble finding a nice moisturiser that doesn’t irritate my face with a high SPF factor.

But slight blurring and SPF aside, the thing that I really love most about Inivisiblur is that my make-up stays put all day long when I use it. It just seems to cling to my face and there’s no need for top ups throughout the day.

The product isn’t an everyday buy. At £55 it’s expensive compared to many high street brand products. But that’s the thing, it isn’t just another high street product that goes to waste. I use this everyday. I think I’ll get 4 months out of one tube, so at £12.50 per month (and saving money on not buying a primer and SPF moisuriser) it’s one I am definitely sticking with.

Nicola x

 

I have embraced turning 40. It’s been a cracking year. Highlights include: me faux pants

1. I’m happiest than I’ve ever been. The rest of this list exists because of this one, undisputable fact. Sharing life with so many wonderful people in it, makes me a very lucky lady.
2. I work harder than I ever had. And am more focused than I have ever been.
3. I will always, if possible, work for myself.
4. I am acutely aware of time passing. And making sure moments count.
5. I’m passionate about helping other women in business to feel confident in their own abilities and embrace all that digital technology can offer.
6. At some point in the day I always acknowledge how lucky I am.
7. I like speaking to big groups of people.
8. I stick up for what I think is right.
9. I acknowledge what I am good at and am happy to say it out loud.
10. I know what I am rubbish at and am happy to ask for help.
11. I care far less about what people think of me. I happily acknowledge I am not everyone’s cup of tea.
12. I spend my hard-earned on things made to last rather than loads of cheap stuff. I value quality.
13. I own two white pairs of jeans. For 2 decades I wouldn’t put my backside in them.
14. I own faux leather trousers. They were my best buy in 2015.
15. I freely indulge my shoe obsession.
16. Travel has become a really important part of my life.
17. I love digital technology and want to be part of it rather than left behind.
18. I’m not fit enough.
19. I own a bona fide pair of Ray Bans.
20. I often work from the bath.

If you’re reading this and you’re approaching 40, don’t worry about it in the slightest. And if you’re already there, what would you add to this list?

Nicola x

South Causey Inn

Sometimes it’s the non-planned days out that are the best. After some debate about where to eat lunch (somewhere without the queues of frenzied-shoppers), Mike and I ended up at the South Causey Inn, somewhere I’d never been to before.

South Causey Inn is an independent hotel that has it all. The setting is beautiful, it’s situated in 100 acres of land in the beautiful Beamish Valley, close to the world famous museum.  It’s a hotel, restaurant and splendid event venue, including weddings.

But we just wanted a spot of lunch. And what a lunch it was.

As you can see from the photo, the portions are substantial, my “Slider” is considered a lighter bite! The honey BBQ pulled pork mini sandwiches (three of them!) were absolutely gorgeous, the meat was well-cooked and really tasty. The homemade red cabbage slaw set it off a treat, but the sweet potato fries were a little undercooked for me. £10.95

Mike’s cheeseburger was handmade (no packet burgers here) and came with onion rings, slaw, he upgraded to chunky chips (which were substantial and fabulous) and a really tangy homemade relish.

The staff were absolutely lovely, the venue is out of this world (if you like beams, fireplaces, and comfy couches) and we happily whiled away a couple of hours.

At £10.95 each, the meals were good value and I particularly love the amount of local produce used.

Nicola x