Beauty – Merumaya Mud Marvels Mask Review

I love a good face mask especially at this time of year. As the temperatures drop and the heating gets turned up my skin goes into meltdown with dry patches and sensitivity that I just can’t seem to shift. Face masks have been my saviours of late and the Merumaya Mud Marvels mask is the latest to make it into my winter must haves pile.

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The Mud Marvels mask comes boxed in a 50ml tube for rrp £19.50 which, for such a small amount, is quite expensive. That said, I’m happy to pay that bit extra if it does what is says on the tin, or the box in this case. Being boxed makes it that little bit more special to wrap up for someone as a Christmas gift too.

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The mask is quite difficult to squeeze out of the tube due to how thick it is and I was worried that this would mean it would be difficult to apply to the skin, there is nothing more annoying than ending up with clumps of face mask, but it smoothed onto the skin in a nice even layer with little effort. I expected to feel this tingle on my skin as most other mud masks do but it didn’t. I waited patiently for it to work its magic before removing with a muslin cloth.

After just one use I was really impressed with the results. My skin felt smooth and soft to the touch with all my dry patches gone. Thanks to the combination of oils this mask doesn’t dry out the skin and nourishes it instead. It really has helped my skin to reap the rewards of my moisturising routine and I have found my skin feels much firmer, even after a few days. It has made it into my weekly pamper session, I’d be lost without it now!

Merumaya can be bought online or are stocked in John Lewis Manchester.

Mask provided for review purposes.

Coffee Chat At Cup North

I’m a pretty new convert to the wonderful powers of coffee. I find it a lot like wine in terms of how the palate adapts, with wine you start with white, move to rose and lighter reds before hitting the harder stuff. With coffee I have had a similar journey starting with a latte before moving onto cappuccino and, more recently, a stronger filter coffee with a dash of milk and sugar. My journey has halted here but I have no doubt that I’ll be hitting the espresso in the near future and the invite to pop along to Cup North has certainly opened my eyes to wonder of this caffeine fix.


Things didn’t start off too well as match day and events at the Victoria Warehouse do not mix. There were spaces in the car park which I was advised was full so I took a chance parking on the road, I can imagine people who had driven and paid for their tickets would have been a bit annoyed at having to pay the extortionate parking fees that appear when Manchester United are playing at home.


I think it is apt to say that we started our journey of the various stands by visiting Grumpy Mule, it was how I felt after my parking dilemma, and took part in their brewing competition.


We selected our own ratio of coffee to water, the type of vessel we wanted to brew in and how long to brew for. We had a play with an aeropress and made a fairly bitter coffee which was way off the mark of being the optimum coffee experience. We had fun though and it certainly changed my mood for the day which, is always a bonus.

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It was great to see so many coffee suppliers in one room as well as coffee movies, some tea and chocolate to boot. I liked Bean Brothers  quirkily named coffee and am lucky enough to have tried the espresso stout they have made with Squawk before when in Port Street Beer House. It’s delightfully bitter and dark, not something I normally go for but the coffee lifts this making it fresher than a normal stout in my opinion. It is always nice to see local at events like this and Squawk brew in Manchester, an added bonus.


I had a chat with the guys from Mancoco who are also based in Manchester. I can’t believe I have never visited them before, they are based in the arches of Deansgate just a stone’s throw from my old flat. I hope to visit them soon and I’ll be sure to pick up some packs of coffee when there as it tasted so fresh with a slight nutty taste without being too fruity.

I need to invest in an Oomph Coffee Maker soon or, even better, add one to my Christmas wish list. Similar to an aeropress they are portable and super easy to clean making them great for the office when instant coffee just won’t cut it.


Last but, definitely not least, I had a chat with Jeremy who is one of the masterminds behind Union Coffee. His passion is intoxicating and his coffee, just beautiful. They were the only stand I visited who offered anything other than a black coffee and I was presented with the most tasty cappuccino I’ve had. Their coffee is hand roasted to order and all coffees score over 84 on the SCAA’s international scale which marks coffee quality. They offer a great subscription service which is totally customisable and delivered direct to your door. What’s more, it makes the perfect gift for that coffee lover in your life this Christmas.

Having drank my fair share of the dark stuff it was time to leave with the jitters after all the caffeine but we had a fun afternoon. You can buy tickets for the full weekend but I don’t think there is really enough to see and do for more than a couple of hours, unless you are a complete coffee geek that is. Keep your eyes out for 2016 tickets being announced.

I was provided with tickets to Cup North by the organisers in exchange for this review. Image of Union Coffee provided by their PR company.

Relaunching Madera, Northern Quarter

There are lots of places out there that are hindered by their name. Rosylee recently dropped ‘Tearoom’ from their name due to customers being put off and assuming they just sell tea and cake. Another venue to follow suit recently is Wood Wine Deli who have had a complete name change, to Madera. They invited me in to try their new menu, have a chat and show that they are about much more than just wine and deli style food.


Inside is quite dark and moody yet spacious with wooden tables and the bar at the back. Not just a wine bar, they also have a good selection of gin and whiskey with a cocktail menu to celebrate the two.



The beef carpaccio was wafer thin and soft so melted in the mouth with a good hit of salt and some peppery notes from the accompanying rocket.


The Cornish crab salad with potato and peas was one of my favourite dishes with fresh flaked crab atop well seasoned potato and peas that still had that hint of bite about them. The fresh flavours of all the elements complimented each other perfectly.


The ribs glazed with Jack Daniels were soft and the meat fell away from the bone which is just the way ribs should be. The glaze had a lovely smokey yet sweet taste although I couldn’t taste the Jack Daniels at all. I think it can be really difficult when using alcohol to get the flavours coming through though.


The Spanish cod was another hit for me, flaky white fish with a blackened exterior complimented by a sprinkle of pistachio a lightly spiced sauce.


Lastly we tried the chocolate cake topped with a generous dollop of vanilla infused cream. The cake was moist and the addition of chocolate sauce helped this along nicely whilst the cream topped it off, literally, for a nice end to any meal.

Overall I’m liking the look of Madera but the location worries me slightly. I hope people spot it nestled next to Simple and give it a go, I’m looking forward to returning to try that cocktail menu a bit more.


Rum Tasting With Pussers At Time And Place, Heaton Moor

Ever since I have moved out of the City and into Stockport I’ve been on the hunt for exciting events in the area. We are really lacking and I’ve struggled to find much out there at all. I then spotted a rum tasting with Pussers rum at Time and Place in Heaton Moor so I popped along to see what they and Pussers were about.


Time and Place is on Shaw Road in Heaton Moor nestled amongst the growing development of restaurants and bars that are popping up in the village. This makes me extra happy being a Stockport resident as there is finally somewhere outside of the City where I can go for a decent cocktail! They also do breakfast every day and a pretty looking evening menu that, at some point, I really need to go in and try. The owners have grand plans for this place which started with the rum tasting which, considering it was early in the week, had a great turn out of excited guests.

Things started off rather nicely as we were greeted with a rum punch and told that we could keep the mug at the end. I like presents the most so this made me especially happy. The punch was wonderfully fruity with the rum kick I needed on a cold and wet day.


As with most tastings we were introduced to the creation of rum, how it is made, how Pussers is made and then a tasting of the range. I won’t bore you with all the details because, I’m pretty sure I have told you before and you wouldn’t want to know everything when you book on the next one.

The 15 Year Old was actually one of my favourites, a fact which some of my friends will be shocked by. Lots of demerara on the nose with Christmas cake notes on the palate which would make this perfect for the festive period.


Although I love the Gunpowder Proof in a cocktail I am less keen on it straight. The 54% abv is enough to tell you this packs a punch yet it is surprisingly smooth.


The Original Admiral is inspired by the recipe used when the Royal Navy discontinued its daily rum ration in 1970. There is a little burn but nothing as intense as the Gunpowder Proof with the demerara, caramel and gentle spice prominent.


A rum I could definitely drink straight is the Spiced. There’s a real kick from the ginger at the back of the throat with nutmeg and allspice giving it more of a festive feel. It is going on my Christmas list for after dinner on Christmas day that is for sure.


How beautiful is this bottle? I tried to tuck it into my coat and steal it but the staff had their beady eyes on it all evening. It is beautifully hand painted and would look amazing on my dining table.


After all that rum we were ready for something to eat and the owner’s mum had made her specialty – curry, rice and peas. The table were that impressed that we have invited ourselves round for Sunday lunch as this is what is offered. Lightly spiced yet beautifully fragrant I could have eaten it again.


They don’t do small portions here and this hunk of banana cake had been laced with the Pussers rum. I seriously need the recipe as the combination of the two flavours was just incredible. It gave the cake a moistness that would usually make it soggy, not here. It was gorgeous and I had seconds, just to make sure it was as nice as I thought it had been.

A thoroughly enjoyable night had by all. The rums were great, the food was great and the company was great. Even though the crowd were paying guests who had only met that night, we got on so well and were like old friends by the end of the evening. There you have it, living proof that rum brings people together. I can’t wait for the next one, I’ll see you at the bar.

I was invited as a guest and was not asked to pay for my place.

Guest Post – Turtle Bay Launches In Liverpool

I love going to new places to try new things so was excited when the invite to the launch of Turtle Bay in Liverpool popped into my inbox. Unfortunately I was already booked to go to another event but the lovely Pedro was happy to pop along and tell you what is was all about.

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Turtle bay has a number of establishments across England and Wales, about 25 bars and counting following the opening of their newest bar and restaurant in Liverpool, a Caribbean burst of colour in stark contrast to a murky, wet and windy Thursday evening on Merseyside. Cocktails, beers and complimentary nibbles were provided to guests along with live music from Troy Ellis, Hail Jamaica and Laid Blak! on the evening.

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Thought the hustle and bustle was probably about as much as it will ever be at the launch event (never has the phrase ‘rubbing shoulders’ appeared so literal), the location chosen for Turtle Bay’s newest venue on Liverpool’s Victoria Street and at the rear of many of Mathew Street’s many watering holes will probably ensure a strong customer base for some time to come.  There was also an entrance from Mathew Street into Turtle Bay, although whether this will remain as a permanent fixture is yet to be seen.

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The interior looks to be in keeping with a prototypical Caribbean ‘beach bar’ theme; faux driftwood structures are painted in vibrant colours and nestle against more modern brushed metal, along with an interior adorned with Bob Marley posters and the occasional neon sign (just to remind you that they serve rum and that they are indeed a Caribbean themed restaurant).  So, what of the launch?  Let’s start with the music; actually very good and set the tone well for the party, although both warm up DJ and bands could have possibly been played at a slightly lower decibel level.  Just enough to let people talk about the venue, the food and drinks on offer and perhaps even the music itself, would have been ideal.

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The food, in considering the number of party-goers at the launch, was actually pretty good.  The kitchen seemed to hold up extremely well under the strain of a full venue and continued throughout the evening to provide everyone with jerk ribs, rice and peas, spiced prawns and pineapple and steak.  The platters that were sent out were frequently emptied quickly and rushed back to the kitchen for a refuel.  If the standard of food translates from what the kitchen offered with the launch party nibbles, then this will not be a bad thing.  The main menu offers many staples you’ll see in Caribbean themed restaurants across the country, with jerk fish and meat, curries, goat, burgers and prawns all featuring heavily on the normal menu.

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What of the drinks?  Well, the cocktails were pretty enjoyable and made up well enough, but there is stiff competition in this area of Liverpool, with a number of cocktail bars surrounding Victoria Street, Mathew Street and just beyond, so they’ll have their work cut out, especially if they are tied to a set menu from the franchise.  The beers on offer were Red Stripe and their own Turtle Bay Jamaican Pale Ale, the latter of which was actually okay; somewhere just below an English IPA and an American Pale Ale in hopping (the hops provide the bittering and the aromas, depending on where they are added in the brew, there was a bit more in aroma than was expected, pleasingly) – this also bodes well to go with a lot of the barbecued food on the menu.

So overall, there is no escaping it is another identikit chain bar/restaurant in the city, but there are a few positives to take from it and the kitchen is certainly one of those on first glance, certainly worth investigating once the Turtle has bedded in.


Make Your Own Beauty Treatments

There is nothing I love more than having a lazy Sunday. I run a hot bath, smother myself in body scrub, hop in the bath and apply both hair and face masks whilst enjoying the pleasures of a glass of wine and a good book. It’s the only time I really get to myself. Life can be so hectic and with work and running this blog, I need that hour or so to myself to get my head straight. I have, however, started to notice some changes in my skin. I’ve got dry patches that never used to be there and my face has started to redden after my regular wash of a morning. It was time for a change and I needed something really natural to see if I could, not only get rid of the dry patches, but also stop the redness. I’ll write another post in the next few days about the face products I’ve discovered but until then I thought I’d go as natural as I could possibly could and try make your own. Mira Showers and Midas Touch Crafts also challenged me to so it gave me the kick up the bum I needed to see what I could do with the store cupboard ingredients I already own and a bit of water from the tap.


I am a total convert to the powers of coconut oil and Coconoil is the best one I have come across. I’ll tell you about it in more detail another time but you really can use this as the base for any DIY beauty treatment you want.

My body scrub is simply – coconut oil, crushed rock salt and coffee. Add a little bit of water and mix it all together to a paste. The coffee gives that anti cellulite property whilst also smelling amazing and providing a hint of colour, who needs fake tan? The salt helps to buff the dry patches away gently whilst the coconut oil helps to soothe the skin and inject moisture. Who knew it could be that easy?

You could swap out the coffee for honey and the salt for sugar to create a face scrub which will have your skin glowing in no time.

I had loads of fun getting messy making my own treatments. If only I were more creative and my friends would have them packaged prettily as Christmas presents because, let’s face it, you know exactly what is in there. No nasty chemicals and they are also ridiculously cheap compared to the top brands. I now know what to do when I am counting the pennies after the indulgence of Christmas without my skin having to suffer.


Giveaway – Win A Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar

We have a ritual in our family and that is the appreciation of a good advent calendar. I’ve never been one of those (33 year old) kids who is happy with a cheap advent calendar with chocolate flavoured candy and I’ve had many a Hotel Chocolat advent calendar in my time.



I believe your daily advent calendar chocolate should be a real treat and the Hotel Chocolat ones are certainly that. At £12.50 they are at the top end of the price range but they contain excellent quality chocolate and are available in milk chocolate 40%, dark chocolate 70% and white chocolate.

This year there is also the option to share the treats with a loved one without having to forfeit your daily chocolate. The Truffles For Two calendar is £26 and comes with 2 treats behind each door. Hotel Chocolat say this is a great way to share but, I’m not going to lie, I’d have one in the morning and one in the evening. Sorted.

I’ve got a regular milk 40% cocoa advent calendar to give away today. All you need to do it complete the form below.

The giveaway ends on 26th November and the winner will be notified by email. UK only and the prize will be honoured by Hotel Chocolat.

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Images courtesy of Hotel Chocolat

Cocktail Masterclass At Banyan, Manchester

I’ve talked before about my delight at the rebirth of the Corn Exchange. It is such a beautiful building that is now bustling with bars and restaurants to suit every taste. I’ve already visited Byron and Wahaca and am slowly working my way around them all. I popped in for the launch of Banyan last month but it was so busy I couldn’t really review it based on my experience, I was really pleased when they invited me to see their private dining spaces and their cocktail masterclasses.


The spaces themselves are visually stunning with hanging wicker pods, a wall of pebbles and long wooden tables to get cosy around. They are perfect for the winter months and located downstairs in the restaurant making them perfectly private. I didn’t take any photographs because it didn’t seem right to but the toilets are incredible. The ladies has a sofa area with mirrors for last minute make up touch ups or just a chat whilst waiting for friends, I love it.


Cocktail masterclasses cost £35 per person and involve you making 5 different cocktails from the Banyan menu with help from the experts with some useful information about the drinks themselves.


The Violette was my least favourite of the cocktails we got to make largely because I am not a fan of parma violets, and that’s exactly what this tasted like. Giffard violette, Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon, sugar and Cointreau are shaken to create this lilac number that is incredibly floral.


The Geisha Girl was a favourite amongst the group, me included, although it looks pretty with the floating rosebud so that always helps. Ketel One Citron vodka, plum sake, guava, lemon and pineapple make it fruity yet the top of prosecco helps cut through the sweetness for a much drier finish.


The Pea and Mint Bellini is an interesting twist on the classic with prosecco layered on top of a sugarsnap pea puree, mint and elderflower liqueur. Surely this is like a green smoothie so healthy all the way? The pea puree adds a touch of savoury yet still lightly sweet from the elderflower liqueur. I didn’t think I would like it but it was surprisingly moreish and I think I could probably drink a lot of these, knowing my love of all things fizz.


Up last was a new drink designed by bartender extraordinaire Charlie. Reyka vodka (which, is one of my favourites) layered with pomegranate and prosecco has been designed to be enjoyed over the festive period after a long day’s shopping on the bustling streets of Manchester. Let me tell you, it’s delicious. Fruity and dry with a light punch from the vodka, I made the one in the picture myself so I’m very proud of it!


Emma aka Miss Pond celebrated the handing in of her PHD by making her own Pea and Mint Bellini before we enjoyed food which you can add to your masterclass for £10 per person. Sliders, houmous and chicken skewers were highlights and we left well fed and watered.

The decor makes this a perfect place for an private meal with friends for a special occasion or a group of friends who enjoy learning about cocktails. The staff are attentive and friendly, the banter continued long into the night and Charlie is an absolute credit to Banyan’s bar team. I’ll be in soon for my festive fizz, my feet will need it after I’ve trawled the shops for my Christmas gifts.

Restaurant Review – 6/Cut Pizza, Monton

I love writing my blog. I know there are people out there that don’t like bloggers or agree with what we do but I’ve been fortunate to find some amazing places that I would have never known existed if I didn’t write this. One of those places was a recent find for me, 6/Cut Pizza in Monton. I used to date a lad who lived in Monton and always really liked the village. It’s always been that bit too far away to return to until the people behind 6/Cut got in touch and asked if I wanted to go in and review.


6/Cut Pizza is on the main street running through Monton village with these impressive lights at the entrance where you wander up the stairs to the main restaurant area. It is simple and open with pretty artwork on the walls and plain wooden tables throughout. I love ‘no fuss’ and that is the best way I can think of to describe the decor here.

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It would have been easy to jump right into the pizzas. 6/Cut Pizza promise proper sourdough bases and this is something, of which, I am a fan. I managed to restrain myself and I shared the Grill and BBQ Board with my friend to start. The special fried chicken was surprisingly good with juicy chicken encased in a lightly spiced and crunchy coating. So often this is dry and uninviting but not here. The Moroccan lamb koftas were also good with enough spice to add some heat but not mask the softer, more aromatic flavours. The BBQ pulled pork was a hefty portion yet needed a bit more of a kick for me, it was a little bland as was the chipotle slaw. It was really fresh with crunchy fresh vegetables but a bit more heat was needed. The sweet potato fries were more like wedges but not in a bad way, soft and sweet with a crispy outer. They were really good and I’d definitely recommend them.

IMG_6360My friend chose the healthier option and went for the steak from the specials board with potato wedges and a salad. When he ordered it blue I was a bit worries. Only a really good quality piece of meat can get away with being blue for me and I was concerned somewhere that specialised in pizza may not be able to pull it off. Oh how wrong I was. It was soft, succulent and melted in the mouth, not a bit of gristle in sight. The salad was lightly dressed and a lovely mix with a smattering of olives. The wedges were a little disappointing as they were slightly soggy on the outside yet dry in the middle. The steak, however, more than made up for it.



I couldn’t leave without trying the pizzas and chose the Prosciutto and Goats Cheese. The base was good… a little overdone so slightly too crispy but the flavour had that gritty sourness I have come to know and love about a sourdough pizza. The tomato was sweet, the goats cheese creamy and the prosciutto salty. A lovely combination and it was great to find a decent pizza in the Greater Manchester area.

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I had fully planned to ignore dessert until I saw these towering sensations arrive at the next door table and I couldn’t resist. The Snickers Mess contained a beautifully rich and dense caramel and peanut butter ice cream, which was balanced by the light sweetness of the torched meringue. The Snickers pieces had gone a bit hard with the torching process but the texture was a lovely addition.

My quivering tower of Baked Alaska was impressive with a base of cookie crumbs rather than cake and a lovely hit of fruit from strawberry confit. I really enjoyed it and it was good to see a twist of a classic, you can’t beat a good baked alaska and this certainly is one.


A swift coffee served with warm milk on the side was enough to wake me up to leave with a full tummy. As we walked out of the door I noticed a bus go passed on its way to Stockport. How did I not know I could have gotten public transport here?! I’m sold… pizzas, coffee and classic puds, thanks 6/Cut. I’ll be back soon.




The Power Of Yes With Giorgio Armani Si Perfume Collection

When it comes to scent I am a real creature of habit. For every day I am a fan of Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir and for evenings I always turn to Chanel Coco. I think scent is such a personal thing and I always worry that trying something different will leave me disappointed. Giorgio Armani recently sent me their Si range so I thought I’d bite the bullet and give it a go, here are my thoughts.


Si is all about the power of yes. It is about a time of quiet confidence, positivity and being in control of your own destiny. Giorgio Armani have designed three fragrances in the Si range – eau de toilette, eau de parfum and eau de parfum intense. The boxed fragrances are fairly plain with just the colour change of the logo to really tell them apart. Once opened the bottles give much more away.


The collection are surprisingly different and are all individual scents whilst they do compliment each other. Giorgio Armani have designed these fragrances to be remembered as you walk by, not to make a brash entrance.

The first in the collection is the eau de toilette which retails at £42 for 30ml. Not surprisingly it is the lightest of the three fragrances with predominant fruity notes of pear and mandarin whilst the lingering scent is more woody with the sweetness of vanilla.

The eau de parfum retails at £47 for 30ml and is my favourite in the collection. It contains the same sweetness from vanilla as the eau de toilette yet has a more floral edge with freesia and slight rose coming through as it warms on the skin. Heady patchouli and amber wood make this scent more unique.

The eau de parfum intense is more of an evening scent with slightly jammy notes of blackcurrant combined with fir balsam and golden benzoin for that intense perfume hit to certainly leave your mark in any room. Retailing at £72 for 50ml it is still an affordable and long lasting option from the collection.

Whilst the Si collection won’t be replacing my favourites they have provided a nice option to change things up and I’ve had some lovely compliments when wearing the eau de parfum during the day. I’m glad I took a chance and said ‘si’ to a change, perhaps I should branch out of the norm more often.

Products provided for review purposes.

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