Belfast-based, style loving mum of 3. Fashion, Lifestyle, Food & Fitness

Thursday, 28 April 2016

March Empties, New Perfume & a Birchbox Review!

Sorry for the MIA - the last two weeks have been busier than usual between marathon training, work and a bereavement so I just decided to take some family and me-time, away from blogging and social media and it was wonderful. I can thoroughly recommend it. I feel like I've caught up again with all the spinning plates (except the blogging one!)

And I'm back today with a massive beauty post. I'm a simple soul when it comes to beauty - my make up bag consists of about 8 items and my morning/night routine has 3 items. But I do invest in almost every item as I don't think you can get away with less expensive products on 40+ skin.
My favourite beauty posts to read on other blogs are the empties ones....because you really must love something if you've finished it to the end and even more so, if you've re-purchased.

March for me was an expensive one as both my moisturisers and my foundation ran out. Thankfully at opposite ends of the month. Moisturisers first and I've raved about Epionce products on this blog before...
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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Leopard & Camel

Well it was back to earth with a bang. Monday morning, kids back at school. pouring rain.
Then I remembered I found this jumper in Primark last week, on the sale rail, for just £5! Nothing like a gorgeous new sweater to brighten up your Monday morning and make getting dressed easy. Dodgy pose just to show you the shape of it - it's oversized, a little longer at the back and with narrow arms. My favourite!
Despite the rain, I wore my boiled wool Esprit leopard coat.
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Sunday, 10 April 2016

Paris - Day 4

We are all a bit tired today - last night's carry on up at Place de la Republique went on until around 5.30am! We had earplugs but they weren't enough to block out the sirens entirely.
We walked up to the square at 9am to see the aftermath but the cleansing teams were working hard to remove all traces - though the occupation is ongoing with plenty of protesters about preparing for another day of action. It's sad to see the monument in the square defaced but it got off lightly compared to the bank premises. The BNP branch on the square has been almost entirely covered in paint.
But as in any city, life goes on and we were soon en route to Montmartre to have breakfast and visit the Sacre Coeur. Such a beautiful setting and church...
Next, we moved down into town again to walk through the jardin de tuileries to the Louvre. We started our walk at Concorde metro station where I had to get a picture in front of these tiles..
Top - River Island  
It was such a gorgeous day so we sat for a while to watch the world go by..
Then we headed over to check out the newest retail addition to the city - the refurbished and just reopened forum des halles. It's a stunning building with all the usual big chain stores like Zara and Mango....but I resisted the temptation - a combination of cabin baggage pressure and the poor exchange rate....oh and bank account pressures too!
And our time in Paris was over. We headed to the hotel to pick up our bags and then got the train to the airport....where I'm currently making the most of the free wifi to write this!
Back to my own bed tonight where I'm going to sleep like a log....au revoir Paris. See you back in Belfast all. 


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Saturday, 9 April 2016

Paris - Day 3

Today was a new Garmin step record for me...
I'm lying in bed right now and my body aches but it was worth it. In fact we are sitting listening to sirens and wondering if we will get much sleep after all the walking & running. There's trouble brewing up on Place de la Republique - a night time occupation of the square has been going on now for a couple of weeks and it seems to have escalated last night. Tonight sounds at this early stage like it will be eventful. It's a worthy cause but rioting won't help an already struggling tourist industry. We chose not to eat out tonight & instead bought food & wine into our hotel room.
But back to today's adventures and we had an early start as the parkrun was over on the other side of the city. However, when we arrived at the Bois de Bologne, we struggled to find the starting point. Cue 20 minutes of walking in circles around a huge park. So unfortunately, by the time we found it, the race was well underway. 
However we were undeterred and did our best to work out the route and run it ourselves. So no official time or personal bests but we got our run in the park in Paris!
Trainers - Asics (still available on the TKMaxx website)
Quilted Running Jacket - Primark

Afterwards, we took the metro to Trocadero and walked from there to the Arc de Triomphe to watch the traffic mayhem...tho I appreciate there aren't any cars in this photo 😳 - there was a lull...
Then it would have been a shame not to walk the Champs-Elyesse and check out a few shops.
I had a quick scoot around Zara first where I picked up this bag.
I'd admired it in the larger version last year but it was too big & heavy for me. Sadly this cross body one isn't leather but I decided to break my pleather handbag rule just this once. 
I then ventured into Sephora-
...this Paris one was my first experience of Sephora way back in 1997 but today, I couldn't wait to get out of it! You couldn't look for a moment at anything before a sales assistant pounced. I like to browse for a while and consider and then I'm open to being helped but the pushy staff here, combined with the crowds, just made me want to run for air outside...which I did. No purchases made - in any case the GBP/EUR rate isn't great so the prices were no better than you'd get online.
Oh and I got told off for taking this photo! 
Next, we visited the Abercrombie & Fitch store and it was a real wow moment. This is the entrance gate (with obligatory bag check - this is happening in all the stores now)
....you then walk down a tree lined avenue
....to these gorgeous doors into the shop.
A unique experience making the shop one to definitely pay a visit to, even if like me, you'd rather not buy anything there. Don't get me wrong, they have some lovely pieces and I do like their jeans but it's all overpriced in my view. Though I guess those store fit-outs need to be paid for somehow!
Oh and here's where I fess up to wearing my running gear all round town. Ming I know but we were so close to all this and to zigzag across town would have taken a couple hours out of the day. I wasn't smelly I promise!

Onward to a ton of car showrooms for the wee man (and his dad) to look round and then we headed down Avenue George V to see how the other half live...
Picked up some nice gifts here - a bit different and beautifully packaged:
And then it was back in the Batobus to the train station and onwards to the hotel for a rest and shower.
We headed out again initially thinking we would have dinner but went off the idea partly because things looked like they were kicking off and partly because we weren't that hungry - two days of rich food had taken their toll and we just got some wine, cheese and crackers for the hotel room.
We did stop by the centre George Pompidou, which I thought was a shopping centre so imagine my disappointment as I realised it's a museum. Oh well - here's what I wore - to prove I got changed
And that was day 3! I'm ending fast here as my phone battery is about to die and I'm in competition with the husband for the travel plug.
Last day tomorrow - we fly in the evening so there's plenty of time to explore more. Thanks for all your comments, messages and emails - I'm delighted you're enjoying the Paris updates!
Ax
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Friday, 8 April 2016

Paris - Day 2

Yay - the first post worked so here goes with number 2.
We were talking today about the last time we were in Paris - 19 years ago. The same week that Diana was killed in fact and we went to pay our respects at the tunnel where it happened.
Paris is a different place now - there's certainly a sense of fear in the air. Not helped by the ever-present armed police and army around the city.
I'll be honest, I had some worries about coming but when you're here you realise it's such a huge city so even if something did happen, you'd be very unlucky to be in that wrong place at the wrong time. I guess we also have the perspective of being from Belfast - a city that many avoided during the troubles yet life went on rather uneventfully for the majority of Belfast's residents even at the height of it all.

Today we headed on the metro towards Musee D'Orsay - top of my son's places to see.
Scarf - Zara
Cross Body Bag - Boden (past season)

We got on a very full coach and had to stand....and here's where you wonder just how small the world really is. A man standing beside us said 'I don't hear that accent too often over here'. Yes, we managed to stand beside a guy from Belfast who now lives in Paris. You couldn't make it up! It was lovely to talk to him - he's a press photographer called Iain Statham who works in war zones around the world - yet another reminder of perspectives.

After getting off the train, we had a bit of a walk along the Seine, which allowed us to grab some breakfast and see parts if the city you'd miss if you stayed on the metro. Like the Golden Goose store!
I didn't go in - we had art to view and the Musee D'Orsay didn't disappoint
It has an unbelievable amount of paintings you would recognise and it's great how close you can get to them all. The Monet above was my favourite.

The building used to be a train station so it has some impressive clock action going on, outside and inside 
I especially loved how they bring in local artists to set up an easel and recreate a masterpiece - helps you appreciate the work involved!
After the Musee D'Orsay, we grabbed a takeaway baguette and boarded the Batobus - a water bus that makes a circular trip up and down the Seine and which you can jump on and off over a 1 or 2 day period, depending on what sort of ticket you buy. 
It allowed us to rest our feet before getting off at the Eiffel Tower - number 2 on the 12 yo's list.
Not only was he intent on heading up it, he wanted to take the stairs! Which I couldn't argue with as the queue was significantly smaller and it was cheaper too. It really wasn't that bad - about 600 steps in total with a break halfway
and the most amazing view from the top
After heading back down the 600 steps, we got on the Batobus again, this time to Notre-Dame, where we wandered for a while looking for a good restaurant (unsuccessfully). But we did find the Diptyque shop where I sprayed myself liberally with No 34 (their address - 34 Boulevard Saint Germain!)
After much wandering (22k steps in total!) we ended up dining in a gorgeous French restaurant near our hotel - called Bistro de l'Oulette. Classic French cuisine and full of locals - always a good sign!
So I'm back in the hotel now and despite plans to run the Paris ParkRun tomorrow morning, I'm drinking champagne from the local supermarket - out of a plastic toothbrush cup no less! All the glamour here 😂

Watch this space to see if we made it to the Bois de Bologne for the 9am start....
Ax
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Thursday, 7 April 2016

Paris - Day 1

Paris Sunset
I can't believe it's been almost 2 weeks since I blogged! The Easter holidays just took over between family meet ups, days out with friends and a couple of trips down south.

The girls are back at school this week but my son is still off so as a treat for his and my husband's birthdays, we booked a long weekend in Paris a few weeks ago...for the 3 of us. Tres romantic 😍

So as the hotel has great wifi and we are back in the room so early with only French TV on offer...I decided to see if I could blog my daily outfits from Paris - using the Blogger app. Fingers crossed that it works - forgive me any spelling mistakes and the lack of links - the app is somewhat limited.

As you'd expect, it's a very pared back capsule I've got with me....all very black & grey but sure the gorgeous scenery of the city will make up for that!

Day 1's outfit was also what I wore to travel over in. Black coated skinnies, jacket and slip on trainers with a grey jersey top and white vest under. 
Cross Body Bag - Boden (past season - similar here and here)

While it was perfect for the flight and all the walking about (18700 steps according to the Garmin), I was cold in the light jacket by the time the sun went in. It's quite chilly over here-not unlike earlier in the week back home.
So I might have to buy another layer while I'm here....good job I've lots of room in my suitcase.

In terms of what we got up to today, it was fairly low key as we didn't arrive until 6pm. We grabbed an early dinner close to the hotel and then walked down and along the River Seine...
to Notre-Dame...
before looping back up to the hotel along Sebastopol. Lots planned for tomorrow so it's early to bed but I'll be back tomorrow evening with the next instalment...at least that's the plan!

Ax
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