Ode to an English Garden

English Country Gardens

I wanted to create a post purely dedicated to the English Country Garden in early Summer. I’ve come to feel that it is one of the most delightful spectacles available. And while we might lament all this rain, its worth remembering, that without this rainy climate, our gardens wouldn’t look as wonderful.

Canal facing front garden in Bath.

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My Parents’ Oxfordshire Garden

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Bampton Village Open Garden Day

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Having no garden of our own currently, we have to live through others. But thankfully there are plenty of opportunities for this in Oxfordshire. There are wonderful national trust properties like Grey’s Court and Hidcote – see my previous post on this – Open Garden schemes, both village planned and with the National Open Garden scheme.

Which gardens would you recommend in the Oxfordshire area?

Skincare Review: Drunk Elephant and More

Skincare Review:

I did an order from Cult Beauty a month ago and most of the order was skincare. So I thought I’d post a little review one month on, and let you know how I’ve found these new products. Before I get stuck in, I just wanted to quickly mention how impressed I was with Cult Beauty – firstly in the range of brands and products they stock and then secondly their delivery – my products came the following day – despite it being a Sunday!

Anyway, let’s jump in. First up: Drunk Elephant.

Drunk Elephant:

I’ve been seeing this brand everywhere and I wanted to see for myself whether it was worth the hype. I purchased two products; the Makeup Melting Butter Cleanser and the C-firma Day Serum. One hit and one miss.

The Makeup- Melting Butter Cleanser was a major hit. I’ve tried the Clinique version before but this one is far superior. It really does melt away makeup and leaves your skin feeling nourished without leaving a slightly slimy film that I find the Clinique one leaves. It – possibly combined with the Pixi glow tonic – has reduced the size of my pores because I’m getting a far deeper clean. This is definitely worth the money at £29.99.

Drunk Elephant Butter Cleanser

The vitamin C serum. Not so much. Although a serum its very thick in the way it sits on your skin. And I cannot handle the smell! It smells like fake tan, and I can still smell it up to 24 hours later (I am very smell sensitive). I can’t comment on it’s effectiveness as I’ve not managed to use it consistently due to the smell. I will continue to use it up as it’s expensive and I’m not wasting all that money. But overall, not a fan: especially at £67!!

Drunk Elephant Serum

Pixi:

Next I picked up the Pixi Glow tonic in Boots. I’ve never been one for toner, I always forget to include it in my skincare routine and I’ve always found the ones I’ve used in the past have stripped my skin and been quite stingy. This one however, manages to deep clean but without any alcoholic smell or sting. It’s actually very soothing and moisturising; no idea how it manages that as a toner but it does! I absolutely love this, its a new permanent addition to my skincare.

Pixi Glow Tonic

Embryolisse:

This moisturiser doesn’t look like much, but it’s fantastic. It also comes in a bigger tube, I got the 30ml but it also comes in 75ml. It’s a really nourishing moisturiser without being heavy. It has a very light scent but its a very natural scent, nothing floral or chemically. It’s worked wonders on my dry skin which is now completely gone and it’s not caused any aggravation or break outs (I have really sensitive skin). The only downside is that it doesn’t contain SPF. At £13 for the small tube and £20 for the 75ml I think this stuff is amazing value for how good it is.

Embryolisse

Lanolips

Finally I purchased the Lanolips original ointment. I’m not blown away by this, I find the thick ointment sits on your lips all night – which is great for getting nourishment but I find it a bit gross when I wake up, and I worry about smudging it allover my pillow while I sleep. Ew. It also hasn’t made a massive difference to my chapped lips. But given that I don’t use a lip balm at all this is definitely better than nothing!

Coco and Eve

And then finally, I wanted to give a quick shout out to a hair care sample I received in my birchbox from Coco and Eve. It was their nourishing hair masque. I used it just before getting my hair done before a wedding and it was wonderful. It wasn’t too scented which I really liked and, having left it on for a few minutes in the shower, it made my hair instantly de-tangled. And I have really knotty hair. Because I don’t tend to brush it! I will definitely consider purchasing the full size when my sample runs out.

What are your current skincare favourites?

Drunk Elephant Skincare

Watch the video overview on my Youtube Channel here

Bath Hen Weekend

How To Plan The Perfect Hen Weekend In Bath

Recently, I helped plan a hen weekend for my best friend whose getting married next weekend. I’m Maid of Honour, but I had ALOT of help from the two amazing bridesmaids. If you are looking at planning a hen weekend, my first piece of advice would be to enlist help.

We decided on Bath as a perfect hen location for our bride as our remit was: ‘country walks, but somewhere we can also get dressed up and have a night out’. Bath did not disappoint. So let me break down the steps we took to create the perfect Hen weekend. I’ve added links in each section to locations and purchases etc.

Number of hens: 13
Cost per hen: approx £300. Our bookings and accommodation were £170 upfront, and then it depended on what each girl ordered and how much they spent on drinks etc. So call it £300 but with savvy meal selections and light drinking it would be less.

Accommodation:

We booked two of the properties on New Leaf Farm. It’s about a 6 minute drive from Bath and, since Bath has Uber, this was very straight forward. The accommodation was beautiful – we booked one property that slept 10 and one which slept 4. Very high spec, and perfect for hosting large groups. When we weren’t out we did all our own cooking, and the kitchen was stocked with everything we could need.

Afternoon Tea:

We began the weekend with an afternoon tea. Many had travelled far and we wanted to welcome them with food and drink. We put on a spread of sandwiches and cakes which catered to vegans and veggies alike. (Let me know in the comments if you’d like a post about what we served). We also created a ‘pimp my prosecco bar’ with cordials and fruits. Finally we borrowed some vintage china and brought some pretty napkins. It made for a beautiful spread which went down really well with hungry weary travellers.

Goody Bags:

Also on display upon arrival were the goody bags we created. These were really important for creating a sense of belonging amongst people who’d not all met each other before.

The bags contained:
A badge
A face mask
Team bride temporary tattoo
A detox tea (for the hangover the following morning)
A paper straw
A personalised T-shirt.

I used Team Shirts to create each personalised T-shirt. They had the name on the front – very handy when trying to get to know 13 people, and a slogan on the back from the Bride to Be’s favourite TV show Rupaul’s Drag Race. Both the goody bags and badges came from Not on the High Street – they do a wonderful range of Hen Party Goodies.

Decoration:

Almost all our decorations came from Tigerlilly. We got cheap, tissue thin bunting, but it was so effective and made the house look really jolly.

Saturday Night Out:

For our night out, we booked Ubers to take us to Great Pulteney Street where we’d booked a private dining room at No15 Great Pulteney. This was such a great experience. The room was beautiful and the food and service really good.

We then had a room at the Opium Bar. It was hard to make this reservation since they don’t reserve past 9pm. Thankfully they phoned me and agreed to keep it a little longer – a few of us dashed off to hold the room while the others finished coffee. It was well worth it. The room at the back for private groups had low down coffee tables and floor cushions to sit on, the room was plastered in paintings on the walls and ceilings and had incense burning in the corner. Very Bohemian and great for adding the wow factor.

Use their tour feature to have a look around this unique bar:

http://www.opiumbars.com/tour/

Sunday:

After a lie in, and a home made brunch, we walked along the canal path into Bath. This was a lovely walk. We didn’t then stay in bath, but got the boat straight back to Bathhampton, where we were staying, as we had a Sunday Lunch booking, but this could easily be adapted to include some shopping and leisure time in Bath.

The boat back to Bathhampton moors at the pub, Bathampton Mill where we’d booked a Sunday Lunch for 3pm. The food here was fantastic, I’d highly highly recommend it. The boat was £5 one way or £10 for a round ticket.

On the Monday we then all packed up and got Ubers back into Bath, some left to get the train home, while others stuck around for a spot of shopping. All in all it was a fantastic weekend.

I hope you find some of these ideas useful, even if not for a Hen, but just for a visit to Bath.

Spring Lookbook

What to wear for Spring and Summer Weddings this Season

Hi loves, I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful long weekend. For this look book I want to share the items I’ve found for the Spring/Summer hen parties and weddings I have coming up. I have 4 weddings to go to this year! For one I’m a maid of honour, and for that I’m wearing the green Jenny Yoo dress. Each picture is a link to the item, however, the Blue shoes are the closest I can find to the one’s I’m actually wearing which are Reiss from a few seasons ago – mine aren’t slingbacks.

I spent months trying to find something suitable for the country weddings I’m going to, many of which are in the beautiful Cotswolds, in garden settings and I have to say I’ve been saved by the return of the Midi Dress!

Warehouse Yellow Midi DressUrban Outfitters DressshoePhase 8Jenny Yoo Bridesmaidoffice shoes

Urban Outfitters Hoop Earings

Where To See Bluebells in Oxfordshire

Top spots for seeing Bluebells in Oxfordshire

Thinking of getting out and about to see some Bluebells this Bank Holiday? Carpets of Bluebells are one of England’s treasures, and I’ve got two top spots in Oxfordshire to share with you. They’re at opposite ends of the county so hopefully there’s one that will be in good reach for you.

Badbury Clumps

Officially named Badbury Hill, but the locals call it Badbury Clumps. It has an iron age hill fort hidden amongst beech tress, as well as beautiful views across the Thames basin. In late April and early May the beech trees contain a hidden treasure – a carpet of Bluebells. Click the image below to find out more about Badbury Clumps and how to get there.

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Greys Court

At the other end of the county, near Henley lies Greys Court. I’ve done a blog post about it’s wonderful gardens, click here to view. But it’s Bluebell wood deserves a post all of it’s own. Perhaps even more spectacular than Badbury Clumps, hidden below the carpark and accessed from a field with sweeping Oxfordshire views, these Bluebells are one of the county’s hidden gems.

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Click the image below to find out more about visiting Greys Court

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And don’t forget to find me on Instagram for regular country living Posts.

OCL