It’s not easy coming down to earth with a huge bump when you’ve had a great time, but I’ll always treasure the magic of Christmas shopping in one of the world’s most popular destinations, Prague.

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Although Kat and I were only in the Czech Republic from 1st-4th December, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We stayed at the excellent Hotel Merkur in Tesnov, where the free breakfasts were to die for – delicious meats, sausages, pancakes, eggs and little bite sized cakes, as many as you could possibly eat. The staff were lovely and most spoke English.

The Old Town itself was a short walk away, and despite this being our first visit to Prague, we found it easy to navigate (with the help of a good map, of course!). Aside from the main market square, there were lots of other little Christmas markets dotted around. They even had a representation of a manger in one.

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The stalls were heaving with festive goodies; baubles, warm winter hats and souvenirs of every description. It wasn’t quite as cold as we’d expected during the day, although the evenings were certainly chilly and I was glad I’d brought my thermals with me.

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I wanted to buy something typically Czech, so we visited Moser, a shop specialising in crystal. Prague has several of these outlets, including one in the Black Rose shopping centre, in Na Prikope 12 (The pic below is of the one in the Old Town Square).   Kat bought herself a crystal cat, and I bought myself a pair of crystal dogs. Each piece cost 1170 koruna (£39 GBP), cheaper than you’d pay back in the UK.

Crystal Cats

Crystal Dogs

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Some things in Prague are fairly cheap, others aren’t. Our taxi fare from the airport to the hotel was 860 koruna (£29 GBP), for example, and a half bottle of Snow Queen vodka set me back 333 koruna (around £11 GBP). A sandwich from the local Billa supermarket cost 149.90 koruna (£1.98 GBP) and a box of chocolates was 149.90 koruna (£5.12 GBP).

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As I discovered  for myself, Czech architecture is truly magnificent. I fell in love with the astronomical clock tower and surrounding buildings – they were so unique and majestic looking in the flesh, I was in total awe as I gaped open mouthed. This was Gothic/bohemian paradise!

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I can see why Prague is such a popular destination with many. The Czechs are warm, friendly people; some even mistook us for locals (perhaps it was the hats!) so it was a bit of a shock when they spoke to us in their native language. I speak Polish, and although Czech is similar, it’s still different in its own way if that makes sense.

I’m off to indulge in some Snow Queen.

Na zdrowie!!

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So far I’ve used up a couple of tinted moisturisers. I have two others, one with an ‘illuminating’ effect which unfortunately makes me look like a Dr. Who extra. Add to that the fact that they’re both a tad too dark for my skin tone. Now, I’m no chemist, but I figured that one way to ‘dilute’ the shades would be to mix them with an ordinary moisturiser. Bingo! It worked a treat.

The trick is – how do I mattify the ‘illuminating’ one? Is it even possible?

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Cue Sleek Control Shine & Prime; I mixed this with an equal amount of the Dayglow tinted moisturiser, and sure enough, the mattifying effect was immediate. By nightfall, the luminosity had begun to break through, but that wasn’t bad considering I’d endured buckets of menopausal sweat earlier in the day without coming to grief.

I hate waste of any kind, and the thought of having to chuck out a product just because I couldn’t customise it didn’t sit well. Thanks to Sleek Control Shine & Prime, it was money saved instead 🙂

I’ve always loved the Old Hollywood glamour of yesteryear. Actresses such as Jean Harlow and Rita Hayworth had an allure which will be remembered well after today’s throwaway, so-called ‘stars’ such as the Kardashians and Caitlyn Jenner are long forgotten.

Each silver screen goddess had her own signature look and none mirrored anybody else’s.

Old Hollywood Palette CoverMy two all time favourites, Greta Garbo (left) and Jean Harlow

 

Here, I’ve recreated the look of the mysterious and beautiful Greta Garbo.

I used:

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palette (Natural Beauty)

Inglot lipstick in 866 and NYX lip liner in Hot Red

NARS Tinted Moisturiser in Groenland (Light 3)

Skin Food Banana Concealer in Light Banana

Barbara Daly Eye Base

Collection Sheer Loose Powder 2 Translucent

Face Stockholm eye shadow in Morkbrun

Face Stockholm eye shadow in Nastan Svart

Cargo Cosmetics black eyeliner pencil

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil in Whiskey (as lip liner)

Ulta Silky Wear Lipcolor lipstick in Twilight Port

No 7 Midnight Lash mascara

Tools of the Trade 1The tools of the trade

 

I started off by applying tinted moisturiser (I loathe foundation and powder!) all over my face. The concealer was applied under my eyes whilst I covered the entire eye area with base; these areas only were set with a smattering of loose powder. Brows were filled in with the Morkbrun eye shadow.

Next, I dusted the entire eye area with Charlotte Tilbury 1 Eye Brighten. This was followed by a careful application along the socket line of Charlotte Tilbury 3 Eye Smoke to create a soft, sleepy look. I used a dome shaped brush to get the desired effect.

CT Palette open

CT Palette back

Next, I applied the black eyeliner pencil along the top lashes only, and went over it with the Nastan Svart eye shadow to fill in any errant ‘gaps’ and to add further definition. This was followed by three generous coats of mascara.

Garbo eyes

Garbo eyes 2

Garbo eyes closed

 

I used two different lipsticks whilst keeping the overall look the same. Here, I used the Inglot lipstick and NYX lip liner:

New Garbo collage

 

In this picture I used the Ulta lipstick with the Urban Decay eye pencil in place of an actual lip liner (I had to improvise as I’d run out):

Garbo and Me

 

For blush, I used the Charlotte Tilbury 5 Cheek Swish

New Garbo pic

Back in the day the stars would apply vaseline to the eyelids for extra gloss, but unless you have a steady hand this can be tricky and messy to do. False eye lashes were also used, but I’m hopeless with those and opted for an extra coat of mascara instead. I do, occasionally, use cake mascara for a more ‘authentic’ feel, and regularly perm my eyelashes to further enhance.

Thanks for reading x

I’ve been a Planet Rock listener for donkeys’ years, and was intrigued when, quite recently, they began talking about ‘Damp Atlanski’. What sort of band is this, I wondered?

‘Damp Atlanski’ was, in fact, Dan Petlanski, a South African born musician who’s supporting Joanne Shaw Taylor on her current tour, and I got the chance to see them both.

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The above photo is the only half decent shot I got of DP (far left).

Although a newcomer, Dan Petlanski’s got promise. The bluesy music was good and he performed some Hendrix-esque techniques on his guitar, though he didn’t go as far as playing it with his teeth or setting it on fire! From where I was seated he looked like a cross between Hugh Lawrie and Mr Bean (no, I’m not being insulting, this is just my honest opinion), not quite dressed for the office and not quite rock n’ roll either. The backing band, DP informed us, were all German, and his performance was punctuated with little tidbits of info like that.

I later learned that a friend managed to get a selfie with him in the bar 🙂

Dan Petlanski may just be the rough diamond cutting his teeth musically, but he’s definitely one to watch. I, for one, will be keeping a close eye on his progress.

JST Stage

Joanne Shaw Taylor was simply brilliant. She’s come a long way since writing her first album at the tender age of 16, and her performance showed just how comfortable and at home she looked on stage. When she verbally interacted with the audience it felt as though one knew her personally; she even mentioned she was getting over a cold, the same way a friend would over a cup of coffee.

Her guitar playing was awesome, those fingers going like the clappers. The guitar tech seemed to bring her a fresh instrument after every number (DP had no such advantage, he had to sort his own instruments out). I was curious as to why the drummer was hidden behind a large plastic screen, though I later discovered it was to prevent the sound from reverberating too much.

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Thank you, Dan and Joanne, for keeping us entertained!

 

 

For me, autumn is the time to de-clutter stuff. I depotted my favourite eye shadows and blush, housing them all in one of those magnetic z palette things which I personalised with pics of my favourite Old Hollywood actresses, Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow:

Old Hollywood Palette Cover

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Next, I went through my entire stash, chucked out anything old and rancid (bye bye NYX lip creme in Amsterdam), setting aside new or barely used items in good condition which weren’t receiving any love. I parcelled these up and sent them to a womens’ refuge, knowing that these poor souls flee from violent situations with absolutely nothing.

Hopefully my package will at least bring some comfort.

I’ve now completed my third no-buy month. Do I miss buying loads of makeup? I thought I’d be climbing the walls by now, but I’m not. Instead I’m learning to appreciate the items I already have, and discovering new ways of using them. The ‘new’ items coming out onto the market for Christmas look like a pile of regurgitated old crap, anyway.

Disaster struck. My Urban Decay Naked lipstick broke off at the base during application and tumbled to the floor. I managed to retrieve the thing before the dog scoffed it, but alas I have no backup.

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Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, you were an awesome lipstick – until the base bust.

Rest in pieces, Naked. You’re being consigned to that general purpose graveyard, also known as The Bin 😦

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For those of you who don’t already know, Vidal Sassoon are discontinuing their excellent Salonist range of permanent hair colours 😦

Why is it that whenever I find something I like, they eventually stop making it??

If you have any recommendations for a good, permanent hair colour alternative, drop me a line in the comments below.

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Ah, my favourite subject – all things furry x

Probably the oldest cosmetic in my entire collection is the Urban Decay Lipstick in Fur (remember when UD housed their lipsticks in the old silver bullet casings?)

Urban Decay Fur label

Fur looks like a cool mauve in the tube, but swatches more bronzey. Despite its age it’s worn well, doesn’t smell odd or taste strange. The consistency is creamy and hydrating and lasts reasonably well through eating and drinking. Another bonus is that it requires minimal touching up throughout the day; just as well, really, as heaven knows what I’ll do when it finally runs out (this was discontinued ages ago).

Dupe ideas, anyone?

UD Fur lipstick

 

OPI Nail Polish in My Dogsled Is A Hybrid

This minty green isn’t the usual sort of nail polish I’d go for, but at the time I fancied something a little different. Having worn it a couple of times, however, I decided something was lacking and so decided to add some glitter particles. Result – what looks like the inside of an Aero bar, all bubbly and knobbly!!

OPI knobbly effect

Despite my mishap, MDIAH is a nice summery shade, perfect to show off in flip flops whilst sipping Pimms on the lawn. The application was a little patchy, even sans sparkle, so you’ll need to apply 2-3 coats, and also a top coat to offset the matte finish.

OPI My Dogsled Is A Hybrid nail polish

TIP: If you do plan on adding glitter to nail polish, make sure it’s compatible, or else most of it will sink to the bottom and you’ll end up with an uneven, gritty texture.

 

MAC Burmese Beauty eye shadow quad

One of three of the Limited Edition palettes from the Fabulous Felines collection (the other two being Palace Pedigreed and Leopard Luxe), Burmese Beauty is one of those rare gems with which you can achieve a complete look. There’s Prized ( a pale beige for the browbone), Burmese Beauty ( a sort of greeny-brown duochrome not dissimilar to MAC’s Club eye shadow), which I wear in the crease, Skintone 2 ( a golden shade for the inner lid), and Showstopper ( a dark brown for the outer lid).

Burmese Beauty open

This is my go-to quad, taking me from just chilling at home, through to going into town, and then going to work. I wear it no matter what I do or where I go (anytime, any place, anywhere), and it stays put from morning till night (I know a lot of recent MAC LE products tend to be of subpar quality, but this isn’t the case here as it’s pre 2011).

The only gripe I have is that MAC could have made more of an effort with the packaging. This is why I decided to customise my quad with some cute Burmese cats:

Burmese Beauty customised back

 

 

Chantecaille Bengali Tiger palette

This golden compact houses four eye shadows, a blush and a highlighter which, in my view, looks good universally. The eye shadows are a deep forest green, cool pale gold, cool beige and dark brown. The blush is a flattering coral shade and the highlighter is a champagne hue.

Chantecaille palette closed

As you’d rightly expect from a luxury brand, all the colours are beautifully pigmented and easy to apply and blend. The blush and highlighter have an image of a tiger in the overlay, but as you can see in the pic below, it does fade eventually.

Chantecaille palette open

One reason I find Chantecaille so endearing is that they donate a percentage of their profit to endangered species. As an animal lover I feel our four legged friends are often overlooked in favour of conditions and situations affecting humans, yet animals have no voice but need our help just as much.

 

ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick in Kitty

This is the only item I have from ModelCo in my collection. It’s a nice, soft YLBB pink lipstick with a smooth texture which my dry lips absolutely love.

Modelco Kitty lipstick open

As for the ‘party proof ‘ claim – well, it certainly has staying power. Again, great for those of us who don’t have the time for constant touch-ups. Not sure whether this is still available; if so, it shouldn’t set you back more than £12.

Modelco Kitty Label

 

 

Hello Kitty Eye Shadow Compact

Okay, I’ll admit it – I bought this solely for the cute 70s style packaging. Hello Kitty looks so adorable riding that little purple scooter!!

Hello Kitty closed

The palette itself contains eight eye shadows in off white, taupe, flesh, cool plummy brown, olive, turquoise, dark grey and violet. It comes with a tiny little brush, and the compact has a mirror with a small Hello Kitty image embossed in the bottom right hand corner.

Hello Kitty open

The eye shadows themselves are poor quality, with little pigmentation and virtually zero staying power. However, as I mentioned earlier, the retro packaging is awesome, so at least this will brighten up your dressing table, if nothing else.

 

 

Essence Urbaniced Street Style Eye Shadow in 03 For City Kittys Only!

For me, Essence eye shadows in particular are either hit or miss; thankfully this one is the former. A deep smokey grey, I use this mostly as an eyeliner. It works either wet or dry.

Essence Urbaniced closed

The surface is kind of craggy, similar to close up pictures one sees of the Moon. With usage these soon disappear and in no way affect the product itself.

Essence Urbaniced open

So there you have it. I know this collection is mostly feline based, but I haven’t come across many products based on, for example, dogs. Let me know in the comments below if you have any animal themed makeup in your stash.

Thanks for reading x

Coming up in Part Four … The Weather

After ten long years, Phil and I finally got to revisit The Lake District, the ultimate haven for peace and tranquility.

We stayed in Ennerdale, at a place called Bankend Cottage. On our first morning I drew back the curtains and spent ages just watching the sheep grazing on the hillside opposite. It was a welcome change from seeing row upon row of houses and washing lines back home.

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The Lake District has become more touristy in the decade since we last visited. I was surprised to see a mother attempting to push a  young child in a buggy across the rocky terrain, and the local eateries were full of noisy youngsters who were behaving worse than any of the visiting dogs there.

 

Construction.JPGEnnerdale under construction

Our favourite pub in Ennerdale was The Fox And Hounds. Situated in a quiet location, the ales were excellent (I drank lots of Swan Black!), customers were well treated and the delicious food was reasonably priced. I highly recommend their steak and ale pie which is heaven on a plate 🙂

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I can’t say the same for the nearby Shepherds Arms Hotel. When Phil popped in to check out their opening times and menu he found the staff rude and unhelpful; so much for shepherds looking after their flock, then.

Shepherds Arms Hotel.JPGUnwelcoming – don’t bother stopping here

 

The Lake District scenery was as breathtaking as we remembered it. No matter what the weather, I could have sat by the lakeside all day and drank in the wonderful views.

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Another reason for our week long visit was a view to perhaps moving up to this idyllic part of the world in the future. Armed with the sort of prices we could afford, Phil and I investigated places such as Workington; unfortunately our budget didn’t spread beyond grey, dismal, rabbit hutch estates where weary housewives were pegging out their washing and the local kids were hanging out. I’d rather throw myself under a train than live in such an environment.

Chaucer Road Workington.JPGChaucer Road – the nicer and more expensive part of Workington

 

We also visited Buttermere and Cockermouth, searching for suitable souvenirs. Having traipsed up and down a few hilly roads, Phil and I realised just how unfit we both were. Even our dog Skye was struggling.

The Black Bull Cockermouth.JPGThe Black Bull, Cockermouth – our local’s namesake 🙂

 

DSCF5405.JPGWalking around Buttermere

 

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On the day of departure we were on the road by 7.30am, and we stocked up on our favourite ales along the way as we braced ourselves for the long drive back.

As my dear old Dad used to say, ‘Everywhere’s great …. but home is the best place to be’.

 

 

I’ve picked the worst month of the year to start my challenge. Why? Because it’s my birthday month and this is when the brands begin releasing their autumn collections (my favourite!) I could kick myself! Still, there’s no turning back now. My daughter craftily suggested I could ask her Dad to buy me makeup instead, but a) he’d probably baulk at the prices, b) he’d have no idea about what to buy without my specification, and c) he’d endlessly remind me how much makeup I already have (sigh).

I’m doomed.

Travel makeupMy holiday travel kit – everything I need for a perfect and fast makeover.