5 Things To Do Around Greater Manchester This Autumn

Tuesday, October 29, 2019
If you've been following me on instagram (@ofbeautyand) recently then you'll have seen that I've been exploring my home city of Manchester for a couple of upcoming posts, the first of which is today's post in collaboration with hotels.com. I was kindly gifted spending money by hotels.com but all of the views within today's post are my own. 

There are so many wonderful sites to visit within the centre of Manchester, it's many districts and within an hours drive of the centre so if you are a North West local then hopefully today's post will give you a few ideas of places to visit during the October half term or this autumn. Also, if you're visiting Manchester from around the UK or abroad, whether you're staying in a hotel or a serviced apartment in Manchester, here are a few of my top places to visit this autumn in and around Greater Manchester. 

Shopping: Primark, Friends Cafe, Manchester Fort & Trafford Centre 
Manchester is known for a few things including cotton manufacturing, football and of course, shopping. I think many people around the North West view Manchester as a hub of shopping destinations, from the arndale and the many smaller shops around the city centre to retail parks and one of the most famous shopping areas in the North West of England, the Trafford Centre. 

I live a short drive away from the city centre so it is easy for me to travel to the city centre and I typically park at the Victoria station car park as it's cheap, easy to find and there are usually spaces available. Victoria station car park is within easy reach of many of the main attractions within the centre such as the football museum, Chethams library, the cathedral, the MEN arena and the main shopping areas. 

My favourite spots to shop have to include the huge Primark we have on Market Street which also has the UK's first Friends cafe inside - it's an exact replica of the cafe from Friends, along with various sweet treats. I also like the arndale for it's wide range of shops and places for a bite to eat, although it can be very busy at the weekend so it's best to head to Manchester during the week, if you can, especially when the christmas markets begin next month. 
Jodrell Bank 
As I've said, there are so many wonderful sites within the city centre but there are many interesting and historic places to visit within a short drive from the city centre so if you're staying in Manchester and you have a car then why not explore Greater Manchester and it's surrounding cities such as Cheshire, Liverpool and Leeds.

The world famous Jodrell Bank is an iconic landmark for astronomy as it hosts the Lovell telescope which since 1957 has been exploring the universe. The site is part of the University of Manchester and it features more than the telescope as there's a plethora of interactive learning opportunities, guided tours, science shows, workshops, areas of children and a garden/picnic area.
The area around Jodrell Bank is beautiful in itself as is the Jodrell Bank discovery centre, especially at this time of the year. It is less than an hours drive from the city centre, there are a variety of activities for all ages, especially if you have children who are interesting in space! You can buy tickets online or at the centre for £7.65 per adult and £4 for parking which makes it one of the cheaper attractions around Greater Manchester.

You can look around on your own (which is what we did as we were a little low on time) or you can take part in one of the daily telescope walking tours or check out their website for more events coming up. I would love to go to one of their stargazing nights (£9.50) but you have to be quick as they seem to sell out quite quickly.
John Rylands Library & Chethams Library 
Manchester has such a wide history from the roman and viking invasions to the suffragettes and the industrial revolution, the latter is the most evident era of history within the area of Greater Manchester as a whole with it's mass of red brick mills and victorian factories but there are a few unusually beautiful and older buildings within Manchester too!

Firstly, within Castlefield you'll find the ruins of a roman fort which dates back 79AD (that's the period in history when Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed Pompeii)! The ruins are close by the Museum of Science and Industry which is well worth a visit and it's the museum I've visited the most within Manchester.

Another impressive building is Chethams Library which is part of Chethams School of Music and it dates back to 1421 but it was opened as a public library in 1652 which makes it the oldest public library in Britain. I've only been inside once but I would love to again as it is almost a mini Hogwarts library! As it is part of a working school, you do have to go in with a guide but it is free and well worth a visit.

The final historic building I wanted to mention that is also located in the city centre is John Rylands library. The library dates from 1890 and was built by the wife of Manchester's first multimillionaire, John Rylands, as a memorial to her husband. As with Chethams Library, there are also free tours at specific times and I would definitely recommend going on a tour.
Quarry Bank Mill 
Last week we travelled to Jodrell Bank and Quarry bank Mill as they aren't too far away from each other and they combine two aspects that Manchester is famous for, cotton manufacturing and science. Manchester was known as cottonopolis due to it's factories, warehouses and the amount of cotton products the city could churn out thanks to the growing population of Manchester, it's links to the docks in Liverpool, canal network and the plethora of mills and merchants.

There are so many National Trust sites to visit in the North West and my favourites have to include: Gawthorpe Hall, Lyme Park, Dunham Massey, Tatton Park and Quarry Bank Mill. If you have access to a car and you would like to explore around Greater Manchester, I cannot recommend a visit to Jodrell Bank and Quarry Bank Mill, both of which are do-able in one day if you have an early start.
The mill itself is incredibly interesting to look around as it is one of the best preserved mills of it's time and it provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the children and adults who worked at the mill - while they didn't have idyllic lives to say the least but they were treated far better than at other mills within Greater Manchester. The lives of the workers at Quarry Bank Mill takes centre stage with the money making cotton itself as without the hardworking people, the mill wouldn't be profitable.

As well as the mill, there's also a second hand bookstore, shop, cafe and facilities as well as the apprentice house and garden which hosts small tours with knowledgable staff dressed in period costume. I cannot recommend a visit to Quarry Bank Mill enough as it's not only an interesting peek into the lives of the mill workers of the time and the process of cotton manufacturing but the area is beautiful and the gardens are perfect for an autumnal walk.
Tatton Park 
I've already mentioned my love for the National Trust properties within the North West and I didn't know which one to include as my final recommendation as it's a toss up between the wonderful Dunham Massey (which is home to an ancient deer population and the deer come very close to the visitors) or Tatton Park. I recommend both wholeheartedly but if you don't have much time or you really want to see the local deer then head to Dunham Massey; however Tatton Park is going to be my pick for today.
Tatton Park is one of the UK's most complete estates with a Tudor hall, Neo-classical mansion, parkland, gardens and it's own deer population (although the deer at Tatton Park aren't as visitor friendly or as visible, from my experience). I love visiting Tatton Park as not only is the mansion interesting to look around but the gardens are some of the most beautiful I've visited. I adore Tatton Park so much that I had to visit it on my birthday this year.

I have so many more recommendations for places to visit within the city centre, Greater Manchester and the surrounding areas so if you are visiting soon, feel free to email me or comment below with questions or your own recommendations. I will have another post coming soon with more recommendations about visiting Manchester on a budget and more free activities. If you are visiting Manchester this week then be sure to look out for the monsters that have descended on the city centre as part of #halloweeninthecity and the halloween celebrations.

Have you visited any of these sites? Do you have any recommendations of places to visit in or around Greater Manchester? 

Latest In Beauty: October Edit 2019

Sunday, October 27, 2019
I love subscription boxes, particularly when they are beauty themed and especially so when I can choose the items. Latest In Beauty have some of the best limited edition beauty boxes, such as the new India Knight Edit (which I will be reviewing very soon) but their monthly boxes in which you can choose the items, are fantastic. I've been lucky enough to receive a few of their monthly boxes now and I've been very happy with each one, from the presentation and delivery to the item selection and brands available.

*Latest In Beauty - October Edit (£22, Beauty Enthusiast Box)
The October edit contains so many wonderful products, from more unusual items including an exfoliating hand cream and biodegradable baby wipes to CBD lip balms, collagen shots, insect repellant and tanning sheets masks, among others. I was very kindly sent the 'beauty enthusiast' box in which you can choose up to six items although there are other sizes available. The 'beauty novice' box is £16 and you can choose up to three items and the 'beauty guru' box is £25 with the option to pick nine items.
*SportFX Game Changing Mascara 
Let's start with my favourite item from the box and it's probably by favourite mascara ever, closely followed by the DHC Double Protection Mascara. The mascara packaging not only looks amazing with textured water droplets on the tube but it is such a long lasting mascara that's waterproof and it doesn't require countless coats or an eyelash curler. The mascara is unusual as on one end of the tube, there's a built in mascara remover...yes! The remover when brushed through the lashes, left for 20 seconds and then gently removed with a damp Makeup Eraser cloth, almost instantly removes the mascara. It's very impressive and perfect for me as I had laser eye surgery a couple of months ago and I still want to be a little more gentle with my eyes.
*Ciate Glow To Highlighter - Moondust
Another favourite product is the Ciate highlighter! I've wanted to try something from Ciate, besides their nail polishes, for a while and I'm glad that this item came up on the October selection. The highlighter is a great little travel size, the shade is utterly beautiful and thankfully it isn't filled with very chunky glitter. It is a little pink toned but it looks pretty on the skin and while it isn't as finely milled and minimally glittery as I wanted it to be, I still love the result.
*Dr Hauschka Lipstick in Chessflower 09
I haven't tried anything from this brand so I had to choose this lipstick when it came up on the Latest In Beauty selection. The lipstick contains moisturising botanical ingredients and mineral pigments including rose petals, almond oil and camauba wax. The shade is 'chessflower' which is the most beautiful crushed purple velvet colour that is ideal for this time of the year. The texture is so nourishing and moisturising but the longevity is there too.
*Sure Ultimate Fresh Deodorant
One of the things I love about the Latest In Beauty boxes is the wide range of items, from fragrance samples and skincare to makeup, unusual items and everyday essentials. There are a few beauty subscription boxes on the market that have lovely items but they can be quite repetitive or have mostly one category of items, such as skincare but the Latest In Beauty range is much more practical and convenient with the inclusion of everyday toiletries in it's line up.

*The NF Co Biodegradable Toothbrush 
Speaking of everyday items is this very unusual biodegradable cornstarch toothbrush...yes, it's a toothbrush made of cornstarch. I'm aware of wooden toothbrushes but I haven't come across one like this before! You can recycle the toothbrush head and the packaging as well as the handle are biodegradable. I think that the addition of a biodegradable, zero waste and non-plastic item is amazing!
*Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water
Last but not least, I wanted to choose this mini micellar water from Garnier as I have the larger bottle and I thought the mini version would be perfect for travelling. I've been using this product since it was first released and I think it is fantastic. I'm glad it's part of the selection for October and it's still available on the site if you are looking to create your own box in October.

I cannot recommend the amazing Latest In Beauty boxes enough, either their monthly subscription boxes or their limited edition boxes as the range of brands, wide variety of products and the packaging/presentation is fantastic. My favourite items from the October selection have to include the amazing SportFX mascara (which I cannot recommend enough), the Ciate highlighter and the Garnier micellar water. The selection is fantastic this month!

Have you tried any of these products? What do you think of the October selection? 

*gifted

Women's Gift Guide: Part One + Gift Card Giveaway

Friday, October 25, 2019
I can't believe that I haven't posted any halloween content on my blog or social media yet but Christmas has taken over already and it's only October! I'm not complaining through as I love the lead up to Christmas (arguably even more than the day itself) so writing my christmas gift guides each year is always exciting for me...although probably not for all of the couriers and the postman delivering wonderful gifts. 

Today's post is my first christmas gift guide post of the year, although I have already published a gift ideas post which features the amazing Beerwulf beer advent calendar that I'd love for you to check out. I also have other gift guides on my blog from Father's Day, Mother's Day and more which might be helpful if you are looking to get a head start on gift shopping this year. 
As this is my first gift guide of 2019, let's start with the most festive looking gift and that has to be this adorable penguin cake stand from Sara Miller. I instantly fell in love with this range when I was looking through their catalogue and it was very difficult to decide which item I'd like to feature in this gift guide because all of the christmas products are so beautiful but the penguin theme items were too cute to pass up. 
The cake stand not only looks beautiful as a gift itself but the box it comes in is almost as beautiful too. I love the packaging and the product design as it looks very festive and sparkly (you have to have sparkles over the festive season, it's the rule) but it isn't tacky, over the top or too much. I love the minimal but festive design, the colours used and the utterly adorable penguin family on the top of the cake stand. My mum's favourite animals are penguins and you can see why with this illustration so I know she will be incredibly happy with this cake stand. 

I've have had a couple of cake and cupcake stands over the years and they have either been too simple and a little boring or they haven't been very functional - either they are too small or massive! Thankfully this cake stand has a diameter of 27cm which is perfect for a range of cupcakes, brownies or a large festive cake to be displayed on. What also makes this cake stand extra special, along with the beautiful box, is the 22 carat gold embellishments...yes! I cannot recommend this gorgeous cake stand enough as an extra special gift this christmas and you should definitely check out the rest of this sleek and simple but adorably festive range from Sara Miller. 
*Morning Glamour Satin Pillow Case - single (£12.99)
Next up, I wanted to include a luxe and unique but reasonably priced beauty item that is perfect for makeup, skincare and beauty lovers that have everything. I personally love to give beauty, makeup and pampering gifts to friends and family as in my opinion they are very 'safe' gifts to give and I know that everyone will like and use those gifts but it can get a little repetitive and boring so this pillow case is a great alternative.

The satin pillow case is designed to help prevent wrinkles, reduce hair loss and breakages and to help your skin retain moisture, as it isn't absorbent like a traditional cotton pillow case. I do suffer from dry skin as well as hair loss so I was very intrigued by this product and it is something I've wanted to try for a while. I have the pink option but there are lots of others to choose from and so far I'm loving it! It is super soft and smooth on the skin and I just like using it as it feels much more gentle on my skin and hair. Overall, if you have a friend or family member that loves beauty products but seems to have it all, this pillow case is a unique and practical gift that would be ideal as a stocking filler or even part of a beauty filled hamper. 
Along with beauty products, I also like to gift books as I personally get so much joy and escapism from books and I think they can be perfect for those with anxiety - they've helped me so much over the past couple of years. However, buying books can be a little tricky as you might not know which books your gift recipient already has or their taste in books but I think non-fiction is a great option.

Paperscapes create gorgeously illustrated and designed non-fiction reads that features pop out illustrations/structures to display which I think is such a unique idea, especially for a non-fiction read for adults. The book contains information and stunning illustrations of various landmarks and buildings within Paris to look through and learn about. There are a range of books within this series featuring cities such as London and New York so if you know someone who loves or wants to visit one of the cities featured then these books might be a unique and interesting gift idea.

*Teatulia Loose Leaf Tea 
Moving onto a delicious gift and I'm only featuring a mini sample within this gift guide but you will see the lovely *Teatulia Class Tea Selection (£14.95) within my upcoming mens gift guide. I am separating my gift guides this year and while some are labelled as 'womens' or 'mens', they are obviously suitable for anyone! Along with the set, I was also sent a sample of the jasmine green loose leaf tea which comes beautifully packaged and designed, just like the tea selection. I love herbal, green and floral tea options so this one was perfect for me and it's so delicious. I usually drink tea in the evenings as a cosy alternative to coffee and this option is the ideal autumn evenings drink. 
I am very lucky to be a Bomb Cosmetics ambassador (aka. a bomb babe) so I receive some of their adorable products every so often which I am very grateful for! I am excited for every delivery from Bomb Cosmetics as I love surprises, their boxes are always filled with colourful packaging peanuts and all of their products are adorable...this hot pack is no exception. I was very kindly sent a couple of their products for this gift guide and I love both but this little hedgehog is too cute for words.

I love receiving their new products and this recently released range of 'hot packs' is right on time for the colder months as it's becoming very chilly in Manchester already. The heat packs come in a range of adorable animal designs from penguins and foxes to unicorns, mermaids, fairies and even a narwhal! They'd make lovely practical gifts as well as being a cute home decor item, especially for children and I cannot recommend them enough. 
*Bomb Cosmetics Into The Woods Sets (£14.99)
The second Bomb Cosmetics set I was kindly set, sadly isn't available on the website currently but hopefully it will be back in stock soon or you might be able to find it within store that stocks Bomb Cosmetics. It's such an adorably designed gift set but has the cutest woodland theme! I love Bomb Cosmetics products in general (I've bought many of their products, well before I started working with them) but their gift sets and bath blaster cards are my favourite products. There are so many beauty and pampering sets on the market but I think Bomb Cosmetics stands out as not only are they reasonably priced but they are beautifully designed, everything is handmade, many of their products are vegan friendly and all of their products are cruelty free. 
*Nailutral Natural Polishes (£6.99, available at Boots)
Sticking with the beauty theme but moving onto a couple of potential hamper fillers or stocking stuffers. I've already reviewed the fantastic at home gel kits from Sensationail but for today's gift guide, I'm going to be recommending their new vegan 'natural' polishes which contain 85% bio-sourced ingredients such as potatoes, corn and wheat! I was kindly sent a couple of their shades but my favourite has to be 'buff brilliance' which is my ideal everyday nail polish shade. The polish applies well, it lasts quite a while too and it dries pretty quickly. I think nail polishes would be great as stocking fillers, especially if they're a little more unique such as this new range. 
*Silk & Bubble Super Nourishing Hair Growth Mask (£30)
Along with the pillow case, I think that this hair growth mask is a great gift idea for those who seem to have every beauty product as it is a little different. I've tried so many hair masks over the years and they are mostly the same but what makes this one stand out is the gorgeous scent, naturally nourishing ingredients, the smoothing results and it is vegan! I'm so glad that more products are being made for the growing vegan demand and it's great that the beauty world is also trying to be cruelty free and vegan too.

The mask contains so many wonderful ingredients such as coconut oil, fig fruit extract, shea butter, castor seed oil and argan oil, all of which are great for the hair. It smells heavenly, like a tropical summer holiday and even though I've only used it a few times so far, it has left me impressed after every use. I use it on dry hair and wash it out after 30 to 60 minutes and it leaves my hair noticeably smoother, softer, less tangled and feeling nourished. I can't say anything about the hair growth claims but if you're looking for a very effective hair mask, give this one a go. 
*Eye Majic Instant Eyeshadow (£19.99) 
There seems to be a theme with today's gift guide of unique beauty products and this one is no different! You may have seem videos of this item online as it is quite an unusual product and it does have mixed results but I think that when you get the hang of it, it's easy. The set I was sent is contains 20 applicator pairs in a variety of shades but the set as a whole is the 'seduce' shade range. It claims to be hygienic, easy to use, long lasting, non-stretching and great for beauty on the go. My favourite shade combination is 'shade 2' which features a golden beige, bronze and dark brown shade selection; although all of the shades are so pretty and quite natural. I think this shade selection would be great for this just getting into makeup or again those who seem to have every beauty product in existence.
I have used them a couple of times now and while the first attempt was a little...messy to say the least, I think that with practice and a little blending it can look pretty good. To use you place the pad over your eyelid (making sure it's positioned correctly will help reduce the likelihood of mistakes) and gently swipe across the eyelid. I've found that you don't need to move the pad very far, if you do, you might end up with eyeshadow where you don't want it to be. After a little blending with fingers, the corner of the application pad itself or with a small brush, you do end up with a pretty eyeshadow look. I don't think it is as quick as it claims to be but the final result is great (with practice). If you're looking for a unique beauty stocking filler then check out Eye Majic.
*Sassy Shop Wax Scented Wax Melts (£4 each)
Taking a short break from the beauty gifts to a couple of heavenly scented wax melts from Sassy Shop Wax which is a Bristol based company specialising in wax melts as well as room sprays and bath products. Their products tend to sell out quite quickly so if there's a specific scent that you want then it would be best to order as soon as you can. I was very kindly sent two of their wax melt pots which are handmade wax melts that you can break up to use in your tea light wax melt burner (or an electric one). I'm more of a candle person, rather than wax melts, as I just find candles easier to use but breaking up the segments, using the melts and cleaning them out of the burner was very easy, thankfully.
I chose the scents 'snow pixie' and 'antique bookstore' and I'm so happy with my choices as not only do they look amazing with a sprinkling of glitter but they both smell incredible too. The 'snow pixie' scent smells almost exactly like Snow Fairy from Lush which is one of my favourite Lush scents, along with Olive Branch. Snow Pixie contains the following notes of bubblegum, banana, pear drops, musk, vanilla and sweet candyfloss. Also between the 1 - 31st October, 10% of the profits from the sale of the Snow Pixie melts go to The Pink Ribbon Foundation which is fantastic!

Antique Bookstore contains the following notes: rose, incense, black pepper, cedarwood, sandalwood, amber, leather, musk, patchouli, moss and vanilla which combines to make the most delicious musky, rich and leathery scent - it's the scent of an old bookstore with worn leather chairs. I love both scents and it's definitely difficult to choose a favourite so I'm going to recommend both of them. The scent strength for both scents is fantastic (even with just one segment) and I can't wait to use them again, especially Snow Pixie. I cannot recommend them enough and I wish they'd bring out candle version of these scents in the future! Again, another fantastic stocking filler and one that's a little more special compared to mass produced wax melts.
*True Skincare Facial Oil - Dry Skin (£13.50)
Reasonably priced facial oils that are also effective and contain lots of skin loving ingredients can be a little tricky but thankfully True Skincare have a fantastic range of affordable organic facial oils that would make for an ideal winter skincare stocking filler, either for those avid skincare lovers (such as myself) or those starting out with a skincare routine and need a product that's going to give their skincare a little TLC during the colder winter months. The facial oil contains lovely ingredients such as sunflower seed oil, avocado oil, lemon peel oil, evening primrose oil and many more. It is cruelty free, suitable for vegans, certified organic by the Soil Association and it is 100% natural.

Before 2019, I had incredibly dry skin due to eczema but since becoming vegan at the start of the year my eczema has been almost entirely non-existent which is incredible but I do still have smaller areas that are slightly drier than others which can be exacerbated during the colder months so hydrating serums, rich moisturisers and nourishing facial oils are still my go-to products at this time of the year or when my skin need a little extra hydration.
The oil I have is designed for dry skin although they do have an oil for dehydrated skin and for oily/combination skin too so there's a facial oil for everyone - even those with oily skin can benefit from a deeply nourishing facial oil. The oil itself is packaged beautifully, I love the pipette dispenser and it has a very subtle scent so if fragrance or strong scented products irritate your skin then hopefully these will be fine for your skin.

I've been using the oil every other day as part of my evening skincare routine and you only need a tiny amount as a little goes a long way so I think one bottle will last a while! The oil feels so nourishing on the skin so I think it is going to feel even better when the weather become colder and my skin needs an extra layer of hydration. It leaves my skin feeling soft, moisturised and smoother but it isn't tacky or overly greasy and it absorbs quickly. I don't think you can go wrong with this lovely, natural facial oil as a beautifully packaged skincare stocking filler. They also have a few utterly gorgeous gift sets too!
*Magnetic Eyes No Glue False Lashes (£12.99)
Before I move onto the last couple of products and the exciting gift card giveaway, I wanted to quickly mention a few stocking fillers and a fantastic value skincare set. First up, magnetic false eyelashes, yes! I have never been able to apply false eyelashes, even simple individual lashes are difficult for me so I tend to only wear them for Halloween looks (which you can check out, if you want) so magnetic lashes sound perfect for a beginner like me!

The lashes have tiny magnets on them and they stay on your lashes using smaller sets of lashes (similar to individuals) that also have magnets on them to sandwich your own lashes in-between them. It is such a great idea, especially as I am a beginner and I have sensitive eyes so glue is never a pleasant option. It can definitely be very tricky to get the magnets lined up on your lashes (it took me countless attempts but bear in mind that I'm a beginner) but they look so pretty and they make me want to wear false lashes more often.

*Ark Skincare SPF30 Primer (£36)
I'm not going to rave too much about this product as I already did on my August and September favourites post. I've been using this primer for the past few weeks and I love it, not only for it's skincare benefits and SPF but it helps my makeup last longer. It would be a wonderful gift on it's own or you can check out their great value gift sets.

*LookFantastic Discovery Bags (£12 - £36)
We all know how much I love the LookFantastic monthly beauty boxes (which would be a great gift idea) but I love their limited edition and seasonal boxes even more! They have just released a range of 'discovery bags' which range in price and brand but they are all amazing value for money. I was very kindly sent the First Aid Beauty bag (£20, worth £32) and the Clinique bag (£20, worth £34). I love the products I've tried already from First Aid Beauty so I was very happy when this box arrived! I think the discovery bags are a fantastic way of trying a few products from a brand before potentially buying the full sizes or to introduce a brand to someone else. 
*Vera Wang Princess EDT (£19.95, 100ml)
Lastly, two beauty gifts from TJ Hughes and my exciting gift card giveaway! I was very kindly sent a few products from TJ Hughes (you'll see more of them in my upcoming mens gift guide), including the gorgeous Vera Wang Princess EDT. I've tried a few samples of this fragrance and I loved wearing it each time so I'm very happy to have a full sized bottle of the fragrance, especially as the bottle is so cute! The fragrance is currently reduced on TJ Hughes from £60 to £19.95 which is a fantastic saving, particularly as fragrances can be very expensive so hunting around for bargains is a great way to save a little money on fragrance gifts.
The fragrance contains the following notes: waterlily, apple, mandarin, pink grapefruit, tuberose, dark chocolate, vanilla, woods and amber, which combine to make a lovely floral and fruity, feminine and fresh everyday fragrance. I've been wearing the fragrance as an everyday casual fragrance since I received and I love wearing it! The longevity is great considering it's an eau de toilette and it doesn't give me a headache which can happen with some stronger fragrances.

Fragrance gifts can be a little tricky but if you know someone who loves any fragrance or if you know their favourite then definitely check out TJ Hughes as they have a fantastic range of reduced womens and mens fragrances to choose from including a great selection of brands - from designer perfumes to celebrity fragrances. 
As well as a great range of fragrance gifts, they also have a variety of beauty, bath and body gift sets too such as this cute and very festive cracker set from Baylis and Harding. It contains a hand cream (which is always needed during the colder months) and a small perfume rollerball. I think it's a great set, especially as a stocking filler or a secret Santa gift. This particular set is currently out of stock on their website but it might be available in-store or you can check out the other sets available.

Now onto the section of the gift guide that you've all been waiting for, the gift card giveaway. The gift card is very generously being supplied by the lovely people over at TJ Hughes (thank you!) and while I would love to host an international giveaway, this one is only open to those based in the UK. The giveaway is for a £60 TJ Hughes gift card and the giveaway will run until midnight on the 17th November with the winner being announced on my social media (and via email) on the 18th November.

To enter the giveaway all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below, filling in as many of the entries as you want but the more you fill in, the more chances you have of winning the gift card. Thanks so much to all of the brands in today's gift guide, especially TJ Hughes for the wonderful giveaway prize! Good luck and if you have any problems with the giveaway form below, let me know on Twitter (@ofbeautyand) or email me: heathernixon4@gmail.com. 
Have you entered my giveaway? What do you think of my gift ideas? 

*gifted

*Dream Holiday Homes + Locations

Thursday, October 24, 2019
Image from Pinterest
After reviewing a hotel stay this month (check out my review of the Hallmark Hotel in Glasgow) and visiting a few new sites around my area for an upcoming post, it's made me feel like I want to travel more! Owning a holiday home or second home abroad seems like the ultimate dream and if I was lucky enough to own or rent a holiday home there are quite a few locations around the world that I'd love to live in. However, for today's post I'm only going to mention a few locations otherwise the list would ridiculously long...

Portugal 
I visited Lisbon a few years and I would love to visit again as we only had one day to explore so there's still so much more to see! Portugal is such a beautiful country, especially the Algarve region so I think that a holiday home would be perfect in the Algarve. Ideal Homes have a selection of utterly beautiful properties for sale in Portugal and properties for sale in the Algarve region. There are so many heavenly villas to choose from and if you want to look through beautiful dream home photographs then definitely look through the properties on Ideal Homes, especially those in the western Algarve.

Italy
Another country that is one I would love to live in is Italy. Based on all of the countries I've been lucky enough to visit in Europe (which is quite a lot!), Italy is one I would be incredibly happy to live in. My favourite Italian city is probably Venice, shortly followed by Florence, both of which I throughly recommend visiting. I have a few posts on my blog already about some of the various locations I've visited in Italy and around Europe, if you want to scroll through!

Scottish Highlands 
Lastly, a location closer to home! Scotland is one of my favourite countries to visit, especially after visiting Stirling, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park this month which were all so beautiful. I have a photo diary post of my visit to Scotland on my blog, if you want to read it. I've been camping around Scotland since I was a child and while I loved the places we visited, including Oban, Fort William and the Isle of Mull, I think my favourite Scottish city is probably Edinburgh but I'd love to visit more of the highlands and Shetland.

Would you buy a villa abroad? If so, where? Have you visited any of the locations I've featured? 

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Christmas Gifts: Beerwulf Advent Calendar

Wednesday, October 23, 2019
The countdown to Christmas has begun and I'm all for it! This is my favourite time of the year as there's the anticipation of christmas, the preparation, autumn leaves and the imminent arrival of the best holiday of all...no not christmas, halloween. I love the lead up to christmas arguably more than Christmas Day itself so the process of writing and photographing my christmas gift guides each year is something I always look forward to and this year is no different.

I already have so many amazing gifts to share with you in the form of gift guides, review posts and an exciting gift card giveaway that will be live in a few days time (so definitely stay tuned for that). If you want to see the products I will be including in my gift guides early, follow me on Instagram (@ofbeautyand) for unboxings. Today marks the start of my gift guide posts with an exciting and rather unusual gift idea, a beer advent calendar!
*Beerwulf Beer Advent Calendar (£49.95)
No, you didn't read the price incorrectly! When I was first emailed about this advent calendar I thought the price would be at least around the £60 mark or more but I was very surprised by the very low price point as it makes each beer only £2.08. The advent calendar contains 24 bottles and cans of beer which range in size, brand, variety, flavours and strength as well as the country of origin so if you know someone who loves beer then this would be a great option as there's such a wide range included in the calendar.
All of the beer options within the advent calendar are also craft beers so they are a little more unique compared to general and more widely available beer brands so it would be a great way to try new flavours and brands that you (or your lucky gift recipient) may not have tried or even seen before. They are from 24 different breweries and there is an exclusive Jopen beer bottle that is only available from Beerwulf within the advent calendar too which makes it even more of special and unique gift.
One of my favourite things about this beer advent calendar, along with the price, is the design! There are so many advent calendar out there now from beautiful beauty options to jewellery, stationery, chocolate (naturally), candy, skincare, snacks and more, including a variety of alcohol related options to choose from so aesthetics and the uniqueness of an advent calendar is what can set it apart and make it a more special gift.

The design for the 2019 advent calendar is perfect, in my opinion, as it is festive but not cheesy or tacky. It is simple and readable but it isn't too minimal - it still looks like a special christmasy gift. I love the side in which you can add the name of the beer along with a rating too which is a nice touch and something I wouldn't have thought of. I also like the individual boxes for the beer bottles and cans as it means there's a nice surprise every day on the lead up to christmas. Also each box is packed randomly so the order of the beers in each box will be different but the contents is still the same.
There's only one minor problem with the box and that is the lack of an outer box so it leaves open the potential for a damaged box (either by the courier or the elements) which isn't what you want if you're giving it as a gift but thankfully mine arrived undamaged and intact so hopefully everyone's will too! It is quite a study, durable box so I imagine it isn't going to be an issue for most recipients.

Along with the fantastically festive design, the beers inside are pretty unique and beautifully designed too, for the most part. I've had a look through all of the beers included and while I don't want to spoil all of the contents for everyone, I will say that some of the flavour combinations are quite unique and there are many brands I haven't come across before so hopefully the lucky Beerwulf advent calendar gift recipients will have a delicious surprise everyday and find some new favourite flavours or brands which you can then hopefully purchase on the Beerwulf website.

Overall, I think the Beerwulf advent calendar is such a wonderful gift to give any beer lover this christmas as it not only looks amazing and makes for a very substantial gift but it is a gift that keeps on giving. The variety of the brands included and the flavour combinations makes it a gift for both beer lovers and those who are new to the world of craft beers or want to try brands that they might not have tried before. I think it is an amazing value gift, the delivery time was very quick and I think my dad will absolutely adore this gift!

Don't forget to check out the Beerwulf website for even more information about the advent calendar, along with their fantastic selection of gifts for a range of budgets including their beer cases, individual bottles and cans, beer kegs, gift cards and their beer subscription box.



What do you think of this beer advent calendar? Is it something you'd buy for a loved one this christmas? 

*Gifted

August + September Favourites

Tuesday, October 22, 2019
I have been so busy recently with visiting Glasgow, exploring my city (for an upcoming post), starting Christmas gift guides and getting new tattoos...but I have finally got round to posting my long over due summer favourites wrap-up! I have found so many new products over the past three or so months that I love and I cannot recommend enough.

Before I get into the specific individual product reviews, there are quite a lot of products that I have already mentioned on my blog, www.allsubscriptionboxes.co.uk or my social media that I wanted to mention again. Firstly, the amazing GHD Platinum+ Styler which I have been using constantly since I was very kindly sent it last month. I have used a few of their stylers, including buying one myself and I cannot recommend them enough.

Next up, a few beauty items from various subscription boxes including the ever wonderful LookFantastic box (I particularly loved their birthday box) and the equally as fantastic Latest In Beauty boxes. My Favourite Latest In Beauty box had to be my picks from the September selection which included the Nars Toledo Lipstick and Kat Von D Go Big Or Go Home Mascara, both of which I adore. I'm also loving the contents of the beautiful 2019 LookFantastic advent calendar which I reviewed over on All Subscription Boxes.

Lastly for my 'honourable' mentions are two beautifully scented products! The shampoo I've been using the most recently and the shampoo that happens to be the most heavenly scented is the Lush Soak and Float Bar (which I need to buy another of). I also love the fragrances I was very kindly scent from Celeste de Provence, especially the Soleil perfume - I can't recommend them enough!
Now onto a few product reviews for a range of beauty and lifestyle items that I was very kindly sent over the past couple of months. The first is a trio of adorably packaged shower gels from the lovely people over at Bubble T. I've loved Bubble T products for a while so I was excited when this surprise package arrived, especially as the packaging is so cute! I have all three of their new ice tea shower gels, including the peach, raspberry and mango options. The shower gels are reasonably priced, in my opinion, but you can also buy the trio as a bundle for £9.99 on the Bubble T website, where you'll also find a selection of adorable products and great gift ideas. 
I love all three scents but my favourite from the range is probably the raspberry ice tea option (which is super fruity and refreshing) but the peach scent isn't far behind! The shower gels are cruelty free and contains aloe vera to cleanse, soothe and moisturise the skin. As well as being lovely scented shower gels, they are also gentle on the skin, effective and the packaging is made of sugarcane so that it is recyclable which is amazing and something that I think more companies should consider! If you're looking for a new fresh and fruity shower gel then check out Bubble T. Also don't forget to have a look through their fantastic gift selection - I have my eye on their gift sets and advent calendar. 
*Ark Skincare Skin Perfector Triple Action Exfoliator (£35)
Next up, sticking with the theme of effective and cruelty free products! I've been lucky enough to try a few products from Ark Skincare with my favourite product so far being their amazing replenishing moisturiser from their 'age defend' range which I cannot recommend enough as my skin adores it. I also love their *Skin Essentials Skin Protector SPF 30 Primer (£36, 30ml) which is such a lovely primer as not only does it help prep my skin for makeup by providing a smooth base but it also contains great skincare ingredients and SPF30 - what more could you want in a primer!

Enough raving on about another product, one of my current favourites from Ark Skincare is their exfoliator which contains fruit acids as well as physical bamboo microbeads to exfoliate and smooth the skin. I've only used it a three times so far as I don't want to potentially over exfoliate but each use has left my skin feeling so much smoother. It doesn't feel too harsh or abrasive on my skin and I think it could be suitable for many skin types, unless you have broken or extremely sensitive skin. 

*Ark Skincare Hydration Masque (£35)
I have been following up my use of the exfoliator the next day with the hydration masque which contains lovely ingredients including vitamin A, vitamin B5 and vitamin C. I've used the masque a few times now and while I'm not a huge fan of the tube packaging for both of these products, I do love the masque itself. It has a thick gel like texture which feels nourishing on the skin and it always leaves my skin feeling smoother, softer and moisturised. The masque, as well as all of their other products is cruelty free and suitable for vegans so if you're looking to give the gift of wonderful and effective skincare this year, you can't go wrong with Ark Skincare and their ethos. 
*Green People Sun & Travel Collection (£37.95)
I'm a little late with this product recommendation as summer has now passed but I hope this review and recommendation will be useful for those looking for some autumn sunshine or if you have a winter holiday coming up. I have been lucky enough to try a range of products from Green People over the years and while I love their sensitive skincare and their SPF, my current favourite item is probably the *Green People Velvet Matte Lipstick in Berry Nude which is the lipstick I've been wearing in most of my instagram photos, along with Nars Toledo.
I also cannot recommend their SPF and kits enough as not only are the products cruelty free, effective and gentle on the skin but this kit is also ocean friendly, suitable for those with eczema and it is hand luggage friendly too (what more could you want!). The kit comes with the SPF 30 sun lotion (100ml), SPF 15 sun lotion with tan accelerator (100ml) and the hydrating after sun (100ml). I think they are all great products and I used the SPF 30 lotion almost everyday in the summer when we had a very unusual heatwave across the UK.

I think the sizes are ideal for a weekend away in the sun and if you are going to be spending time in the sunshine, you do need to use SPF and keep re-applying throughout the day too. If you're looking for an easy, travel friendly SPF kit then check out this great value option from Green People. Also have a look at their offers page as you could get a free gift with your order or a 10% discount.
*Haute Florist Coral Carnations Hatbox (from £42)
Last but definitely not least is a beautiful floral hatbox that I've been meaning to review and rave about for the past few weeks! I've been lucky to receive a range of beautiful bouquets from the generous people over at Haute Florist within 2019 so I was very excited to receive one of their more unusual items, their floral hatboxes. I have reviewed a few of their bouquets, if you want to read my previous reviews as I think they'd make lovely gifts.

I've been looking at their gorgeous floral hatboxes for a while as they are all so unusual! I had to choose the 'coral carnations' option as to me, it was the most autumnal looking hatbox on offer and we all know by now that autumn is my favourite season. Although there's such a wide range of not only bouquets and hatboxes to choose from but also plants!
The 'coral carnations' hatbox contains a selection of carnations along with decorative copper sprayed leaves and twisted willow (at least I think it is, if I'm wrong, let me know in the comments below). The soft peachy toned carnations along with the copper sprayed leaves look so beautiful together and instantly made me think of the changing leaves of autumn so I had to choose it but it was a close call between the coral carnations, sweet sophistication and the serene beauty hatboxes, all of which look incredible!

The flowers lasted for much longer than I thought they would and the arrangement look beautiful in our home! I think that bouquets of any kind would make a lovely gift for all occasions but the hatboxes make an even more stunning and unexpected gift idea. They look unique and eye catching so I think they'd make a perfect and 'safe' christmas gift. I know that my aunties and my mum would love to receive one as a Christmas gift!

Make sure you follow me on Instagram (@ofbeautyand) to see my blogger mail unboxings, favourites and sneak peeks of upcoming posts!

Have you tried any of these products? Which products did you love during the summer? 

*Gifted

*Why you should consider taking time out to travel alone

Sunday, October 20, 2019
Image from Gal Meets Glam
Travelling is something that I love for many reasons and I’ve been lucky enough to experience some of the most exciting countries in the world, though I’ve still got lots on my list that I’m determined to get to experience! Travelling with friends and family is always an enjoyable adventure, but there’s something pretty special about having the confidence to take a trip with only the company of yourself.

Whether you’re testing the waters with a weekend away close to home or going all out and jumping on a plane halfway across the world, there are a fantastic range of benefits for travelling alone that can empower you in so many ways, as soon as you’ve done it once you’ll want to do it again and again and again!

Get out of your comfort zone
For many of us, going about our day to day business on our own is second nature, but travelling away with only our own company to enjoy is a completely different kettle of fish. Being away from the all too comfortable bubble that we call home can push you to the edges of your comfort zone and will challenge you in a whole range of ways. It’s good to do something that makes you feel a little nervous every once in a while and chances are you’ll feel revitalised and new sense of self afterwards.

You get to choose your own destination 
With no one else to have to please, travelling on your own means being able to choose your own destinations and plans without compromise. Not only this, you also have the option to select your dedicated routes, accommodation plans and culinary treats without having to share!

It's good for your wellbeing 
Enjoying your own company isn’t always easy at first and it can take time and work to truly reap the benefits of me time. Yet once you’ve mastered the art, you’re likely to see an improvement in your wellbeing. Travelling is good for the heart and the soul, the excitement of a new found location and the relaxation associated with taking time out can reduce stress and calm the body and mind.

Where to start?
If you’re considering taking a solo trip but don’t know where to begin, it’s advisable to start small. The last thing you want to happen is to fork out on long-haul flights and accommodation only to realise shortly after arriving that travelling alone isn’t for you (not that I’d expect this to happen, but you never know!). Start by taking a short break close to home, select somewhere that you can relax and unwind or somewhere that offers the option to explore a new town or city depending on your preference. By starting with a short and close to home break, you’re able to begin to indulge in the world of solo travel risk-free.

If you’re in the North West like myself, the Lake District is a great place to start, being synonymous with relaxation and beautiful scenery yet only an hour away from home. If you’re an Instagram-lover, there are a whole host of super chic and insta-ready one bedroom Lake District cottages available to help you relax. With everything from freestanding baths to open fires, it sounds like a dream to me! 

Once you’ve got your bearings with travelling alone, it’s time to start thinking about that first solo trip abroad. Europe is a continent that is certainly generally safe for solo female travellers and a great place to start, with many of the Scandinavian countries coming out top on the popularity front. Iceland would make for a fantastic first abroad solo adventure, not only is the northern country covered in beautiful scenery and landmarks, the locals are known for their friendly and welcoming nature and there are a huge array of organised trips that you could book onto – you may even make a friend or two along the way!

If the colder weather isn’t to your liking, why not head off on a solo cruise? If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I have been lucky enough to be on many a cruise and they really are just a fantastic experience. I know many people who have enjoyed cruising alone, the community atmosphere makes meeting new people easy and the abundance of activities and excursions means you’ll never be short on entertainment!

Would you consider solo travelling? Have you visited the Lake District? 

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*Top 5 Engagement Ring Trends for 2020

Saturday, October 19, 2019
Image from Pinterest
If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re going to be getting engaged shortly. Congratulations to the both of you! Before you start planning your wedding, you’ve got all of the exciting engagement activities to go through, including picking a ring. We bet you can’t wait to get started with everything. But where do you start? There are so many different styles to pick from. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Coloured Stones
2020 can be the time for some brides to break tradition. According to Harper's Bazaar we’re going to see more blues, purples, pinks, and greens on the fingers of fiancees this year. Coloured stones break away from the usual, and can allow an engagement ring to show more of your personality. If a diamond feels like a bit much, or not really your style, don’t be afraid to explore the multi-coloured world of gorgeous gemstones.

Halo Cluster 
Halo cluster rings have been a favourite style for generations and it’s looking like next year will be no different. Their “halo” style of a diamond surrounded by other smaller ones makes for some incredibly eye catching pieces. Each one feels special. If you’re looking for just the right ring then look no further than right here.

Georgian Inspired 
When you think of Georgian jewellery, you think of intricate metalwork and an astounding attention to detail. It’s clear to see the design has been carefully planned from start to finish. It’s not surprising to see this style coming back into play for 2020. It is a beautiful style for any bride to be.

Emerald Cuts 
An emerald cut is a rectangular-shaped diamond. It is a striking choice and can really emphasise the cut and clarity of the gem. It is simple, yet sophisticated. They’re usually best done in the bigger stones. So if a big sparkle is what you’re after, an emerald cut is certainly one to consider.

Stackable Rings 
We love the idea of embracing this trend within the wedding world. With a stackable engagement ring, you also can incorporate it into your wedding band, too. This opens up so many opportunities and gives you a chance to get creative with your pieces. Thank you Wedding Ideas for the inspiration with this one.

Needless to say, there are so many different styles of engagement rings, you’re bound to find your perfect one. It just begs the question: how would you like your partner to propose to you?

*collaborative post

*Dream Autumnal Home Features

Friday, October 18, 2019
We all know by now that autumn is my favourite season and that is for so many reasons; the changing colour of the leaves, darker evenings, halloween and cosy autumn nights at home! I am all for hygge and cosy home decor and the best time of the year for everything hygge is autumn, from candles and blankets to comfy cushions and halloween decor.

I have already started decorating for halloween and autumn with brushed cotton sheets, candles (the best autumn and halloween candles are definitely from TKMaxx), wreaths, blankets and obviously pumpkins. The decor and shades for this time of the year make me feel so cosy and while I don't have my dream home yet, it makes me think of all the features and decor I'd would have!

Glass Balustrade 
I would love a glass balustrade within my dream home, particularly if it could be combined with a spiral staircase as who doesn't want a spiral staircase. I do like the look of cute wooden balustrades but I think the glass options look so more more modern, easier to maintain and could fit within almost any decor or colour scheme. I also love the idea of a glass juliet balcony which is something I've never really thought of before but they look unique and they'd help to bring in more natural light.

Waterfall Shower
Another feature I would love, especially for this time of the year is a waterfall shower which not only look amazing but I think it would make me never want to leave the shower! When both of the bathrooms were being renovated last year it was something I would have loved to choose but because of the size, they just wouldn't work sadly.

Porch 
The most autumn related feature that my dream home would have to have is a cute American-style porch for spending time reading on and for displaying all of the pumpkins I can possibly imagine! I have an entire board on Pinterest dedicated to home decor and recently pumpkin filled porches with fairy lights and candles have featured heavily.

What do you think of my dream home picks? What features would you want in your dream home? 

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