GWR first class train service review


Having tried out first class on a GWR (Great Western Railway) train for the first time here is what I thought.

Destination: London Paddington

Time of day: Lunchtime

Journey Duration: 2 hours

Seat number: K6 (window seat sharing a table with one other in the opposite seat). This was located next to the luggage rack too.

The seats are lovely and comfortable with plenty of table space and conveniently located plug and USB sockets.

There was no at seat service on this particular journey but this was completely fine as I was sat right next to the on board buffet service.

The following were the complimentary options available to first class customers at this time on a Sunday: tea, coffee, orange juice, apple juice, coke, diet coke, sprite. Crisps, fruitcake and short bread.

Seating seemed to be available in either a table for two or for four format.

Seats K2, 3, 4 and 5

There is free wi-fi but I don’t believe this is limited just to first class. The signal also kept dropping out.

All in all for the added comfort and quietness of the coach this was a pleasant journey. I would consider going first class again on GWR for longer journeys in future. It’s definitely worth booking a few weeks ahead online to get a cheaper price and guaranteed seat reservation.

Thanks for reading.



Trip to Edinburgh


I recently went to Edinburgh for a weekend getaway, it’s such a charming place I could definitely see myself living there.

First up the hotel – Village Hotel Edinburgh

This is located roughly 15-25 min by bus from the centre of Edinburgh depending on traffic, with a bus stop conveniently located right outside on the main road. It is also opposite a petrol station and a 10 minute walk from a supermarket.

This is the standard village double room – the bed was comfortable and the room was clean and tidy and a good size.

The hotel also has a Starbucks conveniently located in the lobby. There was also a bar area which showed sports and next to that was the Verve Grill. Included in our room package (bought through buy a gift) was breakfast both mornings and dinner on the first evening.

The three course dinner was delicious I had a portion of ribs to start followed by a burger (which seemed to be a popular choice in the restaurant) I believe I had a creme brulee for dessert. We ordered from a set menu and only paid for drinks.

The package also included access to the spa facilities (I believe normally there is a £5 charge). This included a 20m swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room which was not that busy both occasions I used them (between 5-7pm) and a welcome relaxing break.

Edinburgh centre


The views in Edinburgh city centre were lovely and it was also great for shopping! I was rather happy to find a NYX section being sold at the Boots.

The buses are convenient to get around on. An adult day ticket was £4 for unlimited travel, if you are also looking to travel to or from the airport I would recommend the airport day ticket for £9 for an adult. Both of these options include unlimited travel for the day by bus or tram. I would also recommend downloading the app and linking up your ticket purchase. Much easier to flash the screen at the driver each time rather than digging out my paper ticket.

Based on the good reviews on trip advisor we also visited Camera Obscura and World of Illusions located next to the castle. This was £14.50 for an adult and they stamp your hand so you can return again later that day. It features several floors (seemed to be stair entry only) of optical illusions and I would definitely recommend watching the show (upon entrance they let us know what time the next show would be at). This attraction kept us amused for a few hours – just nice to experience something different. There are also lovely views at the top.

One part of camera obscura that was quite amusing was the ability to take a photo of your face and amend it based on a series of selections. So here I am transformed into a manga character:


Edinburgh Dungeons

Located at 31 Market St, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 1DF. The walk up price for this for adults is £16.95 but cheaper if booked in advance.

This is effectively a walk through tour lasting roughly 80 minutes where you are in groups of up to 32 people. Having previously visited the London dungeons it was really interesting to see what they did in Edinburgh. I won’t say too much on this as I don’t want to spoil the experience as it’s best to see for yourself.

Edinburgh Gin Distillery

Located at 1a Rutland Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2AD just around the corner from the Huxley. This gin distillery offers a range of tours to suit different requirements. Best booked in advance as it does get booked up for the weekends. At the time of booking there were only spaces left for the Gin Discovery Tour at £10 per head, which runs at 10am, 12pm or 2pm for groups of up to 8 people.

Having only recently gotten into drinking Gin this tour was a real eye opener filled with lots of interesting facts. There is also an opportunity to try a gin and tonic at the end and make purchases from the rather cosy gift shop. I would recommend this tour if you like gin :).

The Doric

This can be found at 15-16 Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DE. We actually went for a drink in the downstairs area before the dungeons and surprisingly ended back here based on reading good recommendations eating upstairs that same evening.

The restaurant and wine area upstairs had a lovely feel to it and there was a good selection of options on the menu.

Wanting to try some more Scottish food I went for the traditional Cullen Skink soup to start which had haddock, potatoes, onions and cream. This was quite filling but absolutely delicious, especially good on a cold day as it’s very comforting. For the main course I had Haggis Neeps & Tatties, which has Haggis, mashed potato and mashed turnip. This was actually my first time having haggis. This was a lovely dish to try but alongside the filling starter I barely managed to finish it. All in all a lovely bistro and I would recommend to try.

Dragonfly cocktail bar

This can be found in Edinburgh Old Town at 52 West Port Edinburgh EH1 2LD and is open until 1am. This has an extensive cocktail menu and great if you’re feeling adventurous and wanting to try something different. They also had a cosy sofa area upstairs. The staff are friendly and service is quick offering the option of paying for your tab at the end of the evening. The decor is eclectic but modern and the whole place had a really good chilled out vibe to it.


Can be found at 34 Victoria Street, Grassmarket, Edinburgh, EH1 2JW and offers a simple menu of Hog Roast Rolls.

Firstly you choose your size: piglet, oink or the grunter and your choice of white or brown bread. The option then is sage & onion, apple sauce, chilli relish or haggis. I went for sage & onion and apple sauce and it was delicious.

Seating is limited here but it’s a great pick me up if you’re looking for some quick, comfort food.

I was also recommended to try a deep fried mars bar and came across Clam Shell a takeaway on 148 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1QS.

As per below, the deep fried mars bar with ice cream on the left, on the right I was throughly surprised to see random food being fried such as ribs?!

As for the deep fried mars bar I still feel mixed about this at some points it was delicious and gooey and at some points it was sickly sweet, definitely couldn’t have a lot of it and couldn’t have had it without the ice cream. At least I have tried it though!

So that sums up my highlights of a trip to Edinburgh. All in all it was a great trip. Unfortunately, the flight back was cancelled so a 2 night trip turned into a 3 night trip with the last night being an exhausting combination of miscommunication and trying to sort out last minute transport home and accommodation. However, I will thoroughly remember Edinburgh for its friendly people and charming landscapes. Hopefully I will be back again in future!

Thanks for reading!



NYX vs Urban Decay Setting Sprays


The battle of the setting sprays this is my review of NYX vs Urban Decay.

Setting sprays work to pull your make up together and should prevent it from moving throughout the day. I would say these are good for if you’re doing a full face of make up on either a long/warmer day.

NYX Make Up Setting Spray 

Retailing at £7 at Boots for a 60ml bottle. This is available in the matte shine-free finish or the dewy finish glow. The one that I have is the matte finish.

I was keen to try this one as I had heard some good reviews and also the price makes it good value for money. This does actually come with a cap for the spray pump but I just couldn’t seem to find it today.

I find with this one it does help to complete the look but it doesn’t make my make up last as long as I would like it too. I also found there is a slight scent to it and you need to spray it a further distance away from your face. It also on rare occasions comes out in droplets rather than a mist (not ideal). This did help to mattify my face but it’s lasting power is not great. Perhaps this is better suited for use on a shorter day out.

Rating 6/10

Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray

Retailing at £22 for 118ml this also comes in a convenient travel size of 30ml for £9 (also good if you are just looking to initially try it out). This has temperature control technology, which lowers the temperature of your make up to keep it in place.

This product really does help to extend the longevity of a full face of make up – it also dries quickly on the face once your first spray it.

One way that I would recommend using this is spraying it onto your sponge and then using your slightly damp sponge to apply foundation as this helps it to blend more easily and not look so heavy.

Another way is to give an eyeshadow brush a quick spritz before applying eyeshadow and it will make the colour pop.

Also, if there are any areas on your face that look cakey just give your sponge a quick spritz and lightly dab the impacted area.

This is my current go to setting spray.

Rating 8/10

Thanks for reading!



NYX concealer and eye pencil reviews


Now that NYX is in stock in Boots I’m sure there will be more NYX reviews to come but for now here’s my thoughts on some of the NYX eye products i’ve been trying out recently.

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil 12g in Milk

Retailing for £5 this is a great product to either use on its own or as an eyeshadow base. Coming in a wide range of colours, milk is the first one I went for as I always think white eye pencils are so versatile. This is also great for lining your eyes and making yourself appear more put together after a late night. Also works well for applying just to the inner corners to brighten the eye area. I would recommend this, I think it’s a steal at £5 only and I’m sure I will be adding more jumbo eye pencils to my collection.

NYX Dark Circle Concealer 

Retailing at £6.50 from Boots I purchased this one in the shade light. This is a concealer with orange undertones to combat the appearance of dark circles and comes in 4 shades: fair, light, medium and deep. I like to place this in a triangle shade on my under-eye area with a concealer brush and lightly pat in with my fingers which works to warm up the product simultaneously.

For me this is more of a corrector which I apply under a brightening concealer. This does correct some of the darkness under my eyes but I’m not sure if this is a product I would shout about from the rooftops.

NYX concealer wand 20g in yellow

This retails for £5.50 at Boots and is a lightweight concealer that can easily be blended into the skin. I picked up the yellow for colour correcting the dark circles under my eyes. This does not appear cakey at all and I am yet to experience any creasing. This does work to colour correct my darkness but I do find that I need to build it up to get enough coverage. It’s also extremely easy to apply with a wand applicator.

NYX  concealer wand 20g in green

Similar to the product listed above I also purchased the concealer wand in green to combat any redness in my skin. I’m not sure why but every time I apply this on my face it makes me think of toothpaste (I’m sure it’s just the green colour). This does work to colour correct but can appear odd at first due to the green tinge on the skin but once foundation goes on over it, it’s noticeable how the redness is magically cancelled out. I’ve also found that a little goes a long way with this one. I would recommend this product and I do prefer it to the yellow concealer if I had to choose between them.

Thank you for reading!



Current skincare and perfume favourites!


I always enjoy reading other peoples top favourite products as it gives me an opportunity to learn and try out great new products so I just wanted to share some of my current favourites.

Garnier Skin Oily Skin Clarifying Wash 150ml

This retails for £3.29 from Boots in the UK and is quite often on special offers e.g. 2 Garnier products for £4. This is a daily cleanser for combination to oily skin that contains Green Tea and Moringa extracts that cleanses and purifies simultaneously.

Although this is directed to be used twice a day I just like to use it in the evenings by lathering it in my hands and applying to my wet face in upwards circular motions focusing on my t-zone before rinsing off. I always pat my face dry afterwards and apply moisturiser.

Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Light Moisturiser 125ml

This one retails for £4.19 at Boots in the UK and contains vitamins that claim to keep skin moisturised for 12 hours.

I like to apply this one after cleansing my face and it feels very lightweight on the skin with no fragrances to it. When my skin becomes very dry – usually due to changes in the weather this one keeps me feeling moisturised all day.

Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream 15ml

This pot of goodness retails for £32 from Bobbi Brown. Although it sounds steep for an eye cream a little goes a long way with this one. I find this to be a great base for concealer and other eye make up. The cream absorbs quickly and feels really hydrating around my eye area. This contains mineral water and aloe vera too.

I’ve been using this for a while now and feel that it has improved the puffiness under my eye area.

GIORGIO ARMANI Code for Women Eau de Parfum 30ml

This is my all time favourite perfume, it is a very distinctive gorgeous smell that is very long lasting. This is also the perfume that I am also most likely to be complimented on. This can be a bit too strong for the day but perfect for dressed up evenings out or even casual dinners.

Thanks for stopping by!





Carpe Diem – Self reflection

Life gets hectic for all of us at some point or other.

More recently I feel as if I am constantly on the go, there just aren’t enough hours in the day, days in a week and weeks in a year. Days just rolls into one big blur and the weekends come around in a blink.

Finding time for self-reflection despite how hectic life gets is hugely important. We all deserve a bit of ‘me’ time once in a while.

One of my favourite phrases is ‘Carpe Diem’, which translates to Seize The Day. A motto which I strive to live by despite the challenges we come across in life.

These are just a selection of the ways in which I like to relax:

  • Taking a long bath – I love to use Lush bubble bars, my favourite is the comforter.
  • Listening to music – currently can’t get enough of 7 Years – Lukas Graham and Love’s On the Way – Sebastian Kole
  • Going for a walk – just nothing but my thoughts and fresh air
  • Gentle stretching concentrating on my breathing
  • Decluttering – sounds ever so OCD but I was brought up under the understanding that tidy environment = tidy mind

So however hectic life gets don’t forget to cherish the moments with your loved ones and be grateful for the memories and laughter that you share together.

Take time out to focus on yourself – mind, body and wellbeing – you deserve it.

Make every moment count.



Excellence Riviera Cancun Review


This is my review on Excellence Riviera Maya.

This hotel is located in Riviera Maya, Mexico and is an all inclusive, adults only resort just 25 minutes by taxi from Cancun.

We requested a quieter room and were pleased to be located in block 2 facing the spa (all rooms are pool view) which is close enough to the restaurants but far enough to avoid the evening entertainment noise.

The restaurants leave you spoilt for choice from Italian to French to Indian to Tapas to Asian. Definitely wouldn’t go hungry here. Be prepared with a mix of smart casual and more formal clothes as several of the restaurants have a more formal dress code. Our favourites were Chez Isabelle and Spice. We opted for the hibachi option at spice which involved show cooking in front of you in a room with 6 others. This was a great opportunity to meet some other guests. There is also a great little cafe serving delicious cakes and drinks on the same floor as the reception desk.

Delicious food at Spice

There are a great selection of bars dotted around. Be sure to check out coco loco time at 11am everyday on the beach behind sol bar where they make cocktails served in coconuts with the option of just having plain coconut oil. They also serve pizzas during the day from Sol Bar. Our favourite bar was the martini bar near the lobby but we equally enjoyed the swim up bar.

Our room was located on the spa side which was lovely and quiet. The room itself was lovely and spacious with a balcony and a bath separating the bedroom from the bathroom. The rooms were tidied twice a day.

Overall this was a great resort located right by the beach with a lazy river and swimming pools dotted around a spa. The food is absolutely delicious and the service is some of the best we have ever experienced they can’t do enough for you and always greet you with a smile. This hotel is a great relaxing getaway – it is predominantly couples though with many celebrating birthdays/honeymoons/anniversaries.

This getaway was my first all inclusive holiday and also my first time to Mexico and both have completely won me over.

Thanks for stopping by please feel free to leave any questions below.





Part 5 – Bangkok,Thailand

Part 5 of my mini series of a recent visit to Thailand.

After a long trip from Phi Phi we arrived back in Bangkok:

  • 1 hr 45min ferry from Phi Phi to Phuket
  • 50 min taxi from Phuket Ferry Pier to Phuket Airport
  • 1 hr 20 min flight from Phuket to Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok
  • 2 hours in the airport transfer bus between Don Mueang Airport and Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok. (complimentary if you have a flight ticket for that day/for the next day)
  • 15 minute hotel shuttle bus from Suvarnabhumi airport to the hotel

We booked the Summit Windmill Golf Residence due to its close proximity to the airport (with complimentary breakfast and shuttle transfer) as we had a lunchtime flight the next day.

The rooms are certainly generously sized having booked a one bedroom residence:


I really liked the little touches such as the swan towel set up and the petals in the bath tub.

There was also a great view overlooking the golf course with an outdoor seating area.


Having got to the hotel after 7pm and our stomachs rumbling we decided to check out the on site Fountain restaurant:


The food choices were really good with variations from Thai, Asian and Western influences – something for everyone. We opted for the soft shelled crab and some duck noodles which were delicious. The restaurant is modern and comfortable with wi-fi as well. This is a great hotel where the staff are really friendly and accommodating with requests.

We also enjoyed the great variety for breakfast – from Thai to Western we had a great selection and I can’t think of anything negative in terms of the Fountain restaurant.

Although it was only a quick stop for us we would definitely consider coming back – hopefully fitting in some time to check out the golf and spa facilities too! There is also an onsite shop and a cafe to relax in as well as a shuttle to the nearby BTS stop. There is a swimming pool also, albeit quite small but lovely view of the golf course too and immaculately maintained.



Also just wanted to share my very limited phrases of Thai that I picked up:

  • Sa-wùt dee kà – if you are female the phrase for hello
  • Phet nit noy – a little spicy
  • Mai phet – no spice
  • Kòrp-koon – Thank You

This post concludes my mini series of Thailand, which was a pleasure and a privilege to visit. Although I am also looking to review the backpack that I took as it worked wonders for me. I will certainly return in future – most likely back to Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi as well as exploring some other areas. It is such a beautiful place to visit with such a wide variety of activities and I will certainly miss the night markets and the vibrant culture.


Thanks for stopping by!



Part 4 – Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Koh Phi Phi

A 1 hour 30 ferry ride from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi was actually in reality closer to 2 hours but they did show the film Avatar which kept us entertained.

Arriving in Koh Phi Phi it looked like a postcard. The sea is so blue here and although it is a small island it has a great atmosphere.


Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint

Phi Phi viewpoint is a must visit, although the walk is not the easiest (starting at some steep steps) it is definitely worth it. We found the route by following the tsunami evacuation signs I would recommend taking water and going later in the evening. Also, comfortable walking shoes would also be recommended. Going up at 5.30pm left us in a great position to seek out a spot to wait for the sunset (a time I imagine when the viewpoint is at its busiest).

The viewpoint is at nearly 190km and takes about 20 to 40 minutes to walk up depending on fitness levels and temperature levels. It really shows off Phi Phi as such a beautiful island. There is also a little shop at the top that sells drinks and ice creams. At viewpoint 1 we paid 30 baht each (we’re still not sure what this goes towards).


Night Life – Koh Phi Phi

A great fire show happens at Slinky bar right on the beach every evening – it had already started when we got there at 9pm but went on until after 10pm. A great atmosphere outside this bar that draws a large crowd for the incredible fire show.

Kongsiam Bar is also great for live acoustic music – right opposite the delicious ice cream roll stand.

Reggae Bar transforms after 8:30pm and becomes packed quite quickly with a crowd being drawn in for the muay thai fights. They ask the audience if anyone wants to participate with the winner winning a bucket cocktail. Makes for very good entertainment with also a chance to see more professional fighters.




Having only booked a few days in advance through paying a deposit online we booked a Phi Phi Ley Tour with Adventure Club for 800 baht each. This featured a 4 hour tour (meeting at 7.30am for the morning option) and visiting Viking Cave, Pi Leh Lagoon, Loh Samah Bay and Maya Bay. We had to go to Adventure Club the previous day to pay the balance and try on fins and confirm details.

We were in a group of five on this trip on a long tail boat with a great instructor who could free drive to an incredible depth. Being the first time we had snorkelled the instructor put us at ease straight away. It was also great to go to Maya Bay in the morning before all of the speedboats and tours embarked onto it. The highlight was seeing a huge jellyfish and also a sea turtle. Although for most of the stops we stayed close by with the instructor at Maya bay we had 45 minutes to either snorkel or relax on the beach. They also had water and watermelon on board the boat. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen though as we failed to top up on the cream during the trip we suffered from sun burn.


Phi Phi is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited even getting up at 6am on the deserted beach was so worth it. Will definitely be back again!

Next post will be another stop at Bangkok pre flight.

Thanks for reading!



Part 3 – Phuket, Thailand

Patong, Phuket

About a 1 hour flight from Koh Samui we landed at Phuket airport. Staying in Patong the taxi was about an hour charged at 800 baht.

Patong had a much more lively entertainment with bangla road being the go to place for drinks. In hindsight in future I would rather choose somewhere more relaxed. Aussie bar is a great bar in Bangla road though with a large upstairs with pool tables. Expect to pay about 300-500 baht for a bucket at a bar on this road.

Siam safari
Visiting a place that focuses on treating elephants well is hugely important to me. Having done a lot of research Siam Safari ticked the right boxes and is also highly rated on Trip Advisor! Having booked our 11.30 time slot in advance we were promptly picked up from our hotel and driven to the Siam safari location.

Firstly we were able to feed the elephants bananas, pineapples and sugar cane.
We were then treated to Thai coffee/tea and coconut pancakes (delicious).
We had a short ride on a buffalo cart before learning about different traditions such as making Thai curry and about rubber plants. We were also able to sample Thai curry.

The highlight for me had to be the elephant trek through a beautiful path where we could see out across phuket at a point we stopped on the way. We even saw an elephant pick up someone’s glasses they had dropped! This lasted about 45 minutes and was the end of the trip they do take a photo of you on the elephant to purchase at the end. Highly recommended and didn’t want to leave!


Malin Plaza food market
This was a great food market about 20 minute walk from Bangla road and open 2pm to 12am. Spoilt for choice with food and enjoyed the novel way of how they make ice cream rolls.
From pad Thai to offerings of crocodile on skewers to fresh fruit there is something for everyone here.  Made a visit here for a late night snack every night.



Pums cooking school
The Little shoes cooking course was booked in advance for before lunch.
Upon arriving at the restaurant we were warmly welcomed and not only did we learn dishes we chose ourselves from a book we also learnt about the spices. We also didn’t feel rushed at all when we sat down to enjoy what we cooked and we also got to keep a great little recipe book. Will have to try cooking pad Thai again sometime.


Sabai beach restaurant further down the right side of patong beach was also a great spot for dinner and watching sunset!


All in all Phuket was an interesting place to stop for 4 nights.

Next post will be Koh Phi Phi!

Thanks for reading!