Swim, Steam and Spa | Galgorm Resort and Spa

On Tuesday 12th September, I was very kindly invited to the Galgorm Resort and Spa by Juliet from Scarlett PR. I have never been to the Galgorm before but I have heard so many amazing reviews about it, I was sceptical and thought “Is it really that good? Is it really worth all the raving reviews I’ve heard about it?” Well, my little scepticism was proven very wrong!

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(We were invited to the Press Night to celebrate Spa September, a month of events exploring mindfulness, wellness and giving you some of your “me time” back.)

20170912_185510-01(Thank you to Victoria for getting the photograph for me!)

I arrived earlier than I expected so I changed into my complimentary robe and slippers and took a quick wander around the Thermal Village so I had a little dip in the pool and a quick sauna session before heading to the Orangery to listen to a talk by the team from Bio Effect to hear more about their skincare treatments.

20170912_191818-01(An introduction to the Bio Effect skin treatment brand.)

I’d never heard of the brand before so it was really interesting to find out more about them including their history and where they’re from. Being from Iceland, they talked us through the process of how their ingredients are sourced including Icelandic micro-crystalline lava so you know you have a special product when you can have lava in your exfoliator! Laura was the lucky girl who got the full skin facial experience while the team answered a few questions about the brand, and the spa have exclusive rights to three of the brands new products is quite something!

Next, we were onto the spa cafe, and this wasn’t just any cafe, it was such an aesthetically pleasing dome. We were shown a demonstration on making a perfect gin cocktail, but not being a drinker, it didn’t appeal to me but according to the girls I was sitting with, it was quite a perfect cocktail. Food was announced when we were told what everything was by the chef Duncan; when I go to blog events, I don’t expect to get food even if I’m told there is food there. This is due to having the intolerances and being plant based, I don’t expect places to cater to this but surprisingly they had a quinoa salad that sounded like it was gluten free, soya free, potato and carrot free and vegan so we were onto a winner! Their desserts looked incredible, I couldn’t have any, but they looked like little mini masterpieces!

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(A salad was just what I needed when I was sitting in a bikini!)

We got handed the warmest towels and we were free to roam the village for an hour and a half! I was heading for the heated hot tub and I’m not a bath girl, but I could honestly spend all day in there. It was so cosy but it had started to rain and I never realised how tropical it felt being in a toasty hot tub in the rain.

20170912_213145-01(This pool was heavenly. The perfect height for a little 5’2 person like me!)

I wandered around to a number of the steam rooms because one of the best experiences after swimming is the sauna but I just find going for a swimming and a sauna in a normal leisure centre is too expensive on a regular basis, so I took full advantage. My favourite steam room was the Celtic Sauna because you got to look outside at the lights and trees, and because it was so dark outside, you got to look at the bright green lights with the trees looking like they were inside the room; it was quite a nice effect! (And of course I didn’t get a damn good photograph of the hot tub or steam rooms, doh!)

20170912_183905-01(Dipping my toes into the water at the start of the evening!)

20170912_213623-01(Who forgot to bring their make-up remover and went into the saunas anyway? This girl!)

I ended my stay in the Thermal Village with a little swim in the indoor pool and a steam in the sauna before heading back to the changing rooms to get changed for the evening. The evening ended with a very lovely goodie bag containing a special Galgorm wine and two little chocolate oat clusters (which I’ll be happily passing along to someone else), a spa candle, a box of sample sizes of the Bio Effect products and a special offer for our readers and followers to use at the Spa.

IMG_20170912_195743-01(I already want to come back to laze about the village all day!)

Before I sign off, the Galgorm were very lovely to give us an offer for readers of the blog: if you book any 90 minute signature treatment, you can enjoy a complimentary glass of Prosecco and a spa gift to take home for yourself! All you need to do is email Louise on lnicholl@galgorm.com and quote “Spa September”. This offer is valid Monday to Thursday throughout October and November 2017.

I just want to say another big thank you to Juliet from Scarlett PR as well as Tina and all the Galgorm team for making us all feel so welcome. I felt quite intimidated going to the Spa because I know it’s very fancy but they made you feel more than welcome, and it was such a lovely night. Thank you all so much!

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The (Belfast) Body Shop Blogger Event

I don’t know about other bloggers but I still get that little excited feeling when I get invited to blogger events. In our Northern Ireland Bloggers Facebook group, we got notified that The Body Shop were looking for people interested in attending one of the blogger events they were planning on hosting. So I got in contact with Jake who was organising everything and a few days later, he sent me out an invite.

20170823_181926-01(How cute are these big stickers though?)

Full disclosure, I can’t remember the last time I shopped in the Body Shop for myself. My Mum swears by their day-time moisturiser but if you look at my Twitter and Instagram, you’ll see that I’m a LUSH girl at heart. Despite this, I’ve been wanting to branch out into more brands (and more cruelty-free ones of course) so I was excited to see what they had in store, because I haven’t taken a look in quite a few years.

20170823_182555-01(I love the big clear VEGAN signs around the shop especially with their most popular skin care ranges.)

After being greeted by one of the lovely staff members, she asked me to choose which consultation I would like, and after having months of skin problems, I of course chose skin. I was one of the first to arrive so I had a long walk around the store looking at the products and I was pleasantly surprised at how much they had to offer, and more importantly, how many of them were labelled as vegan. Currently going through a beauty and skin-care transition to cruelty-free and vegan products, I like to make sure what I’m picking up is now in those two realms.

20170823_184309-01(Jake giving a demonstration on Sharon, another Northern Ireland blogger)

Jake held a demonstration in the middle of the store and talked through some of their new products with us. He talked about one of the biggest sellers within the Body Shop lately which is the Youth Liquid Peel that seems incredible for scrubbing off all that dead skin off your face. He talked about their new edition of face masks (and we were each getting one for free to take home with us to try!) as well as the benefits of one of the top sellers, their tea tree oil range. Some of the newest products to come into store were both the Amazonian Balm and the Spa of the World ranges. His last point (which was probably his most important in my eyes) was the Body Shop’s ethics. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I seen them for many years being owned by L’Oreal and I was sceptical for the majority of that time because of the animal testing issue, even though I chose to use other non-cruelty free brands. Crazy right? You can read more about their Forever Against Animal Testing and their Enrich Not Exploit Campaign in these links.

20170823_182133-02(The new range of face masks in store. I’m hoping to try more of them if the Japanese Matcha Mask goes well!)

IMG_20170823_183914-01(This is the mask we all got kindly gifted so I can’t wait to give it a go! Plus, I love Matcha!)

After Jake finished his presentation, it was time for the consultations and I don’t think I have had too many skin consultations so I was looking forward to the experience. Ever since I stopped using my favourite cleanser (The Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish) my skin care routine wasn’t in the best condition. The only cleanser I was using was coconut oil which was working fine but my skin was coming out in numerous spots, my dry skin was becoming drier and my problems were becoming very noticeable under my make-up every day. Jake asked me what problems I had and so he picked out the range that he thought would suit me: the Vitamin E range. He went through the products one-by-one, how they would help my skin and how to apply them. I won’t go into too much detail today on what I bought because I’m planning on doing a review on the products a few weeks down the line, once my skin has adapted to them. In my little skin care consultation booklet, he wrote down what he thinks would work best with my skin and they were the Hydrating Toner (Vitamin E), Moisture Cream (Vitamin E), Aqua Boost Essence Lotion (Vitamin E) and overnight mask (that I can’t remember the name of). Now, I didn’t buy the overnight mask but I bought the other three recommended products.

20170823_190218-02(My skin care consultation booklet with the products Jake suggested I should try out, so I walked around the store finding the products after the consultation trying to decide what I should try this time around.)

20170823_190320-01(Some of the Vitamin E range that I was recommended.)

It was so nice to catch up with some bloggers that I haven’t seen in a while and talk to some new ones that I’d spoken to on Instagram and on their blogs, but hadn’t actually met them in real life yet. I also got a little bag of samples including two different samples of the new face masks and the youth peel (amongst others) so I’ll write about them along with my review on the Vitamin E range.

IMG_20170823_182832-01(Who doesn’t like an aesthetically pleasing store?)

My one criticism of the entire night and I realised this a few days later; when I went to pay, I asked at the till if they could check if one of the products I was planning on buying was vegan (The other products I’d already asked about and they were) so she went to check and she said yes. We were also gifted a free shower gel and I couldn’t have been happier and just assumed it was vegan because they didn’t tell me it wasn’t, because I’d just asked about another product. Later on that night, I talked about the night on Instagram stories and was over the moon with the experience. I even talked about the shower gel and how I couldn’t wait to try another vegan shower gel. Cue to a few days later and I looked at the ingredients and there was honey in it. I was a little disappointed; I didn’t pay for it so I wasn’t out of pocket at least and maybe they just didn’t think it let me know it wasn’t vegan or maybe they didn’t realise it wasn’t, I’m not too sure. While it means that I can’t use it, it means I gave it to my friend Leonie instead, so every cloud has a silver lining!

IMG_20170823_193244-03(The exterior of the Belfast Body Shop on Donegall Place in Belfast City Centre.)

Despite that little hiccup, I had a lovely night. It really changed my mind on their products and with a little more research on particular products, I would happily go back and try out more. As I mentioned earlier, I’m hoping to write a skin care review in a few months on the products I bought (and was gifted) so keep a look out for that!

 

Ice Lolly Delight at the Linwoods Hemp Protein+ Launch Evening.

Towards the end of July, I had the pleasure of being invited to one of my favourite cafes in Belfast to go to a launch event for a brand new hemp protein powder made by a local Northern Ireland company. The product was launched in Tony and Jen’s and if you know me or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’m quite fond of their pancakes.

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(The lemon meringue ones were replaced with cacao ice-cream one day and they were amazing!)

20170804_150347(The mint and cacao pancakes have been my absolute favourite so far, and yes, this is a double stack!)

While you scroll back to the pancakes again, I’ll tell you about the new product they’ve been making. With it being the Summer, who doesn’t love an ice lolly during the Summer months? That’s exactly what’s been going on in the special kitchen on the Lisburn Road; they have been making healthly popsicles that have been packed full of gorgeous ingredients. One of the ingredients being one of the Linwoods Organic Hemp Protein powders.

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(My favourite is the blue bag pictured on the right!)

Linwoods Health Foods are a local company based and founded here in Northern Ireland, which I think is what makes this just a little more special. We’re always saying we should celebrate more local businesses, so isn’t this the perfect way?

On the night, you got the option to pick between four different flavours. I ended up having two lollies (I had no dinner before I got there, so my decision was justified!); the first being cacao and mint (My favourite by far!) and the second being peanut butter and banana (My favourite smoothie combo!). This is where you got to be really creative with your lolly.

20170804_133807(Easier than ‘Snap Crackle and Pop’ right?)

Whether you’re a Notella person (like myself) or maybe cashew sauce is more your drizzle, you had the chance to add a sauce or two, add some ground nuts or sprinkle some raspberry sparkle over your lolly to really make it shine. Being a blogger event, you have to make sure your creation is Instagrammable so they had four mini perfectly laid out booths for them, but I am a fan of a marble background so I went there each time.

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(This was my first one: cacao and mint. From what I can remember, I drizzled it first in Notella, sprinkled hazelnuts and almonds over it and added an extra drizzle of cashew sauce over it.)

Jenny (one half of the lovely Tony and Jen) gave us an brief overview of their restaurant towards the end of the evening explaining why they choose to eat the healthy way, how the collaboration with Linwoods came about and then she showed us the process of how you make the lollies.

The goody bag we received at the end of the night were great! We even got our own little ice lolly moulds so we could make the recipes at home with the little recipe cards we received for the different versions of the lollies (See below!) We then got treated to a big bag of our own Hemp Protein+ and a few of Linwoods snack foods; all of which I have tried and I couldn’t wait until I got a good photograph of, sorry!

20170804_133709(When you turned it over, it gave you all the ingredients you needed, which wasn’t many to be fair, and how to make them.)

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I haven’t been to too many blogger events before and I’m slowly getting over my nerves of being shy and slightly to myself (I wrote a blog post on how my shyness could be perceived) so I feel like I pushed myself out of my own comfort zone by just walking up to someone new and introducing myself.

One thing I loved about this event in particular (apart from it being all about healthy food that I could eat) was that it was interactive. It wasn’t just someone handing out samples and telling you about the product so everyone had the same photographs or same experience; you got to choose what flavour you wanted to eat, you got to choose how to decorate it, you got to choose your own experience.

20170726_195024-01(This was my second lolly of the night; I chose Peanut Butter and Banana with the same toppings as my first creation except this time I added a little raspberry sprinkling too!)

If you want to find out anything more about the Hemp Protein+ Powders, you can click right here. If you want to find out more about the company itself, you’ll find it right here and finally if you want to find out more about Tony and Jen’s, you can find them on Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you so much for reading! All the recipes for the lollies will be on the Linwoods website and I can’t wait to make my own, I’ll probably be doing it in December, but hey, you can eat ice lollies anytime of the year, right?

 

A Visit To: Synergy Studios

A few weeks ago I was kindly invited to visit the sunny seaside of Newcastle to visit “Synergy”, a shop based on the Central Promenade selling the best of local artists work. The lovely Lewis Robert Cameron from Beyond Man Magazine contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in the opportunity and I, of course, said yes.

I had never heard of Synergy Studios before but to be fair, the last time I went to Newcastle was just for a little walk, so you can’t blame me. It’s such a lovey shop and one of their main focuses is that every product in store is made locally in Northern Ireland, which is fantastic because we seem to be seeing more of these type of shops pop up in Northern Ireland.

For me, I’m really focused on moving out in the New Year so I used this experience to look in particular for quirky house accessories that I feel I would like when I move out. Going into a new shop always has you leaving with quite a few new inspirational ideas!

 I only purchased one product on the night; it was a glass plate that will be perfect for my rings or bracelets. It’s the perfect size and I loved the green and white together! With it being locally made, it’s quite nice to have unique products that you know other people won’t have because each piece is hand made so there will never be the exact same product made.

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For the night, there was also a fashion element and Lewis was styling the two stunning models for the night. I don’t know the first thing about fashion but I loved the edginess that Lewis brought to the night.

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It was such a lovely night; the staff couldn’t have been more helpful, there was a great turn out and it has a really lovely atmosphere, so next time you’re in Newcastle, take a pop into Synergy Studios and you might even pick up a gift or two!

Synergy Studios is located on Central Promenade, Newcastle BT33 0HH, Northern Ireland and you can find them on Facebook right here!

Super Cuts UK: #SquadGoals (Part Two)

If you haven’t read the first part of this post, it’s right here! It talks about my experience at my first blogger event with SuperCuts and all about their campaign launching a very special competition. So make sure you read that first! (And remember you have until 20th September to enter!)

At the VIP blogger event we got a great goody bag but apparently we were missing products because they hadn’t arrived in time, so we got a free extra products thrown in and then the other ones that didn’t arrive in time, got posted out to us. I’ll not need to buy hair products for a long time now!

I’ll talk about the ones that arrived in the post first. Both from the Bed Head range from TIGI; the Fully Loaded Massive Volume Shampoo and the Fully Loaded Volumizing Conditioning Jelly. I have never used any TIGI products before but I’m really excited about it because you know if a salon uses them, they’re great. I can’t describe the smell but it is incredible! It reminds me of sweets that I used to have when I was younger, but I can’t put my finger on it. If it’s one of those shampoo and conditioners that has the “long lasting smell throughout the day” I will be in love!

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We got two mini gift sets on the day itself. The first one is from Wella Professionals; the only Wella Professionals product I have ever used was the Thermal Image Heat Protection Spray and I can say without a doubt, it was the best heat protection spray ever. It even worked through the tangles in my hair instantly; three sprays and I was good to go! Seriously.

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In the Wella Oil Reflections set, we got three little mini products; shampoo, conditioner and a hair mask. I have used the shampoo and conditioner already but I don’t feel I can give a true review of it yet. What I did notice when I was drying my hair was that my hair was incredibly softer, more than it had been in a very long time, so I think I’ll test that until it runs out. And we got a cute little brush too!

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And finally in the TIGI gft set, there was another three products; a mini Masterpiece Massive Shine Hairspray, Small Talk Thickifier and a Manipulator Texture Paste. When it comes to products like the thickening cream or the paste, I’m not so good at adding texture and volume to my hair. I just end up making a huge mess and then the wind making it ten times worse. But I can’t have them go to waste, so I think I’ll be heading to YouTube to figure out how to use those!

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As a little extra bonus, we also got a lipstick too! It’s from Max Factor Marilyn Monroe range and I got the Ruby Red colour. I don’t wear too many red lipsticks, but hey, everyone needs to try new things now and again!

I’m so pleased with the goody bag! They went to so much effort and I couldn’t be more thankful, thank you to Rhys and all the team at Supercuts Belfast!

 

SuperCuts UK: #SquadGoals (Part One)

That moment when you get invited to your first blogger event, you get really excited for about five seconds then fear sets in. That’s what happened to me when Super Cuts UK kindly invited me to their #SquadGoals VIP Blogger Event in Belfast’s Castlecourt store a few weeks ago.

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The campaign is based around a new competition that has launched for an amazing winner! They have teamed up with TIGI to offer the chance for you and up to six friends to win an overnight stay in London worth £6,000 along with a VIP photoshoot and to become the next face of Supercuts! So whether you use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; just take a photograph of you and your friends (up to six of you altogether) and upload it using the hashtag #SquadGoals and tagging @SuperCutsUK to be in with a chance of winning. For all the terms and conditions of the competition, you’ll find all the info. right here. You have until 20th September to enter!

I had a blow dry complete with a lovely Kerastase hair mask (I can’t remember which one but it was brittle hair, I need some strengthening at the minute!) as well as some volumising products after my hair was dried. (Take note Victoria, take a picture of all the products that were used in your hair! *shakes head*)

The event overall was fantastic! I was at so much more ease than I thought but because I’m still pretty shy, I don’t really have any photographs from it. So if I get the chance to go to another event like this, I would definitely take more! However, when  I got home I took a picture of my hair (as you can see below!) because I wanted to be able to see that I can actually have it a little messy with volume and have it turn out really nice.

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All the other bloggers I met were so lovely and it was really nice to find out more about them and why they started blogging, and how it has progressed for them. It definitely made me more passionate about evolving with my blog.

I want to say a special thank you to Supercuts and the team at the Belfast branch for inviting me and making it a really enjoyable experience!