Monday, 28 September 2015

Radisson Blu, East Midlands Airport

I'm one of these people that as soon as you leave for the airport, your holiday has started, which means lessening the leash on those purse strings and being a little more flush with your cash. That might mean something as simple as breakfast at the airport, a treat from duty free, or a night in a hotel near the airport to get that holiday feeling well and truly kick started.

On our way to Florida, back at the end of August, we knew we were driving there so months before I was looking for airport parking (something I prefer not to waste my money on!). I found a really good deal where I bagged a night in the 4.5* Radisson Blu hotel with airport parking for 2 weeks for just under £100! Just to give you an idea, the year prior I paid £60 for airport parking alone for 1 week! I was well chuffed with my deal!

I've visited The Radisson Blu in Manchester, just for afternoon tea before, and the small amount of the hotel I saw I could tell it was pretty plush and oozed a little luxury, but I'd never got round to staying in one before.

Wow. Just wow. The reception alone amazed me. Everywhere looked so clean and sparkly, there were really unique humongous lampshades that I couldn't stop staring at! There were a huge range of chairs to sit on, all dotted about. They all looked so luxurious and too good to sit on!

                             
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(Before I start, please excuse the quality of the photos - I wasn't planning on doing a review of this hotel so the photo's aren't great, and definitely don't do this hotel any justice!).

We arrived at our room with no qualms (We began setting a trend of having problems with our room card with every hotel we visited!). The first thing I noticed was the d├ęcor and how sleek everything looked, something you can tell a lot of thought had gone into. There was a feature wall behind the bedhead with some photographic wallpaper of a wintery nature scene and a cute little robin.. I'm not really into animal themed things but this just seemed to fit. So modern yet different. There were lights galore for every nook of the room and a huge comfy bed to sink into, ready for our early(ish) flight the next morning. I loved the uniqueness of the bedside table.


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There was so much storage and a workstation for those on business.




The bathroom. Oh, the bathroom! I've come across this a few times before when looking at photos, but never experienced it myself. Now I'm not sure if every bathroom in this hotel is the same (although I hope it's not, especially for families!) but we had a window in the bathroom that overlooked into the bedroom. Yes, we're a couple, but I still don't like feeling like my privacy is being invaded. Even if its just to spend 10 minutes pampering myself with my make-up, I'd prefer to have some time out and do this without the possibility of oogling eyes! Its a great feature for those that like that kind of thing, but not for me. Luckily, the toilet was separate and was in a room all by itself, thank god! Because we were only there overnight I didn't see the point in moving rooms, so I just put up with it, however I think if we were there for a short break I would have asked to move rooms.

(Err, excuse the fingers from my boyfriend, like I said, I didn't think I'd be doing a review on this! *blush*). This photo shows the privacy aspect!



We ventured into the Runway Brasserie for tea which again, whose interior was quite unique to look at. I spotted one table that the chairs were designed around huge bird cages. So cool! Although the menu was slightly limited (and a little on the expensive side) I didn't expect much more for an airport hotel. I ordered the 4 cheese penne pasta which was lovely and creamy.. and there was plenty of it! My boyfriend had a crispy bacon and cheddar cheese burger which he said hit all the right taste buds as well. The waitress was super friendly but not over-bearing. Perfect.



The hotel also offers a spa and swimming pool which unfortunately I didn't get the chance to try out. We walked past the swimming pool when we first arrived and ahh.. I just wanted to jump in. It looked so tranquil and relaxing.


The free shuttle service to the airport couldn't have been smoother. We were asked what time we would like to leave the hotel, and the bus arrived on time the next morning and within 5 minutes of driving, we were there. On our return from our holiday, we were given paper instructions on where to find the phone to ring through to let them know we had arrived and would like the shuttle to collect us. Within minutes the shuttle was there and we were on our way back to collect our car.

Overall, I loved how smooth the whole airport parking was. I loved how close the hotel was to the airport, which enabled us to get some extra sleep, and the luxuriousness that this hotel oozed was just a perfect start to our holiday.

I've stayed in a huge handful of hotels over the past few years, but this has got to be up there with some of the best.

If I was to ever fly from EMA again, I'd definitely be back!
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Friday, 25 September 2015

Review: August's Degustabox

Yikes, I'm a little late on reviewing this, but I have a good enough excuse.. I've spent half the month in Florida!

Thankfully last month's degustabox arrived the day before I was due to leave for the airport, so I had a very short amount of time to trial some of the foods before jetting off. That only meant that there were some lovely treats waiting in my cupboard for me once I returned!

Once again, my opinions on this month was very mixed. Some products excited me, but other products were unfortunately repeats of previous boxes, which seem an awful habit that Degustabox keep making, and I can only think that they are struggling to work with brands, which is sad because its such a good concept!

Anyway onto the food!




Barilla Arrabbiata Tomato & Chilli Sauce.
I'll be honest - I've yet to sample this, however we often have pasta dishes quite regularly in our household, so it'll only be a matter of time before this gets used!

Barilla Penne Pasta
Similar to above, still yet to try but this will go in our collection of pasta's. I will admit, penne is not one I often pick up, and only do so when I'm cooking certain dishes. I think penne works better with creamier sauce, just my opinion though!

Bahlsen Pick Up Chocolate biscuits.
If I remember rightly, this was one of the very first products I received from DB, however this has dark chocolate wafered between 2 biscuits, and I'm not a fan of dark chocolate so I'm not overly keen on these.

Bahlsen White Choco Leibniz
These were similar to above, but different chocolate flavours, this one predominantly being white. It satisfied my sweet tooth and I preferred it to the above.

Williamson Tea - Ginger Grove
Gonna be honest - Not a fan of flavoured tea at all. I've tried so many different flavours, at one point almost forcing myself to like it, but it just wasn't happening. This tea reminds me very much of a tea you'd drink steaming on a cold snowy day, therefore I haven't sampled it yet, however I will do, because I know how good ginger is for our body!

Fru Snax - Peach slices with vanilla yogurt melts
I received a handful of these in last months box so was a little bit disheartened when I saw this again because I hated the last load! These are ultimately dried sweetened fruit and they're really not up my street.



Life Tonics drink - Coconut & Mint
This is definitely either a love or hate drink, and I was swaying towards the hate. Its such a strange taste. You can taste both flavours equally and they're both pretty powerful, but I just didn't think coconut and mint made a good match after drinking a small amount of this. Sorry!

Little Miracles
Ahh, LM, you never let me down. Honestly, this is probably the 4-5 time I've received a LM item in the space of 1 year. They're ok but I wouldn't rush out to buy one.

Scheckters Organic Energy Drink
This is still sat chilling in my fridge. I will drink it, however I'm not a fan of putting energy drinks inside my body.. I once had one and it sent my heart racing.. not good!

Walkers Shortbread/Biscuits
Of course, being sweet, this was one of my favourite products. I'd already tried the shortbread one, and probably the oat n honey one (these are often provided in hotels alongside the tea and coffee). The fruit and lemon one though? Oh dear lord, it was divine and so not what I was expecting! Melt in your mouth heaven.



Ryvita - Cracked Black Pepper/Sesame
I only eat ryvita if 1) I'm in the mood, or 2) If I'm dieting/trying to be good. However this time I ate some of the sesame ones because after coming back from Florida, our foods were bare, and that's all there was left.. desperate times! To me, no matter what flavour the Ryvita is, they all taste very similar. They're good as an alternative to bread..

Delicious AlchemyOaty Cookie Mix.
I cooked this over the weekend and was SO surprised! Because it stated gluten free on the packaging, I was expecting a pretty bland cookie but wow, these tasted a mixture of flapjack and something else that I can't quite put my finger on! Melt in your mouth goodness!

Dr Oetker Mug Cake
I remember actually making one of these from scratch last winter after seeing it on pinterest. I'm si desperate to make one of these (especially the lemon one!) however you need a microwave to make it and ours recently broke so I'm still clinging onto them!

All in all, a very varied box for me again, however all still very exciting receiving food through your door!
If you want to give this monthly food subscription box a whirl, then pop this £3 discount code in at checkout AWDG4. You have a choice of selecting an alcohol box or non alcohol box, depending on your preference.
Keep your eyes peeled for next months review, there's an even bigger discount code coming your way!

For more information, check out their website, facebook and twitter accounts!

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Monday, 21 September 2015

Tips On: Saving Money

I don't know what it is but I get a bit of a buzz out of saving money. I'm by no means tight with my money, I do make the odd impulse purchase but I am also careful with my money in the right situations, and always try and look for a better bargain.

Unfortunately though, money doesn't grow on trees, and sometimes I want to live a lavish lifestyle which my money wont stretch to. I'm lucky that my partner has recently landed a very well paid job, so I feel we can afford a little more now, however I still like to think I can live a lottery winner's lifestyle, when in fact I can't.



Here are my top tips to help save and make money in order to get closer to that champagne lifestyle that most of us secretly want.

1. A real obvious one, but all those old clothes that you no longer wear? Get them on eBay. I've been selling on ebay for many years now, and if I decide I want to go somewhere that I probably can't afford, I get sorting through my clothes and pop them on eBay. When I have a big clear out I can often make anywhere between £100-£150. I'm used to eBay now so I know what will sell and what wont. A little tip - Don't try selling summer clothes in the Autumn/Winter. People aren't looking for them.. so think about the seasons and sell accordingly.

2. Make use of all those clubcards and vouchers that you receive through the post. With my Tesco clubcard points, last year I managed to purchase 1 ticket into Disneyland Paris, and also a meal for 2 at Pizza Express when we went on a city break to Liverpool. As for the money off vouchers that you receive through the post, try plan your meals around them. I often receive money off vouchers from Matalan, so if I know an occasion is coming up that I may need a dress for, I'll try use this voucher. However don't feel forced to use vouchers un-necessarily. Remember this is all about saving!

3. If I purchase anything online, before I go through check out, I always search for promo codes for that particular shop that I'm buying from. You may find a free P&P code, or 25% off if you've spent a certain amount. There's usually always a code laying around.

4. Another obvious one, but use the comparison sites for any big purchases. They can save you £££. Don't forget, their not just for insurances. There are comparison sites for hotels, technology equipment and even clothes.

5. Sign up to survey websites that offer you money for completing surveys, and in exchange you can swap them for a variety of vouchers. I currently have almost £10 sat in one account which I am shortly going to be exchanging for a boots voucher. Along with this I will use all my points on my boots card and I will have approximately £30 that I can then spend on make-up essentials.. all for free!

6. I know this one isn't for everyone, but wander around charity shops/car boot sales/browse eBay. It's amazing what treasures you can find for a snippet of the price. I recently bought a gorgeous dress from eBay that still had its tags on so had never been worn - this dress was still on the website for £55 and I won it for a mere £2.99. You're a fool not to!

7. If you're anything like me and love a bit of home interior, you're forever switching things around and re-decorating. This can get pretty expensive, however be clever with your items. Up until a few months ago, I had red accessories in my kitchen but I wanted to change everything to a pastel colour scheme. I had a white hanging heart with a red gingham ribbon, and obviously wanting to come away from red, I simply untied the red ribbon and swapped it for a floral one so it matched my kitchen again. I had another wooden shabby chic style plaque with red paint detail on. I carefully painted over the red with baby pink, and it completely transformed the plaque and fitted in perfectly with my kitchen! A cupcake trinket jar was predominantly red which I spray painted baby blue. You get the idea. A few materials that I already had lying around the house saved me £££.

8. A really simple one that probably many of you already do, especially if you have children... We are always going on city breaks or driving to airports. I began to notice as soon as we'd set off from the house, we'd go get petrol, and it became a habit to buy 2 drinks in the petrol station 'for the journey'. I know this is only a few quid, but now, with some travel mugs I already had in the cupboard, I make sure I fill these with drink and bring them with us for the journey.

9. I like to dine out quite a lot. This can get pretty pricey if you do it on a regular basis. Before you decide on where you are eating, it maybe worth having a quick browse to see which pubs/restaurants are doing deals. I always see lots of promotions, or special days where food is cheaper because its 'steak night' or 'burger night'.

10. This is a popular one now, but meal planning can save you SO much when you go food shopping. Meal planning is a tedious and time consuming task, especially if you don't have input from others, but it prevents you from throwing items into your trolley 'just because', and has often saved us up to £30 per week before.

11. The colder months are upon us. I feel like I've missed the season transition this year because I've been in Florida for half of September, so I'm feeling the cold more than others! However before automatically resorting to putting the heating back on, try and layer up first. Grab a jumper and make sure you have socks and slippers on your feet. Obviously in a few more weeks you wont have any choice but to put the heating on, but try hold out as long as you can by putting your own preventions in first. (I obviously don't advise this if you have a new born baby or young child though!). Keep all doors closed to keep the heat in. Only open windows if necessary, and once you've finished cooking in the oven, keep the oven door open (if no children are around!) - it's technically free heat for a short while!

12. A real obvious one, but one I've been known to do occasionally - in the sales, whether that be New Year sales, bank holiday sales, black Friday etc, stock up on any upcoming birthdays or Christmas's! Yes - I've been one of those that have bought a handful of half price gifts from Boots, ready for the following Christmas. No shame!

Do you have any good saving tips that I haven't already mentioned? I'd love to hear them!
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Saturday, 19 September 2015

My Long Haul Flight Essentials

I've been lucky enough to travel to some amazing destinations in my life so far, however a lot of those have been long haul, so although I'm fairly used to them, I can't say I enjoy them a great deal (who would, sitting in the same spot for 8+hrs?!). I like to think I've almost perfected my in-flight essentials over the years to curb boredom, and seeing as though I was on a long haul flight less than a week ago I thought I'd share with you my hand luggage contents!
Happy Notes:

Pen & paper! I carry pens everywhere, more so because I have to with my job, so I tend to find at least 1 pen lying at the bottom of every handbag I own and in every nook of my car. You never know when you're going to need to jot something down, and although I have a notepad on my phone, its just nice to have a pen and paper as back up! It's good to play silly games on as well if times get desperate (i.e. hangman and squares!).

                             old fashioned chocolate sweets - Google Search:

Boiled sweets. I used to suffer really bad travel sickness when I was a child (to the point where I used to get special treatment from the air hostess'!). I'm not so bad now, it happens more in cars than on planes now, but I suffer really bad with my ears instead with the air pressure. Gone were the days when the air hostesses used to bring free sweets round just before take off and landing. I don't actually know if they truly work.. yawning (or fake yawning!) tends to help me more, but its still nice to have something to suck on!

                                                 Love these rose gold trimmed Frends headphones:

Headphones! In order to watch the in-flight entertainment, you'll need them. We actually got given free headphones on our flight this time, but I still know of certain airlines that charge you and they're not actually great quality. Don't waste your money and bring your own!

                                         ★Typicalkenz/Body Party ★:

Fluffy socks! I like to take my shoes off on long haul flights. I think its better for the circulation (I have been known to suffer with swollen feet after flights before). However planes can get pretty chilly, and there's nothing worse than having cold feet, so I always carry a pair of thick socks in my luggage! (I obviously swap back should I need to get up for the toilet!)

                                                     Lindsey Kelk: In defence of “Chick Lit” #books #chicklit:

A book! Pretty self explanatory but this is a great time killer, especially if you get immersed in it. I'm not great at continuing to read once I get on holiday though. Also be realistic with how many books you take. I know I wont get through more than 1 book whilst I'm away, so I'll stick to just 1 book. These can get pretty heavy and take up a bit of room so be wise. Even better if you have a kindle!

                                       Team building activities using standard deck of cards. "Looks Count" -- works well for non-verbal communication:

Some form of game/playing cards. When I was younger I used to always buy a puzzle book, however I've grown out of those now. I occasionally throw a pack of cards in my carry-on, however Mike is very rarely interested in playing so I never get to make use out of them anyway! You can pick up some really good travel sized board games now - I have a small travel sized monopoly and cluedo game which comes in handy sometimes.

                                  Canon Power Shot N Camera:
Camera/Video camera. Being a blogger, and just being obsessed with taking photos in general, I like to take creative window shots when I'm up in the air. I've managed to take some really pretty sunset photos before whilst being in the sky.

                                                   We rounded up some of the best mascaras of all time. Here are 12 fabulous mascaras to add to your beauty regimen.:
Cosmetics. A long haul flight can make me feel pretty grubby towards the end. I like to take small make-up items in order to make myself look half presentable once I reach the other end. A small deodorant and perfume sample is great to freshen up as well. Sometimes I throw in a small toothpaste and toothbrush to freshen up too.

                                               HK neck pillow:

Neck Pillow. Sleeping on planes is very hit and miss with me. I either feel so drowsy on them that I can't function and all I want to do is sleep, or completely the opposite where I try so hard to sleep but it never happens. I can never predict what mood I'm in till I settle in. Either way, I don't find falling asleep in anywhere besides a bed particularly easy, so a neck pillow benefits me a lot. It saves that awful head drop that instantly wakes you up to then drop back off and repeat.. a million times. They're annoying to carry, and probably wont fit in the hand luggage (unless its an inflatable one) but they're great nonetheless. They also come in handy in the car on the way back from the airport once you arrive home if you have a fairly long drive. Long haul flights tend to land in the UK in the early hours of the morning (we landed at 5.30am on Monday) so its nice to get a nap in the car (that's if you're lucky enough not to be driving!).

                             This is a 1/3 of my magazine stack!!! Need to make time to flip through then throw then out!:

Magazines. As the years have passed, I've well and truly grown out of magazines. I used to buy them religiously, however now I only buy them when flying it seems. I'm a bit of an old lady when it comes to what magazines I prefer - I'd much rather pick one full of real-life stories as opposed to flooded with celebrity weddings etc. They're just full of pictures and no content. Hardly going to keep me entertained is it?! I bought 3 on this flight and probably only spent a total of 1hr reading 1 magazine during both flights. I didn't even touch them in my hotel room either, and they're still sat in my hand luggage now, so you can get a sense of what my relationship with magazines are like!

                              7 apps for that help students stay organized in college. I definitely need to look at this! I had a rough time last year!:

Ipad. I loaded this with games on my last flight, and I very rarely play the games other than when I travel, so they always feel nice and fresh each time I play them. I don't often listen to music but the opportunity to load some on is there if I want it, just to relax to and mix it up a little. Our flight has personal USB ports to charge things up so I don't have to worry about my battery dying!

On both flights going to and from Florida they had some really good in flight entertainment. Usually flying makes me really drowsy but I managed to sit through 3 films during the flight, and I actually quite enjoyed relaxing and knowing that I didn't have anything better to do!

Whats your favourite thing to bring on a flight?

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Friday, 4 September 2015

Out Of Office...

Sorry if I've been absent lately... I've been extra busy on the run up to my holiday to Florida, which i am now on! Yes, I'm writing this all the way from the US! We're 4 days in and having a blast! The parks are great and the wait times are so much shorter than 2 years ago which is fab cos we're fitting so much more in!
If any of you have got any recommendations on anything then please leave them below!

Until then,  I'll leave you with this pretty photo that I took the other night when leaving Universal Studios.


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