I’m really ashamed to say that I haven’t explored much of the UK and I’ve never been to Ireland. Sure, I’ve been on a few city breaks, I’ve spent a few intoxicated weekends in Wales and most recently a coastal caravan holiday in Cornwall but overall there’s a lot of our fair isles that I’ve never visited.

We’re incredibly lucky that our roads are so well connected (you’d never hear me praising the roads at rush hour on a Friday though, that I’ll tell you) so really I have no excuse. As such, I thought I’d hop back onto the blogging bus (bus – driving – geddit?!) with a couple of delightful looking drives I’d love to go on.

Black Mountain Road Wales

Image of Black Mountain Pass credit to fromthevalleys via Flickr under Creative Commons

Military Road – Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight has been high on my list of ‘to visit’ places for a long time and it’s the scenery that makes me really want to go. Military Road is a coastal road from Chale in the east to Freshwater Bay in the west; a drive along which features beautiful view of the Isle of Wight coastline. Just imagine the instagram snaps!

Aran Islands – Galway

The Irish Cultural Drives eBook created by Chill Insurance suggests spending time ‘Island hopping around the Aran Islands’ and with such amazing views of the Atlantic, this is a suggestion I could totally get behind. The islands are just off the coast of Galway Bay in the middle of the Wild Atlantic Way. Whilst a visit would also include a ferry journey over to the islands it’s slightly cheating on the old ‘drive’ thing, but hey – driving to the ferry terminal counts. The Aran Islands are formed of three islands – Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer and are home to sandy beaches, cliffs and unique plant life.

Black Mountain Road – Brecon Beacons

Driving through windy country roads towards Bala in the rain and pitch darkness a few years ago was not my favourite however, as anyone who has driven through Wales in the daytime will attest, it is host to a number of beautifully scenic drives. Arguably one of the most scenic is the Black Mountain Road, which snakes throughout the Brecon Beacons landscape and is a route I’d like to experience. In the day. When it’s dry.

So that’s it – three dreamy drives I’d love to take. Preferably as a passenger so I can indulge in the views. Do you have any recommendations of places I could add to my list?

There’s a few things I quite like; arts and crafts, my fellow bloggers and tea. So when an invite to the Viking Arty Party popped into my inbox promising an afternoon filled with all three, it took me no time at all to RSVP.

The event was hosted by Viking Direct at the King Street Townhouse hotel which has the most stunning views of Manchester from it’s balcony. On the day of the event, the weather was on our side with mostly blue skies, so we were able to enjoy the balcony between our craft sessions. I believe there is also a rooftop pool, so definitely worth a look if you’re looking for somewhere luxurious to stay in Manchester.

Manchester Skyline

Rubber Stamping with The Crafty Hen

Crafting at the Viking Arty Party

As there were quite a lot of us at the arty party, we were split into three groups for the three crafts. Our first craft was rubber printing with The Crafty Hen. We carved designs into rubbers before printing them onto a document file. Despite my attempts at a cupcake shape, my prints ended up looking more like an oven glove… Well, it’s the taking part that counts I suppose!

We then broke for a bit of lunch which we enjoyed beneath blue skies on the balcony before getting right back into the next crafts. For my group this was calligraphy – another activity I’d never tried before. The session was held by the talented and super nice Joyce of Artsy Nibs, who showed us how to use the calligraphy pen and gave us some pointers on calligraphy.

After a bit of time practicing our new calligraphy skills it was time for our final craft; notebook decorating! Again with The Crafty Hen, this unleashed the artsy teen-girl in all of us, and took us back to the days of decorating school books. 

Photo credit to <a href="http://www.viking-direct.co.uk/specialLinks.do?&ID=blog_uk_article_vikingartyparty-bloggers-get-crafty-in-manchester" target="_blank">Viking Direct</a>

Photo credit thanks to Viking Direct

Once we’d all completed our final crafts, it was time for pictures on the balcony and then to head home, armed with our new crafty skills. A huge thank you to Viking Direct and Jennie for inviting me and for putting on a great event! You can read more about the event on the Viking Direct blog.

I am a huge lover of a good piece of jewellery, especially if it’s the kind of piece that can take the clothes you’ve just thrown on (just me?) into an outfit that looks like you’ve made a bit of an effort. What I like even more is jewellery that makes a well thought out outfit look even better. The below pieces from Jon Richard do just that and are the perfect jewellery for an elegant evening outfit. 

Jon Richard JewelleryJon Richard MOOD Pink Tonal Set 2 Jon Richard MOOD Pink Tonal Set 3

The above pieces are from the MOOD by Jon Richard range. This set in particular is the ‘Tonal Pink’ set which includes the droplet earrings and matching necklace with the bracelet being sold separately. This set is so classy and made me feel really fancy when I wore it with a simple little black dress for a fiftieth birthday meal and drinks. I’ll be honest, I’m sometimes a little bit worried about earrings that dangle as they can sometimes feel quite uncomfortable if they’re too heavy. Luckily these pair aren’t, so are comfortable to wear, even for an evening out.

You can buy the droplet earring and matching necklace set for just £18 here on the Jon Richard website and the bracelet is just £14 which you can buy here.

I’ve suffered from lower back pain for years now. I can’t remember any particular event or incident that made it start, just that it did. I’ve tried so many things to get rid of the pain; sitting with good posture, yoga, orthopaedic beds, ibuprofen gel, massages, exercise. You name it, I’ve given it a good try. I also sleep every night with a hot water bottle on my back. Yep, even in the depths of summer, because if I don’t it’s a struggle to get out of bed in the morning.

Adjustamatic Orthopaedic Beds have made the below video for people like me who suffer from a little bit of back pain think of the ways that they position themselves at night. The video features a number of tips to ensure you help keep your back supported whilst you’re asleep. Pillow cuddling, anyone?

Do you ever suffer from back pain? If so, how do you try to combat it?

Sometimes, when I write about beauty, I feel a bit of a fraud; my nails are seldom painted, I don’t wash my makeup brushes as much as I should do and I have never had a facial. Well, never until a few weeks ago when I headed to ESPA in Manchester’s Harvey Nichols for what I can only describe as an hour of sheer relaxation with an ESPA Luxury Facial.

If you’re familiar with ESPA, or have ever been within the vicinity of one of their counters you’ll know the incredible smell of their products. As a spa brand, they use oils and aromatherapy strongly within their products and spa treatments and they use smell rather than sight to decide what your skin needs at that time. On this particular Monday, my skin needed to be balanced, so this defined the products used within the facial.

ESPA Facial Review - Candle Image

ESPA Products

The ESPA Facial Experience

To say that my facial was relaxing is an understatement. I spent the hour lying entirely horizontal on a heated bed, covered in a duvet listening to wordless music. My spa therapist, Jade, explained everything at the beginning so that she could keep the speaking to a minimal during the treatment; which, although I would’ve happily chatted away, really added to the relaxation.

Firstly my makeup was removed, which in itself was a treat. Then Jade used a blue light to show up any problem areas on my skin, so she knew where to focus. My face was then massaged, cleansed, lightly exfoliated and moisturised a treat. I was asked if I’d like a head massage using the amazing ESPA pink hair mud but I decided against that and instead opted for a hand and arm massage which was still just as amazing. My facial also included a shoulder and chest massage, so I left after the hour feeling incredibly relaxed and ready to face the busy city centre head-on, my skin glowing.

Book an ESPA Facial

You can browse all of the ESPA facial treatments on their website. If you’re in need of a bit of relaxation, I don’t think there could be anything better.