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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Help, film review


The Help by Kathryn Stockett is an iconic book, so it comes as no surprise to see it arrive on the big screen. A touching, heart-wrenching and very real story, it sheds light on the difficult situation regarding white ladies and their black maids in Mississippi in the 1960s. An aspiring author during the civil rights movement decides to write a book detailing the lives of African-American maids, the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

I cried throughout.. no, I'll be totally honest.... I sobbed throughout. The film is convincing and, despite the slow storyline, gripping. I was delighted to see a cast of such superb female actresses. Particular stand out performances for me come from Emma Jones as leading lady Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan who is frank and inquisitive; Bryce Dallas Howard as mean girl Hilly Holbrook and Octavia Spencer as outspoken Minny Jackson are also brilliant to watch on screen.

The translation from book to film can be a problem, but not in this case. I rarely go to the cinema, but The Help is definitely worth the effort and the extortionate ticket price!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Malmaison hotel and Smoak and Ember, Manchester






It was typical that as I stepped off the train at Manchester Piccadilly station, the skies opened and fat menacing raindrops began pelleting down, a miserable welcome but one that I would expect after three rainy years at University here. Luckily my destination, the Malmaison is located only a few minutes walk from the main train station. We were relieved to step inside the warm hotel, appetising culinary scents wafting over from the new Smoak restaurant, tempting us in.

We were greeted by the enthusiastic manager and escorted up to our superior room where we were pleased to find seductive and pretty décor, a massive bed, inviting chaise longue and useful desk; it was fully equipped and more. The bathroom was the real piece de resistance: a smart black and white chequered floor, large mirror and huge bath. Our bathroom was fully stocked with the customary lovely Mal toiletries. I’ve stayed in several Malmaison hotels and am refreshed each time by the new exciting flavour of each destination, reflecting its location.

This building is a converted Victorian warehouse, with a red and black theme and gorgeous hemp cloth blinds, sheltering the downstairs reception, a combination of old and new. It has an indulgent feel, with individually designed boutique bedrooms and downstairs a large sumptuous spa for all your relaxation and pampering needs. We treated ourselves to luxurious aromatherapy back massages on Saturday morning, and had fun in the calming lounge playing with the massage chairs in our fluffy white towelling robes.

The expansive new restaurant, Smoak and the bar, Ember look flashy and chic alongside the hotel reception on the ground floor. This new restaurant hopes to entice non-hotel guests in from the street, and it was amazing to see the place completely full on a wet Friday night. I was disappointed with the service at Smoak, despite only being three months old I expected more. On the floor they were massively understaffed and service was slow and inefficient. Our young waiter was very sweet, but just a bit clueless, not offering any expertise when we asked about the cocktail menu and delivering everything very late in a clumsy way. There was one comical moment when he thought he had brought us the wrong starters so ran back to the kitchen only to discover that in fact it was our food, and returned all flustered with the same plates. My small Caesar salad was very overdressed, the poor leaves wilting under the strain of the thick vinaigrette, my friend tried the Tuna Carpaccio with aniseed cress, soya and lime dressing and left most of it disappointed with the flavour and the excess of soy sauce.

With steaks and the epic grill as their speciality, we both opted for the fillet steaks and these did not disappoint. Wonderfully smoked and rich, good quality hunks of meat arrived, cooked to our exact specifications. There is a big selection of sauces and chip varieties to accompany the meat, I decided on peppercorn sauce with garlic chips and my friend chose béarnaise sauce, and paprika chips.

The retro inspired dessert menu gave us a difficult choice, I couldn't resist my favourite Pannacotta and here served with delicate pieces of pineapple and a red fruits coulis. It was suitably creamy and tasted freshly homemade thanks to real vanilla sprinkled on top. My friend chose the selection of light sorbets, and seemed satisfied with the Mal's homemade passion fruit sorbet, though the texture was more like granita. We retired to bed taking our fresh mint tea with us. I was relieved to snuggle up with the fluffy duvet after a long and tiring day.

I am always amazed by the Mal breakfasts, guests seem to relish the continental selection, and the classic take on the English Breakfast. With the early morning sunshine streaming through the restaurant, it was a very pleasant and open place to enjoy the start of the day - we chose from the lovely fresh fruit and pastries and ordered big mugs of tea and coffee to wake us up.

As always, I left the Malmaison feeling energised and refreshed, ready for the day ahead.

VISIT MALMAISON WEBSITE HERE TO BOOK.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Hot on the Highstreet Week 79



Elle Magazine includes "Elle Edits" pages in every monthly issue. I love these features - they are stylishly compiled collages of new products, clothes, jewellery, and accessories. They are selected around a certain theme, for example "velvet" or "jewels," usually the idea matches a current trend. On one of these colourful Elle pages, I noticed a few pieces from Jade Jagger's jewellery range - bold bright gems encased in gold with a gothic skull motif. I was instantly attracted to the collection but assumed it would be horrifically expensive.

Checking her website, I was pleasantly surprised to find the prices were lower than I expected, almost reasonable considering the special precious materials used. The accessories are split into four main collections: skulduggery, precious, gypsy, and kiss. Jade Jagger’s jewellery is boho chic: gorgeous chunky chains, pretty delicate bracelets and enticing bejewelled rings. Prices range from £55 upwards, and there are some lovely pieces that would be perfect for Christmas presents.

My favourites are the skulduggery items, Indian inspired pieces decorated with enamel beads, tassels and cute gold trinkets. Usually the celebrity designers have little to offer, but Jade Jagger has definitely proved herself with this unique jewellery brand.

Visit the Jade Jagger shop at 43 All Saints Road, London W11 1HE, or visit the website here.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Corner Room, Bethnal Green










I have always wanted to try Viajante, Nuno Mendes’ adventurous first restaurant in Bethnal Green. Following its unrivalled success Mendes has recently opened a second eatery – Corner Room in the Town Hall Hotel, located close by. I got totally lost for thirty minutes trying to find the Corner Room; Bethnal Green is not a very pleasant place lose your way in, even in daylight. Noticing my confusion a kind (but odd) man took the time to personally accompany me to the restaurant, an offer I would normally decline but running dangerously late for the bloggers lunch, I reluctantly accepted, and walked with him as he told me stories of his Moroccan family.

Turn a corner away from the dingy takeaway joints and you find the grand Town Hall Hotel, very different in character to its surroundings. The Corner Room is a tiny, lovely light restaurant inside, a petite dining room decorated with a quirky assortment of hanging lights and a particularly unique spiral staircase acting as a sculpture rather than a functional feature. This restaurant has wasted no time in getting into the locals' good books - while we dined, we noticed a group of girls who already consider this little place a firm favourite for girlie lunches.

Mendes is a creative chef who takes risks with his ingredient combinations, experimenting with flavours and textures and creating dishes for foodies who wish to be intrigued. His dishes can be challenging but at the Corner Room he seems to combine his enthusiasm for unique flavours with comforting recipes. First came a punchy amuse-bouche of large green olives stuffed with anchovy, orange and parsley then a selection of fresh bread and salted butter. The menu is concise, and at only £15 for two courses at lunchtime, it is amazing value.

Our table tried a variety of starters, I was most impressed by the fresh presentation, all plates arrived green and healthy looking with a mix of vibrant colours. My beetroot with butternut squash & stracciatella salad was a glorious combination of creamy soft cheese, sweet chunks of fuchsia beetroot, pureed squash and crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds; the contrast in textures was particularly exciting. The mains arrived displayed counter-intuitively only on one side of the pristine white plate. The Iberico pork &Portuguese bread pudding looked divine, cooked unusually rare and juicy. I tried the Onglet steak with wild mushrooms & aubergine: the meat was sensational, and despite preferring my meat well done, I couldn’t fault this superior cut - moist and flavoursome inside with a caramelised crispy edge. There were a few too many mushrooms in danger of overpowering the meat, but a very interesting woody smoky flavour came from the accompanying aubergine puree, I couldn’t quite decide if I liked it or not.

The desserts are the most inventive and luxurious thing on the menu - some of the ideas work, others are a bit odd. The dark chocolate & peanut butter ice cream is a lovely take on a retro classic. I have tried various peanut butter inspired puddings and this was the best - a devilish combination of chocolate brownie, ice-cream and peanut buttery caramel. As a pannacotta fiend, I opted for the apple and hazelnut example… I was a little disappointed that the consistency was more like ice-cream, but the addition of apple crisps and nougat pieces compensated. Across the table the blueberries with goat’s cheese, caramel, brioche & shiso looked like a weird and wonderful experiment from Willy Wonka’s factory, the plate covered in a green granita type mixture. We finished with finely roasted cafetiere coffee.

Nuno Mendes’ exciting restaurants and original cooking is sure to draw foodies to Bethnal Green. For value and taste Corner Room is impossible to fault.

No bookings are taken but the Corner Room is worth queuing for. Visit the website here.


Saturday, 26 November 2011

Jones and Payne, hairdressers, Shoreditch




I arrived at Jones and Payne on a quiet Tuesday afternoon and was welcomed warmly into the boutique salon and offered a drink. I was a little overexcited to discover that my stylist for the afternoon was called Milly too, with the added bonus of spelling it the same way - with a "y" rather than the more common "ie"! We bonded over this momentarily before discussing what to do with my tired looking mop of hair. We decided on a tiny tidy-up trim and a wavy blowdry, Milly was very intuitive and seemed to understand exactly what I wanted straight away.
J&P has a charming inviting atmosphere with a decorative style inspired by English Heritage Interiors with wooden floors, vintage furnishings, period chandeliers and pretty pale blue walls.
I was taken downstairs for a luxurious hair wash and head massage (my absolute favourite part about coming to hairdressers!). The stylist asked specifically about my hair type to ensure he used the most suitable kind of Kerastase shampoo and conditioner and then gave me an ultra relaxing head rub that almost sent me to sleep!
Milly efficiently trimmed my hair while chatting to me about life in London and our different interests. The blow dry was a special treat for me as my hair rarely gets pampered at home. Lack of time and expertise means I most often leave my hair to dry naturally and the transformation after Milly's handywork definitely inspired me to make more effort with hairstyling in future. She used a small rounded brush to carefully create loose curls, scruffing them up slightly to create a styled casual look, then holding the shape with some lovely smelling Shu Eumura products.
The following day I was still getting comments on the glossy condition and chic styling of my hair... I just wish I could visit Jones and Payne every time I need a blow dry, it is amazing what a difference it makes to your appearance.
Visit the website here.

Friday, 25 November 2011

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Dracula: Sex, Sucking and Stardom, Hens & Chickens Theatre

On the surface, it is a familiar plotline: Dracula wants to take over the world with an army of un-dead. But there is an unexpected bonus: Dracula is also a frustrated guitar-wielding West End wannabe, pining for a role in the new Andrew Lloyd Webber hit show. This is 'Dracula: Sex, Sucking and Stardom', and it is not to be missed.

This one-act show is a barrage of laughs. A clever and fast-moving script, wonderful audience participation, great use of a small and inflexible space, and terrific comic timing make for a great evening in the Hen and Chickens Theatre. The show has been devised by the cast, and they must have had such fun creating the piece. Their on-stage energy and commitment is what gives the play its winning punch.

It is the second show from the theatre company 'Last Chance Saloon', set up by Sam Dunham and Jack Faires, who play Jonathan Harker and Count Dracula respectively. For this show they have added Simon Naylor, who plays Van Helsing, and what a brilliant decision it was to cast him in the role - it is clear from the start how much natural flair he has for comedy.

It is interesting that in the blurb for 'Last Chance Saloon', Charlie Chaplin is listed as one of their key influences. Slapstick comedy is an integral part of the show, and it is clear that the performers/writers rank visual comedy as highly as they do scripted comedy. An actor being slapped in the face, cross-dressing, or waking up in a compromising position is just as funny as some of the verbal gaffs in this show. The timing of these moments is impeccable.

Jack Faires' skilled guitar playing adds a crucial musical dimension, and a half-size electric keyboard serves as a useful and cleverly-utilised prop.

The plot is as ridiculous as you would wish it to be: the action moves across oceans in a matter of seconds, and the actors switch characters at extraordinary speed. The result could have been utter chaos, but instead the action is wonderfully slick.

The laughs keep coming: when Dracula is turned down by Andrew Lloyd Webber for being too camp, he is horrified to discover that John Barrowman has been cast instead.

An amazing line-up of comedians over the coming months is another tremendous reason to visit The Hen and Chickens Theatre in Islington.

Sex, Sucking and Stardom continues until 3 December, book here.

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Alex Knox.

Win a Vegetarian Christmas Feast for your Family from Linda McCartney




My favourite thing about Christmas lunch is the succulent turkey, the crispy little pigs in blankets and the pork and sage stuffing, it is a meat feast. It can be tricky catering for vegetarians at Christmas and making it equally special for them, so Linda McCartney has designed a range of delicious products to satisfy the veggie eaters during this festive season.

I have got a feast of Linda McCartney products to give away, so you can win everything you need for a Veggie Christmas dinner for you and your family.


WIN WIN WIN!

YOU can win a vegetarian feast from Linda McCartney right here! Here’s what you get if you win:

§ 2 x Vegetarian Roast

§ 2 x Cranberry & Camembert Burgers

§ 2 x Rosemary & Red Onion Sausages

§ 2 x Mini Snack Vegetarian Sausages

§ Selection of seasonal vegetables

§ Bottle of sherry

§ A game for the kids

§ A carrot for Rudolph


To enter:

1. For your first chance to win the prize please comment on this post telling me what is your favourite vegetarian Christmas dinner and be a follower of Thoroughly Modern Milly with Google Friend Connect

2. For a second chance to win please tweet this post Win Linda McCartney Christmas vegetarian feast with @millykr http://www.thoroughlymodernmilly5.blogspot.com/ #win #prize and comment HERE telling me you have done so along with your twitter username

3. For a third chance to win please follow me @millykr on twitter and comment HERE to tell me you have done so.

GIVEAWAY RULES

This giveaway is open to all readers with a UK mailing address. The winner will be chosen using an online randomiser and announced in a subsequent post.

I am running this competition on behalf of Linda McCartney who will be sending the prize out to the lucky winner. Their decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

There is one main way to enter and several ways to get bonus entries. You must leave a separate comment for each bonus entry otherwise they will not be counted.

Closing date: 8pm Tuesday 13th December 2011

http://www.lindamccartneyfoods.co.uk/

Paolita, Dolci Follie lingerie Launch, The Ivy bar






I first saw the Dolci Follie designs at London Fashion Week where, even amongst all the designer stars, Simona Walters' cute collection stood out as being special. Last week I was invited to celebrate the launch of her new lingerie boutique in Notting Hill.

We arrived at the Ivy Bar; after being ticked off the extensive press list, we were whisked upstairs in a very swish lift and through various sophisticated rooms until we arrived at the allocated Dolci Follie party room. The posh venue was filled with glamorous ladies in heels, dressed to impress; a small gaggle of press photographers gathered around the catwalk ready to capture the action.

Unfortunately neither of us felt 100% (winter flu is on its way), so we regrettably declined the sparkling flutes of champagne and opted for water instead, already feeling rather less glamorous than our surrounding peers. Spotting an exciting stall setting up in the corner, we wandered over to see what all the fuss was about. Paperself were displaying hundreds of their Chinese inspired paper eyelashes and offered to adorn our eyes with them - we of course accepted, and came away fluttering, both choosing the delicate butterfly themed ones.

Before long it was time for the fashion show, and after some initial technical issues, the fun began. Staggeringly tall models appeared one by one, striding defiantly down the short catwalk showing off the amazingly intricate lingerie collection. The lingerie is stunning and you could tell everyone was impressed - I saw several girls pointing out which of the sets would be their dream underwear outfit. Using all the current trends (gothic, lace, velvet), Walters has created a range of mostly wearable lingerie that is undoubtably very now. My favourites were the frilly and flowery, brightly coloured sets of knickers and bras that arrived towards the end of the show, though if I had the nerve, I would love to wear the skimpier lace sets too.

Heading on to review a restaurant, we left promptly after the catwalk display, collecting our satin pink goodie bags on the way out. Inside were amazing black metal eye masks, identical to those worn by the models, Dolci Follie themed personalised chocolate bars and a catalogue of the newest collection.

Sultry, sassy, sexy and seductive, Simona Walter’s lingerie is too sensational to resist… I can’t wait to visit the Notting Hill store. Visit the website here.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Real Greek, restaurant, Covent Garden










Surprisingly while gallivanting round town I have never come across The Real Greek before; it has recently expanded with seven branches in London. The restaurant was founded in 1999 by celebrity chef, Theodore Kyriakou and his team. The initial restaurant in Hoxton won the title "Best New London Restaurant," following this success establishments opened across London, we visited the buzzing Covent Garden branch.

The Real Greek aims to provide regional and home-style Greek cooking, and can proudly boast being the first restaurant to offer a calorie check on each dish. We were overwhelmed by the menu which lists numerous options and variants of familiar Greek classics as well as some lesser known delicacies. I realised, appalled, that I have never been to a Greek restaurant in London before, despite really enjoying the local food when I visited Crete many years ago. The style of eating is similar to Spanish tapas, with several small plates to be shared between the table, it is a sociable and relaxed way to eat, and more importantly you get to try everything! I immediately noticed similarities between this Greek food and Lebanese cuisine, both genres focus on vegetables and lean meat, making it a very healthy and nourishing style of food.

We were treated with exceptional care and attention by the lovely manager, Kostas; he felt the need to check up on us rather too often, though I know it was done with good intentions. The dishes were thoroughly explained to us, and he highlighted his favourites. After our delicious nibbles of Mediterranean Kalamata olives and Greek Flatbread with Olive Oil and Dukka (a spicy mix of ground, dry roasted nuts and seeds), we chose a few of the cold meze dishes as a starter course. With a generous portion of crudites to dip, we relished homemade, deliciously spiced coarse hummus and the more adventurous Htipiti, a feta dip with roasted red peppers and red onions. The Htipiti was our definite favourite, an amazing blend of salty and sweet cheese and vegetables, it was delicious with the light warm bread.

I feel ashamed to list the many, many different hot dishes we tried for mains. Somehow, through no fault of our own, most of the menu made it onto our table, and the surrounding diners must have been astounded by the extensive array of food. Kostas kindly mentioned that our silhouettes didn’t suggest we were greedy, which made us chuckle and feel a little better! Plates of food are presented on clever contraptions that hold three or five dishes at once. The salads arrived first, simple Cos Salad with shredded leaves tossed in a fruity sultana dressing and an ultra fresh Greek Salad, which surprisingly comes in at 681 calories, even for a small portion!

Halloumi has always been a hit with me, and the Real Greek’s version was the best I have tried, not too salty and grilled to crispy perfection - it was very moreish and lovely paired with the meat dishes. The Yiaourtlou: homemade lamb patties grilled and topped with yoghurt, tomato relish, onions and sprinkled with paprika was a beautiful stack of yumminess and tasted as good as it looked: tender,sweet and spicy with a cold dash of sour from the yoghurt. We also had succulent chicken skewers that were perhaps a little overcooked, and Bifteki – beef patties with spring onion and minted yoghurt, the meat had a lovely flavour but was a little dry. Tiropitakia – filo pastry parcels with creamy leek and feta filling, were a comforting and contrasting dish and the grilled octopus was a welcome break for my friend from the epic meat fest!

Desserts were thankfully light and refreshing, a wonderfully citrusy lemon cake that had a hint of almond and a selection of palate-cleansing sorbets: passion fruit and raspberry were on the menu when we went. We finished with a tiny glass of strong dessert wine, warm and earthy.

The Real Greek offers an exciting range of authentic and modern Greek food, with a keen emphasis on healthy eating. I really appreciated the calorie count and was amazed to discover how wrong I was about various food types and the fat content. Despite being made aware, I think we more than cancelled out our calorie awareness considering the quantity we ate! I left feeling satisfied and appreciating the benefits of this flavoursome Mediterranean diet.

Visit The Real Greek website to book here.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Madame Tussauds, London





Madame Tussauds is famous for the long line of eager tourists waiting outside and one of the most exciting things about visiting this attraction was avoiding the ominously long queue! I feel ashamed that Thoroughly Modern Milly, as an ambassador for London, has never visited before as this place has become a rite of passage for tourists visiting our city.
I wasn't prepared for what is housed in this great turquoise dome. The waxworks are plentiful, each room more impressive than the last. Sometimes it is even tricky to distinguish between the masterful sculptures and the mimicking visitors. The camera flashes are constant as visitors pose sillily with their favourite celebrities. I can't mock too much as I did my fair share of tourist participation and was particularly excited to have my photo taken with my childhood idol John Travolta. Other favourites include a ravishing Johnny Depp, the legendary Michael Jackson and some hilarious Royal Family statues.
This attraction isn't just a museum of waxworks, there are various interactive experiences to take part in too. We tried the terrifying Chamber of Horrors, took a ride on the Spirit of London train and watched the impressive 4D Marvel Superheroes Experience... all included in the ticket price. It is good to know that Madame Tussauds is constantly evolving, bringing in new, relevant waxworks all the time, and offering exciting extras for those revisiting.
I left feeling like a much more complete Londoner, Madame Tussauds is certainly a place everyone has to visit once.
Visit the Madame Tussauds website to book your tickets here.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Crazy for You, Novello Theatre

Productions like Crazy for You confirm my love of musical theatre and make me remember why I dreamt for so long of making my career in this artform. The music, the dancing, the laughing, the lights... when a musical is done well, it is instantly uplifting, the smiles are contagious. This production of Crazy for You exemplifies this, it is perfection from start to finish.

Having moved from the unreliable stage at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, the Novello Theatre is a much more suitable home for this Gershwin classic. Every aspect is adjusted to provide a completely mesmerising performance. Peter McKintosh has done a magnificent job with the set and costume design. The outfits are to die for: glitzy and glamorous and super fun. The numerous costume changes make the show a real spectacle and the clever evolving set provides swift clean switches between the two settings: New York City and Deadrock, Nevada. Music is provided by a brilliant band, led by Stephen Ridley on the keyboard in the pit.

The choreography by movement genius Stephen Mears is jaw-droppingly good; it is impossible to see this show and not be amazed by the fancy footwork, stunning routines, magnetic ensemble work, and sharp comic innuendo. The talent and stamina the choreographer and performers must possess to do these steps justice is a marvel in itself, but to sing and act too is incredible. Not a toe out of place, not a tap out of time, the energy, pace and togetherness make the moves in Crazy for You quite frankly astonishing; the main group of dancing girls must be highly commended on their sublime performance.

It is an all star cast, carefully cast and well rehearsed - they run a tight ship. The leads, Sean Palmer as Bobby and Clare Foster as Polly are your typical triple threat performers: singing, dancing and acting, excelling at all three disciplines. Sean Palmer is charming and blessed with smouldering good looks, he oozes charisma and works beautifully with his onstage sweetheart, Polly. I was amazed throughout by his naturalness and ability to balance the serious and comic needs of the role, I particularly loved his drunken duet with Bela Zangler (David Burt) which set the audience off in hysterics! Clare Foster is fabulously feisty as Polly the country girl desperate to save her father’s theatre, she sings and dances with energy and character. I was delighted to hear her sing my favourite song, ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’, a song I have been singing myself for many years, it was wonderful to see it performed in its intended context.

When friends say to me "what is the one show you recommend in London that has it all?" My current answer will be Crazy for You. This classic Gershwin musical has been off the London stage for far too long; this joyful production is unmissable. I believe there is a serious lack of vintage musicals on nowadays - this production illustrates what makes a classic. Crazy for You has an endless list of hit songs, a great narrative and the opportunity for lots of great dancing - in fact I think it has just become my new favourite musical.

Crazy for You continues until 28 July 2012, book here.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Hot on the Highstreet Week 78



This post is all about beauty products that I have tried and tested. Recently I have had the pleasure of sampling a variety of brands, pampering my skin and hair to discover which are the hottest products on the market.

Jane Iredale: make up – These are healthy mineral cosmetics that focus on benefitting the skin. As a fake lashes addict, I am the perfect candidate to try the Jane Iredale Professional Faux Lashes and latex-free adhesive. Applying and removing fake lashes can put a real strain on your natural lashes, and the glue used often pulls away your own hairs, with the latex in the glue often causing irritation. Jane Iredale’s lashes are skin friendly and I can promise look very glamorous. Use with the PureLash extender and conditioner cream to ensure natural lashes look as healthy and full as possible. Buy here.

Gielly Green: hair products – Until I was eighteen I hadn’t coloured my hair at all, and the condition was perfect - long, glossy and healthy-looking. However as I get older and colour my poor hair more and more, the condition is definitely suffering and I need something to nourish it. Gielly Green offer a brilliant range of hair products to revive tired, weak, dull hair. After using the luxurious Repair shampoo, the Argan Rescue is a lifesaver, just add a few drops of this non greasy remedy to towel dried hair and comb through; it will strengthen hair within a few days. I have also tried the Repair Mask (basically a face mask for hair!) which adds instant moisture to damaged hair. After I rinsed it out and blow dried, I felt like I’d stepped out of a salon… this is definitely worth a try. Buy here.

Estee Lauder: skin care – It was my mum who introduced me to Estee Lauder’s Daywear cream. This tinted moisturiser gives SPF 15 protection and brings oil free moisture to thirsty skin, while giving you a healthy glow. Strangely the cream doesn’t seem to have fake tanning product in it, it is a grey granulated cream texture and works wonders on every skin type, adding a boost of colour and pep to every skin tone. And an added bonus – it has a deliciously fresh cucumber smell. Buy here.

Need a few stocking fillers? These tried and tested beauty products are sure winners.