Friday, 29 July 2016

Are you a Me Time Practitioner?

I’m a busy Mum (aren’t we all?) and I’m a Me Time Practitioner. 

Er, what now? 

Well, I regularly shove parenting duties, housework (little encouragement needed) any kind of work-work and social engagements to one side, and I take care of myself, as the Boots’ research indicates we should, although Me Time is for non-Mums, too.  

Sometimes I pop 30 minutes into my diary, sometimes an afternoon or day, usually once a week/month so that I can catch up on my favourite TV shows (not the ones I share with anyone else) or gorge on an Amazon video with a Bounty mid-morning. Sometimes I just hog the bathroom and gather my hundreds of beauty products for a bit of a tidy-up session, without a four year old investigative reporter by my side (Mummy, why are your toes hairy?).

Last Saturday I spent the afternoon in town, buying magazines, reading said magazines, and relaxing over a pot of tea in a book shop.  Best Me Time I’ve had for a while.  Mr S15S looked after Mini Stylist and I forgot to look at my watch.  Me Time isn’t always about switching off; I often use it for life planning.

Afternoon Me

And every couple of months, I book myself into a hotel for the night.  

By Myself. Before I've spontaneously combusted.


I’ve stayed in budget hotels, cosy B&Bs and spa hotels.  With the wealth of comparison accommodation sites out there, there is a bed to suit every budget, depending on your location.  I’m a big fan of any bed that considers itself a cloud.

In mid-August I’ve booked a night away with the girls in Bristol; the girls being gorgeous friends who live so far away from me and each other that we meet up in a different city each year for gossip, cocktails and shopping.  I class this as Me Time, but I’m adding on a night in a hotel in a different city for some indulgent Me Time.  The kind of time where I listen to my favourite music (country; loud) and shop until I starfish on the bed.  The clock stops, at least until breakfast. 

Bloody brilliant.  

Cloud o'clock

I also head to London with friends each March for a four-day Me Time Mini-Break otherwise known as the country music festival, C2C, where I’m not Mum/Girlfriend/Employee/Responsible from the moment the train leaves Plymouth (unless it’s an emergency; I’m still a grown up).

I make sure to diarise all of these events, too, from the 30 minutes to a bit longer, in my phone’s calendar, so that they actually happen when I need them to happen.   

I mean my Me Time, and I’m mean if I don’t get it; I’m supporting my family when I clear off for 24 hours.  In a relationship?  Indulge in some Me Time for a week and see what absence does to your body parts as well as your hearts. 

More people should spend the night by themselves, whether you're a Mummy, Daddy, or Non-Parent.  We are all busier now than we’ve ever been, multi-tasking our way, on the crutches of technology, towards our dreams and ambitions.  Which I’m a massive fan of – we CAN do more than our ancestors, and that’s great for human progress.  But just like a phone needs charging every now and then, so do their operators (yes, us).
Being a stay-at-home, or work-from-home parent, it’s especially important we have time away from our dwellings, just like employees book annual leave from their desk. You don’t even need to go on holiday, just enjoy some time by yourself in a different location.  If you’re a B&B or hotel owner reading this blog post, you might consider holding Me Time day retreats, where visitors can switch off during the school day, come September.  Just saying. 

Mr S15S enjoys his own Me Time, too.   

He doesn’t spend the night in a hotel by himself (he would have no idea how to watch back-to-back movies or spend more than three minutes in a bathroom, never mind use the spa) but he does have frequent mini-breaks with friends, where twenty plus men in their forties stay up until morning, and the only responsibilities he has are to water and painkillers.

So the next time you’re feeling frazzled, reach for your diary and a search engine, and book the best night in money can afford. 

Why not share your Me Time experience in the comments below? I’d love to hear your stories!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Are Holland and Barrett changing the way we shop?

One of only 3 flagship Holland and Barrett More stores opened in Plymouth's Drake Circus mall on Thursday – have you been in yet?   The other two stores are in York and Chester, so the South West really has something to shout about retail-wise this week!

I think I've only ever been into H&B for energy bars (read Nakd cocoa bars) however I popped in on launch day for a complimentary tour and was hugely impressed with the range of healthy beauty products available alongside the healthy food options, including the fabulous Dr Organic, Weleda and  Yes to Carrots/Tomatoes/Cucumber et al range - which I've sent MrS15S pootling around Europe for in the past - so my inner twirl was seriously twirling. 

All beauty items in store are natural and paraben- SLS- and microplastics- free, and I'm sure the knowledgeable and friendly staff would help you identify the best products for your own needs, as well explaining the chemistry behind the nature.

You can even have a go at creating your own scrubs and lip balms - perfect Christmas ideas aplenty!

Or try out the vegan nail polish range, Zoya (I suspect my Mum's vegetarian friend will receive one or two of these for her upcoming birthday).

 I could easily potter around the Beauty Kitchen for hours, and it's a great place for gift ideas - who doesn't deserve a little bit of natural luxury every now and then?

But lets not forget the food and drink, which includes a frozen and chilled section for vegetarians who like food on the go - also suitable for non-vegetarians - the Bees Knees honey centre, and some fabulous bars/stations for you to select your own goodies: 

The Tea Bar (very stylish tea cups displayed under glass cloches; automatic relaxing life hack?)

The Olive Bar 

The Dressing station (fab range of balsamic vinegar and oils)

The Pick n (freakin' gorgeous) Mix (absolutely recommend the pineapple chunks and Dark Chocolate Coated Cranberries)

This new concept store encourages that greatest of shopping vices; b r o w s i n g. Slowing down your mind and body to simply indulge your senses, which ultimately empowers healthy living. 

Swiftly followed by invigorating interaction in supporting customers to really understand healthy living - it's like Legoland for Mummies and Daddies.  Try a ten minute browse next time you're dashing around on errands; as much fun as a Zone Out Latte in the sunshine.

When was the last time shopping was so much fun?

I received a cute goody bag at the launch, however all comments are mine own. But obviously.  

Saturday, 30 April 2016

How many hand creams is too many?

Hello, Dear Readers 

As I made my way to the railway station for the journey to Marie Claire Live last weekend, a sudden thought whacked me around the head and near halted my stride ‘I need hand cream’.

Perfectly  ordinary thought, and possibly not deserving of such a lightening bolt mention.

Apart from the fact I have a bunch of hand creams at home. In every room of the house.   And in my several work bags, and in Mr S15S's car (though weirdly not mine; must amend that once I’ve finished uploading my post). 

But, again, I’d forgotten to pack one, and had to buy a new one, lest my hands shrivel up and lose their function.  Rather like that side of my brain which won’t let me settle until I’ve handed over more money to a beauty sales person, for that one or two uses before the tube lingers so far at the bottom of my hand bag that it may well be one of those funky fish at the bottom of the ocean with it’s own light system.  And I still would forget to pack a tube in my bag even if they came with lights, like my daughter's fab trainers.

I really can’t abide the rough cuticles and thumb/index finger skin that comes of the gadget-era.  So much typing and swiping takes its toll on our digits.

How was I going to smooth down my panic and nails with only a Spar, Pumpkin Cafe and WH Smith for company between me and my train? Hmmm?

Well, it being almost Summer, the time of increased female traffic at airports, railway and service stations around the globe, the magazine industry is out to tempt us, isn't it?   

(Tempt me away) 

The very same Marie Claire team I was off to meet had a handy Neal’s Yard hand cream attached to their May issue - I chose the Garden Mint and Bergamot, and it smells thoroughly gorgeous. And reminds me of home-made mojitos, such is the prolific mint in our garden. (And just who wants to make mint sauce all the time?)

I tried to forget that I’d bought one only the previous week in exactly the same scenario...

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Marie Claire At Work LIve: Part 2 The Afternoon

Ahhhhh, Mini Stylist is in bed – how long she keeps her four year old self there for is anyone’s guess – and I have a lukewarm coffee by my side.  Time to continue with the reflection on the 2016 Marie Claire #AtWorkLive event.

After a lengthy lunch working our way around the sponsor’s stalls, sampling tasters of the Cointreau Fizz, and devouring gorgeous peanut butter brownies for dessert - in the ginormous lunch queue - it was back to the second breakout session to re-engage myself with business advice from insiders (Sharmadean Reid of WAH nails, Julie Deane of The Cambridge Satchel Company, Kate Unsworth of wearable, productivity-enhancing tech, in search of a tech-reliance-free-life company Vinaya and Amy Hanson of the humanitarian SmallSteps Project), chaired by the inquisitive and engaging deputy editor of MC Miranda McMinn. 

So, what were the best tips of the Starting your Own Business session?

  • You don’t need a fortune to start your own business; Deane had £600 and was motivated purely by family responsibilities.
  • You should work in phases to ensure control over your finances and your project, advised Reid.
  • Ask people to work for free and you might be pleasantly surprised (the Unsworth art of negotiation).
  • Apply transferable skills and engage with something you’re incredibly passionate about, as did Hanson.  

I was so awed by their stories that I didn’t have time to take notes, and I forgot to take photos. 

By 3 o’clock I was flagging, however; perhaps next year Marie Claire could set aside a dimly-lit retreat room with lavender scents and blanket-laden beds for 20 minute power naps?  There were so many ideas generated from the sessions, hastily tapped into phones and scribbled into notebooks, that I imagine it would be as busy as the Cointreau trolley.   

I was so was looking forward to an express manicure by a fabulous lass from the at-home beauty team, Le Salon, which was great, AND it’s still chip-free a day later! 

There was just enough time for beauty hacks from Bruce at Vidal Sasoon, which I think overran a little; essentially he advised us not to be afraid of products, and to ditch the straighteners; yeah, not gonna do that. 

SJ from Bare Minerals applied the fastest 6 looks to three models I’ve seen since Lisa Potter-Dixon at last year’s event...