Welcome to my first blog!
13th May 2019 - Written by Linda Carroll
Who would have thought, little old me, creating and launching her very own website and blog…..
I absolutely adore all things skincare, beauty, spa based….however I never thought it would be appropriate for me to review or recommend products. I always thought you had to be a super glam, dolled up to the nines, young, trendy and/or a You-Tube vlogger expert to carry this sort of thing off – therefore I always held back. I’ll be 40 this year, my back ground is retail and admin…no beauty background whatsoever……
But you know what? So what? Surely all you need is to really love doing something and be passionate about what you’re writing about? So I took the plunge towards the end of last year and quit my job of four years and decided to dedicate some serious time to getting my head together regarding job direction and in the meantime, I decided to create a website which revolved around the skincare products I use and recommend….with a blog thrown in to boot!
Quite a bit has happened since I quit my job, not all good – a couple of lapses in character judgement (I am way too trusting of people!) however I am a firm believer of the sayings “you live and learn” and “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”….I have during this slightly “wobbly” time become a much more confident person, I have learnt lots of new skills and met a few genuinely nice people – so it’s not all doom and gloom.
I have also come to realise that I have an absolute stellar network of friends and family and the cherry on the cake - a wonderfully supportive husband. Stepping out of my comfort zone in more ways than one, I am turning what should have been a “business success summit” (don't get me started) into a holiday for one and taking myself off to Barcelona this month! I have never before holidayed on my own so this will well and truly be a new experience to a country I have never visited before.
I am not going to lie, I am a little apprehensive and scared of the unknown….I lose my bearings easily, but I guess that’s what Google maps is for!
So watch this space for my Barcelona blog……apprehension and fear aside, I am actually super excited!
17th May 2019 - Written by Linda Carroll
COS Stores have surpassed themselves and raised their stores to another level by introducing quirky art, beautiful books and an array of carefully chosen, minimally crafted skincare products for clients to peruse whilst they shop for clothes....I am absolutely in love with their Kings Cross boutique - gorgeous shades of grey, sleek concrete, exposed brickwork and wooden flooring - clean, crisp and minimal - the perfect compliment to their clothing range.....
Barcelona! First impressions.....
22nd May 2019 - Written by Linda Carroll
Blessed by the Gods of travel, I arrived to a gorgeously sunny and pleasantly warm Barcelona. First impressions of this city as I whizzed down one of the central roads in my taxi - clear blue sky, clean, fabulous architecture, wide, open roads, lots of places to eat and/or grab coffee....so far, so good....
I reached my hotel, my home for the next four nights...oh my goodness...The Mandarin Oriental does not disappoint. Greeted by super polite, friendly staff, who cannot do enough for you, I was effortlessly shown to my beautiful, light and airy room. A tasteful colour pallet of whites, creams, greys and beige...what my dream bedroom would look like, whereupon I was given a selection of exquisite little handmade chocolates and a complimentary refreshing face spritz to carry around with me - perfect!
After a quick freshen up in the shower which is literally like standing under the rain in a tropical forrest - I popped out for a light bite. Armed with my trusty pop up maps (they are seriously cute!) I headed across the road, a stones throw from home, to Bar Nolla. I wanted authentic Catalan food and that's exactly what I got. Eating with my eyes, I ordered a slice of Potato Tortilla, Meatballs with clams and squid (never thought this would go well together - trust me, it works!), I also received (I didn't order it) bread rubbed with juicy sweet tomato and a hearty salad with white asparagus. Small portions of each dish, massive flavours. It was at this stage I decided I wanted to live here.....
Dinner over, I crossed the road, for a walk around the block and backtracked when I spotted a 24 hour cake shop.....did I go in - hell yes...I picked up a Pasteis de Nata (Portugese custard tart). This had to be devoured immediately, so while I slowly ambled down the street - feeling very Spanish, I scoffed the lot.
Back in my beautiful room and feeling sleepy, I literally cannot wait until tomorrow! I am going to step out early, refrain from referring to my pop up map too often and let me feet guide me....
Barcelona te amo!
23rd May 2019 - Written by Linda Carroll
A slow walk back to my hotel this evening with a belly full of Pintxos and Churros, I was tired and my feet hurt from lots of walking, but I was happy. My second, full day in this beautiful city was everything I had hoped it would be.
I hit the ground early and headed straight for La Rambla and the old part of Barcelona. My guide book recommended Café de L'Opera, an elegant 19th century café, so I decided this would be my coffee stop for the morning.
I let my feet guide me and threw caution to the wind and bagged my map...the idea of stumbling upon places as I turn a corner or get lost appeals to me more than a rigid itinerary. In following this plan, I came across La Boqueria market, a colourful, vibrant, noisy place - selling the most amazing fresh produce. I also discovered the cutest little courtyard and Placa Reial, the perfect sun trap!
A full eight hours of pounding the pavement in warm weather readied me for a dip in the hotel pool before dinner, which was bliss. A freshen up and change and I was back out for my second lot of Pintxos, a cheeky glass of Spanish red and Churros of dessert! Everyone here is super friendly and polite - I sometimes forget that I'm on my own!
All in all, a throughly pleasant day in the sunshine and a whole new day of discoveries tomorrow!
Not just the clouds crying today......
24th May 2019 - Written by Linda Carroll
The sun was hiding behind the clouds today, but not even the rain could dampen my spirits. Had there been a tornado, knowing that I was going to visit La Segrada Familia, I would have still skipped happily down the road, whistling a merry tune (slight exaggeration there, but you catch my drift...)
The walk from my hotel took over 20 minutes, and I had time to grab a quick coffee and croissant before my 11am time slot - albeit from Starbucks....I know, I know, what with all the gorgeous little coffee places here, I choose what is so readily available in the UK! Don't judge, I do like a Starbucks and I make a little habit to visit one in whichever country I am in - and by the way...every single one, better than what we have back home...
But I digress, so let's get back to the main subject...blocking out the cranes and some faint banging (which is to be forgiven, I mean, this is probably the oldest building site in the world and the temple (as it is referred to in the audio) is set for completion in 2026) I joined the fast track queue for security checks (they are taking no chances here) and to collect my audio set.
I was already totally blown away by the external entrance, the carvings leave you in awe of what human skill and team work is capable of, however it was the inside that quite frankly and I am not ashamed to say - moved me to tears...yes, you read that right - I started to cry. I wasn't sobbing or anything, these were the sort of tears that catch you unawares, where you just well up and big fat tears roll down your cheeks. I would like to mention that this was whilst on the phone to my husband...partly because I was missing him and because I needed to share the "moment" with him. But it was also because I have never seen anything quite so beautiful...(to quote my husband upon telling him this he said "what, not even me?" And that's why I love him, as even when I am crying he makes me laugh!
My photographs do it absolutely no justice, get on a plane and come here!
I think the tears were also due to the fact that (apart from being as soppy as a sausage) I just felt a huge sense of peace (I'm going to get a little deep here, apologies)...there were hundreds of people - from all walks of life, different religions, from different countries, all quietly admiring the beauty together and smiling and just being nice. I'm not overly religious, but I challenge anyone to not walk in and feel moved, even just a little.......
It was truly beautiful and I am so glad to have seen it. Thank you Gaudi and to all of the people involved in creating this masterpiece for us all to enjoy (and cry in.)
A journey of discovery.......
27th May 2019 - Written by Linda Carroll
A busy last day in Barcelona yesterday left me with little time to write up my blog....when I say busy, I don't mean a crazy busy last day of site seeing and gift buying (which I don't do by the way), rather a leisurely check out, a soothing cup of tea in the hotel lobby bar and an extremely relaxing afternoon of spa treatments. I was then promptly whisked off to the airport still floating on air after the most amazing aromatherapy massage and facial.
I am now curled up on the armchair having arrived late last night and after a morning of unpacking, cleaning and re-stocking the fridge - I can contemplate my mini break and what I gained from it. Well, physically I gained a brand new Celine bag, purse and sunglasses...as well as a few little purchases from COS and Zara and an array of new beauty products to try...ahem...however, when I re-read my first blog, the sentence where I stated I was apprehensive and scared - it's as if that part of Linda no longer exists. Yes, I did get lost in Barcelona, despite having two maps and Google Maps and I sat alone in coffee shops and restaurants, without a book or without continuously scrolling through my phone. I took in my surroundings, smiled at people, even engaged with strangers to chat about food, shops and the weather (us Brits eh, we can't help it!), and I realised that I am totally at ease and comfortable in my own company. Doing something like this is so empowering, it taught me that I can survive on my own, that I can rely on myself.
I am happily married and without sounding too corny - my husband is my best friend and of course this break would have been ideal had we been together - however I am so glad and grateful to have had this time just for myself. I think it is so important to take time out and do something just for you. This little break has given me my confidence back, after what has been a not so great three weeks. I had a very lucky escape from what could have potentially have been a career/financial disaster - this trip was a chance to evaluate my plans and take time out to re-centre myself. Thank you Barcelona, a wonderful city and experience and a true journey of discovery.
My ever evolving makeup bag....
14th June 2019 - Written by Linda Carroll
I started using makeup quite late in life, well compared to my school mates, who would apply and reapply during lessons, it never really interested me. I can actually remember feeling that adding products, especially foundation to my clean skin would make me feel dirty. I hated lipstick, could never find a shade which suited me and simply preferred to live without it. Plus, my Sicilian parents were pretty strict and wearing makeup basically meant you were a tart....seriously, my sister once wore red nail polish and red lipstick and my dad asked her "does your boyfriend know you're going out looking like that?"
Fast forward to my late teens and well, the whole dating thing happened and make up made me feel grown up. I purchased "serious" make for my brothers wedding, as I was a brides maid and needed to look the part! I took myself off to The Bodyshop - had a mini makeover, trying out various shades of foundation, eyeshadows and blusher and upon seeing how beautifully flawless my spotty teen skin looked - that's it - I was hooked.
Now, I still dislike the feeling of heavy makeup, preferring a more natural feel and look and I still rarely wear lipstick, but after many episodes of trail and error with products, I have become more aware of what suits me and what simply doesn't work with my skin, and I can tell you I have discovered some real gems!
The round pink pot is my Becca Under Eye Highlighter. I do not use concealer under my eyes, as I actually think this makes dark circles, or the discolouration much worse. Instead I use this excellent highlighter. A little dap under the eye area and near the bridge of the nose, this will reflect the light and instantly brighten up the eye area.
Hourglass Lipstick - now remember me saying I wasn't keen on lippy? Well, that was until I discovered the Hourglass range. A gorgeous array or nude to bold shades, I only have three - two nude shades and a pop fuchsia pink! They don't dry out your lips and last ages.
Not the most thrilling thing to write about, however I feel that my Eyeko eyelash curler is an unsung hero! I have super straight lashes and cannot live without a curler - the Eyeko curler is the best I have found so far. Doesn't catch or pull my lashes and delivers a killer curl.
Estee Lauder MircoPrecise Brow Pencil - a perfect companion for my Eyeko Brow Gel, a super useful brow brush on one end and the pencil on the other - it's so easy to use. A great tip to styling your brows - brush the hairs downwards first, pencil in and using the brush, brush up into shape.
From left to right.....
Erborian CC Red Correct - a firm favourite. I brilliant primer, reduced redness and evens out your complexion. I often wear it on its own, but for a more "made up" look, I will wear underneath the BB cream.
Erborian BB Creme Nude - another firm favourite from this Korean brand, a lovely, light BB Creme, which I actually class as my foundation. Again, you can wear alone, it great from light to medium coverage, evens out the skin and moisturises - added bonus!
Hourglass Liquid Liner - I am yet to master the cat eye look, this however makes the job that little bit easier. A rich, dark liquid liner, perfect for achieving that fine line on the eye lid. Seriously water proof, this baby will not budge unless you use a touch makeup remover. (see my beauty page for recommendation)
Kevyn Aucoin Celestial Liquid Light - this is my "pretty skin" in a bottle. Dap onto cheek bones, eye bones or all over for pretty, luminescent skin. My skin feels lights its constantly in candle light mode and it makes a change from using blushers. I used to save this for special occasions, then decided that everyday is a special occasion right?!
Estee Lauder Double Wear Mascara - A great, stay put mascara. Doesn't sting or smudge. The brush applies the mascara without clumps - I am always super pleased when I find a decent mascara!
Eyeko Tinted Brow Gel - Another firm favourite. This is perfect for taming and tinting my brows for a neat and polished look. I use this over my brow pencil or on its own. It's a must have for the makeup bag.
Chanel Les Beiges Water Fresh Tint - A new product from Chanel, a super light weight, water feel tint. Perfect for someone like me who isn't keen on heavy makeup. Use as a base, or own its own. Minimal coverage - so best to save for a "good skin" day. This is perfect for when the weather is hot and you want a cooling product on your skin to enhance your look and add brightness to your complexion.
Finally, my Hourglass Concealer - I only use this incase a pesky pimple appears and needs covering up! It blends in well and delivers great coverage.
And that's a round up of my makeup folks! If you do decide to try any of the above, let me know what you think about the product and I am always happy to receive recommendations too. xx