Life of a student – the first 4 months of my Open University course

Back in October I wrote my first post about my studies, before the first module had started. It was exciting, and in some ways I didn’t know what to expect. My previous experience with the same university, but a different subject area, had not been great in terms of accessibility for visually impaired students, so I guess I was a bit apprehensive, even though it seemed a lot of progress had been made in terms of accessibility.

Now it’s four months later and I’ve nearly finished two out of three blocks in my first module. So how’s it been?

The topics

The first module that I chose is called Introduction to computing and information technology, which, as the name suggests, gives you a basic foundation in a number of topics, that you can then go on to develop, depending on which path through the degree you choose.

Block 1 was really varied and interesting. Some things were more familiar to me, such as writing basic HTML and recording and manipulating sound. These are both things I do all the time at work, even if the sound production for the podcast is done using different software. It felt nice to know that I wasn’t completely starting from scratch in these areas!

Other things included a basic introduction to how computers have developed over time – not at all technical, but I didn’t know much about the history, so that was good.

Some of the maths gave me a headache, but I discovered quickly that it was more the way some concepts were being explained and not that I was just too stupid to be able to do it. More about the maths in my do I really hate maths? post.

We also looked at considerations for product design and then usability testing for websites, which is something I offer with a specific focus on accessibility. Some of the design concepts were a bit harder for me to visualise as someone who doesn’t know things that most others take for granted such as what certain icons look like (I just care about what they do and that they have been labelled properly) But this didn’t prevent me from understanding the concepts or answering the questions.

We also had an introduction to databases – the ideas for which weren’t new, but the writing of basic queries was.

Block 2 was less enjoyable for me because it focussed on programming, in itself not a problem, but it was taught using a horrid visual programming language, which involves dragging blocks of code around with your mous and assembling them to create programmes. I can’t use a mouse and neither can I see animated characters moving around on my screen.

I really wish we could have started with something less visual and more applicable to real life, but you have to wait for the next module before you start learning textual programming languages. This made me sad, but I consoled myself with the knowledge that at least the theory and concepts would be useful, even if the practical stuff required me to rely more heavily on a sighted assistant than I would normally want to.

I told my assistant what I wanted them to do and they gave me feedback about what happened visually, because the resulting programmes only run in the inaccessible software where you create them.

I went into the module knowing what I was getting in to, but all of the routes through the IT degree begin with these first two modules, so there was really no way round it. On the plus side, the most inaccessible part of the whole degree is done, because if there’s another module with such a high content of inaccessible material, I’ll just choose another – the advantages of choosing an open degree where you pick all of your own modules!

This module has three distinct blocks and block 3 is about networking. It looks a lot more interesting than block 2, although the main reason I didn’t enjoy block 2 was the programming language itself, not the concept of programming, which if written in a textual language, should be very accessible. And after all, I’m a linguist. I like languages and the rules that govern how you can use them. These rules are adhered to even more strictly in programming, than in languages such as English with its many exceptions to grammar rules, so there’s even less room for error.

Keeping on track

You get an online planner on your student home page and you can see what content you’re supposed to cover each week. It seems some people like getting weeks ahead and then showing off about it in the forums. I’ve no problem with getting ahead, but do you really need to keep going on about it?

Anyway, for most of the weeks, I set aside some time each day in my calendar and did part of that week’s work. I treated it like any other task I have to get done throughout the day and built it into my weekly planner. This worked well, although it took more effort to get my act together and stay motivated during block 2 because I wasn’t enjoying it as much.

Over Christmas I just really wanted to be done with it, so I got ahead of myself, finished the block and submitted the assignment relating to it.The end of the block wasn’t as bad because it looked at some of the concepts we’d been learning in the horrid visual language, and compared it with the same code in Python and Java – only simple things, but they made much more sense to me and gave me hope for the future!

The materials

I get printed books like everyone else, but I can’t use these, so I have been using the online versions of the books. They’re great! You can have the whole block appear on one page, which makes it really long, but then it’s easier to navigate the book using Jaws and jump around the document via the headings.

There are also downloadable or audio versions for people who want to learn that way, and it’s definitely good that more options are available now than there were when I was first looking at studying

a different module many years ago.

At first the image descriptions were missing, but afterI flagged this, my tutor was quick to help me track them down.

Working online

For me, working online is the best part. You don’t have to go anywhere. You don’t have to shift a load of access technology somewhere. You don’t have to rely on inaccessible printed books, or stacks of Braille books like I had at school. Braille books are great, but they take up a lot of room!

As someone who is self-employed, I’m lucky that I can set aside some time for study, but not having to go to physical lectures means that I can fit the work in when I have time for it, andI don’t have to work around a preset schedule. I love that!

This kind of course means that you spend a lot of time working on your own. Some people might miss the company, but I don’t. I can work collaboratively, but I don’t need other people to be around for me to stay motivated. In fact, working on my own in my quiet office is my favourite thing!

There are a couple of tutorials in each block. There’s a range of dates and you book in for the ones that you want to attend. I only want to attend online ones and whilst it’s easy to book them, the system used for accessing them is not very accessible for screenreader users.

In fact it’s the worst kind of inaccessible – the flaky kind. Sometimes it works and other times the screenreader loses focus and then you’re done for unless you leave the meeting and come back. The app didn’t seem that good either, although I haven’t tested it with an active meeting room link.

Basically I can attend and hear everything that’s going on, but due to issues with my screenreader losing focus, I can’t access the chat window reliably. To be honest I don’t care much – I can email any questions in at the end. It would be nice to participate more, but the tutorials aren’t really used much for discussion or working on projects – it’s more about the tutor explaining things. At school I was often that kid who knew the answer, but never put her hand up, so although I’d be happier if they switched to something more accessible, I don’t feel it affects my overall experience too much.

Also, my tutor has a list of all the tutorials I booked in for, and he contacted the other tutors to ask that they send me their slides in advance so that I can read them outside of the conference software. Usually the slides are made available afterwards.

In more general terms, my tutor has been quick to respond to emails, answering questions or chasing things up when I haven’t had what I needed.

Contact with others

Most of the time, you work on your own. That’s not to say that there is no contact with others, but you have to be a bit proactive and hunt it out. Still, there are plenty of opportunities to find others on your course.

There is a list of forums on the main website, with a specific one for each module. I’ve also found some Facebook groups (one for each module, and also some more general interest ones). There’s a Slack channel, which isn’t used heavily, but it’s there. There’s a Discord channel, which I honestly haven’t bothered with much because the app was a bit annoying, and I don’t think much is happening there. At the other end of the scale, there’s a WhatsApp group that I had to leave because it crashed my phone and I didn’t want to download 250 messages each time I wanted to look at it.But yes, anyone who’s looking for more contact with other students can join the Whatsapp group and their phone won’t stop buzzing with social interactions!

I attended a face-to-face meet-up too, which was nice enough, but there was no one there from any of the IT courses. So whilst it was nice to have a chat, it wasn’t that beneficial in terms of the course.

If there’s a problem, you have to be more direct about addressing it than you perhaps would in a face-to-face setting where people can see you.

These past few weeks have been tough, not so much because of the inaccessibility, but because of how being more dependent made me feel. I tend to withdraw if I’m not ok, find a solution, maybe hunt out one person that I trust to talk about it with, and then come back and be more sociable. That’s fine for me, but if someone really needed help or support, they would need to be upfront about it, because otherwise people wouldn’t know. So you need to be able to communicate somewhere, either to your tutor or in one of the groups, if something isn’t ok and you need help with it.

Assessments

I’ve completed two online assessments, received 1 assignment back, and submitted the second one. I’m not going to go into my marks here, but I’m happy with them – apart from some points I needlessly dropped by not double-checking something – grr!

Overall thoughts

Overall I’m enjoying both the online study experience and the introduction to computing and IT module. I didn’t enjoy the last block, and if any blind person who uses a screenreader is planning to do this module, they will need to bear in mind that they’ll need sighted assistance for the practical tasks in block two. All of the actual work needs to be your own, but you’ll need someone to move your mouse to drag the code blocks around and describe what they see.

If I hadn’t had such a good assistant with whom I can work well, my experience would have been much worse!

But I want to focus on the positives, because the theory and concepts I picked up in block 2 will help me when it comes to the introduction to Python in the next module. Also, block 3 looks a lot more accessible, so in accessibility terms, I think the worst is over.

In more general terms, I think it’s natural that for whatever reason, whether it’s to do with accessibility or just what you like and are good at, you’re going to like some parts of a course more than others. That’s life. Yes, it would have been better if a text-based alternative had been available to the visual coding language, but it wasn’t and I kept plodding on through. Sometimes you just need to get things done so you can move on to something else.

I’ve basically got a week off now because next week people are supposed to be working on their assignments and I’ve already finished mine. So I’ll enjoy that and then I’m looking forward to starting the networking topic.

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My problems with the dining in the dark experience

This idea has been on my “posts to write” spreadsheet for a while, and with all the talk of the Birdbox challenge, it reminded me that I wanted to share my thoughts about the whole “dining in the dark” experience.

Don’t get me wrong – if people want to turn all the lights off and eat their dinner in the dark, it’s totally up to them! But I do have some concerns about things that I’ve read or heard about these experiences, particularly when it’s seen as a representation of what life is like when you are really unable to see.

Not all people with a visual impairment have no vision at all

This is the first problem. Many people with sight loss are able to see something. Even I can see lights, although this doesn’t help me to eat my dinner because I can’t se colours and shapes. But blindness doesn’t mean 100% sight loss for everyone who is affected by it.

You have none of the skills that I’ve taken years to learn

If someone is suddenly plunged into darkness, all they have is their other senses, but none of those skills and tips that I’ve picked up over years of eating without the ability to see.

You just have to get on with it, without knowing how to measure how much is on your fork by how heavy the fork is, or by using your knife and fork together to measure the size of the piece of food.

It’s true there are times when I put an empty fork to my mouth, and that is irritating, but it’s better than trying to ram something in there that is way too big!

You haven’t learned how to pour things without looking, or without spilling anything.

You haven’t learned to be aware of where things are on the table, so as not to knock them over. I am not perfect, and everyone drops or spills things occasionally, but I’m no worse than most of my sighted friends, and less clumsy than some of them. These things matter to me – I don’t want to be seen as clumsy, so I make sure that I’m not.

You haven’t learn to use your fork as a tool to work out what foods are based on their shape or texture.

You haven’t learned to use your fork to run it under the edge of the knife to see whether it’s serrated, and therefore whether your knife is the right way up. Ok, this caught me out the other day because I wasn’t paying attention, but blunt knives don’t cut well and there is a way to check, without involving fingers.

You haven’t learned to be aware where the edge of your plate is, so as not to push food off the edge.

These are all things that (most) blind people learn at an early age. But good luck, you have 2 hours to master them, and you might not have anyone around to give you tips!

It’s not realistic to have no idea what’s on your plate

I know some dining in the dark experiences let you order what you want, but apparently others just present you with a plate of stuff from vague choices like “meat” and “vegetarian”, and you have no idea what’s on it.

This has occasionally happened to me at buffets in the past – something that can’t happen now because I need to be clear that there’s nothing on the plate that will set off my allergies.

I don’t like people drawing attention to my blindness by describing where everything is on my plate – I can work this out for myself – but it’s not unreasonable to want to know what’s on there. Not least because there might be something horrible, like peas, that need to be removed or avoided!

I wouldn’t feel comfortable about being presented with a plate of stuff with no idea what’s on it. This idea just seems to make the whole experience more uncomfortable, and when would that even happen? Is it assumed that blind people don’t prepare their own food or know what they’re ordering in restaurants?

Going out for dinner is fun!

For me at least it is. S and I went out for a meal yesterday and saw it as a nice thing to do. We meet up with friends. We go out for dinner if we want to celebrate something special, or on occasions when neither of us feels like cooking. It’s not an ordeal for me, and neither does it look like feeding time at the zoo when we’re done.

Whilst some people may have feelings of trepidation before a meal in the dark, it doesn’t mean that eating out is a negative experience for people who do it all the time.

In real life, most other people can see you

I cringed at the idea of “Oh well, noone else can see, so let’s just ignore the cutlery and eat like the monkeys”.

There are some foods that it’s acceptable to eat with fingers. But you can’t just abandon normal civilised table manners just because you can’t see and nobody can see you.

Ok, if someone loses their sight, they need time to learn. And some people naturally have better coordination skills than others, but for people to automatically make the assumption that everyone eats like this is not ok. It’s actually quite insulting. Not being able to see is no excuse for having food all down your dress! People who do this all the time tend to have a better idea of where their mouth is!

How do you think my first date with S would have gone if I’d eaten like that? It involved whole chicken breasts (no skin or bones) and pasta, and was very good, but do you think there would have been a second date if I’d carried on like that?

Blind people, unless they live in a bubble, are generally not only surrounded by other blind people. People can see us and form opinions about on us based on how we behave and present ourselves.

Ok, I do make life easier for myself by not ordering things like spaghetti when out – because spaghetti should be snapped into more reasonably-sized lengths before it even sees the saucepan. I also don’t tend to order things that have to be dissected because you can’t eat all of it – chicken breast that has to be relieved of its skin is a pain. But generally, I order what I want and deal with it. If the food is served in a dish for sharing, I usually let friends serve me – because it’s easier, they can judge the portions better, and any spillage on the table cloth is then clearly down to them! But I’m also capable of doing it myself.

So you can’t use proper cutlery or wine glasses?

In one review that I read, it said that the knives were blunt and people drank their wine out of tumblers – because sharp knives and real wine glasses were asking for trouble! Why didn’t they just go the whole hog and have plastic ones? No, plastic cutlery is actually really annoying!

I can see why they did it – you don’t want people who have suddenly lost their sense of spatial awareness suddenly brandishing a steak knife around, but it’s still unrealistic. If I have a steak, I want a good sharp knife to chop it up with. And if you give me wine in a tumbler, I’ll be insulted – unless it’s in a restaurant where everyone has them because it’s supposed to be trendy!

There’s no quality assurance

It’s an idea that any restaurant can take on board, so there is no way of measuring how well it is being done. I’ve heard of some blind people who work in these restaurants and they’ve reported that it’s a really good way to get into conversations with people. But with no standards or guidelines, what is being done well in a little town somewhere in Germany, may not be replicated somewhere else.

I know what it’s like for you

When someone said that to me, all I could think to say was “no, you really don’t!” You know what it’s like for you, as someone who’s spent years doing things in a certain way, suddenly being asked to do them in a different way, with no help or experience to rely on.

Oh, and whilst you can step out of the darkened room after the meal is over, I can’t.

Final thoughts

I have written this from the perspective of someone who has never been to a “dining in the dark experience”. My comments are based on what people have told me, and first-hand reviews that people have written online. Whilst I don’t usually review things I haven’t experienced myself, what interests me here is the impressions that people come away with who have never done this before, and the way the experience is being portrayed online. If you had a different experience, feel free to share it.

Many of these restaurants provide employment for people with visual impairments, which in itself is a good thing. I’ve heard first-hand that visually impaired people get into conversations with the diners about what life is really like when you’re blind, which is also a good thing – probably.

If the whole experience were just about the role that being able to appreciate food visually plays in the eating experience, I could probably go along with that. We do enjoy food with our other senses.

I did hear from one person who saw it as a kind of challenge to learn to do things in a different way, and I could respect that. But so many other people left their sense of self-respect along with their coat and phone in the bar, and I find that really odd.

If people just have a good time and enjoy the experience for what it is – fair enough. I want people to have fun! Maybe they’ll learn some things about themselves too and be happy about it!

But whenever I read reviews, all I find is people saying how they felt vulnerable, gave up on the cutlery, had no idea what they were eating, shovelled food in with their hands, whish they’d worn a bib, and then reckon they have a better understanding of what life is like for me? I don’t think so!

How about you? Do you have any thoughts on this? Have you been to one of these experiences? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Blogger tips – 10 things I learned from doing Blogmas

So, Blogmas is over, and I haven’t yet decided whether I’m doing it again next year. December is a looong way off!

I actually found it easier this year – mainly because I didn’t have the week before Christmas off, and it was easier for me to get my act together and write when I was already sitting at my desk in work mode. The weekends were a different story and the only times I nearly didn’t make it were weekends.

Overall I had a lot of fun and asking questions also helped me to get to know my readers a bit more to, which was a bonus. There are lots of positive things to write about during December, and although it was quite a lot of work, I enjoyed the experience of doing it again!

I think these things that I’m going to talk about are definitely true for Blogmas, but they also apply to any kind of regular blogging challenge such as Blogtober.

Did you do Blogmas this year? Would you add anything to the list? Do you like it when blogs that you follow take part in regular posting challenges, or does it drive you crazy when you suddenly have more posts in your feed? Let me know in the comments!

So here’s what I learned!

1. Decide before December whether you really want to do it

I wasn’t going to this year, but then one of my readers changed my mind. Some people like to plan more than others, but it does help if you can do a bit of thinking and preparing before you start.

2. Plan out your ideas

Following on from point 1, I’d already decided that I didn’t want to repeat any of the posts, which that meant that I had to come up with around 24 new ideas. Could I do that? I needed to know before I committed to Blogmas.

I didn’t write any of my posts in advance. That’s not to judge anyone who did, but I wanted it to feel fresh as I was writing it. But I did have my spreadsheet with the ideas all mapped out, which meant that on the day I just had to get the text written and posted.

3. Reciprocate – it’s about the community!

It’s obvious that most bloggers are going to have less time around Christmas, but if you want people to take the time to read your posts and engage, it’s nice to do the same. Ok, you won’t always have something meaningful to say and I don’t like leaving comments that just say “great post” because they don’t really convey more than a like would.

Sometimes it just feels as though people get so caught up in the act of creating and promoting their own stuff that they forget to engage with other people in the blogging community. This can happen even more when time is at a premium and you’re working to turn around posts quickly and at the same time enjoy yourself before Christmas. So even if you’re doing Blogmas yourself, it’s nice if you can try and find a bit of time to read and comment on other people’s posts as well.

4. It’s hard when you’re not at your desk

I’ve already touched on this. The discipline needed to sit yourself down and write a blog post, when really all you want to do is curl up on the sofa with a good book and mug of hot chocolate is not to be underestimated. My strategy was to try and get it done earlier in the day so that I could relax afterwards, rather than leaving it till I was panicking at 11 o’clock at night! Obviously that doesn’t work if you have plans to be out all day, but you can look at what days each date will fall on, and if you know you’re going to have less time, plan something for that day that won’t take as long to write.

5. Eliminate the one thing that will do your head in!

This is going to be different for everyone, but have a think about it – what is the one thing that is likely to derail your attempt to complete the challenge? Is there one thing that you can say up front that you’re not going to do?

For me, as a blind blogger, it was the photos. I can’t take my own photos. I can’t see the quality of, or even what’s on stock photos. Stressing out about getting photos for daily blog posts would make me want to give up before I even started. So I didn’t.

I got help with photos of specific things like stroking the reindeer or the cheese advent calendar, but if I wanted to write a post about looking after your hair in winter and didn’t have an image for it, so be it. I’m not going to have my life ruled by the expectation that every post needs 20 photos before people will look twice at it.

This is my space on the internet. If people like what I do, they’ll come back.

For you it might be something else. Maybe you hate writing long posts and that’s stopping you from signing up to something like Blogmas. Ok, then write short ones and make this part of how you do Blogmas.

Do you hate writing gift guides? Don’t do any then! There are plenty of other things you can do.

IF 24 days will be too many, start with 12! Or do 24 days about something you enjoy, rather than something that everyone else is doing.

Or don’t do a challenge like this at all – I’m not saying you have to. I’m just saying that the way everyone else does it doesn’t mean it’s the right and only way. It makes me sad to see people wanting to be a part of something, but then not doing it because they can’t do it in quite the same way as everyone else.

6. Answer your comments

It’s only polite. If someone has taken the time to leave you a comment, and by that I don’t mean the spammy “Love your post now come and look at mine” ones, it’s not good to ignore them. Carry on the conversation if you can, and if there’s nothing to say, at least acknowledge it with a like or a thank you.

I admit I was a few days late with mine, but I do always try to come back to them.

7. Make the content feel like yours, not just a list of generic prompts

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using prompts if you’re stuck for ideas, but there are only so many posts that you can read on the same topic before it gets a bit boring. Unless, that is, someone did something a bit unusual to make their post stand out. Maybe they told a story. Maybe instead of a generic gift guide, they did one for someone with a specific hobby. Maybe some of the posts could be tied in to what the blog is about the rest of the year, but still have a wintry twist.

I don’t know. It’s different for everyone, but when people’s feeds are inundated with posts, you need to be a bit creative if you want to get people’s attention.

8. Send out some emails before December

You don’t have to do this, but if you can think of a couple of brands or charities that you’d like to work with, or another blogger who you’d like to ask about a guest post, why not see if the idea has a chance before December. Then, if they don’t get back to you, you know that you need to fill the space with something else. Or, one thing may lead to another. Originally I contacted Dogs Trust about interviewing a volunteer, but we were also invited to visit the rehoming centre, which meant that one idea generated enough content for two posts.

Many people are planning events way before December, so if you want to find out what’s on, it’s also good to plan in advance so you don’t miss anything that you’d like to have gone to.

9. Find other people who are doing it

It’s nice if you can read what other people are doing and encourage each other along the way!

10. Don’t forget to share

It’s like blogging the rest of the year. You’ll hopefully build up a following of loyal readers and sometimes they’ll share your posts. Sometimes people will magically find you via the blog reader. But most of the time, people won’t know your posts are out there unless someone tells them – so don’t forget to take the few minute to post or schedule on social media so that more people find out about your posts.

Let me know if there are any other tips that you would add!

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December products – haircare, chocolate bodycare, and Harry Potter bath products

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with empties this year. I want to be a bit more selective – so if something was just ok or I’ve talked about it before, I probably won’t mention it again. I think I’ll limit them to 15 items too so that they don’t get too long!

1. Hotel Chocolat body lotion

This chocolate body lotion was amazing! I mentioned it a couple of months ago when I got it for my birthday, but I wanted to mention it again here because it’s such a lovely range and I’m looking forward to trying out more of the products. Hotel Chocolat is only really known for its main product, the chocolate, but this lovely gentle and delicious-smelling skincare is well worth a mention as well.

2. Caffeinated shampoo and conditioner

I managed to get hold of one sample of shampoo and to of conditioner, which given the length of my hair, worked out well when I used them all together. The idea with this is that the caffeine stimulates the hair follicles, so it’s really something you would need to use for a longer time before you could say whether it was working. Still, why does something that does a good thing like that have to smell so bad? Really, it was awful! That combined with the tingly sensation that you get if you use a mint scalp massage treatment. I’m not convinced. I would love the benefits that this promises, but I’d have to slather on something nice afterwards like a hair mist or my mango detangler. This felt more like something you endure for good results than a pleasant treat for the hair.

3. Guava hand cream

I said how much I liked the guava body butter from Korres, and I picked up the hand cream in the same scent as well. These are nice, generous tubes, and out of the two hand creams I’ve tried from Korres, I liked this guava one more. Partly because the guava scent was more prominent, but I felt it was a bit more nourishing too. I try out a lot of hand creams and something has to be good for me to buy it again, but I would get this again!

4. Naughty elf

Want a cosy night in? Get yourself a naughty elf from Lush! Well they seem to have sold out now, but see if he comes back in the Christmas 2019 collection. Anyway, I heard about the naughty elf bubble bar in a review, and as bubble bars are my favourite thing from Lush and I love citrus scents, he sounded right up my street! I find with bath bombs, you have to add bubble bath too, but these are just a treat on their own. You could snap him in half if you wanted to get another bath out of him. He apparently looks a bit like Father Christmas and is not how you’d expect an elf to look. Also he turns your bathwater red!

5. Spot zap fix

Not at all glamorous. Maybe you don’t have those monthly hormonal breakouts, but if you do, this zap fix is just the thing. It’s like a pen with a roller that you apply to clean skin and I haven’t found anything that takes breakouts down as fast as this. I’ve already got another one – two in fact because they were on Black Friday half price! It says it’s for teenagers, but I don’t really care if it does the job.

6. Korres hair mask

I have talked about this hair mask before, but although there are a lot of hair masks that I think were nice enough, this is one that I go back to. It comes in a tube, which means you don’t get the product wet by dipping into it. It contains almond and linseed extracts, so isn’t floral, like some masks. It also contains shea butter to help your hair stay moisturised and protect against split ends. It also claims to control static and prevent frizzy hair, although this isn’t a problem I have, so I can’t say how true this is.

7. Nails Inc hand mask

I hated this so much! It was sticky and smelled of alcohol. The hands were modelled on someone whose hands are twice the size of mine. I won’t be buying this again! It wasn’t particularly cheap either, and there are much better hand masks on the market.

8. Elizabeth Arden Prevage serum

I got a mini sample of this Prevage serum in a bag of free products after stocking up in the Feelunique Black Friday sale. This has become my favourite place to buy beauty and skincare! 50ml of this costs £170, and it’s not something I would usually go out and buy, but it was by far the best thing in the free gift. It is packed with antioxidants, apparently the most powerful antioxidant available today, and primarily helps the skin to fight the effects of environmental aggression. It was a sample, and I therefore couldn’t use it long enough to say whether it really made a difference, but as serums go, I enjoyed using it. I doubt I would shell out £170!

9. Banana shower gel

I have mentioned this before, but I get the feeling the banana range is mainly known for the haircare. There are other things as well though such as the body butter and the shower gel that are also worth checking out if you prefer the fruity scents.

10. Aveda shampoo

I got this cherry almond shampoo when I was on the Lookfantastic site, spending my Glossy points. I wanted to try something from aveda because I’d heard good things about the brand. It’s a 98% natural lightweight shampoo with cherry blossom and almond oil to clean your hair and leave it silky and glossy. I’m not very faithful to shampoos, but I’d pick this up again.

11. Philip Kingsley conditioner

This isn’t a brand that I’d usually reach for, but I got the body-building conditioner in my Glossybox advent calendar. It was nice enough as a conditioner, though I can’t say that I noticed increased volume in my hair or that I would run out and get it again.

12. Strawberry cupcake shower gel

This was something else that we got in the Glossybox calendar. Some people would find this too sweet, but the whole range is based on desserts, so you expect them to be sweet. My favourites from this brand are the lemon and cherry ranges, but I was happy to use this strawberry shower gel too.

13. Fuji green tea shampoo and conditioner

We got this purifying shampoo and hydrating conditioner in the Body Shop calendar. The only reason I wouldn’t get these again is that I like other hair products from the Body Shop more, and out of the two I probably preferred the conditioner for hair that needs a bit of nourishment. If you’re looking for something from the Body Shop and you don’t like the fruity ranges, this would definitely be something I could recommend.

14. Rituals Hamam shower gel

I got a small sample of this in the December Tili box. I like Rituals scents, but this one knocks you out with the eucalyptus! Fine if you have a cold and need to clear the airwaves, but I think otherwise I’d choose one of their other scents!

15. Harry Potter bath bombs

I got a set of these for Christmas. I’m not sure if they were limited edition from Superdrug as I can’t find them now, but if you get them, be warned! They are a bit of fun, and the designs are cool, but the cauldron one turns your water black, the golden snitch one makes it look as if you’ve been bathing in urine, and the Gryffindor one makes it look as though you’ve been bathing in blood! Just so you know! They are very big and smell quite good. In fact, I was blissfully aware of the strangely coloured water until it was pointed out to me later, but I think I was at a distinct advantage not being able to see it!

So, what products have you enjoyed recently?

Discounts and offers

And finally if you’ve made it this far – just a reminder that I have some affiliate discount codes for you:

Feelunique – you can get £10 off your first Feel Unique order by going onto the site using my affiliate link. This offer is open to new customers only, and the minimum spend is £30.

Glossybox – you can get 20% off your first box by using my code KIRSTY-RGE when you place your first order on the Glossybox site.

Ocado – if you would like me to send you an invitation to Ocado, just fill out your details using the form below. You will receive a £20 voucher for your first shop, and a free smart pass, which gives you free deliveries for one year (minimum spend applies).

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually once a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested, and I give honest reviews.

Blogmas giveaway winners

Happy New Year everyone!

It feels as though everyone has written a new year post about goals and stuff – I do have some, but I’ll talk about that later when I’ve had some time to work towards reaching them!

For now I’ll just let you know about the winners for the Unseen Beauty giveaway!

Here’s a reminder of what was in the box:

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
  7. Karmameju konjac sponge
  8. Luxie Beauty highlighter brush
  9. Himalayan charcoal face mask from the Body Shop.
  10. Oils Of Life™ Intensely Revitalising Facial Oil

 

I did the draw with help from Siri and the winner – out of 101 entries – was number 8, which belonged to Kerry.

So congratulations to Kerry – if you haven’t visited her blog before, go and check it out! She has some really interesting posts that stop and make you think, as well as some lovely travel posts and ones that can teach you something (Kerry works in skincare, so I’m always interested in what she has to say on that subject).

I said “winners” because although I didn’t announce it at the start, I had put together another box with some make-up and skincare products for the reader who was most active during Blogmas. If this person had also won the main giveaway I’d have just done another draw, but as it happens, I don’t need to. My most active reader/commenter/giveaway enterer had a clear winner and it was Caz so also go and have a look at her site too if you don’t know her Invisibly Me blog already. Doing Blogmas is a big undertaking, but it’s easier when you have the support of lovely readers who interact with the posts – so this second giveaway is just a thank you really for the time Caz took to do that. It sums up a part of blogging that sometimes gets missed – not just creating your own content, but building the community and supporting others in the space as well. Of course other people did that too, but I had to pick one winner!

So congratulations to Kerry and Caz. If you let me have your addresses, I’ll get your boxes out as soon as I can.

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually once a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.

The most popular posts in 2018

I love numbers and spreadsheets and things. I try not to get caught up in the whole numbers trap with blogging, but I’m still interested in the stats, and which posts people most want to read.

I decided to do a round-up of the most popular posts in 2018 so that any regular readers can have a look at anything they missed if they want to, but also because I got some new readers during Blogmas, and I thought it might be helpful for them to see what kind of things I write on here when I’m not doing Christmas content.

So I’ve looked at my stats, taken out posts that weren’t written this year and the giveaway links – because who wants to be directed to a giveaway that is closed? However, the December 2018 giveaway is open until 23:59 on 31st December, so if you want to enter that, you can fill out the form on as many Blogmas 2018 pages as you want.

I always find it fascinating – the posts that I enjoy writing the most aren’t always the ones that get the most interaction.

A couple of these nearly didn’t get published. Would people even know what I meant if I started talking about sensory sensitivity? (It turns out that they did). Did I really want everyone to know I’d had an accident at home because I wasn’t paying attention? The post had only been up a couple of minutes when I got messages from concerned friends, so although my first instinct wasn’t to share, writing the post made it easier for me to start talking about it, even though I felt stupid, and maybe some of the tips could help other people if they ever get into that situation.

One theme I can see is that the more personal posts ranked higher. I find those harder to write, but I think that the blogging space has become saturated by people writing generic posts about lots of stuff, so it takes something a bit more individual to stand out. That’s tough for someone who’s more private, and whose day job involves writing educational content. Still, I get the message that there at least needs to be some kind of personal angle or story.

I’ve also noticed that some of the disability-related posts got more interaction. I’ve always been very clear that whilst I write about these topics and how I experience the world as someone who is blind, I don’t want to limit myself to writing a disability blog. That’s nothing against people who do, but honestly it would bore me, and the way I show that blindness is just a small part of what makes a day in the life of Kirsty is to write about other things as well – or to incorporate my experiences into other posts. It’s no good if I churn out blindness-related content till the cows come home and don’t get any joy from it – there has to be a balance.

The other thing I’ve noticed is how my audience has grown and become more diverse. I’m not talking about the numbers here, although they do make me happy. I mean, originally Unseen Beauty was very much focussed on beauty and skincare products. I have still been writing about these things, but I’ve also been enjoying writing the opinion pieces about disability, living and working in the online space, and questioning some of the things that we just accept as part of everyday life. I’ve also loved doing the animal and charity articles and would like to continue this next year. I’d also like to write more about my studies and the things that I’m learning.

So you’ll probably still see the product reviews and beauty box posts, but I want to broaden out the topics here as I have more to talk about and an audience with broader interests than this time last year.

I’ve also realised that people who I know in real life are reading the blog too, and I wasn’t really aware of that before, so hi to you as well!

Enough rambling – these are my top 10 posts for 2018!

10. Blogmas 2018 – my first Braille chocolate Advent calendar

Day 11 was the most popular Blogmas post – probably because Braille Advent calendars aren’t a thing here in the UK, and I imagine it got shared in groups where people are likely to want one!

9. Too many words were happening – sensory sensitivities

This took courage to write, but as I come to terms with things that I find hard, rather than just pretending I don’t, it was good to find a name for them and even better to find that others could relate.

8. April make-up and skincare empties

Not sure what was so special about April – I do an empties post most months to talk about the products I’ve used up and what I thought of them.

7. The value of online friendships

This wasn’t even planned – I saw something on another blog post, responded to it, and then had to get down all my ideas about online friendships before I forgot what I wanted to say. I think people can be really dismissive of the contacts that we make online, and I wanted to put the other, more positive side to that.

6. What I learned from an accident at home

I fell over the bathroom rug and am still having physio now. Always keep your mind on what you’re doing!

5. Don’t be annoying – 15 things I wish people would stop doing on social media

I’ve heard there’s research that says you get more clicks when you use negative words in your headlines. I didn’t do this to get views – maybe people just wanted to see whether they were doing the things that other people find annoying!

4. February favourites

My favourites posts don’t usually do this well, but I did mention that one of them was winning a beauty box, so maybe people wanted to see who was giving away beauty boxes!

3. Blindness myths that need to go away

Sometimes the myths and stereotypes get too much – I decided to deal with as many as I could think of in one post!

2. I’m tired- the disability reality that people don’t talk about

I really struggled with whether to post this one. It’s probably the most open and honest post that I’ve written on the blog, and it seems people can relate to it. I got comments from people in all kinds of situations with different challenges who all new exactly what I was talking about.

1. Making D&D accessible to blind players

This post really took off on Twitter, which is how I believe it came to be in the top slot. It’s not usually something I write about, but I think the Dungeons and Dragons community on social media was just interested to see someone writing about this topic, as not many people do. I was just sharing my experiences and I don’t feel there’s a whole load more I could write on the topic, but I’m really happy if the things that I have learned have helped other people too.

So there you have it! Those were my most popular posts.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s been with me on this Unseen Beauty journey this year. Thanks for all the comments – whether on the blog or privately. Thanks for the likes and shares. Thanks for reading!

Happy New Year and I hope 2019 will be a good one for you!

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually once a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.

 

Blogmas 2018 – happy Christmas

It’s the last day of Blogmas! I managed the 24 days of blogging again!

A couple of times I nearly missed the deadline – usually at the weekend, because it’s easier to write posts when I’m already sitting at my desk in work mode!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Christmas content this year. I’ve certainly enjoyed putting it together, as well as reading other people’s blogs and following their Christmas Vlogs.

I’m not going to write a long post today because I don’t imagine there will be a lot of time for reading. I would however like to thank all of my readers for reading, liking, commenting on or sharing my posts this year. I’ve gained new followers and got to know existing ones better. I’ve found out that some people were reading my posts even when I had no idea that they were! I’m going to talk more about this year on the blog in my 2018 round-up post, but I just wanted to say a quick thank-you here, and to wish everyone a happy Christmas and all the very best for 2019.

I also need to announce the last gift in the giveaway box. Remember that the giveaway is open until 31st December, and you have a chance to enter on each 2018 Blogmas post. So after all the Christmas activity has died down and you’re looking for something to do, it’s not too late to send in a few more entries!

So, whatever you’re doing, have a wonderful day!

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – the final product for the giveaway box – it’s the Oils Of Life™ Intensely Revitalising Facial Oil – 30ml, which is worth £30.

Glossybox – seems it’s a day for the face oils! In Glossybox we got Mitchell & Peach Flora No.1 Fine Radiance Oil.

> Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes have been revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
  7. Karmameju konjac sponge
  8. Luxie Beauty highlighter brush
  9. Himalayan charcoal face mask from the Body Shop.
  10. Oils Of Life™ Intensely Revitalising Facial Oil

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – it’s ok to take some time out or ask for help

This time last year I was talking about dealing with Christmas stress, and I seem to have come full circle!

It’s a fun time of year, but there’s also a lot to do, and different people will struggle with different things. I love organising things, but I know other people get stressed out by it. Not being organised stresses me out more! Sometimes you have a lot of people in one place for a number of days – people that you wouldn’t normally see, never mind stay with for a few days. Some people are worried about cooking for extra people, whereas others don’t mind the cooking, but hate the supermarket a week before Christmas. Some people are just tired after driving around to what feels like endless events/parties/school plays/meetings with friends/activities. Some people just don’t feel well – they’ve been busy and then get run down and catch a cold the day before Christmas Eve.

It’s too easy to divide people up into those who love the Christmas period with all its festive activities, and those who don’t!

You can still enjoy it, but feel a bit jaded by the time it gets to a week before Christmas.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that it’s important to ask for help if you need it.

I don’t mean the practical stuff – that’s important too, but I’m better at asking for a specific favour to fix a practical problem.

With other things though – if I’ve been feeling frazzled or stressed out, sad or overwhelmed – my usual plan is to just plough on through and not tell anyone. If I am not feeling ok, I usually just withdraw anyway and nobody even notices there’s a problem. I don’t intentionally hide it, it just doesn’t always occur to me to share.

That might be the only way if there really is noone around to help, but usually there is someone, even if we don’t see it straight away. In any event, when there is a partner or friends and family members who would love to help if they knew how, it’s good to let them.

Sometimes they can help by taking on a task that is causing you stress, or at least sharing it. Maybe the thing can be avoided all together or done in a different way.

Maybe it’ll just help people to know why you need a long bath and some alone time.

Maybe they didn’t realise there was a problem because different things stress out different people.

Maybe you just need a hug!

Whatever it is, it can sometimes feel like there’s a lot of pressure, particularly on social media, to be seen to be having fun and the “best Christmas time ever”. But sometimes, for whatever reasons, it doesn’t feel like that. And that’s ok.

So if you can’t wait for Christmas and you’re excited and happy, that’s great! But if you’re not, you don’t have to struggle on your own – whether that’s because of life events that make you not feel like celebrating, or just all the little things that mount up and make you want a bit of time out.

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – It’s product 9 for the giveaway – a full-size Himalayan charcoal face mask from the Body Shop. The mask absorbs excess oil and purifies skin to leave a healthy glow.

Glossybox – this was cool! A fat eye stick from Eyeko. They’re available in 3 shades, and they’re a twist-up crayon eye shadow. I have a number of these, but none from this brand, so I was happy to try out a new one!

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
  7. Karmameju konjac sponge
  8. Luxie Beauty highlighter brush
  9. Himalayan charcoal face mask from the Body Shop.

Product 10 coming tomorrow!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 -10 things you can do to make Christmas more accessible for visually impaired friends or family members

After my last list post seemed to go down well, I thought I’d look at some things that people can do to make the festive season more accessible for friends or family members who are visually impaired. Of course everyone is different, so what I might find helpful might annoy someone else, so I’m just writing these from my perspective.

For a lot of blind or partially sighted people, the Christmas period is a lot of fun, just the same as it is for everyone else. However, if you’re out of your familiar surroundings or there are a lot of people around, tasks that people may do without thinking too much on a normal day can become more complicated because the surroundings are more busy or less predictable. So an offer of help might be welcome! And the best way to find out if someone needs a hand is to ask!

So here are just a few ideas!

  1. Try to make any card or gift tags accessible. This is less of an issue if someone will be around to read them, but if you have time, there are services that print labels or cards in Braille, or you could learn to do it yourself. Just make sure that the person can read Braille first, as not all blind people can.
  2. If Braille is not an option, typed messages are better than handwritten ones. There are apps that can read printed text – I usually scan and sort our post this way. Some are starting to decipher handwriting as well, but on the whole, you’ll have a better success rate with something that has been typed. Or, if you want to send a message, you could use channels that the person already uses such as email/Facebook/Twitter/Whatsapp, so the person can read your message independently.
  3. Blindness and sensory sensitivity don’t always go together. In my case, they do, which means it’s hard for me to stay in a really noisy environment for a long time. Don’t take it personally if someone needs a break from the noise. If you’re organising event, could there be a space that’s a bit quieter away from loud music for anyone with sensory sensitivities?
  4. Don’t let people go hungry at buffets. I’m more direct about what I want now, but I have gone hungry at buffets before because nobody offered to help and I didn’t want to disturb someone who was already eating or to struggle as I didn’t know what was there. You may also need to be aware of any food allergies or preferences if you’re making up a buffet plate for someone.
  5. Offer to help with serving food. I am happy to dish up plates in my own kitchen, but if there are people sitting round a big table and serving themselves vegetables etc, I usually accept the help because there are so many other things on the table.
  6. Games aren’t always accessible or fun! I guess this is a bit controversial because some people would rather everything is accessible. I don’t want people to stop doing things that they would have enjoyed just because I can’t join in, and I’d personally rather sit something out and observe (or look at my phone!) than try too hard to make something accessible, resulting in it taking twice as long or requiring so much concentration from me that it’s no longer fun. On the other hand, some games can be adapted with less hassle so that blind people can take part.
  7. Invite – don’t assume. Just because a blind person may not get the full experience, such as going to see Christmas lights being turned on or attending a performance, they may still be interested in going to be a part of what’s going on. Some won’t – but you won’t know unless you ask. You can also build in more accessible elements to the trip, and some theatres and cinemas also offer audio description, which means the blind person can listen to an audio track of what’s going on.
  8. Try to be mindful about not moving things. When a waiter comes to my table, I usually pick up my glass and have a drink. So if things are brought or taken away, nobody moves my glass. The reason I know where things are is because I remember the last place I put them! Also, if you’re at someone’s house, don’t leave unexpected trip hazards or random glasses of wine on the floor where people may need to walk!
  9. Don’t overstep boundaries with guide dogs. Guide dogs have special diets. Many are allowed treats, but it’s up to the owner to decide when, how many, and what they can have. Don’t give treats to guide dogs without asking!
  10. If someone has unwrapped a gift from you, it might not be obvious to them what it is! Be prepared to tell them, because whilst I will say “thank you” for a gift even if I have no idea what it is, it’s a bit embarrassing if I don’t know what I’ve got! You can avoid that awkward moment if you just volunteer the information yourself!

Most importantly – relax and behave normally! Making someone’s visual impairment into something of a big deal can actually make things more uncomfortable for everyone. Most people have strategies for getting round problems, and they can also ask for help if needed.

Is there anything you would add?

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – yay it’s a body yoghurt! These are a bit lighter than the body butters and absorb quicker. This one is in the moringa scent – something that we’ve already had in the calendar and another floral product. Banana would have made me happier, but I’m still happy to get a body yoghurt.

Glossybox – today we got a deluxe sample of the Zelens Transformer Instant Renewal Mask. I’ve never tried anything from this brand, but I’ve heard great things about it, and it’s high-end skincare,so always nice to try a sample size before splashing out. The mask contains hyaluronic acid and sesame protein to plump and tighten the skin. This is a fairly small tube, but as the full size is £100, I’m not surprised! I’m looking forward to trying this out!

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
  7. Karmameju konjac sponge
  8. Luxie Beauty highlighter brush

Products 9 and 10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – Salisbury Christmas market

Christmas markets have been becoming increasingly popular over the last few years. I originally know them from Germany, but a lot of towns in the UK have them too.

Today is our anniversary, and S and I have a tradition now which means we both take the day off and spend it together.

We went for lunch in Salisbury, where we also visited the Christmas market. Unlike many of the markets around, the one in Salisbury is open until January – so if you get to the point where everything else has all packed up and you still want to go to a Christmas market, Salisbury is a good choice.

We didn’t actually eat at the Christmas market, which is held in the town square, but there are food options available if you want to.

I tasted my way through another cheese stand, and picked up delicious things such as rioja cheese, cheese with chives, and Christmas cheese (with cinnamon and fruit).

There was a stall with cool candles made to look like desserts, and a bunch of bath stuff. I managed to restrain myself there, but did pick up a bottle of the orange body lotion from Hive Originals, whom we first met at a chilli festival.

We also stopped at the chocolate shop, where you can find all kinds of tools and objects made out of chocolate. On another stall we picked up a couple of snowman lollies made out of chocolate too.

On the way back to the car, there was a stall selling flowers and Christmas greenery, so we picked up some pine sprigs as a table decoration.

Have you been to any Christmas markets this year? If so, where did you go and what did you do or buy there?

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – I don’t usually use face mists, but today we got a rose face mist which is supposed to leave your body feeling refreshed with a dewy glow. Maybe more something for the Summer than December? Don’t know, but I’m happy to give it a go!

Glossybox – I can’t review this product because I’m giving it to someone as a gift, but it’s a full-size Pixie blusher, which is something we haven’t seen in the calendar so far and I think it’s a good thing to put in there.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
  7. Karmameju konjac sponge
  8. Luxie Beauty highlighter brush

Products 9 and 10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.