Visit to the Tower of London

The day I met one of my students for the first time face-to-face, and we visited the Tower of London

One of the interesting and exciting parts of my job is that I work with people in different parts of the world. Most of my customers live in Germany. I meet with them online and help them to improve their English. The customer who has been with me the longest started when I opened English with Kirsty in 2012, but I’ve never met her, because none of my training is face-to-face.

There are many reasons why I love online training – it opens up the pool of customers to people who aren’t in your local area, and also you don’t spend hours trudging around from place to place. After 10 years of commuting to my job in London, I’m done with that!

Anyway, that said, if I hear that one of my students is coming to London, I take the chance to meet up with them.

People tell me as much or as little about themselves as they want to, but I think one-to-one lessons give a trainer the opportunity to get to know people a bit better. I’d already shared in Heike’s excitement as she began to make her wedding plans, and when I found out that she and her fiancé (now husband) were coming to London, we made arrangements to meet and go to the Tower of London. I’d been there before, but I was 5, and the only memory I had was of wandering around with a mini crown on my head. Nothing more! So I wanted to go again!

Even if you live in a city like London that has so much to offer in terms of history and interesting places to go, I think you only really discover them when friends come to visit. Well at least that’s my experience!

I always find it strange when I meet someone for the first time although I feel that I already know them! However, I’m used to this because so much of my work is carried out online.

Heike and Dirk met me at the station and we went to the Tower of London together. I thought it was one big building, but it isn’t. You can walk around the grounds and you don’t get lost because you are provided with a map. There’s even a tactile map for blind people, which I thought was cool! In addition to that, we got the audio tour guide. I needed people to tell me the numbers on the nearby signs, but when I typed them in, the machine then played the information. I usually do this to stop my sighted companions ending up hoarse with all the reading, but on that day it had an added bonus because it also gave Heike some extra English listening practice!

It’s an interesting feeling to know that you are walking where famous characters from the past have walked. I thought about Anne Boleyn, who was held at the tower before her execution – an educated woman with strong opinions on how to rule the country, whose only crimes were not producing a son and losing at the dangerous game of court politics. She walked around in the places where we went – before being beheaded by sword and not by axe, which apparently was less painful. What a thoughtful guy.

Historically, wild animals, such as lions, tigers, and elephants, were given as gifts to royalty, and the Tower became home to these animals. Visiting them was encouraged, and in the 17th century, King James I installed viewing platforms. There seemed to be little understanding of what the animals needed or how to work with them, and life with the animals did not go without incident. One of the zookeepers was nearly killed by a snake, and someone accidentally left a door open, which resulted in a fight between a lion and a tiger. The lion was wounded and did not survive. I am not anti-zoo as long as the animals are well-cared for, but it seems in the tower they were not – the animals were just a means of entertainment for the people. Animals are no longer kept at the tower.

After walking around the grounds, learning about the various buildings and being startled by a Yeoman Warder (also known as beefeaters, but they don’t like that!, who shouted a command for other soldiers to march, we decided to walk along the Thames and get some lunch. The Yeoman Warders have to have served in the armed forces, with an honourable record, for at least 22 years. The name beefeater is thought to have come about because they were given special privileges, such as being allowed to eat as much beef as they wanted from the King’s table.

There are restaurants in the tower, but I thought it would be nice to go along the river and I also thought there would be a better choice of food. We settled on giraffe because it has a selection of dishes and most people can find something they like on the menu.

After that, we walked along the river again and got some ice-cream.

It was really good to meet Heike and Dirk in person, to spend the day chatting with them, and to share in Heike’s experience of learning something about my home city!

How about you?

Have you been to the Tower of London? For London readers, if friends were coming to visit, where would you take them? Let me know in the comments.

Never miss another post!

Podcast

Unseen Beauty is also available as a podcast. If you want to listen to it, you can find it on iTunes or Player FM.

The URL for the podcast feed is
https://player.fm/series/unseen-beauty

Lovelula Feb 17

The Lovelula subscription was one of the first ones that caught my attention when I began researching beauty boxes in December. In January, I decided to try it out. I was too late for the January box, so I got the February one.

The concept

I subscribed to this box partly because I’m interested in organic products, and partly because there seemed to be more of a focus on skincare than make-up. I am interested in make-up, but I’m more choosy about the type of product that I will use, whereas with skincare I’m more open to try new things. This is important for a box which puts the selection together for you – I wanted there to be a higher chance that I would use the things in my box.

Another plus point for me is that everyone gets the same, so there’s no disappointment because someone somewhere got a better deal, or products that you would have loved.

I’m lucky in that I usually ask my partner what the products are – out of all the guys in our circle of friends, I think he knows the most about beauty and skincare products now! I know not every visually impaired person is in this position, but the fact that everyone gets the same means that in a few days of the beauty boxes arriving, people start to blog about the products, so you can find out more about them that way if you haven’t found some other way to do it!

The products

This is what I found in the February box. I hadn’t heard of any of the brands before, so it was a good chance to get to know some new ones, and there were also two types of product that I’d been hearing a lot about and that I wanted to try.

The first was an instant hit – the Greenfrog botanic body wash – neroli and lime. I’m a lover of all things citrus, and this body wash contains anti-bacterial lime, along with organic soapberries,which are good for sensitive or dry skin, and moisturising aloe vera.

My other favourite is the Ooh replenishing oil. This fast-absorbing marula oil contains vitamins C and E, anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids. Although I have dry skin, I’ve never worked with face oils before, mainly because I was concerned the oil would leave my skin too oily or cause breakouts, but so far I’ve been happy with the results and I’ll continue to use this in my evening skincare routine.

Next out of the box was the Madara micellar water, which is actually my first micellar water. I’ve heard the hype about micellar waters. I do like the fact that this one also includes hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin to retain moisture. As I haven’t really been using it long enough to measure results, the jury’s still out on whether it will remain part of my cleansing and moisturising routine, but I’m happy to give it a go.

I was intrigued by the Weleda skin food, which is apparently to protect and repair dry skin. I’ve read good things about it on other blogs, but I wouldn’t usually use something on my face that I also use on my feet! That said, the ingredients are natural and it does contain almond and peanut oil, which both soften and sooth the skin. I think I will use this as a hand and foot lotion.

The only thing in the box that I won’t use was the Maggie Anne nail polish, but that’s ok because I gave it to my mum and she really liked it. I’ve taken plenty of surplus beauty products off her hands over the years, so it was nice to give something back!

Accessibility

I had no trouble signing up for this box, which, if you’ve read my other beauty subscription review, you know is not a given. As a blind person using screenreading software, I needed no help to set up my subscription, and the website works well with my software, which means I can easily find out more about the products in my box, or other ones that I would like to try.

If I were to make a couple of suggestions to improve the accessibility for blind people, it would be really nice if we could receive an email with the product information as well as the information in the box. Also, the graphics on the links in the newsletters are not labelled, which means that a blind person does not know what they are – and who likes clicking on a link if you don’t know what it does? This is not the case for links on the site – only ones that come from the newsletters.case

All in all though I’m happy with the accessibility and I was really impressed with both the quality and the selection of products in the February box.

How about you?

What do you think about these products? Are you a Lovelula subscriber? If so, what do you think about the February box?

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice 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.

New Body Shop almond and honey range and your invitation to my Body Shop party

Find out what’s new at the Body Shop and come along to my party!

New Body Shop almond and honey range and your invitation to my Body Shop party

As you may have gathered by now, I’m a fan of the Body Shop products. Partly because I support the natural products and the way the Body Shop works to give something back to nature and work with local communities, and partly because I like the quality of the products and think they work.

New almond milk and honey range

When I heard that a new range was coming out for dry and sensitive skin, I was excited to try it out. My skin tends to be dry, particularly in the winter time, and although I don’t have sensitive skin, my food allergies sometimes cause problems with my skin as well, and at those times I really appreciate products that are gentle on my skin.

I got the biggest box, because the smaller one contained something I wouldn’t use and I wanted to give the set a fair try. The set came presented in a gift box and in it there was bath milk, shower cream, hand cream and body butter.

The first thing I noticed was the scent. I thought it would smell like my almond hand butter, but if anything, the honey is the stronger scent in this range. However it’s not as strong as some of the other Body Shop fragrances. My boyfriend has been known to say “you’re wearing grapefruit!!” when I’m only halfway down the stairs, but this range is much more subtle and suitable for people who don’t like the stronger scents or who avoid scented products because of sensitive skin.

The first thing I tried was the bath milk, which is basically a bubble bath. I didn’t actually know that the Body Shop did these and so I was happy to give one a go. They give you a decent covering of bubbles, but not crazy bubbles, even with the whirlpool on. Especially with this one I felt that I was being moisturised while I soaked, so it wasn’t just for the scent or the bubbles. I sometimes combined the shower gel with this bath milk, or swapped out the bath milk and used my apple one with the almond and honey shower cream so that I got a mixture of scents.

I hadn’t realised this, but it seems there are two types of body butter – the ones that set to a firm butter-like consistency, like the strawberry and raspberry one, and those that are more like a thick mousse, like the pink grapefruit and this one. I prefer these because although I’d say the moisturising benefits are comparable, I think the mousse-like are easier to spread on the skin.

The hand cream is also a bit thinner than some of the others, but it moisturises well, doesn’t leave your hands feeling sticky, and doesn’t take ages to rub in.

According to the Body Shop, all of the products in the range contain organic almond milk from northern Spain, and community trade honey from the Sheka rainforest in Ethiopia. The products are vegetarian and cruelty free, and they have been designed to nourish and replenish dry and/or sensitive skin.

Overall, this doesn’t push my favourites like pink grapefruit and mango from the top of the list, but I would definitely reach for these products when my skin is particularly dry or sensitive and I want to give it a bit of extra moisturising care. If you don’t like strong fragrances and your skin needs a bit of pampering, I’d definitely say “give it a go”.

A couple more bits

As I was doing an order anyway, I picked up a couple more bits:

Papaya shower gel

What can I say! This smells amazing! I don’t think you can go wrong with the Body Shop shower gels, apart from maybe the floral fragrances, which I don’t really like. But if you like papaya, you’ll love this!

Vitamin E lip care

I bought this as a gift for a friend last year as part of a vitamin E skincare set that I put together myself. She liked it so much that I decided to get one too! I do like the lip balms, but I find them a bit messy when I’m out and about and just want something that I can apply straight to the lips. This vitamin E stick ticks that box. It isn’t flavoured and it has a creamy texture to keep lips soft. If they started doing these in mango, grapefruit or satsuma, it would be amaaazing, but for now I’m happy with the vitamin E, and knowing the results from the day and night creams in this range, I am happy to use this on my lips as well.

Spiced apple bubble bath

Seriously, how did I miss this at Christmas time? I didn’t know about it, but noticed it on special offer, so I snapped it up too!

Come to my party!

You may have already attended a Body Shop at home party. There is now a new way to get all the benefits of a party at home without even having to go anywhere.

I am hosting an online Body Shop party on Sunday 26th February. If you decide to come, you can

  • Get offers and discounts that you wouldn’t find in store
  • Find out about the new ranges like the almond milk and honey products
  • See pictures of the products (there will be descriptions for screenreader users) and ask questions, which will be answered by Heidi, a Body Shop rep
  • Get personalised recommendations from Heidi based on your skin type or need
  • Pick up a special gift for Mother’s Day, or maybe just to treat yourself!

The event is open to readers in the UK. If you want to come, all you need to do is fill in your details on the form and I’ll send you an invitation by email. If you use Facebook, you’ll be able to attend the Facebook event. If you don’t use Facebook, I can still send you a link to the online catalogue. Your email address will only be used for the invitation, unless you also sign up for the Unseen Beauty email alerts.

Joining the event is free and there is no obligation – there’ll be no pushy sales, just information about the products, chat and some fun activities. The event is from 10 till 12, so it’s great if you can pop in and take part in the live event, but if you’re not around at that time, you can also come in later on in the day to see what’s been posted and place your order with Heidi if anything grabs your attention.

Payment is by Paypal or Bank transfer – there is a £2.50 delivery charge for orders anywhere in the UK, and postage is free if you spend over £30.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Never miss another post!

Podcast

Unseen Beauty is also available as a podcast. If you want to listen to it, you can find it on iTunes or Player FM.

The URL for the podcast feed is
https://player.fm/series/unseen-beauty

February favourites

Find out what I’ve been enjoying this month includes Greek skincare and Korean sheet masks.

February favourites

I’ve been trying a lot of new things this month and I’ve made some interesting discoveries from around the world. As always, if you’d like to see what else has received a positive review, you can take a look at the product pages.

Skin care

I’ve never really liked the idea of face masks. The idea of slathering mud or something like that onto my skin just sounds messy and not something I wanted to do. I’m maybe late to the party, but at a girlie night if you haven’t already, I discovered sheet masks. They take away all the hassle of applying face masks because you just open the packet, unfold the cloth, make sure you have it the right way up (the two holes next to each other go at the top for your eyes), then smooth it onto your face. Easy! It’s maybe a little cold at the beginning, but it’s relaxing and it doesn’t go everywhere! As someone who can’t see, I think this way of applying masks is much easier.

I’m using the Skin Food everyday facial masks and so far I’ve tried orange, yoghurt, tomato and lentil. These ones come in a pack of 10 with the 10 different foods. My skin was soft afterwards and they’re good for bringing out the impurities!

I get dry hands and lips, particularly in the winter, so I do what I can to look after them. I usually have a number of lip products on the go – on my desk, in my bag, next to my bed etc. AT the moment I’m enjoying the EOS lemon drop lip balm because I love the lemon flavour and it’s easy to apply on the go. I like it because you can apply it straight onto the lips and it’s unusual because it’s a sphere rather than a stick. If lemon’s not your thing, it comes in a range of other flavours too.

In terms of hands, my absolute favourite Body Shop hand cream was in the advent calendar, so I’ve been enjoying that as well. It’s the pink grapefruit one, it has a thick, non-oily texture and it smells amazing! Don’t forget that if you like Body Shop products, I’m doing an online party at the end of the month, so follow the blog or sign up for alerts if you want to know when it is and how you can take part (just for readers in the UK as otherwise the internationalshipping costs would eat up any money you save!)

There are some textures that I just do not like. The gritty, grainy, sandy texture of scrubs is one of them! Ugh! I know it’s good for you, but I just don’t like it! Not just because of what some companies put in them – I am anti-microbeads, but even if it’s something natural, I don’t like the sensation of putting it on my skin. The result was that I saw the benefits of exfoliating, but never did it. That’s why I was really happy to come across an exfoliating toner from Clarins that uses fruit acid rather than harsh abrasive particles to exfoliate your skin. Unfortunately the Boots website has sold out and it looks as though they won’t be getting any more stock, so I’m going to try to get some more from my local one soon. I really hope this doesn’t mean that the product is being discontinued. Just in case it is, do you know of any other exfoliators that use natural fruit acids instead of abrasive particles?

Finally I’ve been trying out some Greek skincare products. It started because my friend Joanna – why not check out her Youtube channel sent me some samples including Fresh Line Galatea nourishing body milk, which contains wonderful things like coconut milk, almond oil, avocado oil, vanilla and marshmellow. I’ve always been more of a body butter than a body milk kind of girl because I thought the milk wouldn’t cut it with my dry skin, but I was wrong. So I decided to get the Fresh line Galatea body milk as a full-sized product. So happy that we can get these in the UK too!

I’d also heard that Korres, another Greek brand, was good, so I decided to try their almond and cherry collection with shower gel and body milk. I haven’t tried the shower gel yet, but the body lotion was like the Galatea one, not so thick, but it still absorbed quickly and left the skin feeling soft and smooth.

Food and drink

When visiting a friend before Christmas, she gave me some flavoured coffee to try. I’m not usually that adventurous when I’m out – I love coffee, but most of the alternative seem to involve milk, and I think milk ruins a good coffee! Anyway, this hazelnut coffee can be made without milk and it’s delicious!

Tools

This isn’t something that’s new – I got it last year, but it’s been out this month and I like to use it to open my pores and get rid of any impurities lurking under the surface of the skin.

I first got a facial sauna when I was a teenager, struggling with breakouts. Unfortunately it didn’t survive one of my house moves and ended up with a massive crack down the side of it, so I decided to replace it last year. I don’t add essential oils, though I know some people do – let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations.

This is a lightweight unit that is easy to use. It’s not the cheapest, because if you get the absolute cheapest there are often complaints about the unit not producing enough steam, but it’s not the most expensive either – I wasn’t looking for loads of extra functions.

Dogs, wolves and owls

This is the section where I post things about some of my favourite bird and animal products – owls, dogs and wolves. Spring is showing signs that it’s on its way, but it’s definitely not here yet. These owl pyjamas will keep you warm! I’d recommend getting a size up from what you would normally buy. I find them to be cute and comfy, but not over-generous with the sizing!

So how about you?

Have you tried any of these comments? What products are you enjoying this month? Let me know in the comments!

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice 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.

Discover dogs

Discover dogs – a day out for dog lovers

You may have guessed it by now, but in case you haven’t, I love dogs. My absolute favourite breed is the Golden Retriever, because of my golden guiding girl, who was my faithful companion for 10 years.

I don’t have a dog at the moment, but I never pass up on hug time with the Labrador, Greyhound, Saluki, German Shepherd, Yorkshire Terrier or Chihuahua Cross in our circle of friends. Oh ok then, and the random ones I meet on my adventures.

I’ve been wanting to attend the Discover Dogs event for a number of years and last year we did it. My partner and I travelled to the Excel Centre and entered a temporary world of soft furry snouts and waggy tails.

Of course I paid the Golden Retriever a visit, and checked out all the other types of retriever too, but the main aim for me was to find out what the other breeds look like. I knew about some of them from previous encounters or descriptions that I’d read in books, but some of the breeds, such as the mountain dogs, are more rare and you’re less likely to come across them in the local park. Being able to stroke them and talk about them with their owners gave me a much better mental image than anything I might have read about them.

The stalls are organised alphabetically in terms of dog breeds so you can either hunt out specific breeds if you’re interested in one (whether you are getting a dog from a rescue or a breeder, it’s still good to chat to people who already have that breed), or you can do what we did, which is to go along the line systematically and try to meet as many breeds as possible.

Our favourites were the Maremma Sheepdog, Canadian Eskimo Dog, Canaan Dog, Pyrenean Mastiff, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Samoyed, Siberian Husky, Finnish Lapphund, Tibetan Mastiff, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Norwegian Bulhund, Newfoundland, Leonberger, Kooikerhondje, Japanese Akita Inu, Japanese Shiba Inu, Belgian Shepherd Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Border Collie, Brittany, Deerhound, Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Estrela Mountain Dog, Eurasier, Hovawart, Hungarian Vizsla, Hungarian Kuvasz, Irish Wolfhound, Griffon Fauve de Bretagne and Greenland Dog. As you can see, we tended to prefer the bigger dogs, although the Beagle in the picture was very sweet!

If you have a visual impairment, I would advise finding someone to go with, as it is a large exhibition with a constant flow of people and dogs and it was at times quite noisy. I think I would have struggled to negotiate the conference hall without sighted assistance. Even if I’d managed it with the help of many strangers, I think the idea would have been much more stressful and less enjoyable. As well as explaining which breeds we were approaching, my partner was also able to get me into good stroking positions, as there were often many people standing around each enclosure. It was also good to have someone with whom to share the experience.

There were usually several of each breed, so they could swap them around and it didn’t become too tiring for one dog.

Our main interest was the dogs, although there were other activities going on in the show rings. Classes were being judged, and I believe there were demonstrations too of what working dogs can do and dancing to music demonstrations.

If I had to suggest an improvement, I found the music too loud, especially towards the end of the afternoon. If noise sensitivity is a thing for humans, I’m sure it affects dogs too. Maybe it wouldn’t have been such a big deal outside, but I don’t think the music needed to be as loud as it was. After all, people were trying to talk to each other and the dogs’ hearing is better than ours.

Overall, I really enjoyed my day and I felt that I learned a lot from it. So many different types of fur. Floppy ears, pointy ears, silky ears. I’ve been following the antics of some Tibetan Terriers on Facebook and now I finally know what the breed looks like, as well as many other breeds that I didn’t even know existed. If you love dogs, it’s a really good day out.

This year (2017), Discover dogs is on 21st and 22nd October. If you want to find out more, you can go to the Discover Dogs website.

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice 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.

Podcast

I’ve been running my podcast for language learners for around a year and a half now. I know that many beauty and lifestyle bloggers have Youtube channels, but I really don’t want to do that. I don’t like producing videos and I don’t have the skills to edit them. I have, however, learned how to make podcasts, and this is something that I enjoy doing. Therefore I decided to do a little experiment and see whether people who prefer to consume content as audio would be interested in a podcast.

At the moment, I’m uploading past content. When I’ve caught up, the new blog post and the audio files will go out on the same days – usually Tuesdays and Fridays.

If you want to listen to the podcast, you can find it on iTunes or Player FM.

The URL for the podcast feed is
https://player.fm/series/unseen-beauty

The discussions will still take place here on the blog, but it’s another option for people who like audio content. Please share the information if you think your friends will like it!

Never miss another post!

Picture of Kirsty

Do you enjoy listening to audio books?

10 reasons why I enjoy listening to audio books, and how readers in the UK and Germany can get a free audio book from Audible.

I love listening to audio books, both in my native language, and In German. I listen to them when I’m running, when I’m cooking dinner, when I want to curl up on the sofa and relax, and when I want to take my mind off work!

When I used to commute to London every day, I had 1.5 hours of time, which I often used for listening to books or podcasts – I just needed to be careful not to listen to anything really sad whilst on the train, or anything that got me so involved in the story that I missed my stop – yes it did happen once! I had to wait half an hour in the freezing cold for the next train to take me back to where I needed to be!

I also recommend audio books for my students who are learning English. People often go straight for the visual media such as films or tv series, and they forget about audio books. However, if you’re going to be listening to a language in real-life situations where there are no visual clues or subtitles, audio books and podcasts are a great way to practice because you have to rely entirely on your ears.

Whether you’re learning a language, or just listening to audio books to relax, here are 10 things that I like about listening to books in this way. Also, if you’re in Germany or the UK, I have a way for you to get a free book from Audible – see the further details at the bottom of the post. I am an affiliate for Amazon, but I only promote things that I love. I am an Audible member and I’m really happy with the service.

1. You can relax and let someone read to you

Did your parents or grandparents ever read to you when you were a child? Even though I could read quite well from an early age, I always looked forward to story time, during which my Nan would read to me. I also had a big collection of audio books, at that time on cassette (that shows my age!, and I enjoyed listening to them as well.
If your eyes are tired from a long day in front of the screen, or you just want to sit back and relax, audio books provide a way for you to do that.

2. You can take your book anywhere

You don’t have to remember to put it in your bag – if the book is on your phone, the chances are that you will always have it with you. It doesn’t weigh anything and you can get it out if you find that you have a spare half hour. It doesn’t take up any more room – apart from the memory on your phone.

2. You can take several books around with you

I love the fact that I can have two or three books on the go at once and I don’t have to decide which one to take with me. As long as I have space on my phone, or a good connection/data package for streaming, I don’t have to decide which books to take on holiday or on a long journey. They’re on my phone, so I can read whatever I want.

4. You’ll improve your vocabulary

Whether you’re reading in your own language or learning another one, it’s always good to learn new words, see how they are used and how different writers use the language to draw you into their world or help you to understand their characters better.

5. Audio books are practical for blind people

I can read Braille, and I think it is especially important for children to read Braille so that they can learn to visualise the words and how they are spelled, but when you’re on a packed train, it’s easier to take out your headphones than a massive Braille book. Braille books often tend to be heavy, so when I’m on the move, I’d rather not have to do some involuntary weight lifting!

6. You can read whilst doing other things

Some tasks are just boring. I don’t find housework mentally stimulating, so I always like to listen to something whilst I’m doing it. My brain keeps occupied with the book or podcast while my hands do the housework. It makes boring jobs less boring!

7. You don’t just have to read fiction

Audio books aren’t just stories. If you want to learn about a hobby or read books for professional development, there are plenty of non-fiction books in the Audible library too.
If you have a list of business books that you would like to read, why not read one of them in English instead. Alternatively, you could subscribe to an audio magazine or podcast that delivers timely news and information about one of your areas of interest.

8. Audio books are not always something that you have to buy

As well as the offer for the free audio book (more details at the end of the post), many libraries also offer audio books that you can borrow, either as a cd, or as a temporary online download. This means you can enjoy the books without having to spend anything, and you haven’t wasted your money if you don’t like the book.

9. The ability to search

Gone are the days of hunting through shelves for something that you might like to read. Services such as Audible provide a good search facility, so that you can find out what else an author has written, or what else a narrator has read, if you particularly like their voice. You can also use book blogs or websites to find the most popular books in the genres that interest you, and Audible will send you recommendations based on the books that you have already bought. Also, Audible and some libraries give you the chance to listen to part of a book before deciding to buy or download the whole thing, so that you can decide whether it’s something you want to read. Some authors write in a style that I don’t like, and some narrators drive me crazy, so I like to try before I buy!

10. It’s fun!

If you can’t wait to find out what happens in the story, or you are really interested in what’s being discussed, you will be motivated to keep listening. There have been nights when I’ve stayed up way too late because of the book that I was reading – I wanted to find out what happened next. I guess this is only true if you enjoy reading, but I can definitely say that I’ve had fun escaping to other worlds for a while so that I could learn what happened to my favourite characters.

Your chance to get a free audio book from Audible

If you’re in the UK or Germany, you can get a free ebook if you sign up for an Audible subscription. Whether or not you continue with the monthly subscription, you get to keep your audio book, and you can choose from 200,000 titles on a wide range of subjects. You can then download the Audible app on your phone and take your book with you wherever you go! (Books have to be purchased on the website – you can’t do it on the app).

Link for the UK
Link for Germany

1. This offer is open to people in Germany and the UK. Remember to use the correct link for your country.
2. You are eligible if you haven’t had a free audio book from Audible in the last year.
3. If you don’t want to pay, you must remember to cancel your subscription within the first month. You will still be able to keep your free book.
4. If you like the service, you will continue to receive a credit each month, which can be used to buy a book. Buying books on subscription is often cheaper than buying them individually.

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice 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.

Love Me Beauty – my first impressions

What I thought about my first subscription box from Love Me Beauty. What I liked and the change that I would like to see.

Love Me Beauty my first order

Back at the end of last year, I started looking at beauty boxes. There are so many. In the end, I bought myself an advent calendar and put the idea of beauty boxes to one side.

Then I got talking to a friend about them, and I decided to take the plunge.

The first one that I signed up for was Love Me Beauty. This is what I thought.

The concept

Unlike many of the beauty subscription boxes on the market, with Love Me Beauty, you decide what you want in your box. So on one hand there’s no element of surprise, but on the other hand, you know that you are getting products that you genuinely want to try, and you won’t feel like you wasted money on products that you know you’ll never use.

This is a big plus point for me. In terms of skin care, I’m quite flexible and happy to try new things. However I’m quite fussy about make-up, I don’t use nail varnish and my visual impairment means that I intentionally buy specific types of make-up products because I know they are easier for me to use. This meant that I was really happy to have found a build-your-own box.

Basically you get a set number of credits each month, and you can choose how you spend them – each product has a price in credits.

The products

So, I had 60 credits for my first month, and I decided to get 3 products. I chose:

1. Laura Mercier pink pop lip glace
2. Make up for ever skin equaliser primer
3. Make-up for ever artist Rouge m401 (lipstick)

The products came presented in a make-up bag, which is useful for storing products in afterwards.

I thought my favourite was going to be the lipstick, but no, it was actually the primer. It gives really good coverage, has a silky texture when you’re applying it and doesn’t leave your face feeling greasy. I will be purchasing this again!

I think I’ll use the lip gloss more in the spring/summer, so I’ll be using that up in the next few months.

I tend to go for creamier lipsticks, but I’m told the colour looks good and as long as I moisturise my lips before using it, I’ll be ok!

These were my first products from both Make-up Forever and Laura Mercier. I will use all of them and repurchase at least one, so I think that was a good result. I like the way that this box gives me the opportunity to try new brands before buying the full-size products.

The website

Unfortunately, this is the potential deal breaker for me. As someone who cannot see, I do a lot of shopping online because it is easier than negotiating stores, but in order for this to work, the website needs to be accessible. Unfortunately this isn’t the case with Love Me Beauty.

I only have a basic level of web design knowledge and I’m not sure exactly what is happening on this site, but when I click the log-in link, I’m unable to navigate to the email address and password fields without the use of a mouse. I don’t use a mouse and can usually navigate websites using the keyboard, but unfortunately this doesn’t work on the Love Me Beauty site. A few people have tried this with other assistive technology software used by blind people, and they couldn’t access the site either.

Once logged into the site, I can read the product descriptions and add things to my bag, but it’s also difficult for me to click through to the next page of results without a mouse, which means that I don’t have access to all the items on offer each time.

Normally this would make me not want to use a site. In this case, I am interested in the products, so I’ll give it a bit longer and hope that the company will take this feedback into account and look into making the site more accessible.

However, at the moment, I can’t honestly recommend it to any blind readers using screenreading software, as you are likely to be unable to access your account and make purchases without assistance.

My conclusion

I love the idea, I’m really happy with the products, but I find some of the issues on the website very disappointing as they prevent me from having a good user experience on the site. I hope that this can be fixed so that I and other blind users will be able to use the site fully.

What do you think?

Do you use this beauty box service? If so, what do you think of it and what did you put in your January box?

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice 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.

January empties

The products that I used up in January, what I thought of them, and whether I would buy them again.

Today I’m going to talk about the products that I used up in January. There seem to be a lot of skincare and bath products – this is partly because I’m making an effort to use up things that have been opened, and partly because I have quite a lot of minis from the advent calendar.

Skincare

First of all, I’ve used up a number of hand creams. I get dry hands and I like to have a hand cream on my desk, in my bag etc, so I usually have a number of them on the go.

I’m not a big fan of strawberry products because they’re often quite sweet, but I liked this Baylis and Harding strawberry and pomegranate hand cream 75 ml because it moisturised well, wasn’t oily and had a nice scent. It was a decent size to put in the little piggy basket on my desk.

I had to think about the next one – would I actually recommend it? It’s the Patisserie de Bain lemon hand cream 50 ml. This company produces products with wonderful scents, and anyone who likes citrus will probably like this. I love the way my hands feel after using this product – they stay soft for a long time, longer than when I use some more expensive products. However, when you’re applying the hand cream, the hands do feel a bit sticky and I don’t like this very much. If you can put up with it for a couple of minutes, you’ll be ok. Once the product has been absorbed, your hands don’t stay sticky. But if the initial stickiness would put you off, this is probably not the right product for you!

The next thing is the spiced apple hand cream from the Body Shop. This was part of the Christmas 2016 range, so you can’t get it any more, but if it comes back next year, I’ll be buying some more! I only wish the Body Shop would do hand creams that are bigger than 30 ml. 30 ml is fine for your handbag, but for your desk or bedroom, it’s good to have a bit more. I also used up the spiced apple body butter that was part of a Christmas set in the apple tin pictured on this post. They both smelled amazing and I don’t think you can go wrong with the Body Shop body butters!

Next up is something I wouldn’t buy again – the Nivea essential light moisturising cream for normal to combination skin. I’m not even sure how I came to have this product and I wouldn’t get the best out of it because I don’t have normal to combination skin. That’s probably why it didn’t do a great job at giving me the moisture I needed. But even if I got one for dry skin, I think there are better moisturisers on the market than this one.

Now to something I did enjoy, and at the same time, a big shout out to the lovely lady at the Clarins counter! This was a tester, so I didn’t use it on my face over a long period of time, but I really liked the Clarins multi active night cream. I got the one for dry skin and it applied well, leaving my skin feeling smooth and moisturised the next day. This is expensive, and I know cheaper products that I believe would do just as well, so I would see this as more of a special treat or something to tell Santa about than something I would get for every day use. Though if you’re looking for a high-end moisturiser, I’d definitely say “give it a go!”

Next is something I thought was really grim! I’m the kind of girl who uses something up, even if it isn’t my favourite, or I pass it along if it doesn’t suit me. But I couldn’t pass on something which I thought tasted awful, so I just had to bin it.At first I was really happy to have found a chocolate and cherry lip balm, but I can’t have this stuff on my lips. It tastes strange and it’s not smooth. So the Palmers chocolate and cherry tinted lip balm had to go!

Bath and shower products

Firstly something that was so good that I had to repurchase – Avon chocolate orange bubble bath! This made my whole house smell wonderful. Ok, if you don’t like strong scents, this isn’t for you, but if you love the mixture of chocolate and orange as much as I do and want to smell like you’ve been bathing in a tub of Terry’s chocolate oranges, this is the bubble bath for you! There was a decent amount of bubbles too.

On a similar note, I also tried out the Faith in Nature chocolate bubble bath and shower gel – after all, who doesn’t want to soak away the stress of the day in chocolate? However I was a bit disappointed with it – mainly because it smelled delicious when you poured in the bubbles, but the smell didn’t last. So if you want lots of bubbles, it’s ok, but I wanted the chocolatey goodness all the way through bathtime, and that just didn’t happen in the same way as with the chocolate orange. I’m also a little bit suspicious of two-in-ones such as cleanser + toner, shampoo + conditioner or body wash + bubble bath. Maybe that’s just me, but I’d rather have something that does one thing well, than something that does several things to an ok standard.

The next thing I got through was an enormous satsuma shower gel (750 ml) from the Body Shop. I already have another one of these, so that tells you what I think about them!

One of the Body Shop advent calendar surprises was the Polynesian Island Tiare shower gel, which I wouldn’t repurchase because I’m more of a fruity than a floral girl when it comes to bath products and skin care. It did the job well enough though, I just wasn’t that keen on the scent.

We also used up some products from the Baylis and Harding sweet mandarin and grapefruit range. Firstly there was the bubble bath – I got it as part of a gift set and you don’t seem to be able to buy it separately. Secondly we used up the hand wash in the same range, something that I will definitely buy again.

I was sad to see the end of my Victoria’s Secret mango temptation body wash, which I got for Christmas. A must-have for anyone who likes mangos!

Hair products

I’ve been using the same shampoo and conditioner for years now and, although I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the product, I am going to try out some different ones. So I won’t be repurchasing the John Frieda sheer blonde go blonder conditioner, but it served me well!

Food and drink

I munched my way through some delicious milk, dark and white chocolate espresso beans, which my boyfriend picked up as a surprise for me on a visit to Whittards. Chocolate and coffee are two of my favourite things, and I think they are flavours that go well together. If you feel the same, go on, treat yourself!!

What do you think?

So, have you tried any of these products? If so, what did you think of them?

If you’re interested in any of the body shop products, I’ve included the links to the shop online, but at the end of the month I’m going to have a virtual Body Shop party for UK readers. More information will be coming soon, so remember to sign up if you want to know how to take part. Also, in March I’m going to be looking at skincare and products for the hands. Do you have any recommendations of things that I should try?

Remember that you can see lists of all the products that I’ve reviewed on the featured products pages.

This post does contain affiliate links, but I only link to things that I own or have tried.

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice 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.

High Street make-up haul

Find out which make-up products I got on a recent trip to the High Street!

If you can’t see how you look, there is a certain degree of trust needed when you go shopping. Some shop assistants are great. Others just want to sell you stuff. Even well-meaning friends can get it wrong when they pick out things that would look really good on them, or don’t pick out things because they wouldn’t dare to wear them.

Clothes shopping is slightly easier because I know what I definitely wouldn’t wear – if I don’t like the material, the length or the cut, it goes back on the rack, even if it would have looked “amaaazing”!

Make-up is different. I have to find people to trust when it comes to what looks good on me. I make choices about the type of products I want, but I can’t say what colours I like because I have never seen them and therefore have no framework of reference. I understand the concept of light and dark because I can see whether the light is on, but I have no concept of colours, and therefore it’s sometimes hard to decide which ones I want to wear.

Good friends are important – if you can’t look in the mirror, you do sometimes need someone who will tell you that you don’t look your best or that something doesn’t suit you. That goes for make-up too – you need people that you can trust.

So, that’s why I decided to go shopping with Amy!

First of all I showed her my make-up collection so that she could see what I already had and we could make a list of what we wanted to get.

We went to Superdrug and Boots a couple of weeks ago and this is what we got!

Face

First we went on the hunt for a new foundation. I made the quest harder by saying I wanted a foundation with a pump, but eventually we came up with the Max Factor Face Finity All Day Flawless. It has the same consistency as my L’Oréal one and applies well. The pump makes sure you get the same amount each time and I can usually cover my face with one squirt, so there is no wastage.

Amy persuaded me that I really did need to bother with powder on top of my foundation, so I got the Max Factor X Creme Puff Pressed Powder. This is something that I haven’t bothered with in the past, but if it keeps the foundation in place, I guess it’s worth it!

Cheeks

I don’t like powder blushers, so I was after something creamy. We found the MUA LUXE Whipped Velvet Blush This is much easier for me to apply and to get it where I want it!

I have a liquid highlighter, but I wanted to see whether there was a cream version of that as well – because creams are cool and there is no fall-out or spillage! We found the Maybelline New York Master Strobing Stick Illuminating Highlighter which is good because you can just draw the line on where you want it and blend it in afterwards.

Lips

A girl can never have too many lipsticks, can she? So I got a couple more! Firstly the Maybelline Colour Sensational Lipstick – 740 Coffee Craze, it wasn’t just because of the name that this coffee-lover had to have it, and also my first Make-up Revolution lipstick, “you’re a star”, which seems to be out of stock everywhere, so I can’t share the link with you.

Eyes

My mascara was running out, so I got another one. I’m a bit fussy with mascara, so if I find one that I like, I tend to repurchase rather than look for something else to try. So I picked up the L’Oréal volume million lashes mascara again.

Also, as I was so impressed with the Max Factor XS Shimmer cream shadow that I had already bought, I got another one in crystal.

If you want to find out more about these eye products, I talked about them more in my post about how I do my eye make-up as someone who can’t see.

So, that’s what we got! Virtually a whole face of make-up, so it was definitely a successful trip. Have you tried any of these products? Let me know what you think in the comments!

If you want to see all of the make-up that has been featured on Unseen Beauty, visit the Make-up product page.

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice 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.