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!

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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.

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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.

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Guest post – Amy’s January Glossybox

Find out what was in Amy’s Glossybox in January!

Guest post – Amy reviews her January Glossybox

Today I have another guest post for you from Amy.

The grand unboxing

Hello again internet land. Kirsty has very kindly allowed me back into the metaphorical building, so I can’t have messed up too badly in my first ever post. This is good news because I kind of enjoyed this blogging lark. Although it could be she has kept me around as I have received my Glossybox Beauty Box for January and I promised her an unboxing.

Beauty boxes are something which I started around this time last year. I decided that not only did I need a treat but also a surprise on a monthly basis. After all, I work hard for my money and who doesn’t like surprises. I am pretty sure if I asked my other half to source stuff every month he would forget/get bored/buy the wrong things so beauty boxes were the only way to go. There are a number of these on the market, and I have tried a few over the last year, and its just a nice no ties way to surprise yourself every month and find new and exciting things along the way. I have found a few doozies which are now part of my every day/week/month/routine, which I would have missed otherwise. Obviously you have your flops as well, and some months you have better boxes than others, but none the less after my first box I was hooked.

Originally I started out with Birchbox, as it was top of the google search list and I know a few of my USA buddies get their boxes from here, so I thought that I would be onto a winner here. You fill in some questions about you, your skin and hair types and other bits and bobs so your box can meet your needs (to a point), paid my £10 plus £2.95 P & P and eagerly awaited for Mr Postie to bring my first box, which turned up pretty quickly. You review products from your box for points, which allow you to buy full sized items of your box samples if you wish, although it takes a while to build up the points. They were very good with their marketing, giving you a sneak peek into the next box, or allowing you to have a choice of a certain shade of an item which made it all the more fun. This was until it went wrong. See, I am one for customer service internet land. There is no excuse in todays day and age for shoddy customer service, and unfortunately I found Birchbox to be less than amazing when it came to this.

To save you my tales of woe, I paid my money, waited patiently for my box which never arrived, and the customer service to deal with the matter took forever and was not overly helpful. I ended up getting the promised items squished into a far smaller packaging box, unlike the normally wonderfully presented box you would receive, and that sealed the deal. I cancelled my subscription immediately. Nevertheless, if you wish to try it you can sign up here and hopefully you will have a better experience than me.

Missing my monthly surprise fix I started looking again and quickly found Glossybox. They have been nothing short of amazing and in my honest opinion, the box content is far better than Birchbox. They run the same as Birchbox, fill out some questions, pay your first month, receive a box full of goodies. There marketing is very similar as well in the fact of you get sneak peeks and additional choices of stuff for your box, and if you review your items in surveys each month you get Glossydots, which when you reach 1000 you get a free box. Each survey seems to be worth 20 dots, so again its a waiting game. The price is exactly the same as well, so its pretty much winner winner chicken dinner all round. The only time I have hit problems with Glossybox, and I use the term problem loosely it was more of a first world problem, they solved it super speedy and gave me a free tinted lip balm for my troubles. Have to say, super service all round.

To sign up to these guys click here and get ready to have surprise time every month.

If you want to give Glossybox a go and get 20% off your first box, you can use Kirsty’s code KIRSTY-RGE when you place your first order on the Glossybox site.

I have signed up to a couple more over the year but quickly cancelled as they weren’t worth the money, but I do have a few more to talk about, just not in this post because, well what is it they say, don’t show the dealer all your cards, or something like that! That is saved for another post at another time dear internetlanders.

The January box

Anyhow, onto the good stuff, the stuff I received this month.

So a bit about the box first I guess, Its sent to you in a black and white box, which you open by pulling a small tab to one side which pulls along a perforated line at the front. Essentially it’s like playing grown up pass the parcel. Inside is your box filled with goodies and nothing else like silly bits of advertising paper. The actual goodie box is a sturdy pink box, which has a lid on top. They never have any pesky stickers on the lid to keep it closed. Open this to reveal a message from the editor Evie Leatham, some beauty news and a list of your products in case you are unsure what they are. You always pretty much get a sneak peak of next months box too. Every box is wrapped in pink tissue paper, sealed with a sticker of a G which is the Glossybox logo, which is always to the side and is tied in a bow with black ribbon. It sounds complicated to get into but its really not. You could rip it open if you wish, lord knows that’s what I do on occasion. Remove the pretty packaging and get to your goodies inside. They are always packed with shredded black paper, and arranged as nicely as the jiggling from Royal Mail will allow. The box itself is a great thing to keep and store bits in. If you are of the creative nature you can check out pintrest as people do all sorts of fun things with their boxes.

This month was a good box month. They seemed to have collaborated with an Instagramer called Deliciously Stella and all the items seem to have a food theme.

First out of the box was a Nip and Fab Kale Fix Moisturiser, which also contains watercress and almond oil. The blurb on the leaflet says that it will enrich the skin and I know from other Nip and Fab products that I have used in the past that they never disappoint, so I am excited to try this product out. It has no smell I can detect really other than your typical smell from face creams, and the small amount I tried on my hand seemed to absorb like a dream, but then I would expect nothing less from this brand. Product is a reasonable size, and I should imagine will last a while as a little goes a long way. It is a squeezy tube, which you remove the cap from the bottom and give a good squidge to get the product out. Stands on its cap once replaced for easy storage. It has printed writing on the tub, but its not raised really so you may need to get a trusted sighted friend to read to you if you are interested in what it says. Retail price is listed as £19.95.

Next was Unani Illuminating Milk Cleanser which is a full sized product. It has a cap at the top which you push backwards to open, and the little opening pops up as you push the cap backwards. From what the product says you can use this to remove make up and it also says its gentle enough to be used twice a day. Again it has no perfume which I think is a positive in a cleanser, and not sure I would like the smell of milk on me all day. Bottle is round and the cap is at the top and again has printed font on which is not raised. Retailing at £14, its available to buy at Comprar Cosmetica.

Third thing I pulled out I was super excited with, and I might end up trying right after I finish up with you. Sheet masks seem to be the latest craze from Korean Skincare. No mess or fuss, just beautiful skin. What’s not to love? (Keep your eyes peeled for a post or two about these in the future folks!). This item is Vitamasques’s Manuka Honey Face Mask. Its sealed so I can’t have a smell alas, but the packaging boasts three layers of mask which aid in hydration, so that can only be a good thing. Retailing at £3.99 you can grab them Vitamasques and it looks like they do a whole load more of them, so I shall be stocking up I think. Packing is tear open style, and has a notch at one side to make this easier to do. Its flat as well so you can store lots easily. It has pictures of honeycombe on the front, and again has printed writing on. It looks like a very grand product and you can tell a lot of thought has gone into the images chosen.

Fourth thing is an amazing looking eyeshadow from The Balm, which is a drugstore brand, but is pretty pricey. I don’t actually own anything from this brand, but I have heard good things. Anyway, this Eyeshadow, Meet Matt(e) Trimony shadow is a beautiful aubergine purple with a red base. It can be used wet or dry and looks like it packs a punch, so I can’t wait to try it. Whilst this is full sized I believe it belongs in a pallet of shadows which retail at £34 and you can grab these either at Boots or Superdrug, or direct from The Balm. Its a little flip open box, which is a bit fiddly to get into, but once you do the shadow is safely inside. It would be great to slip into a handbag or take away traveling as it is light and takes up no space.

Last, but by no means least, a box of Hairon Zero crease hair ties in a very light pink, which I won’t use as my hair is way too short. They are a strange sort of hair tie and pretty hard to describe if I am honest! Its like a tightly wound piece of plastic, a but like you used to get on those key rings which you could stretch. They look small, but I guess when pulled they extend pretty far. They are plastic of a sort so I am not sure how long they would stay in your hair, but I think that they are kinder to your hair causing less breakages, so it wins points for that. Anyway, as I say moot point for me as I won’t be able to use them, but that’s what you get with a surprise box, you win some, you lose some. I appreciate I am not doing them justice here, but I am really lost for how to describe them! They retail for £3.99 and you get three in a box. You can pick them up at Hairon. Comes in a little clear plastic box for neat storage when not using them.

I make a disclaimer now, I am not sure how friendly these sites are to navigate for people with screen readers, so I will apologise in advance. If you are having issues and are interested in a product please shout and I will try and find an alternative site for you. I also don’t know if different people get different items in their boxes based on their initial answers, so if you get something else I am sorry, but I am sure it will be equally exciting and wonderful.

Right, so now I have babbled your ear off I am going to leave you in peace. I would highly recommend this box to you, so let me know if you pick one up and what you think of it.
Ciao for now Internetland.
Amy
Xxx

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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.

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January 2017 favourites

My favourite products in January 2017!

I’m going to do monthly favourites posts on my blog. The things are either new in January, or something that I’ve rediscovered or have really been enjoying. The categories on these favourites posts are the same as on my featured products pages, so if you want to see what else has had a good review, check out the featured products pages. I only include things on those pages that have had a good review.

Make-up

When my mum heard about my cream eye shadow discovery, she bought me two more! The first one was from a range that I already have, but a different colour. I now have the Maybelline Color Tattoo in pink gold.

We also discovered that Max Factor does cream shadows, so we got the Max Factor excess shimmer cream eye shadow. You can see the whole range of colours on the Boots website – I got the copper one.

These are a different consistency to the Maybelline ones – in fact I think they are easier to apply, because they are more like a liquid face cream than a solid product. A little goes a long way, and you do need an eye primer underneath – otherwise it will crease. I like these so much that I got another one, but that will be featured in my drug store haul!

Skincare

You have probably worked out by now that I love everything mango! I mentioned the Victoria’s Secret mango shower gel in my Christmas post, but this month I’ve also been using the Victoria’s Secret mango body lotion, which has the same sweet mango scent and in fact stays on your skin even longer.

My Christmas Day treat from the Body Shop advent calendar was the Oils of Life sleeping cream. It was a generous mini and I would say that this night cream measures up well to others in a higher price range. My skin felt lovely and smooth in the morning, and the cream didn’t feel greasy when I applied it. I’m not a fan of scentless face creams so I was pleased that this one has a faint scent, though I couldn’t actually describe what it is – definitely something natural and something that I’m happy to have on my face. I’m trying out some of the other night creams from the Body Shop, but I would definitely get this one again in a larger size.

Hair care

Carrying on with the mango theme, the Avon Magnificent mango crazy hair tamer has become part of my daily hair care routine. I don’t care that it’s supposed to be for children – it does the job and helps me to get the knots out of my long, thick hair, and it leaves the hair with a faint mango smell. Not as sweet as the body lotion, but still distinctively mango! This link is for two bottles, but you can buy single ones or packs of 3. It’s cheaper to bulk buy, but of course you first need to work out whether you like the product. I will definitely be replacing it, but as I only use 2 or 3 squirts each time, it will last for a while yet.

I wanted to give my hair a treat, so I bought a range of hair masks to see which one I liked most. The first one I tried was the Garnier hair mask with avocado and shea butter    which, according to the manufacturer gives your hair supple bounce and shine. I would definitely say that my hair is softer and more silky after using this product, and I  love the smell – for some reason it reminds me of holidays! The description says that it is for dry, damaged hair, which is not what I have, so maybe there is a better product on the market for me – although I have to say that I’m pleased with the results, and with 300 ml, it’s a generous size.

Jewellery

This isn’t new, but I’ve been wearing it a lot this month. I don’t have a dog any more, but this lovely pewter golden retriever necklace reminds me of my golden guiding girl, and unlike some necklaces that are available, the shape of the dog is easy to feel, from the end of its snout to the tip of its waggy tail!

I like my jewellery to express something about my likes or personality, and this definitely shows that I’m a golden retriever fan.

The picture is of the necklace, but I don’t have the original box.

Food and drink

I talk a lot as part of my job, and I always have something to drink next to me. Although I could drink coffee till the cows come home, I do try to swap it out with other things, and as the weather is still cold, I tend to reach more for hot drinks. After having lychees at a Chinese restaurant recently, I remembered my old favourite Twinings mango and lychee green tea. As a child, I thought I didn’t like tea. The truth is, I don’t like the traditional English tea with milk – because I think it’s grim – but fruit teas, jasmin tea, rice tea – anything like that is fine and a good winter warmer.

If you’re looking for something cool and refreshing, I recently discovered Bottle Green mango and coconut presse.

Clothing

I love owls and when I found this    studded owl top, I had to get it! Actually it was going to be for New Year, but I didn’t get round to buying it. I made up for this in January and I was really pleased with the way that I could feel all the detail on the owl – his face, ears and the detail on his body. I’ve been disappointed by Amazon t-shirt stinginess before, but in terms of this, I’d say it’s fine to get your actual size, and I can confirm that it stayed intact in the wash. Still, I’d recommend that you wash it inside out to protect the owl.

How about you?

So, what are your favourite products this month? Do let me know in the comments – 1. Because I’m nosey and 2. Because I’m always looking for inspiration when it comes to new things to review!

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This post contains affiliate links, but I only promote links to things that I love or have tried!

Keeping fit when you can’t see

Being unable to see doesn’t mean that you can’t stay fit! This is what I do.

Keeping fit when you can’t see
When I worked in London, I got daily exercise without even thinking about it. I had a 30 to 40-minute walk to the station, which I usually power walked with my guide dog – not really to keep fit, but just because we enjoyed it! Then there was a 40-minute train ride followed by a 10 to 15 minute walk to the office – which was much better after I’d discovered a back way to avoid all the tourists. Seriously, if you go on a city break, please spare a thought for the people who actually live and work there! Some people have places to go and they don’t want to have to fight through crowds of people who won’t let them through. Some of the other pedestrians walked in the busy roads to get round them, but I invariably made the tourists move!

Anyway, apart from days when it was pouring with rain, or snowing, I really enjoyed these walks. Still, over 2.5 hours of travel every day is a lot. I was always happy when I negotiated a working from home day – partly because I didn’t have to commute, and partly because I felt I made much faster progress in my quiet cottage than in the noisy open-plan office.

Taking action

When I decided to set up my own business, I still took my dog for a walk, but I didn’t miss the commute. However, as my dog grew older, the walks were usually not as long as the trip to and from the station, and I realised I needed to do something more for my fitness.

I decided to invest in an exercise bike. Something that I could put in my spare room and use whatever the weather to make sure I got my daily exercise. Well, buying the bike was the easy bit. I said I’d use it when I had time, which often meant that the free time never came. Planning to do exercise when you have time is a bad idea!

When I moved in with my boyfriend, I brought the bike with me and he brought his cross-trainer. I decided something needed to change in terms of my exercise routine, so I now put it in the diary, like a meeting that I have to attend. Monday to Friday. Every day. It’s ok if the meeting gets put back a couple of hours, but the meeting has to happen! Only then can I click away the Outlook reminder and know that the job is done! This is important to me, partly because I have a desk-based job and no walk to work, and partly because there are some considerations to do with being blind that mean you sometimes have to be a bit more proactive if you want to stay fit.

I’ve heard some positive experiences about blind people going to the gym, but I’ve also heard of people struggling with staff who are not particularly helpful, or machines that are not accessible.

I would rather make the initial investment in the equipment and have it in my own home, where I know that I’ll use it. I don’t use any of the features on the equipment, but there is nobody who will change settings and make it harder for me to use. I don’t have to queue, work out which machines are available, or take time out of my day to get to and from the gym. Ok and I don’t have to listen to anyone else’s music choices either – I listen to my own music or podcasts to make sure I don’t get bored!

As I can’t use the display on either of the machines, I generally do 20 minutes on the bike and 45 minutes on the cross-trainer and use the step counter on my iPhone to measure the distance. I like to use the app from Withings, which is generally accessible, apart from some buttons that I had to label myself. I don’t use all of the functions, but I can keep track of how far I’ve gone each day, which is what interests me.

For anyone who wants to measure their blood pressure or heart rate, the Withings wireless blood pressure monitor is fully accessible because you use it with the app. I think this is a better alternative than some of the talking blood pressure monitors on offer because you can store your activity and your heart and blood pressure measurements in the same place, whereas some of the so-called accessible talking stand-alone devices say in the instructions that you need sighted assistance for some functions.

I did try a device that you put on your wrist instead, but it annoyed me because it didn’t seem to track all of my steps, and I could only read my progress score when I synchronised the device with my phone, which was a faff. I’d much rather check the total going up in realtime on the app. However, if you can see enough to read the screen of the device, it might be ok for you. Here’s the link for the Withings pulse activity tracker.

Last Christmas, my mum bought us a set of York Fitness cast iron dumbbells. I like this particular set because you can change the weight of the dumbbells by adding or removing the metal discs. They come with a set of exercises, which my boyfriend showed me last week, and I plan to include using the weights in my fitness routine – ok, when my arms have recovered, that is!

I think it’s good to do other activities as well. I enjoy going for walks, I’ve been on tandem and canoeing holidays, and I used to do a lot of horse-riding as a child. However I see these things as additions, whereas I need some kind of plan to make sure I get enough exercise whenever I need it, and by doing activities that don’t rely on someone else being available. For me, the exercise regime with the bike and the cross-trainer is the ideal solution.

I have heard about some audio exercise classes specifically for blind people, which means that the exercises are described. This is something that I would be interested in exploring, because I can’t follow normal fitness videos or Youtube classes. If I decide to try them out, I’ll report back later here.

I know there are many blind people who are interested in sports and who play team games or take part in local activities. I don’t really do this, because I need my fitness plan to fit in with my schedule, and for me it’s about keeping fit rather than finding additional social activities.

I think there are a fair number of blind people who struggle because they haven’t yet found good and accessible ways of keeping fit. However exercise bikes don’t have to be expensive, especially if you’re not looking for features on the electronic display, and when you consider the price of a gym membership, I think they are a good investment. If that is too expensive, finding a friend who can describe exercises and then writing down the exercises is also a good work-around. If I’m away on business and I don’t feel like investigating the hotel gym on my own, I often use these exercises from the NHS fitness pages. However I still think it’s a good idea to get someone to check the first time that what you are doing is in line with the images on the page.

Do you have any tips to add?

Let me know in the comments if you have any tips or resources to add, or share with me what you do to keep fit!

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Guest post – Amy’s new skincare essential

In this guest post, Amy tells us about one of her Christmas presents, which has become an essential part of Amy’s skincare routine.

Today I have something different for you. The blog’s very first guest post!

You may remember I mentioned Amy’s good advice in my post about eye make-up. In this guest post, Amy tells us about one of her Christmas presents, something that has become a vital part of her skincare routine.

Guest post number one – So, it’s a hello from me….

Ahoy internet land, my name is Amy and Kirsty has very kindly said that I can guest blog on her new and upcoming venture, because in short I freaking love beauty and make up and all that comes with it. Unlike her, I have no idea how to blog, so I am sure I will make a few faux pas so I shall apologise in advance. Nevertheless I am pretty excited to share with you, and to have a front row seat so I can see how quickly Kirsty’s new blog takes off.

I must warn you, I am not trained in make up or beauty, but I do love it and make it my business to absorb all I can about tips, techniques and upcoming releases. You will never see me without a full face of make up, because I love to play about with colours and products, trying to recreate looks that I see online. Sometimes I get it wrong… very, very wrong, but sometimes I get it right and the best thing about make up is that you not only get better with practice, but also it comes off at the end of the day. So it’s no harm, no foul right?

With Christmas all but a distant memory away it would seem silly of me to do a ‘What I got for Christmas’ post, but I do want to share one thing I got for Christmas, which has become a staple of my daily skincare routine, and I genuinely couldn’t live without right now, not something I would say lightly. This amazing item is the Clarisonic Mia 2, and whilst it comes with a heavy price tag, (at the time of writing it’s £109 on Amazon, or QVC normally has some pretty good deals), what it has done for my skin in such a short space of time is amazing.

Let me give you a quick run down of my skincare issues/history. Depending on my skin’s mood, I am either combination or normal. There is no in between with my skin. I had enlarged pores, and breakouts too, and was forever losing my make up because it would all come sliding off. I was at my wits end as I was cleaning my face daily, yet nothing would ever change and the products were never as amazing as they claimed to be. The great thing with the Mia 2 is it is as amazing as it claims to be, removing 6 times more dirt, make up and sebum (the oil that your skin produces) than scrubbing your face by hand. It does this by oscillating at 300 times per second to clean your skin super deep, removing anything that your cleaner missed. Whilst this sounds quite harsh it really isn’t (unless you press super hard, yeah you can tell I did that can’t you!!!) and claims are you can use it as many times as twice daily, although once is enough for me.

You have 2 speeds, so you can vary what you want to do, and the best thing is it is only one additional minute to your skincare regime. It is really simple to use as well, with only two buttons to navigate (on and change speed from delicate to normal). They recommend 20 seconds on your chin and forehead, and 10 seconds on each cheek. To save you having to count (one Mississippi, two Mississippi) the device will stop when it gets to the end of the time cycle so you know to move onto the next area, and will stop when the full minute is up. All you need to add is your chosen foaming cleanser to the centre of the brush and off you go (I like to use Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleaner as it is not abrasive in any way). It is even fully waterproof so you can cleanse your face in the shower. You don’t need to apply any pressure, just move the device around in swiping and circular motions, and let the brush do its job.

The brush heads do need replacing every 3 months or so like your toothbrush, but equally like your toothbrush, if you feel you have life left in it then don’t swap it out. You can get different heads for different things, such as deeper cleaning ones or more sensitive based ones, and they retail at about £21 each on the Clarisonic web page, but again some shopping around can get you them cheaper. To change the head you simply rotate it, and it pops off. Nice and easy.

Even the charger is magnetic so you don’t have to faff about finding the port, just hold the device close to the end and it does the work for you. It’s easily identifiable with 2 small divots where the charger will go and the same on the device itself.

I have noticed a massive difference in such a short space of time, and it really is quick and user friendly. I honestly can’t say enough about this product!! One small word of caution though, we all have dirt and grime in our pores, its inevitable. As this product is so powerful and cleans so well, you might find for the first few weeks of use that you have a few blemishes pop up as you are dislodging dirt and grime which has been happily sitting in your face forever and a day. It doesn’t want to be evicted, even though it doesn’t pay you any rent! These do go though, and the rewards of using it and pushing through, honestly outweigh these few additional blemishes. My skin has been better than it has been in years, even my other half has noticed without being prompted, so it must be good because what male does that. I jest of course, he is a diamond.

If there is anything else you would like me to review for you, any questions or queries you might have then please shout. Leave a comment below and I will be sure to get back to you and help as much as I can.

If you have made it this far, I thank you. I appreciate I have a whole lot to say and I am sure that Kirsty will tell me off for taking up too much of your time. I really love this product though, not sure I said that before or not….

Anyhow internet land, all that is left for me to say is toodle pip.
Have a wonderful 2017 and I hope that Kirsty lets me come back soon.
Kisses,
Amy

Christmas 2016

My friends and family were so generous this year.

I got this idea from Youtube. At first I wondered why everyone was talking about their Christmas presents. At first it felt a bit like showing off, but I then realised it’s actually a good way to get some ideas about what’s out there, so I decided to do it too. I haven’t listed everything and I’ve included links where I could find things online so that you can read more about the products and sighted readers can see the images.

So, I was really lucky in 2016 and my partner, friends and family gave me some lovely gifts.

Beauty and skin care

Sanctuary spa hand cream

I’d already tried a mini from the Sanctuary Spa hand cream range – I needed something to get me up to my £20 for free Amazon postage 😉

I’d say this is definitely more green lemon than orange blossom, but the Sanctuary Spa products are good quality and this is a long-lasting hand treatment.

Jack Black intense therapy lip balm – grapefruit

This is quite a small tube, but it’s a special treat for the lips which isn’t sticky and which lasts a reasonable amount of time, so you don’t need to keep reapplying it. And of course it’s grapefruit! You’ll see after a while that I love anything that contains mango or grapefruit! Check out the lip balm here.

<Victoria's Secret – mango temptation body wash

We’ve had the grapefruit, now it’s time for the mango. I got the body lotion in this range for my birthday and really liked it. Again, not cheap, but it’s good to indulge yourself with this sweet and fruity mango once in a while. Find out more here!

The Cowshed grumpy cow products

I just love the name! There are all kinds of cow ranges – moody cow, lazy cow, dirty cow (hand wash), but the one with grapefruit in it is the grumpy cow and I have been known to live up to this name, especially in the morning before the third cup of coffee. I haven’t actually used these products yet, but they smell delicious. I got the uplifting body lotion and the uplifting shower gel.

Body Shop – spiced apple tin

I can’t link to this because all of the Christmas ranges at the body shop were seasonal products. I’ll write more about spiced apple in my Body Shop haul post. All I’ll say now is that I’d recommend that you try them if they come back next year. I also got the spiced apple candle, and it makes my office smell nice even when the candle isn’t lit.

Body Shop frosted berries set

This was another seasonal product from the Christmas range with a shower gel and body butter. If the spiced apple is too strong and wintry for you, the frosted berries are a good alternative.

Clothing

Monster slippers – Jack the black wolf

So, as well as my fruit favourites, you will often see wolves and owls in my collections! These slippers are cosy and warm – just what you need when you work from home. My shoe size is between two sizes, but these are definitely on the generous side. They have furry heads, paws and tails, and their eyes even light up if you press the button on the left ear! I’m wearing them as I type and I’m very happy with them! Check out the wolf slippers here.

Wolf fleece

Keeping with the wolf theme, I hate the cold and this is a sure way to keep out the cold this winter. It’s fur-lined, so you can easily wear it as a warm jacket when you’re going out in the winter. This is where you can find it

Mermaid tail blanket

I read about these on a blog, then I heard about them on Youtube. They seem to have been a thing this winter!

Not really clothing, but this mermaid tail blanket is something you can use when you’re snuggled up on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book. I was a bit surprised, because it was described as fleece, even though it’s knitted. However it’s a decent size and you can keep your legs and lower body warm as you snuggle down into it. Who said adults can’t be mermaids too?!

Christmas dress

I don’t have a link, but it was a long, satin dress with a full skirt that I wore on Christmas day.

Perfume

Happy Femme by Clinique

This is what Amazon says about this perfume:

“Floral, fruity, green. Created in 1997, Happy perfume by Clinique for women is a refreshing, clean, floral fragrance. It is the result of the following top fragrance Notes: bergamot, boysenberry and honeysuckle. The middle notes are: bushflower, grapefruit and moss and the base of the fragrance is: freesia, lemon and Hawaiian wedding flower. Happy perfume is recommended for daytime and romantic use.”

So, you guessed it, grapefruit again! This is a lovely, fruity fragrance. I took a risk with this because I said I would like it for Christmas without even smelling it, but I wasn’t disappointed and I’m enjoying wearing it. Here’s the link to the Happy perfume.

The other perfume that I was given is an old favourite that was first given to both me and my mum many years ago by a relative from Ireland. It’s called Innisfree and it’s another fruity, floral fragrance, probably heavier than the grapefruit one. It comes from Ireland and was named after a poem about the Isle of Innisfree.

Books

I had no idea what this present was, but when I unwrapped the gift box, there was an Audible subscription in there! This is a great idea for people who love to read, especially if you don’t know exactly what kind of books they like or which ones they already have. The Audible app is fully accessible to blind people who use VoiceOver on the iPhone and there is a really good selection of audio books.

The only slightly annoying thing is that you have to buy the books on the Audible site, and not in the app, but the site is easy to use with a screenreader and I had no trouble redeeming my first book.

I usually read everything for my job, news, and other information using the speech software on my computer, but when it comes to books and reading for pleasure, I like to listen to a real person – so this gift was ideal!

For the home

I’d never seen vases like this before, but I got an owl vase. Apart from being a welcome addition to the owl collection, he is tactile and you can feel his ears, face and feathers. Really cool!

I was also given two smaller, ornament owls, one of which could be hung up, so we put her on the Christmas tree!

Due to my love for all things spicy, I was given a grow-your-own chilli kit. A travel mug was also a welcome gift for this coffee lover!

We also received joint gifts including wine, chocolates and some fruity cheese.

Jewellery

This year I was very lucky and received an adjustable bracelet, a lovely pair of little owls as earrings, a necklace and a pair of cute doggy earrings.

The necklace is very Christmassy, so I probably won’t wear it again until December, but I think you can justify wearing it from the end of November, and as someone who doesn’t do Christmas jumpers, I do like to get out some sparkly Christmas jewellery. This is a tactile piece and you can feel the shape of the Christmas tree and its decorations.

I found the dog earrings in the autumn, then they went out of stock. My mum kept checking and finally snapped some up just before Christmas. They seem to be out of stock again now, so I can’t show you, but they are drop earrings with dogs viewed from the front. I like the Katy Craig collection and will be investigating the rest of the animal jewellery.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you use my links for Amazon and buy something, I will receive a small percentage at no additional cost to you. I only list products that I love or have reviewed.

Picture of Kirsty

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