A Needed Escape | Scotland 2020

A Needed Escape | Scotland 2020

Travel Entry: Scottish Highlands

Date: March 2020

Stayed in: Onich

As you may have seen from my Instagram, a few weeks ago Finn and I escaped to Scotland to celebrate my birthday and for a much-needed week away from work and life to the Scottish Highlands. Little did we know… we would come home to the current situation and get much longer than a week! If you are in need of an escape this is 100% the place to go, well after all this madness is over. This was our third visit, staying in the same place as before and instantly falling into the lifestyle the minute we enter the woods and have sight of the first wonderful loch. It really is utter bliss and definitely our favourite place in the world. The thing I love the most is that it very much feels like you step back in time a little, to a much simpler and more beautiful place, where the stresses of busy city life just don’t really exist in the same way. 

My favourite thing about the highlights is the pure beauty and escape of real life, not being able to be glued to my phone and just simply have the time to relax and take in the beauty of my surroundings. 

The Ardnamurchan

The Ardnamurchan is a trip we have done each time we have been in Scotland, mainly for the beauty of the drive. It is around 2.5 hours each way from Onich without stopping, so definitely always becomes a full day trip. The day is quite exciting, as the drive starts with a ferry crossing across the loch closest to our cottage, and then a drive through the mountains and woods. We stop frequently to admire the views, pop to the sea life hidey to see some wild seals and usually stop at a gorgeous café which is the only place during the drive for food. They also often have highland cows which totally makes the day. The whole drive leads to a lighthouse right at the west of Scotland, which in season is buzzing. However, for our latest trip, the whole day was like living in a ghost town! One big recommendation for Scotland, go in season. Out of season… nearly everything is closed! 

Red Squirrel Watching in Onich

Near the cottage is a walk and hideaway called ‘Inchree Red Squirrel Hotspot’. It is THE place to go to see red squirrels and it does not disappoint. We go every single time, sometimes twice, as it is just so heart-warming to watch these beautiful creatures in their habitat. They are not like the boring grey ones we have down here, they are vibrant in colour and joyous in personality. There are small boxes with food in close to the hidey, which means they are super close to you and always guarantees the best picture. It isn’t exactly a whole day adventure, but it is a must each time we visit. 

Lochlevan Seafood Café

Now, I can 99.9% guarantee, this will be the best seafood you have ever eaten. We are absolutely obsessed with this restaurant, that sits beautifully next to Loch Levan. In the daytime, which we have only done once, you can sit and have lunch and just blissfully watch the loch. Then in the evening, you can enjoy a delicious seafood dinner, in the Scottish surroundings surrounded by blissful peace and quiet. The food is absolutely gorgeous, probably because of how fresh the fish is. This time we indulged in two delicious meals, consisting of scallops, a mountain of mussels, salmon and a gorgeous plaice with puy lentils. In fact, my favourite dish I have ever had there is the seabass with a chorizo and bean cassoulet. I actually shared a recipe based on this dish a few years ago, as it was too delicious not to replicate at home. Head here to give it a read.  

A stroll around Oban

Oban is a town around 50 minutes away from where we stay in Onich and I absolutely love it. It is a gorgeous little port town that is vibrant and buzzing whilst also remaining traditionally Scottish and family orientated. There are loads of lush things to do in Oban such as a visit to the distillery, walks all around and the best chocolate shop you will ever find. They also boast a fish and chip shop which Rick Stein said himself… ‘the best fish and chips I’ve ever had.’ So, it must be good! I can definitely vouch for that; however, I think Rick Steins word is probably much greater than mine! Oban is definitely a must visit in the highlands.

Have you visited the highlands? I would love to know your favourite places to see!

… 

Leave me a question below! 

2020 Travel Essentials | Beauty Edition

2020 Travel Essentials | Beauty Edition

This is one of my favourite blog posts to write, so I couldn’t wait to bring it a little earlier this year. In March, for my birthday I am off for my favourite detox week in the Scottish Highlands where there is no phone signal and complete relaxation. So, with this there is also a lack of resources meaning I cannot forget anything! Hence, why I am putting together my beauty travel essentials guide for this year, to share my favourites and remind myself what I need!

I have become much stricter in the last few months about the products that I choose to buy and use in my home, not just to do my part for the necessary change in the world but also to make much healthier choices for myself.

So, what are my essentials?

Hair Care Products – when switching to a professional hair care regime I noticed such a change in the health and overall glow of my hair. This means that consistency is key and sticking to my hair care routine is essential even whilst travelling. When we travel it can really affect our hair, due to the change in climates and often flying. So, don’t be tempted to head to Superdrug and pick up those minis that are useful in your wash bag, take your proper products, or buy empty minis and fill them yourself. If you want more information on my hair care, head to this blog here.

Water Wipes – my absolute must have when travelling and whilst away. I keep this in my handbag so I can remove my makeup as soon as it starts to irritate me.

Lip Balms Galore – no travel for me can be done without a good lip balm. Whether you’re in the car, on a train, bus or plane, your lips are going to get incredibly fry from the air conditioning and heating systems. Having a lip balm will be your absolute saviour. My favourite is obviously the Arbonne Shea Butter one!

Sheet Masks – again, because of the air conditioning, heating and change in climate, particularly on a flight, all the moisture gets sucked out of our skin. A sheet mask is a super quick and easy way to rehydrate the skin, especially if you smother the serum and let it soak in. The new RE9 sheet masks from Arbonne are absolutely incredible and simply a must try if you have never tried any of the products before.

Travel Fragrances – I absolutely love fragrance and have done for so many years. Perfumes themselves are very heavy and often bulky, so having some smaller travel sized ones are ideal for travelling, or even shoving in your handbag. The smaller ones you get in gift sets are amazing, and the mini Ted Baker ones are my favourite for travelling.

 

Ready in 5 Makeup Set – when I’m away the last thing I want to do is wear makeup every day, especially in the evening. The Ready in 5 set was launched a few months ago and I am utterly obsessed. It includes a great coverage but lightweight CC cream, the Speak Volumes mascara, a tinted brow cream/ brow pencil, blush and lip colour of your choice. It is perfect for a quick and easy get ready, especially when travelling and on holiday.

Dry Shampoo – my last and absolute must have, in fact once I drove half an hour out of the way to buy some, is dry shampoo. I’m sorry, but who wants to be constantly washing their hair when enjoying a nice time away. Dry shampoo is a must and would definitely be on my ‘top 5 things to take to a desert island’ list.

Shop this post:

www.abigailhunter.arrbonne.com

……………………..

I have not been paid to feature any brands, and all views and opinions are my own.

Favourite parts of New York City

Favourite parts of New York City

As you may have seen from Instagram, last week my bestie and I spent the week in New York. It was our first time in the city for both of us, as well as our first time in the States, however we have been told that New York simply cannot be compared to the rest of America. We had dreamt of this trip since we were about 13 years old and used to watch the movie Bride Wars on repeat. We both knew that the year we turned 21 was the time to go, so in January we booked the trip with a very good British Airways offer and started preparing for our Winter getaway to the big apple. Wow, it did not disappoint.

We had the week of our lives, simply exploring the city, getting to know all its charms and most importantly visiting all the places we had seen so many times on our TV screens. I thought I would simply share some of our favourite parts of the trip to hopefully inspire you if you ever plan on visiting.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge was towards the end of our week in the city but such a memorable few hours. We got an Uber from our hotel on the East side of the city to the hot Instagram spot in Dumbo, Brooklyn, to get that iconic shot of the pebbled street with the Manhattan bridge behind. We were pretty proud of the images we got, all thanks to another tourist who got very snap happy with the camera. After our photos we then chose to walk back over the bridge, which probably took around half an hour in total with our gentle stroll. Unfortunately, it was raining cats and dogs, but still happened to be one of my favourite parts of the trip.

911 Memorial

Now I wouldn’t say that this part of the trip was a particularly ‘enjoyable’ experience, but I am so glad that we did it and I have to say it is definitely something everyone needs to do at least once. The experience was more what I would describe as ‘chilling’, reliving the day and paying tribute to those who lost their lives in such a tragic way. The memorial itself was very peaceful and the waterfalls felt like a wonderful way to mark the site and for people to come and mourn and pay their respects. I guess remembering these tragic incidents is a key ingredient in ensuring that history never repeats itself.

Fifth Avenue

As I imagined from the very beginning, Fifth Avenue was my home from home. Shop after shop making me feel at ease and totally in love with the magical city. We tried our hardest not to empty our bank cards on Fifth Avenue in one day, but you all know me, my bank card did take a little bit of a hit on the last day in Gucci situated over three floors in Trump Tower. The way I see it, how often do I get the chance to have fun and make a purchase on the classic Fifth Avenue in New York frickin City?!

Ice Skating in Central Park

This was possibly the most hilarious part of the trip due to my extremely appalling ice-skating skills, or lack of. We did two laps around, which took the best part of half an hour, and decided to give up and head for lunch due to my lack of ice-skating confidence. However, what an experience to ice skate in central park just like Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl!

Mean Girls

Saving the best to last, and our agreed favourite part of the trip, on the second night in NYC we went to see Mean Girls on Broadway and it was INCREDIBLE. It was a wonderful musical adaption of the classic film with talented acting, amazing performances, laugh out loud humour and even a few controversial remarks on the state of the US which seemed to go down a treat. Despite paying $27 for a ‘on Wednesdays we wear pink’ cocktail, I was very happy to even be able to bring home a Mean Girls souvenir in my reusable cup! Such an enjoyable and memorable experience from being in NY and I would definitely recommend this show if they bring it to the UK!

 

Shop this post:

 

Teddy Coat – Mango

Black Bag – Gucci

Ugg Boots – Ugg

 

 

……………………………..

 

I have not been paid to feature any brands and all views and opinions are my own.

A Night of Shopping with World Duty Free UK

A Night of Shopping with World Duty Free UK

AD – this blog post contains a collaboration with World Duty Free UK, whereby I was gifted products.

On Wednesday evening I was incredibly lucky to be invited to an event at Bristol airport, where I am a regular visitor, for a collaboration with World Duty Free. In recent years, World Duty Free at Bristol has really developed, and I absolutely love walking through and having a look around to see what bargains I can get. The two newest editions to the airport, which came in December 2018, were MAC and Jo Malone. For me, these are two very significant brands, as MAC is one of my favourites for makeup and Jo Malone for their one of a kind candles. There really is something for everyone, as well as lots of great products perfect for travel and your impending trip.

So, on the evening, 8 local bloggers including myself attended, and after the quick introductions and sweep through security we were all let loose to explore and fill our baskets. Luckily, I knew all the other bloggers there, so it made the experience even more enjoyable being able to have fun and enjoy spending time together whilst seeing what was on offer. Being the free spirits that we are, we knew exactly how to navigate ourselves around swiftly choose all the products we love. As I was there technically for blogging, and not just having fun, I wanted to be strategic about how I shopped. This meant that I chose pieces from each section of the shop, which included makeup, skincare, fragrance, fashion and homeware.

As you can imagine, I did pretty well and am so pleased with everything I managed to get. I thought to mix things up a little, I would share each thing I got individually, also sharing some price comparisons of what they cost on the high street, compared to duty free. I do think it is amazing how much less some things are. If you would rather watch this in video form, without the prices, I have also published a video on IGTV with everything you can see here. So, let’s get into it.

Makeup

So, I purchased three makeup items during the trip, two from MAC and one from Benefit. From MAC I bought a lipstick from the new matte collection and a rosy pink liner, as the amazing makeup artist there did an Ombre lip on me in the colour tones I normally wear. I loved the look and had to buy it to recreate it at home. The new matte lipsticks are a huge step forward in my eyes as they go on a lot more easily than the last, feel comfortable on the lips and do not crack. It really is the perfect shade for me. Then, from Benefit I bought the newest item to them, the eyeliner. I love that it is easy to use and just swept on like a pen. I am really excited to see if this works for me as I have never used on before.

MAC Lipstick – shade ‘Sultriness’ | MAC Price £17.50 >> Duty Free Price £15.35 

MAC Liner – shade ‘Rosy Rim’ | MAC Price £14.00 >> Duty Free Price £11.85

Benefit Roller Liner | Benefit Price £18.50 >> Duty Free Price £15.70

Skincare

So, a new line of skincare that I have really enjoyed using recently is from Clarins, called My Clarins. It is an entry level range, perfect for skin my age. I have been using the cleansing milk and day cream. As I have been enjoying using this and my skin is feeling the benefits, I thought whilst I had the opportunity I would stock up and repurchase the cleaning milk. I definitely prefer this formula of a cleanser compared to a gel, as I find it just more of an enjoyable experience to use. The World Duty Free at Bristol Airport has got a huge variety of brands with excellent skincare ranges, such as Dior, Clinique and of course Clarins. There really is something for everyone and the service provided by the retail assistant is amazing.

My Clarins Cleansing Milk | Clarins Price £17.00 >> Duty Free Price £14.65

Fragrance

It seemed as if it would be a major regret of mine if I visited Duty Free with vouchers and not bring home a perfume. So, I did. However, instead of going for a new fragrance I decided to stick to what I know. For a few years now I have been using two perfumes, one in the day and one for evenings and special occasions. The day perfume is the now very famous Gucci Bloom. I absolutely adore this scent and for me nothing has really ever come close. I think we all have this when it comes to fragrance, and really what is the point of trying to change something when what you already have is so good. So, I stocked up, with the smaller bottle that sits so elegantly on my girly bedroom shelf.

Gucci Bloom 50ml | Gucci Price £75.00 >> Duty Free Price £59.60

Homeware

So, it is probably pretty obvious that my homeware item within the goodies I purchased was from Jo Malone. To make it even worse, or well good for me, is that it is something I buy repeatedly. I tried a few of the other scents, but for me nothing is quite the same as ‘peony and blush suede’. I just absolutely adore it and it really has become a smell that makes my home feel like a home. It is bright and happy, whilst also being very girly and poignant in scent. To add, I went for the candle, not a diffuser. I adore everything Jo Malone has to offer, and really do want to explore more such as fragrance. Perhaps when I head back to the airport in a few weeks I can do just that!

Jo Malone Candle | John Lewis Price £47.00 >> Duty Free Price £39.15

Fashion

So to finish off the trip, and explore the last range, I headed to the Pandora stand. The lovely lady there got a huge tray out with different goodies on and it was so nice to see everything laid out and try as I went. In the end I went with two items. The first being a small silver ring for my little finger. I have wanted one of these for a long time, so it was the perfect find for me. Simple and plain, that I can wear every day. The second was a pair of earrings with a cool twist, that I have actually been on the lookout for a while. They are sparkly and silver, and the back of them goes behind the ear to add great texture and just something a little bit different. In fact, I put them on as soon as I got home and still haven’t even take them off! A very good purchase in my eyes

Pandora Infinite Shine Ring | Pandora Price £35.00 >> Duty Free Price £29.15 

Pandora Princess Wish Stud Earrings | Pandora Price £80.00 >> Duty Free Price £58.00

Total price on high street – £304

Total price at Duty Free – £243.45 

Duty Free Saving – £60.55

………………….

This blog post was in collaboration with World Duty Free, however all views and opinions are my own, and I was not paid.

 Thank you to Becky and Ema from World Duty Free for organising this event and allowing me to be part of it.

Finding the perfect mini break

Finding the perfect mini break

Imagery by Hana Dallimore Photography

Is there anything more perfect than the feeling on a Friday, when you know you get to escape for the weekend, enjoying time away from home? I love a good mini break, whatever days of the week or wherever we choose to go. Last year I was really lucky to travel a lot, and a lot of the trips were very much short and sweet. But sometimes that really is all you need. You need a chance to get away from the stress of being at home, an opportunity to switch off and recharge, boosting yourself through life when you get back again. Mini breaks have become a very easy option for  a lot of us, with amazing deals all year round and a huge variety of places to go and things to do.

A mini break for me has to include a lot of food, beautiful scenery and very good company. It is not all about romantic breaks anymore, sometimes it is just about spending time with a loved one, whether that be your mum, grandma or best friend.

Last year my favourite mini break was in December, for a little Christmas trip with my grandparents to Palma. It was a short and sweet three nights in a beautiful hotel, with lots of food, lots of festive fun and just a really good rest. It was everything a mini break should be, and inspired me to write this post. In 2019 I really want to focus a lot more on travel, tips and the places I go, as last year I went away a lot without actually talking about it. I thought I would just put together a quick little mini break guide, with all my tips and tricks and some of my recommended destinations.

Search for packages in the sales (EasyJet sales & Booking.com)

So when booking a mini break, my first suggestion would always be to take a little time and search around to see what is on offer. I do think it is amazing sometimes the deals you can get, especially for a trip abroad. EasyJet always have some great offers, especially last minute, as well as Booking.com. I personally have used TUI a few times too, and have found it to be a really pleasant and easy experience. There are so many websites you can use to find a reasonably priced mini break, wherever you want to go. To book accommodation I personally always use Booking.com as I love the fact that you can cancel up until the day before for free.

The Best UK Destinations

I love a good UK mini break, and do think a lot of the time we underestimate how many beautiful places there are in this country. Dartmouth has to be one of my favourite, however only out of season. It is such an easy and relaxing place to visit, with an abundance of restaurants, cute shops and picturesque places to walk around. My next favourite would be Edinburgh. From Bristol we can get there with a  cheap plane fare in under 50 minutes and it is such an amazing city to spend a night or two. There are endless shops and restaurants, a big theatre and cinema, as well as lots of things going on each and every day. There are also lots of other destinations that I see people sharing online, that I often can’t believe are here in the UK. Have ever spent some time in the Welsh countryside, down south in Ilfracombe, or even beautiful Chester where I love to spend time with my bestie who goes to uni there.

 

My Top Five Abroad Destinations

So, I thought I would make this point quick and just based on where I have been, and enjoyed a mini break with someone I love. Obviously, as previously mentioned, Palma is one of my favourites for a quick and enjoyable trip, and definitely a must on your bucket list if you have never been. My second favourite, but by far probably the most expensive is Paris. For the ultimate foodie, fun and cultured trip, Paris is a definite must. I absolutely adore this city and think it could possibly be my favourite place in the world.

Other destinations for a mini break for me would also include Madrid, for a beautiful shopping trip, Bilbao for the best tapas and Copenhagen for a fresh and beautiful trip. Copenhagen was one of mine and Finns first trips together and we both still rave about the time we spent there whenever we are trying to decide on where we want to visit next.

Spa Breaks

So one of my other favourite mini breaks is a spa night. Spa breaks is always my go to when I am looking for a very quick, relaxing trip, somewhere that is easy to drive to and has an amazing spa to indulge in. What I love about Spa Breaks is how you can decide on the region, and there are different tiers for the trip that you can choose. They also have some amazing sales and discounts, which are perfect for when you want a last minute, spa trip away.

 

Shop this post:

 

T-Shirt – New Look

Blazer – New Look

Jeans – Zara

 

…………………………

 

I have not been paid to feature any brands, and all views and opinions are my own.

Madrid 18 | Needed Girl Time

Madrid 18 | Needed Girl Time

My bestie and I have managed to get away every summer for the last few years, for some much needed girl time and time off life. This year we couldn’t decide where to go at all, so left it down to the days we wanted to go and the most reasonable flights. Finally, we decided on Madrid, as it all worked our perfectly and it was somewhere neither of us have been. We have this new pact that we can’t go anywhere that we have been before as there are so many places in the world to see. In fact, this is also a pact that I have made with myself no matter who I go away with. My one exception may however be Venice, as I have never been to such a beautiful place in my whole life. It was honestly like being in a giant movie set. Anyway, back to Madrid, the amazing capital of Spain.

I think my favourite thing about Madrid had to be the architecture. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but it certainly exceeded what I thought it could be like. The Palace was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen.

Our aim for the holiday was not at all to explore the whole city and tire ourselves out by walking around all day everyday – that is just really not our thing. We both needed a rest from work and life, to enjoy the sunshine, some good food and lots of cocktails by the pool. We are very good at eating and drinking our way through a trip. Obviously we wanted to see the city, so we tried our best to get the balance right, but as we are both on the same page it always makes life much easier. Which was, in our true style, after a very generous lie in each morning. I never get to sleep all night and until late in the morning nowadays, so it honestly did feel like I had died and gone to heaven every time I woke up!

Situated just about 20 minutes from the airport, and a 30-euro taxi ride to the hotel, it was a very easy transition into the city. We booked a hotel right by the Plaza de España, the giant palace home to the Spanish royals, that boasts a handy 3,000 plus rooms. Imagine all the space! ‘Dear, Hotel’ is a handy city boutique hotel, with generously sized rooms all decorated in a light and Scandi style interiors. Just my cup of tea. Overlooking the popular street named Grand Via, we were in the best location, with restaurants and shops all around, as well as slow walks around to explore the city. The hotel also has an amazing roof top bar and plunge pool, which let’s be honest, is the main reason I booked it. We decided that we simply couldn’t be in 38-degree heat without an outdoor pool. The hotel was convenient, peaceful and had all the facilities you could wish for on a relaxing city break. Although, one drawback being the extreme road works going on, on the main street meaning that the sound of drilling was very apparent for the duration of our stay. Not a deal breaker, and by no means the hotels fault, just a little annoying when you’re trying to sleep!

As we wanted to use these few days away to rest, we used the rooftop quite a lot, once for a whole day, then a few afternoons when it just got too hot to be walking around. The girl time was just what we needed, sitting and chatting for hours with drinks, soaking up the sun and getting through a book or two. I never have time to get through chunks of my book, or even talk about half the stuff we got to, so it really has made me feel like a massive weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It was also really nice, as one day we got there early before anyone else, so had a good opportunity to get some gorgeous photos of the pool with that amazing view! When Abby and I get going with the camera, there really is no stopping us!

One of my favourite things about traveling is taking pictures and being able to document the memories that we have made. Obviously, having an aesthetically pleasing photo for Instagram is a bonus, but having this bank of photos to reflect on is one of my favourite things.

If I’m being completely honest, we didn’t get too far walking through Madrid, however on our first day we did make it to the Plaza de España, strolling through the gardens, stopping for a cocktail and enjoying some Spanish tapas. It was so gorgeous just to sit and see the world going by. My first impression of Madrid on that day was how up together the city is. The gardens are perfect, everything is clean and it feels very safe with an extensive number of police every time you look around. Everyone was polite, and as you would expect from a European country, the fashion was on point. There is something about how people dress in Spain, France and Italy, that just isn’t like the UK. Everyone has such a beautiful sense of style and are very poised in their stride.

On the Friday, before we left as we had a late flight, we decided that we hadn’t seen enough of the city so we only had one option left. A city bus. This is my go to in every city, as you really see everything and get all the facts that you don’t get from just walking around by yourself. We got on right by the whole town and did the whole hour and a half tour around the entire city. We saw absolutely everything and could appreciate everything the city had to offer. In a way, by the end of this, I felt like we had seen absolutely everything we need to and had made the most of a new place. We learnt so much in that short space of time, and really got to understand the history behind the capital.

Overall, I absolutely loved Madrid and would definitely go back if given the chance. It was so nice just to go somewhere new and enjoy a proper rest from work and the stress of life. As well as some quality time with the bestie, which is always needed as we now live about 4 hours away from each other 

Shop this Post:

White Bikini – New Look

Red Dress – New Look

Blue Dress – H&M

………………………………………..

I have not been paid to feature any brands, and all views and opinions are my own.