A Day Out at Dudley Zoo

This past weekend J and I travelled up to Dudley, where he's from, to spend time with his family for his dads' birthday. Of course, this meant the chance to spend time with J's nephew who is just starting to get to the age where he's interested in absolutely everything; and animals are no exception! We chose to go to Dudley Zoo, which I've been to once before and is one of my favourite zoos in the UK. There are so many animals and conservation bits and pieces going on, and it's really interesting to know the history of the castle. I hope we can go back again next time we're up there!

My favourite part of the day was getting the chance to pet one of the bunnies in the petting zoo area; which unfortunately I didn't manage to get a shot of! I also got some great photos of J with his nephew, which are always nice to have. All the animals were fascinated by him, but especially the Orangutans loved him. Unfortunately this time around the Red Pandas were not feeling sociable and I didn't get a chance to snap them, which is a shame as they're my all time favourite animal. There's always next time though, and I'm very happy with the photos I did get using my trusty telephoto lens.


Decoding those unspoken dress codes

It’s hard to believe that we’re already entering the summer months. And whilst the weather is being predictably unpredictable, Summer is always a season teeming with social events; and as such, lots of different dress codes!

I’m not a ‘going out’ person in general, especially when the wintery seasons roll around, but there’s multiple events this year that require a bit of dressing up; to name just a few there’s the annual work BBQ, visiting friends and family and of course the wedding, which is approaching at a rapid rate! Not forgetting the hen do of course, which traditionally can be anything from a glamourous night out to a comfy evening meal; I know which option I’d go for.

Something I’ve never tried but would love to give a go is a music festival; maybe one of the smaller scale ones as crowds aren’t really my thing. Obviously the nearby Glastonbury Festival is one of the biggest music festivals of the summer and I love watching the TV footage to see if I can pick up on what the latest festival style trends are. There definitely seems to be some kind of unwritten law at music festivals regarding the compulsory wearing of denim shorts and wellies, but I’d be willing to try something a little different.

The flower crowns and boho chic look (which partially inspired my wedding look, you can’t beat a good flower crown!) has definitely been popular in the past few years, but the American Coachella festival really ramped up the style stakes with lots of outlandish looks featuring sequins and sparkly jewellery that shows that it’s not just the casinos and clubs that embrace the bling!

Casinos are a bit too late-night for me but I’ve got to admit I’m a fan of the James Bond look; our last Christmas works do was heavily inspired by it and having the chance to get involved in that style was something a bit different - and fun - for me. I still managed to wear a big floofy skirt of course.

It seems that these days the James Bond look isn’t in at casinos - I can’t imagine anyone getting dressed for a go on the slots in Weston-Super-Mare anyway! Staying in your PJs and enjoying the glamour at home is much easier anyway; it’s never been easier to play slots on your mobile thanks to sites like the Betway online casino site that make even the most complex casino game a lot more fun.

You’ll know by now that black tie isn’t really my thing, so my wedding is another way I can express that. No strict black tie dress code, we’re all about looking and feeling comfortable; and in my opinion, everyone looks their best when they have a big smile on their face.


Double Chocolate Crunchie Cake

This recipe has been a while coming, it's one I put together for my sister's birthday back at the beginning of may. I opted for a Crunchie cake as it's a fun spin on the typical Chocolate Fudge cake, plus I don't know anyone who doesn't love a chocolate and honeycomb combo. I based this cake loosely off of this previous chocolate sunflower cake recipe, with a bit more richness in the icing.

300g golden caster sugar
300g butter/baking margerine
250g cake flour
100ml milk
90g cocoa (I used cadburys)
4x eggs

100g milk chocolate
200g butter
400g icing sugar
5 tbsp cocoa powder
milk as required
2x crunchies crushed

one. grease 3x 8" tins and preheat the oven to 160c (140c in a fan oven)
two. cream together sugar and butter very well until light brown and smooth
three. add eggs one at a time, cocoa powder and milk and mix well to form thin batter
four. fold in flour a bit at a time until well combined
five. pour mixture into cake tins, bake in the oven for 30-35 mins, then allow to cool completely before levelling ready for stacking into tall cake.
six. microwave chocolate until smooth, allow to cool slightly then combine with butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder on high power for 5 minutes minimum to form buttercream.
seven. stack cake layers with buttercream, chill cake then apply thick layer of icing to outside of cake; pile crunchie pieces on top of cake and serve.


Lee Stafford ARGANOIL Range

When it comes to styling and restorative hair products, anything from Lee Stafford is right at the top of my list. I've never really been disappointed with anything I've bought from the ranges - with the Coco Loco series being a particular favourite - so when the ARGANOIL range became available in Boots on 3 for £20 and I had a triple haircare points offer on my Advantage Card it seemed like the perfect time to give it a try!

Deep Nourishing Treatment
This hair mask is the ideal solution for slightly dry, frizzy hair; I let it sit for ages to get the most out of it and my hair does feel a little healthier and shinier afterwards; but I think I'll still reach for my Coco Loco hair mask on particularly dry days. The treatment is quite runny in comparison and doesn't feel like it's doing quite as much, which isn't really worth it with a £14.99 price tag!

Night Repair Serum
This was the product I was pleasantly surprised by. The serum is a thin, white cream that you work through your hair before you sleep; it sinks in really fast and by the morning I could definitely see a difference in how shiny and smooth my hair looked, especially post-blonde dye. For the 100ml bottle you pay £12.99 but I can see it lasting a good while.

Glossing Blow Dry Balm
Another product I was surprised by. This balm has a little bit of everything; it heat protects your hair, provides a little bit of volume and very light hold. I'm terrible with a hair dryer and don't know the first thing about using brushes when drying my hair (I usually just let it blow wherever and sort it later) but even using my 'technique' and then brushing out my hair feels less dry than usual after blow drying. This was the cheapest at £10.99, but as I took advantage of the 3-for-£20 deal I saved around half the retail price, making it basically free.