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Beauty

On the scent

I have the ultimate First World dilemma. Let me introduce you to women and perfume. This relationship can go one of two ways – either you’re an ardent supporter of a single scent and wear it all day, every day; or you’re fickle and flutter from one perfume to another depending on your mood, season, etc.

Until recently, I’ve been the signature scent kind of gal since falling in love with Jo Malone’s Pomegranate Noir about ten years ago. Every now and then I had a spritz of something else but I mostly remained faithful, and it’s what people associated with me. But then, suddenly, one morning, I woke up and wasn’t in love any more, at all. (And no, I wasn’t pregnant.)

Since then, I’ve toyed semi-seriously with another Jo Malone – Vetyver – but that’s being discontinued (sigh) and Liz Earle’s Botanical Essence No.15 which, while delicious, sadly lacks staying power; more recently I’ve dabbled all over the shop – from Chanel to Chloé – but I’m not head over heels for any of them.

Shopping for a new perfume is an olfactory minefield: what smells lovely on paper, can smell completely different on your skin, and then, after you’ve tried several scents, you can’t distinguish between them all anyway. After a couple of years of searching, I got so desperate recently I went back to Pomegranate Noir just to see if I’d changed my mind again. I haven’t.

I’ve grown up adhering to the first perfume principle that without my signature I’m all at sea; my perfume had almost become part of my personality and now I’m adrift. First World problem or not, any suggestions will be gratefully received. Until then, I’ll continue to sidle up to strangers, sniff deeply, ponder, before asking the all-important question, ‘What perfume are you wearing?’

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Beauty, Beauty Review, Betsy Loves, Book Review

Sali Hughes – the make-up list

So here it is, as promised, Sali Hughes’ picks and recommendations for make-up.

Make-Up

This is what she regards as a ‘basic’ make-up kit:

Foundation or tinted moisturiser, concealer, powder, a matte ivory and shimmery brown eyeshadow, mascara, blusher (powder or cream), and a nude lipstick.

If you want a bit more, then add:

A nude lip pencil, brow pencil and gel, dark brown eyeliner, bronzer and some chunky eye crayons. 

Here are her brand picks:

Sheer foundation – look at Armani, Revlon, Becca, Dior

Liquid foundation – Armani, Bobbi Brown, MAC

Powder foundation – Stila, Clinique, MAC

Tinted moisturiser- Origins, Laura Mercier, Nivea, Becca, Nars

Concealer – Nars, MAC, Laura Mercier, Clarins, Bobbi Brown

Powder – Bobbi Brown, Bourjois, Max Factor, MAC, Nars, Charlotte Tilbury (You might think powder is old fashioned, but Sali (and I!) swear by it to blot the shine. Avoid the cheeks if you don’t want to look too matte)

Matte ivory and shimmery brown eyeshadow – Bourjois, Bobbi Brown, MAC, Dior, Chanel, Nars, Clarins, Sleek, Charlotte Tilbury

Mascara – Lancôme, L’Oreal Paris, YSL, Maybelline, Dior, MAC, Charlotte Tilbury

Blusher powder – Nars, Bourjois, Bobbi Brown, Smashbox, Chanel, Charlotte Tilbury

Blush cream – Clarins, Bourjois, MAC, Max Factor, Bobbi Brown

Nude lipstick – Creme in your Coffee from MAC

Lip pencil – MAC, Estée Lauder, Rimmel, Bobbi Brown

Brow pencil – Lancôme, Sleek, Bourjois

Brow gel – Benefit, MAC, Nars

Dark brown eyeliner – Clinique, Elizabeth Arden, Charlotte Tilbury, Bourjois

Bronzer – Aerin Lauder, Bourjois, Bobbi Brown

Chunky eye crayon – Barry M, Charlotte Tilbury, Smashbox

Tools

In the past, Sali has mentioned Clarisonic facial brushes positively, but surprisingly, apart from a brief mention as a gimic to get teenagers to clean their faces properly, they didn’t appear. However, she is a big fan of Shu Uemura‘s eyelash curlers (who isn’t?!), Mason Pearson hairbrushes, make up brushes from Models Own, Real Techniques, Eco Tools, and Space NK, the Parlux Compact hairdryer, Babyliss Big Hair, Tweezerman tweezers, Kent pocket combs, and dippy nail polish remover.

Nail Varnish

YSL if you have the budget, otherwise Revlon.

Perfume

Opt for Eau de Parfum (strong) or Eau de Cologne (weak), but never Eau de Toilette (insipid…)

I know I’ve missed things out, but there’s probably too much information here anyway! Just in case, here’s a link to Sali’s list of Top 50 Beauty Products – http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/gallery/2013/mar/08/50-best-beauty-products

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Beauty, Beauty Review, Betsy Loves, Book Review

Sali Hughes – the skincare list

When I bought Sali Hughes’ book Pretty Honest last month, I was expecting to be interested and informed, but not obsessed, and yet that, ladies and gents, is precisely what happened.

I already rate Sali for her no-nonsense, no-advertising advice (she only recommends products she actually likes), but I was really impressed by the level of detail she went into in her book. Essentially it’s a series of beauty essays (gosh, doesn’t that sound tedious?!), but they read incredibly easily, and range from Teen Skin to Mature Skin, to Bridal Make Up to Make Up Essentials and Skincare. There aren’t many pictures (which I do think is a shame) but I’m still thinking of gifting copies to friends for Christmas and birthdays.

If you don’t have the time to read through the book, I’ve picked out all of Sali’s top picks (I love making a list…). I’ll give you skincare today, and make-up tomorrow.

Skincare

First up, she talks about your skincare routine.

For the day, most women should be cleansing (she recommends cream cleansers even if you have oily skin, but more on that later, and swears by using a flannel to give your skin a proper clean), a skin-specific day serum, day cream, suncream (spf15 in winter and spf30 in summer), primer (if you fancy it) and then your make-up (if you wear it).

For the night, you should start with an eye make-up remover if you wear waterproof mascara or liner, then cleanse, then exfoliate (she recommends an AHA or BHA liquid with salicylic or glycolic acid and absolutely hates ones with microbeads or grains – you should always do this at night to protect your skin from sun damage, and 2-3 times a week), then on goes a serum (this might differ from your day one, e.g. anti-ageing instead of mattifying), then a night cream or oil (or both if you’re quite dry), followed by a spot treatment if you need (high concentration salicylic acid just dabbed on the spot itself). You can choose to use a face mask once a week as well.

So there you have it – your day and night routines. Some of you might notice an absence of toner; Sali believes they’re a waste of time and money offering little in the way of results.

What do you think? How do you measure up? I’m ok on the cleansing. I’ve always been a toner kind of gal… And then I pop on a moisturiser. As the years have gone by, I’ve upgraded to a day moisturiser with an spf and a specific night cream. I’ve also got an anti-ageing serum I use at night, and a night oil which I like to massage in (it smells divine!). I also swear by primer to keep make-up on my greasy skin! I’m conspicuously missing an exfoliator, but I’m definitely looking to invest in one.

So now you know what you should be doing, what brands should you look for? Don’t worry; I’ve also got lists of this!

Here goes:

For cream cleansers, look for Clarins, Ren and Elemis

Liquid exfoliant – Clarins, Pixi, Elizabeth Arden, Ren

Serum – Estée Lauder, Clinique, Olay, Nivea, L’Oreal Paris, Vichy, Clarins

Moisturiser – Neutrogena, Estée Lauder, Clarins, Ren, Olay 

Oil – Clarins, Decleor, Neal’s Yard, Trilogy, Balance Me

Suncream – Clinique, La Roche Posay, Estée Lauder (make sure they protect you against UVA and UVB)

Primer – Laura Mercier, Smashbox, Dior, Revlon, Clinique, Estée Lauder

Lip balm – Clinique, Kiehls, Korres, Lanolips

Face masks – Origins, Ren, Estée Lauder, Soap and Glory

Got that? A little extra on moisturisers, Sali suggests looking for a day cream with antioxidants in (while they haven’t been proven to help anti-ageing, she figures they can’t hurt!). Also, those desperate for some moisture should look for creams with hyaluronic acid in, and retinol is what you should be keeping your eyes open for for visible anti-ageing results. Hyaluronic acid in your lip balm will also plump up and moisturise nicely.

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Betsy Loves, Books, Celebrity, Fashion

October’s Book Picks

Sorry it’s a bit late. I’ll be on the ball next month, promise…

TYIMY

The Year I Met You – Cecilia Ahern

Released October 9

She can sometimes be a little saccharine but also sometimes genuinely uplifting.

Blurb

Jasmine loves two things: her sister and her work. And when her work is taken away she has no idea who she is.

Matt loves two things: his family and the booze. Without them, he hits rock bottom.

One New Year’s Eve, two people’s paths collide. Both have time on their hands; both are at a crossroads. But as the year unfolds, through moonlit nights and suburban days, an unlikely friendship slowly starts to blossom.

Sometimes you have to stop still in order to move on…

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Vivienne Westwood – Vivienne Westwood

Released October 9

Blurb

Vivienne Westwood is one of the icons of our age. Fashion designer, activist, co-creator of punk, global brand and grandmother; a true living legend. Her career has successfully spanned five decades and her work has influenced millions of people across the world.

For the first and only time, Vivienne Westwood has written a personal memoir, collaborating with award-winning biographer Ian Kelly, to describe the events, people and ideas that have shaped her extraordinary life. Told in all its glamour and glory, and with her unique voice, unexpected perspective and passionate honesty, this is her story.

Notre Dame

A Week in Paris – Rachel Hore

Released October 9

Blurb

The streets of Paris hide a dark past…

September, 1937. Kitty Travers enrols at the Conservatoire on the banks of the Seine to pursue her dream of becoming a concert pianist. But then war breaks out and the city of light falls into shadow.

Nearly twenty-five years later, Fay Knox, a talented young violinist, visits Paris on tour with her orchestra. She barely knows the city, so why does it feel so familiar? Soon touches of memory become something stronger, and she realises her connection with these streets runs deeper than she ever expected.

As Fay traces the past, with only an address in an old rucksack to help her, she discovers dark secrets hidden years ago, secrets that cause her to question who she is and where she belongs…

A compelling story of war, secrets, family and enduring love.

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As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride – Cary Elwes

Released October 14

Blurb

 From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

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Moriarty – Anthony Horowitz

Released October 23

Blurb

Sherlock Holmes is dead.

Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind who has risen to take his place.

Ably assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, a devoted student of Holmes’s methods of investigation and deduction, Frederick Chase must forge a path through the darkest corners of the capital to shine light on this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace.

Author of the global bestseller THE HOUSE OF SILK, Anthony Horowitz once more breathes life into the world created by Arthur Conan Doyle. With pitch-perfect characterisation and breath-taking pace, Horowitz weaves a relentlessly thrilling tale which teases and delights by the turn of each page.

The game is afoot…

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Lamentation – C.J. Sansom

Released October 23

I was hooked by the first of this series following Tudor lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, and I know that I’m going to devour this.

Blurb

Summer, 1546.

King Henry VIII is slowly, painfully dying. His Protestant and Catholic councillors are engaged in a final and decisive power struggle; whoever wins will control the government of Henry’s successor, eight-year-old Prince Edward. As heretics are hunted across London, and the radical Protestant Anne Askew is burned at the stake, the Catholic party focus their attack on Henry’s sixth wife, Matthew Shardlake’s old mentor, Queen Catherine Parr.

Shardlake, still haunted by events aboard the warship Mary Rose the year before, is working on the Cotterstoke Will case, a savage dispute between rival siblings. Then, unexpectedly, he is summoned to Whitehall Palace and asked for help by his old patron, the now beleaguered and desperate Queen.

For Catherine Parr has a secret. She has written a confessional book, Lamentation of a Sinner, so radically Protestant that if it came to the King’s attention it could bring both her and her sympathizers crashing down. But, although the book was kept secret and hidden inside a locked chest in the Queen’s private chamber, it has – inexplicably – vanished. Only one page has been found, clutched in the hand of a murdered London printer.

Shardlake’s investigations take him on a trail that begins among the backstreet printshops of London but leads him and Jack Barak into the dark and labyrinthine world of the politics of the royal court; a world he had sworn never to enter again. Loyalty to the Queen will drive him into a swirl of intrigue inside Whitehall Palace, where Catholic enemies and Protestant friends can be equally dangerous, and the political opportunists, who will follow the wind wherever it blows, more dangerous than either.

The theft of Queen Catherine’s book proves to be connected to the terrible death of Anne Askew, while his involvement with the Cotterstoke litigants threatens to bring Shardlake himself to the stake.

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The Sleeper and the Spindle – Neil Gaiman

Released October 23

Blurb

A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

Lavishly produced, packed with glorious Chris Riddell illustrations enhanced with metallic ink, this is a spectacular and magical gift.

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The Woman I Wanted To Be – Diane Von Furstenberg

Released October 28

Blurb

 One of the most influential, admired, and innovative women of our time: fashion designer, philanthropist, wife, mother, and grandmother, Diane von Furstenberg offers a book about becoming the woman she wanted to be. Diane von Furstenberg started out with a suitcase full of jersey dresses and an idea of who she wanted to be-in her words, “the kind of woman who is independent and who doesn’t rely on a man to pay her bills.” She has since become that woman, establishing herself as a global brand and a major force in the fashion industry, all the while raising a family and maintaining “my children are my greatest creation.” In The Woman I Wanted to Be, von Furstenberg reflects on her extraordinary life-from childhood in Brussels to her days as a young, jet-set princess, to creating the dress that came to symbolise independence and power for an entire generation of women. With remarkable honesty and wisdom, von Furstenberg mines the rich territory of what it means to be a woman. She opens up about her family and career, overcoming cancer, building a global brand, and devoting herself to empowering other women, writing, “I want every woman to know that she can be the woman she wants to be.”

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Betsy Loves, City Guide, Travel

Dubs

I’m baaaaaack. Sorry for the radio silence, lovelies, but I’ve been on my jollies – this time, with the divine Miss S in Dubai, of all places. It’s never been on my globetrotting hit list, but I can’t resist a city where my nearest and dearest reside.

It’s such a curious place. It’s both exactly what you imagine – big, brash, bold, with high-rise buildings towering above you, the world’s biggest shopping malls, visible wealth everywhere, and a ‘live young, die fast, and leave a good looking corpse’ mentality – and yet, I really liked it. There’s something to be said for waking up every day and almost guaranteeing it’s going to be sunny. As Miss S said, ‘it’s life changing’. It really is.

The Arrival

Obligatory aeroplane shot

Obligatory aeroplane shot

The Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world) as my taxi zipped past

The Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world) as my taxi zipped past

 

Day One – A beach at The Palm, and dinner at the Jumeirah Beach Residence

Day One - the private hotel beach at Riva on the Palm. You can see the 'Sail' hotel (Burj al Arabe) in the background

Day One – the private hotel beach at Riva on the Palm. You can see the ‘Sail’ hotel (Burj al Arabe) in the background

The view from Miss S' balcony...

The view from Miss S’ balcony…

As a The Big Bang Theory fan, this was a momentous occasion

As a The Big Bang Theory fan, this was a momentous occasion

The beautiful and very modern (Miss S calls this area 'California') fountains at the Jumeirah Beach Residence

The beautiful and very modern (Miss S calls this area ‘California’) fountains at the Jumeirah Beach Residence

 

Day Two – Breakfast in the Desert, and a Boat Party

Day Two - leaving the city for breakfast in the desert

Day Two – leaving the city for breakfast in the desert

All the high-rises that I expected

All the high-rises that I expected

And then came the sand!

And then came the sand!

Relaxing (but bloody hot!) sand. This was post getting Miss S' tiny Kia Piccanto stuck in the sand, digging the wheels out, and flagging down a 4X4 with a handy South African family in to help push us back on to the road...

Relaxing (but bloody hot!) sand. This was post getting Miss S’ tiny Kia Piccanto stuck in the sand, digging the wheels out, and flagging down a 4X4 with a handy South African family in to help push us back on to the road…

Miss S herself

Miss S herself

Beautiful

Beautiful

The adventurer

The adventurer

That's me, well, my feet, in the desert

That’s me, well, my feet, in the desert

I love a good pan'

I love a good pan’

The classic shot

The classic shot

From the desert to the ocean - a boat party

From the desert to the ocean – a boat party, and the Burj Al Arabe from a different angle

What a view! And our resting place for the day.

What a view! And our resting place for the day.

Fellow sundowners

Fellow sundowners

A very big boat - the Sheik's wife's apparently...

A very big boat – the Sheik’s wife’s apparently…

Speeding home

Speeding home

A bit wonky and blurred, but that's the Atlantis Hotel you can see very faintly on the horizon

A bit wonky and blurred, but that’s the Atlantis Hotel you can see very faintly on the horizon

A very happy pair

A very happy pair

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This was our boat.

This was our boat.

It was so hot that the lens kept steaming up!

It was so hot that the lens kept steaming up!

 

Day Three – A trip to Fujuirah with wild camels and Snoopy Island

Day Three - sunset from Miss S' flat, and an early start to drive to another Emirate state - Fuijerah

Day Three – sunrise from Miss S’ flat, and an early start to drive to another Emirate state – Fujuirah

Wild camel!

Wild camel!

A gorgeous mosque

A gorgeous mosque

Today's backdrop

Today’s backdrop

Today's main attraction - Snoopy Island - imagine Snoopy lying down on the top of his kennel - see his feet, belly and nose!

Today’s main attraction – Snoopy Island – imagine Snoopy lying down on the top of his kennel – see his feet, belly and nose!

Snoopy

Snoopy

 

Day Four – My Birthday!!! Swim and sunbathe, Dubai Mall, Dubai Aquarium, and dinner at The Oberoi

Day four - AND MY BIRTHDAY! What better way to start than a swim and sunbathe at Miss S' private pool and sun deck? This is the view!

Day four – AND MY BIRTHDAY! What better way to start than a swim and sunbathe at Miss S’ private pool and sun deck? This is the view, obvs!…

The Burj Khalifa in daylight, and all its glory

The Burj Khalifa in daylight, and all its glory

The legendary fountains, also the tallest in the world

The legendary fountains, also the tallest in the world

Dubai Mall - the biggest in the world - this shot was a teeny tiny corner. It was very weird seeing M&Co and Waitrose

Dubai Mall – the biggest in the world – this shot was a teeny tiny corner. It was very weird seeing M&Co and Waitrose

The Aquarium in the Mall. Spanning three levels with tiger sharks and manta rays

The Aquarium in the Mall. Spanning three levels with tiger sharks and manta rays

Ray!

Ray!

Ray again!

Ray again!

Ray again again! Can you tell I like rays?

Ray again again! Can you tell I like rays?

In the underwater tunnel

In the underwater tunnel

Casual shark selfie

Casual shark selfie

Back at the underwater zoo part of the Aquarium, and I found my spirit fish

Back at the underwater zoo part of the Aquarium, and I found my spirit fish

The air-conditioned luxurious 'souk' in the Mall

The air-conditioned luxurious ‘souk’ in the Mall

Some bloody great jewels. All real!

Some bloody great jewels. All real!

Whirling dervish

Whirling dervish

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The Shoe District...

The Shoe District…

My birthday cake to myself

My birthday cake to myself

The 'waterfall'

The ‘waterfall’

Home time, and Miss S greeted me with carrot cake. Lush

Home time, and Miss S greeted me with carrot cake. Lush

My birthday dinner at The Oberoi

My birthday dinner at The Oberoi

Miss S surprising me with a sparkler and a rousing version of 'Happy Birthday'. Ignore the glowing antlers I seem to have acquired...

Miss S surprising me with a sparkler and a rousing version of ‘Happy Birthday’. Ignore the glowing antlers I seem to have acquired…

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Birthday drinks to finish the night off

Birthday drinks to finish the night off

 

Day Five – Jumeirah Mosque, The Creek, the souqs and Al Fahidi

Day five - and a visit to Jumeirah Mosque. I met up with the girlfriend of the son of some of my parents' friends (got that?), and we hopped on the tour. Less of a tour, and more of a talk, it was fascinating

Day five – and a visit to Jumeirah Mosque. I met up with the girlfriend of the son of some of my parents’ friends (got that?), and we hopped on the tour. Less of a tour, and more of a talk, it was fascinating

Coverng up, and looking like E.T.

Coverng up, and looking like E.T.

Inside

Inside

Our 'tour' guide

Our ‘tour’ guide

On to the Creek - the oldest part of Dubai

On to the Creek – the oldest part of Dubai

We grabbed an abra to get from one side of the Creek to the other

We grabbed an abra to get from one side of the Creek to the other

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The Spice Souk!

The Spice Souk!

Those preserved lemons smelled divine. I treated Brother James to a pack

Those preserved lemons smelled divine. I treated Brother James to a pack

The Gold Souk!

The Gold Souk!

Gold, gold, and gold!

Gold, gold, and gold!

Another agra ride back across the Creek

Another abra ride back across the Creek

And another selfie!

And another selfie!

Where old and new Dubai collide

Where old and new Dubai collide

Dubai museum

Dubai museum

Al Fahidi - the actual oldest part of Dubai

Al Fahidi – the actual oldest part of Dubai

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Day Six – The Top of the Burj, and the Madinat Jumeirah

Day six - the sunrise before the top of the Burj

Day six – the sunrise before the top of the Burj

Not a brilliant shot, but surrounded by skyscrapers once more

Not a brilliant shot, but surrounded by skyscrapers once more

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The metro - clean, cheap, fast, air conditioned and reliable

The metro – clean, cheap, fast, air conditioned and reliable

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Right at the base

Right at the base

At the top!

At the top!

There I am, looking like a numpty!

There I am, looking like a numpty!

Out to sea

Out to sea

The Madinat Jumeirah for my final night.

The Madinat Jumeirah for my final night.

The 'Sail' in the background

The ‘Sail’ in the background

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Goodbye Dubai!

Goodbye Dubai!

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Betsy Loves, Celebrity, Fashion

The return of the opaques

I went out for a few drinks with Danners this Saturday and I was so pleasantly surprised by the number of girls eschewing bare legs for some opaque black tights. I love a good pair of opaques, especially when you don’t have the best legs (dammit!) – you can almost rock a miniskirt or shorts as well as the girl with beautiful smooth legs up to her armpits.

They give every outfit an oomph of class so you can wear that new leather skirt to the office (just as long as you don’t pair it with those thigh high boots you’ve got…), and you can restyle your favourite summer dress for winter when you throw on a pair of opaques underneath and a chunky cardie on the top.

Don’t go for anything less than 60 denier; I’m more of a 100 denier girl myself. And, while, in a dream world, we’d all be walking round with our legs encased in ludicrously expensive tights from Wolford, if you’re as clumsy as I am, then a multi-pack from Primark will do the job; just avoid any shine like the plague!

Oh, and if it’s good enough for Olivia Palermo and La Moss, then it’s good enough for me.

These are some of my favourite opaque looks.

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Blackdog-DV
Fitness, Health

Black dog days

Depression is a bitch. I know from personal experience; years of it!

I remember waking up and it feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest; that I couldn’t breathe. I remember being constantly overwhelmed by emotion, whether that was snappy irritation, irrational anger or heartbreaking tears. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor, with Momma P sitting next to me, as I sobbed my heart out over, well, not much really. Great big racking sobs that shook my whole body as I struggled to breathe and left me feeling physically exhausted. I remember coming home and just wanting to go to bed. I remember not leaving bed all day. I remember calling Momma P on the way to work and crying until I reached the tube. I remember calling my family doctor while she listened in silence to my tears.

I’ve suffered from depression at several periods in my life. The first time, I was a young teen and had just suffered from my first break up. It all sounds terribly over-dramatic and self-indulgent, but I’ve always been very emotional, and I genuinely thought my heart was broken. Within a few months, I wouldn’t say I was ticketty boo but things were looking up, and I stopped taking (with the help and advice of a doctor) the antidepressants.

When my second break up happened, several years later, I’m sorry to say I struggled again. In both periods of depression, I’d also dabbled with self-harm (specifically cutting); I say ‘dabbled’ because I strongly suspect, with hindsight, that I was only doing it because I’d read that’s what teenage girls did. I mean, if you’re really truly utterly going to cut yourself with intent, I dare say you don’t go down to the kitchen, boil the kettle, and sterilise the knife you plan to use. It wasn’t a great period in my life, and I’m 100% ashamed of it, although, arguably, there is nothing to be ashamed about mental health issues.

Anyway, I, with the help of friends and family (invaluable help!), I arrived at university antidepressant-free and had the time of my life for the next three years and met some amazing people who I love dearly.

Then, I graduated, and went to London to work for GMTV. And it was awful. To be honest, I think I realised from the very first day I walked through the door that I’d made a terrible mistake. The hours were ridiculously long (75 hour weeks, anyone?), and every three weeks I had a week of night shifts to contend with. It messed with my mind big style! London can be a very lonely city, and I suffered in the worst way.

I eventually got the help I needed, quit the job, and moved back up to Yorkshire. But I was back on the antidepressants, seeing a counsellor, and back living at home feeling like a failure. It was a tough time. The counselling really really helped, and I can’t recommend that enough. I was entitled to about six free counselling sessions through the NHS, but if I ever had some proper disposable income, I’d definitely ‘treat’ myself to weekly therapy for the rest of my life.

It’s been four years since I came back from London, and this has undoubtedly been the hardest bout of depression to battle, but I think I’m just about getting there. I made the decision about two months ago, that it was time to wean myself off the antidepressants again as I was feeling the happiest and most settled I have ever felt in my life. I’m really lucky to have the full support of Mr T and Momma P, not to mention all the other lovely people in my life, and I’ve always been open about it at work, so they’re pretty cool too.

The last few weeks haven’t been a breeze, but I am now completely off the antidepressants. I’ve found that swimming is absolutely invaluable – if I swim a mile each morning before work, it sets me up for the day; it calms me, it stimulates the all-important endorphins, and it’s also really good to combat all the ice cream I eat…

I’m also trying to be patient and kind to myself (how ‘bleurgh’ does that sound? Sorry!). I’m trying to take deep breaths before I erupt, and to take some time for myself if I’m feeling weepy. I’m not going to lie, I’m terrified that I’m turning back into a moody teenager, and that Mr T will finally realise what a horrendous mistake he’s made. It’s also really disconcerting having to deal with emotions and responses that I genuinely thought I’d sorted years ago!

Earlier this year, I took Headspace up on their offer of a free trial of their 10 day guided meditation online course, and I actually really enjoyed it, and found it very useful. Obviously, being an idiot, I didn’t renew the subscription when I had to pay, despite the fact that it costs from as little as £3.99 a month! When I was having a little stress with/at/to Momma P the other day, my phone suddenly pinged, and there was an email from Headspace offering a subscription deal. It was serendipitous and I’m now signed up for a year.

Erm, what else? I’m actually trying to take more care with the food I eat, because I know I feel better when I eat well. That being said, when I opened a healthy eating book the other day and saw they recommended you use Himalayan pink salt, I threw it across the room. I mean, honestly! I guess I’m just focusing on meat, fish, fruit and veg, and trying to limit/moderate everything else. I’m such a flaky individual, who knows how long this good intention will last?!

But I have to try. This isn’t the same as going on a diet because you want to look good in a bridesmaid dress or a bikini; to be honest, it’s not even about physical health, although that’s definitely a good side effect; what it comes down to is that if I don’t look after myself properly – exercise regularly (that’s swimming for me), eat reasonably healthily, get enough sleep and learn to be calmer with myself – I am seriously jeopardising my mental health, and the last thing I want to do is either end up on an ambulance gurney (been there, done that), or down a dark alley one night with a broken beer bottle in one hand (been there, done that), or with people I love and care about crying over me (been there, done that).

I want to live my life to its fullest. I want to love Mr T to the best of my abilities. I want to make a success of my career. I want to have kids (even though I pretend I don’t), and I want to be the best possible mother to those kids. I want to wake up every day (or at least most of them) feeling positive and powerful. And now, finally, I think I know how to achieve that. It’s not infallible. There will be blips and bumps in the road, but life will continue with me in it.

If you suffer from depression, I can’t stress enough how important it is to seek help. The NHS has great facilities and whether you opt for drugs or counselling (or both), or go down a completely alternative route, you will feel better eventually, and I do know that ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. And remember, one in four of us (I reckon it’s a much larger number actually) suffer from mental health issues at some point in our lives. You are not alone. And finally, when the black dog days are behind you, you’ll begin to see why life really is worth living.

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