Saturday, 31 October 2015

Lisbon Diaries: The Palacio Nacional de Pena, Sintra

Sintra is a picturesque town set amidst he pine covered hills of the Serra de Sintra, just west of Lisbon. It is home to a lot of monuments and historic buildings because the slightly cooler climate attracted the nobility  and elite of Portugal who constructed palaces, extravagant residences and highly decorative gardens.

We caught the train from Rossio railway station in central Lisbon to Sintra, the journey taking around 45 minutes. 

Perhaps the most famous building there is the Palacio Nacional de Pena (The Feather Palace). It is a flamboyant complex that was commissioned by the very artistic King Ferdinand II. Each section of the exterior is individually styled with vivid colours, fine carvings and beautiful tiles and mosaics.

The palace is probably at the highest point in Sintra. We caught a bus from the centre of Sintra up the very narrow streets to the top. There are several hop-on, hop-off services which afford a circular route around the town and the option to visit several other landmarks and attractions.

Access to the palace is unlimited and in parts it is quite precarious. Health and safety there is, (rather refreshingly), not an issue and the narrow walls, arches and turrets made for great viewing places.

The Moorish Castle (Castelo dos Mouros) could clearly be seen from the top of the palace and was one of the stops on the circular bus tour.

Sintra was a fascinating and beautiful place to visit. We spent the afternoon there and felt we should have spent a full day so we could have seen more of the town itself.

Trains between Sintra and Rossio are frequent and efficient and Rossio station itself is beautiful and more than worthy of a photograph.

When we returned it was twilight and had started to rain but we were thankful of a dry, if cloudy and windy few hours high up on the hills of Sintra.

Love Liz x

Outfit Details
Dress, by Braintree at From The Source
Coatigan, Gray & Willow at House of Fraser AW15 £89
Grey opaque tights, Charnos at UK tights
Hamble Oak brogues in dark tan leather, Clarks AW15 £60

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Friday, 23 October 2015

Beauty: How I Relax...With a Neom De-Stress Treatment

Visiting the beauty salon is something I do on a regular basis for waxing and eyelash tinting. It's definitely functional rather than therapeutic, but that's not to say I don't enjoy it. My beautician Yvette, who has become a close friend, always remarks on my unflinching demeanour when she removes the wax strips, to which I can honestly reply, that any discomfort is over ridden by the fact I am lying down on a heated bed during the day.
Something of a treat.

My latest visit was a little different though because as well as my usual treatments, I had a Neom Organics massage. Neom is a dedicated well-being brand, (with women behind the brand and based locally in Harrogate as well as London), and all products are 100% natural and promise to relieve stress, calm and relax, aid sleep, boost energy and lift the mood.

Well-being is something I've given quite a lot of thought to lately, I've been taking more walks, drinking more water, taking multi-vitamins, reading more and putting the laptop away earlier. I feel so much better since making these small changes and definitely more relaxed.

But, nothing could compare with how relaxed I felt during these blissful 90 minutes.

There is a choice of three therapeutic Neom treatments, each consisting of guided breathing and meditation (a recording), shiatsu, cranio and Thai massage and reflexology.
After a short discussion, Yvette and I decided that the sleep and de-stress treatment was the one for me, the others being the Neom Energise Treatment and The Neom Happiness Treatment.

My treatment used, among others, a beautiful blend of lavender and jasmine oils within a warm wax which was massaged in from my scalp to my toes, including key relieving points on my head, face, neck and back.

I felt utterly relaxed and serene afterwards and could have easily and very happily fallen asleep.

Yvette is passionate about well-being and is completely dedicated to her clients, focussing particularly on their well-being. She has total belief in the products she uses and runs her business with integrity, only recommending what she truly believes will be of benefit to the client.

I can't recommend this treatment or Yvette enough and the Neom products are divine, some of which I bought to use at home.
The treatment has set me up perfectly for my upcoming break with Adam.
My blog will also be taking a mini break for a few days, but follow me on Instagram and Facebook for updates and lots of beautiful photographs.

Love Lizzy x

Yvette Greenway
07712 591189

This post was written in collaboration with Ocean Finance as part of their "Relax with Ocean" series. Ocean's ethos is all about taking the stress out of everyday life.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Outfit: Fairisle Dress and Chelsea Boots

This is one of my favourite purchases from last autumn and I wore it yesterday for a Harvest Festival mass to which I went with my friend Sally whose son attended with the rest of his primary school. We took the opportunity to have a cuppa and a catch up at her house afterwards, always enjoyable.

This fairisle dress is warm and comfortable and is a nice alternative to jeans and a jumper. I'm always on the lookout for wool-free woollies because wool makes me itch. Wool free knits are far and few between but Fat Face often has a good selection which is where this dress is from. 

My Chelsea Boots are also from last autumn. I was so pleased to find navy boots because it's a colour I wear more frequently than black. These are brilliant just for pulling on and heading out.

I added a cardigan (also Fat Face and also wool-free) and a scarf from last year's boutique collection and was good to go.

The afternoon brought a delivery of beautiful flowers from Next. I was thrilled to have been chosen as their Blogger of the Month for September and the flowers are from them. It's the October bouquet of the month and the pink gerberas and lilies and cream and pink roses are so soft and delicate and the cream enamel container is just lovely.

Love Liz x

Outfit details
Fairisle dress, Fat Face AW14
Cardigan, Fat Face, AW13
Scarf, What Lizzy Loves Boutique, AW14. There is a very similar one this season with multi coloured flowers.
Navy opaque tights, Marks and Spencer, AW15
Chelsea Boots, Marta Griffin, Clarks AW14
Flowers, October Bouquet of the Month, Next Flowers.

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Monday, 19 October 2015

Well-being: Reflexology

Reflexology is a deeply relaxing holistic treatment based on the ancient principle that reflex points on the feet are connected to corresponding areas throughout the body. 
It is interesting to note that the feet are not mirror images in what part of the body they represent. 

It's something I hadn't experienced before but as part of my role as writer and editor for Skipton based magazine, Aspire, I had the opportunity to try it and visited Nikki Cookson at Craven Clinic to experience my first treatment and to find out more for the November issue which has just been delivered.

On arrival I completed a questionnaire about my lifestyle and general health. One concern, (and frustration), I mentioned is my tendency to wake early, quantity not quality of sleep being the issue.

I lay on a couch and Nikki massaged oil into both feet before covering one to work on the other. She put me at ease and I felt under no pressure to talk. I began to relax as started work on the reflex points with her thumbs and fingers using specialised massage techniques. 
In response to my comments about waking early, Nikki paid extra attention to the part of my foot associated with the pineal gland which is responsible for, among many other things, release of hormones associated with sleep.

It was utter bliss and, because it came at the end of a particularly busy and slightly stressful two weeks, I got progressively more relaxed and drifted off to sleep completely.

Post treatment, when I finally managed to rouse myself and sit back up,  Nikki discussed her findings with me and identified some mild joint and sinus issues and gave me a vitamin and mineral supplement to try for one month. I wasn't aware of any sinus problems, but without question, they felt clearer afterwards. I was aware of joint stiffness though, because I get knee and lower back stiffness, normally when standing for prolonged periods watching my son play football. It's not something that causes more than a few minutes of discomfort though, so hadn't thought to mention it before the treatment. This was identified by Nikki purely through the reflexology.

As a slightly cynical, though open-minded consumer who likes a scientific answer for everything, (I have a BSc in optometry so like findings based on fact rather than theory or tradition), I was surprised and very impressed by reflexology. I knew of course that it would be a very enjoyable experience, but I didn't expect the findings to be what they were. 

Reflexology is so much more than a foot massage. 

Everything Nikki said made sense and because she is a practising senior nurse, I felt reassured by her knowledge, expertise and advice. She has a calm reassuring manner and is utterly lovely.

Within a few days, I was sleeping for slightly longer in the mornings, something which has continued to date, now over a month post treatment.
I finished the month's supply of vitamins and have simply felt better in myself and can report that the occasional joint stiffness has subsided so I will definitely continue taking this supplement.

I loved this treatment. It was blissfully relaxing and incredibly enlightening and I wouldn't hesitate to go again. 

Love Lizzy x

My treatment was complimentary and was taken as part of my work role. All opinions are 100% honest and all content is my own.
A one hour treatment costs £40.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Outfit: Double Denim and Dots for a Date with my Daughter

Today's alliterative title is courtesy of said daughter with whom I went on date to Ikea yesterday. It's one of her favourite places and because my son was out with friends all day, we could take our time and peruse at our leisure. As with our previous visits, we came back with a full car which again necessitated putting the seats down and rather a lot of wedging to accommodate the six foot mirror, tall chest of drawers and bag of decorative items and candles that somehow found their way into our trolleys. And yes, that is trolleys plural. 

The drawers are part of her Christmas present but we share a "this girl can" mentality, ( actually it's more of a "this girl can, and wants to right now" mentality), so we assembled them as soon as we got home and she is delighted. 
We had a brilliant day and I love seeing how proud of her bedroom she is and how it has evolved over the ten months we've lived here. 

Double denim is a rarity for me but is a look I'm getting used to. The shirt is the one I customised in the Next challenge. I used wonder web to attach some broderie anglaise to the pockets which turned out to be slightly less wondrous than I'd hoped because the lace came off during its first wash. 

Love Liz x

My post about brogues and ideas for styling them is always popular and has lots of ideas for making the most of these autumn staples.

Outfit details
Blue black denim shirt, Next AW15 £22
Skinny jean, Next AW15, £20
Scarf, What Lizzy Loves Boutique, £10
Brogues, Hamble Oak in dark tan leather, Clarks £60, AW15
Bag, small Bayswater Satchel in oak leather, Mulberry.
Bracelet, birthday gift.

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Saturday, 17 October 2015

Outfit: Lorcan Mullany Tassel Party Top, Skinnies and Glitter Heels.

Earlier this week I wrote about British brand Jacques Vert and the revamp it is undergoing. On Thursday evening, I finally got to wear one of the hero pieces from the Lorcan Mullany collection.
The tassel tunic evening top is my favourite piece and to me the lace, tassels, and the touch of sparkle make it the ultimate party top.
I teamed it with black denim leggings but I think it would look equally good with dark denim skinny jeans.

It's just perfect for dancing.
My 12 year old son took these photos and was utterly horrified by my shimmying and despite it being in the privacy of the back garden, he was, of course, more embarrassed than at any other time in his life. Ever.
I think he did a great job.

The detail of the lace shows up beautifully in black and white.

My evening was just perfect. Full of laughter and happiness. I made two curries and a Victoria Sponge and nine girlfriends all very special, came to celebrate my birthday and that of three of the others, so rounding off birthday season rather nicely.

A fabulous night was had by all.

Love Liz x

Outfit details
*Tassle tunic evening top, Lorcan Mullany for Jacques Vert AW15 £199
Black denim leggings, Next AW15 £20
Glitter Mary Janes, Boden AW14
Nail polish, Casablanca by Jessica.

My top was a gift and part of my ongoing collaboration with Jacques Vert and Elegant British Brands. All opinion is 100% honest and all content is my own. I was not paid to write this post.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Outfit: Shades of Grey and New Clarks Chelsea Boots

Gosh it was cold yesterday, so grey and damp too. I had a brief work meeting in the morning then spent a happy few hours in the kitchen baking and cooking in preparation for nine of my girlfriends who were coming for supper. I was glad of the warmth the hob and oven afforded. 
It was a fantastic evening and it will be on my blog tomorrow along with my fabulous outfit, part of which was from the Lorcan Mullany for Jacques Vert collection that I wrote about at the start of the week. 

Yesterday's outfit consisted of not quite fifty but quite a few shades of grey although I added a splash of colour and a much appreciated extra layer with a floral scarf.

There is just one of these gorgeous heart pendants left in my boutique now.

The scarf is also from my boutique and is black with a red edge and red and pink flowers to brighten even the greyest of days.

My boots are from the new season collection at Clarks. They are a twist on a Chelsea boot and a little more pointed than most of my other boots.  I absolutely love them and I predict they'll become an essential part of my autumn winter wardrobe and worn with dresses as well as jeans.
They are comfortable, well made and run true to size and like all of my Clarks footwear, these are a size 7.

Love Liz x

I'm thrilled to have been chosen as Next's blogger of the month for September. I love writing my blog and. It's my passion and my hobby so it was a lovely surprise when I received this!
Thank you Next!

Outfit details
Black top with sheer sleeves, Next AW14
Graphite coated jeans, Laura Ashly AW14
Grey waterfall cardigan, Fat Face
*Ankle boots, Dalhart Salsa, Clarks AW15 £80

My boots were a gift from Clarks as part of an ongoing collaboration. All opinions are 100% honest and all content is my own. I was not paid to write this post. Thank you for supporting the brands that support my blog.
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