Tuesday, 28 October 2014

I'm taking a little break from my blog.

There are so many things going on at the moment - work seems to be consuming almost all of my time, and when I'm not at work I'm too tired to do anything, which means nothing remotely exciting to blog about!

Once I'm back from Sri Lanka, il have chilled out, de-stressed, and hopefully have lots of adventures to update you all with.

In the meantime, il be keeping up to date with all of my favourite blogs to cheer me up :)

Adios for now.




Sunday, 26 October 2014

You know those weeks at work where everything just goes wrong?

Yep, I had one of those this week. Problem after problem, hurdle after hurdle, and a work day starting at 08:00 and finishing at 23:00 from home most evenings. Anxiety overload!

Needless to say, I'm a little bit shattered, and feeling a little bit blue, although slightly cheered up today as Matt and I have finalised bookings for our very first holiday together!

We are off soon for a blissful week of relaxation and sight seeing in Sri Lanka. I can't wait to be horizontal in a hammock and sipping some kind of beverage from a coconut with the loved one.

But that's a little way off yet. Back to reality.

Tonight, I decided it was high time I had a pampering night.

After Facetiming my mum, flicking through blogs and watching a couple of Zoella vlogs on YouTube, I put on my swimwear and padded downstairs to the spa area in my apartment block.

It's times like this when I remember how lucky I am to be living in such an amazing building. We have complimentary access to jacuzzis, a sauna, a steam room, and a chill out area, all of which I don't make nearly enough use out of, given that they are only ten floors down in the elevator.

I got the jacuzzi going, grabbed a copy of Harpers Bazaar, and hopped in.

After the jacuzzi, I wandered through to the relaxation area, laid down and flipped through a copy of Qatar Happening magazine, which I don't know why iv never bought for myself before as it's full of everything going on each month in Doha. No wonder I'm so out of the loop!
Feeling relaxed, I headed back up to my apartment and painted my nails. I always feel better when my nails are done and iv been meaning to do them for ages but just haven't got around to it until now. I used my favourite combination of two coats of Barry M Gelly paint in Coconut, followed by one coat of their white Silk polish.
The effect is a lovely pearlized off white colour which goes perfectly with the tan I hope to have after a day off in the sun tomorrow!
Finally, I cleansed my face with this lovely DHC face oil which I got in a goody bag at the Beauty Show in London before I came out to Doha. It leaves my skin feeling so soft, and there's something quite luxurious about using a face oil over of any other type of cleanser.
Showered and ready for bed, iv crawled under the covers where I'm writing from now. I'm about to switch off and watch vlogs for an hour with a cup of lemon and ginger tea before attempting an early night. Such a nice evening!
What routine and products do your pampering sessions consist of? How do you like to unwind?



Saturday, 25 October 2014

For those of you who aren't necessarily as engrossed in the beauty and lifestyle blogging/vlogging world as I am, you might think the idea of a 'What's in my bag' post is a bit odd. Having a look at the contents of somebody's handbag...who cares, right? Well, you may not. But for me, and heaps of other people, a 'What's in my handbag' (Or 'purse', for the Americans out there!) post is a chance to be a little bit nosy. And once you get started on these kinds of posts, they are a bit addictive.

You only need to type the tag into YouTube before it will throw up page upon page of videos, where girls (and maybe guys!) talk their readers and viewers through what they carry around with them on a daily basis. Not everyone's cup of tea for sure, but it's the kind of post I enjoy reading, so I thought I'd get on board and tip the contents of my handbag out for the World Wide Web to have a look at.

Let's start with the bag.

It's in a bit of a sad state really. Months upon months of lugging around, dumping on the floor & accidentally running over it with my chair at work, have left my handbag a little...squashed.

In its hay day, it was a lovely, structured bag which caught my eye immediately in the River Island sale (hard to miss it, it's a bit vibrant). I loved the style, the size, and the colour, so I scooped it up and took it home with me, and in hindsight I wish I'd bought two, so that I could retire this one for a newer model. Since that day, its had its fair share of compliments. Iv never been a bag person, but I am particularly fond of this one.

Onto the contents!

From left to right...


This purse is in a sorrier state that the handbag. I bought this well over two years ago as a treat for myself after a breakup (dangerous business, letting emotional girls loose in shops!) Since then, half of its little gems have come off, and it's high time I treated myself to a new one, especially given the context of why I bought it in the first place! This is home to all of the usual suspects that I need to carry around on a daily basis - Qatari ID card, driving license, bank cards, Marble Slab loyalty card (one stamp away from a free ice cream, oh yes!), and of course my trusty Qatari Riyal notes. I was never a cash carrier in the UK but here I wouldn't leave the house without notes. I'm a changed woman!


My work is literally like Fort Knox. You have to go through not one but THREE security check points just to get into the office, so I'd be in a bit of bother if I didn't carry this around everywhere with me. It's got a horrendous picture of me looking a bit squashed on it, which is why it's covered up!


If you suffer from migraines, you wouldn't be without these in your bag either!


For those antisocial moments in the office / out and about, or for when I just get the urge to listen to One Direction. Don't judge me.


Aka the lifeline! This absolutely doesn't leave my side. Especially in this job, where it rings every five minutes. Home to all of the apps that get me through the day...Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, etc etc. This is also my camera so if it didn't go everywhere with me, I probably wouldn't have any pictures for the blog!


These were a gift from our lovely drivers at work, who collect our guests and bring them from their hotels to the studios, and generally make my job 100 times easier. They bought these to celebrate a year of working together, which was so lovely of them. I'm still not sure if they suit me or not but I wear them anyway and they come with me everywhere, regardless of whether or not they make me look like a bug.


I always carry perfume with me. When your greeting guests all day long it's nice to smell nice. I'm currently carrying a mini bottle of Coco Chanel which was a gift from one of our lovely Arabic presenters, Layla, who now sits next to me at work. I complimented her on her perfume one day, and the next day she had bought me a bottle which was so sweet and thoughtful. It smells amazing!


The only area of my life that I am organised is work. Outside of work, my life is completely chaotic. I'd forget my name if I didn't have it on my necklace. In no bid to sort myself out, I purchased this pretty pink Filofax which is so handy. It's a bit on the heavy side so it doesn't come everywhere with me, but more often than not it's in the handbag, ready for those blonde moments when I can't remember who I am, which day it is or what I'm meant to be doing!

I hope you enjoyed having a sneak peak into my bag. What's in yours?



Wednesday, 22 October 2014

I'd always thought Bourjois Paris were exclusively a cosmetics company.

Years of perusing the makeup aisles in Boots and Superdrug have left me more than familiar with the brand and their product offerings, such as their trademark blusher pots and distinctive nail polish bottles, but I'd never known that they had branched into the 'body' market until I stumbled across their range of deodorants and shower gels in the Middle East.

Now I'm absolutely hooked!

These are just a handful of the products I have tried, and as far as I can see from the multicoloured array of Bourjois products on the supermarket shelves of Doha, I have a fair few more to try. How cute is the packaging?!

I adore all three of the above shower gels. I've repurchased the Deluxe Mousse about three times, and will repurchase both Cajolez Moi! and Dream Scrub also, as I love their fragrances. They are an absolute treat to use, creating gorgeous, fragrant lather and leaving the skin super soft. They literally all smell amazing, and I can't wait to try the rest of the shower gel range!

After trying the deodorants, I can't seem to bring myself to go back to any other brand. My favourite is the purple can which I've repurchased several times already and have run out of, hence the lack of photo, but iv enjoyed using both fragrances pictured. Scent wise, the purple can is a winner for me but they all smell lovely! There's still a few I need to try too. It's fun having so many to choose from!

Have you tried these? Are these available anywhere other than the Middle East, as iv never seen these in the UK?


'Stress. We live in a world full of stress'

Monday, 20 October 2014

I ran into a man in the Grand Hyatt elevator today who read my mind. I'd had a stressful night the night before with work, and I was still wired from it this morning, so I could really relate when he said, out of the blue:

'Stress. We live in a world full of stress.'

For as long as I can remember, iv been a worrier.

I worry about everything, always doing the right thing and being a good person, what other people think of me, not getting things wrong, worrying about people and wanting to make sure they are okay, especially friends and family.

Until now, I have never attributed the way I am to anxiety. More often than not I'd put it down to having little self confidence and self esteem.

Even right from being a baby, I was a shy child. Apparently I'd cry if anyone tried to hold me except my mum. This shyness carried on into my childhood and my teenage years, until I got so fed up of being the shy girl that I made the bold decision to ask out a boy from the year above on a date (he said yes, I know you're keen to know!) I waitressed to help me get better at talking to people. I still go red sometimes for no reason when I'm talking to people, but I think that's something I can't change! Iv always thought my worries were a direct result of a lack of confidence in myself, due to being shy growing up. Anyone who knows me outside of my close friends and family probably wouldn't think I was shy at all. Iv trained myself not to be, although it's mostly circumstantial. Maybe I've just become very good at putting on a front.

Recent events and research into the subject have linked all of my behaviour over the years to anxiety, which has become so much worse since I've lived abroad.

I am constantly wound up, all of the time. I can't switch off or relax, because I'm worrying about everything. Especially at night, my mind is in absolute over drive, so I don't sleep. I also pull at my eyebrows, sub consciously, and even when I'm on FaceTime to my mum back home she will tell me off for doing that, and I don't even realise I'm doing it! It's a nervous, anxious habit.

This is probably a direct result of a combination of things, including a job I can't switch off from and issues in my personal life that have caused monumental amounts of stress and upset this past year.

This all came to a head one night last week when I had my first panic attack. My mum and I had been invited to a dinner for a friend who was leaving to move to Dubai. For some reason I had been wound up about this dinner all day. I wanted to go, but I also really, really didn't want to go, but for no reason. The whole day my heart was pounding and I was overcome with a feeling of dread. We went, and it was fine. There were people there I knew, I was with my mum, and I was having a nice time. But at the same time, I was an emotional wreck and wanted to cry for no reason.

The whole thing wasn't helped by the fact that a cockroach crawled onto my foot during the meal, which made me an absolute nervous wreck. I couldn't eat anything and had to leave mid way through the meal. I was so upset - not because of the cockroach although that was gross - but because of the anxiety I was feeling.

We got in a taxi with a guy who I wasn't convinced was a proper taxi driver. We dropped mum at the hotel and then he took me to my house. In my head, I was convinced he was going to drive me off out into the desert, and worked myself up into such a panic that by the time I got out of the car into my building, and got in the lift, I couldn't breathe.

I went straight to Matts. He poured me a glass of ice water and told me to have a shower, and it was a good hour or so before I really started to calm down, but being with him in familiar surroundings helped.

It's a very strange feeling that is so hard to write about, because it doesn't really make any sense. I feel the anxiety, and the wound up, tight feeling of worry almost all day, every day. Often, I don't even know what I'm worried about. The feeling is just there.

It's gotten to the point where sometimes I don't want to go to social events, and if I do go I want to leave early, and get home and into bed. Not because I'm tired or not having a good time, I just want to be in the comfort of my home and familiar surroundings. Recently my home here hasn't felt like a retreat either, so I've been so unsettled, and spent a lot of time at Matts over being at mine.

That's not the kind of person I want to be, so I want to do what I can while I'm here in this high pressure environment to not be this way. Iv heard exercise helps a lot. I know it did when I had all of the worries about my dad's health earlier in the year. I ran every day to distract myself from thinking about it all and I remember it being quite theraputic.

Has anybody else experienced this / know anyone who has anxiety?



Wednesday, 15 October 2014

For those of you who know me, you will know that my mum is currently visiting me in the desert on a 10 day holiday.

She's staying in the Grand Hyatt hotel and being well and truely spoilt by the general manager, Christoph. Safe to say, she's having a ball so far!

I've managed to have a few days off work with her, and on the days where I do have to work, she has been filling her time with sunbathing, browsing the malls, relaxing, and lunching with Christophs lovely wife.

We've been to the Souq, dune bashing in the desert, smoked shisha, shopping at Villagio - all of the usual sight seeing, touristy things, along with many lovely (and some not so!) meals out.

One of these happened to be a 'meeting of the man & the mum' dinner, at Mykonos.

My parents met Matt briefly at the airport when we flew home together over the summer, but this was the first time him and my mum had had a proper chat. He was fuelled by a few beers, she was fuelled by a few wines, and I was sober as a judge due to my newfound resolution of not drinking alcohol.

They hit it off straight away!

There was a lot of laughter, banter, and photo bombing.

It was a lovely evening spent with two of my very favourite people - I just wish my dad could have enjoyed the night with us but he is currently cat-sitting back in the UK as he was unable to fly out with mum because of his lung.

He makes me deliriously happy :) *cringe alert*

That evening crowned off a lovely day. I was on my way home from work when I received a phone call from Matt to say that him and the guys (who had been down at the St Regis pool all day) had been offered a complimentary speed boat ride, which they were holding for me until I got there. I sprinted up to my apartment, threw on my bikini, and ran as fast as I could in my flip flops down to the St Regis.

The boys were already on board when I arrived, loaded up with beer, so I hopped aboard and settled down at the front (bow?!) of the boat with Matt.

We sped out to the Pearl...

..decided we would quite like to live here...

..and maybe even here...

After window shopping for real estate, we zoomed towards the city...

It was at this point that Captain Welsby took over the boat, and we all nearly fell in...even the captain looked a little concerned, and had to keep one hand on the wheel!

We stopped for a swim by the Museum of Islamic Art

All fun and games until the coast guard pulled up and gave us a ticking off! Back towards the city we went...

I do love a boat trip!

Back on dry land, I disappeared home to get ready for the meeting of the mum and the man, and left this lot to bundle into the jacuzzi for a manly evening of beer and cigars!



Saturday, 11 October 2014

I've not been feeling myself for quite a while now, and I'm putting it down to the fact that I need to make one or two major lifestyle adjustments.

...and by this I mean start exercising. Since my beloved Pilates class moved to mornings, right when I'm due to leave for work, I've just given up, and literally haven't done any exercise for so long. I'm starting to lose my self esteem, and want to get it back. I loved that class so much, and felt I was in the best shape of my life for doing it, so in my head I feel like nothing else will compare. It's a mind set I need to get out of. I need to get back into the gym, start swimming again, and also find another class that I will love just as much.

I don't eat horrendously, and try to make healthy choices where I can, but I just have a real weakness for sweet treats. Instead of having one chocolate hobnob with my cuppa, I have three. I don't need three, I just cant stop eating the hobnobs! So I need to start to adopt a healthier attitude towards food, and probably introduce a bit more fruit and veg into my diet. I'm thinking of going on a juice cleanse for a day or two after my mum goes home so it will be interesting to see if this helps.

I'm not a big drinker anyway. I've never been one to come home from work and fancy a glass of wine, or have a drink with dinner if i'm at home. I used to go out on a Friday/Saturday night back home and have a big night out with the girls, which would write me off the next day, but I barely drink anymore, especially since my kidney related stint in ICU. I have also found recently that I have a real intolerance to drink, possibly because my kidneys cant process it as well. Even one drink leaves me with an incurable migraine and sickness the next day, and sometimes the day after that too, which isn't normal at all. Because of this, I've made the decision to stop drinking altogether as it's just not worth feeling that way.

Sometimes a good old life de-clutter helps. Whether that be blitzing my room so I have tidy surroundings (tidy room, tidy mind) or having a cull on Facebook of anybody who brings me bad energy, it all helps to create a bit of inner calm. I have found that lately my social anxiety has been worse than ever - I've turned into an anxious, stressed, worried mess, and often prefer staying in than going out. I need to do what I can to calm myself down, so i'm thinking more pampering nights are on the cards! I'm also finding meditation before bed is helping, as this is when my mind is at it's most anxious.

Hopefully a combination of all of the above will help to create a more zen-like, healthy, happier Holly :)

*Image from WeHeartIt.


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

On our third morning in Dubai, I woke up expecting to have the mother of all hangovers but was pleasantly surprised to be feeling absolutely fine.

We got ourselves ready and headed down to sample our first Westin hotel breakfast, and then made our way down to the beach where we settled down on sun loungers by the sea and made our base for the day.

We sunbathed, read books and magazines, chatted, swam in the sea (so clear and hot, it was like swimming in a warm bath!), had yacht envy watching a cluster of mega yachts gather out at sea, and generally unwound after a busy first couple of days in Dubai.

I somehow managed to overdo it in the sun although I'm sure I was in the shade for most of the day, and spent the remainder of the holiday looking like a lobster.
We had lunch at the beach, and then decided to venture to the Dubai Mall to see what the shopping is like in this neck of the woods. Shopping in Doha leaves a lot to be desired (thank goodness for Missguided deliveries!!) so we had our fingers crossed that the Dubai Mall would come up trumps for us.
We pulled up outside the mall to an amazing view of the Burj Khalifa.
They don't do anything in small measures in the Middle East.
We had arrived just in time for a fountain show, so we whipped out our cameras to attempt some filming and pictures, which don't do this fountain display any justice whatsoever!

We browsed the shops for a while, and to be honest I was a little underwhelmed by Dubai's retail offerings, but this is maybe in part due to the fact that the vast majority of shops are designer and a little out of my budget! The stock in the high street shops was no better than Doha, so I only came away with one purchase, after expecting to come away with a lot more!

Dubai mall itself is very impressive - it's huge for a start, but it is also home to yet another aquarium and also an incredible cascading water feature

As we were leaving, another water fountain display was starting. It was dark out by now so everything was lit up, and the Burj Khalifa looked amazing..

We filmed the fountain display, and then headed home to get ready for a very late dinner.

We accidentally ended up in JBR Walk in our little evening dresses, and got tutted at by an Emirati woman which really got me flustered. Living in Doha, we are so respectful at all times to the local traditions and are always covered up in places where we know we need to be. JBR Walk reminded us of Katara, where we would never go in a short dress, so it was a complete accident that we ended up there.

We eventually found Rocca, an Italian restaurant in the Rotana hotel. The outdoor area here was gorgeous, but for me the food wasn't up to scratch at all.

On the Sunday, we spent the morning sunbathing and then we went to the Karama Souq (I don't know if that's even spelt right?!) because we had been recommended to go by literally everybody!

It's basically an area full of shops selling good quality knock off designer handbags, shoes, watches etc. If you don't find what you are looking for in the shops, the staff take you to their 'special hiding place' or 'special show room'. Intrigued, we followed a man round some winding streets, up into a run down looking block of flats. Once he reaches the apartment he wants, he knocks softly on the door. A watchful eye from inside checks us out through the peep hole (to check we aren't the police?!), and then we are allowed to enter the apartment, which has been turned into an endless show room of more knock off designer wares than you will ever see collectively in one place anywhere else. Cabinets upon cabinets of bags, shoes, watches, of every designer you can think of, from Michael Kors to Louboutin. When you finish in one room, you step through into another room full of yet more stock, presented in glass cabinets under bright show lights. Tourists and locals alike were among the many men and women gathered in the apartment, of which there must be so many in the Karama Souq as each shop has it's own 'special show room'.

I'm not really sure how the operation is allowed to run (one woman we met said they raid the apartments every now and then) but it's a real tourist hotspot, and people seem to come back year after year to stock up on their fakes.

We got a bit snobbish and decided we would rather save up for the real deal (we both had our hearts set on Michael Kors bags), so we hopped in a cab back to the Westin to get ready for our final dinner in Dubai.

We had been recommended the yacht club by Andy Gray, so we made a reservation at Aquara and headed down for happy hour cocktails before dinner.

We sat out on the terrace sipping Mai Tais overlooking the beautiful marina.

For dinner, Jemma ordered a fish dish and I ordered a leg of lamb, which was honestly one of the best meals I have ever eaten out. I'd highly recommend Aquara for a meal in Dubai, for the food and for the setting.

We spent our final day in Dubai at the Atlantis water park, which was such a fun day! The rides are brilliant (especially the rides at the Tower of Posiedon which we didn't discover until right near the end of our day!)

Once back at the hotel, we got ourselves showered and changed, checked out of the Westin, chilled by the pool for a little while, and then got ourselves stuck in the longest queue of traffic ever on the way to the airport, resulting in us missing our flight back to Doha! Not the best end to the trip but luckily there was another flight an hour later.

Such a fun mini break in Dubai! I'm so glad I finally got to experience it, and I loved spending the weekend with Jemma. Can't wait for the next girls holiday!