Saturday, 31 January 2015

If you had said to me at the start of 2013, that in 8 months time I would be boarding a one way flight to Doha, I would have firstly said 'where on earth is Doha?!', before quickly telling you that there is no way that I would ever, ever move there.

It is now the 1st February 2015, and it has been exactly one year and a half since I boarded that very one way flight to the previously unheard of city of Doha, Qatar.

I find it very hard to put into words, or even articulate how it feels to have been living in my adopted country for a year and a half. In some respects, it has flown by. At exactly the same time, it feels like I have lived here forever. Without a doubt, the most monumental and hardest moments of my life seemed to have happened all in the space of my relatively short time living abroad, so whichever way I look at it, it has been one heck of a roller coaster ride.

I never in a million years thought I would still be here after a year and a half. In those weeks in the run up to my departure date from the UK, I remember countless conversations with my parents that went along the lines of 'give it a few months - if you don't like it, you can come home' (if only then we had known about the trials of obtaining the dreaded exit permit!), and I remember saying 'I'll give it until Christmas and see how I feel'.

I have just celebrated my second Christmas in the desert, so it just goes to show how important it is to give something a real chance. I have felt like packing my suitcase and jumping on a flight back to the UK countless times in the past year and a half, but I am incredibly proud of myself to know that I didn't give up and go home, even when things have been as hard as they have been.

As I reach this milestone of a year and a half in the desert, I have to ask myself if I ever regret my decision to move here, and I would have to say that ultimately I don't. I absolutely can't bare the thought that time spent here is precious time not spent with my loved ones back home, but in terms of my development as a person, and the life experience I have gained from the move, I would find it hard to regret something that has shaped me in so many ways.

I look forward to embracing the rest of my time in the Doha bubble, and seeing what the next few months bring :)


Where has the month of January gone? Hard to believe a whole month of the brand new year is already behind us.

Whilst it seems far too long ago that I was sat round the dining table on January 1st, celebrating the New Year with my family in the UK, the month also seems to have flown by since arriving back in the desert. Tomorrow, February will be upon us, so it is only appropriate that todays post is a look back on the products that I have been loving and using religiously during the month of January.

Let's start with this gorgeous Rose Golden Luxury Set from Zoeva - eight beautiful black and rose gold brushes that have completely transformed my makeup routine. Foundation applies like a dream with the 102 Silk Finish brush, the 127 Luxe Sheer Cheek beautifully dusts my cheek bones with colour, and the 106 Powder brush sets my makeup for the whole day.  This set was a Christmas present from me to me, as I had been lusting after it for quite some time after seeing numerous blog posts and vlogs talking about it. I too can't even rave about this brush set enough - not only are they stunning to look it, but they are such good quality, from the casing to the brush hairs. They also come in this gorgeous clutch, which is my new makeup bag. Already a few of my friends have their sights set on purchasing these too - they retail at 65.00 Euros on the website, and the good news is that they ship to Qatar, hurrah!

This Tangle Teezer was a gift from my parents for Christmas (I know that mummy dearest certainly had a say in this purchase!) I have seen Tangle Teezers used by various vloggers before, but had never thought to purchase one for myself, so I was pleasantly surprised to receive this in my stocking. It's absolutely brilliant, and I have been using this every morning post-hair wash to de-tangle and brush my leave in conditioning spray through my hair. Not only is it completely practical, and removes tangles like none of my other hair brushes, but it's so pretty. My mum knows me well and picked this striking pink and black compact styler (RRP £12.25), which has a clip on lid to protect the bristles, but there are a multitude of designs on offer - you can check out their full product line here. World Wide shipping means you can get your hands on these in Qatar, too :)

I raved about Estee Lauder Double Wear recently, as it is for me the best foundation I have used to date. I have been using this non stop throughout January since I purchased it in Boots in the UK (RRP £29.50) at the start of the month, and I'm very pleased to say that I have since spotted an Estee Lauder counter in 4U in City Centre mall for when I run out, although I'm sure this is stocked elsewhere in Doha. The colour match is perfect for me (I wear Desert Beige...appropriately named!), and the consistency blends like a dream, and lasts far longer than any foundation I have used previously, particularly when set with a powder. I also love how luxurious this product feels - even the bottle is a gorgeous, heavy, frosted glass with black and gold engraving. You can check out the full Double Wear range here - I for one am excited to see what else the range has to offer!

I am terrible at describing scents, so all I will say is that Sexy Amber by Michael Kors smells amazing! This was a gift from my brother and sister in law for Christmas, and I've worn it non stop since. The Michael Kors website describes this as 'warm amber wrapped in sandalwood, layered with white flowers', and it really is lovely. This retails online with Boots at £38.50 for the 30ml bottle, which is the perfect size to carry with you in your handbag :)

This final product came as part of a gift set that my BFF Megan very kindly gave me for Christmas, as part of my 'Doha survival kit'! I have been loving body buff creams ever since I started having my nails done at B/Attitude spa in Doha, as the nail techs massage buffing cream into your hands and feet prior to your manicure. This particular de-stress body buff from Calcot Manor smells gorgeous (orange blossom with orchid) - the bottle directs you to massage into damp skin, but gives you the option to rub this on to dry skin before showering for an intensive exfoliation, which is what I like to do for my hands/feet, as it just feels amazing! If you are based in the UK, you can pick up this product individually for £4.99 from Tesco, to give your skin the exfoliating treat it deserves!

So that concludes my January favourites, a list of all of the products I have been using repeatedly and loving throughout the month of January. I have a whole host of new products to trial throughout February and beyond so I am excited to share these with you soon!

Hope you had a fabulous January - I'd love to hear about your favourites for the month so do let me know in the comments below.


Monday, 26 January 2015

After work tonight, I took myself off to B/Attitude Spa for a bit of 'me' time.

I really like B/Attitude Spa, and want to do a full review with some pictures next time I go. Located on the second floor of Beverley Hills Tower in the city centre, it is ideal (and dangerous for my bank balance) to pop in on my way home. The staff are super friendly, and the prices are so reasonable.

Deciding that my hands and feet were both in desperate need of some TLC, I booked in for 'fluff and buff nails' (super quick shape and polish), and the spa treatment pedicure.

My nail tech, Mimi, proceeded to do all sorts of weird and wonderful things to my feet as I sat back in my chair, sipping ginger tea.

First, she shaped and filed my nails, before a brief exfoliating massage before a soak in the foot spa. This was followed by a thorough buffing of the soles of my feet. It's amazing how dry your feet can become in the desert from wearing sandals all the time, so this part of the treatment was most welcome!

She then applied a cooling treatment (left photo) - a thick, blue paste that she applied all over my feet with a paintbrush, before wrapping me up in cling-film. My feet were then wrapped up in hot towels, which was so lovely until the cooling treatment kicked in and left me with very cold feet indeed!

Once this treatment was soaked off, she then applied a softening treatment (right photo) in the same manner, before cocooning my feet in soft pink slippers.

I was left with gorgeously smooth feet, which she then massaged (bliss) before applying my polish. I opted for a pure white polish which she softened with a top coat of subtle glitter. My feet aren't entirely photogenic so I didn't take a photo - the outcome was pretty but not something I would choose next time.

Onto the hands, and I opted for OPI's 'Fluffy Bunny', which looked a lot whiter in the bottle than it applied on the nails, even after three coats.

As you can see, the coverage even after three coats isn't the best, and the colour is an off-white, with an almost grey tinge to it. At first I was disappointed as I do love a soft white nail (my dream combo is Barry M's 'Coconut' topped with 'Pearl' from their Silk collection), but it's growing on me. It is an entirely wearable shade, and perfect for a subtle office nail. Again, not a colour I would be in a hurry to choose again, but you live and learn :)


Saturday, 24 January 2015

I can't quite believe what a fun, busy week this has been.

Between work, Pilates, lunching with Rosalyn, training for the Colour Run, playing sport, watching sport, and seeing a huge American artist performing live, I have barely had a chance to miss Matt, who has been in the UK on holiday.

(That's a lie...I have missed him a lot!)

Marion very kindly organised some VIP tickets for Jemma and I through her work, so a couple of nights this week have been spent at Lusail stadium, watching the handball.

This was my first time watching the Handball - in other parts of the world it is a hugely popular sport but not in England, so I didn't really know what to expect, but found myself really enjoying watching it. There is something so captivating about live sport, that I just don't feel when I'm watching it on the TV, but love whilst I'm there!

We caught the second part of the Russia v Denmark match on Thursday, and the Danish fans were giving so much support to their team!

It was nice to see that the stadium was packed out in comparison to Tuesday's game, but unfortunately more so for the concert than for the Handball. Regardless, there was a great atmosphere.

Team photo! I really must find something else to do with my spare arm instead of that pose!

After the game, the lights dimmed and the stage was set up.

Then out came Pharrell Williams!

He was a brilliant performer, and very engaging with the crowd. I'd forgotten just how many songs I knew of his. He did a full hour performance, and it was so much fun. Still can't believe I got to see such a famous artist performing in the desert!

We were due to go to the UB40 concert at the Qatar Masters golf event on Friday night (tickets again courtesy of Marion!), and also the Doha Colour Run on Saturday morning, but due to the unfortunate passing of the King of Saudi Arabia, all entertainment has been cancelled/postponed as a mark of respect.

This did, however, mean that I could have a lay-in (til 11:30!) this morning instead of getting up at 6am for the run!

Marion and I played tennis this afternoon - it's our second time and already we have improved from the first time we played. Before long, we will be playing with the professionals ;)

The rest of the day will be spent relaxing after such a busy but fun week with friends (and will probably involve back to back episodes of the Newsroom!)

How was your week? Hope you've had a good one.


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Tuesday was the day that Rosalyn from Dream Days and I finally met up, over a three course business lunch at La Varenne.

This meet up had been on the cards for quite some time, after months of tweeting and commenting on each others blogs. Rosalyn's blog is one of my very favourite Doha blogs, so it was great finally putting a face to the name.

The business lunch at La Varenne was new to both of us, so I think we were both eager to see what it had to offer.

La Varenne is a French brasserie housed within Tornado Tower, and opposite one of my favourite dinner spots, the Anvil Rooms.

Tornado Tower never ceases to amaze me - it's such a beautiful building.

After a hug and hellos, we settled down to business - chatting and perusing the menu!

The manager came over to greet us, and explained that he had given us the best view in the restaurant so that we could snap some pictures. It was a beautiful, sunny, crisp winter day in Doha, and perfect for doing just that.

They offer two options for their business lunch: 2 courses at QR 85, or 3 courses at QR 95. Needless to say, we opted for 3!

We both went for the 'goats cheese and pea clafoutis' - anything with goats cheese in it and I am sold!

Unfortunately, however, this dish just wasn't for me. I thought it was completely flavourless, which is such a shame as goats cheese has such a distinctive taste. 

Next up was the main course - the 'peppered rump steak' for Rosalyn, which I believe she enjoyed! - and the 'parmesan and thyme gnocchi' for me. As you may well know from previous posts, gnocchi is my absolute favourite!

Again, I didn't get on terribly well with my main course either, which is such a shame as I am by no means a fussy eater! The portion was absolutely tiny (it doesn't even come near to touching the sides of the bowl) and the gnocchi just wasn't what I was expecting, as it seemed to be fried. I suppose I am so used to such generous portions elsewhere in Doha, that this little serving came as a surprise. The creamy, tomato sauce had a nice flavour though.

Onto dessert! Rosalyn got up close and personal with the 'dessert trolley', picking out delicious treats (including amazing icecream!) and snapping some shots with her beautiful Canon camera.

I opted for the 'chocolate pots de creme', which I am very happy to report was delicious! A lovely light chocolate mousse, hidden beneath a white, cream mousse, served up in a teeny little espresso cup.

It was really great getting to know Rosalyn better - it always seems strange when you finally meet someone in person who you already know so much about through the details they share on the blog, but in a way it's lovely, as you can pick up on snippets you already know and chat about them in more detail. I felt so excited for her, hearing about her plans for her upcoming wedding!

We stayed talking for so long that the restaurant had completely cleared out by the time we left.

Despite my first two courses being a little unsuccessful, I had a lovely afternoon and definitely wouldn't rule out returning to La Varenne for dinner, especially as I have heard such good things. The restaurant is lovely, in a fantastic location, and has honey and truffle camembert on the menu - I have to come back just to try that!

Plus it is home to this beautiful piece of artwork.

Have you tried La Varenne? 


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

When it comes to foundation, I can't say that I am particularly loyal.

Over the years, I have tried countless drug store brands - my longest love affair was probably with Revlon Colour Stay, but even that romance fizzled out once I reached the end of my second bottle. Like the fickle girl I am (when it comes to makeup, of course), I moved right on to the next one in my quest to find the perfect base.

Out here in the desert, I've been struggling to find a foundation that keeps my oily skin at bay, whilst also hiding my terrible skin tone, so I consulted the Holy bible of makeup (Youtube) for some recommendations - Victoria from In The Frow listed Laura Mercier Silk Creme foundation as her favourite. It promised a thick consistency and excellent, flawless coverage, which sounded right up my street, so I took myself off to Boots one day when I was back in the UK, on a mission to purchase it. I had never before been tempted to purchase a high end foundation, but one look at Victoria's amazing skin and I was sold.

Only, I forgot that I was looking for Laura Mercier, and thought I was looking for Estee Lauder Double Wear. I had my colour matched in store, and walked away with a bottle of the wrong foundation to the one I went in for. Blonde moment!!

It turned out to be a worthwhile mistake, as I am absolutely loving this foundation.

It has a thin, liquid consistency, which I have found to certainly be build-able. I apply this with my Silk Finish brush from Zoeva, which buffs in foundation like an absolute dream, giving my skin a finish that I have never before been able to achieve by blending with my fingers. I am an absolute makeup brush convert, not to mention that the Zoeva rose gold brush set is the most beautiful brush set you will ever lay eyes on.

The coverage after blending a tiny amount is even enough to flatter my skin, which is quite the achievement. I have the most angry, red, uneven skin tone, which I blame on mild acne scarring from my awkward teenage years. Until now, only my family, close friends and boyfriend have had the misfortune of seeing me bare faced and sans makeup, but for the purpose of this review, I will be brave and show you a before and after picture. Brace yourselves.

BEFORE (Obviously.)


I'm sure you can understand why I am very pleased with accidentally purchasing this product!

With regards to the longevity of Double Wear, it does last longer than any previous foundation that I have owned, and pretty much stays put on a night out if I set it with powder.

It also contains SPF10 - SPF in a foundation is always an added bonus!

Have you tried this foundation? What are your recommendations for the perfect base?


Sunday, 18 January 2015

Back home in the UK, I was always firmly a bath girl.

There was nothing I would like more than running a nice, hot, relaxing bubble bath...and nothing I would like less than getting out of it on a freezing cold winter morning!

Since I don't have a bath in my Doha apartment, I've become a real shower convert, and I thought I would share some of my favourite shower products. I have written about these before, but wanted to talk in a little more detail about why I love these products so much!

Over the past months, I have built up quite a collection of these gorgeous shower gels from Bourjois Paris. I had never seen these before until I spotted them in the supermarkets of Doha, and I think by now I have tried every single one stocked in my local Carrefour!

Not only does the packaging look amazing, but each one smells gorgeous. Now that I have amassed so many, I like to use different ones for different reasons.

Left to right...

REFRESH ME! Hydra-fresh shower gel
What the bottle says: Aquatic fragrance - blue lagoon flowers. Moisturised & revitalised skin.
I like to use this gel in the morning - it smells so fresh and I really feel like it wakes me up. I have no idea what 'blue lagoon flowers' smell like but I can imagine them smelling exactly like this! I love the pearlised, creamy blue gel formula, and the scent reminds me of the ocean - definitely worth getting out of bed for.

What the bottle says: Optimum nutrition shower oil, Beta-carotene, vitamin E. Sunny vanilla fragrance.
I love to use this one if I feel like my skin needs a bit of extra moisturiser, as it is a shower oil rather than a gel, although it lathers up beautifully just like the others. It has a gorgeous vanilla scent - so gorgeous that I keep stopping typing to sniff the bottle!

BEAUTIFY ME! Velvet shower cream
What the bottle says: Powdery fragrance - Lily flower. Radiant & silky skin.
This one is reserved for my evening shower, as I feel like it is a bit more luxurious and pampering than the others. It is a thick, white, creamy gel that lathers up like a dream, with a subtle floral fragrance that reminds me of bubble bath (transporting me back to my bath roots!)

What the bottle says: Exfoliating & nourishing shower gel. Smooth & satin skin. Exfoliating particles & jojoba oil.
I love using this multi purpose product, in that it offers an exfoliator and moisturiser all in one. The exfoliating beads are subtle, but thorough, and the jojoba oil really softens my skin. I find the fragrance quite unisex - it isn't my favourite of the scents but I still like it, and love using this for when I feel my skin needs a bit of extra care.

I will always be a bath girl at heart, but showers have become all the better for these gems.

Have you tried these products, or any of the other products in the Bourjois Body range?


My week kicked off with attending The Entertainer Qatar 2015 launch with Harriet, before we headed up to Dunes bar afterwards for a cocktail - she's such a lovely girl, and I hope to hang out a lot more in 2015! Be sure to check out her fab Doha blog here.

On Wednesday night, one of our pundits Micky Gray very generously took us out for dinner as our 'Christmas present'. We went to Market by Jean-Georges at the W hotel, which is definitely one of my favourites. Annoyingly I left my camera at home, but we practically ate the whole menu: truffle pizza (amazing), black octopus (amazing), shrimp tempura rolls (amazing), california rolls, tomato soup (poured over a bed of cheddar cheese..amazing), salmon, lamb, ribs, and the Market Burger. All washed down with wine, and accompanied by Micky pulling out some excellent magic tricks, which even had the waiters applauding!

The girls and I got dressed up on Thursday night for our first meal out together as room mates. We went to Isaan at the Grand Hyatt hotel, where we ran in to the GM Christoph and his gorgeous wife Rachel, before heading inside for some delicious food. We were sent over some champagne, and it is still a mystery where it came from, as the obvious culprit denies it!

After dinner, we hopped in a taxi to the Rooftop at the St Regis. I can imagine in the summer (before the ridiculous humidity kicks in!) that this will become one of my favourite drinks spots, with the luxurious outdoor space and chilled atmosphere.

On Friday night, Matt and I ventured to the Astor Grill at the St Regis hotel, to trial the Entertainer app* for the first time.

This was by far one of the best meals I have had in ages. We both made the most of our buy one get one free main meal discount and opted for the Wagyu steak - fillet for me and ribeye for Matt. It was absolutely amazing. I can't wait to go back to the Astor Grill (armed with some idea about how to take good pictures in dark restaurant lighting with my new camera!) and do a full review - the restaurant is lovely and the staff were fantastic. Even the chef came over for a chat!

Last night was a much needed night in, watching The Imitation Game with Matt, which was brilliant.

Safe to say this week has very much centred around food and meals out! After being so excessive, I will definitely be getting myself down to the gym this coming week, especially as I have the Colour Run coming up which I should probably get some practise in for!

How was your week? Hope you had a good one!