New store in Cheltenham preview and competition

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Earlier in the year there had been a large chunk of shops missing from Cheltenham’s Gallagher Retail Park and an intriguing amount of building work. That building work has now been revealed and marks the opening of a new homeware store called HomeSense, and I have been lucky enough to be given a sneak peak. It’s all very exciting!

HomeSense launched in the UK in 2008 and prides itself on offering high quality, branded homeware for less than the recommended retail price. I love shopping for home trinkets and getting inspiration from what I see in-store, if it comes at a bargain price without compromising on the quality – I’m straight there! And that is what HomeSense is all about.

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HomeSense will be opening it’s doors to fellow Cheltonians on Thursday 28th August and to celebrate this I’m doing my first competition.

I have been given a £50 gift voucher to give away to one of my lovely readers to be spent at the new store. HomeSense buyers scour the globe for one-off pieces and I like to think of myself as quite well traveled, so to tie in with this, all you have to do to enter is tell me in no more than 50 words:

When buying items for the home, what countries do you take inspiration from?

For your chance to win, leave your answer in the comments section below. A winner will be picked at random and announced on Friday 29th August, just in time to go spend your winnings!

Good Luck!

Permanent Make-Up Gloucestershire

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Last weekend I was educated in permanent make-up, an increasingly popular procedure, run by my lovely friend Emma. I didn’t really know anything about it before so was quite intrigued.

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Emma has gone and got all the training and qualifications, setting up a relaxed space in her home to complete the procedures.

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There are lots of benefits to permanent make-up, from saving you a lot of time, to helping those with physical difficulties that struggle to put make-up on themselves. There are various treatments you can get done, including Eyebrows, Eyeliner and Eyelash enhancements and Lips.

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Treatments and price list:

Eyebrows

Powdered brow perfection £250
Simulated natural hair strokes £300
Natural hair strokes with powdered effect £350

Eyelash Enhancement & Permanent Eyeliner

Eyelash enhancement (Top) £150
Eyelash enhancement (Bottom) £150
Thin or medium eyeliner (Top) £200
Thicker eyeliner (Top) £250
Lower eyeliner £200

Lips

Fine lip contouring £250
Natural lip blush £300
Full lip colour £350

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I asked Emma if any of the treatments hurt and she said all of her clients had fallen asleep through their procedure!

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You can find out more about Gloucestershire Permanent Makeup here and see some amazing before and after photographs, really proving the benefits.

Emma is also giving away several £100 and £150 gift vouchers for the rest of the month to people that like her Facebook page. To be in with a chance, you can find her page here.

Roadtripping for a Wedding

Last Friday Alan and I packed up our bags, I got behind the wheel (Alan tried to hide his white knuckles throughout the journey) and began our drive across to Norfolk. My lovely Uni friends Kay and Jamie were tying the knot after 8 years together and I was super excited to be invited along to join in the celebrations.

Having lived with these guys for 2 years I can honestly say they are the cutest couple I know. Whilst flying the singleton flag through Uni I knew when it was time to settle down that I wanted a relationship just like what they had. It was about time they put pen to paper and made this thing official!

Alan and I stopped off in Bedford for the night to break up the journey, before arriving at the venue Saturday morning. Jamie was there along with his ushers, dad and best man looking calm as a cucumber. He showed Alan and I to our room inside a large house just off the side of the venue.

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The house along with the venue was gorgeous, there was a lot of room to play with but not too much that you lost people.

Soon enough we were shuffled into the barn as Kay was about to arrive. Kay looked amazing and her dress was beautiful, part of it reminded me of mine and I turned to Alan and said ‘My dress has got…’ before realising what I was doing!

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The whole day continued on a high. They were predicted rain, however, the sun shone throughout.

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The free bar put an end to my fun at 11pm when I made the decision to retire to bed before I embarrassed myself. I don’t think Kay and Jamie wanted to relive those Uni memories of me not being able to handle my drink.

The next day we were fed a lovely cooked breakfast and bid our farewells to the newly weds – who were off on their way to St Ives for their Honeymoon.

Congratulations again guys!

We began the long journey home, but not before stopping off  in Cambridge. I’d always wanted to take a trip there so decided to make the visit as we were passing through.

The city is beautiful, with a great blend of old and new buildings. The new malls make it a great shopping destination and the old churches and colleges are perfect for a day taking photographs – which was the main reason for our visit.

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Once we’d got our bearings we made a pit-stop for some lunch at an authentic Italian restaurant.

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We then headed to the river to catch a ride on one of the punts.

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Unfortunately everyone else had the same idea so we didn’t have time to queue. Instead we decided to hire some bikes for an hour to make sure we covered as much of the city as we could. We tried to follow the boats along the river before getting told off for taking our bikes onto the grass of King’s College.

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We ended the weekend with a sweet treat. I indulged in a white chocolate, marshmallow and banana crepe and Alan had a mint choc chip and toffee crunch ice cream.

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Portraits of Cheltenham: The Newbie Runner

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My crazy younger sister has only gone and signed herself up to the Cheltenham half marathon, which takes place on Sunday the 7th September. She’s not usually one for exercise, unless you call walking around a shopping mall for nine hours exercise. Yes, she made me do this. Her determination and training to do well however, has been admirable.

She has been out running most evenings, improving on her speed and distance. Putting us all to shame when we sniggered at the idea of Nat running for any amount of time let alone 13 miles.

As most people, Nat is running for a cause. To raise money for the charity Motor Neurone Disease Association. We recently had a family friend diagnosed with the disease and cannot believe the speed at which it attacks the body. Anyone can get MND and most often effects healthy people. There is still no cure as there is not enough funding.

If you would like to donate to the charity Motor Neurone Disease Association my sister has set up a JustGiving page here.

Thank you.

Portraits of Cheltenham: The Rock Climber

I went for a walk up Cleeve Hill with an idea in mind for my next portrait. I was hoping to come across a couple of walkers that I could capture with the views of the whole of Cheltenham behind them. Instead, I stumbled upon a rock climber seated at the edge of one of the cliffs.

You often see the adrenaline junkies up Cleeve Hill, they’re either riding bikes up and over the steep slopes or snowboarding when the ground is blanketed in the white stuff, this was the first time I’d seen rock climbers.

I captured him as he was adjusting the wires so that his friend below could climb up. I often prefer these kind of shots where the subject is not posed. What do you think?

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The Suffolk Kitchen, Cheltenham

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This time last year Alan and I were sunning ourselves on a beach in Tuscany. I say sunning, it was a little less glamorous when I got really bad sunburn on my backside and stomach… I digress, the main reason for my reminiscing is that it has been a year since Alan got down on one knee in the sand and asked me to marry him. We chose to use this as an excuse to go out for a nice meal in town.

It’s normal to have random anniversaries in your relationship as a reason to go out for fancy food, yeah?

We were going to go to one of our favourite Italian places but at the last minute I suggested we try somewhere we hadn’t been before. Cheltenham has so many nice independent restaurants, there are new ones cropping up all the time and some staple establishments that have a regular following. The Suffolk Kitchen has been around for a few years now, so it was about time we gave it a go.

The menu prides itself on being the best of British, offering seasonal dishes with ingredients being sourced locally and across the UK. We couldn’t wait to delve in and pore over our options.

Once we had been seated we were given some water for the table and a plate of homemade bread. Always appreciate these added extras – especially when you don’t need to ask. We had two types of bread, one was salt and pepper flavoured white bread, the other mustard wholegrain bread. Both delightful and fresh.

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We chose our food from the small but varied menu and toasted our one year engagement with a glass of rosé.

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The atmosphere inside is cosy and inviting, with warm lighting aided by candles dotted around. The space is narrow but long which adds to the intimacy.

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We were in the midst of discussing honeymoon ideas (he wants Vegas, I want Asia = we may have to go alone), when our starters arrived. I had ordered the warm duck confit, served with coriander pancakes, a creamy celeriac slaw and a plum and spring onion sauce. A tasty twist on duck pancakes.

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Alan went for the mini crab cakes, which were tossed in a spring onion dressed salad with a lemon and lime aiolo dip. The crab cakes were bursting with fish and the dip complemented them perfectly.

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After our starters we had high expectations for our mains. Luckily, they did not disappoint.

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I went for the chilli glazed salmon with ginger rice and coriander dressing. The fish was juicy and I loved the ginger rice.

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Alan had to go for the steak. They had run out of rib-eye, so treated himself to the fillet. The steak was perfectly cooked, tender and came with an oxford blue cheese bonbon that melted in your mouth.

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We opted to just look at the dessert menu and both conveniently found something we liked. I had the vanilla pannacotta with berries and Alan had the raspberry and dark chocolate marquise.

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Both went down a treat and the evening was finished on a high. If I haven’t convinced you already, you must try Suffolk Kitchen. The atmosphere, service and food was splendid.

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You can find The Suffolk Kitchen along Suffolk Parade or visit their website here.

Portraits of Cheltenham: The Retired Footballer

I didn’t have much of a chance to go out and take photographs of any unsuspecting Cheltonians last week, so whilst out on a Sunday evening walk I decided to use the fiancé as my subject.

Alan’s passion for football is so strong I often refer to it as ‘the other woman’. I will never fully understand the fascination but at least know (and have accepted) it’ll always be a big part of his life.

To give an outsider an idea of the man I am going to marry, there is no better place to take his portrait than on a football pitch.

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