• Review: Lunch at Conte, Perast Montenegro

    Veggie friendly pasta at restaurant Compte Perast
  • Review: Invisibobble Hair Tie

    Crystal clear invisibobble
  • Recipe: Sesame Lemon Chicken Tray Bake

    Sesame Lemon Chicken
  • Top Tips: How to Access Free Beauty Samples

    makeup samples

Instagram

Review: Lunch at Conte, Perast Montenegro

On our first full day in Montenegro, my sister and I decided that we would explore the town of Perast which sits opposite the Lavender Bay Appartments (where we were staying) on the Bay of Kotor. Perast is famous for its two little islands and their Churches;  Sveti Đorđe (St. George) and the other Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks) and after our boat trip to and from the man-made island home to Our Lady of the Rocks we decided it was time for lunch.

Our lovely and helpful holiday rep had recommended a visit to the hotel-restaurant Conte which sits on the seafront looking out over the beautiful bay towards the two islands (most of Perast has this view!), telling us that it served great food so we decided to go ahead and give it a go. All of the establishments on the seafront have seating right on the water (a wrong step can lead you to a pre-lunch swim), and the main building just across the small coastal road from the seating. We discovered an elegant-looking seating area with beautifully laid tables and selected one right on the edge so we could look across the water and do a bit of fish spotting in the crystal clear water.

My sister had done a bit of research before coming to Montenegro and knew that the traditional starter was the local version of dry-cured ham- Njeguški pršut – so when she spotted it on the menu she didn’t hesitate to order it. Of course being vegetarian I had to look for something else and was pleased to be able to order the local cheese which is another well-known product of the region – Njeguški sir. My sister was very happy with her pršut which she described as being similar to Italian prosciutto with a salty, smoky flavour. My cheese was crumbly and delicious with a creamy yet tart flavour which was well balanced by the olive garnish. So far, so good!

Of course, the Bay of Kotor boasts some top quality seafood and for her main, my sister wanted to try fish. She ordered the Poširani filet “Conte” na podlozi od crne riže i u sosu od gambora, sa prilogom – the restaurant’s signature poached fish fillet in a sauce of prawns with black ink rice and poached eggs. I was very happy to see a vegetarian-friendly pasta dish on the menu and ordered the Taljatele sa tartufima i šampinjonima – tagliatelle served in a white sauce with truffles and mushrooms.

Although we weren’t sure what type of fish my sister had on her plate she was very happy with the flavours and the way it had been cooked, the accompanying black ink risotto was also well cooked with the poached eggs and salsa giving a wide mix of flavours and textures to the dish. My pasta dish was really lovely with perfectly cooked tagliatelle in a rich, creamy sauce with a generous helping of mushrooms and a solid kick of truffle. I feel like the only improvement which could have been made would have been a hearty sprinkle of cheese on the top but that might have been a little too indulgent!

We really enjoyed our meal at the Conte hotel-restaurant in Perast on the beautiful Bay of Kotor. The service was friendly and helpful (ignoring our horrific attempts at pronunciation), the food was plentiful, flavorful and well cooked and the overall atmosphere was relaxed and at the same time elegant with a stunning view across the Bay. We award Conte 5 out of 5 stars and certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a port in a storm whilst exploring this beautiful region.

Outside Restaurant and Hotel Conte

Restaurant and Hotel Conte

Traditional starter at restaurant Conte Perast

Traditional Montenegrin Cheese Starter Conte Perast

Black risotto seafood dish at restaurant Conte Perast

Veggie friendly pasta at restaurant Conte Perast

5stars

Review: Invisibobble Hair Tie

If there’s one thing that is bound to be on my person at any time of the day or night it will be a hair tie; either in my hair or on my wrist. I have to admit that although I lust after longer hair most of the time I prefer to have it out of the way in a simple ponytail or bun.

As a long time user of basic hair bands, I am very aware of their pitfalls, namely their tendency to break (which is why I usually have a supply in my handbag), the pain of pressure headaches from having a hair band too tight and of course the struggle with not only removing the tie from my hair but taking with it a good few hairs as well. I heard about the invisibobble a little while ago and recently gave in to my curiosity by purchasing a box of three from Amazon.

So what exactly is an invisibobble? It’s an upgraded version of the hairband made from a curly telephone cable style plastic loop which is bonded together – avoiding metal connectors which can catch hair and pull it out. It is designed to wrap around hair and place uneven pressure around the ponytail which helps avoid headaches (no pressure points from hair being pulled) and hair damage such as split ends. It is advertised as being suitable for all hair types and as an attractive bracelet when worn around the wrist when not in the hair.

I have to admit that when my three invisibobble ‘hair rings’ arrived (I went for the crystal see-through option, but there are many different colours available) I was a little flummoxed as to how to use them, however, my worries were quickly forgotten when I realised you use them just like a regular hair band – just wrap around the hair a few times until it feels secure.

I was a bit concerned that the plastic would lose it’s unique shape after use as I had seen a number of negative reviews detailing this exact problem, however, having used one invisibobble for a good few days now I can tell you that although I have seen it stretch a little out of shape it does close up into its original shape and size after a few minutes. I am a firm believer that as long as you don’t go crazy and stretch the invisibobble out beyond its elasticity point you will be fine.

It felt a bit odd the first few times of using the invisibobble as it certainly feels different when putting into the hair and whilst it is in the hair because it does not pull or feel as tight as my normal basic elastic hair ties. This lead me to believe that my hair might fall out quickly or the invisibobble might slip out altogether, however, I am very happy to report that despite several tests including wearing the invisibobble all day, crazy shaking of my head with my hair up as well as sleeping with it in, the invisibobble has shown amazing staying power.

The only pitfall I have observed during my testing of the invisibobble hair tie is that it takes a bit longer to remove it from the hair than a normal hair band due to its amazing sticking power which is one of my favourite benefits! I tend to carefully unwrap the invisibobble from my hair rather than just grabbing and pulling out a regular hair band. This might frustrate some users however as I mention the staying power of the invisibobble is one its best features so I don’t mind it too much.

Overall I have found the invisibobble hair ties to be a definite upgrade from using regular elastic hair bands and would recommend them to anyone who suffers from hair damage and headaches from their usual hair ties. I award the invisibobble 5 out of 5 stars.

Crystal clear invisibobble

Crystal clear invisibobbles

5stars

Recipe: Sesame Lemon Chicken Tray Bake

I recently decided that I want to start preparing meals for my husband for when he is at work during the week as he often comes home from a long day of treating patients and complains that he hasn’t eaten anything all day! Having had enough of his complaints I decided to look into simple, one-dish meals I can prepare for him in advance and the recipe of sesame lemon chicken caught my eye.

It is super quick to prepare and makes a hearty, flavourful dish with some great added texture from the sesame seeds.

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 1kg of peeled butternut squash cut into chunks
  • 1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 240g of tenderstem broccoli
  • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • Sprinkle of sesame seeds
  1. First things first, preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. Place the chicken thighs in a large roasting tin, scatter the garlic cloves and butternut squash around it before drizzling with the oil. Squeeze the juice from the lemon pieces over the tray and tuck the empty lemon shells amongst the chicken and squash. Bake for 40 mins.
  3. Blanch the tenderstem broccoli for 2 minutes, drain and set aside.
  4. Take the roasting tray out of the oven and mix in the tenderstem broccoli.
  5. Drizzle the honey or syrup all over the tray and sprinkle with a generous amount of sesame seeds.
  6. Put the tray back in the oven for 10 more minutes until the chicken is sticky and golden.
  7. Serve with a side dish of rice.

Sesame Lemon Chicken

Top Tips: How to Access Free Beauty Samples

Are you someone who simply loves to shop for beauty products? Maybe you like to be able to share beauty tips with others? One of my favourite things to review on this blog is beauty and skincare products which usually arrive in the post, however,  I know some people have the social skills to talk their way into samples in store; wanting to learn how to do this I went to WOW FreeStuff who have given me these top tips on how to blag beauty freebies!

Never being one to shy away from a challenge, it was natural to jump on a chance to be able to spend the better part of a morning going on a shopping spree that was completely guilt-free in some of the best department stores in London. It was my goal to be able to get my hands on just as much free and light items as possible from the top beauty counters. Of course, I knew that I would have some major sweet talking to do to be sure that my pockets ended up chock full of goodies. However, it was a must that I would succeed.

To start off with, freebies are not quite the same as they have been in the past. I do remember the days where I could collect samples for just about anything and free mini mascaras or lipsticks were given to you anytime that you made your way into a store. I ended up very disappointed to learn that you can usually only find foundation as a giveaway sample in the makeup world today.

Body and face lotions, as well as perfumes, were the major contenders. I was able to come out with amazing brands like Chanel, Ed Hardy, Aveeno, Elizabeth Arden, DKNY and Estee Lauder. These were not only free, but they were also just the right size to fit into the already limited space that is in the community beauty bag.

If you happen to be up for the challenge, these are some tips that you can take along with you to help you get a good supply of creams, lotions and scrubs:

Always Act Interested

While this may seem obvious, you need to act as excited as possible about everything that they tell you about any product that they are showing you.

Look The Part

Any beauty consultant will be able to spot a ‘sample scab’ from miles away and will usually love any customer that looks as though they are going to spend the most amount of money. Even if you are not usually the glamorous and groomed type, it will pay off if you spend a few extra minutes in the mirror before setting out.

Bring Make-up Wipes

If you are going to be heading to different stores, you need to be able to wipe off all of the mascara, shadows and primer that the consultants try on you. Good makeup wipes will be crucial when you want to have a clean slate before you head into the next store.

Always Be Friendly

You may have to do some work to sweeten the consultant up before you are able to get samples. Practice your small talk and try to find ways to relate so that your freebie number multiplies the longer that you are in the chair.

Know The Brands

This will give you some solid cred when you talk with the consultants about makeup, lotions, scrubs, primers and everything having to do with beauty. There could be some seasonal promotions that you can check into online before you hit the counter as well.

While it may take you a couple of hours, WowFreeStuff’s method will see that heading out on the beauty blag will give you plenty of quality samples. Do you always come away with top samples? Let me know your method below.

makeup samples

Review: Stagg WIS-A45 Foldable Stand for Flute

Not many people know this but when I was younger I was a very proficient flute player, reaching grade 7 before going to University. Unfortunately I lost the love a bit for my instrument after this but have recently started playing again and am enjoying playing with a local wind band.

I have a number of different woodwind instruments, mainly flutes and a piccolo and when playing in a band it’s really fun to change between instruments to add something different to a piece of music. An example being the band recently tried playing the Hornpipe which is perfect for the piccolo.

Of course changing instruments whilst sitting in the band formation can be tricky as you don’t want to drop one of the instruments and you don’t really want to have them rolling around on the floor so I decided to purchase a simple flute stand which can hold one instrument while I am playing another.

I went for the Stagg WIS-A45 Foldable Stand for Flute which has been designed to be portable at 320g and its rubber feet make it stable allowing it to be moved around conveniently but still hold the flute safely when not in use. The tripod style feet splay out nicely to keep the flute upright and fold down when not in use. 

I have found the Stagg foldable flute stand really easy to use. It comes in two pieces which simply screw together to form the tripod stand shape. The rubber feet really keep the stand in one place and I have no worries placing my valuable instruments on the stand when not in use. I like the look and feel of the stand with the matt black finish being attractive.

I would happily recommend this flute stand to anyone looking to travel and use multiple woodwind instruments like I do at band and award it 5 out of 5 stars.

Stagg Flute Stand

Stagg Flute Stand Upright

5stars

7 Ways Quitting Smoking Makes You More Beautiful

By now, it is very clear that quitting smoking can be a lifesaver; the facts say that 80-90% of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking. Smokers are six times more likely to suffer from a heart attack than those who do not smoke. In the UK, smoking kills more than 480,000 people every year. I am very happy that my husband has given up and now vapes as a safer alternative. If you quit smoking or switch to

In the UK, smoking kills more than 480,000 people every year. I am very happy that my husband has given up and now vapes as a safer alternative. If you quit smoking or switch to e-cigs which contain e juice, you will look more healthy and vibrant. That’s what you will feel.

If good health does not make you feel like quitting, may be the cosmetic risks will make you change your mind. Did you know that smoking will affect your eyes, skin, and teeth? If you never knew now you know. The good news is that you can look better simply quitting the cigarettes – here are 7 ways quitting makes you more beautiful.

  1. Brighten Your Eyes

One of the major negative effects of smoking is skin damage especially the area around the eyes. According to Pat Folan,RN, who is the director of the North-LIJ Center for Tobacco Control in Great Neck, N.Y., “The skin under the eyes is very delicate and smoking can damage this delicate tissue. Quitting smoking may have restorative benefits.” Get rid of those bags by giving the cigarettes the heave-ho.

  1. Put the Brakes on Wrinkles

Jenny A. Van Amburgh, PharmD, who is the associate clinical professor at the Northeastern University Bouve College of Health Sciences in Boston says that smoking can cause wrinkles all over your body. She explains that thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke leads to a breakdown in the major structural components of the skin-elastin and collagen. When the components are damaged, your skin loses its firmness, elasticity, and strength. Smoking also leads to premature ageing of the skin. This is caused by nicotine which makes the blood vessels narrow hence decreasing blood flow to the skin. The decrease will lead to a decrease in the amount of oxygen and other nutrients in the skin cells.

  1. Perk Up Your Breasts

Smoking will not only cause wrinkles on the surface of your skin but also damage skin cells making the skin on some areas of the body to sag. According to Folan some of the chemicals in cigarettes can make your skin sag hence making it lose elasticity and tone. This will cause sagging of the upper arms and breasts. “In addition, studies have linked breast cancer to smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.”

  1. Reverse Tooth Staining

The tar and nicotine which passes through your lips into your lungs have a negative effect on the health of your mouth. In fact, one of the first observable side effects of smoking is yellow teeth. The good news is that you can reverse this by quitting the smoking habit. Abinash Achrekar MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque says that most of the changes in the mouth caused by the smoking are reversible including bad breath and yellowed teeth. She adds that unfortunately, oral cancers can develop that are not very easy to reverse.

  1. Save Your Lips and Gums

Smoking does not only affect the mouth alone. The American Academy of Periodontology, says that the risks of smoking and other tobacco products can also lead to oral cancer, bad breath, discoloration of gums, tooth loss, lost sense of taste, gum recession and mouth sores. Van Amburgh said that the smokers will have burns on the lips or the inside of their cheeks which can be solved after they quit. Those who quit smoking will see an improvement in their breath and said of taste

  1. Rid Your Nails of Stains

This is one thing that smokers do not usually know: Ugly stains on hands and fingers especially on the fingers which hold the cigarettes. Van Amburgh says that after you quit smoking, you will notice a line on your fingernail between the new growth nails which is non -stained and the stained nail.

Eventually, the new nail will replace the stained nail. In many people, the stains on their fingers will eventually fade.”

  1. Put a Shine on Your Hair

Quitting the smoking habit will make your hair shiny and make the show luster. It will also make it stay in place longer. Folan says that the 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes will affect every cell in the body including the hair follicles. This is why smoking has been associated with hair loss. Therefore, quitting smoking will make your hair look and smell better as the lingering ashtray odour will be gone.

be beautiful without cigarettes

A Guide to Planning the Ultimate Hen Do

Most women only have one hen do to celebrate their last days as a single woman. I really enjoyed my own hen do which included a spa day, dinner and night out with my gal pals in London. I actually planned my own hen do (I’m a bit of a control freak) and made sure that everything was planned just so. 

It’s important that the whole event is planned well with consideration, thought and good intentions. We’re not all natural born planners and all too often we overlook certain factors until they present themselves at the last minute. If you’re a bridesmaid planning one of the most unforgettable nights of her best friend’s life, don’t let yourself get caught out!

Everything from the activities to the choice of outfit to the transport needs to be decided upon beforehand. If this all seems a bit intimidating, then I have had a think on your behalf and put together some key points below for you to keep in mind. Before you know it, you’ll have planned an incredible night to remember forever.

Take charge of every single element

If you’re throwing a hen do for your best friend take the responsibility of every single aspect of the big night. Don’t feel the need to be solely responsible; you can have a group of friends organising the event, but don’t get the bride-to-be involved!

Refrain from asking the bride her opinion on where you should go or what you should do. This is her special night and your opportunity to show her how much she means to you with well thought-out surprises. Daunting though it may be, welcome the challenge of having the final authority on everything, including where you are going, how you are getting there, what you are doing and how long the event will last. Above all, the best present you can give your friend is the luxury of not having to concern herself with the pressures of event organising.

Customise activities to the bride-to-be

Just as every woman is unique, so too should every hen do. If the bride-to-be is a party animal, she might like nothing more than a night filled with visits to the hottest nightclubs on offer. However, if she is more of an outdoorsy type, she might prefer to go hiking, followed by a round of laser tag or paintball. If she likes to be pampered, schedule in a manicure, massage or a facial – just as I had on my day. 

There may be a lot of people in attendance but the only one whose preferences should be taken into account is the bride’s. If she is a curry lover, then her best friends can deal with a delicious Indian meal for one night; don’t worry about satisfying the whole party, as it is usually impossible!

Invite the right people

Perhaps the trickiest question relating to hen do organisation is the issue of who to invite. You might be a good friend, but do you know all of her closest friends? Are you able to get in touch with them? Thankfully, social media has revolutionised the way we communicate and facilitated events such as this (think Facebook event) but remember to make a comprehensive list of people to invite and do this well before the day in question. 

A difficult decision to make will relate to whether or not you are inviting the bride’s family. Some would be mortified if you invited her mother (or worse, her mother-in-law), while others would feel disappointed if they were left out. The same can apply to sisters or cousins. Each bride is different, so you will have to make a judgement call based on your knowledge of the bride-to-be. I had my sister with me for my hen do but no other family! AIt might be running these questions by your friend beforehand to avoid disappointment.

Carefully select your hen do destination

If your friend is a mum who can’t feasibly take a few days away from home to celebrate, this will limit your choices to local attractions. The same will be true if the bride has other commitments, such as work. However, if possible, whisk your friend away for a fun few days somewhere far away from home.

Some decide to hop on a plane to Europe, while others opt for a special UK adventure. Popular choices include Blackpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool or Manchester. Each place has something unique and exciting to offer, so remember to do your research beforehand. Decide how long you want to travel for, how compelling the local destination is and whether or not the bride has ever expressed an interest to visit the place in question.

Hire a minibus hire with driver to facilitate travel

Getting a minibus hire with driver is just plain easier than doing all the driving yourself. You don’t have to worry about getting lost on unfamiliar roads; you will be completely comfortable and at ease; it is the more environmentally-friendly option and you will be looked after by experienced professionals. In fact, they might even be able to offer you the advantage of their own local experience. On top of all this, if a party divides up the cost of a coach hire, it’ll doubtlessly result in a financial saving.

The important thing to remember about hen do organising is that if you put effort into the big night, it will be clear to your friend and she will have the time of her life knowing that her friends have gone to such lengths to make her happy. So don’t get frustrated or upset if every single thing doesn’t go to plan. In fact, chances are some things will go wrong. Just remember to enjoy an amazing, eventful night with one of your best friends.

planning the best hen do

Overdrafts vs payday loans

I love my mobile banking app, it means that wherever I am I can check to see how healthy my current account looks and informs my spending decisions. For me, as a freelance digital marketer, there is nothing worse than seeing my app load and seeing that I am overdrawn on my account, somehow it always makes me feel disappointed that I haven’t been able to manage my money well that month, however, it does ultimately drive me forward in finding more work!

I always thought it was better to be a little overdrawn than to take out a temporary payday loan to cover costs until I next got paid but I recently spotted an article which amazingly revealed that a pay-day loan can actually be a good alternative to an overdraft for some people. I am lucky that I have an approved overdraft of £350 with my Barclays current account so if I accidentally go over for a few days I don’t get charged, however, the article explained that for people who don’t have an approved overdraft there can be steep charges associated with being in the red.

According to Which? who have undertaken research in this area some banks can charge you as much as £90 for an unapproved overdraft of £100 and the current maximum charge from pay-day loan companies like Vivus for a 28-day loan of £100 is only £22.40. I find this really shocking as I always considered payday loans to be a risky way of covering short-term debt with crazy interest rates but this research has made me reconsider my stance.

The main issue here is that banks would much prefer you to take out one of their loan options than go overdrawn if you don’t have a pre-approved overdraft allowance for your bank account, using the higher charges to put you off going into the red. RBS allows customers a £10 buffer, then charging £6 a day up to a max of £90 in any 30 day period whereas TSB, Lloyds and HSBC all charge up to £80. Shockingly some Halifax accounts charge £5 a day, up to a maximum of £100. According to the Competition and Markets Authority UK banks made £1.2bn from such overdrafts in 2014. That’s just crazy! The CMA has in fact called for regulation of this problem.

In response to this information, the banks have said that they advise their customers to arrange a pre-approved, planned overdraft facility for their bank accounts to stop these sorts of charges being applied. With such an account from HSBC the bank has said borrowing £100 for 28 days would only cost £1.40 instead of the £80 charge. Payday loans have been capped by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) since January 2015 and now appear to be a genuine alternative for people looking to borrow money for a short period.

Have you fallen foul of an overdraft fee? Let me know your story below.

 

Car Safety Basics

I have to admit that despite having been a driver for more than 13 years I am a bit of a lazy car owner and assume that the maintenance of the vehicle is more the responsibility of my local garage than my own. I take my car for an M.O.T and service every year and there might be the odd small issue which they fix but otherwise, I have been lucky. Of course making sure your car is roadworthy and ready for a journey is paramount when it comes to road safety so really I haven’t been doing a very good job. To keep me (and perhaps you) on the straight and narrow when it comes to car safety basics here are some top tips:

Insurance

Ok so car insurance might not be the most interesting part of car safety but it is important to have a backup plan in case you do get into trouble with your vehicle. Good insurance gives you peace of mind and will ensure that any damage or injury can be sorted out in the case of an accident. I have recently had to renew my car insurance and took the time to shop around and compare the deals available to get something that best suits me at an affordable price. Now my husband is driving my car I needed to update my insurance to commuting as well as pleasure as he uses the car to get to and from his work as an Osteopath in Kent and London. I found a great deal, so I really recommend taking the time to find the best car insurance for your needs.

Wipers, mirrors and windscreens

Not that long ago I had to change the windscreen wipers on my car as over time they had worn out and unfortunately part of the wiper had come away and was dangling from the rest of the wiper which meant that not only was the wiper not able to do its job properly but it was also rather distracting! Be sure to check your wipers to wear and tear to make sure they are in good condition – otherwise, they won’t be much use in bad weather and will not be able to help you see properly. Make sure any cracked or damaged windscreens mirrors are repaired or replaced, again so that you can see out of them properly and to avoid any broken glass coming away which can damage other vehicles and people! Mirrors and windscreens need a good clean from time to time to get rid of any blotches or smudges which might get in the way of visibility. Windscreen washer fluid is also really important to check – fill it up if needed and check that the spray is working well.

Tyres

One of the most obvious areas to think about when it comes to car safety is your tyres, they can either keep you safely on the road or if not properly maintained can cause all manner of problems from small issues like a flat tyre to bigger problems like causing you to swerve off the road and potentially causing an accident. Tyre tread depth is really important to check as the more tread you have the better the car grips the road – the minimal legal requirement is 1.5mm and this can wear  down over time. See more info about tread here. Tyre pressures should also be checked, the correct pressure levels should be inside the door frame or in your manual. It’s a good idea to schedule a check every few months to give your tyres a quick health check – look for cracks or bubbles in the sides and sharp objects which might have gotten stuck in the tyre. It’s better to be safe than sorry so if you spot anything which looks dodgy take your car to your local garage.

Lights and Indicators

After travelling in convoy with my parents on our annual trip to Salisbury recently they pointed out that my rear brake light was not working properly – sometimes coming on, and sometimes not which obviously wasn’t great! My husband was able to find the problem and with a quick visit to a garage was able to get the part of the light which had corroded replaced so all was well again. Make sure none of your car lights are cracked or hazy which might indicate water is getting in. It’s important to regularly check all your lights are working – put on the hazard lights and all around the car to inspect indicators, check headlights and brake lights. It’s best to ask someone to help you check your rear lights.

Rust

I’m a bit of a Pixar geek, so when I think of rust I think of Rust-Eze and their Medicated Bumper Ointment who sponsor Lightning McQueen in movie cars! All jokes aside rust is no laughing matter as corrosion of your car can weaken its structural integrity and potentially put you and your passengers at increased risk of harm should you have an accident. Keep your car rust-free by washing every 2 weeks (more regularly in winter when there is salt on the roads) and don’t forget to clean the underside of your car and your wheel wells. The most important thing is to keep metal surfaces dry- whether you wipe them off after use, or protect them with paint, lacquer, lubricant or wax. Examine your car regularly and make sure any problem areas are fixed up as soon as possible. See more info on removing rust here.

Travel Wish List: Luxury Holiday Destinations

For my birthday this year, the big 3-0, my sister really pushed the boat out and took me away for a week in gorgeous Montenegro where we spent many happy hours exploring the Bay of Kotor, sunbathing and relaxing. Most of my holidays are quick weekend jaunts to European cities so this holiday really made me start thinking about other luxury destinations I want to visit. Here are the ones at the top of my travel wishlist:

The Maldives

When I asked my sister where she might like to go for her reciprocal 30th birthday holiday she said The Maldives, an archipelago of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean with a rich culture, fascinating history and an extensive marine wildlife ecosystem. Once renowned for cowry shells, The Maldives boasts an impressive offering for tourists with stunning beaches, clear blue lagoons, whale and dolphin watching, water sports and exciting venues such as ‘Subsix’ which is astonishingly a restaurant submerged six feet under the Indian ocean with a good chance that parrotfish, moray eels and butterflyfish will swim past while you eat! Most visitors arrive by way of Malé International Airport, on Hulhulé Island, adjacent to the capital Malé but there are a number of cruises to the Maldives allowing passengers the chance to explore the inhabited and uninhabited islands.

Tuscany

Is there anything more luxurious than the promise of a holiday in a Tuscan villa, looking over beautiful rolling vineyards interspersed with cypress trees, whilst enjoying having delicious local wine, bread and cheese on tap? Known for its landscapes, traditions, history, artistic legacy and its influence on high culture this central region of Italy has so much to offer from the sights of the area’s Capitol Florence to the famous Pisa Cathedral bell tower, great natural and architectural beauty in the Tuscan towns, beautiful beaches, mountain thermal bath towns like Montecatini Terme (which my husband and I were lucky enough to visit on our honeymoon along with Florence and Pisa), and of course astonishingly good Italian food! If you’re a real foodie then a Tuscan cooking class would be the perfect way to pick up some new skills and enjoy the produce of the region.

Istanbul

It might sound a bit pathetic but I actually fell in love with the idea of visiting Istanbul after reading a fictional book set in the City. The book was a bit like the Da Vinci Code with the two main characters running all over the city to find clues to solve a mystery and although the plot was really great I was more taken by the description of the places they visited with the Hagia Sophia being my favourite. Istanbul has such an extraordinary wealth of culture and history, albeit a lot of it having come from dark times, and I would love to explore the architecture and museums to learn more about this amazing place. As well as the Hagia Sophia I would love to visit the Basilica Cistern, the Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar. Check out some other Istanbul sights here.

Morocco

When I think of Morocco I think of terracotta, spices and marketplaces. This North African country is characterised by a rugged mountainous interior, stunning coastlines and large portions of desert boasting both ancient Roman and Islamic sites which draw in large numbers of tourists every year. There is a huge wealth of culture due to the turbulent history of the country with influences from all over the globe due to the peoples who invaded: Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Jews and Arabs, Sub-Saharan Africans, Romans, Vandals, Andalusians and Moors. Marrakech is very popular with visitors enjoying excursions to the city to revel in the souks, mosques, hammams, museums and gardens. I don’t think I would get bored!

What luxury destinations do you want to visit?

footsteps in the sand