Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sunday Spotlight - 30th November 2014

In my life this week…


I’m so sorry I’ve been rather awful at blogging this past week. College is especially busy at the moment and my health is just plummeting, so I haven’t had the time or energy to write the posts I had planned sadly. I may have mentioned it a while ago, but because of my diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I was referred to the physiotherapy department of my local hospital, where I was offered 12 sessions of hydrotherapy. I really struggle with exercise/movement on land causing me extreme pain, and although it’s not easy in the water, I do find it less painful. Unfortunately they could only offer a limited amount of sessions, so my physiotherapist asked me to try joining my local gym on a swimming membership. It’s taken me a while to get round to it because my health has been so temperamental and college just seems to take over, but this week I finally managed my first session of swimming. Unfortunately it’s not ideal, as it’s lane swimming and that’s too much for me at the moment, but I managed to find myself a little corner of the pool to do some of my exercises in. I was in a hell of a lot of pain after, but I’m really hoping doing a little bit every week will help to strengthen my muscles a bit, and possibly help ease my joint pain.

Image from Weheartit

Christmas shopping

With Christmas less than a month away, I really thought it was about time I started my Christmas shopping. I’m so far behind this year, due to college and my health, and I’m feeling incredibly overwhelmed by it all. I really struggle with this time of year – everyone expects you to be happy and jolly, to enjoy lots of food and to go to lots of social gatherings, but right not I don’t feel like doing any of those things and my mood is incredibly low. Still, this Saturday, my Mum took me into town in my wheelchair to do a bit of Christmas shopping. I have to say it wasn’t a particularly enjoyable experience. Being in a wheelchair was incredibly stressful. I was climbed over, kicked, had bags flung in my face and numerous people tutted at me very loudly for being in their way. Unless you’ve had to use a wheelchair, I think it’s hard to understand how vulnerable you feel, but I really wish people would just think a bit and realise that you are human too. I managed to do a bit of shopping, but still have quite a bit to do so I’m going to try and use the Internet for the majority of it now I think!

Image from Weheartit

Baby Shower

I usually tend to write this post on a Sunday morning, but this week that wasn’t possible as I was at my friend’s Baby Shower for my Godson-to-be! It was really lovely to celebrate with my friend – she has two girls already so it was definitely a novelty having everything in blue this time. I’m also incredibly excited because it’s the first time I will be a Godmother to a little boy, so I’m looking forward to spoiling him and my friend once he arrives. We had a lovely afternoon chatting, playing games and watching my friend open her presents. And now we just have to wait for the little man to make an appearance!

What has grabbed your attention this week? I love hearing about people’s new discoveries and you may end up sharing something that makes it onto my list next week!

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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunday Spotlight - 23rd November 2014

In my life this week…

ATOS Medical

About a month ago I was due to have a medical assessment with ATOS, but annoyingly they rang me up about an hour before and cancelled. Well, my rescheduled appointment came round this week and I was fully expecting the phone to ring and for it to be cancelled again, but thankfully this time it went ahead. My Mum very kindly agreed to take me, so we set the Sat Nav and off we went. After getting lost a couple of times we finally arrived and had to wait a while in a rather dingy waiting room with no phone signal and nothing to read. I saw a very nice doctor from New Zealand, who asked me lots of questions and did a brief medical check-up. He then went to speak to a colleague, came back and said we didn’t need to even talk about my mental health because he thought I had enough problems with my physical health to use as evidence for getting some support. I’m very glad it’s over now and really hope what the doctor says will be enough to show I’m not well enough to work at the moment, as it would be a massive weight off my shoulders.

Costa Christmas Cups

For a few weeks now, I’ve been desperate to pay a visit to our local Costa to get myself a Christmas drink. Then when I found out they were selling ceramic Christmas cups, I was even more desperate to go! So, this week, my Mum took me along to Costa and we both had a yummy Black Forest Hot Chocolate in a snowman Christmas cup. Even better, we treated ourselves to the ceramic cups – I was so happy that they had all four there! I’ll definitely be using them lots over the Christmas period when I have my cup of tea in the afternoon.

College assignments

This week has been a bit of a stressful week, as I’ve had the results back for four separate college assignments. On Monday I got my Psychology mark back, and although it’s just a pass or fail module, my teacher told me it would have been worth a merit. A distinction would have been great, as that’s what I need to get into Uni, but it’s a good start. Then came Wednesday, and I got my Chemistry assignment back and was told it was excellent. There’s still another bit we have to do for that one, so I won’t get my final mark until I’ve done that, but it’s good to know I’m on the right track. Thursday wasn’t such a good day. I got the results of my Biology exam and unfortunately, because I got two questions wrong, I failed the whole exam. I was really disappointed because they were silly mistakes, but thankfully I just have to re-sit those questions next week, rather than doing the whole thing again. Lastly was Friday, where I got the draft back of my Sociology essay, and again, I got some good comments, so overall I’m pretty happy with how I’m getting on. My Chemistry teacher asked me to come and see her because she’s concerned my health is deteriorating, which it is, but she’s said they will do everything they can to support me, so that’s quite comforting to know there are things in place.

Image from Weheartit

What has grabbed your attention this week? I love hearing about people’s new discoveries and you may end up sharing something that makes it onto my list next week!

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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Quote of the Day

As you may remember from previous posts, I have started working with a great little company called Itty Bitty Book Company. They produce the cutest little books, filled with inspirational quotes for any situation. In my work with them, I’ve decided that every other week I will share a quote with you that I feel applies to my life at that particular time. I love quotes and often turn to them when I need some motivation and inspiration, so I hope that by doing this I can help to inspire some of you too.

“Love the life you live. Live the life you love”

It took me a while to choose this week’s quote. I’m not really sure why, I just couldn’t seem to decide which one fitted best with how I was feeling. But this one seemed to stand out to me. It might sound like a strange thing to say, but it’s dawned on me recently that we only get one chance at this life. There are no second chances, so what’s the point in living a life that you don’t love. Now, I’m not saying you’re going to love every single thing that you have to do, because there are things we all have to do that we don’t really want to. But overall, if you’re not happy with the life you’re living, why not change it? If you’re in a job you hate why not look at ways you can retrain or change career? If you’re in a bad relationship, find enough love for yourself to step back and say that it isn’t working. Show that you appreciate the people around you because you never know when they’ll be gone. Sometimes I think we need to be selfish. I’ve learnt from a lot of experience that you can’t possibly please everybody, so you need to start by pleasing yourself. Learn to love the life you’ve been given – it is so precious and fragile. But at the same time, learn how to make changes if you’re not loving something, because life is too short to do things that make you unhappy. This is something I really need to practise myself!

What quotes inspire you when things are difficult?

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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Cat Hampurr Review*

I was recently contacted by the lovely people at a company called Cat Hampurr, with an e-mail asking if Jaffa and Xena would be interested in trying out their subscription box. Such an unusual e-mail really grabbed my attention, and, as you probably already know, I’m definitely a bit of a crazy cat lady! I couldn’t resist the idea of a subscription box just for my cats and was very excited to receive my hampurr – geddit?!

Inside my (sorry, my cats’!) hampurr was a voucher for £5 off the first hampurr if I become a monthly subscriber. To subscribe it will cost you £11.95 plus £3.95 P&P and for that money you will receive 4 – 6 high quality feline goodies delivered monthly direct to your door. There is also no minimum contract, which I think is really useful. Underneath was a selection of toys and items of food, all nicely packaged in some purple tissue paper.

This hampurr was a special one put together as a PR sample, but it gives you a good idea of what would be in a typical monthly subscription box. First up were the toys. In this box were a couple of little material and feather catnip balls and also a stick with a dangly mouse toy.

There were then a range of different food items, from a pouch of dry food specifically made for health and shine to some fish chewy sticks. I was really impressed by the range of different things for my cats to try, as I tend to stick to the same food for my two so it was an opportunity to try something different.

The toys went down a storm with Jaffa. He might be 10, but he can still act like a kitten when he wants to! He was rolling around on the floor with the catnip balls, pouncing on the dangly mouse and dashing across the room and back with the toys in his mouth. He’s a nightmare to get good photos of because of his colouring, but hopefully the photos do some justice as to just how much fun he was having!

Xena wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about the toys, but she still had a good sniff of the box and did try to get inside at one point. Unfortunately the food wasn’t as popular. I doubted whether Jaffa would show any interest as he has a stomach condition that makes him very picky about what he will and won’t eat. We’ve had to try him on a lot of different diets just to find something he would eat, so it didn’t really surprise me that he didn’t eat anything I gave him. Xena was a bit better and ate some of the Meowingheads dry food, which she seemed to really enjoy, but she wasn’t taken with any of the treats, although I will persevere!

Overall I think it’s a really fun idea, but personally I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay out each month for a subscription box for my cats, as much as I love them both! Perhaps if my cats would eat a larger variety of different foods I might think differently about it, but unfortunately I think I would end up wasting a lot of the great products on my fussy kitties! Saying that, I think it would be a great occasional splurge, or a fun gift for a cat mad friend, so there’s definitely a lot of potential there. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to try out the Cat Hampurr and I know Jaffa and Xena will be enjoying their toys for a long time to come!

Have you ever tried a hamper or subscription box for your pets?

*This hampurr was sent to me for review purposes but all opinions are my own

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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

52 Lists Week 4

As you probably know, I’ve decided to give the 52 Lists Project by Morrea Seal a go, and yes, I am incredibly late to this particular party! If you haven’t heard of it, the basic premise is that a list subject has been created for every week of the year, so each week you print off your list template, complete it and pop it in a folder. At the end of a year you will then have 52 different lists, which should tell you a lot about yourself. Yes, you are probably meant to start this project at the beginning of the year, but hey, when was I ever one to conform?!

This week I had a go at list number 4, which was asking you to list your current and future goals and dreams. At first, I thought this would be incredibly easy, but then I took a step back and realised that I can’t just fill my list with anything and everything. I needed to be specific and realistic, and that took a bit more thinking time.

I think this is a good list for someone to complete because it helps you focus firstly on what your current goals are, but also what your long-term goals are. I must admit I did find it hard because there are so many things I would love to add to this list, that I simply wouldn’t be well enough to achieve. So that was pretty hard to accept. But, it was good in that it made me think realistically about what I can achieve.

I’ve managed to come up with quite a decent list of current and future goals and dreams. Some of them are very standard (well, for a healthy person anyway) like completing college and university, buying my own house and being financially stable. But I’ve also put quite a few more abstract goals in there too. Things like just getting through each day, continuing to fight my demons and improving my mental health are probably more important than a lot of the physical goals I have set myself.  Another goal is to buy a better wheelchair so I can be a bit more independent, because although it’s really hard, I need to start accepting that I won’t be able to do things in the same way other people might do them. No matter what your goals and dreams might be, the most important thing is that you feel happy and content with what you already have. Now I’m the first to admit I’m not brilliant at this. I am forever wishing things could be different, that my health could improve or that I was able to take up opportunities given to me, but I really am trying to learn to accept things the way they are. Because while I’m aiming for unobtainable dreams, I will never be happy with where I am right now.

What words and phrases would be on your list for this week?

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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sunday Spotlight - 16th November 2014

In my life this week…


As I mentioned in last week’s Sunday Spotlight, the specialist I saw up in London put me on antibiotics. They are pretty strong and because of this I have been really unwell this week. I seem to be spending a lot of my time attached to the loo or a bowl, and although I have managed to get into college, there have been quite a few times where I have nearly collapsed. It’s been quite scary feeling even more unwell and I have been quite tempted to just stay in bed and hide away from the world. The frustrating thing is, that despite doing the low FODMAP diet and taking these antibiotics, my digestive problems aren’t getting any better. I’m struggling to eat enough food so am thinking of speaking to my doctor about the possibility of having some kind of supplement drinks to help me on days where I struggle to eat enough. I’m just hoping when I stop taking them tomorrow and start taking my probiotics I might start feeling a bit more like my normal self again.

Image from Weheartit

More Disney DVDs

I’m afraid I’ve been naughty again. I might have, accidently of course, bought a few more Disney DVDs to add to my collection! I just couldn’t resist. The Rescuers Down Under was only £3 and it had the gorgeous limited edition cover. I then decided I could justify making up my spending to £10, so I bought The Jungle Book for £7. And then I found Beauty and the Beast for only £9.99 in Tesco, compared to it being £19.99 on Amazon, so I couldn’t say no! I’m doing pretty well with my collection, and the more I get the more I want to get even more so I can finally have the whole collection of 52! It’s getting rather addictive, but I can think of worse things to collect.

Bournemouth University

Yesterday my Dad drove me down to Bournemouth so we could look around the University. If I’m honest, I had only put it on my list of Uni’s to make up numbers, but now I’m definitely confused as I actually took a real shine to it. The talk about the course was given by a lovely Occupational Therapist, who brought her guide dog in with her. I talked to her afterwards and she was the first person who has truly made me feel that my disability shouldn’t get in the way of being an OT. We also talked to Student Support, who were brilliant, and the accommodation people, who bent over backwards to try and help us find the right thing for me. Compared to other University’s I’ve been to, I just felt so supported at Bournemouth. The staff we spoke to were all so friendly and welcoming and really put me at my ease. I’ve now got to have a think about whether going to Bournemouth is going to be feasible. I know that, to do this course, I’m going to have to live away from home for some of it, because there are no Uni’s close enough that do the course. But I’m just wondering if Bournemouth will be a bit too far. I will be applying for DSA, can get a studio flat for the same price as a normal room under the Disability Discrimination Act, and am also looking into applying for Direct Payments to possibly get a PA to help me. So I just need to decide whether having this help and support will be enough to mean I can live safely, without jeopardising my health.

What has grabbed your attention this week? I love hearing about people’s new discoveries and you may end up sharing something that makes it onto my list next week!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

One Million Lovely Letters

A while ago a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of a lovely lady called Jodi Ann Bickley and her project, One million lovely letters. After reading and hearing more about her, I really wanted to share with you the amazing mission she has taken on. Jodi Ann is 26 and from Birmingham. In late 2001 she became very ill with a brain infection, which left her having to relearn how to do certain things again. They had hoped she would begin to recover from her infection, but after going back to work, Jodi Ann started to suffer from headaches, dizziness, became very sensitive to noise and experienced extreme fatigue. She ended up back in hospital again, where she underwent numerous tests and procedures. This continued for a year and, on seeing a difference doctor, a diagnosis of M.E. was made. Those of you who read my blog regularly will probably remember that I was originally diagnosed with M.E when I was 15, so Jodi Ann’s story really struck a chord with me.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of M.E. I’ll briefly explain what it is. It’s a neurological condition that causes extreme fatigue, widespread pain, digestive problems, difficulty regulating temperature, sensitivities and a whole host of other symptoms. There isn’t a test for it, and nor is there a cure. As Jodi Ann says “M.E. is a little bit of an odd duck, it’s not life threatening but is completely life altering and can make you feel a little bit crazy because many of the symptoms are pretty invisible things such as muscle weakness, severe headaches, exhaustion…it’s a real rollercoaster!”

Jodi Ann has lived with this condition ever since, but says she is finally learning to adapt to her illness and feel more in control of her life. What’s really amazing though, is what this led her to do with her time. She wanted to start something that made her feel alive again as well as to help others, so started a project called One Million Lovely Letters. On her website is an e-mail address, and you can contact her and ask her to send you, or someone you know, a lovely letter. Jodi Ann explains her thinking behind this idea brilliantly: “I know in our worst moments, sometimes it only takes one person to make you feel like you belong – to remind you how incredible you are and I hope that’s what I and my one million lovely letters can do.”

What an inspirational lady. Despite her suffering, she uses her precious energy to bring light and hope into the lives of so many other people. I’m a massive fan of snail mail and, since becoming unwell; it has been a glimmer of hope to receive a lovely letter in even the darkest of days. I now have quite a few pen pals and absolutely love sending and receiving letters and gifts. If it’s something that interests you, and you feel you would like to help Jodi Ann on her quest to send one million lovely letters, you can now apply to be a volunteer. Check out this page here for all the ways you can help with the project – from writing letters alongside Jodi Ann, to making a donation for all those stamps that are needed to send these lovely letters.

Jodi Ann has also written a book under the same name, ‘One Million Lovely Letters,’ which I’m dying to read. It’s a Sunday Times Bestseller and from the preview on Amazon it looks just as inspirational as it sounds. If you’d like to buy it you can find it here.

I think it’s amazing to have someone like Jodi Ann to look up to, and it shows the rest of the world that just because someone has a chronic illness does not mean that they are any less of an important member of society. I am also optimistic that this will give hope to others who may not be in the best of health, and let them see that they don’t have to give up because there are so many important things that they can still do, despite not being well.

Have you heard of One Million Lovely Letters before? Is it something you think you might be able to help or support, or is there something else you could do to help other people?

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Clearly Scrumptious Review*

A while ago I was browsing through Instagram and came across a feed promoting Healthy Gluten-Free treats. With just recently starting the low-FODMAP diet and therefore being gluten-free, I was intrigued and decided to contact the company, Clearly Scrumptious, to find out more. They very kindly agreed to send me some of their fruity treats to review, and I’m excited to share them with you here. But first, a little about their background…

Clearly Scrumptious are based in Yorkshire and was founded in December 2012 by two lovely guys called Rick and James, who have a passion for exercise and great food. They decided to look into producing some great tasting but healthy nibbles to keep us going and reward us when we need a treat. All of their products are under 100Kcal, so great for a snack between meals, and are sulphite, wheat, gluten, dairy free, 100% natural and count as one of your 5 a day.

My products arrived really quickly in a box labelled Scrumptious Fruit En Route. Inside were a variety of tasty snacks for me to sample, and I really enjoyed doing this!

Each bag of fruit comes with a different name, depending on the contents and what it tastes like.

First up was the ‘Crunchy’ bag, full of pieces of dried apple. Unfortunately, due to the medical diet I am currently on, I can’t eat apple, so I gave some of these to a family member to try. They were really impressed with how tasty and crunchy they were, as I know some dried fruit can be a bit chewy! But they really enjoyed these, so I trust their recommendation!

Next in line for tasting was the ‘Tangy’ option. I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of tangy fruits, but these were surprisingly more-ish! I likened the experience to eating those Haribo Tangfastics or something similar, and these would be a great alternative to a bag of sweets.

I was a big fan of these dried strawberries and could happily have eaten both packets in one go! They come under the ‘Sweet’ label and are definitely a great option if you’ve got a sweet tooth and get a craving for sugar. They actually looked like strawberries as well, which probably sounds a bit of a strange thing to say, but it’s nice to know something is what it says it is, rather than a synthetic mish-mash of other ingredients.

I’ve saved my favourite treats for last! The ‘Juicy’ cranberries were by far the tastiest option in my opinion. I love cranberries anyway, but these ones seemed extra juicy and tasty, plus with all the great health benefits that cranberries come with you would never feel guilty about snacking on a bag of these. As with all of these treats, you could either eat them on their own, or mix them with some other fruits and nuts to give you a really filling and yummy snack.

If I’ve tempted you into trying some Clearly Scrumptious Healthy Treats, you can find them in the Harris + Hoole coffee shops all over the South East, the Nutricentre and Planet Organic as well as 100’s of independents nationwide. You can also look on their website here and use the discount code JC10 to get 10% off anything you order!

Are you a fan of dried fruit? Have you ever tried this brand before or does it look like something you’d like to get your hands on?

*These products were sent to me by Clearly Scrumptious for review purposes but all opinions given are my own

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sunday Spotlight - 9th November 2014

In my life this week…

Eating Disorder assessment

I’ve been really struggling with my eating disorder recently. I was discharged by the eating disorder service back in January, when they told me my case was too complex for them to help any further. It was a massive blow and I still feel very angry that they can do that to someone who is still struggling. This week I went back to see them, to be reassessed for further help. Unfortunately it wasn’t a particularly positive appointment. I explained where I’m at, and the fact that I am trying so damn hard to maintain my weight. But, because I’m not underweight, apparently I’m not a priority any more and they said they’ve helped me more than enough. They said again about how complex I am and that they don’t know what else to do for me. I’ve got to go back next month to hear their final decision, but to be honest I feel like they’ve already given up on me. It seems so wrong that you have to be seriously physically unwell to get any help, when they’re meant to be a mental health service. Surely it’s harder to help someone when they get that ill? Wouldn’t it make more sense to help someone before they decline so much? You wouldn’t tell someone with cancer that they have to become more unwell before they can get treatment, so why is it OK to say it to someone with a mental health problem?

The Royal London appointment

This week has been one of the most stressful weeks I’ve had in quite a while. As well as my eating disorder assessment, and an exam at college, on Thursday my Dad took me up to The Royal London Hospital to see a gastroenterology professor who specialises in Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. I spent over two hours in my meeting with them, and thankfully it was a much more helpful appointment than the previous day. I initially saw a registrar, who was absolutely lovely and really put me at ease. The professor then joined us, and my diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Type 3 was confirmed. They also told me that one of the complications of this illness is that it has affected my digestive system, meaning it’s not working as well as it should be. I’ve got an overgrowth of bacteria in my small bowel, so have been put on strong antibiotics to try and kill as much of that as possible. I then need to take probiotics until I next go back and see them (within the next six months) when we will then discuss further, more invasive, tests and also trying a medication to try and speed up my digestive system a bit. After this I spoke to two specialist nurses, who were so lovely and really helped me get my head around things a bit. I’ve now got to spend some time coming to terms with this diagnosis and the possibility that my symptoms are likely to deteriorate as I get older. But it’s so good to finally have a concrete diagnosis and have a tram of people wanting to help me.

Girly day

After such a stressful week I was in much need of some girly time, and thankfully I had a girly day planned on Saturday with my friend, Lilli. We decided we’d start off with a bit of shopping, so Lilli kindly pushed me in my wheelchair around our local shopping centre, and we started to get into the Christmas spirit seeing all the lovely window displays. I treated myself to a few things, which always makes me feel better and we stopped off for a nice drink, which was lovely. After driving home in the pouring rain, we chilled out in front of a movie with a warm cup of tea and a cookie, before driving down to our local pub to watch some fireworks. Thankfully the rain eased off for the display, and we stood there shivering while we enjoyed watching all the colours in the sky. To finish off the day, we enjoyed hot dogs and toasted marshmallows – definitely a much needed chill out day.

Image from Weheartit

What has grabbed your attention this week? I love hearing about people’s new discoveries and you may end up sharing something that makes it onto my list next week!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Quote of the Day

As you may remember from previous posts, I have started working with a great little company called Itty Bitty Book Company. They produce the cutest little books, filled with inspirational quotes for any situation. In my work with them, I’ve decided that every other week I will share a quote with you that I feel applies to my life at that particular time. I love quotes and often turn to them when I need some motivation and inspiration, so I hope that by doing this I can help to inspire some of you too.

“Courage doesn’t always roar! Sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow”

I chose this quote because I’ve had a particularly difficult week. On Tuesday I had an exam, which didn’t go that well unfortunately. Wednesday I had an eating disorder assessment, and felt I wasn’t really taken seriously. And on Thursday I had an appointment with a professor in London to discuss my digestive problems. I have found it incredibly difficult to get through this week, but this quote gave me a little lift when I needed it most. Sometimes the only thing people can expect of you is that you will wake up again tomorrow and try again. No matter how bad your day has been, tomorrow is a fresh start and it takes a lot of courage to put a bad day behind you and start again. I want people to see this quote and realise that you are not weak or a failure, because you get up every day and face the world with strength and determination. Yes, you don’t always feel great about it, but you do it. And that’s what’s important, that you keep trying and keep fighting.

What quotes inspire you when things are difficult?

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Southampton Blogger Meet-up

A couple of weekends ago I travelled down to Southampton with my friend Sophie, so we could attend a Bloggers Meet-up, organised by the lovely Catherine. It almost ended up being cancelled, as Catherine wasn’t able to make it, but thankfully a lovely lady called Alice stepped in and pulled off a brilliant day.

We all met in a place called The Orange Rooms, which were just as the name suggests, incredibly orange. Unfortunately due to the colour, it was absolutely impossible to take a decent photo, so I apologise for all my photos being tinted in orange!

Sophie and I arrived a little late, as the traffic getting into Southampton was awful (we realised after that Southampton FC were playing at home). We came into the private room Catherine had booked and found it full of fellow bloggers chatting and eating in a large semi-circle.

It was a great location for a meet-up and our room had lots of comfy seating, a bar and separate booths, which some of the companies had taken over.

While we waited for our lunch to arrive, Sophie and I headed over to the Lush table, where two lovely ladies from their Southampton store greeted us. They had lots of their products laid out on the table, and while Sophie chatted to one of the ladies, the other gave me the most amazing hand and arm massage I think I’ve ever had! I couldn’t resist buying a couple of their Halloween products and had to stop myself buying any of their Christmas bits!

After sitting down to eat our lunch, we then went over to the ESPA Skincare table, which looked so cosy and relaxing with their beautifully scented candles burning. We filled out our questionnaires and were then given goody bags to suit our specific skin needs, and also a voucher to go to their Southampton counter in John Lewis for a facial.

The final company we spoke to were In Situ Cosmetics who believe in personalising their skin care to suit each individual customer. We got a little goody bag with a few bits to try and an email with £20 off our first purchase, so I’m interested to look into that.

It was then time for the raffle, and I was lucky enough to win a prize from Silver Tree – a gorgeous Vivienne Westwood ring! Unfortunately, as time was getting on, Sophie and I had to say our goodbyes and weren’t able to see the last company, but we were both feeling pretty unwell and had reached our energy limit! We both left weighed down with goody bags and Lush purchases and I had a great time when I got home rooting through all my bags.

So, all in all, I had a fantastic day at my first ever blogger meet-up! For a while now I’ve been planning a meet-up a bit closer to home in Basingstoke, and am in talks with a few companies to find the best location. I’m now even more excited to get something organised, so if you’re in the Basingstoke/ South East England area and would like to hear more, please drop me a message!

Have you been to a blogger meet-up before, or would you like to in the future?