Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Botanics Skincare

Although I love experimenting with pretty make-up, I’m definitely a skincare girl at heart. I just love trying new products, pampering myself a bit and to have my skin feeling the best that it can. Although I certainly have some favourite products, I do like to wander round a store or browse online looking at other products on the market, and I’m always interested in trying new things. A while back, I was running out of a couple of items so decided to ask around for recommendations, as well as having a browse around my local Boots store.

First up, I needed to find a new toner. I’ve tried all sorts of toners over the years, from budget versions from the likes of Garnier, Nivea and Simple, to more expensive ones like the Pixi Glow Tonic. Although I enjoyed using all of these, I fancied a change. And while perusing the shelves of bottles and boxes, I came across the Botanics All Bright Cleansing Toner. According to Botanics, if you’re looking for a dose of radiance then this is the toner for you! I’m quite lucky with my skin, but one thing I do tend to find is that it can look a bit dull and tired. This toner contains Hibiscus, known for its brightening properties and exfoliating flower acids, which also improve skin’s texture and radiance. It sounded like just what my skin needed, and at £5.49, it wasn’t going to break the bank either.

I’ve been using it daily since then, and am nearly at the end of my bottle, so I feel I can now give it a proper review. After cleansing my face, I pop a bit of this on a cotton wool pad and sweep it across my skin, neck and dĂ©colletage. Unlike some toners I’ve tried, it feels gentle and delicate and hasn’t irritated my skin at all. It has a very subtle scent, which I quite like, as it doesn’t feel too overpowering. After using it, my face doesn’t end up feeling tight either – just cool and refreshed, ready for my moisturiser. I’ve received a few compliments recently, from people saying that my skin looks healthy and radiant, so I guess it must be doing what it’s meant to! Overall, I’m really enjoying using it (so much so that I’ve bought another bottle to replace this one when I finish it!) and am really happy with the way it leaves my skin looking and feeling. 

The next thing I wanted to replace was an under-eye treatment. Again, I’ve tried various things over the years, but my particular favourite was the No Puffery™ Cooling Roll-On from Origins. Unfortunately though, at £25, it isn’t something I can repurchase very often, so I wanted to try and find a cheaper alternative that gave similar results. I asked around on my social media for recommendations of a roller-ball eye treatment and a few people suggested I try the Botanics Brightening All Bright Refreshing Eye Roll-On. I really wanted to stick with a roll-on treatment because I just love the cooling and gentle massaging effect it has under my eyes at the end of the day. This one also contains Hibiscus, which was chosen for its skin brightening properties (essential when you have bags as big as suitcases under your eyes!) and it also helps to hydrate the under-eye area. 

As with the toner, I’ve been using this eye roll-on for quite a while now and am so happy to have found a cheaper alternative to my favourite Origins product (this one is only £8.99, rather than £25). It feels gently cooling under my eyes, which is great when they’re feeling uncomfortable and puffy, and it’s also really easy to apply. I tend to get a lot of headaches/pain around my eyes, and this feels so nice to apply – I’m tempted to keep it once it’s empty, just so I can massage under my eyes when the pain gets bad! The actual treatment is very gentle, with the same delicate scent as the toner. I definitely think it has brightening properties, as although I still have dark circles (it will take a miracle to get rid of those!) they do seem to be a bit brighter than they were before I started using this.

Although I’d heard of the Botanics range before, I had never really ventured in to trying any of the products. But after trying these two out, I wish I’d given the range a chance sooner! At Botanics, they believe in the power of plants for their holistic benefits to improve more than just your skin. They search for the most effective plant extracts to target skin’s specific needs and sustainably source these extracts from around the world. Their beauty products are formulated with plant extracts, natural and organic ingredients and are all developed to be effective while staying true to their ‘inspired by nature’ philosophy. They also like to make sure that their products don’t cost the earth, which is always a bonus.

After reading a bit more about the Botanics brand, and also trying a couple of their products, I will definitely be trying more from the range. I love that they are made from natural and organic ingredients and that they sustainably source these from around the world. The fact that the products feel gentle on my skin, whilst still working, is a massive positive for me. And, of course, it’s great that their range isn’t too expensive either!

Have you tried any products from the Botanics range at Boots? If so, what are your favourites that I should try out next?

Friday, 11 October 2019

Tea Travels - Afternoon Tea at Beatons Tearoom, Crowthorne

Regular readers of my blog will be aware of my ‘Tea Travels’ series, where I talk about different afternoon teas I have tried and what I think of them. I’m a big fan of going for afternoon tea (as is my Mum, so we often go together!) and so I thought writing a series about my experiences would be a good way to share my love of afternoon tea with you. Hopefully it will also give you some ideas of places to try if you’re like me and love the afternoon tea experience. And so, today, I’m back with another post in my Tea Travels series.

A few weeks ago I went for afternoon tea at Beatons Tearooms in Crowthorne with my brother, Richard, sister-in-law, Lisa, and my nephew, Noah. It was my birthday present to Lisa back in April, but we had only just got round to actually organising it. Beatons Tearoom and Bookshops have places in Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Shropshire and Berkshire. They exist to give people a peaceful and relaxed experience in stylish yet cosy surroundings. They’re inspired by society photographer Cecil Beaton and bring gracious hospitality, home made cakes and light meals to the table seven days a week. So whether you’re looking to relax and unwind over a pot of your favourite loose leaf tea, browse their specially curated selection of books to discover something new to delight, or treat yourself or your friends to a luxurious English Afternoon High Tea, Beatons, according to them, is the perfect choice. 

I had been to Beatons for food before, but never for afternoon tea, so was interested to see what it would be like. I rang and booked our table a couple of weeks in advance, which I would definitely recommend doing because the cafĂ© was really busy and they needed notice to prepare the full afternoon tea. And so, on a warm summer’s afternoon, we made our way over to Crowthorne High Street to Beatons Tearoom, where we were seated at a beautifully laid table with a reserved sign on it.

First, we were presented with the extensive tea menu and given some time to choose which teas everyone would like. There were so many different varieties to choose from, so it took us a little while to make the final decision! But in the end, I went for the Cherry Sencha – a Green Tea with delicate rose and natural cherry. We were also asked to choose which cake we would like with our afternoon tea. There was a large table overflowing with different types of handmade cake – from Carrot Cake and Brownies to Victoria Sponge or Chocolate Cake. I opted for the Coffee and Walnut Cake (as did Richard) and Lisa chose the Carrot Cake. We also ordered Noah a strawberry milkshake and a huge chocolate brownie.

Our teas arrived first – each of us was brought a different coloured teapot with a loose-leaf tea brewing inside. They had really thought of everything, as we also had a timer to let us know when our teas should be perfectly brewed, and each had a small saucer to place our used teabags on. My Cherry Sencha tea was incredibly delicate, floral and sweet – the perfect accompaniment for afternoon tea as the flavour wasn’t going to overpower the tastes of the food. 

And within a few minutes of us having our teapots, the elegant cake stands arrived, laden with delicious looking sweet and savoury treats. We started with the array of sandwiches that were beautifully displayed on the bottom of each cake stand. We were certainly spoilt for choice when it came to sandwich fillings! There was ham with tomato relish; cheese with onion marmalade; Brie and cranberry; tuna mayo; Coronation chicken and egg mayonnaise. And both plates were garnished with a generous salad. We quickly started to sample all the different sandwiches, which were all incredibly tasty. My personal favourite was probably the Brie and cranberry, but there wasn’t a sandwich that I didn’t like. 

Once we’d demolished the sandwich platters, we moved on to the scones – we had been given two large scones each! The scones were light and fluffy, tasting delicious wish lashings of jam and clotted cream. I always put jam on first and then cream (so that I can put a nice big dollop of cream on top!) – which way round do you do it?! After enjoying one scone, I decided to take the other one home with me, as I was feeling rather full already and still had my piece of cake to eat!

I’m glad I left room for my cake, as it really was tasty. The sponge was moist and full of flavour with pieces of crunchy walnut dotted through it, and the buttercream complimented it beautifully, without being overly sweet. And apparently the Carrot Cake was just as good (and Noah’s Brownie went down pretty well too!) It was a lovely way to finish off our afternoon tea experience. 

We had a lovely couple of hours at Beatons enjoying their afternoon tea. It’s a comfortable and cosy setting with a relaxed atmosphere, and I love the fact they also have a bookshelf in the corner where you could buy a book to read with your cuppa. The staff were friendly and welcoming and made us feel comfy and calm as we enjoyed our food. The Windsor Afternoon Tea cost us £20 per person (not including Noah), which I thought was very reasonable for the amount of food we were given. You could also ask for as much tea as you liked, which is always important! It’s definitely somewhere I would be happy to visit again (either for afternoon tea or something like breakfast or lunch) and if it’s somewhere you haven’t been before, I would recommend giving it a try.

Are you a fan of afternoon tea? Where are your favourite places to go? Perhaps I can add them to my list!