TRAVEL: Keeping Healthy When You're Travelling

When travelling, you are exposed to a variety of new situations, experiences, illnesses and toxins. In order to keep these from ruining your trip or your health, you should take precautions. The following are a few ways to avoid some of the biggest travel health issues.

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Start with Vaccinations
Before you travel anywhere, find out about what kind of diseases are prevalent there and what tourism ministries and health organizations recommend that you be vaccinated for before going there. While you may be perfectly well vaccinated for your home country, you might not be prepared for the diseases awaiting you somewhere else, and taking this precaution will ensure that you are less likely to contract anything unpleasant as you travel.

Don’t Drink the Water
Drinking local tap water in any country that’s not considered first world can be hazardous to your health. There is likely little to no treatment going on in the water supply, and you are putting your life at risk by drinking unfiltered and untreated tap water in many countries around the world. Most bottled water, however, is safe to drink, particularly if it is from a reputable source and claims to have undergone reverse osmosis on the packaging, which gets rid of most major waterborne pollutants.

Be Wary of the Food
You have to be just as careful of the food you are eating, especially if it is not packaged or is sold by street vendors. Not all places that sell food will adhere to the local cleanliness and health regulations, so you never know what you may be getting. Before you eat anything that you don’t know for sure is properly cooked and stored, you would find out from tourism ministries or people you trust whether it is safe to eat all kinds of foods in the area you are visiting.

Meats and fruits are the worst offenders, as they can carry bacteria that other foods may not, and knowing where they come from and how they are prepared will help to keep you safe. You also want to be careful about trying new foods, even if they are prepared properly. Some may contain items you are allergic to or may be spicier than you are used to. It’s good to find out what you are eating before you eat it, just to be on the safe side.

Protect against Malaria
One of the most common illnesses travelers deal with is malaria, and this is usually spread by mosquito bite. Its simple enough to protect against those bites by wearing repellent, keeping windows closed and using mosquito netting where possible, but you definitely want to check ahead and see if malaria is a problem in the country you are visiting so that you can be properly prepared.
If you find that malaria is present there, then carrying treatment for the virus is just common sense. You can’t expect that there will be ready treatment nearby when you contract malaria, so bringing your own treatment is the only way to ensure you will stay safe. It is advised to speak to your doctor or pharmacist beforehand as treatments such as Malarone and Doxycycline require you to start before travelling.
These tips should help you avoid some of the more common pitfalls that some travelers succumb to as they visit new places.

NIGHTLIFE: Why Victoria Gate Casino Is Not Just A Casino

Victoria Gate in Leeds recently won an award for the best shopping centre in England, and with the new John Lewis department store sweeping in and the big southern brands like Anthropologie, Aspinalls, and The White Company, not to mention many more, it's not difficult to see why. The legacy of the 'grim north' is slowly dying a death, now that the artsy, sophistication of Leeds city life is finally starting to become more prevalant. With an influx of new sassy bars, and now the ever-so-popular Victoria Gate; the shiny classy design of the arcade is big hit. Not only is it packed full of luxury shops and restaurants, but it is now home to Victoria Gate Casino. A couple of escalator rides up into a mini Las Vegas right in the heart of Yorkshire. Its appealing and decadent splurge of stunning interior design and home to Curve Bar and their sports bar which is breathtakingly massive, for the sports lovers of today, it has a luxury cinematic feel, and a bar right next to you for those cold alcholic beverages. It's aesthetically pleasing, and so large that it feels big enough to claim your own little spot somewhere. Perhaps on one of their balcony areas, which are private and intimate and perfect for those warm summer evenings when Prosecco is on tap.

Curve Bar
Curve Bar friendly staff 
Cocktail making
Pink Blush Cocktail
With a vast range of slot machines, roulette tables and poker tables, there is something for everyone to try their hand at. Even people who are unwilling to gamble, dummy games are available, which creates fun and enjoyment for a party of friends. Open 24 hours a day, every day, the casino does not even require membership, which is a pre-requisite for most casinos in the UK. Instead, there is a choice of membership, which entitles you to free tea or coffee and a point collection, which can be redeemed for bets or the restaurant. The Curve Bar gave us a fabulous cocktail masterclass, which included the background information on the cocktails they serve. I made a Pink Blush, a perfect tropical refresher, which felt utterly joyful on a beautiful spring evening! Their V restaurant, is the suave sophisticated place to relax with good food and drink, with food to cater to all tastes. It isn't just a casino, it's a place to socialise, and it's pure luxury.

Look out for their Red & Black Promotion, to be in with a chance to win either a BMW 1 Series Sport or a Mini One. To win, collect four entry stamps by visting the casino and then choose either the red or black box. The first winner will be chosen live on the evening of Thursday April 13th and the second winner will be drawn live on Thursday May 18th. Are you Team Red or Team Black?

Roulette tables 
For more information on the competition and the casino, click on their website here.

*Thank you to Victoria Gate Casino for inviting me as their guest. Please gamble and drink responsibly.*

BEAUTY: The Foundation Of Beauty

Photo Courtesy of: Pexels
One of the most important products in our makeup bag, has to be our foundation.  A good foundation is going to fake it where you need, hide the areas you aren’t happy with and give you the perfect, natural glow.  It is one product you may think twice about skimping on, although it is possible to bag yourself a bargain.  Let’s take a look at some of the best on the market and why they are worth splashing out on.
This is an amazing foundation for those who want to indulge in a foundation with skincare benefits.  Moisturizing, but not oily, it will give your skin a beautiful glow without appearing shiny.  The shade selection is so good with a variety of choices from beige base to rose base and loads of shades between.  It will give you flawless skin with a perfect matte shade that will last all day and look incredible in photos.  It will also help with your oily skin, evening out skin tone and preventing breakouts.  It won’t cause dry skin to flake either.

You won’t need to look at short term loans either, this foundation comes in at £37 but will last you a good 6 months even with daily use.  
Laura Mercier Silk Crème 
If you have acne prone skin then Laura Mercier is perfect for you.  With flawless coverage you will find it is really kind on fair, sensitive and acne prone skin.  The best way to apply it is with a primer, then using a foundation brush to buff the foundation around your skin.  You will almost think you are using a magic wand on your face! Whilst it will help plump up your skin, don’t forget to drink plenty of water too
Price wise, Laura comes in a little under Chanel, but she is worth every penny.  So you can expect to pay around £33 
Armani Maestro

If it is everyday foundation you want then you cannot get better than Maestro from Armani.  It will melt into your skin without a cakey feel.  You get a beautiful glow without looking orange and it delivers even looking skin you will be proud of.  With such light coverage it takes just a minute to apply so is great for those of you with less time in the morning.  If you have combination skin then you will still get a beautiful flawless finish.
You can pick up Armani Maestro in Debenhams for £40 which makes it the most expensive so far.
This is the best for when your complexion is in need of a serious pick-me-up.  So if you have been burning the candle at both ends this Rimmel foundation will work absolute wonders - and regularly makes the cut above more expensive options. Created with a 100% poreless coverage formula and radiance boosting pearls you will only need a light sweep to create the best looking, healthy glow every.  
Head into Boots you will find Rimmel WMU for £8.99 making it a remarkable buy given the quality of coverage.  
So, that’s it! Get out there and get gorgeous!

BEAUTY: Oh, What A Smile!

You might be surprised to know how much a guy rates a girl’s smile on the list of favorites about their appearance. But it’s no wonder a smile sits quite highly on the list. After all, it can brighten up your whole face and make you look more attractive. But if you hate your smile, it’s time to try and improve it. After all, there are some easy ways you can give it a boost. In fact, here is how to ensure people love your smile in future.
Go For Great Lipstick And Lip Liner
The first thing you need to do is go for a great lipstick if you want to boost your smile. After all, it can make all the difference to your smile if you go for a rocking colour. Therefore, you might want to go for a luscious pink or a ruby red which can make your smile stand out. In fact, red can often make your lips look bigger! And as well as choosing a great lipstick to make your smile look top notch, you should also go for a great lip liner. After all, you can apply this just above and below your lip to help them stand out more. In fact, a lot of celebs use this technique to make their lips look superb. And finish off with a gloss which will shine brightly when you do treat someone to a smile!

Work On Your Teeth 
There’s nothing worse than feeling self-conscious when you want to smile. After all, it might not make the smile genuine if you are forcing your lips to stay shut. But if you dislike your teeth, you might not have a choice when it comes to opening your mouth. After all, you don’t want people to see your poor teeth. And if they are discolored, it can often damage your smile rather than making it look perfect. However, there are some things you can do if you want to improve your smile. Firstly, make sure you are brushing regularly which can give the teeth the boost they need. You also need to look into ways to make them whiter which can help boost your smile. For one thing, you could look into some form of natural toothbrush which you can get from companies like Miswak Club. These not only promise you whiter teeth, but they can also give your breath a boost too. That way, you will be happy to open your mouth and show off your beautiful smile.

Make It Genuine 
A lot of people make an error with their smile by not making it genuine. But a forced smile is never attractive. In fact, it can put people off you as you might look arrogant or cocky with a fake smile. Therefore, if you want to give your smile a boost, make sure you let it be genuine. Of course, you can still practice in the mirror to perfect it. But then let it come to you naturally to ensure it looks beautiful. You will be surprised to receive more compliments then than with a natural smile!

And remember to ensure you moisturise your lips to keep them in good condition. Using something like vaseline throughout the day will stop them chapping!

Create The Best Summer Interiors

The Great British Summers are long gone. Either bad luck or environmental issues, such as global warming have contributed to England become colder and even more dreary during these special summer months. If we're lucky, we can strike up the BBQ and enjoy a glass of vino in the back garden; but it's also very important to maintain a beautiful indoors also, a place to retreat to when the clouds roll in and you want that little bit of luxury indoors. You can always bring summer indoors!

Let's look at some of the top trends that we have been seeing lately; this way you can pick and choose what suits your decor best. I always like to opt for neutral walls, perhaps with one feature wall; mostly because my tastes change drastically and often, keeping a blank canvas is a brilliant way to ensure you can always easily go back to the drawing board.

Nautical Theme

This is such a simple yet elegant way to bring a little bit of summer into your home. I always think of Greece when I think nautical, so many beautiful islands, ready to explore on boats, and adopting a nautical print to your home can be really summery, and keep you feeling as summery as possible right the away through to winter. Dark blue sailor print stripes, or bold aquas. Seashells are a lovely way to feel summery, you can buy them in a bundle or collect them on your travels. I have a little bit of each; I've yet to find the perfect shell on my travels! Earthy objects, rope effect, cork, sand in jars, it all brings that essence of summer to your interiors!

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Plant Mania

Plants will always look elegant and classy. They will always bring the outdoors indoors very effortlessly, and a lot of plants are low maintenance. If I'm away from home on the road, I don't want my plants to die. Succulents are the most resilient and look stunning especially small ones on a windowsill or sideboard. Pick colours that epitomise summer yet will also carry you through the other months. Such as pinks, purples, these shades can last all seasons. Hanging plants are very popular now and can be found in many home stores. You do not even have to use real plants, artificial flowers can look just as good and are much easier to play around with. Create your own terrarium, that is such a brilliant way to pass time and create something pretty for your home.

Photo Courtesy: Retro World

Kitchen Style

Have your summer parties in your kitchen. Find some bunting and fit it around the kitchen, choose pastels and pretty summery shades. Add a touch of summer with coloured glasses, coloured pitchers and paper straws always have that summer vibe to them. Blues are always a popular colour, according to a recent survey! Blues can also look lovely on kitchen walls, especially pale blues, and it adds a sense of calm also. Try blue in your bedroom too, especially if you suffer with anxieties, the calming effect of blues has been proven!

Keeping Cosy Still

Just because it's summer, doesn't mean that you can't still create cosy vibes in your home. Light knitted white blankets for your bed, or perhaps a netted embossed throw for your sofa. Keep the colours and textures light and enjoy layering; after all, British summers are never sweltering, and can still be very cool. Whites, creams, golds and pastels are all perfect for summer.

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You can find inspiration anywhere for your home. In a recent trip to Dublin, click here for my post "Twelve Hours in Dublin". I found some beautiful interiors and architecture in and around the city. Ireland is such a wonderful inspiring place to be, and I am constantly inspired by the cities and countries I visit. I believe you can take little parts of each of them and recreate them at home. You could of course, choose some green velvet cushions to keep in with Irish tradition of course! It is such a cliche to associate green with Ireland, but we do, and greens are such an outdoors, nature colour which really can add a touch of summer to your home. Leaf prints also work very well and look lovely with the white throws! When you have your home perfect, you have to ensure it stays that way. Be secure, and keep your home protected with Chill Insurance and be sure you're covered in all aspects. Interior design is fun, cathartic and a true depiction of who you are as a person and where you have come from. It's also your pefect haven after a day at work or a week on the road, and we should always be at our most content and relaxed when we are at home. So get perusing on the net and pinning those Pinterest interior pics and start enjoying summer until it's over!

TRAVEL: Canada’s Coolest Festivals

Canada might not be the first place you consider when thinking about festivals, but the North American country is actually home to some of the coolest, most wonderful festivals on the planet.

Photo Courtesy of: Flickr
Before you check out my list of some of Canada’s coolest festivals, I should tell you that, if you would like to visit any of these events, you may need first to visit where you can apply electronic travel authorization, which you may need to gain entry to the country. Now that’s out of the way, check out these fantastic Canadian festivals:
Celtic Colours International Event
One of Canada’s most loved festival, the Celtic Colours International Event takes place in each October and is a celebration of North America’s rich Celtic culture. Whether you have Celtic blood, you’re a history buff, or you just want to have a good time checking out the traditions of the Celts, this is a great event to visit. You can visit to find out more about this year’s event, which is set to be one of the best yet!
Montreal Just for Laughs Festival
This fun family festival usually takes place in July, which means that the weather is significantly better than it is for much of the year in Montreal. As you can see at, in the past, the festival has played host to huge comedians including Judd Apatow, Amy Poehler and the cast of Veep!

Photo Courtesy of: Flickr
The Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede is quite possibly the most famous festival in Canada. Also held in July, 1 million people travel to the event annually, all of whom are drawn there by its vibrant, family friendly atmosphere, rocking rodeo events and evening entertainment showcasing the best of Western culture.
Vancouver Symphony of Fire
Many tourists visit Canada just to see the Vancouver Symphony of Fire, which is thought to be the biggest firework competition on the planet. Taking place every summer, the Symphony of Fire is a beautiful spectacle that lights up the skies and the faces of those who are lucky enough to attend the event.

Photo Courtesy of: Flickr
Montreal Jazz Fest

If you can’t get enough of great jazz music, you won’t want to miss out on this July event, which sees more than 2,000 international jazz artists descend on the city for a cool time.
Toronto International Film Festival
Those film buffs amongst you will probably know that the Toronto International Film Festival is the place to see some of the greatest films of the year before anyone else does. Coming to the event, which is held in September will also put you in close proximity to a whole host of film stars and famous director, making it a great event for star-spotters too!
Quebec Winter Carnival
Canada is a magical, although harsh place in winter, and it is made even more wonderful by the Quebec Winter Carnival, which takes place towards the end of January. If you pay this festival a visit, you’ll be able to sample some of the finest Canadian foods and drinks available. I recommend the poutine.

GARDEN: Eight Tips For Proper Care of an Outdoor Fountain

A great asset to any home is a water fountain. It can add beauty to your garden or backyard and also provides a soothing element that is beneficial to the overall ambiance. When compared to indoor water fountains, outdoor water fountains do require more care and maintenance. Below are eight tips that can help you properly care for your outdoor water fountains guaranteeing that it will stay in great shape for many years.

Photo Courtesy of: Pixabay
1. Choose the Best Installation Spot

The first step that must be taken to ensure your outdoor water fountain´s longevity is to choose a spot that is suitable for its placement. Make sure to not put it near high traffic areas, this will avoid it being damaged as well as prevent any accidents if children were to be around. Find a location where it can prominently be displayed, yet at the same time be protected from any harsh wind.

2. Make Sure to Securely Place the Outdoor Water Fountain

If the water fountain is not secured in place, strong winds could easily topple it over and cause it to be damaged. Make sure to firmly affix the base of the fountain to the ground and the basin must in turn winds. This will help make sure that even during adverse weather conditions; the fountain will be held in place.

3. Use Compatible Cleaners to Clean the Fountain

Different materials such as stainless steel, concrete, and copper, just to name a few, are used to make outdoor water fountains, It is important to remember that when you clean your outdoor water fountain, the cleanser you use must be compatible with the fountain's materials. As often as possible, avoid any abrasive cleansers.

4. Regularly Pick Out Leaves and Other Debris

Twigs, dead leaves, bird droppings, and algae are just a few of the many contaminants that can be found in outdoor water fountains, It is important to regularly pick out these contaminants, this will prevent the formation of impediments and blocks in the water flow.

5. Clean Out Water Every Other Day

Many birds will use an outdoor water fountain as a drinking or bathing stations. Remember that if the water in an outdoor water fountain is dirty or murky, its efficiency can longevity will be reduced. This is why it is important to clean the fountain and replace the water at least every other day, if not daily. If this practice is regularly kept, the amount of time spent cleaning will be minimal.

6. Regularly Clean the Pump

The most vital piece of an outdoor water fountain is the pump. It is also the piece that gets dirty the fastest. In order to prolong your outdoor water fountain´s life, it is important to regularly clean the pump. To get into the smaller corners you can use a soft toothbrush, this will thoroughly clean the pump. Here are some good tips.

7. During Winter Months Protect Your Fountain

An important part of caring for your outdoor fountain is winterizing it. The best option would be to dismantle it and store it indoors during the winter. However, if that is not practical, you have to empty your fountain of all water and then securely cover it with a tarp. This is true for free standing fountains and also wall fountains for outdoors.

8. Repair Cracks and Apply Sealant as Needed

Regularly inspect the surface of your outdoor fountain and look for any signs of damage or cracks. If any are found, immediately repair then and seal them to prevent further damage.