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5 of the best deep conditioners for dry/damaged hair.

I despise my hair pretty much all the time and have often thought about doing a Natalie Portman and shaving it all off but unfortunately I have too much of a weird head shape for such shenanigans. It’s thick, wavy, unmanageable, dry and generally out of control which means I’m quite the expert in hair products that give my mane a much needed moisture boost and enable me to run my fingers through it like Nicole Scherzinger having an orgasm. I’ve had a few Brazilian Blowdry treatments and I really recommend them if your hair type is similar to mine (ie. shit) and it only costs £65 from my local salon, Colour My life. As with all hair/beauty treatments I book through Wahanda to receive a 30% discount and I’m actually going for one tomorrow, woo!

cat wearing wig

morocconoil treatment oil1 – Moroccanoil Treatment.

This is hands down the best thing I have EVER put on my hair and something I will continue to purchase until they stop making it (and then I’ll scour eBay and pay £200+ for a bottle…) because it’s the only thing that makes my hair appear healthy. I use the oil mixed with a little of the Kerastase Ciment Thermique before I blow dry and it leaves my hair soft, shiny and really easy to straighten. I’ve used everything from the range and I’m really fond of the Glimmer Shine spray which really does what it says on the tin and leaves a gorgeous sheen and like all Moroccanoil products, smells incredible. The shampoo and conditioner are also amazing but as I seem to go through them quickly I don’t purchase that often as they’re pretty pricey. Often recommended after a Brazilian Blow dry treatment as they’re sulfate free and won’t strip the hair of the keratin solution that is applied to keep the hair straight and sleek.

From around £12 for the 25ml bottle and £30 for the larger 100ml bottle.

Redken_All_Soft_Heavy_Cream_250ml_13649117392 – Redken All Soft Heavy Cream.

One of the very first high-end deep conditioning treatments I used, the whole Redken All Soft range is amazing and I fully recommend them if your hair is dry/damaged or just needs a little moisture boost during the colder months when cold weather and central heating really saps the life out of your locks. Containing a plethora of proteins and amino acids as well as argan oil this treatment will really bring your hair back to life after just one use. It has a gorgeous texture, thick and creamy and won’t drip if you leave it on for an hour or so as an intensive treatment (wrapping your hair in cling film and blasting it with a hair dryer will help it penetrate even deeper.) I would also advise using alongside the All Soft shampoo to really get the best out of this product, they’re not too badly priced and a little goes a long way. I like to comb it through the lengths of my hair using a wide toothed comb and keeping it in for a couple of hours whilst I do some housework or watch a film etc. it really makes a difference towel drying your hair off a bit first too so you don’t lose half of the treatment in water!

From around £15 for a 250 tub

aveda black malva color conditioner3 – Aveda Black Malva Color Conditioner.

Not advertised as a deep conditioner but works just as well, if not better, this multi-use product is one of my favourite things to use between colour touch ups (I’m naturally mousey brown and dye my hair black) as it diminishes any red/brassy tones whilst leaving my hair soft, tangle free and fabulous. A word of warning – be careful when using this in the shower as I ruined a white shower curtain with it and it can stain tile grout too. Smells a bit odd, more botanical than the usual clean, soapy hair care scent but if you have dyed or natural dark hair this is definitely something you need in your bathroom. Obviously I use Black Malva as my hair is dark but there’s a Color Conditioner for all shades, including a Blue Malva to add brightness to white blonde hair.

From around £18 for 250ml

philip kingsley elasticizer4 – Philip Kingsley Elasticizer.

The iconic pre-shampoo treatment is a real love or hate product but for my hair type I feel it really works and I notice quite a dramatic difference in the texture of my hair when I next wash it. Apparently healthy hair stretches when wet whereas brittle, damaged and over styled hair breaks and snaps off so the Elasticizer delivers elasticity and moisture to help hair bounce back to a healthier state. So there you go.I often style my hair using conditioner and water and whacking it up in a Croydon facelift so swapping conditioner for the Elasticizer gives it a full day to work its magic. It’s pretty pricey but you can buy smaller tubes on eBay and they seem to do the rounds often in monthly beauty boxes, QVC also do really good deals on the large tubs and you really only need a tiny bit. If you find it’s too heavy I would advise just using on the ends to still benefit from the rush of moisture the Elasticizer provides.

From around £15 for 75ml and £27 for a 150ml tub

joico k-pak reconstructor5 – Joico K-Pak Deep Penetrating Reconstructor Treatment.

This is one of my favourite deep conditioners ever and one I repurchase over and over as it does exactly what it says on the tin. This is one you can use in a quick 10 min shower as it takes just 5 mins to get to work with immediate effect, as soon as you rinse you can feel your hair is already in much better condition with zero tangles and hardly any fall out. I’m one of them girls who can clog up the plughole with my hair after I’ve washed it, so gross! The K-Pak treatment contains a high concentration of Quadramine Complex for maximum reconstruction and protection from root to tip for healthier, shiny looking hair. Using this treatment makes my hair so easy to straighten with a noticeably lesser drying time which is something I detest as my hair is so long it makes my arms ache. Smells quite similer to the Redken All Soft Heavy Cream, not sweet or soapy but clean and non-offensive so good for guys too!

From £12 for 150ml

A little shout out for Dove Advanced Hair Series Pure Care Oil Treatment Mask if you’re on a budget, I always have this is my bathroom and use it in place of a regular conditioner. I also really like Tigi Bed Head Dumb Blonde Reconstructor as it really makes my hair feel amazing BUT it smells hideous! Imagine someone who has just drunk a thousand piña coladas has just thrown up all over your head. The smell doesn’t go either and everytime you swish your fabulous hair you get a massive whiff of it. Grim.

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18 things I wish I could tell my 18 year old self.

37213_165806920098957_3048981_n (1)1 – Those DIY blonde highlights are really not a good look. Nor are those massive chavvy earrings that sit on your shoulders and make your neck hurt when you sleep with them in after a night on the WKD’s. The lashings of mascara to make your eyes look like spider legs doesn’t look as great as you think and that neon orange fake tan makes you look incredibly stupid, especially those massive tide marks along your jaw. Sort it out.

2 – Choose quality over quantity when it comes to clothes, especially staples like jeans and coats. Primark leggings are £3 a pair and there’s a reason for this, everyone can see your My Little Pony pants through them and it’s not a pretty sight. Make sure you have a set of well-fitting black trousers and a smart shirt for job interviews (and funerals) that are from anywhere but Matalan.

3 – Don’t be so honest, the truth rarely sets you free. Surviving the various minefields of life requires 75% honesty and 25% bullshit, be good at the latter and you’ll go far.

4 – Cherish your time with loves ones because as cliché as it sounds, they really won’t be around forever and when the time comes you’ll regret not doing all the things you said you would do.

business cat5 – Don’t fret over college and university. Only a few lucky ones know what they’re calling is at such a tender age and whilst a degree can take you places, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have one. Your drive, personality and ambition will see you through just fine and you’ll meet a lot of people who spent a shitload of money on a degree that has no relation to their career.

6 – A broken heart can be healed, although it does get worse every time and it’ll happen quite a few times and yes some men can be complete shit but there are really good men out there, try not to push them away out of spite.

7 –  Your mum is your best friend and she really does know best. You will have earth shattering arguments and refuse to listen to her but it’s true what they say and she really does have your best interests at heart and no one will ever love you as much as she does.

8 – Always listen to your gut instinct, especially when it comes to people. Right from the word go you’ll meet some people and something will just be off and you can’t quite put your finger on it, this is your gut instinct kicking in telling you they’re bad news. Listen to it, it’s never wrong.

kim k money

9 – START A SAVINGS ACCOUNT and make reasonable monthly deposits. The time will come when you’ll want to fly the nest and have your own slice of mortgage hell and houses are bloody expensive but if you start saving now you’ll have something to put down and get on the property ladder rather than throwing your money into a black hole by renting. Oh, and house shares suck a thousand fat ones.

10 – Don’t sweat what other people think of you. If someone doesn’t like you (and makes it obvious) don’t let their negative vibes rub off on you and just forget about them. Don’t bring yourself down to their level, be polite, be professional if the occasion calls for it but whatever you do don’t bring yourself down to their level. You’re so much more than that.

11 – Stand up for yourself and don’t let anyone take the piss. In school you detested bullying and always stood up for the quiet kid who couldn’t defend themselves but what about when you’re the one at the hands of a bully? You’ll encounter bullies in various forms, especially in the workplace and you’re perfectly within your rights to go above them and nip it in the bud and to not take any shit.

12 – Stop drinking so much alcohol. You’ll literally piss your pay packet up the wall and all it does is make you gain weight, lose a day or two, do stupid shit you’ll regret and skint you out. Know your limits, throwing up into a pint glass and rinsing your mouth out to then go back and drink more is not big or clever, it’s just a waste of money and pretty disgusting.

13 – Let it go. Don’t hold grudges, people aren’t perfect and neither are you. Being angry at the world is stressful and damaging and these emotions will eat you alive if you continue to feed them. Try not to hate, everyone is fighting their own battle you have no idea about.

14 – Never feel like you’re not good enough for anyone, or anything. Some you win, some you lose and that’s just how it goes.

beyonce cooking15 – Learn how to cook and educate yourself about nutrition and how your body works. Cooking is a life skill and the sooner you know what you’re doing the better you’ll be for when you fly the nest. You only have one body, look after it and stop filling it with crap.

16 – Travel the world and broaden your horizons whilst you’re young and financially carefree. Whilst you don’t have rent to pay travel as much as you can! The world truly is your oyster, work a season here, a season there and a season way over there. You’ll meet amazing people and things you never thought you were capable of. The real world can teach you things you’ll never learn in a classroom.

17 – LEARN TO DRIVE. Do it now whilst your young and have a disposable income, driving lessons (and time to do them) are bloody expensive and it’s another skill that will come in very handy.

18 – Stop doubting yourself and comparing yourself to others, you make mistakes like everyone else and you’re far from perfect but you really are fucking awesome.

jung-top

5 reasons why women with tattoos and piercings are awesome

Here’s a little something I wrote for Tattoo Love! 

After reading this complete piece of crap I couldn’t help but be compelled to pen a reply as a young tattooed and pierced woman who is neither slutty, boring, mentally ill, selfish or without foresight as mentioned in the article. I have my own opinions on the writers and readers of that dreadful site which is a whole new post entirely but as you can see from the guy who wrote it, he’s bald, bitter and not exactly a heart throb but let’s not dwell on that too much as I’m sure he’s a really nice guy *sarcastic face*. Whilst I know tattoos are not to everyone’s liking and some guys don’t find them particularly attractive on women and that’s that’s cool, whatever floats your boat but please don’t put us down or bash the guys who think we’re the best thing since heavy metal and Krispy Kreme.

jung-top

 1 – We’re creative and adventurous. Most tattoos have a hell of a lot of thought behind them (dolphins around the belly button and Rihannaesque stars maybe not so much…) and have a huge back story that means a lot to their wearer. Having highly visable tattoos can cause problems in the workplace if you have a white collar job so most heavily tattooed people work in creative industries such as graphic design, hairdressing, make up artistry etc. where it’s not such a problem and supports our artistic capabilities but don’t be fooled, surgeons, lawyers, teachers and even bankers have been known to have some impressive ink under those suits and ties. Our creative spark is not only just used in our professional lives, we’re also awesome in the kitchen and the bedroom… Ahem.

 kat-von-d-pinup2 – Tattoos are frikkin’ hot! Erm, have you not SEEN Kat Von D, Sabina Kelley and pretty much every Suicide Girl?! These girls are smokin’ hot with incredible ink and if you delve a little deeper you will see most of them have successful careers outside of modelling and are university educated and well travelled. There are many tattooed model networks out there in which you can pay to see full (tastefully) nude photo albums etc. and to date, one of the most famous websites for hot, tattooed women suicidegirls.com has a staggering 2,661 models with thousands of followers and fans across various social media platforms. That’s quite a lot of dudes who like looking at tattooed chicks not to mention the Twitter/Facebook/Instragram/Pintrest/ pages that are dedicated to women with tattoos that also have a plethora of fans.

 Tattooed-old-people3 – We pride ourselves on being different and standing out from the crowd. Personally speaking, I would HATE to look like everyone else and in a sea of grey I’m a burst of colourful energy and I love that my body is a canvas to some incredible artwork which I poured a lot of thought into. Whilst I asked a few male friends what they liked so much about tattooed chicks they all had roughly the same answer – they’re different and interesting to look at which makes them incredibly attractive. Of course, we don’t get tattoos so men find us more attractive, there are a number of reasons why women choose to get a tattoo and making the huge decision to permanently decorate your body is not one to be taken lightly. We understand it’s there for life (as we’re constantly reminded…) and yes when we’re old and wrinkly of course they won’t look as good but you’ll be just as wrinkly as us and won’t look any better.

 4 – We’re confident and outgoing. When you have a lot of tattoos, attention when out and about is inevitable and that’s something that comes with the territory when you chose to look different from the norm. Generally, most people who are heavily tattooed enjoy the attention their body art brings and tend to be friendly, outgoing and more open minded than most as they know the stigma that comes along with tattoos and piercings. We also seem to be missing that ‘princess’ gene that can make girls high–maintenance, demanding bastards. Tattooed chicks love going to raves, festivals, camping and all that good stuff and we’ll even poop in a Portaloo without throwing a fit. We also drink beer and eat pizza with the boys, none of that low-carb crap here, and we’ll even get a round in and play Pac-Man with you.

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 5 – We really don’t care what you think of us. In a world full of rules and regulations it’s a very refreshing and admirable trait, especially in women who are force fed propaganda from magazines and advertising on how we should look in order to be considered attractive. All throughout life we’re told how to act, think and present ourselves as to fit in, from our early years at nursery where we’re made to wear a drab uniform and not allowed to dye our hair or wear fabulous shoes that have a light up heel because it’s against the rules to the adult workplace where similar guidelines are in place. Having tattoos, piercings and looking different to everyone else is like sticking a middle finger up to the rules and society and it’s an incredibly liberating feeling.

Read more by Karleigh at TattooLove.org & The Karleigh Show

 

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10 tips for single ladies.

 

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You’re busy with work, you’re still butthurt over an ex, you haven’t got the time to meet people etc. yep, I’ve heard it all from women who badly want a relationship but will make every excuse under the sun as to why they’re cool with being single and why searching for a partner is too much hard work. No one seems to admit to wanting a partner, as a woman you’re made to feel desperate and clingy but being single can be awesome, I know this. I’ve lived this. But sometimes you reach a point where you want someone to go home to, you want someone to share shit with and it’s OK to admit that. You won’t suddenly burst into flames and a rampant midget won’t jump out of the ground and imprint ‘desperate’ on your forehead nor will your vagina suddenly spout a flag emblazoned with ‘I want a baby NOW!’ on it with an arrow pointing to your face. Everyone needs a little love and with the internet at your fingertips bursting at the seams with single men waiting to rip your heart and pants apart it’s easier than ever to find the Jay to your Bey and being drunk in love, instead of well, just drunk.

beyonce single ladies1 – Admit you’re open to meeting someone. Being defensive won’t do you any favours as people will be less hesitant to introduce you to other single friends they have at the risk of having their head bitten off. Plus it’s a dead give away you want a relationship when you get all shitty over happy couples and their PDA’s. You bitter wench.

2 – Go out with other single friends more. Not only does constant socialising with couples make you feel like a spare wheel there’s also less chance of you meeting someone than if you were out with a group of girls plus it will make feel a bit less shit when you hear they’re not getting any either. Oh and you can’t really have an unforgettable night out with a group of loaded, pissed up suits if Suzie and Mike have got to be back home for 10 to put little Timmy to bed. Just make sure your fellow wing women aren’t more attractive than you, or have bigger tits.

3 – Don’t be a stuck up arsehole when guys DO approach you in bars and other social gatherings. I’ve SEEN this happen right in front of me, a decent looking guy has struck up conversation with a (single) friend of mine and to make herself look big and mighty in front us she looked him up and down and rudely rejected his offer of a drink. What a bitch. These women are the reason why men don’t offer to buy women drinks any more and it’s a real shame a guy will stare at you in a bar until the cows come home but only talk to you when he’s stalked you on Facebook to send you a message. Urgh. If you’re genuinely not interested, just say sorry and immediately turn your attention elsewhere but I guess this can open up a whole can of worms regarding the catcalling business but I’m a firm believer in still being polite. One thing that rattles my cage with that video was the way she just ignored everyone that spoke to her, a quick ‘sorry I’m not interested’ would have saved her some drama IMHO but that’s a whole different post.

being single4 – Attend social events for things you really love to meet like-minded people and of course a possible love interest. Websites like Meetup are really good for meeting people you share common ground with and most members of each group are there because they’re single and/or new to the area so it’s a bit of an unwritten rule people are there to date as well as make new friends.

5 – Choose your online dating sites wisely. Sites like Tinder are famous for hook-ups and casual flings and if that’s what you’re after then cool but for something more serious it could be worth investing in a paid site that matches you to people you have things in common with rather than a site that is based purely on looks and how long it would take to jump on the night bus for a booty call. Nice.

6 – The easiest way to get over someone is to get under someone else. Oh yeah, that ol’ chestnut! But it’s true, if you’re hurting over a breakup and you’ll feel like you’ll never meet anyone it’s probably because you’re giving out negative energy and digging yourself further into a rut. Once you go on your first date as a newly single you’ll find meeting people a lot easier and wonder what you were so upset about.

7 – Make a bit of an effort with yourself when out and about because you really don’t know who you’re going to meet when you’re on your way to work, grabbing a sandwich at a poncey artisan coffee shop or going for the burn in the gym. It could be something simple like shaving your legs daily, investing in a gorgeous, well-fitting bra or wearing an item of clothing you usually only reserve for special occasions that makes you feel more confident.

8 – Try something different. Taking a class at the gym is a brilliant way of meeting new people and the ice will already be broken as you’ve probably muttered a few obscenities under your breath as your arms feel like jelly and your kettlebell is wetter than your mum at a Peter Andre concert. You’ll get fit and meet loads of fitties, win-win.

facebook-status-as-single9 – Refresh your social networking profiles to show your single status, a lot of people will check your marital status via an online social networking profile before approaching you, just to be sure you’re not married. Oh and talking of social networking, ladies, keep all those dumb slutty Marilyn Monroe quote pictures OFF of your feeds, if he can’t handle you at your worst you’re probably a cunt.

10 – Go on blind dates, what’s the worst that could happen? Unless your friends are complete wankers you could be missing out on meeting someone amazing, or at least having a funny story to tell at the end of it!

hamburg christmas market

Top 5 Christmas Markets in Europe

christmas markets

Trying to not sound like an X Factor contestant, Christmas hasn’t really been the same since my Dad left a couple of years ago and he seemed to take the magic with him as it just wasn’t the same any more and living in a house share that’s barely decorated it doesn’t even feel like Christmas in the December run up. Whilst we now celebrate with a crazy day at my aunt and uncles I still feel a bit bah humbug as everyone starts to get excited which is eased by the awesome Christmas markets that are held in London and small towns from the middle of November. I would LOVE to visit a Christmas market abroad, especially since falling in love with Berlin a couple of weeks ago but unfortunately my funds and ability to tolerate nob heads on budget airlines has seen me staying put for the time being but I’ve put this awesome list together for those who fancy a romantic weekend away, a shopping trip or a treat for their kids to really get in the Christmas spirit!

1 – London, England

winter wonderlandAs someone who mentally flies the Union Jack at every available opportunity (I’m proud to be British, don’t shoot me) and was born and bred on the mean streets of South London how could I not mention my beloved home town? Situated in the picturesque Hyde Park, just a short stroll from London’s famous shopping strip Oxford Street Winter Wonderland draws in thousands of excited visitors year after year with it’s vast Christmas market, array of bars, eateries and fun fair including a huge big wheel that gives spectacular views over the park lit up in all its glory. Visitors can book in to skate on the glittering ice rink or explore the Magical Ice Kingdom or simply enjoy the magic from a carousel bar that slowly turns (maybe not a good idea after too many mulled wines…) and for a real Christmas treat there’s the Zippos Christmas Circus which is performed in the biggest circus tent in London! It really is a magical place, I return year after year just to see the excitement on everyone’s face and shove my own in a bag of freshly fried churros dripping in chocolate fudge sauce. Yum. A word of warning though it’s quite expensive, expect to pay around £5-8 per ride and food/drinks are quite overpriced as you would imagine. The market itself is full of unique and quirky gifts and the usual London themed tat so if you have friends from overseas there’ll be plenty on offer to keep everyone happy. A great day/night out for all ages and in the heart of London to boot you’ll be mad not to pay a visit, even if you do have to take out a mortgage to buy a hot dog the Instagram likes will be well worth it.

2 – Hamburg, Germany

hamburg christmas marketThe place where it all began! I fell in love with Berlin a few weeks ago and was seriously debating on going back to explore a traditional Christmas market it all its glory but unfortunately funds won’t allow but if I was to go back, Hamburg would definitely be on my radar. Hamburg’s historic Christmas market is bursting at the seams with hand-crafted gifts and goodies from the Erzgebirge region and the bakers from Aachen will have your mouth watering over their delicious cookies and gingerbread creations. Hamburg town hall creates an enchanting, fairytale backdrop (especially in the snow) as old-fashioned carousels whirl with excited children and the occasional pissed adult still clutching a mug of GlühweinNot only does Hamburg have such an electric Christmas market there’s also the romantic Alster lake boat tour and for all you culture vultures there’s an array of Christmas exhibitions and of course the spectacular Christmas parade every Saturday during the run up to the big day. A must for little ones is the chance to see Santa doing his thing as he rallies his reindeer to fly above the market every day at 4pm, 6pm and 8pm telling the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. If you’re looking to tie in some last minute shopping with your trip Hamburg is home to elegant boutiques, department stores and shopping malls so take an extra suitcase and your credit card as everything is decorated like a Christmas wonderland and you won’t be able to stop yourself from buying that Swarovski encrusted angel… Germany of course is famous for its beer and bratwurst which are cheap, flavourful and available on every corner so don’t leave without sampling the local wares!

3 – Vienna, Austria

vienna christmas marketThe pretty squares of Vienna transform into a Christmas fairytale as the smells and sights from the beautiful bakeries create a wonderful, warming atmosphere that kids and adults alike will love. In the run up to Christmas the Rathausplatz becomes a shimmering wonderland as 150 or so stalls set up shop shop selling gifts, decorations and sweet treats that are festively decorated and bring the excitement of Christmas alive. Although I’ve never been I know that Austria is fairly expensive when it comes to basics like food and drink so Vienna is maybe not the best bet if you’re on a budget but the scenery is absolutely amazing and probably the largest market around. The trees in the surrounding City Hall pall are festively decorated to really bring the true spirit of Christmas to Vienna making it a top choice if you’re looking to explore somewhere a bit different. You also have the Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz which is conveniently situated between the Museum of Fine Arts and the Natural History Museum which are well worth checking out on your trip. The romantic Christmas Village is full of handmade gifts and crafts and is a popular spot for locals to watch Winter games such as ‘ice stock sport’, a game similar to curling. A popular choice for kids is the winter market on Riesenradplatz that stocks the usual plethora of gifts and decorations but also a funfair, children’s activities and musical live acts and shows to keep them entertained.

4 – Prague, Czech Republic

prague christmas marketsI’m lucky enough to have been to Prague many times as my company has an office out there and every time I go I fall a little more in love with it. Everywhere you look there is beauty, not just in the architecture and parks but in the people too, the Czech’s are absolutely stunning and all look like they’ve just stepped off a photo shoot (as a city known for its huge porn industry it’s probably quite likely a lot of the beautiful girls have just stepped off a photo shoot…) so there’s that. Although the Winter months can be bitterly cold the breathtaking views from the Charles Bridge are what Christmas cards are made of as snowflakes delicately whisper around the historical statues that line the famous structure and are just a stone’s throw from the 2 main squares where the all the Christmas market action is happening. The markets take on the traditional wooden hut theme and are packed to the rafters with glassware, jewellery, metalware, ceramics, scented candles and a vast array of Christmas decorations and food. The Christmas markets in Prague have so much more to offer than just gifts as you can see and smell Czech’s most traditional food and drink made and prepared right in front of you from spit-roasted pork to delicately sugared pastries which fill the air with the spirit of Christmas. To accompany all the wonderful food on offer you must sample the famous Czech beer Pilsner Urquell or a mug of spiced mulled wine to warm you up after a hard day of sightseeing and alcohol is pretty cheap with local beer coming in at around 60p a pint just outside of the main tourist spots. For children, the market in the Old Town Square also has an animal stable where kids can pet goats, donkeys and sheep as well as explore a large Bethlehem scene housed in a wooden stable. Wenceslas Square is home to the huge Christmas tree which is beautifully decorated and makes for stunning pictures with the gothic architecture of Prague city centre as a backdrop making the atmosphere simply magical.

5 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Frankfurter Weihnachtsmarkt eröffnetThe adult playground of Europe, Amsterdam is so much more than just soft drugs and prostitutes but of course they’re there in abundance if that’s your thing and I’ve explored the city many times and had a bloody good time! There’s a certain magic about Amsterdam that I can’t quite put my finger on, and no it’s not just after visiting one of their delightful coffee shops but as soon as you make your way out of the train station you just get this feeling that there’s a lot of fun to be had. I’ve visited Amsterdam during the Christmas period and the seedy underbelly of the red light district and coffee shops are pushed to one side as the huge Christmas tree in the city centre brings a real touch of magic to a city with a reputation for such debauchery. Leidsestraat is home to various Christmas markets and stalls throughout the Winter months and they also have an ice rink which is open until late January so if you can’t escape until after the festive period you’ll still be able to grab a slice of Christmas magic. A little further out is the Christmas at Castle Keukenhof event which is one of the largest Christmas market events in the Netherlands and is the perfect choice for families as kids will be spoilt for choice with all the various entertainment and shows going on. Amsterdam also has the bonus of being a very short flight from the UK so the perfect choice if flying with kids who get a bit restless whilst flying, flights with budget airlines tend to be pretty cheap too.

the body shop red musk

The scent of Autumn is here

 

cat leaves autumn…and it’s not the fresh, crisp air that ruins your fresh blow-dry but the deliciously gourmand Red Musk by The Body Shop. Can you believe White Musk has been around since 1981? I absolutely adore The Body Shop’s fragrances and as a teenager I fondly remember generously coating myself in fruity body sprays and musky perfume oils until I smelt like a brothel. Beautiful. Whilst I’m not so keen on the sickly sweet fruity body mists (I don’t know why you’d want to smell like a mango tbh) their core EDT’s and EDP’s such as the Japanese Cherry Blossom, White Musk and Neroli Jasmine etc. are cheap, easy to wear and have real lasting power. Not interesting enough to wear on a night out or to an event but for everyday wear they’re absolutely perfect and I often receive compliments as they’re so light and inoffensive they cater to almost every nose.

Red Musk is brand new fragrance concept from The Body Shop as it’s the first scent they’ve released which contains zero floral notes, a husky base of tobacco makes this scent intriguing and slightly masculine whilst still being soft and pretty. From the first spray it’s deliciously addictive and I couldn’t help but inviting my partner to sniff me (I’m such a romantic) as it delicately teased my senses throughout the evening.

the body shop red musk

 

Comparable to Herme’s Eau des Merveilles with it’s deep, smoky, leathery base this is something completely different to any of the musk lines The Body Shop has released before and the perfect addition to your fragrance wardrobe as we descend into Autumn/Winter. Whilst my nose didn’t detect the tobacco note (so don’t worry about smelling like an old cigarette butt, ain’t nobody got time), even in the dry down there’s definitely something there that you can’t quite put your finger on but keeps your nose interested. The smoky tobacco is offset by the sweet cinnamon heart note which playfully ripples through the dry down in short bursts bringing a different dimension to the scent, almost as if you’re wearing 2 different fragrances entirely. The musk note IS there, almost as if you’ve layered a traditional white musk with your partners favourite leather-based aftershave, that’s the best way I can describe it but once you smell Red Musk you’ll know exactly what I mean! The top note is a delicate pepper which cuts through the sweetness of the cinnamon adding extra depth but unfortunately this seems to disappear quite quickly, so you’ll find whilst the dry down is gorgeous and extremely long lasting you’ll be reaching for another spray just to catch that burst of peppery goodness.

Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters

Not a scent for those who like sweet, sugary scents this is definitely one for evening wear and as it’s so different I feel it will have a real Marmite effect, such as the cult classic (which I also LOVE) Thierry Mugler’s Angel causing a real love-it-or-hate-it reaction. Crafted by fragrance expert Corinne Cachen the inspiration behind the sexy, scarlet bottle was Almovodar’s High Heels as he is known for his movies about women and often uses fusions of red to display their sensual femininity which works so well with this slightly masculine, provocative fragrance.

Available in-store and online from the 4th November priced at £20 for the 60ml EDP, £30 for the 100 EDP and £16 for the 30ml alcohol-free perfume oil (fabulous on a clean flannel placed on a radiator to scent a room!)

cheryl-cole-teeth-590x350

LED Teeth Whitening at Harley Street Allure Clinic.

A perfect smile is something that can make or break your entire appearance, how often have you seen a celebrity with crooked, missing, or yellow teeth? Never! One of the first things they fix on the road to stardom is your smile as it plays such a key part in how you look, remember Cheryl Cole-Verslingo-Ferdangdang before she became the ‘nations sweetheart’?

cheryl-cole-teeth-590x350

Not quite so perfect!

That show stopping smile is the result of expensive veneers but then I guess she’s worth it as are many members of the public who have undergone cosmetic dentistry for teeth fit to grace a magazine cover. For a full mouth makeover using veneers can you expect to pay at least £5k in most London private dentists and as the procedure is (rightly) classed as cosmetic there’s no way of getting help on the NHS. Coupled with the fact it’s an uncomfortable, lengthy process of having your teeth shaven in order for them to fit like a false nail, I knew veneers just wouldn’t be an option for me.

Whilst my teeth aren’t that bad, they’re not what I see when I flick through magazines or even read beauty blogs that are written by women that are just like me but here’s the kicker, I’m absolutely TERRIFIED of the dentist. I knew I couldn’t endure the painful process or expense of veneers but I knew I had to do something to give myself a little more confidence so I did a quick bit of research and found booked a routine check-up and session with a hygienist. Luckily, my dentist at Perfect Smile is lovely and after informing her I’m a ‘nervous patient’ she took the time to explain in detail what she was doing and if it was going to cause me any pain and if it did hurt, to raise my hand and she would stop so I could take a breather. After my treatment in which everything was fine I told her how I wasn’t happy with my teeth and after taking some pictures, x-rays and a detailed back history she informed me of what was on offer for me to improve my smile without resorting to veneers. She was actually quite against me having veneers as my teeth are pretty healthy, I’m just unhappy with the 2 gaps I have between my front two teeth (central incisor) and the teeth next to them (lateral incisor) and was always told when my wisdom teeth came through they would push these teeth together thus closing the gap. After inspecting my mouth, my dentist informed me I was one of the lucky ones who probably wouldn’t get wisdom teeth as by the grand ol’ age of 27 they should have at least started to come through by now. I know people who have been through hell and back with the pain of wisdom teeth but I bloody wanted mine!

jennifer lawrenceMy dentist recommended a totally painless composite filling to cover the gaps, and having had one before on an upper canine (through brushing my teeth too much!) I know that they are completely painless and involve no drilling, digging, shaving or pain so felt completely confident in booking myself in. A composite filling can be used to plug teeth that have holes/cracks through decay in the traditional use of a filling but as they are tooth coloured they can also be used in cosmetic treatments, as a sort of filler to make teeth appear healthier or in my case, to close a slight gap. As the composite filling is made to match the exact shade of my teeth my dentist advised me to get them whitened beforehand as this was also a concern of mine, years of drinking red wine and falling into bed too drunk to brush my teeth (don’t act like you haven’t done it) have taken their toll and my teeth aren’t as white as they used to be. I gave up red wine a year or so ago and am a slave to whitening toothpaste but apparently whitening toothpaste doesn’t actually make any difference, in face it can damage your teeth by gradually eroding the enamel.

Laser-Teeth-Whitening

She recommended LED teeth whitening as it’s quick, painless and can take your teeth up to 10 shades lighter in just one session which seemed perfect for me. The process is quite straight forward, you simply wear a gum tray filled with accelerator gel and kick back and relax whilst the LED light is beamed onto your teeth in two 20 minute bursts. After some extensive research on where to have the procedure (my dentist does offer LED whitening but it’s a lot more expensive than the deals I found…) I finally settled on the Harley Street Allure Clinic in Central London as it boasted a heavy discount of 70% and the reviews were glowing! I booked through Wahanda and I trust their reviews heavily, I know they’re written by real people (with the help of a £5 voucher – I’ve contributed a few myself) and being on the well-known Harley Street and so easy to get to it was a no brainer and I swiftly booked my appointment, the 60 minute LED Laser Teeth Whitening for £99. My transaction was smooth and fuss-free as usual and within half an hour my appointment had been confirmed by the clinic by email and I was all set to go.

The clinic is very easy to find, just a short walk from Oxford Circus station, across Cavendish Square and it’s on the corner of Harley Street, you’re given direct instructions in the confirmation email as each building tends to house several clinics and it can get a bit confusing for first time clients. I buzzed the door as instructed and was promptly shown in by a bubbly dental nurse decked out in the usual scrubs, I filled out a short consent form and was then sat in the treatment chair. When I think of Harley Street clinics I think of a fancy, non-clinical homely space with a vase of imported lillies in the corner, a silk chez lounge to perch on and some abstract art adorning the walls but sadly Harley Street Allure is more drab than glam which was a little disappointing but seemed clean and professional so that’s good enough for me! I was briefed roughly on the procedure although if it’s your first time I recommend you do some homework just so you know what’s involved as it’s not advised to have LED whitening if your teeth are damaged, broken or you have any cavities. The procedure can actually make these complaints worse and I can’t imagine the pain if it hits a nerve!

The dental nurse was lovely, I felt very comfortable with her which I think really makes a difference with something like this especially being someone who usually can’t stomach the sight of anything dentist related. After getting the OK from my consent form she then gave me a cotton bud that had been dipped in vitamin e oil to rub on my gums as apparently this can prevent them from becoming sensitive and although the website says you’re invited to brush your teeth beforehand, this wasn’t offered to me. I really wish I had brushed my teeth as around an hour beforehand I had drank a beetroot juice drink, rookie error! I also think it could be worth visiting a hygienist too just to make sure your teeth are in the best possible condition they can be in for maximum effect. The nurse then measured the whiteness of my teeth in their current state so we could compare results at the end and we were good to go. After wiping my gums I then had a bib wrapped around my neck and I was asked to put on red tinted glasses, the nurse filled a mouth guard with accelerator gel and I popped this in my mouth (pulling my lips over the edge, so attractive) and laid back as the LED light was then positioned in front of my mouth. The nurse made sure I was comfortable and then left me to relax, The Hulk was on TV and it actually felt quite relaxing to just lie there and close my eyes, I had read I might feel some discomfort or sensitivity but I felt nothing but the gum guard as I layed there. It did get slightly uncomfortable after the 10 minute mark as your saliva starts to mix with the gel and you can’t swallow, not that you would want to swallow what was now in your mouth (don’t be filthy) but it did take a little adjusting with my tongue to make the guard comfortable again.

As the LED laser started to beep indicating the 25 minutes was almost up my nurse was by my side in an instant to remove the laser and help me take the guard out without covering the whole of London in a slimy saliva filled mess. She gave me a paper towel and I pulled the gum guard out (it was exactly as gross as you imagine it to be) and I rinsed with a cup of water before we repeated the process again. I didn’t feel any sensitivity during the whole procedure, my only complaint is the gum guard can get slightly uncomfortable but the nurse is in the room the whole time so if you do find it to be unbearable I’m pretty sure they would be happy to assist you although taking a break might not give the same effect as completing the procedure as intended.

me smile 2After the second round was done and I was all cleaned up we did another comparison with the tooth chart and I was delighted to discover my teeth were now 4-5 shades lighter and they looked great! I was told how to care for them for the next 24 hours as apparently even after the procedure is finished the lightening is still working it’s magic and you can only eat white food and nothing that can stain such as tea, coffee, red wine, sugary drinks etc. and I was also advised to buy a sensitive toothpaste. It’s been just over a week and my teeth look amazing, I’ve not suffered any sensitivity and I would 100% recommend the treatment to anyone who’s tried every whitening toothpaste under the sun and it looking for something that really works. I struggled a little with the aftercare and ate a Pad Thai instead of something neutral coloured (oops… I was hungry and a plate of plain pasta just wasn’t going to cut it) but I don’t think it made a difference as my teeth still look awesome and I’m sure to rinse my mouth with water if I eat or drink anything that’s heavily coloured or loaded with sugar, just to prevent them from becoming stained again. Now that my teeth are whiter I can book my composite fillings with my dentist and hopefully I’ll finally be happy with my smile!

getting a tattoo

10 you must know before getting a tattoo.

I think it’s pretty fair to say I’m somewhat of an expert at getting a tattoo, at last count I have a full sleeve, my right bicep, both of my feet, my right calf, my left thigh, my hand and finger, the top of my back and my chest tattooed. All of my tattoo’s tell a story, some are deeply personal and some are just fun or dedicated to those I love or lost and I adore ALL of them and have zero regrets. All of them were designed by myself with the help of my chosen artist and a lot of thought and care went into choosing the final design but I know this isn’t the case for a lot of people and I’ve seen a massive boom in laser tattoo removal treatments over recent years, with my local tattoo studio even specialising in the treatment themselves. Thinking of getting your first tattoo or adding to your collection?

getting a tattoo

1 – RESEARCH YOUR ARTIST(S)! – Every artist has their own signature style and speciality so it’s worth putting the hours in to find someone who can bring your idea to life with the same vision as you and who will also enjoy doing it, there’s nothing worse than asking a bio-mechanical artist to draw a girly butterfly on your foot. A lot of the time a studio will house a few artists with different specialities so if you approach your chosen artist and he thinks his colleague will do a better job, he’ll hand you over. Always trust artists with this, they know their strengths and weaknesses and take incredible pride in their work but if they think another artist can do a better job they won’t let their ego get in the way of you getting the best tattoo possible.

2 – Think about your future prospects. Will a tattoo stop you from getting your dream job or further in your career? I would strongly advise to avoid areas that can be still be seen whilst wearing a long sleeved shirt and trousers such as the neck and hands unless you’re in a creative industry where such things won’t be too much of an issue. Whilst more and more companies and society as a whole is becoming more accepting of body art there’s still a huge stigma about tattoos in the workplace so think wisely before you get that huge black scorpion on your neck.

tattoo

3 – Be prepared to cough up – It’s common knowledge that in this day and age you get what you pay for so if Billy Bones is offering to do your full back piece for £50 I can guarantee you it’s going to be shit and you’re going to hate and regret it. An artist will give you either a quote for the full tattoo or if it’s a large piece, they will charge you by the hour. This obviously varies but if something sounds too good to be true, it is. A good artist is worth every penny when you see the final result, and remember a tattoo is for life… DO NOT BE CHEAP WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR TATTOOS.

4 – If something’s wrong, say so. An artist usually draws up the final design a day or so before your due to be tattooed and in the past I’ve been emailed the design to see what I think or if there’s something I feel needs to be changed and we can adjust it accordingly. It’s YOUR tattoo, on YOUR body and if you don’t like the way something looks, the colour of something or you think something could be done differently please speak up! Your artist will be more than happy to work with you on making any changes because once it’s there, it’s there for life and ultimately your artist wants you to be happy with what he/she has done.

5 – Mentally and physically prepare the day/night before you’re due to get tattooed. Get an early night, don’t go out partying so you’re tired and hungover because sitting in that chair whilst you’re sleepy and irritable is extremely frustrating and painful. Make sure you’ve eaten before your sitting, you’re going to be there for quite a while and you want your body to be in peak condition. DO NOT come in drunk, you’ll stink, your senses will be heightened and it won’t be fun for anyone involved plus alcohol makes your blood thinner so it’ll be pissing out everywhere. I stupidly got very drunk at a convention whilst I had a huge piece tattooed on my calf and let me tell you now I will never drink before/during a tattoo ever again. It seemed to go on forever, it hurt like a bitch and I constantly needed to go to the toilet and let’s not forget the sweating… I never knew my ass could sweat like that.

6 – THEY HURT. A LOT. Anyone who says getting a tattoo doesn’t hurt is lying to look like a hard bastard. Yes, some people have a higher pain threshold than others but even so it’s very uncomfortable having a needle jammed into your skin for hours on end, this diagram gives a rough idea of areas of the body that feel the most pain but of course it’s different for everyone. I personally found all my tattoos reasonably easy to handle, the only place I really struggled with was the inside of my bicep, I was sweating from every pore of my body and it felt like I was being burnt alive. You can buy numbing creams from eBay and other online retailers but they only work AFTER the skin has been broken and in my experience have only lasted 20 minutes or so. If you’re having a particularly sensitive area tattooed then maybe consider it just to help you soldier through but otherwise they’re not worth the expense, and everyone in the tattoo shop will think you’re a giant pussy.

tattoo discomfort

7 – Aftercare is very, very important and can affect your tattoo greatly. Don’t plan to go on a sun-drenched holiday just after getting a tattoo as the sun can disrupt the design and fade the ink quite dramatically if it’s exposed to intense sun a couple of days/weeks after being done and even so, ALWAYS cover up your tattoos or wear factor 50 to keep them vibrant and looking good for years to come. Also, don’t forget to moisturise daily and if an area needs touching up don’t be scared of contacting your artist to fill in an area that didn’t quite heal right, they’ll be more than happy to do this as long as you’re looking after them properly. There’s many ointments on the market for applying to fresh tattoos but I’ve always used Bepanthen and it’s worked like a charm, easy to get hold of and it’s fairly cheap. I also like to use the unscented Palmer’s Cocoa Butter for when my tattoo is almost fully healed but still peeling as the nappy rash cream can be a bit heavy.

8 – Don’t bring every Tom, Dick and Mohammad to the studio with you. Whilst it’s cool taking selfies in a tattoo studio and having your pals there for a bit of moral support you must remember it’s a place of work and your artist needs to be able to concentrate without any distractions.

9 – Bring your artist some food! Every time I’ve gone for a tattoo I’ve popped into a shop beforehand and picked up a bag of sweets or chocolate and a drink for my artist. They need to keep their stamina and energy levels up too and if they’re working on you for a number of hours it’s only fair that they’re going to need a little something to keep them going. It’s a really nice gesture and makes it less awkward when you can’t take no more and have to bitch out and take a quick 10 minute break, you and your artist can have a drink and discuss what’s next.

doughnuts

10 – TIP YOUR ARTIST! – Yes the tattoos cost a lot but think about the costs your artist has to pay out, working from a shop they usually have to either rent the chair or give the owner a cut which is usually 40-50% and then there’s the cost of their ink, gun, needles and other parts of their kit. An extra £20 or so means a lot, especially if your artist has gone above and beyond your expectations.

The ultimate tourist guide to Berlin.

To say I fell in love with Berlin would be a huge understatement, I was infatuated with the art that seemed to decorate every building and not just random graffiti scrawled on a disused office or shop that was only fit for being destroyed, major shopping centres and bustling skyscrapers had incredible art work from floor to ceiling, a particular favourite of mine was a huge image of a monkey with ‘monkey say, monkey do’ written underneath it on a fancy office block I spotted on my way back to the airport. I was going too quickly on the train to snap it myself and I’ve scoured the internet left, right and centre but with no luck! Hopefully I’ll be going back soon for the Christmas markets and I’ll make it my mission to find it but I think out of all the awesome, awesome street art I saw that monkey was the one that truly made an impact. As a huge art, history and culture vulture I knew Berlin was going to blow my mind and luckily my colleague is from the grand city itself so she thoughtfully drew up this AMAZING itinerary for me which came in extremely useful. We purchased the Berlin Welcome Card as advised but we bought the wrong one! Our one was for transport and discounts, NOT free entry into the museums and the person who served us wouldn’t refund or change it for us so we were stuck with it so if you do purchase a Welcome Card make sure you get the right one!

I was only there for 2 days and we managed to do pretty much everything on the list although I was pretty sick (I got struck down with a cold the day I flew out, gah) and as drinking wasn’t on the agenda we didn’t hit up any of the bars. The highlights of the trip for me was definitely the cathedral and all the little markets by the canal, sitting on a deck chair there with a German beer in the sunshine watching the world go by was beautiful. I really liked the socialist museum and the Jewish museum was a real eye opener, everything we ate was really good and fairly cheap, the currywurst sausages are available on pretty much every corner and there’s a huge Turkish community so if kebabs are your thing you’ll be spoilt for choice! The little flurry of shops and restaurants by the Anne Frank museum was probably one of my favourite places to just walk around and admire the street art that adorned every wall, everything seemed to tell a story and the talent of these artists is just incredible. The weather was amazing when we were there and I would strongly advise taking an open top bus tour, especially if the sun is shining and you’re only there for a few days as you get to see a lot more than you would on foot in just under 2 hours. The bus is really good value for money, it’s around 10 euro with the Welcome Card and you can hop on and off as you please, we viewed a lot of the big attractions (including the hotel that Michael Jackson dangled his out of, out guide was really excited to tell us this LOL) and we got the best view of the holocaust memorial as well as the TV tower and it’s interesting hearing a guide telling you a bit of background history as and when you go past.

The public transport system is fantastic, with the Welcome Card all your journeys are included, you simply stamp your ticket before you make your first trip on a train, tram or bus and away you go. There’s no serious security like here in London, they seem to trust people to pay unlike over here… The trains run every few minutes, they’re clean, comfortable and it’s very easy to navigate your way around the city although we did use Google maps a lot of the time to direct us exactly where to go.

If art and history are you thing, you MUST visit Berlin.

Berlin anne frank museum

Museums/Galleries

Museum Island (Museumsinsel)

A unique ensemble of five museums in Berlin’s Spree River, UNESCO World Heritage site

Walk from S Hackescher Markt or S Friedrichstraße

Pergamonmuseum Three museums in one (Collection of Classical Antiquities, Museum of the Ancient Near East, Museum of Islamic Art), the best one on Museum Island Am Kupfergraben 510178 Berlindaily 10-18, Thu 10-20
Bodemuseum Baroque Museum, art from the middle ages to the 18th century Monbijoustr. 310117 BerlinTue-Sun 10-18, Thu 10-22
Alte Nationalgalerie 19th century painting (Monet, Renoir etc.) Bodestr. 310178 BerlinTue-Sun 10-18, Thu 10-22
Neues Museum Egyptian Museum, Papyrus Collection, Museum of Pre- and Early History and Classical Antiquities (this museum displays the bust of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti!!!!!) Bodestr. 310178 BerlinMo – Wed 10 – 18,Thur 10 – 20Fr – Su 10 bis 18 h Uhr
Altes Museum Berlin’s oldest museum, Classical Antiquities collection, Greek and Roman holdings Am Lustgarten 110178 BerlinTue-Sun 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Thu 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Other museums/galleries:

Anne Frank Zentrum Safe house for persecuted Jews, Anne Frank’s Diary (German-born Jewish girl who wrote a diary while hiding with her family) Rosenthaler Straße 3910178 BerlinS Hackescher Markt (S5, S7, S75)Tue – Sun 10-185,- Euro, red. 3 Euro,
DDR Museum 40 years of GDR, how life was in socialism Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 110178 BerlinMon – Sun 10-20, Sat 10-22S Hackescher Markt (S5, S7, S75)7 Euro, red. 4 Euro
Checkpoint Charlie Chronicle of the Cold War Years, escape attempts made by GDR citizens to reach  the West Friedrichstr. 4310969 BerlinMon-Sun 9-2212,50 Euro, red. 6,50 Euro (you don’t have to go into the museum, just seeing the checkpoint from the outside is enough)U Kochstr./Checkpoint Charlie(U6)
Jewish Museum Berlin Two millennia of German-Jewish- history (impressive architecture!) Lindenstr. 910969 BerlinDaily 10 am – 8 pm; Mondays 10 am – 10 pm8 Euro, red. 3 Euro.U Hallesches Tor

Free Stuff:

East Side Gallery 1,3 km-long painted stretch of the former Berlin wall Mühlenstraße (near Oberbaumbrücke)10243  BerlinU Schlesisches TorU1U Ostbahnhof
Holocaust Memorial Memorial honouring and remembering up to six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust (walk along the pathways into a claustrophobic maze!) Walk from S+U Potsdamer Platz, S Brandenburger Tor or U Mohrenstraße

Sightseeing tip:

You can easily see Berlin’s most important sights in one go.

Start your tour at U+S Alexanderplatz, where you can find the TV Tower (Berlin’s highest construction), the World Time Clock and the Fountain of Friendship amongst people.

Walk all the way down Karl-Liebknecht-Straße and you’ll pass The Neptune Fountain (Berlin’s most famous fountain), Berlin’s Red City Hall (home to the Berlin government and mayor) and Nikolaiviertel (Berlin’s oldest district).

Keep walking along Karl-Liebknecht-Straße and you’ll walk past the beautiful Spree river, on to Schlossplatz street and the Museum Island all the way down to the Brandenburg Gate (and the German Parliament is nearby too).

Just walk straight ahead from Alexanderplatz( first Karl-Liebknecht-Straße, then Schloßplatz, then Unter den Linden)

From Brandenburg Gate you can walk down to Potsdamer Platz (one of the most famous squares in the centre of Berlin) and pass the Holocaust Memorial. Another famous landmark is the Sony Center, also at Potsdamer Platz.

You can also discover Berlin by bus. The number 100 bus route is an ideal way to make your own sightseeing tour. Hop on the bus at Alexanderplatz and it will take you along Karl-Liebknecht-Straße towards the Brandenburg Gate. You’ll pass the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral), Schloßplatz and Museum Island. Get off at “Unter den Linden” and enjoy the view of the Brandenburg Gate (really impressive at night!). And then walk to the Reichstag (German parliament).

Hop on the same bus at the “Reichstag/Bundestag” bus stop and travel past Bellevue Palace (residence of the President of Germany) towards the Victory Column (Siegessäule, monument to celebrate Germany’s victory over France in the Franco-Prussian war). The bus also takes you to Kurfürstendamm with the Kaiser Wilhelm Church. Ku’Damm (that’s how “Berliners” call Kurfürstendamm) is Berlin’s most famous shopping street (a bit like Oxford Street). The most prestigious department store “KaDeWE” is also on Ku’damm. The bus route 100 ends at Zoo (Berlin Zoologischer Garten).

Berlin transport:

Berlin has three fare zones: A, B and C. You can get tickets for AB or ABC. Most attractions are located in zone A and B, so I would recommend getting a ticket that allows unlimited travelling. Think about getting a Berlin Welcome Card Museum Island ABC (ABC since Berlin Schönefeld Airport is located in zone C), which includes unlimited travelling on public transport services for 72 hrs. This card also gives you free entry to the museums of the Museum Island. Also, you’ll get at least 25% and up to 50% discount for more than 200 tourist and cultural attractions. You can buy the Berlin Welcome Card Museum Island ABC at Schönefeld Airport (and you’ll get a free map and handy guide with the ticket). The ticket costs 40.50 Euros (about 31 pound).

Useful websites:

http://www.berlin.de/en/

http://www.berlin-welcomecard.de/en

http://www.exberliner.com/

Bars near your location (we stayed in Mitte)

Aufsturz Over 100 beers
Oranienburger Straße 6710117 Berlin

12-2 am

S Oranienburger Str.

S1 S2 S25

U Oranienburger Tor

U6

X-Terrain Bar Great little cellar bar (and the last authentic one on Oranienburger Straße) Oranienburger Str. 40
10117 BerlinS Oranienburger Str.S1 S2 S25U Oranienburger TorU6
Brauhaus Mitte Good cheap German beer Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 13S Hackescher MarktS5 S7 S75S+U Alexanderplatz Bhf
Wohnzimmer German for ‘living room’ (and this is exactly how it looks like) Lettestraße 6, 10437 Berlin,9 -4 amU Eberswalder Straße
Prater Garten Berlin’s oldes beer garden Kastanienallee 7-9,U Eberswalder Straße
Bar 3 Hipster arts bar Weydingerstrasse 20 (backstreet of Torstraße)U2 Rosa Luxemburg Platz
Le croco bleu Stylish cocktail bar Prenzlauer Allee 242U Senefelderplatz
Konnopkes Imbiss Berlin’s best currywurst Schönhauser Allee 42U Eberswalder STraße

 

10 reasons why coconut oil is awesome.

You can’t flick through a health magazine without being bombarded with images of the humble unsung health hero that is coconut oil. Go for the organic, raw virgin coconut oil (mostly found in health shops) such as this one and NOT the cheaper kind you find in haircare sections of supermarkets to enjoy a plethora of natural, effective and cheaper ways to improve your skin, hair and health.

coconut oil

1 – It’s the healthiest oil to cook with. Forget olive oil, which has a low smoke point and when used to cook at high temperatures the beneficial compounds start to degrade and could potentially harm your health coconut oil is safe, healthy and super cheap. It doesn’t add any flavour so don’t worry about that, just keep a small jar in your kitchen cupboard and whip it out when you’re going to lightly fry or oven bake something. Sweet potatoes are particularly nommy when smothered in coconut oil and baked in the oven on a low temperature, they’re crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and really good for you – see this guide for the health benefits of sweet potatoes.

2 – It makes the best, and cheapest deep conditioner for your hair. I like to put the jar in warm water so it’s got more of a runny consistency then I work it into the ends using my fingers and smother it into the rest of my hair, combing it through with a wide-toothed comb and leaving it to work its magic wrapped up in cling film. I leave it for around 2-3 hours or you could leave it overnight and wash it out in the morning and your hair will be soft, shiny and smell like holidays. You can also use it sparingly as a serum to tame flyaways but steer clear of the roots as it can make your hair look greasy.

*edit – I’ve since been informed coconut oil can strip dye from coloured hair, especially brighter colours that are prone to fading and although I’ve never experienced this it’s something to keep in mind.

3 – You can use it as a natural and effective make up remover. Taking off layers of mascara, eye shadow, eye liner and all the other crap we smear on our faces is hard work using a traditional cream based make up remover or wipe and all those chemicals really can’t be good for our skin, can they? I’ve been using coconut oil on the back of a cotton pad for a while now and it gets rid of EVERYTHING in just a few swipes and it’s particularly good for your eyelashes as it moisturises and conditions them beautifully. You only need a tiny bit and for the rest of my face a warm a bit up in my hands until it forms a runny oil and massage it over my skin, removing it with more cotton pads or you could use a flannel. Cheap, effective and natural.

4 – It’s an amazing skin softener, especially when used on tough, dry skin spots such as feet, knees and elbows. A keen user myself and I have a lot of friends who swear by coconut oil as their go-to moisturiser, especially in the Winter months where skin is more prone to chapping, peeling and dryness as it’s ravaged by the hideous cold winds and moisture stripping central heating. A little goes a long way, so use sparingly when using on large body parts such as legs and arms, warm a little in your hand before spreading evenly in long, sweeping strokes. I especially like using it after a long, hot bath in which I’ve shaved my legs before bed, I wake up in the morning and want to stroke my body like I’m Mariah Carey.

5 – Adding it to smoothies and hot drinks adds a tropical twist and provides amazing health benefits. A lot of health freaks I know swear by drinking green tea with a dollop of coconut oil in it in the morning to build up your resistance to fight against viruses and disease-causing bacteria as well as aiding weight loss and keeping a healthy metabolism. I also like to stick a spoon in a jar and slurp it straight off, it’s a really odd sensation as it transforms from a solid into oil in your mouth but it tastes incredible and there’s nothing like eating it in it’s most natural form to benefit from all the above!

6 – All out of Slide ‘N Ride? Coconut oil makes an awesome lube should you be caught short, I’ve not personally tried this one but it’s more natural than shoving something strawberry scented up there I guess. Be careful when using with condoms though as it can weaken latex but latex-free condoms should be fine.

7 – It can help to heal bug bits, chafing, stretch marks, light scars, eczema and sunburn. As well as being intensely moisturising the vitamin e and anti-inflammatory properties in coconut oil have been known to help with the healing of a number of common skin complaints. As it’s all natural it will not sting or irritate skin further but simply help heal, rejuvenate and restore your skin to optimum condition. Breastfeeding mothers are said to love coconut oil as a natural and effective nipple cream to treat sore, cracked nipples. Simply apply frequently to the affected area and it should clear up in no time.

8 – You can make a natural anti-bacterial and softening face mask using coconut oil and honey. This has been raved about all over the internet for making your face baby soft! Simply mash together a small scoop of coconut oil and a drizzle of honey, lightly spread over your face and kick back for 20 minutes or so whilst it gets to work. I would advise exfoliating beforehand so it really has a chance to get to work without any dirt, sebum or sweat in the way. This would also be really soothing after a day out in the sun to combat any sunburn or irritation, as it’s all natural you can use it as often as you want, maybe even mixing a little tub of coconut oil and honey and keeping it in your bathroom as a pampering treat whilst you soak in the tub.

9 – Crazy cat ladies and dog owners can use it on their pets to keep their coats healthy and shiny. I have a long-haired cat and keeping her fur tamed is an absolute nightmare! She’s very temperamental and only lets me come near her with a brush when she’s in the mood (which is not very often!) but I’ve found stroking her with a tiny bit of coconut oil rubbed into the palms of my hands helps keep her long fur soft and shiny and prevents the Bob Marley-esque dreadlocks she’s prone to on the underside of her tummy. Much more natural than any shop-bought shine spray, I would hate for my cat to ingest a crapload of chemicals I’ve intentionally put on her.

10 – Use it around the home as a natural furniture polish, bath tub scum remover and to lubricate any hinges. I’ve not personally used it for household cleaning (yet) but I can easily see why it work just as well as a wax-based polish for buffing furniture with the added bonus of being completely natural and safe for pets or those who suffer with allergies. You can also use it to lube up any squeaky doors or bike chains as well as using it as a natural stain remover on carpet or upholstery, you can mix it with baking soda for more effective stain removal and this method can also be used as a whitening toothpaste.