Reflecting On 2016

img_6063The past year seems to have flown by and I actually feel like it was a bit of a wasted year if I’m honest. Looking back through my photo stream I actually did quite a lot compared to other years but I feel like there were no big accomplishments in my life and I kind of just floated on by.

I’m not one for making loads of New Years Resolutions because lets face it, I wont stick to them. So this year I’m just going to set one goal – Taking photos has always been a passion of mine and I would love to finally change my career and do something with photography.

It’s going to take a lot of hard work, i’m sure of it, but I feel like if I write it on here then it has to happen.

I would love to hear any resolutions you have set yourself for this year. Lets make 2017 a year to remember!

Bx

Bath At Christmas

There’s just something so satisfying about a Christmas Market, am I right? Rich and I decided to head down to Bath at the weekend for a much needed break and to visit the Christmas market. Little did we know when we booked, it’s only on for 18 days – Starting in the middle of November and finishing on the 11th December (this year anyway)! I booked for the 12th – 14th and after a huge panic when I realised, managed to change the dates so we got one day of market – I must admit though, this was enough for me!

We stayed at the Mac Donald Bath Spa Hotel which was so beautiful. It’s about a ten minute walk to the city centre or a five minute drive. It’s set back off the main road with a long driveway and private parking.

The room was absolutely stunning, I believe it was a Club Classic room and had everything you needed to make your stay comfortable. The only downside was the service at breakfast time was VERY slow. We waited for 20 minutes to be seated and then another 15 minutes for someone to take our order and then again for the food to actually be served – It wasn’t the best so the following day we opted for room service which was much better.

The hotel has it’s own spa that included an indoor and outdoor pool, sauna, infrared room, ice room and steam room – There was also a gym that obviously wasn’t used… Pah!On the Sunday we made the most of the Christmas market as it was the last day. It was so busy and with over 150 wooden huts to get round it was very tiring, but so worth it. There were some beautiful gifts and we managed to make a little dent on our shopping list.

Stopping at every opportunity for some mulled wine, of course…

We visited the Roman Baths that evening. Before we went we were told that it gets lit up at night time. We were given headsets that told us all about the history and guided us around the many different parts of the museum. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are ever in Bath.

Rumour has it that it’s much quieter on an evening so you miss all the tourists with cameras, there were still a few… Myself included, but it was pleasant! Last entry is 5pm but it stays open until 6pm so you can walk around at your leisure.

We did some sight seeing on the Monday as the streets were much quieter, they were still filled with Carol Singers and twinkling lights so all the Christmas magic was not lost when the market shut down.

There are a huge number of high street stores too so we managed to get most of our shopping done on those two days, with just a few more people to buy for I would say it was a very successful and relaxing trip.

It truly is a beautiful city at Christmas time. We will definitely be returning in the future as there was still so much we didn’t see and do like visiting the Royal Crescent and also making use of the Thermae Spa.

Bx

Sensatori Punta Cana

About four months ago Rich and I spent one afternoon browsing the internet for this years summer holiday. It was my choice (fist pumps the air) so I sat down – Tea in hand and off I went. I knew I wanted a relaxing beach holiday where the only worry would be whether or not I’d packed enough bikini’s.image

After about four continuous hours of searching I stumbled upon the Sensatori brand. I’d heard a lot about it and I just knew then and there that the Sensatori Punta Cana was where I would be holidaying come July. Everything about the place just sounded perfect.. The pictures looked stunning, as if nothing had actually been used and it wasn’t until a few hours later I realised that actually nothing had been used as the hotel we had booked was actually brand new and the images were in fact CGI.

July 4th came around and I was a little bit anxious as the Trip Advisor reviews so far hadn’t been very good, however, I went with an open mind and said I would enjoy the holiday anyway as it had only been open two weeks after the initial opening was delayed about seven weeks..

We arrived on the 4th July at around 2.30pm Dominican Time and set foot in the hotel for the first time. The lobby was nothing special, everything was quite plain looking – There was nothing that really stood out and made me think wow! We checked in and were handed cool face towels to freshen up, much needed after the nine hours of travelling. We we’re given a map and sent on our way to find our block. There were golf carts on hand to take people to and from rooms but we decided to have a walk around the grounds and find it ourselves.DSC_0066

We found our block after about a ten minute walk, it was ridiculously hot so we had to walk slowly but I would say it was only a couple of minutes from the lobby. The room was absolutely stunning. We booked a Family Suite which was situated in the family block and it was huge! There was a separate living area with dining table and the biggest balcony I had ever seen. The room we were in (6201 for anyone that cares) was adjacent to the hotel next door and so the views were pretty terrible – It was just a white brick wall and what looked like the entrance and exit for the workers so all day you would get the golf carts going up and down.. We didn’t spend too much time out there. The WiFi in the room didn’t work for a couple of days, even after numerous phone calls to the reception to get it fixed but on the evening of the second day a technician came to fix it.. There were a few minor issues with the room like the doors on the wardrobe wouldn’t stay shut and the doors separating the bedroom from the living room wouldn’t connect as they weren’t fitted properly, there were cracked tiles in the bathroom and the air con wouldn’t work properly. Not what you would expect for a brand new hotel, but it didn’t make that much of an impact.

The things that did make quite an impact were our particular room – I think because it was the first room next to the cleaning cupboard – didn’t get cleaned until 6pm every day as it was always the first room they started on, but we had to be out by 8am and if not they would skip past our room and go on to the next and then come back to ours at the end of the day. Drilling also woke us up at 8am two mornings we were there and it went on pretty much all day after that.DSC_0149DSC_0067

The resort itself was beautiful – If not a little strangely laid out. The Sensatori Hotel is actually shared with a Nickelodeon hotel. Thomson claim they are separate resorts but the only thing that makes them different is the colour scheme and separate lobby’s – All the restaurants and pools are shared (apart from K23 which is an adults only and Nickelodeon guests have to pay extra). On one side you have Sensatori and the other Nickelodeon and they run side by side all the way down to the beach separated by a footpath. The way they are built means that hardly any of the rooms have a sea view – Something to keep in mind when booking as I heard a lot of people complain about this! Each block has a swim up option for the ground floor rooms which I actually wish we had booked as they looked great – Some get sun a lot of the day and others not so much so if you are thinking about booking it’s best to check! There was still a lot of work going on around the hotel, which meant constant drilling and gardening every single day! One day they would lay turf and the next day they would be cutting it up – Crazy!

DSC_0155imageThere is a Gourmet Village located near both lobby’s which houses six restaurants, a bar, coffee shop, theatre, gift shop and members lounge (the coffee shop I’ve heard won’t be part of the all inclusive in due time). Unfortunately due to the hotel being fairly new, a lot of the things weren’t open. The Spacewalker restaurant, theatre and members lounge weren’t open at all, while the gift shop was only partially open. A lot of the restaurants were very busy at about 8pm and you did need to wait around for a table and when you were finally seated you had to wait around 15-20 minutes for your order to be taken and then again for your order to arrive. We were in a restaurant for 50 minutes before we even got our starters one night – I’m sure this will get better over time and when the staff are better trained but it was a tad annoying for us. I later found out that the hotel was only at 70% occupancy too so lets hope more staff are brought in! The evening entertainment was pretty shocking the entire time we were there so we ended up in bed with Netflix most nights – There definitely wasn’t any ‘professional shows’ on.DSC_0078image

The swimming pool and beach are beautiful and probably the place I spent most of my time. There’s meant to be five pools but I only counted three and one of those was a tiny kids pool with slides. The other two were both next to each other separated by a walkway down on to the beach. It was a huge pool though, complete with swim-up bar. I found it got a little overcrowded on a weekend with locals coming in Friday to Sunday and staying at the Nickelodeon Hotel and almost impossible to get a drink.DSC_0131On my last day I got up at 5.30am to take a few photos while it was quiet and to catch a sunrise and I spotted a few people with stacks of towels reserving sunbeds (one of my actual bug bears). We got out most days about 10am and all the beds around the pool were taken – It’s a good job I preferred the beach anyway!

I think the hotel has a long way to go before it is up to a 5* standard. I wouldn’t go back to this particular resort, mainly because it’s shared and I feel like I didn’t get the full Sensatori experience and was left a little disappointed. It was such a shame as the hotel was beautiful and had so much potential and in my eyes it should have never opened when it did. The staff are really friendly and can’t do enough for you!

I would love to know if you are going to Sensatori Punta Cana or if you haven’t quite decided yet I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about the resort or hotel πŸ™‚

Bx

Clumber Park

DSC_0060On Saturday Rich and I drove down to Clumber Park which is around 40 minutes away. I’ve wanted to go for a nice winter walk around there for a while, we did it last year and really enjoyed it so thought we would do it again. It’s part of the National Trust and stretches over 3,800 acres – There was a lot of walking involved!

DSC_0074DSC_0090DSC_0081DSC_0046DSC_0092DSC_0066It was great to get out and get some fresh air as we tend to just stay indoors on our days off which is nice at times, but I really enjoyed the different views and stretching my legs – Even though they are still ridiculously sore now! The grounds are so beautiful and there’s so much to see. It was particularly quiet when we got there around lunchtime, but I’m sure this was just due to the fact it had rained and it was a cold day. There’s a great trial that leads around the massive lake, which I’ve just read took 15 years to build, amazing! The weather was definitely on our side too. It was crisp and cold, but so sunny and the sky was really blue – Perfect for some photos. It was very muddy on the parts that didn’t quite catch the sun so my converse are no longer white, but that was my own fault, who wears white trainers to a national park after it’s rained…? I need to invest in some wellys!

Does anyone have any recommendations for nice wintery walks around Yorkishre? I think I may have caught the walking bug πŸ™‚

Bx

Skincare Update

DSC_0038DSC_0015I find that after a while my skincare products stop working or aren’t as effective so I’m constantly adding new products into my regime to mix things up a little bit. I’ve been absolutely loving LUSH products and my fridge usually consists of more fresh face masks than actual food, does anyone else have this problem?

Just before Christmas I used the last of my Angels On Bare Skin so I popped down to LUSH and had a browse of their cleansers. I initially picked up a charcoal cleanser but soon put that down when I clocked the BΓ»che de NoΓ«l. Obviously Christmas is over now and I’m pretty sure this is no longer available, however, it’s almost the same just with a more Christmassy scent. It’s packed full of natural ingredients or course (with a cheeky hint of booze) and I just love how clean it makes my skin feel.You simply take a small amount of the cleanser, add a drop of water and massage it between your palms until it forms a paste – It is very messy, there’s no way of getting away from that, although it is so worth it! I would 100% recommend Angels on Bare Skin as an alternative if this looks like something you would enjoy.

Another LUSH product I’ve been loving is the Don’t Look At Me fresh face mask. Rich bought me this as a little stocking filler, I think he just chose it because he liked the colour, but it’s so good. It has tiny exfoliating beads in it that leave my skin looking so fresh after a bath. I usually leave masks on for about 30 minutes while I’m having a soak and then wash off with warm water while gently exfoliating.

Well, hello, don’t be shy. I caught you looking at my rich, exfoliating texture, filled with nourishing murumuru butter. I saw you checking out my ground rice. Let me assure you that I’m all substance: they’ve packed me full of zingy lemon juice to tone your complexion, Tunisian neroli to brighten and organic silken tofu to soften you up in all the right ways. A dash of rice syrup and grapefruit oil will have you coming back for more of my scrubby, softening skincare goodness.Β Smooth a rich layer of this vibrant blue mask over the skin and allow it to sink in for 10-15 minutes before gently removing with fresh water.

Finally I’ve been using this Liz Earle Exfoliator a lot since Christmas. It’s not like normal exfoliators as it’s so gentle so can be used more than once a week. It states that it isn’t suitable for sensitive skin and maybe really sensitive skin should steer clear, however, I think it would be absolutely fine. It contains eucalyptus, cocoa butter and jojoba beads that really do bring dull skin back to life – perfect after the Christmas period. And it smells AMAZING too!

Have you tried and of these products? Let me know if you love them as much as I do.

Bx

Six Months

001Well that’s gone quick! It’s been six months since I woke up after a huge thunderstorm on the day that I would finally become Mrs Duncan – It still feels so weird calling myself that. On the 4th July 2015 I married my best friend in the most beautiful venue, surrounded by our friends and family.

To mark the occasion I wanted to share a few more pictures from our big day on my blog. If you follow me on Instagram you will have no doubt seen a few, *ahem* a lot, already but here are a few more if you care to take a look…

083002112130161058218216255267270I also want to share a few things that I found out along the way that will hopefully help any future bride out as I know the entire planning process can be a bit overwhelming, so here goes…

Tell your Bridesmaids the details – I kept almost all of the wedding details secret from our guests and I’m glad I did as I wanted them to be surprised on the day. However, I also kept the secrets from my Bridesmaids which I now wish I hadn’t done, simply because it was a bit of an anti-climax. I didn’t want them to see the dress before the day so I wouldn’t let them come to any of the fittings. As much as I thought it was a good idea at the time and I was excited to see their faces when I was in the dress on the day with my hair and make-up done, that didn’t happen. Firstly, how the hell did I plan on getting into the dress without them seeing it first!? And secondly I had to take it out of the bag as soon as I got it to my room to let the creases drop so they saw it then and let me tell you, unzipping a bag doesn’t have the same wow factor that seeing someone in their dress for the first time does. So now I feel like I would have loved to have had them there to help me pick out my perfect dress and also they will literally do anything to help make sure your day goes perfectly so keep them informed!

Make a scrapbook and Pinterest board(s) – I sifted through hundreds of pages of wedding magazines and thousands of Pins to find amazing pictures from real weddings of things I wanted to incorporate into my day. I would tear pages out for my scrapbook and sit at work pinning things onto my Pinterest boards all so that when I met with wedding suppliers, I could show them exactly how I wanted the end result to be. It was especially handy when picking flowers as I could point to the ones I liked instead of having to research flower names – Nobody has time for that when planning a wedding!

Keep in contact with all of the suppliers and ALWAYS have a backup – On the morning of the wedding I was busily getting ready when I noticed things were a bit quiet in the garden. It was an hour before the wedding was meant to start and there was so sign of the Harpist we had booked. I assumed it was due to traffic so I brushed it off and carried on getting ready. Half an hour passed and still there was so sign of her so I asked someone to go check it out. Basically to cut a long story short she never showed. There was no phone call or anything to say she wouldn’t be here and so at the last minute we had to scramble around to find some music for me to walk out to. I ended up with an iPod playing the same song on repeat as myself and my Bridesmaids made our way down the aisle. It wasn’t ideal and at the time I was so disappointed so I would definitely urge you to always have a backup!

On the evening when it came to our first dance the version of the song the DJ played was the wrong one – It was much, much slower than the one we had wanted so I would definitely recommend sending the correct version to the supplier or even copying links from YouTube – It’s better to bombard them with too much information than not enough as I assumed the name of the song and the artist was enough, little did I know there was more than one version!

Don’t get too hung up on the little things – For weeks I would panic about tiny details that I wanted to incorporate into the day to make it special. There was no need to stress – The things that meant so much to me and that I wanted to get perfect probably didn’t even make that much of an impact on anyone else and that was one of the things I wish I had known before the day as it would have saved me so much time.

Enjoy the day – Every wedding will come with it’s ups and downs but you just have to remember to enjoy the day. When you see all of the months of planning come together and the day finally arrives it can become a bit overwhelming. I was constantly checking to make sure people were ok and that everyone was enjoying themselves and I wish I had just taken a minute to see that everything was fine and I didn’t need to worry.

I know I’m by no means a wedding planner but I hope these little tips will help you get the most out of your day.

Bx