A little Winter Wish List

wish list
Mint Julips Lip Scrub by Lush £5.50 // I love this lip scrub, it’s like like nibbling on mint chocolate, it’s even edible! I’ve just ran out so I really must purchase a new one.

Latte Lip Tint by Lush £5.95 // Good lip products are a necessity in the winter months, so I’d love to try this luscious Latte tint.

Pink Knitted Sweater Dress from Missguided // This is adorable, and I love how it’s been styled with a shirt underneath (although with the Winter weather, I think I’d have to style with a thick pair of leggings or tights, like these)

Christmas Spice Scented Candle from Debenhams £8.50 // Nothing beats coming home to a warm flat smelling like Christmas Spice. I was in Australia last year, so I missed out on all things British & Christmas, so this year I want all the trimmings. I’m so excited!

Cream Faux Fur Jacket by Next £75 // If you follow me on Instagram, you will see that I fell inlove with this jacket when I popped into Next last week. I really want want want, but not sure I can afford the price tag.

Breaking Bad Travel Mug from Urban Outfitters £15 // With the cold Winter weather picking up, I think I need to start making myself a delicious hot coffee for my morning commute, and as a Breaking Bad fan, I’d be happy to share it with Heisenberg.

Faux Leather Burgundy Chelsea Boots from Missguided £34.99 // I’m in desperate need of some new flat winter boots and these Babies are right up my street, maybe I’ll treat myself next month.

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Six Tips to kick start your Career in Media

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Over the past eight years I’ve worked with various brands and networks across multiple platforms of media, from News Media to to Broadcast Media. Currently I work at Channel Five, which is where I’ve spent more than three years of the previous eight working. Outside of my job I write this blog which is my absolute no.1 hobby, my baby, my pride and joy, and it also opened up opportunities for me to work with some fantastic companies. I am also working on separate writing projects, which I hope to see develop over the next year. So I’m hoping that’s enough to qualify me to write a little career advice post, I think it’s my first ever…

The tips below are the stepping stones I used to kick start my career. Although my background mainly focuses on PR and Marketing and Broadcast, I think these tips apply across a few other platforms of Media. So whether it’s Journalism, TV Production, Social Media, whatever your bag, hopefully these tips will help:

Get the RIGHT kind of work experience It’s all good and well adding that two-week work experience you did at your Dad’s office to your CV, the one where you spent the entire time making tea and fixing the printer, but what has that got to do with working at Google, or Vogue, or wherever your dream job may be? If you want to impress potential employers, you need to get the RIGHT kind of experience. For example, if you want a career in journalism, why not approach your local paper or a website offering to work one night or one day a week for free, in order to get some relative experience. Trust me, your better going to a job interview with experience that relates as appose to ‘well, I can make a smashing cuppa’ (although it never hurts to add that to your ‘Special Skills’ section).

Don’t just tell your potential employer how good you are, SHOW THEM When I was 21 years old (all those years ago) I was up for a 12 month internship at Discovery Channel. I was absolutely determined to get the job, nothing was going to stop me, not even when I saw that the role required experience in Photoshop, a program I had never used in my life. Rather than try and BS my way through the interview, instead I offered to work unpaid at an advertising agency in exchange for some basic Photoshop lessons. A week later I presented my Photoshop skills to Discovery via some freshly printed story boards I had made at the agency. The two women interviewing me seemed impressed; I was later told that I bagged the job because of my initiative and dedication to the role.

Keep up to date with CURRENT AFFAIRS If you’re going to be working in media, you need to know media. Be prepared to tell whoever it is that’s interviewing you a) your favourite publication b) why you read it C) who writes it. They might want contributors names, favourite articles, so be prepared. Even if you’re not much of a paper reader, or a magazine reader, I would pick one NOW and get reading, particularly on current events. Or maybe a news website? The main thing is, it’s important to know whats going on in the media. Whether that’s knowing about the latest app that’s launched (if you’re a marketer it could be a potential competitor for your client?) or being completely up to speed on all headline news (if you work in advertising, a current news story may be damaging to a potential ad).

Be CREATIVE with your CV and application Try thinking outside the box. The more creative you are, the better. I recently stumbled upon this online CV – Okay, so that’s near enough impossible for most of us to put together, but I love how it stands out and has so much personality. Obviously we can’t all create such a techy mega maze of a CV, but we can stand out and we can show our personality. A guy I studied with at Uni desperately wanted an internship at a particular major shoe label, so he sent the company his CV. But to attract their attention he sent the CV in the bottom of a shoe box, underneath a shoe, and to the shoelace he tied a label saying ‘Let me get my foot in the door’. They offered him a position immediately. I was blown away by his creativity.

Blog, Blog, BLOG! So if your reading this it’s more than likely you are a blogger. Good! These days it’s more common for an employer to applaud a blog than look down on it (within the media industries anyway). I know people who have been hired based on their blogs! Blogging shows off your writing skills, maybe even photography skills, possibly design, html, coding. But most importantly a good blog showcases your time management skills, organisation skills, your ability to be creative and your dedication towards something your passionate about. And no doubt it means you’re a whizz at social media and self-promotion, always a bonus.

Don’t be afraid to say NO So let’s set the scene: you finally get that oh-so important job, it’s like all your dreams are coming true, in fact you’re so desperate to impress your new employer that you give a big fat YES to every task asked of you by every person on your team. If you honestly think you can handle it then by all means go for it. BUT! If you already have a lot on your plate then it’s okay to say No or to ask for help. I learnt this lesson the hard way when I lost my first job out of Uni. I was the girl so desperate to please that I took on every single task asked of me. I worked around the clock trying to tick everything off my To Do list, yet constantly adding more things to it because I was too afraid to say No. And what happened? I crumbled. In fact I drowned, in silence. I quickly began struggling to get everything done. I stupidly let my simple day-to-day tasks slip by me, such as booking taxi’s (for a 6am press call – Oops!) and picking up the new light bulbs (so the meeting room was pitch black) and the final blow came when there was no Paper towels in the toilet. It may not sound like a big deal, and people might not even notice right? But unfortunately the client that was visiting that day noticed straight away and made a complaint. Ultimately it was my responsibility, but I was so busy doing 101 other things that I didn’t a remember a task that would have taken me 60 seconds!

Although I was pretty gutted to lose my job at the time, it was a valuable lesson that molded me into the person I am today, and I am glad it happened. In fact all of the above have resulted in me getting me where I am today.

I hope this post was useful, even if just one person takes something away from it, I’ll be very happy to have helped. Any questions, just comment below.
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The Cons, Pros and Need-to-Knows of doing a Gap Year in Australia

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So technically mine wasn’t a ‘Gap Year’ because I was 27 when I lived in Australia, but for the sake of this post it’s easier to just call it that (it also makes me feel slightly younger). I did a total of nine months in Australia, all spent living on the East Coast. I can’t even put into words the truly amazing experiences I had and the wonderful things I saw; things I couldn’t even fully appreciate until I was back in England without them (like those little annoying kookaburras). However, there were also some things about Australia that I hadn’t expected, so I thought I’d do a post for anyone out there thinking of doing 12 months in the land of Oz.

First of all a little disclaimer (boring, I know) I just want to state that these points are all related to my own experience of living in Australia from 2013 – 2014. Whilst the need-to-knows are facts, the Pros and Cons are related to my personal experience in Australia. Also, I would never try to discourage anyone from travelling to Australia, the opposite in fact, I encourage it. This post is simply just some points I wanted to share for anyone thinking of doing it. So, let’s kick start with the facts…

The Need-to-Knows:

  • An obvious one I’m sure, but I will say it anyway. You need a Working Holiday Visa (WHV), unfortunately you can’t just turn up and live there for a year. You can get this visa by applying online. Of all the visa’s I had to get this one was by far the easiest to apply for and obtain. However it was the most expensive, costing around £350.
  • From the day your visa is granted you have 12 months to get yourself to Australia. The visa will then begin from the day you land in Australia i.e. if it was granted on 14th October 2014, you have until 13 October 2015 to arrive in Australia, and if you arrived on 13th October 2015, you would have until 12th October 2016 to live there. Make sense?
  • It is an electronic visa meaning no paperwork necessary (wooohooo) it will begin once your passport is scanned as you enter the country.
  • Unfortunately if you are over 30 you cannot apply for this visa (I know, ageist, right?)
  • The WHV enables you to work wherever you like, but each job can only last a maximum of six months, meaning you can’t work in one place for the full year. But trust me, Australia is such a huge and amazing place, you won’t want to be tied down to one city.
  • Should you find yourself loving Australia, you can apply for a second year WHV. To do so you will need to spend three months of your first year working on a farm.

For more information on the Australian WHV click here

Okay, now that I’ve gotten the boring stuff out the way, let’s move on to the Pros and Cons….

PRO: Glorious sunshine! Nothing beats waking up every day and opening your curtains to see Sunshine.
PRO: Even the storms are better than ours. I’ve never seen anything like it. We loved to sit on the Porch with a glass of wine and watch the sky light up.
PRO: Bored of one beach? Nay bother, there are 6,999 more you can visit. And they really look after them.
CON: It can get TOO hot. 47 degree heat waves may sound appealing, but trust me they are unbearable, not to mention dangerous for us pasty British folk. I advise living somewhere with aircon.
PRO: There is free water EVERYWHERE, they’ll never let you dehydrate in Australia.
CON: Compared to the UK, Australia’s public transport system is not great, particularly in smaller towns (one bus per hour? Pfft)
CON: Australia is incredibly expensive. People warned me, but I was still shocked at just how high the cost of living is in Australia. So whatever scary prices your thinking in your head, double them!
PRO: Because the country is so expensive, the jobs are very well paid. You can expect to earn around $20 an hour for pouring pints (that’s over £12 an hour, plus tips)
CON: Decent jobs for backpackers can be hard to come by. Unfortunately backpackers have gained a reputation for just upping and leaving whenever they like (although this is a bit of a pro in itself – freedom!) so employers in Australia are often reluctant to hire backpackers. The most popular jobs being offered to us were charity jobs or sales jobs, most of which were commission only, meaning you don’t get paid anything unless you make a sale. Harsh! I only lasted three weeks in a sales job, I was pulling in an average of $100 a week over six days of work (that’s just £55!!) erm, I don’t think so!
CON: In every state you need an RSA to work anywhere that sells alcohol, that includes shops and bars. You cannot work in these jobs without one. In some states, like Queensland, it’s a simple online course, in others you need to go and do a day course. It’s not exactly a huge pain in the arse, but considering you have to pay for it and then wait for your certificate, it is slightly annoying.
CON: In major cities, rent is high, even if you’re in a hostel. We rented a private long-stay room in a hostel for about 12 weeks in Melbourne, it was a basic room with just a bed, we shared bathrooms and a kitchen with 50 others. It cost us $380 a week, £207, that’s double the rent of the flat I left in London.

CON: With drinks and food being so expensive it can often to lead far too many ‘nights in’.
PRO: The thing that is cheap however, is boxed wine, nicknamed in Australia as Goon. For $12 you can buy the equivalent of 5 litres of wine. It taste disgusting and the hangover is a killer, but it’s perfect for you and your buddies on those cheap cheap nights and drinking it has become somewhat of a backpacker ritual.
PRO: If your hiring a camper van for a road trip, campsites are very cheap, and there are plenty of other places to stop, park up, get some free water and have a BBQ.
PRO: Oh, there are public barbecues EVERYWHERE! Now, this is a massive pro. All the parks have giant barbecues set up for the public to use. So at any given time if you and your friends fancy a get together but don’t have the space, just grab some beers and some burgers and head for a bbq in the park.
CON: SPIDERS! GIANT SPIDERS! Oh, and giant flying cockroaches.
CON: Oh and snakes.
PRO: Kookaburras – Fascinating birds that sound like monkeys and live in your garden, amazing to listen to whilst you relax and sip on a glass of Goon.
CON: Kookaburras – Annoying birds that sound like monkeys and wake you up at 6am, horrible to listen to after a heavy night on the Goon.
PRO: Kangaroos. And not just in the Zoo, you can spot plenty of wild Roo’s once you get out of the city.
PRO: You can cuddle Koala’s. Naaaawwww
CON: Crocodiles. If you’re going to remote hot places be very careful near rivers and lakes.
CON: You can’t buy alcohol from local shops, petrol stations and not even all supermarkets sell it, it’s mainly just liquor stores or ‘Bottle Shops’ as the Aussies call them.
PRO: They do have drive-thru bottle shops though.
CON: There are a lot of homeless Aborigines, which is so sad to see, as it’s as if their history has been erased, despite the fact that Australia is THEIR land and home. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it’s quite distressing to see how they are treated.
PRO: Head to Nimbin to see an incredible ‘Home Made’ museum dedicated to the Aborigine history, culture and life.

To round up, Australia is a flippin’ amazing place to go and live for a year, there is no denying that. Although their history might be a little messed up, and there are some definite equality issues, if you like beaches, barbecues and gorgeous weather (and your under 30) then what are you waiting for? Whether it’s nature your after or the city life, I recommend it. Just be prepared for the high rent, expensive drinks and if you are planning to work just prepare yourself as much as possible. My advice is to save a nice little chunk of money prior to your trip just in case you have trouble landing a job straight away.

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New Hair (and the Crew that care)

Ta da! I got a fringe. Having not had my hair cut in a very long time (I’m honestly too ashamed to admit how long it had been) I was desperate for a change. I’ve coloured my hair so much in the past that I didn’t really want to go down that road again, despite being tempted to dip my tips again. So I instead sought change through the chop of a fringe, as well as a trim and some layers. I headed to my local hairdressers Cutting Crew in Willesden Green, where a lovely girl called Sadie cut it for me. She was so lovely; I admire a hair dresser who simply does what I ask. I can’t stand it when hair dressers try and talk you out of your chosen style and instead try and talk you into a style you’re not sure about. They are supposed to be the experts, so I’ve put a lot of trust in them in the past only to end up with a hair style I’ve hated. For this reason I can get quite anxious and nervous when I go to hairdressers, but with Sadie it was straightforward and simple.

As I was attending the Cosmo Blog Awards that evening she gave me a lovely blow dry that held up all night. If your living in the North West London area I absolutely recommend Cutting Crew. My cut and blow dry was £40 and I added on a £13 intense treatment as my hair was quite damaged. This treatment has actually worked wonders on what was brittle and dry hair; almost a week on and my locks still feels super soft.

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The Cosmo Blog Awards 2014

 I’d been counting down the days all summer like a Kid waiting for Christmas, and on Tuesday it finally arrived. The Cosmo Blog Awards. As far as I’m concerned it was the biggest event on my blogging calendar and one of the most important nights of my year (bar that whole marriage proposal thing back in Feb, I guess that was kind of important right?) I was absolutely gobsmacked when I initially found out I had made the shortlist for ‘Best Lifestyle Blog’, I’m talking heart palpitations, full on shakes and I even shed a few tears – okay more than a few. The nomination in itself felt like I had already won, I was delighted.

It was a two month wait between the shortlist announcement and the actual awards and I could feel the anticipation building up! I was extremely excited about the event, but I’ll be honest, I was nervous too. I’d never been to anything like this before and I didn’t want to be overwhelmed or anxious. So I met up with Frankie from francescaroberts.com (a fellow Lifestyle nominee) who was also a little nervous and we decided to attend the bash together. Held in London’s OXO tower on the River Thames, the evening was a night of glitz, glamour, cocktails and cupcakes. It was amazing to meet so many new bloggers as well as hang out with Bloggers I’ve followed for some time, such as Megan from TheBriarRoseBlog.com and one of my favorite bloggers Rhiannon Ashlee of FashionRocksMySocks.com

Unfortunately I didn’t win my category, but a massive Thank you to everyone who voted, it means the world to me that you did. The winner in my category was FitnessonToast.com who totally deserves it because everything about Faya and her Blog is amazing. We even had a little celebration dance on the beach (the beach being a stand held by Thomson travel who were sponsoring Best Travel Blog check out the cool sunglasses). Anyway enough of me rambling on about it, why not get a taster of the evening for yourself by watching my vlog and flicking through my pics?

Shop my Look?
Dress • RiverIsland
Bag • H&M
Boots • New Look

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Fun with FourPlay • #BluestoneBlogger • Wales

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Last month I was very kindly invited by Bluestone Wales to be a Bluestone a Blogger for the launch of their FourPlay package for adults only. Whilst this beautiful holiday village may appear to be aimed at Families and Children, Bluestone certainly proved to us that they know how to show us Adults a good time…

Aimed at couples and groups who are looking to break away from the real world for a few days, the FourPlay package offers four unique ways to let your hair down; Taste, Excite, Amuse and Relax. Guests can choose one, two, three or all four of the FourPlay packages on offer.

As I was a Bluestone a Blogger for the weekend, I was to sample all four of these intriguing packages. And best of all, I got to take the Beard with me. We hired a car on the Friday around midday and made the journey from London to Pembrokeshire in South Wales.

Taste

(£40pp) We arrived at 7pm, which was perfect timing as our Taste package was to begin at 8pm. Once we’d settled into our lodge we freshened up and then headed to the village for the first part of our taste package; a two course meal at the Carreg Las restaurant (that’s Welsh for Bluestone apparently, drop the G). Although the food was part of the taste package, drinks were not, so we treated ourselves to a bottle of wine and toasted to the beginning of what was sure to be a brilliant weekend.

The food at Carreg Las was Devine. That’s not a word I use a lot because it sounds quite pretentious, and that I am not, but seriously the food was DEVINE. The only critique I have is that I wish the portions could have been a little bigger (says the girl who is supposed to be on a diet). My salmon starter was perfect and my Tempura Monkfish was yummy, but I’ll be honest, I couldn’t stop drooling over the Beards Salt Marsh lamb. Sampling it was a big mistake because then I just had major food envy. But my tasty monkfish with curry and lime chickpeas and chips sufficed. After we had eaten every crumb of courses one and two, we finished our wine and headed back to our lodge. (Watch the full Vlog here)

Whilst the restaurant dining is the main part of the Taste package, it doesn’t finish there. The taste package also includes breakfast over the next three mornings. This is prepared and given to you at Millers, an adorable little bakery that sits in the Village. I had originally been informed that it would be a pastry accompanied by tea or coffee, but much to our surprise, the Beard and I were presented each with a box of Breakfast delights. Both boxes held a croissant, some jam, a pain au chocolate, a yoghurt and a piece of fruit. We were then offered Apple or Orange juice, plus a tea or a coffee, this included cappuccinos and lattes and such. What a great way to start each day. And all for £40pp, I thought this was a great deal.

Excite

(£40pp)After we kick started our Saturday with our ‘Taste’ breakfast, it was time to put some excitement into our weekend. I was invited to take part in a group session of ‘High Ropes’, and yes, it is exactly what it sounds like, a bunch of ropes very high up. I may be a fearful flyer but I love anything adrenaline rushing, so when I was told I would be flying through the trees at 40ft in the air I was very excited!

The first 40 minutes was spent with our guide, learning the safety rules and doing some training. Then it was down to us individually to make sure we didn’t fall as we clipped ourselves to a wire and leapt out into the forest. It was actually quite liberating. In between swinging on the large zip wires there was lots of rope climbing (or in my case rope clambering) as we made our way through what can only be described as a mid-air assault course deep in the woods. (Watch the Vlog here)

Part two of the Excite package was Rock Climbing in the adventure centre, but I was a very naughty blogger and skipped this activity choosing instead to sneak home and use the tub. Rock climbing just didn’t seem as adrenalin rushing as the previous activity, plus my hands were quite sore from the high ropes, and if I’m being honest all I could think about was a lovely hot bath.

Amuse

(Part One £25pp) After some lunch, a loooooong soak in the tub, and a few drinks in our lodge, it was time for us to enjoy the ‘Amuse’ package, otherwise known as Camp Smokey! Deep in the woods, just down from where the high rope course is, lives a huge wooden lodge, perfect for parties – and that’s exactly what it’s for. Throughout the week and during the day, Camp Smokey is a great place for families to hang out and they even throw kids parties. BUT, from 7.30pm on a Saturday evening, Camp Smokey is an adult only area, open to those on the Amuse package. It’s basically a big party involving lots of Cider, BBQ food, utterly weird games, dancing on tables, and there’s even toasting of marshmallows on the fire.

We were welcomed in with a cup of steaming hot Cider (named Bluestone Moonshine) which was then served to us throughout the night in teapots. We plonked our bums onto a table with a few fellow bloggers where we were encouraged to sing along with the live band and bang our cups and fists on the table. Food was served to us about 8.30pm (general BBQ food; a burger, chicken kebab, sausages etc, and apple crumble for desert) and was followed by yet more live music from an amazing two piece band. Once our food had digested we played games involving tea pots, bark, a piece of string – don’t ask – and of course lots of dancing. My team won the dance off, obviously.

It was a great night, and the staff let us hangout by the camp fire for a further 40 minutes after the party was over to finish our drinks and chat with other guests. Included in the Amuse package was the food, the welcome drink, one drink from the bar, plus any drinks won throughout the night. Other drinks we paid for, but to be honest we actually won a lot and so didn’t spend much money at all, thanks to our mad dance skills! (Watch the full Vlog here)

Relax

(£40pp) I woke up the next morning feeling extremely tired, yet I eagerly tottered down to the Well Spa bright and early to ensure I made my 9am appointment. The Relax package gives you a well deserved relaxing morning by offering up the Spa facilities for you to use from 9am until 1pm, not to mention Breakfast in the Spa’s cafe. Okay, confession, so that may have been my real reason for getting out of bed, I didn’t want to miss my yummy breakfast food. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get the Beard out of bed, nothing budges him on a hangover unless it smells like bacon.

I don’t have any real experience with Spa’s (it’s on my 30before30 list to have a Spa Day) so I’ve not much to compare it to, but I found the Spa itself to be perfectly pleasant and the staff nice and polite. The cafe was a little under staffed so I had to wait a while for my Breakfast, but as the purpose of the package was to RELAX, that is what I patiently sat back and did.

As the Beard was back at the lodge, it was just me, so I ate by myself and it was actually a pleasant and relaxing breakfast; I soaked up the calm atmosphere whilst I caught up on some blog emails and drank my tea. Once I’d finished my Breakfast I joined the other bloggers in the outdoor jacuzzi. We had amazing weather for it, 23 degrees and clear blue skies, not bad for Wales in late September eh?

After a 20 minute soak in the jacuzzi, in which we had showers and bubbles, I headed into the Celtic steam rooms. Again, I’m new to Spa’s, so I’ve no idea what the difference is between a sauna and a steam room, but this place had quite a few different rooms that all looked rather, well, steamy. There was a red one, a blue one, an orange … I hadn’t a clue. In the end I headed into the red steam room, where I got too hot, so I then headed into the ice room, this cooled me down, but then I didn’t really know what to do, so I decided to get changed and head back to the lodge. (Watch the full Vlog here)

I was a bit gutted that the Relax package didn’t offer any specific treatments, like a massage or a manicure (although they are available to book separately) but I can’t say I didn’t have a relaxing experience. A tasty breakfast and a lovely cuppa followed by an outdoor Jacuzzi and some steamy time – not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning, beats eating cereal in my bed to the sound of London traffic and noisy sirens.Amuse

(Part two £15pp) That afternoon we were invited to a Wine, Cider and Ale tasting down at Camp Smokey, which is another part of the Amuse package. This was one of my favourite parts of the weekend! We were split into two groups of four and were to sample three wines, four ciders and NINE ales! The point is to sample, discuss with your group, make some notes and then continue on with the next drink. But it actually turned into a bit of a wine, cider and ale soirée, with all eight of us polishing off most of the bottles, chit chatting about our lives and quizzing Liam (our taste leader) on not only his knowledge of ales, but his rather exciting past (basically a well traveled, well cultured, cider and ale expert, who began working at Bluestone from Day one as a builder and is now the lead entertainer!)

The taste session began at 3.30pm and at 6.45pm the pair of us in our tipsy taste, staggered up the long Boardwalk out of the woods and into the village for a much needed Calvary at the a Farm House Grill. A superb way to end the weekend! (Watch the full Vlog Here)

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Whether you and your partner fancy a luxury weekend away, or your thinking of booking a trip with your mates, I would recommend Bluestones FourPlay package. You can book all four packages for £160pp on top of your accommodation. It sounds pricey, but it does include all your breakfasts, activities, parties and access to the Spa. Or you can mix it up, treating each package as an add on. (Did I mention that bluestone also has a giant swimming area? With Slides? Oh, and it’s own Rollercoaster?)

Bar the Relax package, which I’m not sure is worth £40, every other package is great value for money. Particularly the Amuse package, which is £40pp but includes the Saturday night party at Camp Smokey with Food and some drinks PLUS the wine, cider and ale tasting the following day.

For further information about FourPlay at Bluestone click here. For information and prices for accommodation click here, or to get a taster of the lodges, why not watch my Lodge Tour video.

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