Monday, 15 September 2014

Suitcase Glory: How To Pack A Suitcase

Suitcase Glory I'm not usually one for entering competitions, mainly because I always seem to miss the deadlines... I have every best intention, I diarise it, prioritise it, plan it, enter it, then realise I've left it a day late. This is the story of my life. I recently came across a stunning suitcase company called Suitcase Glory, who are also host to a superb blog with travel advice and reviews to boot and they recently hosted a giveaway to win not one, not two, but THREE of their stunning printed cases for one lucky entrant. Suitcase Glory What did I do? I had every best intention, I diarised it, prioritised it, wrote my entry, then realised I had left it a day late - naturally. With a recent visit to Leeds (I get to visit some pretty exotic locations, I tell you!) I had been caught up in my Penthouse accommodation and food geekery and by the time it came to writing and entering my post on board the "Vomit Comet" aka the Saturday night Leeds to London East Coast train, I opted to snooze into my first physical book in years, drifting in & out of sleepy consciousness for two hours. Instead of crying into my pot of tea about the lost opportunity today, I've decided to publish my planned entry regardless, in the vain hope that this wasn't a complete wasted effort. I feel very inspired when I read a story of a new business owner turning their expertise and passions into a fully fledged business (see more on these sort of tales over at my business website, Stir Up Media) and Laura Daniel is no different in these stakes. Laura has worked in the travel industry for years, picking off suitcase after suitcase from the convertor belts, she realised there was a gap in the market for more colourful and funky designs to spot in the blurred sea of suitcase normality. Starting with three simple, yet stunning designs, Laura has big plans for her company and the designs will grow over the coming years which is an exciting prospect indeed. At £129 per design, these aren't the cheapest option, but in my opinion, their design is comfortable to carry or move around and they provide the user with a TSA-approved lock and a tough shell, sturdy enough to take the knocks and scrapes it may encounter as it flys around the world. So, my intention was not to tell you all that I'm a few weeks away from a luxurious break in the South of France, partnered with a frayed, "greying" black suitcase with some very sorry tales of "travel" to tell. No, I wanted to provide you with some of my recent nerdery learnt from my Royal tutor, to teach you all a few little tricks on how to pack your suitcase whilst headed to your very own luxury destination... You'll be stocking up on tissue paper and sticky labels before you know it. So what's so special about the designs at Suitcase Glory I hear you cry? Well, firstly, if I owned one of these beauties, it would mean I could incinerate the abomination I currently own and with THREE of them, I would have a different case for every trip within my "Around The World In 80 Stays challenge", alternating them depending on my mood - who has that one luxury alone?! Suitcase Glory With the strapline: "Throw our your black or blue suitcase and join the revolution!"... I'm that exact person who would be actioning that EXACT motion. With the likes of Cherry Healey stating that she needs the cherry-printed suitcase in her life and a 12-month guarantee slapped onto these British-designed, four-wheeled, lightweight beauties, who wouldn't want one?! With a current choice of patterns including a beach hut and even a travel stamp print, these cases will stand out on any airport conveyor belt, providing a very smug and swift collection in a sea of dull colours - I want one just to offer this smugness to my traveling companions just once! So, to my packing tips... here's just some hints on how to pack your suitcase and make the most of that precious suitcase space:
  • Firstly, we are always told to roll our items of clothing to avoid creases, but if you want to be crease-free the "Royal" way, you'll get yourself a stream of tissue paper and will use this between folds to avoid those dreaded creases. When folding a shirt for example, place a sheet of tissue paper into the "back" of the shirt and fold around it, wrapping in tissue paper and sealing with a sticker (printed with your family crest as an optional extra!) for the paper will take on the creases as it travels.
  • If traveling with a suit, instead of folding your suit jacket and packing it into your case, simply roll up sheets of the tissue paper and place inside the arms of the jacket to help keep their shape whilst compressed into a case. As soon as you arrive at your destination, taking out to hang will ensure limited creasing.
  •  Make use of the corners or edges of a suitcase, placing belts, makeup or toiletry bags, even underwear into these parts will use up space in those hard to use areas.
  • If, like myself, you find it hard to feel at home until you've unpacked on arrival, simply place all "dressing table" items into one separate bag/compartment, all "bathroom" items into another, everything required for your first night (pyjamas, medication, toothbrush, etc), making life very simple on unpacking. Each bag goes directly to the right place within your accommodation and this saves much time rifling through the entire contents of your case.
  • Don't pack straight into your case, collect everything you need first of all and then assess what can be left behind if push comes to shove, you may find that you are packing items you don't really need to be taking. It's much easier to remove items from your list before packing it into your case.
  • Consider a shoe bag for obvious reasons, or, if you don't have such a bag, place shoes sole-to-sole to avoid dirtying anything else.
  • Create an itemised packing list, take a copy with you so that you can check you have rounded everything up that you brought with you on leaving for home. You can find a helpful packing list with Suitcase Glory to get you started.
  • Think about what you are going to be actually using on your trip. If staying in a  decent standard of accommodation, do you really NEED all of those shampoos/body potions/tissues or that hairdryer? Or will your room have all of this already? All of these items, once removed from your case can make a difference in added space, so pack wisely - most hotels will now state which of these items are provided within your stay.
  • Don't pack your sunglasses and suncream into your case, no matter how cold it is on leaving, if you're headed to a hot location, you are going to need them as soon as you step onto the tarmac at the other end. On the flip side, you may have just visited tropic climes, but if headed back to blighty, that chill is going to hit you on landing, so have a pullover of some sort to wrap into as glamourously as humanly possible - be super organised, you'll thank yourself!
  •  Leave a little room for keepsakes & souvenirs... You are always going to come back with more than you went with, no matter how hard you try not to! So, if you don't want to be that crazy "bag juggler", ensure some space is created for those unexpected extras in your return.
Suitcase Glory If you STILL need some help on how to pack a suitcase, here's a rather amusing retro video from Mr Bean himself   on how NOT to pack a case.... Bon Voyage!   Miss Sue Flay Logo   Please Note: This is not a sponsored post in any way, I simply like the product being discussed and would like to share my tips with you for your own use and enjoyment. As part of this particular giveaway, a blog post was requested, so I have decided to post regardless, as I have in fact been meaning to write a packing guide for some time, so it fits perfectly.   You can read more about my "Around The World In 80 Stays" challenge here! Pip Pip!     

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Crown your Puds With Rodda's - A Competition

It's that time of the year again, it's becoming chilly, the cardigans and scarves are out, it's the season for a comforting pudding of a Sunday afternoon...or any other time of the day to be fair! I've recently been contacted by the lovely team at Rodda's, the very people I turn to for my clotted cream needs when preparing an afternoon tea or two, no other brand seem to do. Crown Your Puds with Rodda's They saw my recent Instagram challenge for The National Afternoon Tea Week and they discussed their very own competition currently running on my favourite social media site currently, I was more than excited to hear their proposal. They are running a visual completion called "Crown Your Puds" and they're asking you all to follow them on Instagram (roddas_cream), upload your photos of puddings and sweet treats adorned with their creamy goodness and use the hashtag #crownyourpuds for a chance to win some fab monthly prizes, such as their edible treats and even Rodda's branded aprons. This ongoing competition has been running for a while now and it'll get even the slightest sweet tooth salivating whilst flicking through these entries! I've been asked to judge a couple of rounds for this superb competition and I am genuinely excited to be helping the team to pick the winners, it's going to be tough from the look of the current entries... I'm going to have get all "Mary Berry" on this sweet stuff! Crown Your Puds with Rodda's So, what are you waiting for?!  Next time you get your bake on, top your treats with some Rodda's and show them off in all their glory for a chance to enter a very exciting national giveaway - "you've got to be in it to win it" as they say!   Miss Sue Flay Logo     You can follow me on Instagram by clicking here.    

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Guest Post: How To Bake The Perfect Quiche

I really needed to get my bake on! Let me tell you a bit more about me and then Rosedene Bakery's unique Afternoon Tea package.  I'm Anna and I inherited my Nan's passion for baking. When I was made redundant from the banking sector early in 2013, I finally took the plunge and started my own baking business. I knew that I wanted to offer something completely different to what the other local "Cakers" were doing and I knew that I didn't aspire to being a wedding cake maker – I just don't have the patience or dexterity needed for that level of intricate work. Whilst I envy those that produce spectacular novelty cakes, again; they take intense patience and a precision that I just do not possess. Besides, I wanted to BAKE, not decorate. Rosedene Bakery Afternoon Tea Quiche Recipe Baking for me is things like sponge cakes, scones and biscuits with amazing smells permeating from the kitchen, scents that make you salivate as soon as you walk in to the house. But other than opening my own bakery or shop, which just wasn't an option, how could I do lots of baking for my own business? My answer? Afternoon tea. Afternoon tea with a difference. This offering is made by me and delivered to your home (or business or event venue). Then to add to the experience, I invested in LOTS of lovely vintage china to hire out - such a hardship I can tell you! I visit your home, providing all the goodies you need for your afternoon tea: scrummy scones, soft Victoria sponge, Bakewell tart, delicious cupcakes. I include all the little extras; jams, clotted cream, butter, tea, even sugar cubes and I will either leave it all with you or I can come in and set it all up, whilst you put on your 'Sunday Best' - I'll even stay to serve you and your guests for a little extra decadence. Then, if you've hired the china I will pop back to collect it... It couldn't be easier. So, as I was devising my menus, I decided that I didn't want to include sandwiches that could curl up or dry out, but asked myself what could I offer to cover the savoury element?  My immediate thought was cheese scones, especially as they had been so well received when I tried them on friends and family. But for those wanting a bit more substance for their afternoon tea, I included a quiche and my journey into savoury pastry began… It seems simple when you first consider it. To make some pastry; roll it out, line a tin, blind bake it, add some cheese and onion, then carefully pour over the egg & milk mix (being careful not to let it slop out), back in the oven to bake for 30 minutes and voila! ... OH NO!! Any tiny crack or hole in the pastry means leakage resulting in, at the very best, a soggy bottom and at worst; a total loss of the creamy filling, being left with a soggy cheesy, oniony mess! I suffered more than my fair share in the early days, I can tell you. I don't know if there is a failsafe knack to it - if there is, I hope to find it soon! It still happens. I had three to make last week and ended up with two soggy messes on my first attempt and another on my second attempt - I had made another three just in case... good job hubby likes quiche! For now, I feel a sense of excited trepidation when I get an order for one (although they do say practice makes perfect). But when they work? I feel a sense of real achievement, they are utterly delicious and very well received - even if I do hold my breath as I pour the gorgeous, creamy filling into the tin!! Rosedene Bakery Afternoon Tea Quiche Recipe The Rosedene's Perfect Quiche Recipe    For the pastry: 8oz flour (I use plain) 4oz butter 10-12 tsp water   For the filling: 1 large red onion 1 or 2 gloves of garlic, crushed 8 cherry tomatoes, halved 125g mature Cheddar cheese, grated 3 eggs 250ml milk 1 tsp wholegrain or Dijon mustard 1/3 tsp ground black pepper 1 tbsp olive oil   Method – Pastry  Many recipe books will tell you to sift the flour into a bowl, then cut in the butter with a knife, then rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  I will be honest here, I don't do this - I put all the ingredients into my mixer and on a slow setting I achieve that result. However you achieve the breadcrumb like mixture, once you have it, slowly add the water a bit at a time and mix until you get a crumbly looking paste. If you're not using a mixer, use a knife for this as you want to handle the pastry as little as possible. Once you have the crumbly paste, bring the mixture together with your fingertips, turn onto a floured surface and quickly knead into a dough. If you're using a mixer, it will do the work for you. Once you have your pastry dough, I always think it's best to rest it in the fridge, even if it's just for 10 minutes (I generally just leave it in there while I prepare my filling). At this stage, the pastry can be frozen (I quite often make twice as much pastry as I need, just in case of disaster, so often end up freezing batches of pastry). Once the pastry has been chilled slightly, remove from the fridge and roll the pastry out on a floured surface. CAREFULLY, lift the pastry, by rolling loosely around your rolling pin and line your tin. Make sure there are no gaps, really thin areas or holes – these would result in leakage, which you really don't want. I don't even trim the edges to meet the edge of the tin, as this results in shrinkage. I leave the edges about 1cm over the edge of the tin – for me , better a slightly untidy edge than a soggy bottom! Line the pastry with some good quality baking paper, then cover the bottom of that with either baking beans or dry rice. Blind bake the pastry for around 15 minutes - I put the tin on a baking tray or in a swiss roll tin to make getting it out of the oven easier. After 15 minutes CAREFULLY remove the baking paper and rice/beans and continue baking for a further 5 minutes, this will ensure the pastry is fully cooked pre filling. Once the blind bake is complete, really carefully remove the baked quiche case from the oven - it's really easy to knock it and crack it, and thus make it not filling proof.  It's now ready to add the filling.   Method – Filling Peel and slice your onion into fine quarter moons - I use a red onion but, you could use a white one or some spring onions. Gently heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and crushed garlic to the pan and gently soften. Don't allow them to catch or burn or this will affect the flavour of your quiche. Once softened, leave to cool slightly. Using a large jug or bowl add the eggs, beat until just combined. Add the milk, pepper and mustard and lightly beat to combine. Set to one side.   Assembling the quiche for baking Once your pastry case is baked, you can add your filling. I cannot express strongly enough the need to be really gentle here – many a time have I been caught out by my heavy handedness, cracking the pastry, meaning I've had to start that process all over again. Spread the onions over the base of the pastry, then sprinkle your cheese over the onions. Give your wet filling a little stir to ensure an even distribution of ingredients, then slowly pour into the case.  Don't be tempted to fill right to the top, it's tempting spilling fate! The filling should be around 5mm – 1 cm from the top.  If you haven't quite got enough filling, quickly mix up 1 further egg and 75ml of milk and pour evenly over the top. Add the halved tomatoes, seed side up to the top in a decorative pattern. Place the quiche back into the oven and bake for a further 25 minutes or until set and slightly golden on top.   Remove from the oven, either enjoying warm or simply serve cold later.   Give yourself a massive pat on the back if there were no spillages, you are a complete star!!   Do feel free to play with different ingredients, the world is your quiche! Rosedene Bakery Afternoon Tea Quiche Recipe What is your "go to" quiche recipe? Any disasters or successes to share with us? - Leave a comment below to join in the conversation!   Miss Sue Flay Logo   Guest post written & recipe creation by Anna at Images courtesy of Kelly Jo Hearsey at    

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Around The World In 80 Stays: Camping In Suffolk

Camping In Suffolk I went to sleep a few nights ago craving the rare experience of waking under canvas, I had a weird hankering to go camping... I miss the sound of the traditional British rain on canvas, lanterns, thermos full of tea, card games and warm beer with friends.... What's crazy, I thought, is the fact that I have all the gear ready to go after a fair few camping excursions over the years, so what was stopping me?! A Saturday morning of the last bank holiday weekend of the year, that's what! Camping In Suffolk Every campsite along the Norfolk, Kent & Suffolk coast was booked up, pitch by pitch. Just as I was losing all hope (and baking a banana & chocolate chip loaf cake to console myself) I received a call back from my most favourite campsite (Sandie & Graham at Bailiffs Cottage in Hollesley are just superstars!) in Suffolk to advise me of a cancellation... this pitch was mine! So a quick shower, a quick fanning of the loaf cake to cool it down, wrapping it up in a tea towel for the journey and I was off on my very first adventure for my "Around the world in 80 stays challenge". Camping In Suffolk This wasn't quite the exotic, luxurious stay I was hoping for to kick off this challenge, however with a small budget required and the peace and quiet of the outdoors, it truly appealed and really was a fantastic way to start me off on my way after a hectic few months at Stir Up Media. The UK has some truly stunning scenery and places of beauty, with Suffolk being one of those places never to be ignored. I've had my fair share of stays in Aldeburgh, Dunwich & Southwold, but I much prefer to go a little off the tourist trail and head to Bawdsey, Orford (take a walk on Orford Ness if you EVER get the chance, it's a curious, eery and equally relaxing place) and Shingle Street for a much more isolated & relaxing retreat. Camping In Suffolk Bailiffs Cottage is host to a stunning secret garden full of rose bushes, vegetable patches and hens laying eggs for your breakfast, it's a superb place to pitch up for a few days. With only a handful of well-spaced pitches, it's wise to book ahead (ahem!) and as it's a "Caravan Club" location, it's not easy to find online and doesn't attract hoards of people - it's perfect for a quiet break. Along with my Vango Icarus 500 tent (a beast it is too!) and even own a duo camping stove with foldaway pots, pans & kettle, it was the perfect home away from home... however we forgot the gas canister needed to prepare any means of hot food or drink. So, instead of scrambled eggs on toasted sour dough bread (sourced from Pump Street Bakery), I had to make do with warm cheese sandwiches and some sweet treats (their butter tart was the single best sweet tart I've ever eaten - next time, I'm not sharing!) from said favourite bakery. Camping In Suffolk Luckily, I had prepare a large thermos of hot water to make tea & coffee on arrival to go with the banana bread (with an extra topping of Nutella & fresh banana, ooooh!) so we were still happy and toasty warm on the chilly mornings throughout the trip. In fact, this decorative thermos came all the way from the Philippines and the water stays hot for over two days, it's blimmin' terrific - who needs a hotel with a luxury tea tray and shortbread biscuits when you've got this sort of deliciousness under canvas?!... Ok, don't answer that! There's been a fun little game I've wanted to play for some time, simply titled "Roadside Bingo" where you stop at those little side tables along the road and stock up on the random food and produce on sale at each stop to create a meal or two. We stopped at many different stands over the two days, collecting homemade blackberry & plum jam, various boxes of eggs to take home... we even spotted a nifty cool box hamper with fresh Cromer crabs to take down to the local beach - I love Suffolk! Camping In Suffolk The weekend involved early mornings curled up in fluffy blankets, 50p pieces for a hot shower, puppy walks along the stony beaches, reading magazines & books between afternoon power naps, exploring castles & old WW2 bunkers along the coast (and a few banged heads along the way!) as well as roast dinners in cosy pubs (The Sorrel Horse a mile down the road is perfect!) and cream teas overlooking the local quay. If the only luxuries I need with me to make it homely are a few cups of Yorkshire tea, some home-baked treats (that could have won me some new friends, SHOULD I have fancied sharing!) and a "real feel" inflatable king sized bed, then I'm all for it - I love a bit of a camping. For £16 a night, we pitched our tent for 2 nights, paying an extra £1 towards Cats Protection for my puppy companion tagging along for the ride. Camping In Suffolk Sandie & Graham welcome you with open arms and freshly grown produce a plenty, so do expect to enjoy locally sourced & seasonal food throughout your stay. In fact, a little tip...they can get low on eggs at Bailiffs Cottage (a very popular option for the resident campers & caravaners) so nab some on arrival to avoid disappointment. My first #80Stays trip was just what I needed to help relax me... It didn't cost the earth, I've enjoyed some leisurely long walks and delicious, simple food and I haven't come home with a cricked neck (for a change!) so, a good call all round! The one downside to camping, especially with a puppy in tow?!.. The sand, mud and dribbled water... Everywhere! I believe I've been on my knees with a dustpan & brush at least four times like a good little tent-wife...gah! Camping In Suffolk Oh, and that feeling of "I really don't want to get the tent down in that wind and rain" and deliberating for a good two hours whilst it spits large raindrops....only to actually take it down in an all out hail storm - just typical of my luck! Now, to make the second stay just as relaxing and fun... But, where to go?! Miss Sue Flay Logo   Camping In Suffolk Read more about my "Around The World In 80 Stays" challenge here & please get in touch if you would like to help or get involved in any way. Camping In Suffolk More information on Bailiffs Cottage here.  

Friday, 22 August 2014

Review: Catesby's

Catesby's Cambridge It's been a while since I reviewed a venue worthy of a full-throttled mention on my doorstep and this is a little gem that I would quite happily keep to myself if I wasn't all for sharing these things! Catesby's is a new shop nestled on the cobbles of Green Street, in the very heart of Cambridge City centre, offering beautiful and unique goods for your home and garden. This shop is set within a stunning Georgian townhouse, complete with stripped back wooden floorboards and staircases with ornate banisters and elegant wall decor throughout. It's very clean and minimalist in style and it immediately makes you want to fill your arms full of hand-painted doorknobs, ornate ceramic teacups and luxury picnic blankets for countryside jaunts. It has only just dawned on me that I have been to the original shop in Norfolk within the last year or so (I knew I recalled the name from somewhere and it's only just come back to me as I write this post!) where I enjoyed a stunning cream tea after a beach walk with the pup in Wells-Next-To-The-Sea. Catesby's Cambridge Catesby's was born back in 2011 within a Georgian home on the Norfolk coast belonging to Jonathon & Neil, complete with panelled rooms and a relaxing tea garden for customers to enjoy a cup of tea within as they browse. The goods on sale here are made of natural materials and neutral colours, mixed with an elegance that makes everything feel very special - it's the perfect place to search for an unusual gift. As you walk through the door, both in Norfolk and in the Cambridge house, you feel right at home as soon as you step foot inside. We were greeted by a young lady with a warm smile, but she allowed us to browse, no pressure or breathing down our neck which was a relief for me - I'm not a fan of being followed around these type of shops, so it was nice to be allowed to browse peacefully. Catesby's Cambridge There were cake stands with antlers as the dome handle, cushions with bold prints, cosy looking blankets & throws, candles and holders, enamel mugs & crockery, unusual cutlery, unusual trays and cloches, the list goes on... This is a shop that really does feel like a house, it allows you to wander upstairs and touch, even use the items on sale through their first floor kitchen. This is a hidden gem of a coffee shop in Cambridge, with white furniture, giant cutlery on the walls and beautiful china to eat & drink from, you can stop and enjoy a cuppa and a bite to eat, so that's just what we did. Catesby's Cambridge Tea Shop I was on a very rare shopping excursion with one of my very best friends and we nattered over the menu for so long that the waitress serving us had to come back several times for our order, she was so patient - a huge thank you to her! The menu was simple, with a selection of sandwiches and salads, teas and coffees, as well as a choice of delicious looking cakes on stands perched proudly in one corner of the kitchen. Catesby's Cambridge Tea Shop K ordered a cup of English Breakfast tea and I was happy to see a selection of locally sourced "Hot Numbers" coffee blends on offer, one of which Neil (who I met on leaving later on) mentioned was designed especially for Catesby's - just fantastic and worth the visit for alone. It was a very smooth blend and I enjoyed this as we gossiped, avoiding cake on this occasion, but there's time to pop back another day! We had arrived at this coffee stop around 4pm on a Saturday afternoon and it was still very busy, even though there are only around 6 tables, it was buzzing without being overcrowded. What we did find hilarious was that whilst checking something online through our phones, we picked up a neighbouring wifi connection that advised us just how terrible the nearby restaurants' signal was.... hilarious! Catesby's Cambridge Tea Shop If you are looking for somewhere a little more hidden away & unusual in Cambridge, perhaps this is the perfect meeting place for you plus one or two friends (any more than this may not guarantee you a table in this instance) with quality produce, Catesby's is the perfect solution. They have an online shop, as well as their two humble abodes, so do take a look and enjoy a cuppa if you are headed there over the weekend...   Catesby's Cambridge Tea Shop Miss Sue Flay Logo

  Catesby's Cambridge Tea Shop  

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Films That Make Me Cry

Garden State Films That Make Me Cry I've read posts written by others in the past who share tips on the best films to make you feel happy or even the top ten films to make you cry... I've always wondered why you would ever want to watch a film to make you purposefully cry, that's always baffled me. But then, my fellow human beings can be baffling individuals, so I'll continue to wonder. It's no secret that I'm a huge film fan, I'm a Cineworld Unlimited card holder and I've recently upgraded to the premium membership, as my first year has now passed. For just £16.40 per month (I believe it's a little more for central London) you can go as many times as you like... Hence the "unlimited". Last year I saw around £392 worth of films, that's one heck of a lot of viewings and I've seen some pretty epic films, as well as some complete dross! I'll very rarely turn down a trip to the flicks, I'm always bumping into people I know at one of my four most local screens, it's a small world! It takes a lot to get me emotional when it comes to films, apparently I have no reaction when watching a thriller, I don't jump (well, very rarely) and I am usually bizarrely good at guessing the twists and turns, I just can't help it! But, when it comes to a good sob, it usually takes a lot to get me going... And when I do, it can sometimes take me a while to stop. I'm a little like Zach Braff in one of my most favourite films of all time (Garden State) and I simply have very little emotion, but when it's turned on, I'm a wreck! Here are some of the films that have got me going recently, don't judge me! Films That Make Me Cry About Time This is a gorgeous film, directed by Richard Curtis (the same guy behind the genius films such a Four Weddings and a Funeral & Love Actually) about a father (Bill Nighy) and his son who can travel back in time and as many fantastically romantic scenes as it may offer, the sad moments will have even the strongest of hearts melting... Ahem! Steel Magnolias A real retro chick flick with a young Julia Roberts & Dolly Parton, this has a big "feel good" lead up to the main catastrophic final scenes... Don't sit down to watch this without a massive bar of chocolate and some tissues - I'll condone such girly actions just this once and that goes for the guys too! Dallas Buyers Club Matthew McConaughey has always been a bit of a joke to me over the years, with corkers behind him such as How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, Magic Mike and Sahara (all just terrible!) you can forgive 100% for his latest films. He's all of a sudden come into his own and he's making me blub like a baby... Well, actually, Jared Leto does in this one, but I can't rate this one enough. Heavy content (it's about AIDS in 1985 Dallas), but just fantastic. Marley & Me This was advertised as a usual "Owen Wilson" laugh-a-minute comedy, of which it was for the first half of the film... Then BAM... The dog gets ill and nowhere on that advert does it tell me the dog will die an the entire cinema will be reduced to a blubbering mess. And even though I know what to expect, every time I catch it on the TV lately, it gets me. Every. Single. Time. Up The most emotional start to a film ever created belongs to this Disney Pixar beauty. The beautiful scene of two kids meeting and growing up together, falling in love, getting married and growing old together within the space of minutes. It's so clever and reduces even the most emotionally strong viewer to mush as their life story unfolds and sets the scene for the next two hours. This is one of my most favourite films in the world. The Fault In Our Stars I don't normally go for films taken from books like this, it's a young adult novel based on two teenagers who meet at a cancer patients' support group. Willem Dafoe plays an arse of a writer who really gets your goat, even at his best (I do love him as an actor!) and this film had EVERY lip quivering and nose sniffing as the credits rolled, even I didn't see the plot twist mid-way through. Saving Mr. Banks Any film with Emma Thompson (except The Love Punch, god awful film!) and Tom Hanks is a winner for me. This is the "real" story behind our beloved Mary Poppins and the father of this chirpy family. It wasn't all roses, animated penguins and dancing chimney sweeps when it came to the real man behind this childhood character, as much as Walt Disney wanted to make it out to be. It's truly a tear-inducing tale behind the reality that led P. L. Travers to depict her version of events. I laughed and cried in equal measures and can't watch Mary Poppins in the same light again. Films That Make Me Cry What gets your eyes watering when it comes to films? I'd love to hear from you in a comment below... Do you agree with my sad film choices or can you add something better to the mix?! Miss Sue Flay  

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Scent-sational: Jo Malone London

A friend of mine (Cat at The Teatime Treatery) recently introduced me to the wonderful and luxurious world of Jo Malone London, a beautifully British brand of colognes, scented candles and bath oils. I had no idea that tucked away off Cambridge Market was a Jo Malone shop on Rose Crescent, within the very same building that used to house my favourite art gallery in Cambridge until around a year ago. As soon as I stepped through the door, the memories of champagne schmoozes and meeting my favourite artist to sign my own piece of him came flooding back, I loved this small building nestled on the cobbles of one of the more peaceful areas of my hometown and I'm even more in love with it now. Jo Malone Cambridge Shop Cat had booked us in for a complimentary arm and hand massage treatment with the beautiful Amie, a passionate ambassador of the brand who travels from Norwich to Cambridge every day for her job, she's impressively dedicated to her work and I think I would be too if I worked for this elegant brand. As soon as you walk up the steps into this sophisticated parlour, you are greeted with friendly smiles and a homely scent that relaxes even the most stressed of human being immediately. Everything is displayed on glass shelves, from body and hand washes, colognes and spritzers through to candles, body oils, shampoos and cremes, everything can be sampled, in fact that is very much encouraged. What I loved most about his experience was that we weren't pounced on as soon as we walked through the door, you're given time to browse and there's a member of staff on hand if you need help. Personally, I would usually be too scared to ask for advice, I'd simply sniff everything and try to make an informed decision after overloading myself with an array of lotions and potions... advice? Jo Malone Cambridge Shop Book yourself in for a complimentary, no obligation arm and hand massage treatment. It was the best hour of my day and it's (without wanting to sound cheesy) changed my complete outlook on perfumes and scents for the better. I'm a girl who actually prefers to wear men's deodorants and sprays, I love the deeper, spicier smells and I like to make an impact when I walk into a room. I sometimes feel that the lighter, feminine scents don't stay with me for as long. This stems back to accidentally buying a male spray in my teenage years and sticking with these sort of smells ever since. The Jo Malone range is in fact unisex, not that I'd share any of these stunning products, but they will smell different on everyone and they can be combined to produce unique and personalised scents to match your taste. We both sat at the comfortable massage table and were introduced to the Jo Malone shop, offered a chilled glass of lime water and discussed our current scents whilst Amie really got into what turns us on within a scent. She picked up on our preferances and produced their orange blossom bath oil at first, using a mini coffee whisk to whip it up into a thick foam in which she massaged our hands and arms to get them feeling silky and smooth, offering a similar experience to lathering up in the bath - it almost sent us to sleep! Jo Malone Cambridge Shop After rinsing off this lathered bath oil with a hot scented towel, she then massaged us using their peony & blush suede body creme, which was so thick and heavenly, you didn't need much to benefit from this and I could have easily sat there all afternoon, it was lovely. If only every morning could be like this when it comes to getting ready! What Amie was teaching us was that creating a memorable and long-lasting perfume isn't simply a quick spritz and away you go, you need to layer your body with varying products and complimenting scents to create something that will linger and make an impression. This isn't something I'd ever thought of doing and am usually guilty of dousing myself (and my clothing!)  in cheaper sprays in the hope they'll last...they usually don't and now I know why. She then finished by showing us how to choose the perfect cologne and how to apply it, by spraying ever so lightly onto our arms, then dabbing it with her palms up the length of our arms. I went for "154", a scent that includes mandarin, grapefruit, lavender, basil, nutmeg and vetiver. This combination of scents was stunning, I've never loved the way I've smelled so much in my entire life, with honestly no exaggeration. A small bottle of cologne costs around £40 and the body creme around £50, making this a very tricky decision for somebody on a tight budget, so I decided to take my time on my purchases and come back another day, which was absolutely fine. What I didn't expect was that I would spend the rest of the day pressing my nose up against my arms, taking in long draws of breath to enjoy the aromas soaking into my body. I woke up the next morning and I had received a text from Cat advising me that she still smelled amazing, to which I took another whiff and confirmed that I did too... This was so alien to me, I never stay smelling so great for that period of time, this was some kind of luxury voodoo! I sat on my hands all morning until I couldn't bare it any longer, I roped in another friend for a coffee in town and we just so happened to be "passing" Jo Malone. We spent some time in other luxury scent shops, but they just didn't were never going to cut it for me, so Kass took me by the arm and marched me to Jo Malone to just get it over with. As of today, I'm walking into rooms and causing a sensation...! Jo Malone London I visited my local BBC radio station this morning and the first thing the presenter said to me was just how delicious I smelled, before absolutely anything else. My whole reasoning for wanting a new scent was to make an impact when networking my little behind off and after just one hour of wearing my new combination, it's only gone and worked, I'm so stupidly impressed I just had to share this fascinating experience from a gal who very rarely pampers herself of late! Money. Well. Spent. Jo Malone London, (in Cambridge specifically)... I curse AND salute you in equal measures, as well as very much look forward to the new wood sage & sea salt scent due out in September - I could be very tempted shouldn't be allowed to pop back anytime soon! You have a new convert and ambassador in "Miss Sue Flay"! Miss Sue Flay Logo