I’ve never really enjoyed having any sort of facial treatment. Having always struggled with problem skin, facials have often felt clinical rather than luxurious. I’ve never looked in the mirror afterwards and thought my skin looked radiant, or felt like the facialist has taken the time to understand my skin and tailor the treatment to tackle my problem areas.

So when I was offered the chance to have a skin scan and bespoke facial at HI Therapies, I was definitely intrigued.

The reception area

Make up display

The salon, based on Charminster Road, was lovely and airy, and I felt instantly welcomed.

When I went into the treatment room I was greeted by Shelley, the Environ consultant, who asked me questions about my current skin care, as well as any concerns I had. Then it was scan time, and I had stick my face into this rather terrifying looking machine!

Skin scanning machine
It was obviously fine – I just had to close my eyes while it took a few snaps of my skin. I went through the results afterwards with Shelley, which I found really interesting.

The scan revealed areas of oil, bacteria and UV damage. Warning: super sexy photos below!

Using these results, Shelley talked me through the products she was going to use for my mini facial, and drew up a personalised skin care regimen. She was really knowledgeable and answered all my questions. She too struggled with acne when she was younger, so it was nice to swap stories and hear her experiences. Also, her skin looked incredible, so she was definitely a glowing advertisement for her products.

The facial itself was really relaxing, and left my skin feeling tingly and refreshed.

Facial

Shelley used sound waves to help the products penetrate deeper into the skin.

Verdict: The whole experience was really enjoyable and felt much more personalised than treatments I’ve had in the past. Afterwards my skin felt moisturised but not oily and, the following day, my blemishes were less angry looking. I would definitely consider having similar treatments in the future, and trying out some of the products Shelley recommended.

You can book a treatment at HI Therapies here.

Find out more about Environ here.

Apologies for the slightly clickbait-y title, but I honestly can’t oversell how amazing this product is (or the amount of joy it’s brought us).

I’m talking, of course, about catnip bubbles.

Now I’m known for buying ridiculous things for my cats – bandanas and Easter eggs, just to name a couple – so naturally, when I found these in the pet shop I couldn’t resist.

Plum isn’t too fussed about Catnip Bubble Time (as it’s come to be known in our house), but Marty? Well, it might just be his favourite time of day. Aside from 5am (yowling at the bedroom door o’clock) and anytime there’s food, that is.

He was a little wary at first…

Marty sniffing the bubbles

I cannot cope with his little face here!!

Sniffing a bubble

Marty reaching for bubble

Plum and Marty looking up at bubbles

Marty checking out the bubbles

But then…LOOK AT HIS FACE.

Marty inspecting a bubble

PURE JOY.

Close up of Marty

GO MARTY, GO!
Marty jumping for bubbles

Marty catching bubbles

Marty catching bubbles

MY HEART.

You can buy the key to pure, unadulterated cat joy here.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed that Friends is now on Netflix.

You will probably have also noticed the numerous angry think pieces about how the show is ‘problematic’ (ugh, I hate that word), and the endless lists ranking the characters from best to worst (like we didn’t all decide our favourites twenty years ago).

However, this little gem, in particular, incensed me.

Firstly, the guy who wrote it seriously needs to lighten up. He describes the characters as ‘quite terrible people’, before going on to ask, ‘could they be anymore [sic] “first world problems”’?

Yes, he’s right; they’re all white, heterosexual and cisgender. Yes, some of them do come from ‘incredible privilege’ – I won’t argue that. Obviously, there are many jokes that don’t quite sit right with audiences today; this is true of a lot of shows in the 90’s, but I’m not going to use the ‘product of its time’ argument here. I’m also not going to list all the things the show did right, though there are many.

But to argue that they’re terrible people is, to me, slightly ridiculous.

They make questionable decisions, tease each other and yes, sometimes make inappropriate jokes. But if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, isn’t that what all groups of friends are like?

While I can’t deny his points about their socio-economic status, I do think this ‘first world problems’ rubbish and whining about ‘privilege’ stuff is just…well, it’s a load of crap to be honest.

The show is about a group of twenty-somethings, struggling to make their way in New York City. We see them go on disastrous job interviews, have money problems, endure break-ups and become single parents. Rachel goes from a broke waitress to a successful, independent career woman. Over several seasons, we see Monica work hard, pay her dues and become a head chef at a prestigious restaurant. Joey is a struggling actor and Chandler is stuck in a dead-end job he hates. At one point, the issue of money is not only brought up, but threatens to divide the friends.

Do all these things sound relatable? Yes – that’s because they are.

Suggesting that Friends tackles trivial issues (or ‘first world problems’) kind of misses the point of what the show was trying to achieve. Let’s stop trying to make out that Friends was trying to be ground-breaking. It was light entertainment about a group of ordinary people; crucially, it was designed to be relatable.

At the same time, it still did a fair job of challenging gender stereotypes, promoting LGBT rights (as much as you can argue the characters were ‘homophobic’, let’s not forget that two women get married, raise a child and have a happy, loving marriage – not something that happened in a lot of shows in the mid-90’s) and had plenty of serious storylines – Monica and Chandler’s infertility, for example.

Can’t we all just enjoy Friends as what it is – a snapshot of life in 90’s America, as shown by six regular people?

As for Monica being the worst character? Well, I disagree there too. The author says this can’t come as too much of a surprise, given that Monica is controlling and obsessive. Am I the only person who sees that she was also generous, kind-hearted and loving? Let’s also not get started on calling ‘obsessive’ a flaw (ugh). It’s funny, because I see lots of people criticising the other characters for mocking Monica’s ‘OCD’, yet these same people supposedly hate her for being obsessive. Hmmm.

Oh, and what is this guy’s beef with Monica losing weight because of a man? Sadly, she won’t have been the first person to do this, and I fail to understand why this makes her a bad person (also, great job on shifting the focus away from Chandler, who made the rude comment in the first place). If anything, it just makes her more – you guessed it, I’m going to say it again – relatable.

The bottom line is, Friends is supposed to be light entertainment. Sure, some of the jokes miss the mark now, but again, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, haven’t we all made jokes that were slightly questionable?

On the show, problematic opinions were challenged, and the characters ultimately grew over time – as we all do in real life.

Is this what makes us so uncomfortable, knowing that at one time or another, we’ve probably all made a tasteless joke, or laughed at something we shouldn’t have? Is it that Friends reminds us that we’ve all had problematic misconceptions of our own?

If the characters on Friends had been perfectly nice to each other all the time, not had problematic opinions or made inappropriate jokes, would the show have been as relatable as it was?

I would argue probably not.

As you may know, I recently moved house, so I’ve been COMPLETELY OBSESSED with homeware. It’s been so exciting shopping for furniture for my new home, so when Sloane & Sons reached out and asked if I wanted to promote their latest competition to win this gorgeous chair, I was more than happy to.

Chair

Just look at it! I’ve actually been looking for a nice little armchair to go in my lounge and this might be perfect! I can imagine curling up on it with a kitten on my lap, some hot chocolate and a good book. Perfect for cosy winter evenings!

To enter, all you need to do is follow them on Twitter and RT this tweet.

Disclaimer: I was approached by Sloane & Sons to promote their giveaway, but have received no payment to do so. Plus, my thoughts on the chair are real – I love it!

“From the start I knew I wanted to make it amazing” 

Carpenter Simon Clissold talks about how he helped make Pause Cat Café a perfect kitty sanctuary.

When Simon first saw the café it was nothing but a “shell of bricks” and he knew it was going to be a mammoth job. As well as standard renovation, there was a lot of work to be done structurally, in order to meet the health and safety regulations around keeping animals in areas where food is served.

A former boat-builder and owner of Scallywags, a local floor restoration company, Simon has a passion for working with reclaimed wood. He got creative with leftover timber and always aimed to get the most out of his materials. He is most proud of the café’s fascia, which he crafted out of old floorboards. Rather than using expensive cedar wood – the original plan – the reclaimed wood cost him just £150.

Simon standing outside Pause Cat Cafe

He used a mixture of wood he had in stock, donated materials and old furniture. The cute little kitty doors were actually made from regular doors!

Little wooden cat door

Simon came highly recommended to Jaya and though he admits the work was very stressful at times, he says he thoroughly enjoyed it. There were some very long days – up to 18 hours! –including one particularly memorable one.

“I ended up falling asleep at about 2 in the morning and didn’t wake up until people started coming in at 9am,” Simon laughs. “So I got up and pretended I’d just arrived as well!”

“I wanted the cats to be able to get around the whole café without having to touch the floor.”

Perhaps the café’s most striking feature is the incredible maze of bridges, walkways and stair cases for the cats to get around on.  A lot of thought went into their design and Simon wanted them to be neat and symmetrical. “I like the contrast of the disorder of the reclaimed wood and the order of the clean designs,” he explains. “The whole look is very organic; all the shelves support one another and it almost looks as if they are growing out of each other.”

The cat bridge The cafe interior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon used a lot of wooden dowels as supports, which he bought for £1, and even got creative with a rolling pin, which he used to support the spiral staircase.

Rolling pin staircase support

A lot of work went into the back of house areas as well, including individual bedrooms for each of the cats.

Petrus' bedroom

The cat flap to each bedroom is activated by its cat’s own microchip.

While he admits he’s more of a dog person, Simon has grown to love the cats. “They all have very different personalities – that’s something I didn’t know about them at first.” He even very kindly named one of the cats, Petrus.

Petrus

“Petrus was the name of my grandmother’s dog, so I like that it has a family connection. I’ve named a boat Petrus as well.”

 “It satisfies my creative side.”

Simon’s passion project is carving beautiful end-grain chopping boards, which he plans to sell online very soon. He has a range of designs, his favourite being this Escher inspired “3D” chopping board.

Escher chopping board

He also carved and generously donated one to Pause, featuring a beautiful dark wood inlay of the café’s logo.

Pause Cat Cafe logo chopping board

He’s done such a fantastic job that I think we can forgive him for being a dog person!

You can find Simon’s work here – www.scallywagsfloors.co.uk – and buy his chopping boards here: www.geekmagnifique.co.uk/shop.