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.

If you’ve read any of my other food related posts, you probably already know that I’m a massive fan of the Urban Guild group of restaurants. In fact, two of them get a mention in my guide to the best places to eat in Bournemouth, and I was lucky enough to take a pizza making class at Urban Reef last year. Spoiler alert – I was very bad at it!

Naturally, I was thrilled when I was invited to review the menu at Urban Beach. Dave and I popped along and had ourselves a lovely date night. We started out with some cocktails (I can highly recommend the French Martini), before ordering our three sumptuous main courses.

French Martini

Starters were a tomato and asparagus salad for me, and some delicious crab for Dave.

Tomato and asparagus salad
The salad was vibrant, fresh and bursting with flavour.

Crab meat starter
I must admit, I was very jealous of Dave’s crab. It had a wonderful fresh, delicate flavour that was perfectly complemented by a lovely rich sauce.

The only thing that left me slightly disappointed was the lack of choice for vegetarians. On the specials menu there was no vegetarian starter at all. Even on the main menu, my options were fairly limited. Luckily I eat fish, which gave me a bit more variety.

EDIT: It’s been brought to my attention that there is actually a separate veggie and vegan menu. I guess this means I’ll be going back there soon! All in the name of research, of course…

Onto the mains. I had the sea trout in lobster sauce, while Dave had the Beef Wellington.

Sea trout

My mouth is watering just thinking about this dish. The fish was moist (a tiny bit more rare than I’d usually have, but lovely nonetheless) and melt-in-the-mouth, while the black rice and lobster sauce rounded out the textures and flavours perfectly.

Beef Wellington

I didn’t try Dave’s, but the beef looked like it was cooked perfectly and the whole lot disappeared pretty quickly, so it’s probably safe to say it was a winner.

Even though we were both very full by this point, we somehow managed to squeeze in some dessert (I know, what a hardship!).

Dessert ended up being my favourite part of the meal. I ordered sticky toffee pudding, which is not normally something I would go for, but it sounded too delicious to pass up.

Let me tell you, it was absolutely incredible. And the toffee sauce? I wouldn’t mind taking a bath in that stuff. Honestly, I could drink it as a beverage. I shouldn’t, but I definitely could.

Sticky toffee pudding

Chocolate fondant

Dave had the chocolate fondant, which tasted as amazing as it looked. Seriously though, that plating!! Gordon Ramsay would approve, for sure.

Verdict: As always, Urban Beach did not disappoint. The atmosphere and service were both excellent, and the food was divine. I would have liked to see a bit more choice for vegetarians, but quite honestly, with a sticky toffee pudding that good, they could offer a bowl of gruel as the veggie option and I probably wouldn’t care.

Book here.

Places to eat in Bournemouth

Geek Magnifique book cover

 

It feels so surreal saying this, but my book is available to pre-order now. My ACTUAL BOOK! What?!?

I hope that sharing my story brings understanding to those who haven’t experienced OCD or emetophobia – and hope to those who have.

“What might you have seen if you looked at Melissa Boyle as a young child? Loving parents, smiling child, happiness. At least, that was what you saw from the outside. Inside, there was poison; constant change, conflicts with her parents, and an abuse that never really ended.

As Melissa grows, she becomes foul to the creature of anxiety, which manifests itself in emetophobia; a fear of vomiting. She grapples with this, with her history, and the fears she now has.

Geek Magnifique traces Melissa’s path through life, through the recovery of therapy, to where she stands tall today.”

Mario Kart

Source: Facebook

The Verge recently reported that Nintendo is bringing Mario Kart to smartphones, a move that has gotten many long-time fans excited. This is part of the company’s recent venture into the mobile gaming scene, where other titles like Super Mario Run and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp have already been released.

It’s about time Nintendo reintroduced the classic game. Even if the franchise is 25 years old, it still manages to remain a favourite among gamers worldwide. People who’ve never played Mario Kart are probably wondering what makes it so popular. Well, here are 7 reasons:

1. It’s something people of all ages can enjoy

Mario Kart’s gameplay is so simple that anyone can have fun playing it. It’s a great party game and also a good bonding opportunity. The concept of fun is universal after all, and this game captures that element.

2. The controls feel like second nature

It is also not hard to master. Recent iterations may have added new mechanics, but the franchise’s core gameplay still hasn’t changed. Mario Kart feels intuitive, and beginners can get the hang of the game in no time.

3. It brings out your competitive side

Mario Kart is essentially a racing game, and it is possible to get tired of racing games after a while. What makes it different is that it employs power-ups that people can use to get ahead in the race. Even if you lag behind at some point, there’s still hope for you to catch up. The game gives everyone the chance to win, and that’s what makes it so exciting.

4. It has different game modes

There’s a lot of emphasis on multiplayer action, and one can notice this through the game modes. The most recurring game modes in the series are the Time Trials, where the player just races against time; Grand Prix, where you can compete in various “cups” with different difficulty levels; VS Race, where multiple players can participate and race against one another; and Battle Mode, where people use the same racing power-ups to take other players down in a closed arena.

5. It has a good variety of characters

All characters have their own unique skills, which you can discover as you play. Mario Kart even gives players the opportunity to know characters from other iconic franchises. If you have never played Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, or Splatoon, you can get a brief introduction by using their respective characters who are playable in Mario Kart.

6. The level designs are great

Paste Magazine suggests that Mario Kart has lasted for 25 years because of the franchise’s memorable race courses. Each track is brilliantly designed and fun to explore. There are even shortcuts players can take if they know where to look.

Many other developers have even tried to mimic what Mario Kart has done in its game levels. Look at Sega’s Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed and the PlayStation’s Crash Team Racing. This is the case not just with console titles, but also with browser and mobile games. Slot game Starburst on Foxy Bingo features similar aesthetics that resemble the Electrodome track in Mario Kart 8. Filled with dazzling gems and neon lights, Starburst has elements seemingly inspired by the classic Nintendo franchise’s level design. All of these games show how far Mario Kart’s impact has reached.

7. It redefined the genre

Although it may not have the realism of titles like Gran Turismo, Mario Kart introduced gameplay elements that make racing a whole lot more fun for everyone. It’s an instantly gratifying experience, that’s why Mario Kart made it to my top video games of all time!