The skincare game changer

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For the past 5/6 months I’ve suffered really bad with my skin, like never before. I’m almost 29 years of age, so I kinda thought I was past the breakout stage and heading towards clearer skin, but no, that just wasn’t in the plan for me. It got to the point where I had to go to the doctors and got prescribed multiple different things to try. None of which really made much difference (I may do a separate post on that!) – I’m actually in the process of being referred to a dermatologist to get prescribed something a little stronger to really tackle the underlying issues with my skin, so I’m looking forward to that & might document that here, we’ll see.

In the mean time though, I’ve been using various things on my face. It’s been a bit trial and error, my skin type is super sensitive but also quite dry! I tend to react really badly to a lot of cheap products as well so it’s cost me a small fortune in different moisturisers and masks etc!

I’m quite a fan of the body shop, as I’ve spoke about a few times here on the blog. I love the tea tree 3 in 1 facial scrub. Although tea tree can be quite strong, my skin reacts quite well to it and it leaves my face feeling really refreshed and clean.. so I make sure I always have one of those handy for when I want to do a scrub type mask.

Superdrug are pretty good, I’m loving their vitamin e range! Really affordable and perfect for every day use. Vitamin e is again something that is quite gentle on my skin type and works well for me. Every brand has a vitamin e range pretty much, but I’ve found that Superdrug is so cheap and affordable, it does the job, so I haven’t needed to purchase anything in a higher end range. My favourite product from the Superdrug range though, is this leave on moisture mask! It’s my absolute favourite go to. I have one beside my bed and one in my make up bag. I use it as a leave on moisturiser throughout the night and it really hydrates my face and just feels amazing when applied. If you have dry skin like me, this is an instant rescue and a real treat for the skin! It’s only £2.99 and my must have!

Most recently though, for the past 3 days I have been using the Eve Lom cleanser after it was gifted to me at Christmas. It’s super pricy at £55 per 100ml so quite high end in terms of affordability, however, it’s dreamy. I’ve been using it twice a day. Morning and night. I use it as part of a hot cloth cleanse and it honestly leaves my skin feeling super soft, super clean, and just really really nourished as well.

I would absolutely recommend this if you feel like treating yourself. It’s amazing and truly is the game changer. I’ve used lots of other cream based cleansers and nothing really comes close.

As well as cleansing my face twice daily, I’ve cut out fizzy drink (there of course is always the odd exception!) I have gone sugar free as much as I can & I aim to drink around 2 litres of water daily too. I feel like this massively helps in trying to keep your skin healthy. Of course my skin is nowhere near close to how I want it to be, but I feel like I’m taking the right steps to ensure I’m doing all I can do until I meet with a dermatologist! I hear dairy plays a huge part in skin breakouts too, so I’m curious to know whether this has been the case for any of my readers. Have you eliminated dairy and noticed any differences? Let me know.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What skincare products do you swear by? 💗

As always, love

Sinéad Anna Chalke x

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The Olde Bell inn Hurley: Review

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So we just spent the most amazing weekend at Tazmyns favourite place ever, which is The Olde Bell in Hurley. This was actually a Christmas gift from me to Tazmyn, it’s what she really wanted so I was super happy I could surprise her with this. We have been lucky enough to stay at this hotel four times in total and each stay has never let us down. I thought I’d combine this blog post with a review of the hotel for you guys as there’s really so much to this luxurious 5 star hotel and we all know I love to give credit where it’s due, so here goes!

History of The Olde Bell Inn

Probably known for being the most well known building in Hurley, The Olde Bell first opened its doors in 1135 AD, as a guest house for visitors to the near by Benedictine Priory.

Some notable guests have included Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Cary Grant & Errol Flynn.

The Olde Bell has had many owners during its long history, but despite its many changes of ownership, it still keeps to the traditions of St. Benedict, that true hospitality be provided to travellers and strangers.

My personal review & experience

Okay so we’re locals to this beautiful hotel, with it being just a 10-15 minute drive from where we live. My mum and dad actually had their engagement party here in 1987, and more recently Tazmyn and I attended the wedding fayre here just a couple of years ago when we first got engaged. The Olde Bell is the most fantastic wedding location, if you’re looking for a barn style wedding with the shabby chic feel. The wedding fayres take place regularly throughout the year too and are definitely worth paying a visit to, all information about that can be found on their website which I’ll link you to at the end of this post.

Our first stay here was in 2016, the weekend of our engagement. Tazmyn surprised me with a luxury night away & she just so happened to have chose here! Situated right in between the beautiful town of Marlow and the picturesque Henley-On-Thames, is this beautiful, historic inn that bodes so much character. Since our first stay back in 2016, we have been lucky enough to return a further 3 times and each stay has topped the last.

This stay however, was of course for Tazmyns Christmas present so we were both really excited. We arrived at around 1pm and although check in isn’t officially until 2pm, the member of staff at reception was super helpful and offered to take our luggage for us, whilst we waited in the bar area until our room was ready. During this time we decided to have lunch in the hotels restaurant which was really busy with lots of guests but we still were given a really lovely table very quickly.

We both thought the menu choice was really lovely, and to some, the price of some of the dishes may seem a little expensive, however The Olde Bell does accept tastecard, should you have one and want to use it, which of course would then bring down the price of your meal quite considerably by 50% so well worth using if you do have one.

So for lunch, I chose the roast beef dinner, of course I did.. what else would I order?! Tazmyn went for the fish and chips. Both meals were served really quickly which was a bonus as the restaurant was busy so we did anticipate having to wait a while, but fortunately we didn’t. I also asked for extra gravy with my roast dinner too which was no problem for the staff at all, & this was accommodated really quickly too.

I’m going to be honest, because aren’t I always? Whilst I think the presentation for Tazmyns fish and chips is lovely, I do feel like the roast dinner could have looked a little better. For £18 I would expect it to be presented nicer, perhaps on a different plate, I’m not sure how exactly but the meal itself looks like something I could cook at home and for the price, and coming away for the weekend to a luxurious hotel, I would want that theme to be spread across into the restaurant also but maybe that’s just me. Presentation aside, my roast beef was gorgeous and tasted perfect. The gravy was really rich in flavour and I couldn’t fault the meal at all what’s so ever.

For pudding, Tazmyn ordered the sticky toffee pudding which was served with custard and ice cream! And for me, the apple crumble tart, served with calvados cream (life changer I’m telling you!) best dessert I’ve had in a really long time!

After lunch, we went back to reception to check in to our room and we were really lucky to have been given a little upgrade! Our room was 11, which is located in the main building, so not far to walk at all. The staff couldn’t be more helpful, they offered to take our bags and literally couldn’t do enough for us.

Our room was stunning. Equipped with a super king size bed, (always a winner) a walk in shower which is definitely big enough for two people (tried and tested!) plenty of wardrobe space, a vanity table with mirror, tea and coffee making facilities, both still and sparkling bottled water, a TV, and bedside tables. Inside the room is also a welcome pack from the hotel, with all the relevant information you should need regarding the hotel and the local area which I think is really lovely for those who are visiting and not familiar with what there is to do locally.

Breakfast is always a bit hit & miss with this hotel which is a little annoying. During the busier months of the year, the hotel offers a hot buffet of both continental and cooked breakfast, and during the quieter periods, breakfast can be cooked to order from the breakfast menu provided, in addition to the continental style buffet that is beautifully set up for you to help yourselves to at your own leisure.

For this particular stay, we were pleasantly surprised to find breakfast menu’s at our table in the restaurant as well as the continental buffet set up. We much prefer ordering from the menu, as we feel the hot food is a lot more fresh that way.

We both ordered a cooked breakfast which came relatively quick so we were happy about that, however the sausages were not edible due to the taste of them being incredibly cheap and we didn’t like the egg either, as it tasted like it had been microwaved. Such a shame because we have experienced first class breakfast at this hotel before so it’s just really unfortunate that we were able to find fault on this occasion. The staff did offer us alternatives but we chose to stick to the continental buffet and fill up on toast and cereals and fresh fruit instead which was lovely.

Tea & coffee is also provided as much as you like, to your table so you don’t need to get this yourself.

If you’d like to check out The Olde Bell, you can find their website here.

Give them a follow on Instagram too for all the latest updates of what’s going on.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post/review. & I hope my darling wife has enjoyed this stay as part of her Christmas present! 💗

Sending love,

Mrs Chalke x

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Weekend plans

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I’m so sorry I haven’t blogged in a couple of days, life’s got in the way and we have been so busy I’ve barely had time to pick up my phone. I guess this post is just a little update really, we are currently packing as we are going away for the weekend this weekend. It’s my Christmas present to Tazmyn so she’s really excited, as am I. Expect lots of photos. Foodie pics and hotel related posts too! I’ll probably do a full blog post on the actual hotel once we are back Monday lunchtime because the hotel we are going to is actually the oldest inn in the country. We have been lucky enough to have stayed there 3 times already and this will be our fourth. It’s Tazmyns most favourite place to stay & it’s what she wanted for Christmas so I’m super happy I could surprise her with this. We absolutely love our weekends away and after having the most busiest of weeks, this is just what we need.

I think this morning we’re going to have a mooch around Waitrose and pick up some snacks (something we always do before we go away anywhere!) and then maybe get some lunch somewhere too!

What are your weekend plans? Have you had snow? We haven’t but it’s definitely been freezing.

Sending love,

Sinéad Anna Chalke x

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10 year Challenge.

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Everyone’s been doing this 10 year challenge thing on Instagram lately so I thought I’d get involved. I actually really struggled to find any pictures of me at all when I was 18 years old. So instead I found one on my 19th birthday. I’m almost 29 now.

Who else thinks I look way younger now?! 🤣

Have you done the 10 year challenge? How different do you look between then and now?

As always, love

Mrs Chalke xx

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Cambridge weight plan: My Story.

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It’s time isn’t it? To really write down on paper so to speak, my honest thoughts on Cambridge weight plan. I mean, it’s been a part of my life on and off for 10 years (wow has it really been that long?) & the majority of followers I have on social media are those of who i have befriended over the years whilst on embarking on one of my many attempts doing CWP.

So now I’m a blogger. I have a platform that is viewed by a few hundred people each day, and I am sure there’s lots of those readers who have no clue what Cambridge weight plan even is. Here I’m going to do my best to break it down for you, as well as give my own personal experience with CWP as well as my thoughts, now, 10 years on. Please do leave me a comment below, I’d love to know if you enjoyed this post.

What is Cambridge Weight Plan? (CWP)

Cambridge weight plan is basically a meal replacement diet, aimed to provide fast weight loss without the stress of calorie counting. These meal replacements vary from a range of powdered shakes, to ready made shakes and even spaghetti bolognese sachets and soups too. Cambridge weight plan offer different type of steps/plans for you to choose from that suit your lifestyle best and depending on whether you have medical issues and what type of lifestyle you live, there pretty much will be a plan for you. These products you’d be consuming from Cambridge would be distributed to you in the form of your own personal Cambridge weight plan consultant who you’d meet with weekly. They would weigh you, take measurements from you, supply you with all of your products and be there for support whenever you’d need it.

My own experience

The million dollar question. So I began my Cambridge weight plan journey for the first time when I was just 18 years old. I remember what prompted me to even research it in the first place. I’d watched a documentary on channel 4 called “Half a ton mom” I believe that documentary is now available on YouTube if you wanted to give it a watch. I remember watching this documentary and crying my eyes out. It was like a massive shock to the system. This lady in America who was morbidly obese, bed bound, pretty much dying with no life at all was seeking drastic help to lose weight so she went about trying to get weight loss surgery. Eventually she found a surgeon who was willing to take her on, as all others were really reluctant due to her size. She was so excited about getting this weight loss surgery, she thought it would literally be the answer to all her prayers. She went in for the surgery, gosh I remember the paramedics who actually came to transport her from her house to the hospital in order for her to have her surgery actually needed to break a wall down in her house to actually get her out! She was unable to walk, strictly bound to her bed at all times and too big to fit through the door way. In the hospital they even had to make a make shift hospital bed for her to have the surgery on due to fears she may brake the operating table. Anyway I’m babbling now, but she had this surgery. But unfortunately there was complications when she was in the recovery room and she died. It was heartbreaking. I haven’t seen the documentary for a good couple of years so I don’t remember the finer details but the moral of the story is, she died when it was too late. Her weight is ultimately what killed her, and I guess that just struck a chord within me and really saddened me. I didn’t want to do weight watchers again, I didn’t want to do slimming world. I didn’t want to try and lose weight myself and settle for just 1 or 2 pounds each week. I wanted results and I wanted them fast.

So I googled shake diets and that’s when I found Cambridge. Reading through the testimonials on their website I honestly could not believe my eyes, people having lost stones and stones and stones. Life changing amount of weight! I knew I had to find a consultant in my area and book an appointment straight away.

When I first did Cambridge weight plan, it was 2008 and the price was dramatically different to what it is now! It was around £38-40 a week and even though that’s still quite pricy, it was doable. I messed around for a couple of years, I got a bit cocky and confident after I saw the weight falling off me each week, I thought well I can just eat pizza and come back to this diet at a late date. I don’t think I was one hundred and fifty percent in the right mindset. Maybe I was too young and a little naive.

2012 came around and I decided now was time, like really time. I found a new consultant, her name was Kristina. She had a Newcastle accent and I couldn’t stand it but regardless of her accent, she was the perfect consultant for me. She had the patience of a saint and she was consistent and I needed that. I did 3 products a day, usually chocolate tetras (the ready made shakes!) I had lots of peanut bars too! I spent my 23rd birthday eating a peanut bar and guzzling a bottle of water in the pub while my best friend ate steak. I’ll never forget that. I started on March 4th 2012 and by the beginning of September I had lost 7 and a half stone.

Looking back now, I don’t remember how I actually lost so much weight in such a short amount of time. It feels like it was a different person and it wasn’t me. I remember going shopping with my friend to Birmingham, and we were in New Look (she was pregnant at the time) and I had lost 7 and a half stone to decided to try on some skinny jeans in a super super small size. I came out of the changing room to show her them on me and she literally screamed in excitement, “I can see your knee bones!” Is what I heard her say. She told me I had to buy these jeans. It felt so good to know I was in the tiniest pair of skinny jeans and I felt so good in them too! Of course this rapid weight loss came with its down sides too. My hair started falling out. Every shower id have, clumps of hair would fall out. I remember my hairdresser telling me how thin it felt and I was so upset. I think that may have been the main reason for me starting to mess about. That and the fact that because I’d lost the weight so quickly, I don’t think my brain has quite caught up with my body. I was still obese in my mind. I started binge eating after every weigh in. I’d order pizza or a kebab. I’d go to Frankie and Bennys and throw up when I got home. Before long I was in agony and I didn’t know what was going on with my body. Every time I’d eat anything I’d find myself on the phone to 111 asking for help because I couldn’t breathe. Eventually I got diagnosed with gallstones from excessive weight loss and the shock it had caused me body, ended up making me get hundreds of little stones in my gallbladder. Weighting to have my gallbladder removed on the NHS genuinely felt like a lifetime. Whilst waiting I had completely given up trying to lose weight. I probably should have stuck with Kristina and worked up the Cambridge weight plan steps, even if I didn’t want to continue losing a lot of weight but I think the 7 and a half stone weight loss, plus my hair falling out, plus becoming unwell due to my binges all got too much and I just gave up. I didn’t really contemplate ever putting all the weight back on but at the same time I I didn’t contemplate keeping it off either. I wish someone had of just grabbed me and shook me and said 7 and a half stone will pile back on you quicker than it took you to lose it. Maybe then I’d have had a reality check. But they didn’t and it did.

Years went by, I had my gallbladder removed. Thank god for that. It just means now I can eat steak and lasagne without the need to throw up but on the downside, instead of a gallbladder full of stones, I just have hips the size of Barbados that seriously don’t lie. I attempted CWP 700 more times, of course I did, each time with a new consultant. None of them really compared to Kristina. None of them really motivated me enough to keep going. I say that, but I think it was me who just didn’t have the motivation to keep going. Losing weight the first time is hard but losing it the 700 times after is even harder, trust me!

We are now in 2019. I am now 28 years of age. The last Cambridge consultant I had was Grace Mecklenbugh who has won various awards with Cambridge for being slimmer of the year having lost over 12 stone. She’s my age and she in hindsight was probably the best person I could have had to help me lose weight. She was motivating, she was passionate, she was full of knowledge and experience and she wanted me to do well. I could see that each week I saw her. But we are 10 years on now and things are different, of course they are. It’s no longer £38 a week to do just shakes. It’s more like £56 depending on your consultant. A lot of the guidelines have changed, a lot tell you to do 4 products which brings the price up to £70 a week, a lot of them aren’t supportive enough. And then you’ve got your life to live! I’m married, together we are absolute foodies. When I did Cambridge in 2012 I was single, I had no social life, I’d stay indoors every single day. You can’t hide yourself away when you’re in a relationship, you have to cook for your partner, you go out places, you do things. And we love finding new restaurants and eating good food! It’s our hobby. For so many reasons Cambridge weight plan just isn’t for me anymore. A part of me sees it now as one big big money scamming con, that just wants to rob you until you’re broke and then the minute you’ve lost all the weight, your body just isn’t equipped to go back to normal eating. It’s so confused to have food inside it again that if stores all the fat and you end up getting ill and putting the weight back on! It’s a vicious cycle and it’s emotionally draining.

That being said, Cambridge Weight Plan works. You need to lose a stone? 10 days on Cambridge and it will have gone. It’s fast rapid weight loss but it’s also starvation and it’s anti social. I find myself getting drawn back so many times until somebody knocks some sense into me and makes me see that it’s not healthy. Not really.

I recently had a friend of mine offer me free membership for weight watchers so I think we will most likely sign up to that next month and give the conventional healthy eating a go. We love cooking, we love making new dishes and following recipes. I think cooking with your partner is a really lovely thing to do together. Don’t get me wrong, shakes still tempt me. Superdrug currently have all their meal replacement shakes half price and I have been so very tempted to stock up and do a crash week just to get that Christmas bloat taken off but I’ve honestly been so busy to even go and get them and like I say, we enjoy cooking!

I’m so sorry this post is about 6 years long! Whenever I start talking about Cambridge weight plan I find I just can’t stop. If you would like to check out the Cambridge website out, you can do so by clicking here.

I think I will always be grateful to CWP for making me believe in myself, knowing I can and could achieve something that always seemed so impossible to me, quite literally changed my life. However, if I was a mum who had a teenage daughter who was thinking about doing a very low calorie diet, I think I’d put all of my energy into letting her know there are better choices out there. You’ve just got to find them.

Love,

Sinéad xxx

Channelling my inner Julia Child’s (well, Tom Kerridge!)

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Have you ever watched the film Julie & Julia staring Meryl Streep? It’s basically about how a newly married New York woman embarks on a journey where by she vows to master all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s French cookbook over the space of a year. She sets up a blog and documents each and every recipe and how it turned out. I’ve always kinda liked that idea, and each time I’m drafting a blog post, I always have her in the back of my mind. I’ve struggled with consistency all of my life, so the fact my blog has been going for over 5 months now, even at the times I least want to write, is a huge achievement for me. So that brings me to the here & now, to add to my new found passion of documenting all things “foodie” online, I’ve decided to cook as many recipes from this book as possible. Why Tom Kerridge? Because he’s simply my favourite chef of the moment (Nigella is too naughty!) in this book, which is now just £6 in WH Smith’s, there’s a whole variety of different recipes, all low calorie but hearty too. I’m so excited to share all of this with you and hopefully shift that two stone before Turkey in June! Wish me luck!

Love, as always

Sinéad xxx

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Louis Theroux: Altered States; Love Without Limits.

lifestyle

Last night saw the return of my absolute favourite documentary filmmaker and broadcaster, Louis Theroux, as the first of his brand new three part series aired on bbc two.

The episode began with a visit to Portland in Oregon, America, where Louis met various Polyamorists, for those that are unsure of what that means, it’s people having relationships with multiple sexual and romantic partners and encouraging their own partners to do likewise. Louis was introduced to Heidi and Jerry, a couple who had been together and married for 16 years, they openly spoke about how 12 years ago they took on the decision to open up their marriage, where by Heidi is now engaged to another man called Joe. Joe is a married man to a woman named Gretchen and the couple have two children. Heidi and Joe have sex both in Heidi and Jerry’s marital bed, and in Joe and Gretchens marital bed. Are you confused? That’s nothing. Jerry, who is Heidi’s husband speaks about how he is fully satisfied and happy with knowing his wife is having this sexual and romantic relationship with another man of which he supports. When Louis challenged this, asking whether he would prefer his wife to be only sexual with him, Jerry stood by the fact he is just happy that his wife is happy and if that involves sleeping with another man then so be it. Weird right? We then saw Louis having breakfast at Gretchen and Joe’s house, Gretchen explained how there is a private room in the basement of her house where Joe and Heidi have sexual relations, and that she is absolutely fine with this taking place in her family home. Louis often said throughout that he was struggling to understand it, and wondered whether this would not cause unnecessary insecurities, jealousy and loneliness within the marriage. All parties of course said it works for them and they feel nothing but happiness and satisfaction knowing their partners are fulfilled sexually by other people as well as them.

Mind boggled much? This is why I love Louis Theroux, he meets people of all walks of life and he manages to get things out of them by the way he almost interrogates them without sounding too rude or invasive. If you’ve watched some of Louis’s early documentaries, such as weird weekends where he met pornstars and swingers etc, you will notice that this brand new three part series follows in exactly the same format. He is straight talking and asks the questions we, as viewers are all thinking.

For me personally, I have never heard much about Polyamory either in the media and especially in my day to day life, so this documentary was eye opening to me to say the least. I’m still left with questions, loads of them.. can two people who are fully in love with each other, married, spent years of their lives with each other, honestly decide one day that they want to have sex with other people, together and separately and still claim they are just as in love and happy as they once were? Can both parties honestly not feel jealous or insecure seeing the person they love have sex with somebody else? I don’t understand it, I don’t agree with it, it’s not something I’d ever be able to really see being anything other than a slow sure beginning of divorce. I don’t believe a person can truly be in love with two people at the same time, and I don’t believe partners can honestly watch the ones they love fall in love with somebody else and say it is making them happy and satisfied. How it that healthy? It mind boggles me, but with documentaries like this, it’s somehow strangely working for people, and that’s the part I really don’t get. I’d love to know if there are people out there who maybe see this differently to me, and what your views are, what’s your take on polyamory? Did you watch the show? Let me know your thoughts as always.

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