Sunday, 30 August 2015

Mayfield Lavender Farm

After missing the chance to visit the Mayfield Lavender Farm last year I made it a priority for this summer. I always assumed the farm would be far away but it only took me and W.C about an hour to get to and it was a fairly easy journey, one train and then the 166 bus which stops right outside the farm's gate. I read reviews that it use to be free entry but now it costs £1, however the £1 is redeemable with purchases over £5 at the lavender cafe and shop. I did not try the cakes as I was scared the lavender would be too strong but a colleague who went before me said it had a very subtle taste and that she would definitely go back for the cake!

At the entry and behind the sign was the cafe and shop.
Empty fields! Definitely go on a weekday if you can (it was not actually empty but good timing as well).
Selfie before saying bye!

This is going to sound really weird but I am not even a fan of lavender however this place is absolutely beautiful and I actually enjoyed the fresh smell of lavender, though I will not be in a rush to stock up on lavender-scented products anytime soon. Also be careful of the bees, they are too preoccupied with all the gold in front of them but its still nice to not step on them. The amount of dead bees and trampled lavender I saw with people trying to change lanes was too much. There was even a kid who bought a football to play in the fields so the ball was just destroying all in its path.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

[Review] Etude House Global

When I first heard that the Korean skincare brand 'Etude House' finally offered international shipping, I was absolutely ecstatic. They are also doing a promotion for new members to receive a 10% off coupon, however it did take about an hour or so to send for me so do not expect the email straight away after registering. The reason I love Etude House is for 2 reasons, pretty packaging and decent price for good quality items. The only hardship was having to order from third parties who increase the price dramatically e.g. Yesstyle.

Navigating the site is easy and much faster than their old international website. After placing my order I received an email confirmation which also said that I will receive a further email when my package has been shipped out, I received no such email so I was left wondering if my package was still in Korea or not. Fast forward 2 weeks later and I got a letter from the post office asking me to pay customs. One of the things that instantly kills the joy of receiving a package is having to pay custom charges on-top of everything you have already paid for. The shipping was fast (standard) but it was $17.17 (£11.68)! It arrived in a brown box with Etude House and Korea written in great big pink letters.

But still I thought fine, that's okay because one of the best things about shopping in Korea for skincare is the amount of freebies they give you so I expected their online store to extend the same courtesy. No. Not even one small freebie, for the amount that I purchased I would have been given a whole handful in Korea. I thought this was going to set the official Etude House website aside with the third parties but with the cost of shipping and customs built up, you can actually find cheaper alternatives on Ebay.

The items I got were, Aloe Moistfull Skin $11, Eye's Cream Vanilla Moist $8, Cookie Blusher $6, Moistfull Flower Cream $16, Collagen Eye Patch $1 each and Face Masks $0.95 each. The items did arrive safely and with a lot of bubble wrap inside. However all in all I have to say I was so disappointed and I will not be ordering from Etude House Global again, I will stick to Yesstyle (using discount coupons) and Ebay.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Willy Wonka Themed Afternoon Tea at Chesterfield Mayfair

I adore my bestie G.C but one thing we do not agree on is afternoon tea, it is just not her thing, at all. However curiosity must have got the better of her and she agreed to go with me just this once. The place we went to was Chesterfield Hotel in Mayfair, a 4-star luxury hotel. We were actually suppose to go before Christmas, when they had the Christmas-themed menu but alas both me and G.C were ill so we had to wait until now. The menu now is inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate factory, usually priced £34.50 per person but had a special discount for £26 per person for their January sales (ends 31st January 2015) which is even better. The hotel is a short walk away from Green Park station and fairly easy to find with their bright red canopies.

I was actually a tad late and G.C was already in the lobby waiting for me, when I first walked in the concierge greeted me and then escorted us round to the cloakroom where we were handed a small cute envelope with a ticket number for our coats. We were then escorted to Butlers restaurant and also told in advance where the powder room was, which is very helpful may I say.

The service throughout was absolutely impeccable, chairs pulled out, napkins opened for us, teas refilled in a timely manner and all done with a friendly attitude. Although we did go quite late as I had to work and I have found that afternoon tea in a dim man-made lighting is just a bit depressing. The tea list that Chesterfield has is very extensive which is both bad and good, good in that customers have a lot of choice but bad because there is just too much choice. What I would suggest to them is to cut down the descriptions of the teas and to just summarize the key-notes.

I opted for the 'Organic Dragon Well' green tea and G.C opted for the 'Yellow Gold' oolong tea which are both teas we are familiar with but I just could not summon the energy to go through the whole menu. Shortly after our tea arrived we were given two mini bottles with pink soda and popping candy inside. 

We also did not have to wait long for our traditional afternoon tea to arrive, which was expected as there was not a lot of customers eating at the time. The sandwiches were subpar, the bread was quite dry and I found a small piece of rock-hard cheese in my ham and cheddar cheese sandwich which I had to spit out. The only nice piece from the bottom plate was the small circle chicken sandwiches with almond flakes on the side. The scones on the second plate however were lovely! The clotted cream also was not too strong and even G.C approved. She did not know what scones were and attempted to cut the scone in half from the top before I stopped and showed her how to cut it properly. With the plate empty, we were offered refills but we did not want to stuff ourselves so much.

Before we got to our last plate on the top, from the corner of my eye as we were sitting near the entrance, I saw a big blob of purple in which I was reminded that this is a themed afternoon tea that we were at and sure enough a few seconds later 'Willy Wonka' himself came bounding in to greet each table personally. He chatted with everyone and then offered us a gob-stopper and a chance to pick the 'Golden Ticket' from his hat. Before he left he must have seen my camera on the table and offered to pose for a picture, me and G.C did not really want to pose but I asked if he was happy to be by himself in the picture and the result was below.

Back to the dessert plate, by this time the mood of the food was not great. G.C actually asked me if this was how it usually is at afternoon tea and that was quite embarrassing because I know there is a lot of places with good food but I have yet to find a good themed afternoon tea that does not let the quality slip just because they have a good theme going on. Back to the dessert plate the lemon sponge and cupcake were quite dry but the blueberry macaron and Willy Wonka bar (made at the hotel) were nice. The golden egg however was made entirely out of dark chocolate with some kind of jam inside and as I am not a fan of dark chocolate, the taste was just too overpowering for me.

I had to add in the bonus cam-whoring pictures in the bathroom. The hotel itself was absolutely lovely, it had that olden-day style to it however, and I do feel bad for saying this, but I would not recommend this afternoon tea to friends. There are other Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed afternoon teas out there which I have yet to try but this one was not it and as you may have guessed G.C has not been converted to the world of afternoon tea. 

Update II

It has been over 2 months since I last blogged but I blame the crazy Christmas period and the fact that I have been ill. I went to the GP last Monday and she actually said 'its unfortunate but it seems you have caught another cold just as your other one was getting better'. The utter frustration! I also blame the new disgusting routemaster buses aka 'Boris-buses' with their no-windows concept. Everyone's germs and breathe just all mixed together into a big red container, do not even bother going upstairs if you have a weak immune system. Not to mention the amount of times this bus has broken down on me, not cool Boris, not cool.

Photo credits to BBC

Some of the changes in my life since November include a promotion and starting a new internship but this internship was different, different in that it was something I wanted to do, not something that I thought I should be doing. I am so sick of job-hunting and sometimes it can get you really down. People say that in your twenties you should be out exploring and finding your passion but then society says that after graduation we should be up and running in the cut-throat working world. So I thought why can't I try and pursue something that incorporates both passion and a career, which is easier said than done but I decided on 2 interests to explore.

I researched online trying to find trainee positions or internships but they were either in Australia or did not exist, until I saw one post. There was just one small problem, it was dated 2 years back. Nonetheless I did not let that deter me and thought it was worth a try to contact the company anyway and I am so happy I did because I got a response the next day telling me that there is a spot open for another intern and to come in for an interview. Mind you it has been a long time since I have gone to an interview but the creative director is such a lovely person, I was instantly made to feel relaxed. Fast forward to 2 months later and I have been offered a part-time position and I am just ecstatic. Just as I was losing hope I was given a chance in life and I am so excited to see where this new opportunity will take me.

Following on from this positive note, I have booked my next holiday! I was so disappointed that in 2014 I did not get to go anywhere so hearing my cries W.C messaged me immediately when she had her holidays booked from work. My heart had been set on one location for a couple of months now and with some near-miss bookings I was determined to go this time round. That place was Paris. I always felt ashamed that as a British person I have never set foot in France before, even on a school trip at least! (Way back in secondary school, there was one school trip to Paris which unfortunately got cancelled due to not enough interest). So even with the terrorist scares we have booked it for February coming.