Wednesday, 31 October 2012

These Boots Are Made For ME!

The very lovely Terri Lowe author of Hello, Terri Lowe is running a fantabulous competition in conjunction with Barretts Shoes over on her blog, which you can access by clicking the link.

Not only is there a fantastic £30 Blog giveaway there is ALSO this amazing comp for bloggers to win an Awesome £70 to spend with Barretts.

Now I do have a shoe/boot obsession, At one point I had 65 pairs I have no idea how many I now own probably around 35 but I wear around 6 pairs on a regular basis.

I once heard somewhere that our obsession with shoes is a cry for stability within our relationships as generally by adulthood our feet stay the same size so we know we can always rely on them fitting!
I think there is some substance to this as what is nicer than a really old, well worn in favourite pair of boots?

So! What would I use £70 to spend in Barretts on? As a carer I don't get to but shoes very often so I would probably have to grab at least 2 pairs with this much money!

I need some stylish flat black biker boots so browsing the site I found these beauties!

I love the buckle detail and the chunky-ness of these! For an amazing £30 these are just incredible! You can check these out HERE

I have got a stunning dress for Christmas this year and so I need some Champagne coloured heels to go with it and I came across these:

So this would be my outfit!

I have a diamante clutch so these are just too perfect! Only £49.50 Have a look HERE

Then I had a dilemma and as I predict we are in for a hard Winter and Spring I am in desperate need of some Moon Boots! I had these in the late 70's and then they only came in blue and yellow but Barretts have these gorgeous white ones:

These look so warm I could do with them now as my toes are freezing! Just £60 which is amazing you can get these HERE

So already with the choice Barretts have I am in a dilemma! To be honest if I did win it would take me a while as the choice is amazing!

At least you know you will get quality and value for money!

Why don't you have a go and see what you would buy with £70 
I'm passing the challenge on to Miss Cisco over at The Ramblings of a Formerly Rock n Roll Mum

Thank you Barretts and Terri for running this fun competition! I have a feeling my collection is about to increase *runs off to town!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Holiday Inn Express Stratford Review

Holiday Inn 

Getting There

I am no fan of escalators so I try and avoid the tube if I can so I booked the extra trip from Victoria coach station straight to Stratford which added a couple of pounds on to my trip from Dorset. It also gave me a lovely drive right through the city at night and drops you just off of Stratford High St, at the station. I jumped in a cab which cost £5 but this was only because I had heavy luggage - otherwise its about a 10 min walk to the hotel.

Check In

Fast, friendly and efficient. Nice reception area, clean and bright with a large seating area (also used for meals) and a bar.
1 lift was out of order so it was a wait but negligible.


Always happy, friendly and smartly dressed. I didn't come across one miserable staff member in 3 days from the cleaning staff to the concierge - they were all excellent.


I was on the 6th floor and the room was small and basic. Clean, Tidy and very comfortable. Hanging space, TV, shelving for clothes. Hairdryer. No in room safe but there are some in the foyer to use.
Bathroom had a lovely shower with small sink area and toilet.


Breakfast was excellent. Great choice of cereal, fruit, toast and condiments, cooked breakfast. Self service.
Even though I had to leave extra early there was enough of a selection to make sure I ate properly each day.


£112 per night for 2 adults, this is approx and does vary 
The bar was reasonably priced for London.


Near the Excel, the DLR and tube (Jubilee Line from Canning town via DLR) So very accesble to most areas.


So overall for Hotel accommodation 8/10
Food 7/10
Staff 9/10
Concierge 10/10
Bar 8/10
Internet Cost 1/10 (ridiculous)

I would totally recommend this hotel if you are after somewhere friendly, clean and comfortable. For the Excel it is easily accessed and if you are attending an event there - perfectly positioned. Lovely staff, Great hotel! Thank you Holiday Inn!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Hilton Heist

Hilton Metropole Birmingham

If you are anything like me when you hear the name Hilton you instantly get an image of style, glamour, Hollywood in the 50's/60's, luxury and opulence
So last weekend as an attendee of a convention that was happening within the hotel, my good friend and I decided the deal we could get as part of the convention was [for a Hilton] amazing and we paid £259 for 3 nights, twin room and including breakfast.

This is a price similar to a Premier Inn or Holiday Inn Express for the same amount of nights. 

We used the free mini bus to pick us up from the NEC (to be very honest it is much quicker to walk if you don't have too much luggage) and drive us directly to the hotel. The reception is beautiful with gorgeous crystal chandeliers and a warm and welcoming concierge. Marble floors and luxurious fabric instantly make you feel like you are walking into quality.

Check in was fast and efficient. With hundreds of people arriving at the same time the staff coped extremely well and we were given our key cards and went to our room.

We had a second floor Deluxe Twin room. The room was clean and basic. With a desk, wardrobe, hairdryer, coffee/tea making facilities and TV (reception is terrible). In the bathroom we had bath with shower facilities and small complimentary bath products.

In fact as I said before the price is the same (with the offer) as a Premier Inn type hotel and to be honest the rooms are exactly the same. In fact the room I stayed in this weekend with Premier Inn at Excel was more spacious, bed more comfortable and bathroom far bigger.
There is a free to use safe inside your wardrobe but this is not huge and could not hold my laptop but for smaller items like jewellery/kindle etc it is more than adequate.


Going down to breakfast on Friday, the first morning we were immediately seen to our seats and then left. Our order for drinks were taken but not brought to us until 10 minutes later after I had chased them up. The range of breakfast was amazing and delicious and the staff busy but still very helpful.
This did not continue Saturday and Sunday, we were in a different room and the food was not cooked properly, virtually all cold and unpleasant.
Monday morning it was again superb, so I can only think it is the change in staff that decides the quality.

The Bar

We were supposed to receive a discount as part of our convention offer for the whole weekend but this depended on which member of staff actually served you. Some gave it until 8.30pm or some not at all, some all night and some so rude would not even allow you to pay cash and more or less shouted at me to open a tab at the desk!
Other than 3 or 4 staff that were brilliant (one actually looks so much like Heath Ledger it is unnerving!) the general attitude of staff is removed and indifferent.


Everything is overpriced and food extremely expensive. The cheapest main meal at £11 is the pasta cabanara or you can live on chips for £4.50. We found a Wetherspoons in the NEC (10 min walk) the main meals (were nicer) around £7. There is an in house Costa Coffee but £2 is added on to the normal Costa price so a large coffee is £5 which quite frankly is ridiculous.
I do not mind paying extra when I stay away as obviously we are all out to make money in whatever way you can but I do not like to be taken for a mug. (or indeed a paper cup)


Cannot fault the staff at this desk, always a pleasure, helpful and generally 5*

So all in all it was a well.... hotel stay, I am not impressed and the Hilton certainly did not live up to my expectations. The saddest point is on the Sunday evening when I went to pack I realised a bag (which I had been given for my 40th by a friend) had gone missing from my bottom drawer. Now you can't buy one and there are no more as it was a gift to conference members. I am really upset, it was a violation of my room and quite frankly very upsetting. I had put my Kindle etc in the safe but never thought to lock away a TOTE BAG!

I went downstairs and reported it - my conference guest liaison accompanied me and we sat with the Security guard and filled out a statement form, my details were taken and he informed me he would leave at 6am and inform the security manager who I needed to see before I checked out.
I did this - the security manager did not know anything about it and informed me he would do a lock check to see who had been in the room.
That is the last I've heard - no call, no letter, no email NOTHING! I wish now I had called the police but at the time thought the Hilton would be more dedicated to their guests welfare and security. I was wrong.
I tweeted them and yet still I am waiting for any type of information. they seem to have a problem as the room was booked in my friends name and so without a confirmation number appear unable to even use a phone to apologise!
My friend is in Tenerife for 2 weeks so I can't even get the said number and so I still wait.....

So overall for Hotel accommodation 6/10

Food 4/10
Staff 4/10
Concierge 10/10
Bar 2/10
Internet Cost 1/10 (ridiculous)

I would not use the Hotel again if I had a choice but I will have to next year. I hope that there have been improvements by this time.

It is such a shame because I was so excited about staying there; but these days companies need to be so careful as people are being so choosy as to where they spend their hard earned money.
Relying on a past reputation to keep you going in these times just does not cut it. Every business needs to keep reinventing themselves to offer quality and those little extras that make it worth their guests while and make them want to return.
I will update this post when if ever I am contacted by the Hilton.

Friday, 5 October 2012

My Five Key Pieces for the AW12 Season - #nextguestblogcomp

I'm sat here with the wind howling at my door, gusting and twisting the vegetation outside. The rain is lashing down on what is more a December day than early October.
Normally my birthday is sunny and clear even if a little crisp but this is truly a winter's day.
As I am off out tonight for my 40th, in my new dress, I am actually considering swapping it for some thermal underwear, pair of PJs and a thick chunky jumper!

I actually love Autumn for fashion, every year the designers impress me with the use of colour and lines and this year has been no exception.
The success of LFW has shown that London is STILL very much a leader that influences the world and the High Street!

Having to pick just five must-haves is so hard as I love clothes so much but with a few really good staples the outfits are unlimited and bang on catwalk chic.

From the Next AW12 collection I have chosen my wardrobe best buys, 5 items to use as a staple in your wardrobe that you can dress up/down mix/match and just couldn't get through this season without! This is part of Next Guest Blogger Competition which is offering a lucky Blogger the chance to win three outfits (up to £150 each) PLUS the opportunity to guest post about their style picks on the NEXT ourStyle Secrets blog! 
I have chosen to answer this question: i. What are your five key pieces for the AW12 season and why?
You can find details of the competition HERE - Have a go it's great fun! Just like fashion should be....


The Military look is still really popular with epaulets, structured jackets, gold button detailing and a 40s flair!
I've gone with this gorgeous Khaki/Grey Fit Flare Coat £90

Great for those of us with a bigger bust as the fitted waist prevents the 'maternity' look you get from most double breasted or detail. The flare softens up the masculine discipline and panelling helps to bring the eye into your shape - perfect!

Team with 

Lift And Shape Skinny Jeans £45

Studded Collar Shirt £28

Black Wedge Ankle Boots £38

Mish Mash Print Scarf £12


This year saw the return of metallic materials including lame and embellishments, so as a closet compulsory
 I picked this gorgeous Metallic Shell Top 
at just £14 - dress it up or down 
it is perfect for changing from day to 
evening wear if you are pushed for time!

I've teamed this up for a lunch date with 

Berry Long Necklace £12

Ruched Leggings in Berry £16-18
Mid Heel Peep Toes £28 - 36


I always think you should be very careful with animal, too much and you are less feline temptress more Cat Slater! Keep the look to one or two items and you'll rock the fabric! 

I love this animal print Oversized Sweater £35 it looks really snuggley yet totally up to the minute and great with jeans and a structured jacket, boots or heels!

Grey Military Contrast Coat £70

Black Felt Fedora Hat £24

Premium High Blue Skinny Jeans £45

Black Chunky Biker Boots £98

I absolutely had to put in a Fedora as this is one of my favourite pieces from this years collections, it softens the male influence and almost gives a 70s feel to the look. The boots have a slight heel to accentuate the leg length. This is my favourite look from all my choices and suitable of for all body shapes - although if like me to have short legs, a boot cut jean maybe a more flattering option.


There are two directions this season can take you the androgynous look or the flattering feminine. My bust size would never allow me to go for the first option so big bold prints with bright colours are the way I'd brighten my dark Autumnal days!

This beautiful Floral Tunic £18 is just stunning and great for all times of the day/night with different accessories.

I've chosen to put this together as an evening look but just with just changing the shoes and bag would suit a lunch date. This would suit jeans too as well as various tights and skirts so a versatile addition to any wardrobe.

Berry Bangle Pack £12

Beaverbrooks 9ct Gold Cubic Zirconia Pendant And Earrings Set £160

Get The Look Sparkle Bag £20

Get The Look Silver Sparkle Courts £32

Full Length Leggings £9

My final selection incorporates two of this seasons looks TWEED and PEPLUM

I happen to live in rural England and believe it or not I have NEVER owned a piece of tweed but seriously it's not all shooting jackets and Sherlock Holmes!
As you can see from this gorgeous Lipsy at Next Lipsy Tweed Peplum Skirt £35

Celebrate YOUR waist-to-hip curve! You won't look skinny in this style but it has stamped a classic fun stance on the high street and you CAN pull it off!
I love the 50s feel to this and so am running with the classy chic look. I've even included a little quilted detail with this style. 

Taupe Quilted Pocket Bag £32

Dark Grey Faux Fur Trim Cape £24

Blue Mix Material Platform Courts £38

Perfect Shirt in Blue £35

And there you have my 5 a Season! A bit like your 5 a day but much more funand no juice running down your chin! So whether you love lace, animal print, quilting or even fancy trying a piece of tweed this season at NEXT there will certainly be something for you!