Vallum Farm: A Festive Friday Victory Dinner

A few weeks ago I was invited to the tasting menu sample of Vallum’s Festive Friday’s Christmas Menu and it was absolute heaven. I strongly suggest you read that post here before you go any further.

As I had been away for my birthday last week my Mum and I had decided to book a 7pm table and head up the windy roads for a delicious meal. Joking about hoping there being Christmas crackers on our table we hopped into the car on a dreary, wet, windy and extremely foggy evening and headed up to the outskirts of Newcastle to Vallum Farm.

vallum_farm_resteraunt_festive_friday_christmas_dinner_cracker_newcastle

Arriving we were once again greeted by Nick who showed us to our seats in the restaurant where other diners were enjoying their Festive Fridays too. We immediately ordered a drink, I, a Blackberry Bramble and my Mum, a traditional snowball. It was really beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

vallum_farm_resteraunt_snowball_advocat_blackberry_bramble_cocktail_festive_friday_christmas_dinner_cracker_newcastle

As we perused the menu discussing each starter in detail from our previous visit Mum and I both decided upon the celeriac soup as the shot we previously sampled was delicious. Vallum believes in a from farm to fork mantra and their vegetables are all grown and handpicked from their sustainably sourced garden. They are particularly proud of their abundance of kale and perfect carrots.

Alongside our starter of celeriac soup, we had both decided we were going to fully enjoy the Christmas dinner; turkey, ham, kale, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, stuffing and pigs in blankets were on the menu for this Festive Friday.

Minutes after ordering our food, our drinks arrived and I must admit their snowball is the best snowball I’ve ever tasted. I highly recommend one to put you in the festive spirit. Listening to Christmas classics in the background setting the atmosphere and watching the twinkling lights around the glass windows of the upstairs restaurant we were feeling extremely merry and bright so we decided to pull our crackers, yes, there were Christmas crackers, just like we had hoped.

vallum_farm_resteraunt_snowball_cocktail_festive_friday_christmas_dinner_cracker_newcastle

Now I don’t know about you but it’s not Christmas until you get a fortune teller fish right?

Oh and a rubbish cracker joke…..so here it goes. 
Who delivered Christmas presents to sharks? Santa Jaws.

Laughing at the awful cracker jokes, placing our paper crowns upon our head our starter arrived. I was super excited for a full bowl of this soup and it really didn’t disappoint. Thick and creamy and packed full of flavour the soup was even better than I had remembered. Served with a side of bread and a wedge of butter it required no seasoning and I seriously didn’t want it to end - I’m a huge soup fan!

Having finished our starters the lovely staff cleared our table and within about five to ten minutes our main courses were served. Vallum, you certainly don’t disappoint, with a plate full of meat and veg we both set to work. With the moist juicy turkey and melt in the mouth ham, we knew we had made the right choice with the dinner. The kale, just as flavoursome as I remembered. The carrots, just as mmmmmm worthy as they were the other week. The parsnips, well they’re my favourite root vegetable and the rest of the trimmings they were a solid ten out of ten.

vallum_farm_resteraunt_festive_friday_christmas_dinner_cracker_newcastle_celeriac_Soup

Thoroughly enjoying our dinners, we were extremely full, however, we weren’t admitting defeat and we both finished our plates. The restaurant had filled up substantially by this point and the private party in the Chef’s room was in full swing, the atmosphere was really relaxing and it was clear that everybody was enjoying themselves, including the staff who are so polite and all seem to be happy in their work which makes Vallum even more enjoyable.

vallum_farm_resteraunt_festive_friday_christmas_dinner_cracker_newcastle_christmas_dinner

Festive Friday’s are running for the next three Fridays in December from 6-9pm so make sure you book yourself a table and see what we’re raving about! 

Back to the food, though, we were that full from our celeriac soup and Christmas dinner that we couldn’t manage a pudding, we totally felt that it would be sheer gluttony to have a pudding so we left our third course this time, that’s not to say pudding won’t be on the agenda next time…

I really feel like we've found a new favourite place to really enjoy great quality food in an amazing setting. 

Merry Christmas to Vicky & Peter and the whole team at Vallum we hope you eventually get a well deserved few days off over the festive period!

Great North Snowdogs: A Final Farewell, Gateshead

This morning before a spot of Christmas shopping I headed to Gateshead International Stadium, not for a sporting event, but to bid farewell to the Great North Snowdogs.

In their final days together before they get auctioned and shipped off to their forever homes St Oswald's Hospice put on a spectacular show to gave us one final chance to see those intricately designed dogs that have been scattered with precision across the North East.

From Northumberland to Sunderland the trail has seen thousands of revellers chasing the 60 strong pack to find them on the specifically designed app packed full of information and of course the all important trail.

With local businesses including Ringtons, Fenwick and Barbour sponsoring dogs and local artists commissioned to bring these once plain white sculptures to life, giving them personality the whole of the North East has been involved in this memorable and well deserving charity fundraiser.

With the Snowdogs having being removed after their few months stint it left an emptiness inside of me. The joy they brought to us all, bringing out the inner child in us all when we stumbled across another dog. 

Having not completed the trail we headed to Gateshead Stadium this morning to check out the ones we hadn't yet seen. A perfectly executed event, we arrived for the opening at 9am and bought tickets on the door. At £3 per ticket, we thought this was a great price. 

Heading into the stadium the outdoor dogs including The Dogfather, The DFDs sponsored dog, Skipper greeted us before we were led into the largest marquee where the rest of the dogs were taking shelter from the cold, frosty Saturday morning.

With twinkling lights and white Christmas trees creating a festive atmosphere we wandered around spotting the dogs we'd previously seen and admiring the complexity of others and the simplicity of the rest. 

Smiling as we got to the NUFC and SAFC dogs, paired together, feeling it was the first time there was harmony and silence between the magpies and the black cats, although the SAFC looked like he was feigning a smile stood next to the top dog of the North East.

nufc_safc_great_north_snowdogs_final_farewell_football_clubs

Of course, the twinkling Disco Dog which was one of the focal points of the marquee was one of my favourites, as too was Snowberry. The way in which the dog was painted made it look so realistic and almost 3D.

The detail in some of the dogs was absolutely astounding and the thought that's gone into the dogs is amazing. With the infamous scene of runners across the Tyne Bridge during the Great North Run on The Dog on the Tyne, created by Jane Headford and even spotting my home on Guide Dog, sponsored by Metro and created by Mike Clay. These local landmarks painted onto these huge sculptures really made me proud to be from the North East....again.

great_north_snowdogs_final_farewell_gateshead_stadium_st_oswalds_hospice

There's a chance to buy Snowdog merchandise, view and purchase more artwork from the artists behind some of the dogs as well as if you're feeling peckish perhaps a hot dog?

The final farewell is on until Sunday from 9am until 4pm - you can book a time slot online or head along to Gateshead Stadium to buy tickets on the door. There's free parking too so no excuse not to see them one final time before they're auctioned off next Tuesday with some of the Snowdogs listed from as little as £2,000, you know you're supporting a great cause.

great_north_snowdogs_final_farewell_gateshead_stadium_st_oswalds_hospice

Why blogging isn't a competition! The Rant Collection

For as long as I can remember, since the day I opened my first business, a bricks and mortar store I knew that business has run through my veins. 

I'm the first person to stop and help somebody if I can. I like to share all of my years of business knowledge, the information I've picked up from my university degree and from my extensive life experience. I like to add value and above all I like to try and help people avoid mistakes I've made.

This is where this stops being about me and becomes all about the blogging community.

Over the last few weeks and months there's been swipes, digs and awful comments made not just about me but about other people within the blogging community. Why? Why do these grown women feel the need to try and break each other down? Is it insecurity? Is it fear of not being the 'top dog'? Is it because their parents didn't bring them up with the most important trait of all? A kind heart.

Women should build each other up instead of tearing each other down. Fact. 

I'm the biggest believer in this and in the fierce and unnecessarily catty world of blogging the competition and the bullying needs to stop.

There's no such thing as competition. Yes, you may be pitching for the same opportunity now and again or running for the same award but does it warrant trying to destroy people as humans, belittle them? Does it make it alright to hurt people with your cruel words?

I can go to an event, the same one as Deb from My Boys Club, the same one as Pixie from Fashion Voyeur, the same one as Mandy Charlton from her self-titled blog, the same one as June from Travel Jems and you know what? We can all get along, we can all laugh and joke and enjoy the bounty of delicious food served, but you know what? We weren't and have never been in competition, we all write for different age groups, different demographics and above all we write with a different viewpoint. So seriously check out how different our Vallum posts are to see what I mean.

Have you ever stopped and thought, the stronger we make the blogging industry and community by all building each other up the more opportunities we'll have as an industry whole, the more we will all grow as people and in terms of careers and finances. Surely that's the best outcome for everybody? 

Just because somebody is successful in something it doesn't mean you're not going to be successful in others. Take Natalie from Oh My Glow for example, her product is being stocked in Boots stores all over the country, she's worked relentlessly to create her brand. I felt myself cheering her on as I read her latest email minutes ago but I know somewhere there's going to be somebody sitting there reading the same thing, bubbling away with anger, hate and jealousy because she's winning, when in reality they could be winning too with something else.

It makes me so sad to see these people who often have never even met one another tearing each other down because of hearsay or because they become so opinionated about their content or successes that this turns into an unhealthy obsession of hatred.

Wouldn't it be nice if everybody could just clap for each other when they're winning because when it's your time to win guess what? Your round of applause will be even louder...

#Lashgangbday: Nouveau Lashes #lashgang 1st Birthday, London

Yesterday was a super special day, it was my 26th Birthday and it was also the first birthday of the legendary #lashgang. If you’ve never heard of #lashgang where have you been? A brain child of the best lash brand around, Nouveau Lashes, #lashgang is a group of fierce females with a passion for the boldest makeup looks around. Every month the gorgeous Beth and Em set the gang challenges to show off their lashes or their amazing treatments including LVL and SVS lash extensions, their newly launched treatment.

As I was in London and you guys know I love an event or two, I headed to their Academy in Purley for a first birthday party celebration. The fabulous #lashgang had an exciting day in store. We headed inside to be greeted by the Photo Booth, which after a few epic fails with both Ania and I we eventually managed to take some fabulous photos.

We played pass the parcel and took turns at hitting the Pinnate, eventually, the unicorn ended up decapitated and the sweet and lash treats spilt out everywhere. There was about 20 of the every growing #lashgang there and it was so lovely to eventually meet the ladies who’s posts, YouTube videos and Instagram posts I frequently see flying around.

As we headed downstairs to have Birthday tea the gorgeous vintage crockery was all laid out with sandwich fingers, cakes, chocolate strawberries, lemon posset, scones and of course birthday cakes galore.

We all chatted and laughed as we enjoyed our afternoon tea, YouTube tutorials were playing on the screen overhead and it was amazing to see the smiles of fellow #lashgang members as their face lit up as their videos were shown, videos from the talented Nishi V and Unico MUA were the staple features of the day, and rightly so. If you haven’t checked these ladies out and you have a penchant for beauty then you really ought to!

After we had had a bite to eat it was time to sing Happy Birthday so with a cupcake and candle in hand, then headed upstairs for a glass of fizz to celebrate the #lashgang first annual awards for the best MUA goals, best unicorn (all rounder), flat lays for days alongside other fabulously wacky awards.

The girls and I all chatted about our sites, Instagram tricks and tips whilst we got those all important crucial Instagram snaps to give everybody serious event envy

Happy Birthday #lashgang, I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us all! 

T'was the month before Christmas @ The Homesense Party, Birmingham

T’was the month before Christmas when all through the house,
Not a decoration was hanging, not even an ounce.
Their festive decor wasn’t hung anywhere,
A letter to St Nicholas, please beware.

The children all begged for the house to be red,
While their parents looked online and quickly said.
To Homesense we go, for decorations and gift wrap
Before the store shuts went Mother and Pap.

Arriving at the store, this reindeer looked fatter,
The kids will just love him, it doesn’t even matter.
Into the basket it went in like a flash
Supermarket sweep they were in and out with a dash.

DSC_0018.jpg

Homesense, is the best place, don’t you know
For affordable decorations, Christmas here we go.
Searching the aisles what should appear,
A cocktail shaker, a welcome change from a beer.

For the Christmas day tableware they need their fixing
A candelabra, a bauble, anything, they like mixing.
From tall silver trees perfect for the hall, 
Homesense has something, for one and for all.

After the holidays are over the kids will start to cry,
When the decorations are packed up, packed somewhere dry.
They returned home with a festive bounty or two,
This home were ready for Christmas now, are you?

Mother in the kitchen, Pap on the roof,
Decorating the home, the kids hidden from the truth.
They thought that St Nick wrapped tinsel around
And around, from the heights of the ceiling down to the ground.

From the top of the home right to the foot
The house was all ready, now for the man in the suit
The cocktail glasses were hung on the rack,
They love a drink, shake it red, green or black.

Mamma and Pap clinked cheers, they were getting merry,
Homesense sorted the decor out, the icing on the cherry.
The home was all cosy, presents ready to go.
One thing could complete it, let’s shout for the snow.

The wind whistled and blew, shaking the door wreath,
Stood proud at the front door, a Santa statue, the new chief.
They smiled and joked as they sat watching the telly
The Homesense advert made Pap laugh, it shook his belly.

Heading up to bed Mother and Pap each took them self,
For in the morning the kids would discover the elf on the shelf.
While the Christmas magic had only just begun,
For a month it would last, they’d have lots of fun.

Homesense had them all covered, now let’s all spread the word,
Their decorations are the best, in all of the land, so we heard.
A massive round of applause for the buyers, they’re serious pros,
A big Christmas bonus for them I propose?

Fast forward a month, to the Christmas Eve Bustle
To the big man in red preparing for his annual hustle,
Leaving footprints on the roof, a roof covered in icy white
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night”


Massive thank you to The Lost & Found in Birmingham for hosting the Homesense Christmas Party last night

Black Friday: Why I've ALWAYS Been A Big Fan!

For several years now I have taken holidays in America towards the end of November mainly to celebrate my birthday which falls on the 26th but more recently because the USA is the most wonderful place to be on the last Thursday of November when Thanksgiving is being celebrated. For me being a complete shopaholic what is even better is staying awake all night and hitting the infamous Black Friday sales which all start as soon as it hits midnight!

Over the years I have picked up some fantastic 'door buster' bargains from my £400 Ralph Lauren jacket at $20 totally awesome, to my Kate Spade handbags & Michael Kors shades all at an absolute steal. Some of the savings I have made would have paid for my trip they have been that great. I have Black Friday shopped in New York, Boston, Miami, Las Vegas but some of my best buys have been in the Orlando Malls. 

Victoria Secrets have a sensational underwear sale and I have drawers full of drawers...... Although I have outgrown Juicy Couture the t-shirts are a great buy and superb quality. Coach handbags are a really popular choice in America and the queues to get in the stores always wrap around the block although it's not my bag of choice the savings are amazing. I absolutely love, love, love anything Kate Spade and have bought everything from lipsticks. Purses, Handbags, iPad cases and key rings for gifts for myself and family. Because Kate is not as readily accessible in the U.K. these items are a little bit more unique and certainly quirky. Again they are really great quality and all at bargain basement prices. I have wardrobes full of Ralph Lauren tailored shirts and while the outlets here offer these in a £30 - £50 price range on Black Friday you can usually pick up 3 shirts for that price. Another personal favourite of mine (and my Granda) is Tommy Hilfiger you can pick up some terrific shirts, jeans and sweaters all usually with 70% off. Trainers, Uggs & Timberland are also fantastic purchases. 

After an exhaustive day shopping, I like to get back to my hotel with my multitude of shopping bags and switch on the TV to get a glimpse of some of the crazier side to Black Friday usually in a Walmart and usually involving some form of taser! 

Black_Friday_Sales_Boston_Outlet_Mall_Tommy_Hilfiger_Elle_Blonde_Luxury_Lifestyle_Blog.JPG

As Black Friday fever has swept across the pond to the UK it's a wonderful time to get your Christmas shopping underway. Most of the retailers have discovered that offering sales before Christmas gets the tills ringing earlier and longer and as a shopper, there are some great discounts around. The department stores have thrown themselves into this with great gusto and have started offering American-style door busters to get the shoppers through the door with an eye-catching knockdown bargains. My mum is always a sucker for a door buster especially if it's a flashy pair of boots. 

Outlet shopping caters well for Black Friday and having discovered the great shopping at Cheshire Oaks I would thoroughly recommend a trip as they have all the top brand outlet stores offering discounts on their discounts. You can even get a Black Friday lunch in most restaurants, not quite the same as being on holiday in the states eating Thanksgiving Turkey & pumpkin pie but still very much in the spirit of this now extremely popular annual event.

Wanting gadgets or electronics then cyber Monday is perfect to shop online from home and avoid the crowds. Personally, I love the thrill of the hustle and bustle in the shops and lumbering home with my shopping haul of goodies.

Happy Holidays Y'All

ELLEfluence Blogger Event: Benefit, Debenhams, Newcastle

Last night was event two of the two-day bonanza we were hosting this week as part of our ELLEfluence brand, a platform connecting bloggers and influencers to brands through digital marketing.

We hosted our second event of the week at Benefit located in Debenhams Newcastle for the Eyebrows on FLEEK event. With our eager ELLEfluencers braving not only the weather but some of them their awful Rub inflicted hangovers we began the night with a glass of prosecco and some amazing pizzas from Manny’s Pizza Deli located on Ridley Place.

Armed with fizz and pizza and heading for their Benefit photo whilst chatting between them the girls were about to be introduced to the full range of services in which Benefit offer.

With Rachael the counter manager introducing the gorgeous team we all posed for a sELLEfie before downloading the Benefit WOW Brows app. An app designed to reward you for your custom and for referring a friend. An amazing concept with some fabulous free treats from a free brow tint to a free full-size product up for grabs if you’re a Benefit Queen or just arching those brows to the brand then you need this app in your life.

Splitting the group of eager make up fans into 5 groups they headed off with one of the fabulous Benebabes to a station. First up the fabulous Mandy Charlton from her self-titled blog and gorgeous Gemma from Gemma’s Little World received the full beauty package with their brow, lip and chin wax followed by a complimentary cover up service to hide any redness. Perfect for if you’re wanting to pop in on your lunch break.

On the other side of the largest Benefit counter in a department store that I’ve seen were the other three groups who were being shown Kim Kardashians favourite highlighter and the Christmas gift sets that Benefit is offering this festive period, with Macara from Macara Space , and Humera from Rocking Bhootni being made super glam with the fabulous skills of the Benebabes. 

The Christmas gift sets are an amazing value and contain:

In the 'Kissy Missy' set:

  • Lollitint mini
  • Benetint mini
  • They’re real! double the lip in revved-up red; pink thrills

The Girl-a-Rama set contains

  • Roller lash mini
  • The POREfessional mini
  • Powder brush
  • Benetint mini
  • They’re real! duo shadow blender in brazen bronze
  • Custom ShadowBlender
  • Coralista / rockateur in split pan

The groups then swapped over so Farzana from Aspiring Londoner and Ruth from Pretty Little Gym Addict were then treated to a full beauty waxing package. Beth, the brow expert of the team was explaining how a lip and chin wax remove all the fine hairs which in turn help your make up lie on your face a little better. 

Mandy seemed to get the full works and volunteered herself to have her make up done too, I did question if she was heading out on a hot date…her answer perhaps you’ll find it across on her site? Amy from Anchored Teapot had her brows pencilled in and they were seriously on FLEEK.

Whilst the Benebabes suggested their recommendations in terms of essential products for our lovely ELLEfluencers which added such a personal touch and was extremely interactive the ladies did a little bit of shopping taking advantage of 10% off on the night and the special offers in which Benefit had on the night for the girls.

A relaxing an enjoyable evening, with all of the ladies discovering more about the Benefit brand including their complimentary brow mapping service they were all full of excitement. I feel that Santa will be getting a few make up filled Christmas lists from our fabulous ELLEfluence family this December after both this Benefit event and our Urban Decay event at the beginning of the month.

If you’re a blogger or influencer and wish to sign up to the ELLEfluencer family, attend our events, be gifted products for review or take part in sponsored opportunities click here.

Brands are you looking for assistance promoting your business with an edgy twist? Find out how our creative approach to digital marketing through the use of our network of influencers and bloggers can enable you to reach millions of potential customers from your target specific demographic. All brands on board are assigned a dedicated account manager, receive a full post-campaign report and follow up campaigns as standard. We offer an unrivalled service unlike no other. Drop us an email at hello@elleblonde.com to find out how we can help you.

Make Exercise A Priority. Motivation That Will Work Wonders

We would like to be a little bit fitter. In truth, it’s easier said than done. There aren’t enough hours in the day, and exercise is one of those things that often gets knocked off the to-do list. If you’re determined to fit exercise into your routine, you’ve come to the right place! Personal fitness isn’t something we can sacrifice! The good news is, there are ways to motivate ourselves into exercise. You may not think you have the time, but you know what they say - we make time for the things we care about. And let’s be honest, your personal health is something you should care about! Here are some top motivation methods to get you into the swing of the exercise game.

GYM MEMBERSHIP

A gym membership can be a great place to start on your exercise journey. Find the nearest gym and fitness center and sign up. You’re much more likely to care about something if you’ve invested money into it. Every time you feel like giving the gym a miss, think of the money you’ve already spent on it. Money isn’t always a good motivator, though, so it might be necessary to go one step further. Most gyms offer exercise sessions for a little added cost. Sign up for some of these to ensure that you don’t run out of enthusiasm when it comes time to head out. These classes can be a lot of fun, and are a great excuse to get social while you work out!

FITNESS APPS

In this modern world, there’s an app for everything. That includes fitness! Installing some simple fitness apps on your phone is a good way to keep track of your progress. Having that tracker can be a real motivation. These apps will also be staring at you every time you look at your phone, so there’s no excuse! You can’t forget about these. Open your app when you’re feeling unmotivated. Remind yourself of achievements you’ve already reached. A lack of inspiration can often come from a feeling of failure. Don’t get down, and remind yourself how far you’ve come and how much further you can go!

ARRANGE AN EXERCISE GROUP

If exercise groups at the gym aren’t for you, why not arrange your own group? Ask around your group of friends. It’ll surprise you how many of them are looking for exercise motivation as well. A jogging group can be a fun way of getting everyone together and working out at the same time. Try to invite friends who are at the same exercise stage as yourself. Being in a group with a pro will leave the rest of you pushing yourselves. Pushing too hard could put you off exercise altogether. A group at the same level will be able to keep things at a comfortable pace for all of you. Plus, you can build your speed together! You’ll find exercise a lot harder to avoid when you have a group of people depending on you.

ELLEfluence Blogger Event: Rub Smokehouse, The Gate, Newcastle

Last night we hosted another evening at Rub, a newly opened smokehouse in Newcastle’s largest hospitality complex, The Gate. Situated on the second floor conveniently next to the elevator Rub hosts a comprehensive menu full of delicious smokehouse food. Think brisket, burritos, pigs in blankets and the most calorific desserts you could ever dream of. Comparing it to one of our favourite Vegas eateries the Heart Attack Grill (we know if you know you’ll now know how awesome it is with that claim). 

Rub is also home to the 2-4-1 cocktail, all day every day.

So with cocktails being top of the menu we knew we were in for a treat offering our ELLEfluencers an evening of cocktail making with Rub’s very own award winning mixologist Joe, winner of the Ophir Gin World Championship.

Arriving in their droves our ELLEfluencers posed for a quick sELLEfie (don’t you worry I’m going to keep them coming!) before they were treated to a gorgeous green cocktail containing Gin, Midori and Lemonade garnished with a slice of kiwi, while our non-alcoholic cocktail was a twist on the Strawberry Blonde Mojito.

As they posed and pouted for their obligatory and official ELLEfluence event photo they all took a colour coded seat, all will be revealed shortly.

Having taken their seats, Joe introduced himself and began talking about the cocktails that the group were going to be making for themselves that evening, whilst competing for the ultimate prize, some Rub goodies.

Photo Credit: Laura Pearman Photography 

For the first round, heading to the front for a slice of the action was a member of each team. Measuring (with a heavy hand) into the shaker under Joe’s guidance and then shaking what their Mamma gave them before serving up to the rest of the team mates, as laughter echoed around the room over the sounds of the cheesy 80s funk the teams sipped on their cocktails that had just been created as the fabulous team at Rub dished out more cocktails to showcase the whole of their menu.

As we switched it up for round two the cocktails were moved to the tables and as Joe demonstrated at the front the rest of the guys followed suit, again rather heavy handed with their spirits they began pouring and mixing serving up a storm.

Of course, no cocktail masterclass is complete without a Facebook Live and in true ELLEfluence fashion it was time shake things up. Heading over to the tables armed with Sweet and Salty cards we were ready to play a game of True or Dare live in front of Rub’s Facebook fans. From who are your top five heroes as answered by the lovely Toni from Fashpreneur it was a toss up between her fabulous response of her parents being her top two heroes and Laura from What Little Pea Loves stating (without being prompted) that the best thing to happen to her blog was discovering ELLEfluence - I know cute right?! These ladies totally were the cuties of the evening. Mrs Salty without a doubt and winning yet another crown for her efforts of holding a stock cube on her tongue for nearly a minute was, of course, Newcastle’s most stylish, Lady Pixie from Fashion Voyeur.

Paul from Nights out in Newcastle  | Photo: Laura Pearman Photography

Paul from Nights out in Newcastle  | Photo: Laura Pearman Photography

As the cocktails were continuing to be shaken and the Facebook live takeover in full swing, Rub dished up pigs in blankets, mini sliders, pulled pork nachos and for the vegetarians veggie burritos. Lining their stomachs our ELLEfluencers headed back to their tables where the competition was resuming. Cocktail after cocktail, heading their way down, the cocktail list was being made and enjoyed, shots were aplenty (this was not your average blogger event - we don’t do average). Points were being won and the competition became fierce.

It all came down to the final round ‘Ready, Steady, Shake’ where each table was given a mixture of ingredients, alcohol and mixers where they had to create their on concoction with Joe being the judge.

As candy floss, flakes, foam and fun were thrown about some amazing creations were forming in front of our eyes there could only be one winner and it was the cocktail created by Chloe, Marie, Pixie, ToniLorna & Nicola. Well done girls it looked gorgeous.

As the night drew to a close and the final drinks were being sipped the bloggers headed home battling the horrific floods and stormy weather Newcastle had been graced with. Heading home with a Brownie from Brownie Heaven as supplies for on the way to help them sober up. 

Where’s your brownie? Simply print the coupon out below, hand to one of Rub’s AMAZING staff members to redeem with every spend over £20 at Rub, Newcastle from now until 24th December.

Enjoy a FREE Brownie when you dine at Rub Smokehouse.png

If you’re a blogger or influencer and wish to sign up to the ELLEfluencer family, attend our events, be gifted products for review or sponsored opportunities click here.

Brands are you looking for assistance promoting your business? With the help of our network of influencers and bloggers, we are able to reach millions of potential customers from your specific demographic, with a dedicated account manager, full post-campaign reports and follow up campaigns we offer an unrivalled full service. Drop us an email at hello@elleblonde.com to find out how we can help you.

Heck Food: Make sure you check your sausages this November

November is my all time favourite month, it’s my birthday month. It’s the month the shops turn into Christmas grottos overnight, it’s the month that the air begins to become a little crisper and the first sign of snow can be expected at any moment.

It’s also the month where men grow awful 80’s porno ’tashes in the name of Movember. For the past few years, the razors are hidden and the unsightly appearance of lip hair begins to be seen wherever you go, however, it’s all in the name of raising awareness for testicular cancer. Family food manufacturer Heck have decided they’re in this year with an ingenious way to help raise money for vital research, spurred on by co-founder and eldest son Jamie finding a cancerous lump in his testicle at the beginning of the year. Fortunately, he caught it quick enough and we send him our best wishes to a healthy future.

I’ve followed Heck for quite some time now since first seeing them on Alex Polizzi’s ‘The Fixer’ in 2014 and often smile at their eye-catching packaging as I walk down the aisles in the supermarkets. As a vegetarian for 20 years I never really had the chance to try Heck’s sausages, however now a new found meat eater I have been meaning to try them out for some while - especially as they’re gluten free! 

Recently Heck has introduced a brand new vegetarian line including ‘Nuts about Cheese Sausages’ and Super Greens Balls.

Heck, who have rebranded their packers for the month of November to cHeck kindly sent me some Chicken Italia sausages to help them promote their efforts to raise £25,000 this year by donating 5% of the sales made from their popular Chicken Italia sausages. 

There’s not much I can do or say apart from throwing some bangers in a pan and let them sizzle then take some lovely looking photographs. It’s up to you to do the rest….

So lads, check those sausages and ladies why not check your baps too! You owe it to yourself

Shop Heck foods and help them raise £25,000 this month to donate to research into finding a prevention and a cure for this awful awful disease which so that hopefully one day nobody has to go through.

Find out other ways in which you can help raise awareness for testicular cancer and donate to this cause here

 

Ramside Spa: Relaxation at the heart of Durham

Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to a complimentary evening using the facilities at the new £8million redevelopment of Ramside Spa. Having previously stayed at Ramside a couple of times before the renovations had been completed I was yet to experience this new and exciting addition to the luxury four star Hotel.

Situated just minutes from both the A1(M) and the A19 the grand entrance and driveway winds you up to the 127 luxury bedroom hotel, complete with restaurant, golf course and expansive spa and wellness centre.

Upon arrival to the event there was a host of familiar faces from the North East Blogging Scene as well as some new faces, but always a pleasure to see Ruth from Pretty Little Gym Addict, Deb from My Boys Club and Tasha from Hello Freckles. As I took a seat I was handed a beautifully green champagne tipple which was champagne and Midori, of course, to match the Spa’s branding colours.

spa_at_ramside_ramside_hall_spa_and_golf_Resort_county_durham_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog.jpg

As we chatted between us for a while we were then introduced to the Spa Membership Director who explained about the facilities and what Ramside had to offer and talked us over their membership prices and what was included in the price; full use of the spa and wellness facilities anytime during their opening times from 6am until 10pm daily, this includes use of their state of the art gym and all their exercise classes they have on offer.

With a focus on clean, organic and holistic the Spa offers a Holistic Wellness Programme which covers stress management, sleep & recovery, posture & movement analysis, mindful eating and a personalised goal setting for each member. This is supported by their dedicated spa treatment rooms, their sleep sanctuary (which I would happily move into if they’re looking for volunteers), and their gorgeous spa with indoor and outdoor heated pools, and infinity pool, steam room, sauna and jacuzzi pool. Alongside this, there’s gorgeous rattan beds and pods to relax in and an endless supply of iced fruit water. There’s also a bar service for the real relaxation experience.

nail_bar_ramside_hall_spa_and_golf_Resort_county_durham_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog.jpg

As we toured the spa and wellness facility, the Spa Manager informed us that Ramside Hotel’s Spa was the first in the country to be a recovery spa too for cancer patients. This was very moving as it was explained that all of the therapists are specially trained in cancer recovery treatments and the Spa prides itself on offering a sanctuary for those who have been through the toughest battles that they could face.

nail_varnish_ramside_hall_spa_and_golf_Resort_county_durham_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog.jpg

A five star rated ESPA the team pride themselves on not only their facilities but the products they use in their treatments. With a nail and pedicure bar, which they open up for private parties and hen dos too. Massages including hot stone and waxing

When our tour was nearing the end we walked through Fusion, a Pan Asian restaurant which was bustling full of people. As we returned to our seats we were greeted by a huge board of delicious sushi and a feast of delicious goodies which we all thoroughly enjoyed. The food was fresh and so delicious and with the menu price being between £15-£20 for a main course this would be certainly somewhere to add to my ever growing list of places to go to dine out.

Once our stomachs had been suitably fed we were led to the spa entrance, given a robe, some flip flops and given a band for entry. As we all got changed we spent a good five minutes laughing over our struggle with the lockers. They work on a personal code input and remembering where your locker is…unfortunately for all of us, we forgot to take note of our locker numbers.

spa_flip_flops_ramside_hall_spa_and_golf_Resort_county_durham_elle_blonde_luxury_lifestyle_blog.jpg

We headed straight to the outdoor heated pool which in 4-degree temperatures outside was heaven stepping into something as warm as a bath. With jet streams and lights all that was missing was a glass of prosecco and a little bit of snow to make it super perfect. We chatted for an hour or so before heading inside to the jacuzzi pool to get an ice cold glass of lemon, orange or cucumber water before relaxing on the loungers.

After we had dried out and cooled down we headed into the jacuzzi pool where there are seating and pods with different speed jacuzzi jets in them, whilst it was so relaxing it was also hilarious as one pod, in particular, we all struggled with swimwear issues as the power was that extreme.

As the clock spun past half nine we collectively decided it was time to head home, leaving the Spa and Ramside behind. All had a great night and if I didn’t live 20 miles away I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to make Ramside Spa a part of my daily routine!

Little Known Box: October 6 Month Anniversary Edition

I firstly need to apologise for the lateness of this post, for the last two months I’ve brought you one of my favourite subscription boxes, gifted to me by the gorgeous Helen & the team at Little Known Box. 

I feel like I’ve blinked and we’re over halfway through November, it’s been a crazy few weeks with the whirlwind ELLEfluence movement picking up some serious momentum (if you don’t know what this is about and you’re a blogger or influencer you need to check it out here!), this alongside attending lots and lots of events up and down the country.

So I’ve kind of neglected review posts for a few weeks and I feel super bad, especially because I adore Little Known Box and this month they were celebrating their 6th month anniversary. I mean how cool is that? As a business owner, I know just how crucial the first year of your business is and this is a massive milestone so well done Helen and the Little Known Box team you’re truly smashing this!

On to the box now, though, you nosey lot…I know you’re dying to know what’s inside. With it being their sixth box and their half a year anniversary there was some surprises in store for the Little Known Boxers.

First up a gorgeous Lin & Lo Satin Lipstick, full size - RRP £19. I always say this but you can never have too many lipsticks. This timeless nude pink has been designed by pro makeup artists who developed a revolutionary collection of lipsticks to contain shea butter and antioxidants to pamper your lips whilst looking fabulous. The collection from Lin & Lo not only contains pigmented more neutral colours but they’re designed to look great on all skin tones.

The packaging used by Lin & Lo is to die for and the luxurious metal lipstick holder is not only super Instagrammable but is to die for! Lin & Lo also take care of your eyes and face as well as offering makeup brushes & accessories too! 

Check them out here

Second out of the box is SAMAYA Ayurveda Anti-Ageing Creams. Three travel size pots 15ml each - RRP £89 for 50ml. This holistic approach to beauty allows you to create a balance within your skincare regime and whilst only 25 (I can say this for 9 more days!) I’ve often shunned an anti-ageing product, that was until I learned about how they contain preventative ingredients for fine lines and wrinkles instead of it being a cure from ageing. So it’s imperative whatever your age to work this kind of product into your skincare regime. 

The three creams included in this month’s Little Known Box are Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which are designed for each different dosha. If you’re looking at the screen wondering what even is a dosha, head to their website and you can find out which dosha is for you!

Next up the Dinki Belle nail wrap kit priced at £7.99. The fun and vibrant chevron striped kit were a great addition to this month’s box. I have a massive love of having my nails done and doing my own nails. An avid gel nail wearer I have often seen these nail wraps popping up all over the place, especially my trip to Miami you couldn’t move without the carts in the malls handing samples out.

As with other nail products patience and a steady hand are essential so make sure when you Dinky Wrap you do it with a lot of time to spare. Having said that Dinky Wraps are designed to last 14 days and are non-toxic and the team at Little Known Box have a tutorial on their blog too to show you how it’s done so make sure you check it out!

Find Dinky Wraps here

When I opened the box, I was hit with the scent of a spa and it wasn’t until I got to the MERUMAYA Melting Cleansing Balm (25ml - RRP £7.50) that I discovered what the calming and clean scent was. With MERUMAYA believing that effective cleansing is the cornerstone of beautiful and vibrant looking skin this balm has an amazing formula including almond oil, omega 3,6 and 9. Perfect for helping soothe and prepare skin for the cold weather that’s creeping in. You apply the balm to your dry skin then add water to turn it into a milk, which you then wash off with a hot muslin cloth. I found that it’s a great, soft and gentle makeup remover too for those stubborn brands!

You can have a look at the entire MERUMAYA website here

Following on from the cleansing balm next out of the box was The Herb Garden Massage Bar, travel size (RRP 2 for £8 full size). The HerbGarden, founded by two herbalists uses simple raw ingredients with herbal and aromatherapy health benefits. The bar can be used as a massage oil or a moisturiser and is made from soy wax which melts ever so gently into an oil when rubbed onto your hands.

It smells absolutely divine and a natural approach to skin care it’s super effective for giving your skin a little but lustre back now that the cold has hit.

As if this wasn’t enough there were three anniversary bonus items in the box which was a great surprise and yet another reason why this subscription box is like I said one of my favourites.

First Item was a sachet of the MERUMAYA Iconic Youth Serum, secondly a FabLittleBag Handbag Pack and finally my favourite surprise gift a compact mirror with one of my favourite all time motivational quotes on.

Thank you Little Known Box, this month has been awesome again and it’s really brought a smile to my day. 

If you’re struggling for a gift for one of the important ladies in your life this Christmas I 100% recommend a Little Known Box subscription!!

New Age Jobs are Changing the Way We Work

Every era that we have lived through has been pushed forward by various factors of the time. The job world has changed too as the times have changed. With the internet and other forms of connectivity changing the way we communicate and perform tasks, so too has the work space changed.

More and more freelance and contract workers are working together with traditional full-time employees. The availability of remote workers in far corners of the world has seen the rise of increasing job sourcing. Some employees and managers are involved in more than one job at a time in joint ventures. You can find many of these remote and flexible job vacancies on sites like uk.jobrapido.com where you can also post your cv online.  Free labor is on the rise and the work space is moving as quickly as data travels across the world.

Businesses and global markets are being motivated and driven by ever-increasing innovation and a larger scale than ever before. Talent pools are larger and business managers expect rapid scaling and adaptability from their workforce. The new ways in which organizations are functioning is beginning to look more like an ecosystem of networks that are highly organized with multitudes of talent, leadership and ideas.

The full-time, highly educated sector has seen a drop from 56% to 39% of the active workforce over the last 35 years. The free-lance and contract workforce has grown from 24% to 41% in the same time span.

While some will struggle to adapt to the changing working world, there are others who see the possibilities that lay ahead. Companies are going to go through changes as they try to attract the best talent through rewards and creative ideas to keep them working for their interests. For those workers that can deliver the kind of work that this new age requires, there will be endless options to choose from as companies compete with one another from across borders. Job vacancies may be easier to find for those who are talented and creative. With the changing job world where a steady job may become a distant memory for some, others who can see the possibilities in this evolving world will reap the benefits. 

Point S: Safety Comes First

Do you ever feel when the Winter starts to draw in that you change your makeup look? You don the Winter warmers and the bobble hats appear everywhere? I love Winter it’s my favourite time of the year, but there’s one thing that fills me with dread and that’s the drivers on the roads. It’s important that safety comes first. Every single time.

From changing your screen wash to one which contains a high concentration of de-icer, adding anti-freeze to your radiators to checking your tyres. It’s important that just like your make up regime requires stepping up and an extra layer of protection added to fight the elements so to do your car tyres.

Point S, a car tyre dealership who are located in the UK are the perfect go to if you’re like me and haven’t a clue about what kind of shoes (tyres) are best for the Winter months. All I know is I need thicker treads to grip on the wet and icy surface of the road. The best thing about the tyre service Point S offer is that you don’t even need to know what shoe size your car takes, just enter the your registration number and their clever site tells you which size tyres you require - shame there’s no Louboutins to choose from, but there are hundreds of tyre brands to choose and Point S offer competitive prices on all of their tyres and serving 28 countries with 3,000 service locations there's bound to be a tyre stop near to you.

As I travel up and down the country often for events it’s essential that when I’m not on a train and I’m travelling by car that my safety comes first and having read up about tyres I discovered just how important winter tyres are. They help with braking and traction as well as making driving on awful roads easier and essential if you live in the more remote locations within the UK. 

My Granda is tyre obsessed, living in the rugged terrain of the Lake District and I know just how much of a difference the winter tyres make on his Lexus every year. So if you’re looking after your chapped lips this Winter, why not look after your life too and take care of your car!

*Sponsored Post

Travel Tips: 5 Attractions You Should Always Visit

When we go away on vacation, we’re looking to explore new opportunities. It’s always exciting to see what other places have in store for us. But, it’s actually quite easy to miss out on the top attractions when we go away. We’ve got so little time to explore what we want to see, and we’ll neglect certain things over others.

I’m taking a page out of my own experiences with this topic. I want to share with you my experiences of going on vacation by discussing five attractions you really don’t want to miss.

National Parks

We often opt for the hustle and bustle of a big city when we go on vacation. But, it’s always a good idea to get out of that zone and enjoy the peace and quiet when we can. If your destination has a National Park in the near area, make some time to explore it. You’ll find so many things to do in Big Bend National Park in the US or Exmoor National Park in the UK, for example. Most importantly, you’ll be able to explore the true natural beauty of the area.

Sports Arenas

Not everyone is a big fan of sports, but that still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore arenas. You’re bound to find an arena or a stadium wherever you go, and they’re always fascinating to visit. Even if you’re not interested in taking in a game, you’ll normally find the ability to take a tour. Visiting the changing rooms and gazing over a totally empty arena is something you have to do at least once.

Monuments

Alright, so the chances are that you’re not going to forget about visiting the most famous monuments. If you don’t plan ahead of time, however, it’s easy to run into problems. The most common of these normally centers around expenses and availability. You’ll normally find that you can get much cheaper tickets to certain monuments and attractions online. You might even have to book in advance online to guarantee the ability to visit. There are some monuments that require this!

Theme Parks

Again, theme parks aren’t in short supply in most vacation destinations across the world. They’re all wildly different to each other, and they all offer their own pros and cons. What better way to spend a day of fun and bonding than to visit the local theme park? Again, you’ll find cheap tickets online for this in most cases, saving you a lot of money in the long run.

Local Restaurants

I’ve never understood people who go to a new country with the intention of eating the same cuisine they always consume. The ability to get out of your comfort zone and try something new is surely an enticing prospect. Make it a task of yours to visit at least one local restaurant and try the local specials for yourself. You might not think it’s great - you might hate it! But, at least you’ll have allowed yourself to open your mind and try new things.

The next time you’re travelling to a new destination, keep these five attraction ideas in mind!

Tusting Pop-Up: A Royal Family Favourite, Brick Lane, London

On Wednesday I was cordially invited to the press launch of the Tusting collection’s pop-up store on Brick Lane. Their temporary week-long pop up from the 8th until the 13th November is to showcase their full range of leather goods from briefcases to totes, messengers to holdalls. 

A brand synonymous with quality and reliability, a favourite of the Royals, including Prince Charles and Kate Middleton and a brand which is heavily featured in publications I couldn’t wait to have a look what they had in store. With up to 70% off some of their lines, there was the promise of great bargains to be had in their sample sale.

Tusting, founded in 1875 is steeped in rich history, this fifth generation family run brand has come a long way in their 130-year history from the early days of producing leather goods and shoes in their tannery to now producing high-fashion collections fit for a Queen. 

Hailing from the British countryside, this high-end brand is targeting a new audience, the millennials. So with that said off I headed to The Old Brewery on Brick Lane to see what leather goods I could fall in love with.

Arriving after battling my way through the animated men from the curry houses of Brick Lane offering me great deals if I were to dine with them (I mean they were great deals), however, the cheap Greek girls holiday style approach never wins me over I was greeted with a glass of Prosecco. Great, the key to my heart.

I wandered around the showroom as the rest of the attendees mingled, checking out the goods on offer. With a distinct luxury air to the brand, I began snapping away and checking out the finer details from all of the different collections. The holdalls caught my eye in particularly a green canvas and tan leather bag, which I later found out was the favourite of the future Queen.

Having spent some time looking around and getting familiar with the different collections I was a little disappointed that nobody came over to chat to me, despite having a big DSLR camera flashing about as I was really interested in finding out much more about the family behind the brand and the inspiration for the collections. I only spoke to the girl upon arrival who greeted me to hand me a glass of fizz.

The bags within the collections that Tusting has created are of exceptional quality, with an attractive branding and attention to detail it really is no surprise that they are a regal choice.

With everything made in house and not imported this tannery also offers a bespoke option to create something truly as unique as you are.

If you’re looking for a timeless classic that will last you for years to come then the robust nature of the Tusting brand really is one to be noted. I highly recommend you should head to Brick Lane to check out the amazing savings and see the quality of the brand for yourself.

Want to see what else I've been up to this week whilst in London? Check this week's fun out now

Carnaby Christmas Revolution: Christmas Light Switch On

On Thursday 10th November it was the annual Carnaby Christmas Celebration and when in Rome..

As I was already in London having been to a couple of events this week I decided that I really must head to Carnaby Street to enjoy the beginning of the festivities. As we headed from the Lypsyl event in Pimlico we had decided to walk, I don’t mind getting the tube at all, however, I love the sights of London and with it being only a mile and a half or so walking distance decided to sashay our way to the 60’s themed evening ahead.

Arriving to the bustle of people moving all around the lanes adjoining to Carnaby Street, the tech team setting up the ‘Magic Bus’ for the evening ahead it was strangely enchanting and momentarily we felt transported back to the swinging 60s, an era in which I can only dream I was part of.

 Processed with VSCO with m5 preset Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Having arrived early and the switch on not being until 6pm we decided to have a look around the stores that Carnaby had to offer and after our Urban Decay Newcastle event last week coincided with the launch of the flagship store right on Carnaby Street I knew I had to check out what all the fuss was about. As Urban Decay is one of my favourite makeup brands the bold purple lights from the store front lured me closer, as I entered I was like a child in a sweet shop. With every single item on offer, I couldn’t help but lust over the Brush Vault, a 22 piece pro brush set. 

As we checked out the map and became familiar with our surroundings, typically these Geordie girls honed in on where the complimentary drinks were. Heading straight to Ganton Street to the Beetle Juice camper van for the first of our complimentary cocktails we waited in the queue to be served as the crowd poured through. To say this wasn’t my most favourite cocktail would be my honest opinion, I have a nemesis in the form of tonic water and this rosewater flavoured cocktail contained just that. As we stood in a doorway to avoid the rip-roaring wind we watched as the acts for the evening arrived in their decorated 60s attire. 

Heading back down to Carnaby we visited Jack Wills, Adidas, Skinny Dip and a whole host of other global brand name stores.  Having read that Paul Smith was displaying classic Vinyl of the King of the 60s and the forefront of the music industry, David Bowie I was desperate to see the display to report back to his number one fan, my Mum. Upon arrival at the Paul Smith store we couldn't catch a glimpse of the art, but somehow a Bulldog Gin cocktail landed in our hands as we listened to the singer with his guitar in the window belting out some 60s classics.

Drinking up we returned once more to Carnaby where the time was edging closer to 6pm. Getting ourselves into a prime spot to watch Patrick Topping provide the music. A local lad, who we used to go to school with, who is taking the electro house world by storm. It hit six and Mariah began to fill the street’s with ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ before the beat dropped to some heavy electro and the sky was filled with confetti. The lights overhead illuminated in this synchronised moment that thousands of people had been waiting for. We felt incredibly festive and as the night was only beginning parades of people in 60s regalia started dancing in the streets. From stilt walking disco chicks to Marilyn Monroe, it was an evening of flairs, big hair and mini skirts. Rather them than me, though, it was FREEZING. 

We headed to Benefit where we were treated to a Benefit Bellini as we browsed the whole of the collection on offer. The stores were all rammed, offering 20% off everything too it was not to be missed for those getting into the holiday spirit and beginning (or perhaps completing) their Christmas shopping.

As we weaved our way down the street further we were covered by yet more falling confetti from the sky. It literally looked like heavy snow. Amazing. It really was a spectre. We headed into True Religion for another cocktail and as we stood sipping at the window looking at the crowds, the falling confetti and taking in the music we realised that this has to become an annual tradition. 

It began to start raining and it was getting a little late, all of the stores were beginning to close and the music was drawing to a close, so we decided to head back. Stumbling past the new Estee Lauder store which opens today we were stopped by a trio of what we can only describe as male models offering us a hot chocolate, with a sparkling silver holder, it was Estee Lauder of course. With our pom pom hats, scarves and gloves making us look more Southern than our tough weather-braving Northern roots we must have looked as if we needed a winter warmer. We sipped on our delicious hot chocolates as we strolled home.

The Carnaby Christmas Revolution was an amazing night and an essential for next year if you’re in and around London. They really put on an amazing show. The music, the lights, the entertainment and the little additional extras really made it a night to remember. Another reason why I love London.