Christmas present haul

Christmas may be a few weeks ago now – I know, how did that happen? – but I wanted to have a go at doing my first ever haul blog! They are blogs and vlogs that I really enjoy reading and watching, probably because it satisfies the nosy parker in me but also because I like to get ideas for nice gifts for people when an occasion next comes up. I haven’t included every single gift I received but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t love and appreciate each and every one. So before I get started it’s disclosure time…this isn’t about me bragging about what I got, it’s just me having a go at writing a new type of blog.

As with every year, I was so lucky with the gifts I received, most of them being total surprises and I didn’t have one single gift that I needed to exchange or take back – score! The first gifts I want to show are some of the gorgeous LUSH bath bombs and bubble bars I got. I have taken them out of the beautiful gift boxes as I wanted to use them ASAP! Honestly, I know I go on about LUSH a lot and I will be doing a Blog in more detail about baths and relaxation, but seriously, if you haven’t ever shopped there – go. Yes, it is on the pricier side of bath and beauty products but I’d rather have fun baths than a run of the mill, boring, functional bath!

The first set I opened was called ‘Happy Daze.’ It included The Experimenter Bath Bomb, Fizzbanger Bath Bomb, Brightside Bubble Bar and The Comforter Bubble Bar. I was so thrilled with this set because out of the four, three are my favourites  and since trying the Fizzbanger, it’s safe to say this set will now feature on any future wish list!


The second box was a seasonal Christmas selection box was called ‘Festive Friends.’ Inside were three gorgeous LUSH products: the Butterbear Bath Bomb, Father Christmas Bath Bomb and the Penguin Bubble Bar. You won’t see the Butterbear in the photos because I’ve already used him up! It was another product I’d never tried and again, LUSH didn’t let me down. I’ve always loved a musk scent (who remembers White Musk from The Body Shop?!) so this one suited me to a T.

Whilst on the theme of bath and beauty products, I want to mention the other skin care items I got. My skin has been even more sensitive than usual lately. On one of our many trips to Holland&Barrett, we discovered their skin care section. Mum has restocked my shelves with their Dr. Organic Aloe Vera skin lotion and the concentrated Aloe Vera cream which is the only thing (along with Clinique’s Moisture Surge) that my skin can handle at the moment and I LOVE them. They don’t have a scent as such but they aren’t greasy and dry on your skin quickly which is a positive for me. You don’t need to apply much of any of these Dr. Organic products, they are thick but they go a long way which means you don’t need to buy them frequently so are very cost effective. High Five!


I also received a gift which will be really useful; it’s called, This Works, Super Sleep Dual Pillow Spray. The set contains two 20ml sprays, a sleep plus pillow spray which is a “fast acting, natural remedy to restore a healthy sleep pattern,” and deep sleep pillow spray which is “a best-selling natural sleep aid that inspires feelings of calm.” An absolutely spot on gift for me at the moment seeing as sleep is very important and can be a painful, disturbed experience.


I haven’t been able to photograph my next gift because it was in use from Christmas Day! Mum and Dad got me the most amazing Dreamland Intelliheat Premium Fleece Dual Control Fitted Electric Underblanket. Now seriously, anything that’s name is that long and that detailed must be an out of this world product! And on top of that, it was a Which? best buy – wouldn’t expect anything less in terms of research from my Dad! It has two controls which means you can heat one side of the bed or both (I opt for both because I don’t have anyone else to warm up the other side for me!). When you are getting ready for bed you set the controls to ‘quick heat up’ for five minutes and then set the under sheet to your own personal preference once the time is up. You can set it to heat the bed for either one hour or nine. This is my only negative thing about the product – it would be good to have an in-between time setting, like four hours because at the moment, nine hours is too long but an hour is too short – first world problems or what?! Then there are five heating options, the last few nights when its been freezing I’ve gone for five but really, three is the optimal temperature and enables the perfect nights sleep. All old woman jokes aside, I really have found that it’s helped with my muscle pain during the night. Like with hot baths, heat does seem to ease pain and I haven’t felt as stiff when I wake up (!) Honestly, one of the best presents I have EVER recieved! I believe Mum and Dad got it from John Lewis but I’m sure there are other places it can be purchased from too.


Next up are books. I got four this year and all serve a different purpose!

  • First up, Mum and Dad gave me a  Dorling Kindersley photography book aimed at helping beginners. It takes you through everything you will need to know as a beginner and uses step by step pointers and photos which is a real positive for me as I’m a visual learner. It teaches you about ISO, aperture and shutter speed as well as shooting in various locations, lights and photographing  different subjects. Photography is a hobby I want to learn more about this year so I was really chuffed with this book.
  • Then I opened my annual diary from WH Smith’s. It’s a beautiful, bright, butterfly themed, page a day diary which is what I have used since I was twelve! Spot on Mum – thanks.
  • Next I opened a hilarious book from a friend entitled, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight. I’ve heard so many people talk about this book, although the title is funny, having browsed over the first few pages, it seems like there will be lots of things to take from the book to implement into my life. I’m looking forward to reading it and will feed back once I’m finished!
  • Then finally I received, ‘The Christmasaurus’ by Tom Fletcher – yup, the guy from the band McFly! He is also the author of the series of children’s books, ‘The Dinosaur that Pooped…..’ series. As a teacher, I know that children adore these books and as an avid follower of Tom on YouTube, I’d followed his writing and publishing process, so was excited to get my hands on the finished product. The book has already been commissioned for a stage show next Christmas and is being made into an animated movie – amazing, what a talented guy.


I have an inkling that people may have picked up on the fact that I am partial to a quote here and there! The plaques and shaped quote gifts I received were all so lovely, meaningful and ones that Dad is going to have to come and put up for me – I mean, what else is he going to do with all this time on his hands now?! I don’t know where they are from but if you like the look of them as gifts for people, all you need to do is search the internet and you will be bombarded by similar things. They may not be big or expensive gifts but personally, I think they are a perfect sentimental gift for someone you care about. The one Mum gave me about socks, is an example of one that isn’t soppy but one that I will read over and over and always have a little chuckle to myself because we all know it’s so true!


You will also see that I received my own personalised recipe book – so cool! I already have one but it’s the one I was given when I went to Uni and it’s quite small and won’t fit in the recipes I find in magazines etc. So this one is perfect. I am going to transfer the recipes into the new book but also make sure I cut and stick in the recipes that Mum hand wrote because they hold a sentimental value to me. There’s something about keeping handwritten recipes that hold a bit of family history in my opinion.

Luckily my friends know me very well! I received three, yes three Mahogany Teakwood Bath and Body Works candles! One all the way from Chicago and two from Dubai – seriously, so happy! I also received one other beautiful candle and a gorgeous, stripped wood tea light holder with butterfly detailing. I don’t have a problem – promise.


My brother treated me to a necklace that I have had my eye on for ages. It is designed by a lady called Anna Saccone who is part of the Saccone-Joly family who are vloggers on YouTube. Each necklace has a Zodiac design on which means you can buy in accordance to the recipients star sign. You can choose from silver, rose gold or silver gold plated and they come in L, M or S sizes which is a great feature. Mine has the Taurus sign and is in rose gold, it came in a beautiful display box and included the story behind the designs. Anna sells these pieces on and she also designs Zodiac style charms and bracelets. Beautiful gifts for all ages, I would highly recommend.


I wanted to feature the gorgeous tree decorations I received. You may see a pattern occurring here – I may possibly like penguins! All three are from from three different friends and I love them all. One is a wood carved decoration with my named carved into one side and a Christmas penguin into the other. The next one is a glass Christmas penguin and the third is a glitter covered, more traditionally shaped bauble and I love him! Also along the penguin theme, a friend bought me a penguin pen which I will use to plan future blogs – another quirky, fun gift.


Finally, I wanted to mention a gift that you won’t be able to find or buy anywhere but that I am in love with. When I went to Egypt I purchased some beautiful material from a market at such a cheap price and had the idea that I wanted to use it for a throw or some kind. I mentioned it to Mum and Dad when I brought it home but never noticed that it had disappeared! So when I opened up the most beautiful quilt/bed throw and pillow on Christmas morning, I was in total shock! It was beyond what I had imagined for the material and I will treasure it forever. It was made by one of mum’s friends from choir and I would highly recommend her if you need anything like this made, she has done such a great job.

So there you have it, my first haul!  I hope you enjoyed it and that you may have some gift ideas for the coming year, let me know what gifts you loved this Christmas…that way I can continue to indulge in my nosiness!

Happy weekend!




Travel Tuesdays: Egypt

I’m noticing more and more how many of my blogs have links to music – it’s not intentional I promise! The song ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ will forever be linked to my time in Dubai. One of our Year 2 topics was Ancient Egypt and we always had an Egyptian day where the children wore an Egyptian outfit (hopefully) homemade and we would head up to the playground and parade along the catwalk whilst listening to the Bangles classic.  Take a moment to picture it, even splitting the Year group into two groups, that’s still seven class, around 196 children…so about an hour’s worth of catwalk and goodness knows how many repeats of that one song!! But it was fun and I will always have fond memories of those days.

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What’s that got to do with anything I hear you ask? Well, this is my first “travel” blog. Travelling has always been something that intrigued me; discovering new countries, new cultures, meeting new people ands creating memories just has such an appeal to me. Although I have been incredibly lucky from a young age to travel to many parts of the world, Dubai enabled me to fulfil even more of my travel dreams. I’ve never been afraid to embark on trips alone, using tour groups and setting off on a new adventure yet Dubai also allowed me to find like-minded people who also wanted to travel which worked out perfectly.

This is always a risk – being friends with someone and travelling with a friend are two different things to some extent. You can be friends with someone and love them to pieces but travelling with a friend means they will be with you for almost 24 hours a day for the duration of the trip and in this time you will discover things you never knew about that person before…which can be a good or bad thing!

Our year group in Dubai was a unique one. We were a power house, a real team. We supported each other, had fun, socialised, made sure our main aim was the children and stuck to our guns when it came to what we believed in. She will hate me for saying it, but the main reason for this was our APC (assistant phase co-ordinator), Sharon. In my first year we didn’t become friends until half way through but from day one I knew we would get on; we are very similar in so many ways, she’s fiery, you wouldn’t want to mess with her but she’s loyal to a fault and I am so very glad to call her my friend.


In 2015, February half term seemed to come round really quickly and Sharon and I decided quite last-minute that we should go away and both said how we would love to explore Egypt.  At the time I hadn’t quite realised the degree of possible danger in Egypt and mum only let me know of her fear when I was back safely! We were lucky to know many Egyptian families at school who gave us advice and helped to plan our little trip.

I’m not sure about Sharon but I was a little nervous about going away together – Sharon is very confident and out going in many ways and I didn’t want to be that boring friend that was always conscious of being cautious! Carly, who had travelled with Sharon before gave me two tips which I adhered to…thank goodness! 1) ALWAYS carry snacks and 2) ALWAYS carry something to keep her warm! Hangry, cold Sharon is not a good combination but we avoided that for the entirety of the trip and we are still friends now so our travels clearly made our friendship rather than breaking it!

Travelling with Sharon was a new experience for me. I am quite often the person in charge of organising things, being OCD about booking, checking, re checking and setting things in motion but in this case, Sharon did the majority of organising the trip and I actually quite enjoyed it. It was refreshing to take a back seat, I think it was because I trusted her..until we landed at the airport and saw the car we were being collected in! No seat belts, a bit rickety and similar driving to Dubai, let’s just say I was slightly terrified but after a few days and realising that hardly any car in Egypt had seat belts, I relaxed and went with the flow! We laughed, a lot. I learnt very quickly to just let go and enjoy it. It was a trip like nothing I’d experienced before.

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We turned up to our hostel in Cairo and I must admit my heart sank a little!  There were cats outside and inside the building – I assumed all stray – and to get up to our little hostel in the block, there was an old-fashioned lift where you pulled across the metal grating, a bit like those you see in Titanic!  We let the kind man take our cases in while we took the stairs – we didn’t risk that lift once! The hostel was basic but so lovely. The people who ran it were so friendly and helped us to plan some of the next bits of our trip, sorted taxis and tour guides and provided us with nice breakfasts!

I was not too excited about going to Cairo initially.  After  watching ‘An Idiot Abroad’ I was dubious about what the pyramid experience would be like but I have to say, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. When we arrived outside, it was as described by many, very touristy with a KFC and people trying to sell over priced camel rides and tacky souvenirs. However, once you walk through the entrance, it’s like you’ve entered another world. It was oddly quiet and the space was vast with pyramids of all sizes stretched out before us. Quite quickly a little boy named Hassan took us under his wing. He wasn’t pushy like some of the unofficial tour guides in the compound and maybe because we are suckers for children, he guided us around for the duration of our visit. He reeled off facts and figures about the pyramids and the sphinx and enjoyed taking selfies with us. As we walked towards the exit we decided to tip Hassan – he had neither asked nor expected it, I think he had just enjoyed spending time with us rather than spending his day being shooed away by other tourists. I will never forget his face when he took the money we gave him, our only hope is that he got to keep it and spend it on himself.

Our tour guide took us on many pit stops that day – one stop was to a papyrus shop which in hind sight we were majorly conned by! It was fascinating watching how papyrus paper is made and we both spent money on our own “original” papyrus art! We were both thrilled but later realised we had been total suckers for a nice guy! Our favourite thing in Cairo though was the Khan el Khlalili night market. It was like something out of Aladdin; little stalls everywhere, friendly faces, lamps, spices, scarves – it was wonderful. The Egyptian people were consistently friendly and welcoming and that night a shop keeper invited us in and sent his son to buy us a shawarma and can of coke! We sat and chatted and had a lovely time, he didn’t pressure us once to buy anything and we bid farewell after a nice dinner!


It was in Cairo that I first witnessed Sharon’s immense bartering skills and picked up on some of her Arabic. The bargains we ended up with were fab and I came away with life skills from that holiday that will last a life time! The citadel was also a cultural experience I would highly recommend along with going into some mosques. We laughed so much when we donned the bright green robes they gave us to respectfully cover us – I hadn’t taken off my back pack so I just looked like a turtle walking round which amused Sharon greatly! The rest of our time in Cairo we spent simply walking around, exploring real Egypt and finding off the road places that we otherwise wouldn’t have discovered. Our final night in Cairo found us on a little cruise with a traditional Egyptian menu.  What we realised quite quickly though was that we were also extra guests at a wedding! It was one of the most bizarre nights of my life!

We then moved on to Aswan where we stayed in a Nubian village. Sharon and I both said this was a place to stay for anyone who wants to have a traditional, once in a life time experience. The house we stayed in was colourful, beautiful and so peaceful. It was off the beaten track but the owners were once again faultless. Just a walk away from our accommodation was a little market where we bought fabric and Sharon held a crocodile in the Crocodile House!

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We spent one afternoon at the Philae Temple which again, wasn’t busy and was so interesting to spend time at. Seeing hieroglyphics carved into bricks first hand was exciting and we couldn’t wait to show the children! We spent a while taking silly photos but then we stopped and sat, had a drink and ate some snacks and whiled away an hour or so just talking. We did go to the Aswan dam but to be honest, it was a let down and I wouldn’t recommend it.

One night in Aswan we went to a Nubian party which we were expecting other tourists to be at yet it became obvious very quickly that we were the only ones staying in the village so we spent the night dancing, listening to music, drinking Arabic coffee and smoking shisha with the Nubian people – again, an experience I will never forget! The other night we stayed in our little haven and were provided with the most incredible meal. It was just such a serene place and I’d go back in a heart beat.

We had then organised to be picked up for an overnight felluca cruise on The River Nile. This would probably rank in my top five travelling things ever. Our little crew were so friendly and we just had such a laugh. Until sunset we listened to music, talked and chilled out. We stopped to take in sunset over the Nile and then shored up. There was no toilet on the felluca so whilst two of the crew made us dinner, one walked us through fields to a little Nubian house which I have to admit was slightly dodgy! We sat and had some shish, well Sharon did, tied scarves on our heads to stop getting cold and laughed at the absurdity of the situation we were in. That night on the felluca was sooooo cold and I discovered over that day/night that I have not mastered the art of going to the loo in the bushes!!

Sunrise on the Nile was stunning and our home-made breakfast, although very old, was lovely. We cruised on a little more before shoring up and being collected for the next leg of our trip. Our driver then took us to Luxor. It seemed that we attracted random men who wanted to show us round and this night we met Ahmed who became our little tour guide for the evening. It was another wonderful place to explore but unfortunately there was a power cut as we headed back. We sat and talked to Ahmed for a while but it was when he invited us back to his home that I started to get Daily Mail headlines flashing through my mind of two careless travellers who went home with a stranger to be found murdered the next day! It would have probably been fine but that night I became cautious Hannah and made Sharon come back with me to our hotel!

It was in Luxor that we spent the day at The Valley of the Kings. Wow. What a day. It was very hot but such an awe-inspiring experience. I think because we’d taught so much about Tutankhamun, it just seemed surreal that we were in his tomb, in his chamber. The other  tombs and chambers were also incredible and we had to soak it all in because no photography was allowed as the flashes, over time, would destroy the hieroglyphics. It was quite steep in the chambers and we definitely hit our 10,000 steps that day! It was of course the busiest place we visited in Egypt but we had expected that, having said that, it wasn’t bustling and we saw everything we wanted to with ease.


Our only regret of the holiday was that we didn’t get up early and take the trip to Abu Simbel but that just means we might have to go back one day! I honestly would recommend going to Egypt. I know it isn’t the safest place to go now, but when, hopefully things settle it’s a place more people should visit. We didn’t venture anywhere near Sharm El Sheikh although I would like to go one day but I think because we lived in Dubai, we wanted something different to pools and sand and desert safaris. Getting to see proper Egypt was the best decision we could have made, if you get the opportunity – go.