VIP Event at Rush Hair, Birmingham

rush-front-of-houseThis is a bit late in being posted up, for which I apologise, but on the evening of  Thursday 24th November, Rush Hair on Corporation Street in Birmingham threw their doors open for a bloggers event.  Under new Management, and with the roadworks on Corporation Street having finally been completed, this was an ideal time to invite some potential new clients to have a look around.

I arrived straighrush-christmas-cakest from work, and therefore was operating on an empty stomach. I was immediately welcomed in, my name checked off the list, a glass of bubbly put into my hands and a pass (which I got to keep afterwards) with my name, twitter id and blog name on it (other events people – please take note!).  We were kept topped up with bubbles and there were plenty of snacks around the place.

The salon is relatively small and all on one level, but judicious use of clean white walls and mirrors on the main back wall helps make it look bigger.rush-main-salon rush-mirrors

 

There is also the basin area – an area that is traditionally ugly, but here is tucked in a seperate room, made to be dark and a little nest-like with products nicely laid Rush Hair Braiding rush-braiding out.

On the night there were a number of people doing dry hair makeovers, including braiding and use of the GHD straigners (something I went through, to the shock and awe of the head stylist).  I didnt take photos of myself, but I know people did, so look out for images elsewhere around the web!

 

rush-hair-productsRush Shampoo Area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scheduled for a number of hours, we all seemed to leave en masse at around 8pm, most of us with goodie bags in hand and some with a stack of business cards from other bloggers. Rush Hair Goody Bag

In Summary:

Rush Hair salon is well placed to get the newly invigorated traffic coming along Corporation Street now that access has been sorted out. It is bright and open and appears to be bigger than it really is due to judicious use of mirrors.  A 90 minute session (on an empty stomach) with no wet treatments or cuts makes it difficult to judge washing, cutting or blowdry capabilities, however my straightening did last until the following Tuesday. It could have lasted longer had my hair not needed a wash.

I have oddly challenging hair and I am in the process of going shorter – it took over 10 years of same cut, and 5 years with the same stylist before I had enough trust him to do a restyle. Let’s just say it takes me a while to change things!  In the immediate future, I would consider going in for a straighten, and possibly a blowdry.

From the blogger event, it was also not possible to judge the likely target audience – there were a lot of (much younger than me)  lifestyle and fashion bloggers, and it’ll be interesting to see the age range attracted to the salon – the staff seemed to be fairly young, which can help with keeping the energy levels up high and styles on trend.

 

 

Elemis 6 Piece The Gift Of Great Skin Face & Body Collection

It’s been a while since I went “proper” shopping for Beauty products in any great shape or form, but it’s the run up to Christmas, so that everyone is bringing out Collections and reducing prices on many of their exisating pieces. I’ve been following Elemis on Twitter for ages, and so saw that their    six-piece Gift of Great Skin Collection was on offer over at QVC at £42. It comes in 2 scents – the new “White Lotus & Lime” and  Frangipani Monoi – I went for the latter optionelemis-box-setn as I have other products in the range.

It arrived a few days after ordering as the Today’s Special Value, and came in a golden gift box (see left), which makes a change from the usual “travel bag” – of which I now have about a thousand. elemis-wrapup

Opening the box up shows the items. surrounded by buble wrap as per the next picture.

 

 

The pack contains:

  •  1 x Nourishing Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil (195ml; full size) – this cleansing oil has a lightweight, fluid texture and is designed to maintain your skin’s natural acid mantle while softening your skin and removing make-up and impurities without stripping your skin. Blended with 90% natural oils, including winter rose oil, chia seed oil and pomegranate extract.  *this is new to me and so should be interesting to use*
  • 1 x Soothing Apricot Toner (200ml; full size) – effectively tones the look of your skin and helps maintain its natural pH level, soothing the feel of your skin without the use of alcohol or other harsh detergents to leave a fresh and radiant complexion. Contains extracts of apricot, quillja wood and sweet betty flower *this is new packaging, and I have previous editions to use*
  • 1 x Pro-Collagen Marine Cream (30ml; special size) – an award-winning beauty icon, this light-weight gel cream is designed to help reduce the depth of wrinkles and increase hydration, leaving your skin feeling smoother and improving the look of your complexion.  Blended with a cocktail of three seaweeds – padina pavonica, porphyridium and chlorella – along with ginkgo biloba and rose and mimosa absolute

elemis

  • 1 x Frangipani Monoi Bath & Shower Nectar (300ml; full size) NEW – a luxurious creamy lather that delicately cleanses and envelops your body. Sesame oil is blended with exotic Tahitian monoi oil and leaves the skin feeling soft, smooth and hydrated
  • 1 x Frangipani Monoi Body Balm (120ml; full size) NEW – this intensely rich body balm melts into the skin to soften, smooth and moisturise the feel of your skin. Contains lipid-rich shea butter, rosehip seed oil, exotic Tahitian monoi oil, and is fragranced with frangipani flowers to your skin gorgeously scented
  • 1 x Frangipani Monoi Hand & Nail Cream (20ml; travel size) – helps to moisture and comfort the feel of your hands, to leave them delicately scented. Enriched with shea butter and macadamia nut oil, and a blend of vitamins
  • the image on the right shows what actually turns up in the pack – most of which are full size.

 

 

 

#BookReview: Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky (A Town Called Christmas #1) by Holly Martin

Christmas under a Cranberry Sky

This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts…

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.  So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.  But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.  Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

From the publishers via netgalley in exchange for a review.  Piper is a professional hotel reviewer, and has spent the last 10 years travelling the world.  As her last review before taking a 6 month sabbatical, she goes to the Stardust Lake Hotel for the Christmas and New Year break. Little does she know that the man who owns the hotel and trying to get it ready is the man she’s been running from for the last 12 years, ever since her father’s death and Gabe unknowingly broke her heart.

Piper has turned up whilst they are still getting the hotel ready for the Christmas period, a fact that isn’t helped by the loss of general power to many of the cabins. That, plus some staff taking a final holiday before the season starts proper, means she ends up helping out with getting the cabins ready, whilst staying with Gabe in his set of rooms. Their connection comes back fairly quickly but it is clear that both of them have issues that need to work out – Pip is devastated that Gabe spent time in hospital after she disappeared, and she has to deal with the fact that apparently his family turned down money from her father to take her off his hands. Throw in the fact that she was in the car when he died, only adds to the fact she’s been running the last 12 years.

The Cranberry Sky is a reference to a Old Wives Tale that the usually green Northern Lights turn red when there is true love in the air. This is seen by Gabe and Pip when they spent a night alone in one of the cabins with a glass roof.

Meanwhile the hotel is concerned that Mr Black – a well known hotel reviewer capable of closing hotels on the back off a review – is expected over the holiday period with noone – including Pip – knowing that Mr Black is Pip. It is Pip’s reticence to declare her proper job as hotel reviewer that is the cause of the new breakdown between her and Gabe. Due in part to the remoteness of the hotel, it is impossible for Pip to do the traditional romance “running away until he follows” act, and they have to work it out with her staying put.

Meanwhile some of the secondary characters are being developed, including Gabe’s sister Neve, and it is the arrival of her ex boyfriend (the actor) that sets up the premise for the next book in the series.  There’s plenty of room for at least two more books in the series – perhaps more depending on who else gets added – whilst developing Pip and Glen into something a little more rounded.

Over all a cozy story for the Christmas season with plenty of potential to take further

Inspector Montalbano: The Sense of Touch, Collection 2, Episode 3

montalbano-3Like the previous episode, The Artist’s Touch, this is another episode based on a short story, rather than an actual book.

The episode starts with an old blind man leaving his house with his guide dog Orlando. The house is not one of the more salubrious places in Sicily, which, despite being near the sea, is a one story structure with the basics. No lighting, a double bed, a chest of drawers, low ceiling. There is none of the wealth and high ceilings displayed in other episodes.
The man’s departure is watched by another man, his face shrouded by hat and upturned collar, who promptly breaks into the house to put something in the medicine bottle beside the bed

The following day, the man’s neighbour walks past and spots Orlando is now outside, but he doesn’t approach the house.  Piccolomini doesn’t answer the calls to the fact that he’s shut his dog out and the neighbour leaves without getting a response.

We’re back to Salvo swimming then having a coffee on his balcony as his phone goes. Caterella calls, leading to telling Salvo about the dead man. Initial thoughts are gas poisoning as the gas hob seems to have be left on, with no ventilation. The neighbour warns that Orlando is dangerous, something Salvo doesn’t believe, as dog has been fine with him.

Not knowing what to do with the dog now the owner is dead, Salvo takes him home. When he tells her, Livia is amused and thinks it a great idea for Salvo to have some company

In investigating the dead man, they come across a charity, “Lux in Umbria” who provided Piccolomini with the guide dog. Salvo doesn’t like the idea that the old man left the dog outside – why would a blind man lock his dog outside? The suicide theory doesn’t sit with him either. The autopsy shows that death was due to overdosing on barbiturates, combined with an unknown heart problem, and that gas in cylinders cannot poison you.

Mario di Stefano, the director of Lux in Umbria, pays Salvo a visit, asks for the dog back. Salvo promises to get around to it, but is in no rush to do so – he thinks the dog is part of the whole situation. Piccolomini’s sister Ignazia runs a hotel in Levanza, which peaks Salvo’s interest, especially when he finds she is a very good cook and that Piccolomini visited every weekend.

Coming back from a swim with the dog, the people from the charity are at Salvo’s front door. Not willing to give the dog back right now, Salvo hides both himself and Orlando.

Salvo meets Ignazia at the funeral and gets invited to stay a while. When Livia comes for a visit, Salvo suggests a trip to Levanza, taking the dog. Once on the ferry, Orlando slips away and greets one of the crew, who gives his impression of the old man as difficult. It’s not long before Livia realises that this holiday is really a job for Salvo and she’s moderately annoyed. The hotel and specifically their room is lovely, with the balcony overlooking beach and sea.Montalbano Livia

Meanwhile, back in Vigata, notes are being found in carafes saying “help they’re killing me” and they’re upsetting Caterella, leading to a call to Salvo. Cue a four way comedy piece between Salvo, Caterella, Fazio and Mimi. Salvo tells Fazio to work out as much as possible about the people who sold the carafe to Caterella.

Whilst sightseeing, in some spectacular looking caves, Orlando runs off again, making his way to a fisherman, Toto Recca, who doesn’t take well to Salvo’s questions. Recca has lots of electrical equipment, but hasn’t taken the boat out in a couple of days. He did take Piccolomini out for a drive every weekend however..

Salvo returns to Vigata for a few days without telling Livia, whilst getting Mimi down to keep her company. Both are angry at him, so wind him up when he rings and playing to his jealous streak.

When in Vigata, the carafe seller has been tracked down and Salvo pays.them a visit. The man is tetchy and evasive and it is clear that he treats his wife badly – which makes Salvo suspect something deeper is going on.

When he returns to the hotel, he gets jealous at the thought of Mimi flirting with Livia and the possibility that she gave in, even though it was his idea. He and Livia have sex in bedroom, then having gone to private beach, have sex again….

Walking the dog early one morning he overhears a conversation between the brother in law (Palomino) and Recca. Later in the day, and during a bike ride with Livia and the dog, they reach a beach where the police  have found a body…it’s Recca. Whilst talking to cabineri, Livia and dog stay away, but Orlando still barks at them.

Finishing their holiday. Livia and Salvo leave, and when getting on the ferry, Orlando reacts badly to a cabineri with a dog. Ferryman remembers Piccolomini losing his stick in the water on one trip back to Vigata and going crazy until it was returned. Stick floated till it was fished out. Somehow Livia forgives Salvo for working during their holiday

Salvo nips home to find that Orlando has disappeared – someone has broken into his home and stolen him. Salvo thinks he’s been dog napped, won’t consider him simply having run away Salvo returns to the office to find Mimi in crisis…he still finds other women attractive, despite having Beba. Salvo tells him to grow up.

Salvo visits the propane gas providers, finds Piccolomini was regular as clockwork, and cylinders always have specific tags on them. The ones in the house didn’t come from usual supplier, therefore can only have come from killer. Meanwhile they test the white stick in water, to find it sinks…Salvo’s theory is that empty ones float, full ones sink.

Galluzo gets to investigate di Stefano’s driver funds he was arrested for illegal dog fights but nothing proved. Salvo makes a visit to kennels in search of Orlando, hears that the dogs have been given away, and that Lux being closed down as they have run out of money.

Salvo has been called by Mrs Sara Tarantino, wife of the carafe seller, who asks him to come round after midnight. She admits she put the messages in the carafes the year before as she feared her husband, but they have sorted things out in a way that she doesn’t want rescuing or protection. Clearly this is a case of Domestic Violence, where he had tied her up for days, she had tried to slit her wrists… But if the victim doesn’t want to take it further, there is nothing Salvo can do, no matter what he feels or wants. Episode shows Salvo’s more sensitive side, that he can get away with not bullying people. Lighting does Zingaretti no harm either….!

Recca also had large of money in his account and following the autopsy it is clear his death wasn’t an accident…

The police pull Palomino in for questioning and he admits he is deep in debt. Salvo points out with Piccolomini’s death all problems are over, but Palomino claims he didn’t know of €400,000. He asks the question though, that on a pension of 500 a month, where did all that money come from?

Salvo goes to visit Cascio, but finds out he died several days previously. Another blind man, officially poor, Salvo finds out from a neighbour that Cascio has died in mysterious circumstances, but leaving a large estate. His guide dog had to be put down as it attacked every dog in sight.

Forensics have found fingerprints on light switch in dead mans house….those of a previous offender – Aloisio, di Stefano’s driver.

Salvo pulls the team in to explain his theory…Russo gives drugs to Piccolomini, who hides the drugs in his  stick, gives the drugs to di Stefano, who gives to Cascio to pass on. Orlando reacts the way he does to dogs and police because he is a trained attack dog. The reason for the killings unclear but possibly cos people want out.

The team raid the Lux site, get shot at, with lots of guns….you don’t get this on Morse! The team find the place is empty with the gunman, Aloisio, having disappeared. Empty hollow white sticks found by the sniffer dogs confirm that part of theory.

Salvo visits di Stefano at home, a short but well framed shot of Salvo walking across empty town square late at night, for him  to be confronted by thick heavy door….compare and contrast with Cascio’s one story beach front council house! Salvo puts scare onto di Stefano, blaming Aloisio, but showing he knows everything. Tells di Stefano that a patrol car will be outside and a wiretap will be on his phone…at which point the phone goes. di Stefano answers it to silence on other end. Finally Salvo leaves, and congratulates Fazio for timing the call perfectly.

Following day di Stefano goes to what I take to be a large farm, where Aloisio is hiding out. He tries to bribe Aloisio for his silence, but pulls out gun when Aloisio refuses, only to be stopped by Salvo and his armed team. Both men taken away, but Salvo demands time to talk to Aloisi on his own. Gives Aloisio three choices: die by di Stefano’s gun, die by Salvo’s gun, or tell Salvo where Orlando is.

Cut to scene where there is another raid breaking up an illegal dog fight in process and a number of dogs including Orlando are released.

Friday Salon: Making quilting more inclusive

husbands-lounge

I read this post over on Whilst She Naps recently hat uses a term at a quilting show (“Husbands’ lounge”) to make a point about making Quilting more Inclusive. Whilst I agree with the overall point of the post, I think the author missed a trick, and should/could have taken this labelling to be a symptom of the issue, rather than the actual source.  Ironically I also find that some of the language used in the comments is a rather strong and devisive rather than inclusive. I’ll let you go and read the post and the comments, and I’ll be here when you get back.

What I see as the issue

Quilting and the “creative arts” do have a perception problem, and is seen by many of all genders as “women’s work”.  Picking on a rest area being called “Husbands’ Lounge” is not going to change this perception. What needs to happen is a change to the value of quilting, knitting, sewing, designing away from being “woman’s work” that has little or no value and change it into something anyone should be able to do.

(As an aside, I saw person x ask person y on facebook how they could commission a knitted piece, cos they didn’t want to pay Etsy prices that were “too high”. Thankfully person y turned round and told x how prices reflected the time and effort knitting the piece, so x could cough up the money….or learn to knit herself).

I think we need to teach our children that there are no gender specific roles that are restricted to “”only boys” or “only girls”. Girls can be scientists, engineers, racing car drivers. Boys can knit, play with Barbie, become cooks (girls can be chefs!). Everyone can be a designer, a creator, a maker, a producer – the delivery method shouldn’t matter.

So what do you think?

I find the comments on the original post to be fascinating, and I think reflect an underlying fear and tension following the US Presidential election. The comments swing between “we need to be more inclusive!”, “there’s not a problem, get over yourself!” “I’m going to unsubscribe, but not before I tell you so you can beg me to stay!” and many shades in between.

As with many roles, it’ll take many a strong role model for people to follow – where are the male creatives leading the way? I believe that many (not all) of the currently visible creatives (such as the fashion designers) do happen to be gay, which – here I agree on the homophobia – men fear to follow as they dread to think they will be (wrongly) labelled as gay, so it will take more than one strong man to lead the way here.  It will also require a mind set change from both men and women that men are allowed to do this – several of the comments on the original article tell of how male visitors are derided by other men and women for taking more than nominal interest in the craft.

I do think that when it was common for there to be at least one person in every family who was knitting, making clothes etc, there was more appreciation for the inherient value of something – knowing where the materials came from, how long it took to make etc. If you can get a jumper for £5 on the high street, why would you pay £60 for someone to make something?

 

Book Review: Christmas at the Cornish Café by Phillipa Ashley

christmas-at-the-cornish-cafeThe festive, feel-good follow-up to Summer at the Cornish Cafe.

Christmas will be slightly less turbulent than summer, won’t it? Demi certainly hopes so.

She and Cal are keeping their fledgling relationship under wraps for now. But then Kit Bannen, a hunky, blond – and somewhat mysterious – writer arrives at Kilhallon Resort, and not everyone is charmed. Cal is sure that Kit is hiding something. But is he the only one guarding a secret?

Demi is busy baking festive treats for the newly opened Demelza’s cafe, but when Cal’s ex Isla arrives to shoot scenes for her new drama, Demi can’t help but worry that things aren’t quite over between them. Kit flirts with both women, fuelling Cal’s suspicions that Kit has hidden motives for staying on at Kilhallon. Then Cal has to go to London, leaving Demi and Kit to decorate the cafe for Christmas . . . all by themselves.

A storm is brewing in more ways than one. As surprises unfold and truths are uncovered, can Demi and Cal finally open up to each other about their feelings?

This second novel in the bestselling Cornish Cafe series is the perfect book to curl up with this Christmas.

From the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for a review. This is the second in the Penwith Trilogy – I havent read the previous book, but I dont think I suffered not having done so – this book is fairly standalone (though I’m sure reading the previous book – Summer at the Cornish Cafesummerwouldnt do any harm!).

The story is told mainly by Demi, but sometimes by Cal – something that caught me out once or twice, but mainly because I wasn’t paying attention (it’s made clear at the top of each section what the day is, and who is “talking”).

Demi and Cal are still in the early stages of their relationship – they haven’t told the staff in the hotel about them as it’s still so new. Having spent so long on her own (the previous year she was homeless and living on the streets), she still needs her escape plan for when she believes things have fallen apart, and is therefore reticent to move in with Cal.

Cal has his own secrets to keep, specifically about what happened the previous year whilst he was working in Syria.

Both people are therefore slightly damaged, and there are people that each person reacts adversely to, for various reasons and sometimes with justification.

Anyway, the story starts with the opening of the hotel and the café. The first visitor is Kit, a secretive and occasionally moody character, who decides to stay until Christmas – he says it’s to allow him to complete writing his first novel.

The Café also opens, run by Demi and her staff, and it’s soon attracting hikers, tourists, and film crews – including Cal’s ex, Isla, and the two women continue working on making things better, especially where it comes to their mutual enemy Mawgan.

Because Demi has Mitch the dog, there’s plenty of opportunity for great descriptions of the weather and landscape of Cornwall – especially when Mitch goes missing one evening and the search parties are sent out.

Meanwhile it seems that there is good reason for Cal to not like Kit – Demi thinks it’s unfounded, but Kit shows his hand at the Harbour Lights celebration by letting Cal know he’s not there just to finish his book, but bring additional information out into the open, and that he doesn’t care who he hurts in the process.

Demi has her own issues to deal with at this point and she’s too overwhelmed to sort out what’s going on with Cal.

The last part of the book deals with the vagaries of the winter weather and living so close to the coast – something we are seeing more and more of in recent years. The community comes together to help locals and tourists out. It brings surprises for both Cal and Demi, which means the year finishes better than both could have hoped for.

There’s lots going on in this book – it’s certainly not one to breeze through in one sitting – in a good way of course!  Make sure you stay for the end of the book, as there are a number of recipes right at the end – wouldn’t want you to miss out on the mincemeat or Banana Bread! In checking out the genre listing whilst writing this review, I’m a little relieved that it’s not targetted in “romance” – whilst there are romantic parts of the story, it does tend to tie it to a specific format in people’s heads, which doesnt do it justice. If I ever work out what “Women’s Fiction” means, I’ll let you know if this fits in there!

About the AuthorAiden, Poldark

Phillipa Ashley studied English at Oxford before working as a copywriter and journalist. Her first novel, ‘Decent Exposure’ won the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Award and in 2009, it was filmed as a US TV movie called ’12 Men of Christmas’ starring Kristin Chenoweth and Josh Hopkins. ‘Miranda’s Mount’ won Best Ebook at the Festival of Romance Reader Awards 2012 and It Happened One Night was shortlisted in 2013.

As Pippa Croft, Phillipa also writes as the Oxford Blue series which is published by Penguin Books.  Photo of Aiden Turner as Poldark for no other reason than because!

Do you practise Book Pologomy?

From Epicreads
From Epicreads

Not entirely sure how I came across the above flowchart but my notes say I got it from here – I thought it amusing and worth sharing.

Yes. I can and do practise “book pologomy”. I usually have two books on the go at any one time. I sometimes have 3 going, but end up switching between two main books and finishing one before I truly progress on the third.

I can’t read two books of the same genre at the same time, as I usually get myself confused as to plots and characters. Because I am trying to read more paper books, I tend to have one ebook and one paperbook on the go – where I read them depends on the physical copy of the book itself. If I’m reading one of my hardbacks (and/or a book I want to keep in reasonable condition), it never leaves the house.  If it’s one I don’t really care about the condition afterwards, then it comes along with me in the handbag.

One of the reasons I read ebooks almost exclusively for two years is the ease of carrying them around. My iPad goes into the handbag and is pulled out whereever I have a free time. One of the nightmare scenarios for regular readers is not having a book to read – with an ereader you just go to the next book and not have the dredded question of carrying multple books around with you when leaving the house (or even worse: do you leave the nearly ended book at home and bring a new one with you, or bring the one you’re reading and run the risk you’ll finish it, and have nothing else to read?).

So, Constant reader, how many books can you have on the go at any one time? how do you resolve the riddle of the nearly finished book?