A Day In The Life Of A Blogger

I saw this bizarre title on someone else’s blog, and I was a little bemused about how the day of a blogger would be any different to the day of a non-blogger.  So I thought I’d be a bit imaginative.

6:00am:  I leap out of bed, like a LEAPING LION and stretch and yawn and hop into the shower to clean all my sleep away.

6:20am: Wrapped in a soft fluffy dressing gown, I skip down the stairs like SKIPPY THE FREAKIN KANGAROO and investigate how to turn on the mysterious drinks making gadget that the drinks company sent me in exchange for a good review.  This week, it’s coffee, but last week it was smoothies, and the week before it was a juicer.  Imma dedicated follower of fashion.

6:30am:  Once I’ve figured out how to make the drinks making gadget work, and set it going, I go out into the garden – well, my fifty acre smallholding – and fetch some eggs from the henhouse, then I bring them indoors and make up a BRAND NEW RECIPE that I just KNOW the whole world needs to hear, I make a mental note to write about it on my blog after I’ve finished breakfast.

6:40am: I start making my BRAND NEW RECIPE and am pleased to see that the drinks making gadget is pouring coffee into a cup for me.  How exciting.  I take a couple of photos of it with my camera.  I am Martha Stewart.

6:50am:  My food is on a plate and I sit at my dining table with my breakfast, trying to think of a name for this recipe.  Something that comes up high in the Search Engine results but is still super-unique and catchy.  No, brain, Eggs Bunnydict is a terrible name for anything ever.  Something more like “fluffy cloud eggs.”  That’ll be good because it sounds light, like healthy, and fun, like it’s going to be delicious.  Like me. Haha.

7:10am:  Armed with my second cup of coffee I relocate to my study, which is really a corner of my bedroom or living room, and I turn on my laptop.  My laptop is top of the range and never needs restarting because I got it free in exchange for a good review.  I check all my social media accounts, I reply to everyone’s messages (or at least a representative sample), and I check out what is trending, so I can be relevant.

7:30am:  I write up my eggs recipe and add the photos.  They looked a bit crap so before I hit “publish” I head on over to Photoshop and do some photowizardry on them.  In a few minutes, they look like Rainbow Eggs that were laid by freaking UNICORNS who live in the crescent moon.  Of course.  Because they were made by ME.

8:30am:  Now I need to go to the store and get some groceries before it’s delivery time.  I get into my Porsche 911 and ZOOM to the store like a TURBO WILDCAT and maybe annoy a few people with my slightly reckless and inconsiderate driving (unless I’m vlogging, in which case I will drive to the letter of the law).  I park in the special “reserved for bloggers” bay at the car park and I get a trolley.  My personal grocery shopper is there to greet me, and she shows me around the store, picking out foods I will like, and when we get to the checkout, the store manager has a word with the cashier before I reach her.  The cashier tells me this food is all free because I’m such a special and amazing and wonderful famous blogger and they are only too thrilled that I could visit their store today.  Then they serenade me out with a choir of disadvantaged children who I throw some dollar bills at as I leave.

9:00am: DELIVERY TIME!!! WHAT FREE PRESENTS WILL I GET TODAY???  For the next three hours, I mess around on the internet and watching cats on Youtube while my doorbell rings constantly from the crowd of delivery guys bringing me presents.  Companies just send me stuff for free because they love me so much.  I write reviews for them, on my blog and on sites like Amazon and Makeup Alley so that customers think well of the brand.  I turn down many things, such as reviewing horse meat jerky or laxatives, because I want to protect my image.  That way, I can legitimately say on my about me page, “believe me, I turn down more things than I review, because I am committed to my readers.”  I open the boxes in an excited frenzy.  Every day is like Christmas when you are a blogger.

12:00pm: I get in my Porsche 911 and drive to an expensive restaurant.  I hand the keys to the valet and go inside.  I didn’t book, but I’m so famous, I don’t need to.  The Maitre d’ sees me coming, and runs to bring out the secret extra table that all quality restaurants have stashed in case Julia Roberts, Taylor Swift, or ME turn up unannounced.  He sets the table in seconds with mad skills, and I sit down and browse a menu.  I get a text from this boy who is a fairly well known Vlogger; we chat occasionally.  He’s just got out of bed.  Boys are so uncomplicated.  I order a cruelty-free salmon salad with magic fountain of youth lemon vinaigrette dressing and extra-healthy weird fruit from South America.  Everything from South America is extra-healthy.

1:00pm: I collect my Porsche 911 and drive back to my house.  Did I tell you about my house?  It’s an amazing four bedroom condo with glass walls overlooking my garden and smallholding.  I park the car in the double garage then ascend the spiral staircase to the kitchen.  It’s time to feed the animals and water the plants.  I press a button near the back door and this automatic watering system kicks in, watering every plant exactly the right amount of the right temperature of water.  When it’s done, I pop out and scatter some grain for the chickens, then I go and pick some fruit from my orchard and bring it inside.  I am going to write an article about all the different uses for fruit, I just need to think of a catchy title that will come up top in all the search results.  I’m thinking “17 things to do with Autumn’s fruit harvest” or possibly 11.  I can never decide which prime number is best for these articles.  I’m glad people are starting to see numbered lists as clickbaity titles, it means the new trend for article naming will be something with less math.

2:30pm:  I phone my accountant and find out how much money I made today, then I phone my agent and find out how many brand placements are begging me to mention them on my videos, then I phone that Vlogger boy and it’s super awkward because I don’t know what to say, so I get off the phone fairly quickly.  He’s going to guest blog on my blog.  Oh God I hope he isn’t illiterate.

3:00pm:  I have an afternoon tea party with all my friends and we put make-up on each other in silly ways (like seriously silly, like, matt foundation and finishing powder together kinda silly, we are so cray cray) and then we have dance around the lounge to MTV, in our underwear.  We have a pillowfight as well.  Throughout the whole thing, a photographer, who just so happened to be passing through the neighbourhood, is shooting pics in the corner so I will have plenty of pictures to write about this on my blog.  It’s not staged in the slightest, honest.

6:00pm:  I get rid of my girlfriends and they drive off in their expensive sports cars.  I go outside and have a swim in my pool.  The pool was mailed to me for free from this company which makes pools.  It even has a waterslide.  I spend the next hour or so splashing around in the pool, working off the calories from lunch because I see my personal trainer tomorrow.

7:00pm:  I change out of my bikini, shower off the chlorine, then get ready to go out for dinner to the most expensive restaurant in town.  It does get a bit boring only eating at the one restaurant all the time, but my agent says I have to create a buzz and make people think I’m a superstar until I get the Chanel contract.  I get a text that says I’ve been nominated for beauty blogger of the year award, which comes with a $50,000,000 prize.  That might buy me, like, THREE new Tom Ford lipsticks.  Squee.

9:00pm:  I go home, text my mum and dad to tell them I’m fine and ask them if they’re fine, they say they’re fine.  Everything is good.  I snap a quick selfie of myself and upload to Instagram, caption: “getting my beauty sleep like a GODDAMN PRINCESS.”  What am I like???  I make myself laugh sometimes.  I take off my make-up, being sure to use the latest cleanser that I got sent today.  I go to bed alone and fall asleep dreaming of hair and make-up and cookie recipes, because this is the perfect life that everyone gets automatically as soon as they sign up for a WordPress blog or Youtube channel.  Life is perfect, and I am certainly not out clubbing until 2am and getting very, very drunk in the company of some people I barely know, because that would damage my image as a squeaky clean upstanding member of the blogging community.

I take a quick selfie for instagram.
I take a quick selfie for Instagram with a humorous caption.

After Word:
Just in case anyone is even REMOTELY wondering, this was totally made up.  I just thought it was an interesting flight of fancy to explore some of the stereotypes and assumptions surrounding bloggers and vloggers.  And I don’t accept products, payment or other sponsorship in exchange for writing reviews.  And there’s no such thing as “cruelty free salmon.”  Or Fluffy Cloud Eggs laid by unicorns.  Or “the secret table” at restaurants.  OR IS THERE??? DUN DUN DUNNNN….

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Sore Head

I will get back to regular updates when I am more thinkble.  I have a head injury. I am trying to allow my brain a chance to heal, as cognitive function is through the floor and I keep getting blankness and memory losses in the middle of things.  I will still try to get through everyone elses blog posts and catch up on things.

Back from Scotland

I’m back, I got back from the Highlands, Islands and Aberdeenshire this afternoon.  Did you have a nice quiet week without me?  I will catch up on blogs as and when I can.

So I was pretty ill on my first two days of travel and then the day before yesterday I hit my head pretty hard on a large piece of Scotland, so the holiday was far less productive than I anticipated, however, I have now been able to tick the following things off my 30 list:

  1. Visit the Brochs in Scotland (yay I can finally tick this one off – I went to Tappoch broch near Falkirk in April which I did a Youtube video about here: 

    ; and now I have seen two more up at Glenelg – Dun Telve and Dun Troddan which were even more spectacular (I filmed them and THEN realized I haven’t sorted out the sound on my new camera so I may have to Redo from Start).

  2. Go to Skye.  On my 40 list it’s more specific and says I have to go to the caves but my 30 list just says to visit Skye.  Which I did.
  3. Climb Ben Nevis.  This was the most exciting thing I did on holiday (and I did it yesterday so I’m probably suffering from the recency effect) and I felt really proud given that five years ago I couldn’t even walk to the front door unaided because I had a back problem.  Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK and I climbed the crap out of that badboy.  I have the hip pain and “runners knee” (except I get it after I climb mountains) to prove it.

I did a bunch of other stuff as well, including getting sunburnt on the beach 20 miles north of Aberdeen (I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t even take suncream), going around some of the Harry Potter filming locations (I will do an article on this VERY soon) and photographing a beautiful partial moon that was BRIGHT ORANGE (I haven’t seen an orange moon for AGES – probably since I moved away from Bonny Scotland) with my new camera.  It needs a decent telephoto lens but it was cool to have an opportunity to try out astrophotography even if it was a bit of a non-starter.  Here’s how those pics came out:

This was a 10 second exposure of the moon when it was orange, taken in the Highlands. The bit underneath is cloud and it wasn't a full moon.
This was a 10 second exposure of the moon when it was orange, taken in the Highlands. The bit underneath is cloud and it wasn’t a full moon.  The tripod moved slightly when I was taking it.  It was taken with the 18-55mm Canon EOS EF-S lens on my new EOS 650D camera.  The lens isn’t very good as it came without a lens cap and all smudgy and dusty (I got it second hand and cleaned it all up of course; I could never afford a brand new one of these babies), I can’t wait to acquire a telephoto lens to do better pictures!
The tripod stayed still for this one and the ISO was lower.
The tripod stayed still for this one and the ISO was lower.
This is a picture of the Big Dipper with the same camera and lens - if you've ever tried to photograph stars with a camera you'll know why I got so excited when I saw how this one came out. I have brightened this one so you can see the big dipper, I haven't ever used picture editing software before so I'm sorry if it's come out bad but I was so excited to see these stars came out - when I shot them, I was going to delete the picture because I thought it was just blackness. I wish my tripod had stayed still for a longer exposure but I'm so excited to try again next time I get to somewhere with the same lack of light pollution.
This is a picture of the Big Dipper with the same camera and lens – if you’ve ever tried to photograph stars with a camera you’ll know why I got so excited when I saw how this one came out. I have brightened this one so you can see the big dipper better, I haven’t ever used picture editing software before so I’m sorry if it’s come out bad but I was so excited to see these stars came out – when I shot them, I was going to delete the picture because I thought it was just blackness. I wish my tripod had stayed still for a longer exposure but I’m so excited to try again next time I get to somewhere with the same lack of light pollution.
The original pic of the big dipper before I brightened it, should you wish to compare.
The original pic of the big dipper before I brightened it (above), should you wish to compare.

I am very tired and my head is still very sore from where I hit it (egg cracking sound still making me cringe as I keep reliving it over and over) and I set off for home from Fort William at about 11:30pm last night, so I will sign off for now but rest assured, gentle and fearless readers, I shall return in…

Jasmine Honey Adams:  The Full Scottish Breakfast that Loved Me  (cue James Bond theme).

Climbing Mount Snowdon

So I’m currently on this massive hypomanic spree that’s seen me start the week by driving to Snowdonia National Park on Monday (10th) and climbing mount Snowdon, and will end the current week with me being in Aberdeen or possibly Skye, I haven’t quite decided yet.  Suffice to say people are getting worn out from being around me.

We started Snowdon after I’d been up all night the night before, so I was able to start getting ready pretty early, and we set off on the three hour drive around 9am in the morning.  The internet said to allow 6 hours up and down to climb Snowdon, so we knew we had plenty of time.

We arrived around 1:30pm due to traffic and parked in a pretty decent car park that was a fair bit cheaper than the one 100m down the road.  I would recommend parking in a municipal car park – we paid £4 (normally £5, drops to £4 after 1pm) and the other one was charging £7 but so many people were parked there for some reason!  There was the option of a train to the top but I wanted to walk up.

We followed the signs for the mountain and followed an easy tarmac track as it started to ascend, until we got to a point where the tarmac became a track made of aggregate.  There were plenty of sheep but no goats.

Plenty of sheep but no goats.
Plenty of sheep but no goats.

Up was up, and there was so very much of it.  We didn’t have enough water, since SOMEBODY (naming no names but it wasn’t me) drank nearly the whole bottle in one gulp, but there was a little cafe/shop about half way up the mountain, so we bought more water, and it wasn’t a complete rip off.  I also had a rocket lolly for the sugar as I needed a bit of energy.  We had taken some Linda McCartney meatfree sausage rolls with us that I’d cooked, and these ended up being our lunch.  They were tasty as usual.  The path passed under the train track for the first time.

We got to a point where the path passed the train track a second time, and then the whole experience took a turn for the worse.  Literally it was like someone had put a hood up over the whole area and all we could see in every direction was pure white fog.   It stayed this way for the rest of the journey.

We reached the top and it reminded me of that level in Tomb Raider II where Lara is jumping around on pieces of rock – I think it was called Floating Islands, it was one of the last levels in the game anyway, and the greenery and lack of any sort of view beyond the edges of rocky outcrops at the top of Snowdon reminded me of this.  We avoided the cafe/train station and anyway they were closed, and we just got back down again, we didn’t rush as much as on Ben Lomond because it wasn’t as cold, but I was certainly glad of my snowboarding gloves.  We reached the top at 5:10pm.

Snowdon in Snowdonia
Floating islands!!

The descent was a killer, and my bones under my knees were protesting painfully at every step, which was a nuisance because there was so much down to descend and I heartily wished for a scooter or some rollerskates (but my skates were at home and anyway they’re aggressive inlines so no good for cross country) so I could save my leg bones the trouble.  When I got back to the tarmac I did the rest backwards and pretty much everyone who passed me started to do the same, it was a LOT easier and I think it saved my toenails.

We stopped to catch our breath enjoy the view for a minute just at the exact moment when a shepherd was gathering his sheep with his sheepdog and a whistle.  I’d seen it all before on One Man And His Dog (the reality TV show about shepherding from years ago) but in the area I’m from we have fields and gates, so as a child it was rare to see the sheep being gathered up by a dog like that.  It was very special to be able to watch this and I tried to get some good photos but I only had my phone with me (my camera weighs 1lb I’m not taking that up a mountain!!)  so I don’t think they came out so good.  Judge for yourself:

There are sheep in the distance being rounded up by a sheepdog.
There are sheep in the distance being rounded up by a sheepdog.  They’re those dots around halfway up on the far right of the picture.

At the bottom, a cup of tea would have been nice but everywhere in Llanberis seems to close at 5 which is odd for a tourist hub.  I think a lot of people avoid the Llanberis path because it’s seen as the “easy” tourist path, but as a seasoned hillwalker I found it to be both a challenge but not unachievable.  The length of the walk makes it the longest with the most ascent of any of the Snowdon paths and I am not sure you should legitimately be able to say “I’ve climbed Snowdon” if you’ve never done Llanberis because all the other routes start about half way up so the ascent is far less!  I thoroughly enjoyed the tourist path because there was hardly anyone on it and I hope that this was just a quiet day because I’d hate for the halfway cafe and the places in Llanberis to go out of business just because people are walking route snobs.

The other thing about Llanberis is that’s where the train goes from, so a lot of people get the train up and walk back down again.  I balked at the price because it’s £15 for a single or £20 for a return ticket on the train!!  I thought about how many shanks’s ponies I could buy for that much money and decided it wasn’t worth the price of a pair of shoes to go up in a train, even an awesome uphill mountain train.

In the absence of any open eateries, we went back to Conwy and got a McDonald’s from the retail park drive thru then drove home.  I was glad we ate something because every freaking motorway between Conwy and our house was closed and I had to divert the car so many times!

Lash Growth Serums Revisited: Revitalash Advanced vs Rapidlash Which Is Better?

In this article I am reviewing Revitalash Advanced and Rapidlash, since month after month, my 2nd most popular article is this one: Lash Growth Serums Reviewed: RapidLash, Eveline and Rimmel.  In it, I compared Rapid Lash, Rimmel Lash Accelerator, Eveline SOS Lash Conditioner.  The winner was clearly RapidLash, but this was before I’d tried Revitalash Advanced.  Today I am going to talk about Revitalash Advanced, and how it compares to RapidLash (assume I mean Revitalash Advanced where I say “revitalash” in the rest of this article).

An epic eyelash batting contest to the death ensued.
An epic eyelash batting contest to the death ensued.


What do they look like?

The tubes almost look identical.  They’re both a slightly pearlescent silvery colour, although the Revitalash has a blue lid.  But somehow the Revitalash Advanced
one looks more high-class.  And it should do, it’s twice the price on Amazon.  It’s twin colour design also makes it easier to spot in the bathroom.  Although the RapidLash one looks like a bigger tube, they’ve both got 2ml of product in them.

Revitalash looked higher class with it's sapphire lid standing out from it's pearlescent silver body.
Revitalash looked higher class with it’s sapphire lid standing out from it’s pearlescent silver body.

What did it cost?
At full price, RapidLash is about £40 ($55) for 2ml and Revitalash Advanced is about $80 for 2ml or $120 for 3.5ml.  I paid £18.50 ($26) for my RapidLash 2ml before Christmas, and in continuous use that translated to 3 months supply.  Revitalash was £44.50 ($65) for 2ml on Amazon and it said on the listing that it was also 3 months supply, although I haven’t finished the tube yet.

Rapidlash is a slightly different pearlescent silver colour to the Revitalash.
Rapidlash is a slightly different pearlescent silver colour to the Revitalash.

Was it genuine?
One concern I had with buying half price lash serums on Amazon was whether they were genuine products or not.  I scoured the reviews (Amazon had several different listings for each) and found ones that people had said worked, and I looked for ones where people said “I’ve bought this before from my beauty salon, it’s genuine.”   It’s not enough that it says it’s coming from the correct brand name because Amazon (and sellers) frequently get this wrong and lie about where it’s coming from, so I always read the reviews on Amazon.  You have to.  I am glad to say that both the RapidLash and the Revitalash I purchased were genuine.  NOTE: Revitalash Advanced is the only Revitalash currently being made, so if it doesn’t say “Advanced” on the box you are buying old, discontinued product that could be out of date.  My Revitalash tube was also sealed in plastic inside a box that was stuck down with a circular see-through sticker, so I knew it hadn’t been opened. Even though I’ve linked to the same one I’ve bought, please do check it’s still coming from a reputable source – if there are recent listings saying it’s a fake, listen to them, as suppliers change sometimes!

This is what the box should look like.
This is what the box should look like.

How do You Use Rapidlash?
Rapidlash goes over the very root of your eyelash, where it touches the eyelid, and you have to get the product on the eyelid for it to work.  As I said in my previous review, because I have a double line of eyelashes, like Elizabeth Taylor, I have to work the stuff between the two layers because it doesn’t soak in or travel between lashes very well.


How do You Use Revitalash?

Revitalash Advanced
goes on your actual eyelashes, and should not touch your eyelid at all.  I was concerned that it might spread to my under eye area and cause irritation, but it dries very quickly (much faster than RapidLash) and yet seems to reach all my upper lashes WITHOUT spreading to my lower lashes.  See this video the manufacturers have made for an idea of how to use Revitalash: 

What About those dodgy ingredients?  The safety facts:
Neither of these products have the “glaucoma” drug in it (that’s used in Latisse, which is only available in the US and is prescription only, and will make your lashes grow PAST your eyebrows.  Latisse are VERY defensive with their patents and don’t currently let any other company use their patented lash ingredient bimatoprost) and while they both use a molecule that MIMICS the lash growth effect of the glaucoma molecule bimatoprost, they don’t have the same effect on eyes and there is literally not one single case of either Revitalash or RapidLash causing eye colour change either.

This criticism is all a VERY old story from 2005 and this was all aimed at Latisse, which has never caused eye colour change, but which is a licenced Prescription Only Product for a reason – it’s a more effective lash growth serum, but it’s also got more potential side effects!!  The story behind the eye colour change is that the INGREDIENT (bimatoprost) used in Latisse has caused eye colour change in VERY high quantities when it’s used in a different formula to treat glaucoma (where it needs to be in a high enough concentration to cause significant eye pressure drop, y’know, to treat glaucoma, a serious eye disease).  It got cross applied by those people who don’t understand science but love to talk beauty with pseudoscience.  But the truth is, nobody’s eyes have changed colour using any of these lash serums, which I’m sure Allergan and Athena (the companies that make Latisse and Revitalash respectively) are sick of having to reiterate and confirm again and again.

Revitalash DOES contain a very similar active ingredient to Latisse (dechlorodihydroxydifluoroethycloprostenolamide is the active ingredient in Revitalash) which is why it is more effective than RapidLash but it is NOT the same or Allergan (who are famously rivals with Athena Cosmetics over their lash serums) would have slapped more patent infringements on Athena for it.  RapidLash and Revitalash also DON’T contain snail secretion filtrate, unlike Marvelash (EWWWWW THAT’S GRODY TO THE MAXXX) which I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole because I have a phobia of slugs and snails.

Basically, you know Revitalash is good stuff because otherwise Allegan (who make Latisse) wouldn’t feel so threatened to keep constantly trying to get Revitalash relegated to “prescription only” (or withdrawn) because they’re scared of it being “unfair competition,” and you know Revitalash is safe because otherwise the FDA would have banned Revitalash permanently by now (and if you read the history you’ll see how many times Allergan/Latisse have tried to make this happen).  The only time Revitalash was banned, it was because of a “fair competition” law that then got laughed out of court on appeal, it was nothing to do with safety.  As a qualified chemistry teacher who knows a thing or two about science, I can wholeheartedly say that while ANYTHING can cause you an allergy (some people are allergic to water), these products are all safe.

Did they work?
They both made my eyelashes grow.  They both took a few weeks to show results.  However, I like Revitalash
better than Rapidlash for two reasons:
1. It made my eyelashes grow LONGER.
2. Revitalash
did not leave my eyes with a red rash, and didn’t leave my eyeballs feeling dry and tired.  When I used Rapidlash I was more sensitive to eye strain and dry eyes.  The first time I used it it went away after a while, but I stopped using it for 3 months and when I started again the redness and dryness never went away (but I didn’t get the under eye irritation this time).  Revitalash didn’t affect my eyes at all.

As you can see, my lashes got longer from RapidLash, but my eyelids were not happy (usually they're the same colour as the rest of my face).
As you can see, my lashes got longer from RapidLash, but my eyelids were not happy (usually they’re the same colour as the rest of my face).

What happens if you use RapidLash and Revitalash together?
You get stupidly long lashes very quickly but after 1 day your eyes feel really weird and achey and oversensitive to light and your eyelids go worse than in the picture above.  So I am quite sure the two products cannot be used together and I stopped using the RapidLash completely on day three (I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a coincidental eye ache) before I went blind or my eyes turned into antennae or I got x-ray vision or something.  I couldn’t find any information about this online so I may have been the first person to try this then write about it.  Revitalash is more expensive, but if you want properly long lashes, Revitalash is the real deal and is the one to go for because RapidLash is good, but it’s not AS good as Revitalash, and for me, the redness and occular irritation were deal breakers once I’d found a product that didn’t upset my eyes but still did the job.

The bottom line: 
I liked Revitalash
best.  It grew my lashes longer and didn’t damage my eyes at all (unless combined with RapidLash – that’s a big no no).  I wish I hadn’t hesitated in buying it, but the price really put me off.  At the end of the day, if you’ve only got £20, buy RapidLash and you won’t be too disappointed, it’s certainly the best of the original three serums I reviewed.  But if you can stretch your budget, I think Revitalash is worth the extra money.  Once your lashes are long, people say you can use Revitalash once a week for maintenance, so that will be cheaper than using it every day as the tube will last longer. As long as you’re careful about who you buy from, I strongly recommend you buy from Amazon.com
as it’s the best value for money.

The clear winner.
The clear winner: Revitalash.

Which serums have you tried?  Would you ever try one?  Let me know in the comments!

UPDATE MAY 2016: I have now written a review comparing RapidLash and Revitalash to Grande Lash MD, see which lash serum is better, Grande Lash MD, Rapid Lash or Revitalash!!

Ben Lomond? More like Ben SNOWmond!

Having just got back from climbing Mount Snowdon, I thought I should write up my ascent of Ben Lomond from early April.  I’ve written this from beginning to end rather than as a “travel piece” as I wanted to share some useful information about the climb.

Ben Lomond.
Ben Lomond.

Ben Lomond is 974m high and it’s a Munro but it’s not even in the top 10 highest mountains in Scotland – which starts with Ben Lawers at 1214 metres high, which is over 200m higher than the highest mountain in England (Scafell Pike, 978m), as a reference. Ben Lomond is only 4m lower than Scafell Pike, so I thought Ben Lomond would be a better climb since S.P. was an abortive mission back in February due to flooding and the whole of Wasdale (where S.P. is) had given me a VERY eerie “get out” kinda vibe so I was in no rush to return. Also Ben Lomond was on my ORIGINAL 30 list before I subbed it for S.P. when I posted about my list as I thought it was unfair to England if all the mountains from the UK were from Scotland (and one from Wales). I retract this wholeheartedly – Scottish mountains are just the absolute best in the UK, seconded by their milder friends, the Welsh mountains.

Scottish mountains are like dogs – they’re so excited to see you and boisterous and so much outdoor fun (but they can bite you); Welsh mountains are like rabbits – they’re very mild mannered and friendly, but they’d never eat you unless you looked like a carrot (but they might nibble); and English mountains are like cats – they just refuse to co-operate even when you bring them treats, and insist on hanging out in hard-to-reach places.

It started off in Rowardennan car park, which is on the East side of Loch Lomond.  To get to the car park, you have to drive to take a left at Drymen (Rowardennan is signposted) and drive up a very long country road with forest on one side and Loch Lomond on the other.

Parking was fairly cheap, although, being early April, it was still the off-season when I went (which surprised me as I’m used to the tourist season starting a month earlier, in March, in England).

There is a set of public toilets that are near the beginning of the route, and these were excellent with benches to sit on to put boots etc on since it was drizzly raining outside.  I decided since it was drizzling to go up in my trainers.  My husband went up in his walking boots, which he has had since about 1997, which were a poor choice as they have cracked, hard soles.  His feet got wet before mine.

A mysterious trapdoor in the ladies toilets.  I wondered where it led, but couldn't get it opened to find out.
A mysterious trapdoor in the ladies toilets. I wondered where it led, but couldn’t get it opened to find out.

The initial climb is in a straight line and everything seems easy if somewhat steep as you get up past the treeline.  Then, out of nowhere, it makes you choose a path, left or right, neither of which seem to be going UP the mountain.  But that’s okay because the summit straight in front of you isn’t Ben Lomond, it’s the taller one to the left that looks like it’s on a separate mountainside (because it is).

So it’s very important to go left here, otherwise you will spend a VERY long time being lost.  When we climbed it, starting at about 7am and ending around 11am, it wasn’t teriffically busy.  We were literally the only people on the mountain until we started our descent, so if anything had gone wrong we would have been a bit stuck.

I Considered the Evidence for The Fauna of Ben Lomond

As soon as we started on the left hand path, we were suddenly attacked by a very very harsh strong wind and it still drizzled constantly on this bit.  Loch Lomond was on our left at this point.  We kept going and saw loads of what we thought was dog poo, although since seeing so much of it that looks the same, I think it must have been fox poo.  There are no wolves in Scotland, as they were hunted to extinction, so it definitely wasn’t wolves.  Which was odd because all the poo was larger.  This probably doesn’t matter to most readers, but being an archaeology graduate, this did bug me, so I did some research and found two possible animals – the Scottish Wildcat, or a special red-fox subspecies (a giant red fox breed) called Vulpis vulpis vulpis (it’s apparently much larger than the standard red fox vulpis vulpis crucigera).  This giant red fox is apparently only native to Scotland.  Since there was also plenty of what looked like giant oval-shaped rabbit poo, I inferred that the giant rabbit poo came either from deer, because sheep do similar droppings, or mountain hares.

This theory was borne out when we turned a corner slightly and came face to face with two grazing deer.  They must have heard us coming but they still seemed surprised, and only ran off when my camera made it’s “beep beep beep beep” turning on noise (the MOST annoying thing when trying to photograph ANY animals at all as it always makes them move).  So we could tick that mystery off as solved (although I was disappointed that it wasn’t mountain hares, but you can’t be TOO disappointed because deer are soooooo adorable).  We saw quite a few other deer out and about at this time of the morning, so I think the droppings probably weren’t from mountain hares.

Shortly afterwards, I saw an interesting-shaped rock on the ground.  It was a pentagon, and it was almost regular, which was amazing because it was clearly done by natural processes such as weathering – there were no cut marks on it at all!  This was not evidence of animal activity, but it was still an interesting feat of nature so I took a photo.

An interestingly shaped rock.
An interestingly shaped rock.

We reached a gate thingy then we went along another path for quite a while, then we went through a second gate where we soon found a sign that said Ben Lomond.  We joked with each other that we must have reached the top -although we knew full well that this was clearly the start of its prominence.  The prominence is the part of the mountain where it’s not part of another peak, mountain etc, which is almost always lower than its elevation.  When people talk about “Ultras” or “Ultra Prominents” they mean mountains whose prominence is over 1500 metres, but that just means that 1500 metres or more of the mountain sticks up above all the rest of the mountains in a group or the rest of the land if it’s on its own.  The first “Ultra” on my list of 20 mountains is Arcalod, in France.

Are we there yet??
Are we there yet??

We carried on past the sign and the drizzle remained stopped but the wind started to blow worse, after a little while I took this next picture of the view, it’s the last picture I got before we came back down.

This was the very last picture I got before that whiteout in the distance reached us and started gnawing at my face.
This was the very last picture I got before that whiteout in the distance reached us and started gnawing at my face.

Those clouds moved VERY fast, the wind must have been blowing them across, and we then fought with side winds of over 60mph and some very vicious hail at one side of us.  There was no shelter from it, as Ben Lomond is a very exposed mountain, and we basically had to climb it with one hand covering our left ear to protect us from the 60 mph hailstones.

Whiteout in April

As we trudged ever upwards, we discovered that the snow we’d seen from below was actually made from these same hailstones that were attacking us – millions of them combining to form icy snowlike stuff, covering the surfaces more and more, until a bit where we needed to scramble (a climb not long or steep enough to require rope) up a 20 foot section and suddenly the ground was totally white.  The path was just about visible.  Then as we kept going the path disappeared completely, and it stayed like that with the biting hailstones and wind, which my husband found he could sit backwards on, and be kept upright (literally, he was sitting as if he was on a chair, and the only thing holding him in place was this strong wind).  We were frequently being blown sideways and progress became very very difficult, until we finally got to the top.  The wind and hail were awful, and I couldn’t get my phone out to take any photos because I was afraid it would get blown away.  All the “respect the mountain” type information goes on about taking an ice axe and crampons, but I don’t think they consider that these aren’t the ONLY solution or the ONLY things you need to take up a mountain, because the main problem was the wind and the velocity of these sharp hailstones, they would have just been dead weight in my pack.  I think the crampons at least would have been useful on the top but they wouldn’t have solved the worst difficulty which was not being able to open your eyes because of the barrage of projectiles.  It was like being repeatedly shot in the face with an airgun, and we both had a lot of redness and bruising on one side of our face from our ascent (and I had the lower half of my face covered with a cotton scarf for protection).  There was no view, just hail in our faces causing a total whiteout, so we didn’t linger, and turned back, making our way back down the mountainside a lot more quickly.  The wind and snow stopped again when we reached the Ben Lomond sign (peculiously) and by this time of the day, the path we had climbed was now covered in water and we were paddling back down the mountain.

My face on the way back down.
My face on the way back down.

Mountain Survival

I didn’t really feel much of a sense of achievement because it was mostly a survival issue from before we reached the summit (the top):  The temperature was about -10 and we needed to get down to the tree line as quickly as possible before hypothermia set in, because I’d brought my standard winter gloves instead of my amazingly protective +3 Gloves of Snowboarding (I’ve never snowboarded, I have them for when I go to the Alps).  Standard gloves are fine for normal ground-level snow (when you’re not at any altitude) or for hill walking, but when you get over about 700m above sea level, I would strongly recommend using skiing gloves or snowboarding gloves (not those shitty thinsulate ones) as my hands went numb in my gloves!  It’s good to learn the exact limitations and appropriate times for equipment from experiences such as this though – as I said when I didn’t get to the top of Scafell Pike, sometimes you learn more from what you FAILED to do than what you did do, because you can often see what you need to do next time.  This time, I failed to take appropriate gloves, and I can now see exactly when I need thicker gloves (and when I went up Snowdon, I did NOT make the same mistake, and I will never take the wrong gloves up a mountain ever again).  On the flipside, I was glad I took my trainers and not my snow shoes because they are lightweight and flexible and don’t cause me excessive ankle strain or leg tiredness, and in fact keep my feet more comfortable because I get too hot in big boots.  I find that while all the respect the mountain type people have a point that walking boots are a good choice of footwear, I strongly disagree that they are “essential” for any of the non-technical climbs in the UK.  I have struggled to complete mountains in boots (I wore my snow boots to do Scafell Pike because it was February and I would have needed to wear them with my crampons except there was no snow on S.P. in Feb) because as my grandma used to say, “heavy boots weigh you down” and I find I can walk much further, climb higher and balance better in trainers.  Different strokes for different folks.  There’s more than one way to climb a mountain.

On the way back down we took a different path for a small section where we ended up climbing down a waterfall which was awesome and really pretty:

The second waterfall we climbed down.
The second waterfall we climbed down.  Going round would have been just as slippery and also muddy and therefore less awesome.

Farewell, Lovely Trainers

This was the footpath on the way back.
This was the footpath on the way back.  It’s underwater at the front too, just a different depth.

The streams on the descent were the first point my trainers got wet, but ultimately it was their death toll because we had nowhere to dry them, since we didn’t check into a hotel for another day, so they went mouldy or something, and I washed them twice in the washing machine when I got home, but they just had to go to the bin in the end because they smelled absolutely foul.  Ben Lomond might have been their swan song, but they were a very good pair of trainers and they got me up and down the mountain with no blisters or anything.  While some very expensive walking boots would have kept my feet dry (cheap ones generally don’t), I didn’t really have a problem with getting wet on the descent.

Back at the car, I changed into my jelly sandals so my feet could dry out while I drove us to the Loch Lomond entertainment complex (there was an exciting adventure with a dog cafe).  I think the whole climb took about four and a half hours up and down, because we set off at about 7am and got to the car at 11:30am.

The next day, we checked into our beautiful hotel (we were staying in our car camper around Loch Lomond, which is really hard as there are major byelaws so you have to follow the rules or risk getting a big fine) and I found for the first day that it was hard to walk down the stairs because my leg bones just under my knees were really swollen and couldn’t bend properly on stairs!!  I had done loads of training and particularly built up the muscles around my knees but my bones seemed to let me down.  I do have a problem with them anyway ever since I bruised the bone on one leg (and the swelling tore the skin right open – I have a very sexy scar on one leg because of it) a couple of years ago, when I fell down the stairs and landed with my full body weight on something sharp with my shin.  The other leg seemed to get compression problems from being walked on for six weeks straight because I didn’t take a single day off because it happened during teacher training and if you take more than three days off (at all) you fail it at the training provider I was attending.  As an aside, my childhood dog died two weeks later at the ripe old age of 16, so I took a day off for that instead.  I will write an article on Dillon one day because he was the best dog in the universe.  But that was all 2 years ago.  The bone pain from mountain climbing went away after a few days, although I’ve got it again today, the day after climbing Snowdon.  I will have to look into this at some point.

Phew, I’ve FINALLY posted about this trip up Mount Ben Lomond. Expect another mountain post about Snowdon very soon.  I am aware I keep saying I climbed Snowdon yesterday, and the date stamp will say this was published on Wednesday, but it’s going to be posted just after midnight so when I say yesterday all through the start and end of this blog post, I mean Monday, when I climbed Snowdon.  It’s only taken me all afternoon to finish writing this post what with seeing the (private not NHS) psychiatrist today and everything else!

8 Pictures of Pretty Flowers

So I thought the world needed more pictures of things, and decided to post these pictures of flowers to inspire and delight you all (and me, I like looking at pretty things too).

Dandelion clocks, on the verge of telling the time.
Dandelion clocks, on the verge of telling the time.
A dandelion clock.
A dandelion clock.
Another dandelion clock.  I love this moment in time, when such a delicate natural process is taking place.
Another dandelion clock. I love this moment in time, when such a delicate natural process is taking place.
Bluebells in a forest.  I was amazed at how the depth came out in this picture.
Bluebells in a forest. I was amazed at how the depth came out in this picture.
This is another moment in time that I really love - that brief time of year when the bluebells come out.
This is another moment in time that I really love – that brief time of year when the bluebells come out.
Bluebells in the forest from a different angle.
Bluebells in the forest from a different angle.
They're prickly to touch but beautiful to look at.  Although, unlike Eeyore, I don't think I'd want to eat thistles!
They’re prickly to touch but beautiful to look at. Although, unlike Eeyore, I don’t think I’d want to eat thistles!
Another set of thistles.  The pink is so striking against the green that I had to get a picture.
Another set of thistles. The pink is so striking against the green that I had to get a picture.

Like with the pictures of clouds and sunsets, feel free to use them although if you can link back to me in some way it would be appreciated.  I don’t modify or retouch or colour-up any of my photos, this is just how they looked in real life.