Review: Outlandish Scotland Journey Part 1 and 2

When I read Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager)*, I thought to myself, “I really want to go to those places and see those things.” I often wish it was easier to find stuff in Scotland but there’s so many things in Scotland that it can be hard to know where to look for anything specific! Anyway, that was before they made a TV show out of it, and now there’s even more Outlander locations in Scotland!

*Book 1 was retitled Cross-Stitch in the UK for some stupid reason, and they wonder why it was initially less popular over here; it’s still the same love story between Jamie and Claire.

Another rainbow in the West Highlands of Scotland on the way to Loch Ness.

The first guide, Outlandish Scotland Journey part 1, covers the Outlander sites between Edinburgh and Inverness, while the second, Outlandish Scotland Journey part 2, covers Inverness and a whole plethora of sites around the city. In both cases, the sites are marked on a map so you can see the route that goes between them all.

If that’s not enough, there are also very clear directions explaining how to get to each location, and the guides are very clear about what you will find in each place, with lots of details to help you make the most of your holiday. One thing I especially liked was the thistle icons that rated each location, and showed whether a location was worth visiting or not, so I could see at-a-glance how many sites to spend time visiting (nearly all of them… now I just need a reliable vehicle to travel in).

Another thing I liked was the author has found pictures of what the places look like, and put them alongside what the places looked like in the TV series, so you get an idea about how similar the places are in real life (for example, some buildings in Culross were painted for filming so in real life they’re a different colour).

One more thing that I liked about these guides is that they give you the disabled access information, so if you are traveling as a disabled person or if you’re taking someone who is disabled, you have a good sense of whether you can get into any specific place. I’ve talked before about why that’s important to include in travel guides as it can make or break some people’s trips.

It was also useful to know how much time to schedule for each aspect of the trip; for example, it tells you how much time each itinerary will take, depending on whether you want to do it faster or slower, so you have a good idea of how much time to budget.

Other things that you will find in these guide books include: Where to park, for sites where parking isn’t immediately obvious; whether any individual attraction is worth a visit or not (and an explanation and references showing why not, if it’s bad, so you can make an informed choice); how much they cost; and there are even lots of extras, such as places of interest that weren’t in the books/TV series but are still worth a visit while you’re in each area.

These Outlandish Scotland Journey ebook guides also really make use of being in an electronic format, by linking to additional useful information, which basically means it’s like someone went out and painstakingly researched your holiday for you, so all you have to do is follow the route and have a great time! Or, if, like me, you’re the sort of person who likes to go out and discover things, these guides have a lot of mileage in them as well; I would choose the most interesting locations, and see what turned up in the space between them while I was traveling (because Scotland has a LOT of space).

If you live in Scotland, you could do some of these locations as a series of day-trips at the weekend, rather than a long holiday, and it would certainly be a great way to spend your days off! If I still lived in Edinburgh, I would definitely do that.

These guides are useful for a wide range of readers, both locals and further afield, and my overall conclusion is that they are well worth a buy if you are going anywhere in Scotland this year or researching a future trip.

Find the Outlandish Scotland Journey guides on Amazon here: Part 1 and Part 2
Or find out more here: Outlandish Scotland Journey website

Review: iPhone SE 16GB

So I decided that I’d review my iPhone, since I’ve had it for a few months now. First, let me start by saying, I’ve never owned any Apple product before in my life. I had no idea what to expect when I bought this phone, and I only went by whether it would do what I wanted it to.

I spent ages looking through phone reviews of Sony, Alcatel, Samsung Galaxy and some weird brands I’d never heard of. The thing was, they were all very, very expensive or the reviews implied they were incredibly crap BY DESIGN. Seriously? Who spends R&D money designing a phone to be awful? The iPhone SE was the only phone at the mid-range price point. I’m not really interested in paying £400 or £500 for a phone, and when some phones were selling at up to £900, they can fuck right off. I didn’t spend that much money on my LAPTOP and that was essential for working.

I bought the 16GB phone rather than the 64GB phone for one reason: Price. The 16GB was £289.99 second hand (unlocked) and the 64GB one was over £400.00 at the time (they’re probably a little cheaper now), so it didn’t make sense to spend so much extra money. If you’re the sort of person who likes to store films and music and whatnot on your phone, you might want to get the bigger phone. I upload my photos regularly and I don’t tend to download many apps, so the 16GB suits me because it’s realtime data (eg. mapping, Facebook and Snapchat and Kindle for iPhone) that I need my phone to handle. The iPhone SE does these things comfortably, without an overcomplicated interface or installation system. I had never used an Apple phone before, and I was amazed by how easy it was to get everything to work straight out of the box.

Another thing I like about this phone is that there are a lot of nice phone cases available for it. I currently have a Cinderella phone case with moving glitter inside that’s like having a snowglobe on the back of my phone. I also have one that has the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter. I really love that there is so much scope to customize my phone and make it look unique.

The camera is quite good; not as good as my DSLR, of course, but it gets some nice pictures when I just want snapshots of things. The front camera is only 2.1 Megapixel and I thought that would be awful compared to the 8MP camera on my old Huawei, but Apple have done a lot with a little and the camera is better than the 8MP one I used to have, and the colors on things come out much more accurately. The normal camera is 12MP and both cameras have produced decent shots.

I also liked the battery life. People complained about it, but given that I’m used to my old Huawei Ascend’s battery lasting less than a day on a full charge when I don’t even use the internet on it, I was pleasantly impressed that my iPhone lasts 2-3 days on a charge, even though I have Wi-Fi or Mobile Data switched on pretty much 24/7.

The thing that stood out the most though was the commonality of it. When I was choosing a new phone, I literally asked everyone I met about their phones. So many people were cursing the day they spent large amounts of money on their Android phones, but everyone with the iPhone SE was telling me how much they liked it, and showing me how it worked, and so on. Everyone with an iPhone SE was happy to spend the time talking to a complete stranger about how well their phone handled Pokemon Go or how many photos they’d stored on it. I liked that, because I figured that if anything went wrong with my new phone, there would be a hugely supportive and knowledgable community of iPhone users who were able to help me out.

In fact, every time I’ve not known how to do something on my phone, my friends with iPhone SEs have showed me how it works. Usually, it’s because I’m used to everything being over-complicated on my previous Android phone, and I haven’t found a single thing that was harder to do on an iPhone. It’s nice when one little aspect of life is a bit easier. I don’t like overcomplicating things; my brain does enough of that anyway.

So, after 5 months, I’m finally ready to recommend the iPhone SE. If, like me, you want to get a second hand phone, Amazon are selling a few reconditioned iPhone SEs in 16GB and 64GB like this one.

If you already have an iPhone SE, I highly recommend the Kindle for iPhone, because it lets you read all your ebooks on your phone (and if you don’t own a Kindle, I also recommend the Kindle for PC free app from Amazon to read ebooks for free).

Olay Regenerist 3 Point Cream

Don’t you just love discoveries? The perfect face cream was right in front of me this entire time, and I didn’t know it! I am so in love with the Olay Regenerist 3 Point Cream (the day cream) that reviewing it has been really hard! I don’t know how to talk about this cream without just raving about everything I love about it.

Olay 3 Point Regenerist Cream day cream review
Olay 3 Point Regenerist Day Cream.

Consistency: Thick but not too thick, and still easily spreadable. I lightly run my finger over the surface of the cream and gently rub a small amount onto my face. Scooping it out and plastering it on would be a bad idea!

Scent: It is perfumed, but it’s a pleasant scent that doesn’t overwhelm you or irritate skin, and once the cream is absorbed, the scent disappears. When I have a cold, the scent doesn’t irritate my sinuses.

Effects: Firstly, it obviously moisturizes skin. My skin is usually normal-to-dry, and I find that a layer of this cream makes my skin look less dry. Secondly, it plumps out expression lines aka fine lines. I don’t know what it does on deeper lines or full blown wrinkles because I don’t have any to test it on. I like that it also seems to help with the redness I get between my brows, and I would say that it does seem to give me a more even-toned complexion when I wear it. Another effect of this cream, which I’ve mentioned before, is that it helps get rid of blue under-eye circles (I don’t think they intended this use for this cream, but it’s a life-changer), and I discovered recently that it also works well on brown under-eye circles (I’ve got some other fixes for those, so I’ll write an article about that soon). I’ve been using it under my eyes for about 18 months but I hadn’t really used it on the rest of my face much until I ran out of Sanctuary Spa Covent Garden cream and now I’ve been using the Olay regenerist 3 Point cream regularly on my face and neck, I have so much love for this cream! There was an instant anti-ageing effect, and it took about a week for my skin to start showing noticeable results. When I stopped using it for a week, my skin looked tired again.

Feel: It doesn’t sting my skin, but I use it sparingly because it’s quite potent stuff. It makes my face feel fresh.

Compared to other Olay products: I’ve had some bad experiences with some of Olay’s other creams, with their Beauty Fluid being about as ineffective as not wearing face cream, and I was a little hesitant the first time I bought this, but from the first use I really liked it and will keep buying it. I buy mine from Amazon, and it always arrives in a plastic-wrapped sealed box, with an outer lid and an inner lid for the jar of cream.

Olay 3 Point Regenerist Cream day cream review
Olay 3 Point Regenerist Cream consistency.

Compared to other face creams: It was a bit like the Sanctuary Spa Covent Garden Active Reverse Day Cream, except the Olay 3 Point Regenerist doesn’t have any SPF. This is the biggest problem with the Olay 3 Point Regenerist, and for this reason I use it with the ROC spray on sunscreen, which I will review separately, but it’s not the ideal solution. UV damage can cause all sorts of beauty problems and I like to keep my skin protected even in the Miserable North of England where I’ve been stranded for a few years.

It was thicker than the Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine cream and I thought the Olay 3 Point Regenerist was better than the Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream in a couple of ways. Firstly, it makes my skin feel more moisturized. Second, it makes my skin look better overall.

It wasn’t as thick as the Manuka Doctor Api Nourish Night Cream, and I liked the thinner Olay 3 Point Regenerist better because it glides on easily and doesn’t need to be teamed with an oil or similar to keep my skin hydrated.

Science: The Olay 3 Point Regenerist cream is a peptide cream that contains pentapeptide (matrixyl). This increases collagen production in the skin and thickens skin, helping to plump out lines and eliminate veins and blue circles. When used with an exfoliant (such as glycolic acid, which dissolves dead skin cells and increases cell turnover in the skin) the effects are even better.

The bottom line is, this is my favorite face cream, and definitely replaces the Sanctuary Spa Covent Garden cream I was previously using. The only thing I don’t like about it is the lack of any SPF. You can get it here on Amazon.com

Have you tried Olay Regenerist 3 Point? What did you think of it?

Too Faced Naturals Pallette

I wasn’t supposed to buy the Too Faced Naturals Pallette. I didn’t plan on buying this and yet I couldn’t leave without it because the moment I saw it, I fell in love with the amazing colors in this pallette.

Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette
Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette

Price: £32.50.
I got it from: Too Faced counter, Debenhams, Oxford Street, London.
What you get: Nine eyeshadow colors, including 3 matte shades and 6 highly pigmented shimmering sparkling shades. They are presented in a metal tin with an extensive leaflet detailing how you could use these colors.

Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette
Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette

The reason I bought this eyeshadow pallette was because I adore neutral shades, and I especially love shimmering neutrals (my go-to eye makeup before I got this Too Faced pallette was a blend of the Laura Mercier Baked Eyeshadow in Ballerina and the Bourjois Eye Shimmer Pot in 07 Ambre, both over the top of the Laura Mercier mono eyeshadow in ginger). It’s nice to have more sparkling shades to get a more dramatic eye look for those times when I want my make-up to show up on camera.

Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette
Those colors… sooo good!

What do they look like?
I swatched them on my arm and photographed them, and the only editing I’ve done to that was to write the color names under the swatches, because as everyone knows I hate using photoshop and have to look up tutorials on YouTube every single time I need to do any image manipulation! As you can see in the second set of swatches, a couple of the colors aren’t very visible in the camera although IRL they were a little bit more obvious. I fiddled with my camera settings a lot but those colors just wouldn’t show very well. That’s worth bearing in mind for any events where you might want to look photogenic!

Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette swatches
Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette Swatches
Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette Swatches
Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette Swatches. Heaven is the whitish one; Silk Teddy hasn’t really shown up (I took like a million pictures so oh well).

How do they wear?
I’ve only used these eyeshadows twice so far, but both times I really liked the way they came out, the blendability was a complete joy and the color went on creamy-soft, color payoff was maximum! I used the Urban Decay eyeshadow primer under the colors and I feel this gave a lovely blank canvas to make these colors come out beautifully. Next time I use this pallette I will get photos.

What do you think? Do you have any of the Too Faced Pallettes? Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer

I am SO late to the party with this it’s unbelievable! What can I say? I live in a miserable backwater in the North whose only make-up counters are the ones aimed at the landed gentry, usually of the over-60s variety!

While I was in London before Christmas, I was SO EXCITED to pick up this eyeshadow primer! It’s been on my wish list for 3 actual YEARS.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Original
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Original

What can I say about it? It comes in a purple tube that’s shiny with an applicator in the lid, yada yada… I got the large tube because a small one was £10.50 but the large was £16 which was twice the amount of product and I foresee myself using this a LOT and not being able to buy more for possibly 3 more years (actually, it depends where I emigrate to, but Ireland’s not known for its availability of make-up brands, and neither is New Zealand). Having said that, I’ve seen it for sale on US Amazon for a reasonable price (it’s disgracefully expensive on UK Amazon), so now that I know I like it, I will probably just get it off there after I emigrate to wherever I end up going, because aside from delivery to the UK, Amazon.com tends to be pretty good at international delivery.

I got the original; I didn’t ask the counter assistant what the difference was because I got this a few days before Christmas and the stores were literally heaving, and I was all like, “gimme makeups” like some sort of chemically deficient crack whore that needed a hit. If you’re wondering about getting into make-up, be warned that this will happen to you despite your best intentions at moderation and temperance! Joking aside though, the assistants were rushed off their feet and I didn’t want to waste their time and add to their stress by asking inane questions about products, so I just went with original since I was fairly sure I’d be happy with any. …And I am SO happy with this product! If you’re uncertain which version to get, go with the original purple one!

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion glides on the eye easily, turning pretty much invisible once it’s on, and it also does the following things that I liked:

  1. It makes the eyeshadow colors stand out more.
  2. It makes the eyeshadow colors blend more easily.
  3. It makes the eyeshadow colors MUCH easier to remove at night with less crappy residue under my eyes after using my micellar water.
  4. It makes my eye area look fresh and vital.

I don’t know how it does all this, probably some sort of mysterious voodoo magic or something, but whatever it is, I am in LOVE with this product. It was always going to be a gamble, getting a product that I’d wanted for so long, but in this case, it DEFINITELY lived up to all my expectations.

I’ve seen a lot of people claiming that the MAC Pro-Longwear Paint Pots are a better base for eyeshadow, but having used those in the past, I could not disagree more. The Urban Decay eyeshadow primer potion is much kinder to the eye area and looks way better under eyeshadow, and it gives better blendability too.

Thank-you, Urban Decay, for making the most fabulous eyeshadow primer ever!

Discontinued? Sanctuary Spa Active Reverse Peptide Protect Day Cream SPF 20

What do you do when when you think a shop has discontinued one of your favourite face creams? I had finished one full jar of the Sanctuary Spa Active Reverse Peptide Protect Day Cream SPF 20 and I’d actually even gotten all the cream off the sides and bottom of the jar. I don’t normally do that, but it was still good and I hadn’t gotten round to buying a new jar yet. I like to rotate products to get multiple benefits, which means I’ve been using it one or two times a week since about August 2015, so it was time to get a new one. It was an integral part of my skincare routine for just over a year, so even though I got it for £10 on offer, I could justify paying full price of £20 this time.

I went to Boots….

And they didn’t have it. They had replaced their entire Sanctuary Spa Covent Garden range of products with new ones. Only they hadn’t replaced the Peptide Protect Day Cream SPF 20 with anything. I checked Sanctuary’s website and there was no mention of the Sanctuary Spa Active Reverse Peptide Protect Day Cream; it’s been discontinued, clearly. And now it’s selling on Amazon for stupid amounts of money. I’m annoyed it’s been discontinued without warning, and that there’s nothing online telling me what to try instead (and of course, the pre-Christmas party season is such a bad time for this to happen!!!), so I decided to do my own investigating.

Firstly, I’m not going to buy discontinued cream, because while I’m sad it’s been discontinued, it’s not a good enough product to cost that much (it’ll only keep getting more expensive if it’s not being made, and it will expire/go inactive, so there’s no point clinging to the past), especially since I only use it once or twice a week, so I thought it was a good time to try some new things.

I’ve decided it’s time to bite the bullet and go for the retinol creams. After all, some websites suggest you should be starting retinol in your late twenties, and I’ve just turned 30 less than a month ago, so it’s time to try it. I like the look of the ROC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream (that’s for UK Amazon, and holy COW that cream’s cheaper in the US) so I’ve ordered a tube and let’s see how it performs on early expression lines and general skin quality.

A big beauty concern for me is keeping my blue circles under control, and the Sanctuary Spa Covent Garden was one of the ways I did that, because one of the main ingredients in the Sanctuary Spa Active Reverse Peptide Protect Day Cream was Matrixyl, a peptide (Matrixyl is palmitoyl pentapeptide-4), which helps get rid of under-eye circles in combination with allergy remedies, and Matrixyl is also in the Olay Regenerist 3 Point (which I keep meaning to review), so since it’s also a peptide cream, I might switch to that more regularly for my peptide fix; if Olay Regenerist 3 point had an SPF, this would be my everyday day cream, but the reason the Sanctuary one was so good was because it had SPF20.

I’ve said before that wearing a daily SPF is so important for good skincare, not least because it prevents dark circles, which are caused by sun exposure and ageing. I already fight blue circles on a regular basis; I don’t want to be grappling with brown ones, too! Since the ROC retinol cream (a night cream) might make my skin photosensitive, I’ve decided to splurge on the Age Smart by Dermalogica Active Skin Recovery, which is SPF50. I will let you know how it all goes.

Nearly all links on this page go to Amazon UK.

Wet N Wild Waterproof Eyeliner and Eye Pencil Review

In today’s post I’m going to be reviewing the Wet N Wild H2O proof liquid eyeliner and eye pencil! I got the eyeliner in brown/black and the pencil in bronze. Basically they’re meant to be the best waterproof make-up because they don’t move… ever. I put that to the test. I like my eyebrows to stay put all day and I’ve been looking for something a bit cheaper than the Bobbi Brown brow pencil for an everyday brow. Waterproof eyeliners have been around for longer so they have had more time to improve, so it made sense that a waterproof eyeliner was exactly what I needed for my brows!

Wet n wild h20 h2o proof eyeliner

This is what my brows looked like after I’d used the eyeliner; I think they looked a bit too dark for my normal preferences but this liquid eyeliner is unbeatable in terms of color payoff or ease of shaping (literally, this was so easy to use I didn’t make a single mistake with it)! Also it stayed put all day… and the next day. Even micellar water doesn’t get this off. That may or may not be a good thing for other people but I think that’s brilliant for my brows!

Wet n wild h20 h2o proof eyeliner

Now let’s look at the pencil:

Wet N Wild H2O Proof Blending Eye Pencil in Espresso.
Wet N Wild H2O Proof Blending Eye Pencil in Bronze.

I got it out the packaging and swatched it on my hand; it’s less brown than the brown/black shade of the liquid eyeliner:

Wet N Wild H2O Proof Blending Eye Pencil in Espresso.

I put it on my brows and hoped it would produce a more natural result than the eyeliner. I think it was a bit obvious in places but overall I think it was less dark so I guess it depends whether you think very dark brows are your thing or not. If so, the brown/black will be a better option:

Wet N Wild H2O Proof Blending Eye Pencil in Espresso.

I checked in again 8 hours later, after going out in the rain and coming back home, and my brows had faded a little, particularly at my nose, where I can’t get one brow to grow in at all, but where there are brow hairs, it’s stayed very well!

Wet N Wild H2O Proof Blending Eye Pencil in Bronze.

Conclision: The liquid eyeliner is definitely better at staying put, that stuff stays on my face for up to 2 days (even using Micellar water) which is what I want for my brows. If I could get the Bronze shade in the liquid eyeliner (it doesn’t ship here), I would be completely happy with it but it’s a little dark, so for day-to-day wear the pencil is good enough, but it’s not as budge/smudge proof as the Wet N Wild H20-proof liquid eyeliner. You can get the pencil here and the liquid eyeliner here on Amazon.com.