Sunday, 9 November 2014

Remembrance Sunday

In this centenary year of the start of World War 1, Remembrance Sunday becomes even more poignant.  

The slaughter and the devastation of WW1 was incredible because it was a war fought using nineteenth century methods & twentieth century weapons.  This footage from WW1, including the Battle of the Somme makes me cry.  It's not just about the death of millions of ordinary people - it's about the loss of innocence, the dawn of what was going to be a horrible, brutal century in many ways and the beginning of the modern age.

Lest we forget...

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Catching up

Wow, I cannot believe it's just over four weeks since I 'came out' to you guys and had my script reading!

The script reading went incredibly well - far better than I could ever have hoped for.  By and large, everyone loved it.  People were actually laughing at the funny bits!  I was secretly hoping they would find it funny but preparing myself for everyone to snigger in disbelief and walk out.

It was incredibly hard sitting up there in front of a very tough crowd asking for comments on my work but I'm very, very glad I did because the feedback I received was absolutely invaluable.  Someone actually said that it reminded him of the film 'The Artist'!  I nearly fell off my seat!

Unfortunately almost the very next day, I launched into production - yup, 15 hour days, six days a week - for a show which, quite frankly, the less said about the better.  I won't name names but really, technical preparation and simple good manners takes you a long way.  This did mean that I was emotionally drained & physically exhausted by the time I got home every night and I couldn't find the time or the head space to work on the feedback I'd received.  The show from hell is over now and it's looking like October will be a little slower so I'm hoping that I'll be able to get back in the zone.

Monday, 8 September 2014

An invitation and a bit more

I've thought long and hard about whether to do this or not and I think the time is right...  I'm talking about revealing my identity.  I'm sure no one will really care everyone is fascinated so here goes...

*Deep breath*  My name is Cathy Stewart.  I'm a freelance entertainment lighting technician.  I've worked in many different areas of the business - rock 'n' roll, TV, corporate events, theatre, fashion, parties and other rather strange, random jobs (I once lit a £3,500,000.000 necklace for a magazine launch).  I started writing this blog as an outlet for that feminine side of myself that hardly sees the light of day when I'm wearing steel-toe capped boots, high viz and wiring into the mains.

The reason for the big reveal is this - I mentioned in my previous post that I'm having a professional rehearsed reading for my script.  This event is open to the public and I'd like to invite you, my lovely readers.  It's on the 8th of September, (today) at The Crown and Anchor at 22 Neal Street in Covent Garden (opposite Urban Outfitters).  £3 entry - 7.15 start.   If you do decide to come along, please find me and introduce yourself - I'll be the terrified one in the corner.  If you feel so inclined to give feedback, I would really value your opinions.

Peace and love.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Updates and some exciting news.

Phew!  It's been a while since I've blogged.

I haven't been lazy - I've been rewriting and rewriting and rewriting the TV script I mentioned in my previous post.  I don't think I've worked so hard on a piece of writing in my entire life!

I think it's worth it though.  I've been given a slot on the 8th of September to stage a rehearsed reading of my script with professional actors in front of professional and aspiring writers who then give you very honest feedback.  I'll be frank, I am very nervous about it but it's a much needed step.  There's only so far you'll get with your friends and family uncritically praising your work.  I'll do any rewrites suggested, (if I think they'll work) then the next step will be pitching it to the networks. *Gulp*

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Why I've not been blogging

It's been a while, hasn't it?  I hope you've all been enjoying the summer.  I know I have.

There've been a number of rather exciting reasons as to why I haven't been blogging recently.

Firstly - We've got a cat!  It's been quite time consuming settling her in and adjusting our lives to accommodate her but we love her dearly already.  Her name is Pearl because she purrs a lot.  I wanted it to be Purrl but we flipped a coin and my boyfriend won.  She's a rescue cat from Battersea Dogs and Cats so it's nice to feel we're doing our bit. There will definitely be lots more further on her to follow.  In the meantime, if anyone has any advice on how to prevent her losing her collar, I'd really like to know.  She's lost two in less than a month.

Secondly...  I've had an idea for a TV show knocking around at the back of my mind for years which I've returned to from time to time. About six weeks ago, I took a course with the Raindance Organisation on how to sell your script.  It was very inspiring because it was so practical - keep it cheap to produce, network, learn how to pitch, etc.  I then got chatting to a mate at work who I later found runs a TV company on the side and to cut a long story short, he's agreed to act as my agent and sell my idea.  Terrifying and exciting all at the same time!!  I've actually signed a contract naming me as 'The Author'.  Me! I want to workshop my pilot script before I start putting it out to potential production companies and then fingers crossed... who knows?

Wish me luck, people!  *Scared face*

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Beauty review - Yes to Cucumbers facial wipes? Just say no

I can safely say that these wipes are easily the worst beauty product I've ever tried.  Ever.

Within a couple of minutes of using them, my face started to feel like it was burning.  My skin very quickly became red, inflamed and slightly swollen.  I'm not exaggerating when I say it felt like a mild chemical burn.  It took about a day to fully subside.  I'm not the only person who's had this problem - about 80% of reviewers on Makeup Alley reported something similar.

They're advertised as hypoallergenic soothing facial wipes for sensitive skin but they're nothing of the sort.  In fact, I'd go as far as to say that they're potentially dangerous for sensitive skin.  Boots were very good about refunding me when I returned the wipes, (thanks guys) and the pharmacist was so concerned he encouraged me to call the Boots customer service to give my feedback (which I've done).

Any good things about this product?

Well, the packing was all cutesy and hippyish.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

11 random facts about me - blog tag.

Thanks to the lovely Ms. Madge of Chinwags and Tittle-Tattles for the tag.  It's my first ever blog tag!  Apologies for the delay in posting - yet again I've had a crazy week at work.

Anyway without further ado...  Here are 11 random facts about me.

  1. When I was a teenager I used to win prizes for cattle judging at agriculture shows.  I grew up on a dairy farm and my dad was keen that my brothers and I knew as much about farm life as much as possible.
  2. As a kid I was a huge Abba fan.  Huge.  Yet years later when I had the chance to meet them at the first night party for Mama Mia in the West End, I chickened out.  To this day, I'm still not sure why.  I think it's because I'd built them up so much in my mind that the human reality could only disappoint.  
  3. I got the bug for theatre at the age of 11.   My first show was a school play of Brigadoon.  Thirty seven years later I'm still in the business.
  4. My favourite thing to do (besides sleeping) is travel.  I'm lucky enough to be able to travel for work so I've been fortunate to see a lot more of the world than I'd be able to afford under normal circumstances.  My favourite places, so far, have been Berlin, Lisbon and Oman.  I'm dying to go to the US.
  5. I read Valley of the Dolls, (yup, the one about drug taking, sexual exploitation and suicide) by Jacqueline Susann at the age of 12. My mother and grandmother were horrified when they found out. I was a precocious child.
  6. The smell of KP Dry Roasted Peanuts makes me gag.
  7. I could eat Lindt's Chilli Chocolate all day.
  8. The first perfume I bought was Chanel no. 19.  I had to save for ages to afford it.  I used it so sparingly that it went off.  Even now the merest whiff of it takes me back to those heady days when I was first starting out in the world.
  9. My great, great, great, great, great grandfather was expelled from the Royal Scottish Academy of Art for 'bringing the academy into dispute', (taking a day job).  He went on to become a renowned artist.
  10. I really don't like ice-skating.  I like the idea of it but the reality of wobbling around on a pair of blades is frankly terrifying.
  11. I love heavy metal and hard rock.  For some reason, people always find this surprising.

I tag Sharron of Style at every Age, Rosemary from NYC, Style and a little Cannoli and Disney Roller Girl

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Hero beauty product - Garnier Ultimate Regenerating Oil Anti-Age Skin Perfector

There's something rather comforting about using oils on the skin so I must admit I was rather excited to find this Garnier body oil in my local branch of Boots.  I've always used baby oil on my legs whilst they're still damp from the shower so I was looking forward to amping it up a bit with this.

Image via

It certainly didn't disappoint.

The first thing I noticed was the gorgeous smell - warm yet floral somehow.  The smell lingers on the skin all day too which is rather nice.  

It's easy to apply and a little goes a very long way.  All I needed was one spray on the shins and two on the thighs to cover the whole leg. As a consequence it lasted an awfully long time.  

It's a dry oil.  I wasn't sure what a dry oil was until someone explained it to me like this...
You know how if you get olive oil on your hands, no matter how much you rub it in, you still have to wipe your hands? That's because it's a wet oil.  Dry oils don't feel 'wet' to the touch and they rub in really easily.

So that was me told.

My skin did feel wonderfully moisturised and supple for ages, especially if I applied it after the shower but I did find that I couldn't use it every single day because it wasn't quite enough long lasting moisture for my uber dry legs.  It was a really good treat to use a couple of times a week or before a night out.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Music Festivals

Music festivals are certainly popular.  Every thing I'm reading on the internet at the moment, whether it's fashion or music or getaways is breathlessly commentating on them.

The best festival fashion!  

Who's appearing at a festival near you?

See what your favourite celebs were wearing at Coachella!

There seems to be a cultural yearning for an idealised urban version of the countryside which combines the best bits of city living, (music, fashion, cool people) with the best bits of a rural life, (open air, space, trees).

So I may be a little controversial when I say this...
I absolutely loathe outdoor music festivals!  Proper hate them.  Really.

I think people assume they're going to be like this...

whereas I know from working on far too many festivals that they're actually like this...

In ten years of working on festivals, I can safely say that I remember one mud free festival.  One!  Usually they're just a grim struggle against the odds.  Just walking through the mud to catering requires herculean effort.  It's a struggle to keep the rain off your equipment. It's a struggle to keep clean.  Every simple task just becomes a monumental effort. 

There was the notable time where I got stuck in the mud and I quite literally couldn't move.  It was late at night and I'd finished work so I was on my own & the site was relatively deserted.  It'd been raining heavily the previous two days but on that particular day the rain had stopped so the mud was starting to dry out and had become extremely sticky.  It had been very hard work walking through this one field because it had been churned up by the heavy vehicles and the sheer amount of people moving through it.  I reached a point where I couldn't actually move my legs.  The mud was so deep and so sticky that every time I tried to move my legs, I fell forward onto my hands. Late at night, dark, no one around and I couldn't move - I don't mind telling you, I was scared.  Thank god I had my phone in my back pocket and after a number of tries I was able to get hold of my crew boss who came & found me and literally pulled me out of the mud by my arms.  

And that is one of the many reasons why I hate festivals.   

Monday, 21 April 2014

My favourite blogs

Since I started this blog, I've become a voracious blog reader.  I'm constantly amazed by the depth of talent and the breadth of vision out there so I thought I'd share with you my favourite blogs.

In no particular order they are;

Style at every age.
This is a fashion blog that's realistic.  Sharron realises that we don't all necessarily have huge budgets or perfect figures but can still love clothes and want to dress well.  Great for letting you know what discount codes are available too.  She's a lovely lady as well who takes the time to comment thoughtfully on other blogs.

Chinwags and Tittle-Tattles
Written by Ms. Madge.  It's stuff we can all relate to - restaurant reviews, thoughts on pop culture, personal stories, tales of her travels - written in her warm, relatable style.  She's a real sweetheart too who, again, takes time to comment on other blogs.

Coulda Shoulda Woulda
I love Naomi's quirky and often very funny view on things.  My favourite features are the magazine reviews.  Also excellent for interior design.

All I am -a
A perfume blog written by Ines, a Croatian woman.  I love her passion for perfume.  She mixes perfume reviews with thoughts on pop culture and book reviews.

A blog written by a serving paramedic.  I am constantly awed by his ability to deal with situations which would send me into a tail spin.  It's people like him, in the emergency services, who keep the rest of us safe.  He has a beautiful evocative writing style

Mrs Trefusis takes a taxi
Written by Helen Brocklebank, who is, I believe, an important magazine person.  She lives a life we wish we could all lead - glamorous media parties, cocktails and lycee educated children.  It's written in a self deprecating style which makes you root for her.

My love of old Hollywood
I adore old Hollywood films.  She adores old Hollywood films.  It's a blogmatch made in heaven.

Written by a French art history student, Louise who posts fashion pictures of herself inspired by classical artworks.  It's quite unique and rather special.  Seriously, read it.  Some of the text is only in French.

Friday, 18 April 2014

On relaxing

I've been working very, very hard recently.  Weeks and weeks of 6 thirteen hour days in a row then one day off.

As a freelancer it's incredibly tempting to accept every bit of work offered to you because there's always a little voice in your head saying, 'Take it whilst it's there.  Next month may be quiet'.  It's gotten to the point, however where I feel I'm close to burn out so I decided that I had to have some time off.  So I turned down work over Easter (eek!) and now I've got seven blissful days off.

I've been looking forward to it so much that I was surprised to find myself, pacing round the living room this morning going, 'What now? What should I do now?'  Yup, I've forgotten how to relax!  I'm so used to meeting deadlines, having to be somewhere, working like the clappers to deliver a show on time that I've actually forgotten how to take it easy.

So I intend, this week, to rediscover the slow life.

  • Sit and read a book with Radio 3 on in the background.
  • Go to a film on my own.  Probably the Yves Saint Laurent film.
  • Catch up with friends.  I have an old friend from high school who I haven't seen since we came over to London together more years ago than I care to remember.  We've been trying to arrange a meet-up for about six months now and I'm ashamed to say that it's always me who blows out because of work.  
  • Bake.  I love baking but it's time consuming so I haven't baked for ages.  I want to try and make a good & gooey chocolate cake.
  • Work my way through the box set of Breaking Bad.
How do you relax?  

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Hero beauty products - Superdrug facial masks

My Superdrug addiction crept up on me quite stealthily.  I'd find myself popping in for cotton wool pads but somehow leaving with £20/30 worth of stuff.  Before I knew it, I was shopping there almost every week.  The problem is, the stock is just too well curated.  It's the combination of niche brands and high street names, all very reasonably priced, that makes it so seductive and hard to ignore.

My favourite items are the individual Superdrug mask sachets, all priced at a whole 99p each.  Yes, I could drop £30 plus on a high end mask which would last me about six months but my skin needs change and sometimes that particular mask wouldn't be appropriate.  However with a stash of different mask sachets, all bases are covered.  

Looking tired because you've had a stressful week at work with lots of early starts and no time to eat properly?  The De-stressing mud mask will take care of that.

Just done 6 thirteen hour days on the trot in a dusty theatre and no matter how much you clean your face at the end of the day, you still look slightly grimy?  Look no further than the Deep Cleansing Fruit mask.  

Raisin face syndrome because you've done a long day teching a show and haven't drunk enough water because you can't keep running to the loo?  The Anti-Aging Moisture mask is your friend here.  The anti-aging bit is pretty handy too.

My favourite is definitely the Detoxifying Dead Sea Mask.  I adore the lavendery smell and it just perks up the complexion when you're looking a bit grey & dull.  

P.S.  I wasn't paid to write this review.  I just really like Superdrug.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Hero beauty product - Kiehl's Fig Leaf & Sage Aromatic Mist perfume

I bought this perfume for myself as a reward after one of my crazy work-all-hours-god-sends periods.

It's an unusual one for sure.  People either seem to love or hate it, but I really like it.

The packaging is clean & somewhat minimalist but retro.  White background, black lettering and a picture of the bottle inside.  No nonsense there.  The bottle itself continues the same minimalist retro theme - simple shape, clear glass, the retro Kiehls font embossed on to it and a silver cap.  With so much rather verbose, over the top perfume presentation around, I found this rather satisfying.

The perfume itself is strong.  The sweetness of the fig is counteracted by the sharpness of the sage.  It shouldn't work but it does.  Initially the sage is the foremost note but it settles into a rather warm, pleasing aroma.  At the risk of sounding like a press release, it really did remind me of sitting in a Mediterranean garden on a hot day.

I also liked the fact that you can buy it in both small and large size. Sometimes you want to treat yourself but can't spend too much money.

I think it's a great perfume for (hopefully) warm summer days.

*Edited 10/4/14

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Reflections on creativity

It's good to be back.

I've just been on one of those crazy production periods where you're working thirteen hours a day for six days a week.  It's hard work but I do enjoy it - seeing a show come to life before your eyes.

It fascinates me watching the creatives at work.  The starting point of a scene/show/piece of work is very different to the end product (inevitably lauded as something special).  It's that development process which I find incredibly inspiring.

I was working with a very well respected director recently whose whole thing was to avoid what he called 'usual'.  Not in a wacky, "I'm different, me" way but in an avoidance of mundanity and cliche.  We'd build a scene (which inevitably I'd find amazing) but he'd pace around the auditorium musing on how it wasn't working because it was too 'usual'.  He'd then spend ages on trying out discordant notes until he'd find something that worked.  Often it was only something minor like a light flashing where you wouldn't expect it but it introduced a vague sense of unease.

Besides a feeling of pride at being involved in such an amazing production, it left me with a better feeling of how to be creative.  I have lots of ideas but I often get frustrated because they don't seem to work.  I realised, after working with him, that your first go doesn't necessarily have to be any good, it's just the starting point.  I think the idea is to have knowledge of the 'grammar' of expressing an idea and know how to subvert it, or not, to tell your story.

Let me explain what I mean by 'grammar'...

We all know how to watch films/theatre etc.  When the Lumiere brothers first showed their film of a train pulling into a station to an unschooled audience, people were terrified because they didn't know how to read it - they just assumed it was an actual train coming towards them through the screen.


Over a hundred years later, we're so well versed in interpreting film it feels natural.  If we're watching a film for instance, we know that it's not a real time narrative but we suspend our disbelief for the 90 minutes of the film.  We know that the train is not going to emerge from the screen.  That knowledge of the conventions of what we're watching is the grammar.

Knowing the grammar but choosing to subvert and knowing how to subvert successfully was definitely part of the Famous Director's schtick.  I'm definitely going to try it in my own stuff.  

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Hero Beauty Product - Eve Lom Intense Hydration Serum

I wish I had more than a small sample of this.

Image via

It's one of those products that really worked for me right from the start.  

It feels more like a gel than a regular serum - clear in colour, thicker and slightly sticky in the way that gels often are.  I applied just like a regular serum by smoothing it over the face.  As it dried, I could feel it tightening.  For someone like me who has a droopy, jowly face this is a Good Thing.

I'd been through a tough stretch at work & my complexion was feeling particularly parched.  I can safely say that after applying this serum just once, my face felt noticeably less dry.  Not completely re-hydrated, because that would be impossible after just one application but that tight feeling you get with dry skin had subsided to easier levels.  

The sample only had three applications in it but even so, people started commenting on how good I was looking.

I found it worked best if I exfoliated my face first.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Beauty review - Jo Malone Wild Fig & Cassis candle.

There's certainly an impressive ritual to buying a Jo Malone candle.

The sales assistant will theatrically wrap the candle in black tissue paper then gently seat it in a posh black and cream box, spray some more sheets of black tissue paper with Jo Malone's latest fragrance, (in my case, Earl Grey & Cucumber), stuff the scented tissue paper around the candle in the box, put a cream ribbon around the box, put the box in one of those terribly chic Jo Malone carrier bags and put yet more scented tissue paper into the carrier bag around the box. The whole thing reminded me of that scene in Love Actually where Rowan Atkinson wrapped Alan Rickman's illicit purchase for his fancy woman.

After all that effort at presentation, I was very disappointed at how insipid the (extremely expensive) candle actually was.  If you stuck your nose on the candle and had a good sniff, it did smell gorgeous but the problem was, when you burnt it, the scent was very faint.  You could hardly smell it at all.  To be honest, I've had better results from a Yankee candle.  Occasionally, if I'd burnt it for a long time, like three hours, you could start to smell something but even then it didn't linger.  

Quite frankly, it was a waste of £39.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Beauty review - Yon Ka Phyto 52

Yon Ka Phyto 52 - firming, vivifying.

The first thing I had to do was find out exactly what 'vivifying' actually meant.

According to my online searches, this means to 'give or bring life to' or 'endow with life'.  Interesting claim for a face cream to make.

Let's see how we go...

The first thing I noticed was, how strong an odour it had.  I initially assumed it was camphor but camphor is not listed in the ingredients. The smell comes from a blend of lavender, geranium, rosemary, cypress and thyme essential oils.  It was so strong it actually made my eyes water slightly!  Seriously, pull back on the smells, Yon Ka.  Red watering eyes is not a good look.  And no, I didn't put it round the eye area.

Moving on from the overwhelming smell, it was very easy to apply. The texture is creamy and it absorbs quickly.  My incredibly parched complexion felt & looked fresh & rehydrated after just the first use.

And the firming bit?  It was difficult to tell.  I only had a small tester and I think things like that only become apparent after prolonged use.

My overall verdict is definitely meh.  The smell was overpowering.  The results were ok but I can get similar results without the watering eyes.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Film review - The Dallas Buyers Club

We haven't seen a film in ages, mainly because there's so much rubbish out there, so The Dallas Buyers Club sounded intriguing.

It's the story of Ron Woodroof, (played by an almost unrecognisable Matthew McConaughey) a red neck, homophobic Texan electrician & rodeo guy who contracted HIV through intravenous drug use & unprotected sex with prostitutes.  He was given 30 days to live by the doctors.

At the time, mid 80's, AZT was the only known drug available for treating HIV positive patients and unfortunately it was still in the testing stages.  Ron refused to accept the prognosis and started learning about his condition as well as other treatments available in other countries. He was able to exploit a loophole in the law of the time which allowed terminally ill patients to import drugs from other countries and set up a buyers club.  This brought him into contact with a transvestite, Rayon - a fantastic performance by Jared Leto - with whom he forms a tentative and unlikely friendship.

Given the subject matter, it's actually quite an uplifting and even life affirming film.  Matthew McConaughey's intelligent, nervy performance makes the film.  If he doesn't win an Oscar for it, frankly there's no justice in the world.

It's by no means a perfect film.  It's very long and could easily have cut twenty minutes of unnecessary scenes.  Jennifer Garner as a sympathetic doctor was all cliche and surface which jarred against the moving performances from McConaughey & Leto.

Definite recommendation from me though if you want something a little different from the standard gaming inspired/rom com/action movie fare.  

Friday, 14 February 2014

Who was St. Valentine?

It's Valentine's Day - aw!  Cue an outpouring of red & pink heart themed products, teddy bears and slightly awkward couples in restaurants eating overpriced, mediocre meals.

It has got me thinking though - who was St. Valentine and how did he get to give his name to such a commercial day?

It turns out that no one's quite sure who The Saint Valentine actually was.

There are two Valentines who were executed and subsequently martyred on February the 14th.  The first was a Roman priest who was imprisoned for marrying Christian couples and eventually beheaded on February 14th in either 269,270 or 273.

The second Valentine was the former Bishop of Terni, (a city in what is now Umbria) who was beaten and beheaded on February 14th 269 for trying to convert the Emperor Claudius to Christianity.

Ok, but how did the anniversary of such violent deaths become linked to a day for lurve?

It turns out that our old mate, Geoffrey Chaucer had a hand in this.  In 1381 he wrote a poem called 'Parlement of Foules', (The Parliment of Birds) where Saint Valentine's Day is mentioned as the day when all the birds choose their mates for the year.

"And in a launde upon a hil of flowres
Was set this noble goddesse Nature;
Of braunches were hir halles and hir bowres,
Ywrought after hir cast and hir mesure;
Ne was ther fowl that cometh of engendrure
That they ne were alle prest in hir presence
To take hir doom, and yive hire audience.

For this was on Saint Valentines day, 
Whan every brid cometh there to chese his make"

A copy of the original poem is here and a modern translation here.

The idea of a special day devoted to love quickly caught on and before you know it, people were sending each other massive, luridly decorated, often padded cards declaring their feelings.

There is a story that the idea of Valentine's Day, as we celebrate it today, was started by Hallmark Cards to sell cards in that lull between Christmas and Easter but it's nothing more than an urban myth.  The introduction of the Penny Post in 1680 and cheap, mass produced cards meant that people have been expressing their desires via kitsch paper products for well over two hundred years.  Hallmark Cards was only started in 1910. 


Personally, I'm ambivalent about Valentine's Day.  On one hand, I can't help feeling that if you need a themed meal and a cheap card to affirm your relationship, you're in trouble.  On the other hand, the romantic in me likes the idea of a day devoted to love.

Whether or not you celebrate Valentine's Day, just enjoy it and for god's sake, don't do as a friend of mine did last year - get drunk and post a series of self pitying posts on Facebook saying that no one's ever going to love you because you're too ugly.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Hero Beauty Product - Matriskin Collagen Serum MP

I spoke here about receiving extra free samples at a promotional give-away.  The second sample I received was Matriskin Collagen Serum MP.

Image via

It claims to have 'a lifting effect without surgery' and blow me, it actually works!    I've reached that stage in life where I'm starting to look a bit like this so I'm very interested anything that will counteract it. After application you can actually feel the product tightening the skin. Following a week or so of use, my complexion was visibly less saggy and far clearer & healthy.  I received a lot of complements on how great I was looking.

One of the active ingredients is hyaluronic acid (hyaluronan) which is a component of human skin and is involved in tissue repair so I guess that's the anti aging bit of the formula.  The company has also run clinical trials on it's products, the results of which are published on it's website.  The nerdy part of me was impressed by this because there's a lot of smoke & mirrors and frankly down right deception in the cosmetics industry.

It's really easy to apply.  Just put about half a stopper's worth of product in the palms of your hands and smooth over the face.

The only problem is, it doesn't seem to be widely available in the UK. You can get samples through beauty box companies like Birchbox or on eBay but I couldn't find a UK website for it.  It's also eyewateringly expensive - $157 on the US site or €95 on the French site.  I'd buy it all the time if I could afford it but I think I'll have to restrain myself and use it only before big events.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Catching up and a trip up north

Well, that worked well, didn't it?  I promise to post a beauty review every Thursday and the very next Thursday, I go & miss it.

The truth is, I was up north, Newcastle way, visiting in-laws and I didn't want to haul my computer all the way across the country on the train. I haven't joined the 21st century yet and bought myself an iPad or tablet so unfortunately it was radio silence from me.

It was lovely being up north.  Newcastle is a beautiful city.  It reminds me of Scottish cities in a way - tall, grey stone buildings and clear, thin light.

Whilst we were there, we did manage a visit to the Baltic Gallery.  The Baltic is similar in feel to the Tate Modern (but without the crowds). There were three exhibitions on - Thomas Bayrle, a German pop artist (good but derivative), Sara Barker & Ryder Architecture (over in a couple of minutes) and my favourite, Salla Tykka.  This was a series of short films exploring the nature of beauty and it was breathtakingly, well... beautiful.  There was a film about the blossoming of a giant water lily named after Queen Victoria; another about the Lipizzan horses, (you know - the ones which leap in the air and dance) and the final film was about a boarding school for trainee Romanian gymnasts. Well worth catching if you're in the area.  It is free to enter but we did leave a donation.

The view from the Baltic is amazing

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Hero beauty product - Yu-Be moisturizing Skin Cream

I've decided to restart my weekly beauty reviews.  I do miss writing them and I have a stack of products which I'm currently trying.

I'll try and publish every Thursday, (work schedule permitting) so here goes with the first review of 2014...


I was walking through Covent Garden recently when I came across some girls handing out little cardboard boxes containing cosmetic samples for a promotional event.  I was lucky enough to be given two little boxes (it pays to be nice to people), one of which contained a sample of Yu-Be.

I'd never heard of Yu-Be but it turns out it's very popular in Japan.  It's one of those multi purpose products, a bit like Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream or Lucas' Papaw Ointment that can used on dry areas all over the body including the lips.

So is it any good?

Oh yes, it most certainly is!  I actually prefer it to Eight Hour Cream or Lucas' Papaw Ointment because it's glycerin based whereas they're both petrolatum (petroleum) based.  I find that petroleum products tend to dry out my skin because they seem just to sit on the surface and once they've rubbed off/been washed off, my skin's just as bad as before.  

Yu-Be, however, is a different kettle of fish.  It's got a really rich creamy texture which soaks in quickly and it's incredibly moisturising. I've got these dry spots on my knees and Yu-Be really is the only thing that works on them.  It's also very good on the lips and any other dry patches that occur. 

I love the faint camphory smell to it too.  I know it's probably some placebo thing but it makes it seem medicinal.

I've been jealously eking out my little tube but it's going to run out soon.  You can buy it from Boots & Space NK but I bet it's cheaper at Japanese stores.  If anyone knows of a Japanese outlet where I could stock up, do let me know.  x  

Monday, 27 January 2014

The life I'd like to have versus the life I actually lead.

In my head I'm one of those women with an immaculate, glossy lifestyle that everyone tries to copy.  You know the ones - they live in all white homes accented with a 'pop' of colour (maybe a vintage chair they sourced at a flea market or a large clock).  They have amazing yet casual wardrobes and they instagram pictures of themselves eating Laduree macarons in pretty cafes with a perfect rose on the table.  Tea is always drunk out of floral teacups with gold edges and there's always a Diptyque candle on the go.

In my real life I'm a technician.  I wear steel toe capped boots & old holey T shirts to work and my hair is always a mess.  I'm not going to talk about the time I was mistaken for a vagrant on the tube (I'd worked an 18 hour day - I was tired!)  Don't get me wrong, I love my job, I just wish I had a bit more girliness in my life.

So I was very pleased last night when the waitress in the restaurant where we were eating commented on my umbrella, saying how much she loved the birds because they were so girly.

Image via


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Where has the time gone?

How on earth has it the 26th of January already? Christmas was over a month ago!

Well, in my case the time has flown by in a blur of work, socialising and well... more work. And now, rather wonderfully, I actually have two and a half days off! Yesterday I spent mainly in my pyjamas just recovering - watching stuff on catch up, internet surfing and sleeping! I didn't even leave the flat. It was bliss and today I actually feel relaxed but energised enough to go out and do things.  


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