Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespare's Birthplace interior

A day in Stratford-upon-Avon with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Shakespeare bestowed upon the world a love for literature, producing nearly 200 known works in his lifetime.

In sleepy Stratford-upon-Avon, you can discover snippets of his world. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust presents a variety of attractions in the area. Here, visitors can discover the literary great and are taken on a journey through Shakespeare’s life. 

The adult annual pass includes all five properties and is only £22.50, allowing for unlimited visits within 12 months!

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust attractions include:

  • Shakespeare’s Birthplace 
  • Shakespeare’s New Place
  • Mary Arden’s Farm
  • Hall’s Croft
  • Anne Hathaway’s Cottage 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespare's Birthplace

Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Discover Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon’s town centre. This grand Tudor home presents a living museum of Shakespeare’s childhood and a timeline of his life and work. 

As you enter, explore the Famous Beyond Words exhibition where you will be presented with informative videos, artwork and memorabilia dedicated to the playwrights greatest works and a variety of fascinating artifacts. 

Finally, you will move on to the properties beautifully landscaped gardens. Here, you can learn more about Shakespeare’s plays on a 9 metre interactive wallbook, immerse yourself in live performances by actors on request and become mesmerised by talks and workshops within the home on Shakespeare’s family life and his father’s glove making business. 

Afterwards, be sure to check out the giftshop for beautiful stationery and books. 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespare's New Place

Shakespeare’s New Place

Shakespeare’s New Place allows visitors to wander around the site of the playwrights final property, where he died in 1616. 

Although the original home no longer stands, the re-established neighbouring property presents a fascinating exhibition with artwork and artefacts. Surprisingly, this includes a signet ring believed to have been owned by William Shakespeare himself!

Finally, take time to appreciate the restored sunken Knot Garden and the large landscaped Elizabethan Great Garden. Here you will discover plenty of places to take a moment and reflect on his life.

The Great Garden is also home to grand and enchanting series of commissioned bronze statues by Greg Wyatt dedicated to Shakespeare’s famous works. 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Mary Arden's Farm

Mary Arden’s Farm

Mary Arden’s Farm was the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother. Today, it is still a charming working Tudor farm and only a short drive outside the town centre. 

Onsite, admire the varied livestock and enjoy live action performances by actors in period costumes. See falconry and goose herding demonstrations, as well as being able to take part in a wealth of interactive activities and educational talks.

This expansive 23-acre farm is delightful to stroll around. Expect historic buildings, lush greenery and plenty of hidden treasures to be found. 

Enjoy watching butterflies in wild flower and fauna embellished meadows, reignite your childish side and climb the viewing tower, spot carved wooden animals hidden within the trees and crawl through lengthy willow domed structures.

On departing, the gift shop offers wholesome local produce and pretty trinkets. 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Hall's Croft

Hall’s Croft

Hall’s Croft is the Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, and her husband, physician, John Hall. 

Once inside, step along creaking wooden floorboards to discover their family home and life and follow walls and rooms lined with medicinal herbs and vials. Once upstairs, you will also find the beautifully crafted The Bard’s Rest sofa centrepiece upstairs.

You can also enjoy the Method in Madness and Living with History exhibitions. 

Method in Madness delves into medicinal practice and use in late 16th and early 17th century. It details how John Hall would have worked and how doctors understood the body and mind to function during this time.

Here, you will learn about medical advancements, see the garish tools used to operate and authentic apothecary and uroscopy stations. 

Living with History is found within the onsite Hall’s Croft Cafe. It presents life in Stratford-upon-Avon, past and present, through the eyes of local documentary photographer, William Mulryne. 

Once you have finished admiring the photography take a moment in the Hall’s Croft walled garden brimming with medicinal herbs or even enjoy some tea and cake at the cafe. 

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife and is a short drive outside the town centre. Here, Shakespeare courted a young Anne Hathaway and the pair soon fell in love. 

The property was originally a farmhouse and the family reared sheep on its 90-acre land. Unfortunately, as we set off a little later in the day, we had to miss Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. 

However, if you set off early, all of these attractions are more than doable in a day! Although, if you miss one like me, the annual pass also allows you to return on a later date!

Thus, I shall certainly be returning to visit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage soon. 

Have you discovered Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon? What is your favourite piece of work by Shakespeare?

Stephanie xox

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My first impressions Glossier makeup review | The LDN Gal

Glossier makeup review

I’ve heard mixed reviews about Glossier. It seems to be the marmite makeup brand for millennials – we either love or hate it.

The brands tagline? ‘Skincare and beauty products inspired by real life’. The brand promotes natural ‘IRL’ looks, demonstrated by a plethora of customer-generated pictures on their Instagram feed. It’s simple, they let their do the consumers do the talking.

The brand is pretty and simplistic, with a straightforward range and minimalist (often pretty-in-pink) packaging. But, are the products worth the hype?

Cloud Paint in Dusk review

Honestly, I love Cloud Paint. I can’t say anything bad about it. A little goes a long way despite the small tube size (annoying). A few dots along the cheekbones and a swish of a finger and you’re good to go. First of all, I was concerned that Dusk may be too dark for me as a brownish nude shade. However, it’s super complimentary and gives a very natural sunkissed glow! To sum it up, I kind of want every shade now. 

Cloud Paint comes in six shades:

  • Dusk (brownish nude colour)
  • Storm (warm rose colour)
  • Dawn (sunny coral colour)
  • Puff (light cool pink colour)
  • Haze (deep berry colour)
  • Beam (soft peach colour)

Birthday Balm Dotcom review

Everyone raves about Balm Dotcom and in my opinion, for good reason. I tried the untinted Birthday balm dotcom and have to admit, it leaves your lips feeling sensational. To start, it is really hydrating and leaves a nice subtle shimmer. A few people even asked if it plumps your lips! I don’t believe it does, but it certainly gives the illusion! In conclusion, you need it in your life. The product can be used as either a lip balm or a skin salve. Although you probably wouldn’t want glittery elbows…

Balm dotcom comes in seven flavours:

  • Birthday Balm Dotcom
  • Original Balm Dotcom
  • Rose Balm Dotcom
  • Cherry Balm Dotcom
  • Mint Balm Dotcom
  • Coconut Balm Dotcom
  • Mango balm dotcom

Boy Brow in Brown review

I mean, Boy Brow is a good product and does what it says on the tin (tube). However, I wouldn’t class it as life-changing by any means. I actually prefer to use eyebrow powders over pomades, as I like my brows a little darker. Saying this, if you are going for a natural but gradually defined look, you’re sorted. In summary, I’d say use this in the daytime and it’s a solid investment. 

Boy Brow comes in four colours:

  • Brown
  • Clear
  • Black
  • Blond

Any negatives about Glossier?

To clarify, I am now a pretty big fan of Glossier and will purchase from them again. However, there is a negative about the brand that irks me. That is to say, the amount of product in all of the above seems to be lacking. Therefore, I really can’t see these products lasting more than three months with daily use. Undoubtedly, this is a tad annoying. 

However, if you are into a brand that will give you a gorgeous and buildable natural look. Look no further than Glossier. Above all, invest in Balm Dotcom ASAP.

If you’re interested in trying Glossier yourself, you can get 10% off your first order using this link.

Have you tried Glossier? If not, what would be your go-to product?

Stephanie xox

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Reinventing my skincare routine with The Ordinary | skincare collection | The LDN Gal

The Ordinary skincare review

The Ordinary has been making waves in the skincare and beauty world for a while now. The company came to the forefront of people’s mind when now deceased co-CEO, Brandon Trueaxe, announced in a meltdown post that the company and its sister company, Deciem, would be closing down in October 2018.

Alas, this was not the case – thankfully. Brandon’s visionary influence on the brand has enabled it to thrive.

Feeling indulgent I decided to have an oh so affordable splurge on ASOS. not only are The Ordinary products cruelty free, they are quite simply fantastic. I fell in love with the minimalistic packaging, the transparency of ingredients and their wonderful properties and ethos.

Its clinical skincare and beauty formulations feature “nourishing oils and innovative serums that are free of parabens, sulphates and mineral oils.”

Reinventing my skincare routine with The Ordinary | skincare collection oils | The LDN Gal

My The Ordinary skincare overhaul included the following products:

So, what do I think of The Ordinary skincare?

I decided to test the following throughout the week prior to review. Here’s what I loved:

Reinventing my skincare routine with The Ordinary - The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA 30ml - The LDN Gal

The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA review

I have normal/slightly dry skin. So, for me, a hydrating moisturiser is a must. The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA provides just that. It is a light cream that offers instant absorption and hydration, day or night. It doesn’t feel sticky or overly heavy on the skin.

This particular moisturiser contains 11 amino acids, working collaboratively to smooth, brighten and protect. I’ve been using it morning and night (except on the mornings I use the primer) and I have found my skin left feeling a lot softer and brighter.

Reinventing my skincare routine with The Ordinary | The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer review | The LDN Gal

The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer review

I always love a new primer. There is nothing nicer than finding a product that brings your skin and make-up to life. This primer does just that, offering a hydrating application and sought after matte finish. I skipped my morning moisturiser on that days that I used this, and my face still felt incredible without it. My make-up applied and stayed like a dream, and my skin didn’t feel whacked after a days coverage. 

Reinventing my skincare routine with The Ordinary | The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil review | The LDN Gal

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil review

It is no secret that argan oil is a skincare and haircare wonder product. This organic argan oil contains oleic and linoleic fatty acids, known for their protective and smoothing properties.

I used this oil on my skin and hair, applying a few drops to every other evening after my normal skincare routine. On the skin, I found it a lot thicker than the other oils featured and preferred using The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane instead.  Saying this, it helped to dull any dry patches (this weather eh?) and gave my skin a wonderful glow. Although it is a slightly thicker oil, it doesn’t clog up pores or feel overly greasy. I’d say, use it a few times a week if your skin is particularly dry. 

On the other hand, using this on my hair has left it feeling sensational. If you are looking for something to give your hair smoothness and shine, argan oil is the way forward.

Reinventing my skincare routine with The Ordinary | The Ordinary | 100% Plant-Derived Squalane review | The LDN Gal

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane review

As explained, I have fallen head over heels for the 100% plant-derived squalane. This oil-based product is so lightweight and smooth. Used daily, you feel an instant difference in terms of hydration and brightness. It left my skin feeling soft and supple, working so well combined with the moisturiser. It is now part of my daily routine.

Interestingly, it can also be used on your hair to offer heat protection.

Reinventing my skincare routine with The Ordinary | The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane review | The LDN Gal

The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane review

I am not a skincare junkie so embarrassingly, I am not overly au fait with the retinol hype. Keeping it simple, retinol works to rejuvenate the skin, targeting fine lines and other signs of ageing.

Saying this, many skincare experts advise that you start with the lowest dosage of retinol and build your tolerance slowly over time. Retinol is not suited to all skin types and fortunately, I found that this product worked really well for me. My skin is hydrated and fine lines are visibly reduced. I used it in my t-zone predominatly a few times a week. I found this anti-ageing oil was best applied in the evening before night creams.

So, there you have it! I have to admit, The Ordinary products will be remaining a skincare staple for me. Affordable and efficient, there really is nothing like bright and hydrated skin to put you in a fabulous mood!

Have you ever tried any The Ordinary products? Which items would you choose from the above?

Stephanie xox

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Brunch at Bourne & Hollingsworth Garden Room, London - table

Brunch at Bourne & Hollingsworth Garden Room

It’s always exciting when a new brunch hotspot in London appears. A fortnight ago, I headed out for brunch at Bourne & Hollingsworth Garden Room during its launch weekend.

The new rooftop restaurant and bar is located in the heart of the West End. Situated atop the Assembly Hotel, it offers panoramic views across London and a stunning interior.

The interior is wonderful, with floor-to-ceiling windows, delicate wicker weaved furnishings and citrus dotted flora aplenty.

Their brunch menu is wholesome and delicious, with a selection of vegetarian and vegan items to boot. Fear not meat eaters, there truly is something for everyone!

Brunch at Bourne & Hollingsworth Garden Room, London - panoramic viewBrunch at Bourne & Hollingsworth Garden Room, London - brunch menuBrunch at Bourne & Hollingsworth Garden Room, London - baked green eggs, all mixed up

So, what did I think of Bourne & Hollingsworth Garden Room?

Opting for savoury over sweet, I ordered the ‘Baked green eggs, all mixed up’. This dish was bursting with flavour, embellished with fresh pesto, crunchy vegetables and baked eggs in an earthy terracotta dish.

As expected, there are options for a bottomless brunch, as well as a selection sumptuous sides, cocktails and fresh juices to suit all.

Bourne & Hollingsworth Garden Room offers its visitors breakfast, dinner, cocktails and of course, weekend brunch, open daily from 7am.

Have you been to Bourne & Hollingsworth Garden Room yet? Which item would try from their brunch menu?

Stephanie xox

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A spring clean with Fantastic Services - car

One-off deep clean with fantastic services

You know the drill, you’re busy at work, the cold weather has well and truly set in and you are well overdue a spring clean.

However, when do you find the time? Fantastic Services offer a variety of cleaning services for the home across the UK, as well as gardening, landscaping, tradesmen, removals and storage, waste removal, inventory services, pest control and appliance repair.

A spring clean with Fantastic Services - hallway interior

What cleaning services do they offer?

Their domestic cleaning services in the UK include:

  • Regular cleaning
  • One-off cleaning
  • Carpet cleaning
  • End of tenancy cleaning
  • Holiday rental cleaning
  • Upholstery cleaning
  • Window cleaning
  • Conservatory cleaning
  • Oven and BBQ cleaning
  • Curtains and blinds cleaning
  • After builders cleaning
  • Gutter cleaning
  • Home organising

A spring clean with Fantastic Services - bathroom interiorA spring clean with Fantastic Services - sink cleaningA spring clean with Fantastic Services - bath tap cleaning

One-off deep clean review

We opted for a one-off deep clean as we are in the process of putting our flat up for sale. The service included three cleaners coming into our one bedroom flat for two hours at an arranged time to suit us.

Before they began, they asked me which areas they should focus on, focusing on a customised cleaning check list. Taking a room each in turn they blitzed our place.

They made the bathroom gleam, polishing up all ceramic and metal surfaces. Honestly, it looked like a show bathroom once it was done, I don’t think it was this clean when we bought the place.

In the combined kitchen and living room, our kitchen area garnered the most attention. Surfaces were cleaned and polished, the oven was bombed and blitzed, as well as the microwave. Our upholstery was also given the once over, with the sofa cleaned

Throughout the property, interiors of windows were made to shine alongside their sills and skirting boards were cleaned. They finished by hoovering the place, adding a perfumed spray across all carpets.

A spring clean with Fantastic Services - room interior

So, what did I think of Fantastic Services? 

Afterwards, the cleaners asked me to inspect the property. It’s safe to say, I walked back in and found myself in awe. Everything sparkled and smelt sensational.

I found the Fantastic Services cleaners to be thorough, professional and oh so polite. I will definitely be using them again in the future.

If you would like to take advantage of Fantastic Services and their incredible cleaners, you can use the code LDNGAL to receive £10 off your first service.

Are you overdue a spring clean? Have you used Fantastic Services before?

Stephanie xox

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This Fantastic Services one-off deep clean was exchanged for an honest review

Shine bright with the Ingle & Rhode silver and engagement ring collection - Droplet Earrings

 Ingle & Rhode silver and engagement ring collection

If you are looking for timeless jewellery to compliment pretty much everything in your wardrobe, look no further than Ingle & Rhode.

The Mayfair, London, based ethical jewellers presents an online offering including engagement, wedding and eternity rings, with bespoke designs available on request. But today, we are focusing on their silver collection.

What is Fairmined sterling silver?

The entire Ingle & Rhode silver collection is crafted within the UK using Fairmined sterling silver. So, what is Fairmined silver?

Fairmined is a gold standard assurance that the silver used to craft the jewellery is sourced from responsible small-scale mining companies. Companies that meet global standards for responsible sourcing. It is then shaped and finished by expert craftsman.

However, when you purchase your jewellery, can you always be sure where it is sourced and that it is done so responsibly? In the competitive jewellery industry, it is an unfortunate reality that environmental and human exploitation is abundant to keep prices down for mass production.

Consumers are far more aware of these harsh realities and desire conflict-free and responsibly sourced items. With Ingle & Rhode jewellery, you can always ensure that this is the case.

What did I think of the Droplet Earrings?

I was lucky enough to get hold of the diamond Droplet Earrings. These elegant, beautiful and utterly timeless earrings are crafted from the aforementioned and celebrated Fairmined sterling silver. Each earring is then set with a Canadian diamond.

Each sophisticated earring measures 2.5 centimetres in length with a delicate droplet style and clasp reverse. They can be purchased alongside a matching Droplet Pendant.

The majority of items within the silver collection (excluding the cufflinks) are adorned with Canadian diamonds. Diamonds that are beautifully crafted and ethically sourced.

Ethically sourced Canadian diamonds

Canada is renowned for its diamonds. It is one of the few countries worldwide to excavate monitored and traceable diamonds. Meaning they are sourced, cut and polished responsibly.

Thus, all diamonds used by Ingle & Rhode are traceable, fairly mined and certifiable, with Canadian environmental laws ensuring ethical practice and a thorough environmental conciousness.

Once these diamonds have been sourced, mined areas are restored and wildlife is always protected. Most noteworthy, Canada produce 15 per cent of gem quality diamonds globally.

An ethos ensuring quality sourced diamonds

The Ingle & Rhode ethos ensures quality in the sourcing of their diamonds as standard, as well as being paired with their expertly crafted Fairmined sterling silver.

As a result, their ethical approach shines through all of their jewellery collections and the jewellers pride themselves for being “socially and environmentally responsible.”

Bespoke engagement ring service 

In addition, they also other a bespoke engagement ring service, allowing you to design your engagement ring. There is an abundance of metal and gemstone options, as well as a variety of cut choices. This ensures complete customisation and perfection.

For those looking for that special gift for someone special, or even as a treat for yourself, be sure to discover Ingle & Rhode’s luxury collections of Fairmined silver or gold and platinum jewellery crafted from Fairtrade or recycled precious metal.

Either way, you are guaranteed to find a selection of stylish, ethical and environmentally concious jewellery. Jewellery to suit any occasion, budget and of course, you!

Have you ever bought items from Ingle & Rhode? What is your favourite item in the silver collection?

Stephanie xox

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This Ingle & Rhode jewellery was exchanged for an honest review