Merry Christmas week one and all! With just a few days to go, you’re probably already in full-on festive mode, but if you’re not – then hold onto your bobble hats! Because here comes a super Christmassy post that’s bound to get you in the festive zone.
Thanks to a kind invite from their tourism board, Callum spent a few days last week exploring the lovely Swiss town of Basel. I still remember a school trip to Switzerland yearrrrrsss ago, and how beautiful I found the country, especially at this time of year. So I was super excited for Callum to get to see it for himself! He came back very happy (and one size bigger, because of course: cheese). Find out what he got up to, and his top recommendations of things to see, eat and do in this picture-perfect Christmassy town…
Though Basel would make for a great European weekend getaway all year round, with it’s pretty architecture and cultural, metropolitan vibe, Basel comes into its own in the winter. Not only does it have the biggest Christmas market in Switzerland, there’s also the cosy food to consider – hello fondue! – and *those* panoramic views across the Rhine. Callum stayed in Hotel Wettstein, a good base for exploring the city. He recommends discovering the city on foot, meandering down the pretty streets and stopping for coffee or a cup of hot chocolate at whichever cafe takes your fancy. It’s a small enough city to cover in a few days, but with plenty of interesting things going on, so grab your favourite travel buddy and get wandering! Here are some places you should definitely try and pay a visit to…
Of course we had to start the list with Callum’s standout restaurant from the trip. Volshaus was designed by the architects of the Tate and the Tate Modern, so enjoy the super sleek environment of this French brasserie while sampling their simple but elegant food (Callum recommends the steak). The venue also hosts music and other cultural events throughout the year, and in the warmer months visit the pretty courtyard beer garden for a few cheeky drinks. The restaurant is super popular thanks to the standard of food and service, so be sure to book!
If you love museums, you’re spoilt for choice in Basel. There are 40 museums within 37 km2! One of the standouts is the Museum Tinguely, devoted to the life and work of famous Swiss iron sculptor Jean Tinguely. Enjoy a few creative hours interacting with the metal sculptures and displays. Particularly great for families with children, who’ll love the playful aspects. The museum also has a beautiful spot overlooking the Rhine, so you can enjoy some gorgeous views of the city as well.
A great lunch or dinner spot with a casual cafe vibe and a lovingly-crafted wine list. Try their burger – approved by burger-king Callum himself. The roast-beef baguette also comes highly recommended, as does the coffee, which is Viennese inspired with a Swiss touch. Plus, the super cool retro-inspired interior is fresh, urban and totally Instagram ready.
To complete a cosy winter’s night in Basel you have to make a visit to this beautiful 5* hotel. It’s the ultimate luxe hideaway, with an open log fire in the bar and twinkling Christmas decorations abound. Nestle by the fire with one of their delicious cocktails (a little pricey, but worth it) whilst being serenaded by the pianist in the adjacent lounge. Date spot factor x100 – especially if you book a table at their 3* michelin restaurant.
Of course, no festive trip to Basel would be complete without exploring the Christmas market! Head to Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz at the heart of the city’s Old Town for Switzerland’s biggest Christmas market, with over 180 stalls full of artisan gifts, local delicacies (must-tries are Basel Läckerli, a gingerbread treat, and Swiss raclette – mmm cheesy goodness), and of course as much of Gluhwein (mulled wine) as you can fill your belly with! Enjoy the beautiful lights and decorations daily until the 23rd December. For ultra Christmas vibes be sure to pass by the Johann Wanner Christmas House (pick up next year’s Xmas tree ornaments here) and warm up with a traditional Swiss fondue at Restaurant Kunsthalle’s pop-up winter cabin.
Other things to add to the list:
Consum – Cute care/bar with yummy cake and a super Instagrammable floor
Kunstmuseum Basel – Currently home to a fantastic Jackson Pollock exhibition, this is a must-visit, with beautiful architecture and home to the world’s largest collection of works by the Holbein family. Spot major pieces by van Gogh, Gauguin, Xezanne and Picasso
Rheinfahre – Cross the Rhine in the traditional way with this current-led boat trip! A great way to take in the scenic river-front
In celebration of Organic Beauty Week, I’m sharing a little trip Callum and I made down to Hereford this summer to visit the HQ one of my favourite skin care brands, Herbfarmacy. I mentioned their amazing cleansing mousse in my last beauty post, but they have so many more brilliant products and such a fabulous heritage and story that I wanted to write a dedicated feature for you guys. Since providence is such an important part of organic skincare, it was such a treat to see where the herbs in my favourite products are grown – not to mention the farm itself is absolutely beautiful! So come dance through the mullein with me (that’s those big yellow plants!) to learn more about organic skincare and Herbfarmacy …
Nestled in the gorgeous Herefordshire countryside, Herbfarmacy’s farm is a sanctuary of calm and colour. Driving up through the winding roads, leafy boughs overhead and the sound of birds all around, it’s impossible not to feel a sense of relaxation overtake you – and then you enter the farm itself and are greeted by this beautiful, sweeping view! It’s the perfect mix of revitalising and soothing – just like Herbfarmacy’s products themselves.
The brand’s founder Paul was there to greet us (with fresh treats from the local farmer’s market!). Having run the farm for over 30 years, Paul is just so passionate and knowledgable about his brand – and natural skincare in general. You can tell by the way he talks about the different plants as we wander through his colourful farm that he believes wholeheartedly in the benefits of organically-sourced, well-cared for ingredients. This ethos is at the heart of everything Herbfarmacy do. They were the first UK company to grow and process the herbs to make their skincare products on site, and Paul’s background as a botanist brings his exceptional knowledge of the healing properties of herbs to each and every one of their products.
After exploring the beautiful farm (how stunning are those colours!), we hopped into the labs to have a go at making a batch of their best-selling Mallow Beauty Balm! Herbfarmacy’s balms are such a great all-around skincare product. There are so many different ways you can use them, from nourishing night-masks to cleansing and moisturising. In the mornings I just rub a little balm between my fingers to warm it up and then work it into my skin, before gently wiping any excess away with a damp muslin cloth. I follow with a few spritzes of the Rose and Echinacea toner (also a lovely pick me up for when your skin is feeling a little dull in the middle of the day!) and then a light coverage of the Balancing Face Cream.
I’m so glad that there’s now a bigger spotlight on organic skincare. As someone who’s suffered from sensitive, troublesome skin my whole life, it’s always been high on my agenda to seek out the most caring, natural products for my face and body. I think it’s easy to forget that the skin is an organ – it needs the same TLC that you show your insides! And organic doesn’t have to mean expensive. Of course you’ll pay a little more for fresh, well-sourced ingredients, but the great thing is that products with natural plants and oils tend to be super potent, so a little goes a long way.
This summer has been all about floaty floral dresses. Fashion-wise, I mean. In other areas of life it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions and my craziest work schedule yet, but as long as I’m wearing something light and pretty I’m able to breeze through all the drama! While this dress would be perfect summer wedding-guest attire, I’ve opted for more casual, urban accessories, with a big shoulder bag and these super cute shoe boots from Deichmann. Thankfully this day coincided with probably the only day of the year my nail polish hasn’t been chipped, ha!
Gather round girls, it’s time to get up close and personal in here. Yup, we’re talking skincare. I’ve been wanting to do a post like this for ages now, which is funny as I’m super low maintenance when it comes to make up and other beauty issues, but growing up with a Chinese mother who takes her skincare almost as seriously as she does her food (read: SUPER SERIOUSLY), and suffering from adult acne the past few years has made me very particular when it comes to my skin. I won’t just use any old product on my skin. So when Braun sent me their cleansing brush to try out, the Braun Face 810, you can imagine my level of skepticism. Did I really need yet another addition to my skincare routine? Well, after a lazy Sunday pampering session, I’m happy to report that the answer is a big fat… YES!
Braun’s cleansing brush is all about prepping your skin for your creams and makeup – making sure your skin is thoroughly cleaned and looking flawless before you’ve even put on any makeup at all! So it’s not just an important step in your skincare routine, but your make up one too. And caring for your base helps you to achieve healthy-looking skin without the price tag of a facial.
For such a light device, the Braun Face is surprisingly powerful. It comes with a cleansing brush for normal skin, but you can also but interchangeable heads for sensitive skin, deep exfoliation and even a makeup application sponge. It also has a great built-in precision epilator for facial hair removal. I started with a quick groom of my eyebrows using the precision epilator, which was a lot less painful than I thought – think little electric kisses on your skin! Then I popped on the cleansing brush for a deep-pore clean. It’s super easy to use – just dampen your face and the brush before smoothing on your cleanser (my current love is Herbfamarcy’s foaming mousse). Don’t worry about getting the device wet – it’s totally waterproof! You can even use it in the shower, which is great for those busy mornings when you don’t have much time to get ready.
Once your cleanser is on, simply move the brush in slow circles around your face to work the product into your skin. I honestly didn’t think the brush would make that much of a difference, but you can instantly feel how much smoother and cleaner your skin is. The movements of the brush also act like a mini facial, encouraging circulation and fresh blood flow, so you’ll notice an extra glowiness afterwards too. Hello happy, healthy-looking skin!
Top tip: treating yourself to the pack of different brush heads is definitely worth it. The extra sensitive one is great to use for dry facial brushing or gently working in moisturiser a little more deeply, and there’s even a make up sponge disc that will apply your foundation super smoothly. I tried it with my Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue and it worked beautifully. The Braun Face really is all about the base – in more ways than one!
If you fancy trying one, hurry up and head over to Boots – it’s currently on offer for £34.99! Let me know what you think and if you discover any other ways in which to use the different brushes! Enjoy your beautiful summer skin darlings x
Getting ready for a red carpet is a pretty daunting experience! I’ve been lucky enough to a few film premieres at Leicester Square, but this year’s BAFTA TV ceremony was in a league of it’s own, with celebrities from JT to Tommy Hiddles attending the Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall venue, so the pressure was on to be on top form! Secret: I’m actually super low maintenance (and low in skill) when it comes to beauty. I have a small cosmetics bag with a few essentials I use on repeat – that’s on days where I actually make the effort to make up! But it’s always exciting to get glammed up for an event like this, and with a personalised beauty goodybag from Lancome and House of Fraser I had an easy time coming up with this super simple, low-key summer glam look.
I was thoroughly spoilt dress-wise too thanks to the lovely girls at The Dressing Room in St Albans. I had a little trying on session the morning of the ceremony and fell head over heels for this dress from new London designer Rixo London. The handpainted floral print and silky flow of the dress was just perfect for floating down the red carpet (or rather, walking rather stickily, given the summer heat)!