Every now and then you visit a restaurant where things go a little bit wrong, but the friendly staff and the service they provide makes you want to go back regardless, and that's exactly that happened when I dined at The Encore in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

The Encore restaurant is located in central Stratford-Upon-Avon, a mere stones throw from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and easily accessible by car, bus, train, and even boat. It houses two floors of beautifully designed dining space and is a lovely setting for lunch, dinner, or just drinks. 

Looking up at The Encore restaurant from the street below
The Encore viewed from Bridge Street in Stratford-Upon-Avon

There are several menus to chose from at The Encore (lunch, brunch, vegan, etc) but as we dropped in on a sunny Sunday afternoon, it would have been rude not to order a traditional Sunday roast. Whilst I eat a mostly vegetarian diet these days, I do bend the rules for certain meals, roast dinners being one.

The options for the Sunday roast include:

  • Trio of roasts (beef, pork, chicken) - £18.50
  • Roast beef - £16.50
  • Roast chicken - £14.75
  • Roast pork belly - £14.95
  • Fig & dolcelatte roast - £14.95

I chose the roast pork belly and my sister opted for the roast beef. At that sort of price we were expecting good things and we weren't disappointed, mostly.

A large plate of meat, roast potatoes, and a large Yorkshire pudding. A bowl of vegetables can be seen in the background.
Slices of roast pork belly, roast potatoes, crackling, stuffing, and a large Yorkshire pudding

Once our dinners arrived we were presented with two large plates of meats, roast potatoes, and giant Yorkshire puddings, and one sharing dish of mixed veggies. The portion sizes were certainly not small. We were delighted at the sight of the meals we were about to dig into, until I spotted a hair in mine. 

Accidents happen from time to time, and although most restaurants have high hygiene standards things like this do happen. That being said its never nice to find a hair in your dinner even if you haven't started eating yet. I raised the issue with the waitress straight away and she swooped the dinner from under me to replace it as soon as possible.

Grace is sitting to the table. Her dinning in on the table below her. The inside of the restaurant can be see in the background.
Is there any point going for a fancy dinner if you don't take a photo with it?

As my dinner was so impressive I did worry it would be quite some time before another was brought to the table but to my surprise I didn't have to wait too long at all. I would estimate that a fresh pork belly roast was plonked down within 10 minutes of the waitress taking the original away. After bringing a new meal to the table, our waitress apologised quite sincerely and said that the meal would be complimentary. Whilst I expected maybe a small discount, or the offer of a drink after such an issue, I didn't expect the whole meal for free. For this reason and the genuinely good customer service I received from our waitress that afternoon I would not hesitate to return to The Encore again.

We soon wolfed down our meals which were equal parts delicious and filling, and went on our way discussing another possible visit for December after spying their festive menus earlier in the day. 

Despite the little blip I was quite impressed by my experience at The Encore, and the way they dealt with the situation ensured we left the restaurant as happy customers.

The Encore
1 Bridge Street
CV37 6AB

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Stratford-upon-Avon CV37, UK


*Ad - gifted experience

In my opinion massages are good for the mind, body, and soul. There's not much that can't be fixed by a session with an experienced therapist, so when I was approached by The Massage Company in Sutton Coldfield I was more than happy to put their services to the test. It would be rude not to wouldn't it?

Based in the Mere Green area of Sutton Coldfield, The Massage Company offers a range of massages to suit everyones needs. The location is on the main high street surrounded by shops, bars, and restaurants. Parking is also easily available within just a few minutes walk, as is the Four Oaks train station. Although this is their only location in the Midlands, they also have branches across the South East in Camberley, High Wycombe, Tunbridge Wells, and Putney. 

The entrance to The Massage Company in Sutton Coldfield
Entrance to The Massage Company in Sutton Coldfield

On arrival at The Massage Company, I was greeted by a friendly receptionist who checked myself and my sister in. We were each given a short survey to complete which would ran through a few health questions, allowed us to pin point any areas we would like to particularly focus on, and any areas we would prefer the therapist not to touch. This is not something I'd come across while having massages in the past, but something I thought was a great idea, especially as I primarily enjoy back massages and would always like that to be the area of focus. 

Whilst we waited for our appointment time the receptionist talked us through the available massages and the upgrades. We were both booked in for a Swedish Massage which is a full body massage, something I'd not yet tried. Along with our main massage we were also offered an upgrade. This time we both opted for the Hot Stones although I was very tempted by the Scalp Massage.

The full range of massages available:

  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Sports Massage
  • Swedish Massage
  • Maternity Massage

The upgrades available:

  • Hot Stones
  • Scalp Massage
  • Aromatherapy
  • Fantastic Foot Treatment

Once inside the treatment room the therapist gave me time to get undressed and comfortable. Although going for a massage is nothing new to me, they can be very intimate which is why it's always nice to find a therapist who is friendly and makes me feel at ease.  

Inside the treatment room. In the foreground the massage table can be seen and in the background is a table with a range of prodcts.
The treatment room at The Massage Company

Before starting the treatment the therapist checked that I was as comfortable and as relaxed as I could be by adjusting the massage table and ensuring the temperature was to my liking. She also ensured I continued to be comfortable throughout the massage, adjusting things where needed and regularly checking that the pressure she was using was fine.

Although it's not something I've chosen before, the Swedish Massage was a very good choice and a treatment I would likely chose again. The massage lasted for 50 minutes which is longer than I usually go for but I found this was the perfect amount of time to really chill out and enjoy the experience. The upgrade to the hot stones was also a very good decision as the sensation of the warm rocks gliding across my skin added an extra layer of pleasure.

Throughout the whole experience I felt relaxed and happy that I was in the hands of a very experienced therapist who did not give in until every single knot was rubbed out of my back, something that is no easy task let me tell you. My sister also said that she thoroughly enjoyed her treatment and we both agreed it was something we liked being able to do together before continuing the day with a well deserved brunch.

Although we didn't take out a membership this time, I think the sharable flexi membership The Massage Company offers would be great for friends or family members looking to meet up and enjoy a relaxing experience.

The Massage Company
320 Lichfield Road
Sutton Coldfield
B74 2UG

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The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, UK


Set on the coastline of Snowdonia National Park, Shell Island is the biggest campsite in the UK. The site which spans over 450 acres, is less than 30 minutes north from the popular seaside town of Barmouth, making it the perfect destination for a summer holiday.

The welcoming entrance sign to Shell Island. Seagulls can be seen flying in the background.
The welcoming entrance sign to Shell Island

Shell island accepts, both tents and campervan's with prices starting from just £9.00 per person per night off season. While it's not the cheapest campsite for families, it has much to offer that other sites cannot compete with.

So what makes Shell Island unique? Not only is it one of the largest campsites in Europe, the island is based in a fantastic location just a stones-throw from the beach. Lucky campers may even find themselves in a pitch overlooking the sea, though these spots are often the first to be snapped up. 

It's also a tidal island meaning at certain times Shell Island is inaccessible when the tide is in. This is never for more than a few hours, though it does make for some slightly nail-biting drives when you've got minutes to cross before the waves start lapping at the road!

Looking across the beach at Shell Island. The foreground is sandy but the shore is shingle
Part of the beach that Shell Island campsite overlooks

Peeping down a sandy path to the beach. The path is lined with thin grass that grows tall and each side of the path.
One of the paths from the campsite to the beach


Shell Island has one main shower block near the reception area, with a secondary smaller shower block beside it. The showers are free to use and always hot, though they can get incredible busy at peak times. While the showers are near reception, there are multiple toilet blocks dotted around the site, meaning you are never more than a few minutes walk from the loos. While these sites are very handy for those 3am wee's, they do not have hot water which is unfortunate.

There is also an on site shop, camp shop, tavern, restaurant and snack bar, meaning you won't go hungry if your bbq doesn't quite live up to expectations. Drinking water is also readily available across the campsite.

Standing on a sandy path looking towards the campsite. Tents and campervans can be seen across the landscape.

You really couldn't get any closer to the beach if you tried

Looking across the campsite. Tents and campervans are scattered across the land. The mountainous Snowdonia National Park can be seen in the background.
Looking out across the campsite. Snowdonia National Park can be seen in the background


  • The campsite is located beside the sea meaning it has easy access to the beach and beautiful views in every direction.
  • It's around 20 minutes from Barmouth and around an hour from Snowdon.
  • There are multiple toilet blocks across the site, all with disabled access.
  • The showers are free to use.
  • The size of the site means you have lots of space to yourself.


  • The shower blocks can get busy at peak times.
  • Cleanliness could be better at busy times.
  • Not all of the toilet blocks have hot water.

Bigger doesn't always mean better, and while I think this is true when it comes to some of the facilities available on Shell Island, the location of this giant campsite really cannot be beaten. Shell Island is one of those places where it's easy to fall in love with the area and many find themselves returning year after year to battle the tides and pitch up on this beautiful stretch of land.

Have you ever camped at Shell Island in Wales?

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Barmouth, UK


The new Maybelline Sky High Mascara, everyone and their Mom seems to be raving about it online at the moment. I can't even scroll through tiktok without seeing several reviews for the damn thing, all of which were hailing it as the best thing since sliced bread - so obviously I had to try it out for myself!

Grace is holding a tube of Maybelline Sky High Mascara close to the camera

Now when it comes to mascaras I have pretty high standards. I've tried out tens of different products over the years so I'd like to think I know exactly what makes a good mascara, and what really doesn't. So what did I think of new Maybelline offering? Not that much if I'm honest.

Maybelline Sky High Mascara, why I hate it...


We'll get on to the bad in a second but lets start on a positive note shall we? The mascara isn't all bad, in fact there are a few things I actually like about the Sky High Mascara. 

  • It's affordable. At roughly £10 a pop the product is reasonably priced.
  • Nice packaging. The Sky High Mascara looks good, and wouldn't be out of place on a dressing table.
  • It's intensely black. The product is a deep black which is something I really like in a mascara.

a tube of Maybelline Sky High Mascara with the lid off showing the wand.


From the title alone I'm sure you can tell there are going to be quite a few of these.

  • Consistency isn't thick enough - This makes it quite hard to build the product up.
  • Brush is too flexible - The brush bends when applying the mascara meaning it can be tricky to use.
  • Product doesn't give lashes enough thickness - Leaves lashes looking long and spider like instead of full.
  • Takes a while to dry - And sometimes transfers on to the skin around the eyes even once fully dried.
  • Doesn't hold and lashes drop after a few hours.

a tube of Maybelline Sky High Mascara standing upright on top of a mirror

So would I try it again? Honestly not a chance. Although the majority of people who try the Maybelline Sky High Mascara seem to fall in love with it, I just could not get on with it at all. The consistency is weak, the brush is wildly bendy, and while it leaves my lashes looking long, the thickness just isn't there.

Which Mascaras would I recommend? I'm glad you asked because there are 3 mascaras that immediately come to mind. 

- Too Faced Better Than Sex £22.00

- Benefit Roller Lash £23.50

- Maybelline Lash Sensational £9.99 (a personal favourite)

So save your pennies and spend them on one of the mascaras above if you want long, thick lashes that last all day because I'm sorry to say that's not what you'll get with Sky High!

What did you think of the Maybelline Sky High Mascara? Was it worth the hype?

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