*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

THE MASSAGE COMPANY - SUTTON COLDFIELD*

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


Facilities


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


Pros:


  • 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.


Cons:


  • 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

SHELL ISLAND WALES - THE UK'S BIGGEST CAMPSITE

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...


Pros


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.


Cons


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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Birmingham, UK

MAYBELLINE SKY HIGH MASCARA - WHY I HATE IT

Brunching, it's one of my favorite past times. There really is nothing better than heading off for some banging grub and a few fab bevvies with your pals! So when it comes to brunching in Birmingham, well, I'd like to think I know some great spots by now. 


I've done bottomless Brunches at Dirty Martini, boozy lunches around Birmingham city centre, and various Afternoon Tea's across the Midlands (I'm putting them in the same bracket as brunches), but this new brunch offering at the Bournbrook Inn in the heart of Stirchley might just beat everything I've tried so far!


THE BOURNBROOK INN - BIRMINGHAM'S BEST NEW BOTTOMLESS BRUNCH
 Living my best life in Stirchley - Birmingham's favourite neighbourhood

The Bournbook Inn on the Pershore Road in Stirchley has been recently refurbished making it the ideal pace to grab a few drinks with the girls, without having to drag yourself off into town. The pub offers a whole range of affordable food and drinks throughout the week, with there new bottomless brunch taking place every Saturday.


The brunch which comes in at a very reasonable £25 per person runs from 12pm until 3pm, that's three whole hours of unlimited drinks, something you'd be hard pushed to find elsewhere else in the city. The majority of Birmingham brunches now only last between 1.5 and 2 hours which is not nearly enough time to guzzle down a wild amount of cocktails.


Speaking of cocktails, the Bournbrook Bottomless Brunch offer several drinks - 


  • House red, white, and rose wine
  • Prosecco
  • Strawberry Bellini (my personal favourite)
  • Maiden Adora (non-alcoholic)

Egg's Benedict garnished with salad
Eggs Benedict at the Bournbrook Inn Stirchley


Brunching with the Girlies in South Birmingham


While I do think they offer a good selection of drinks, I've very surprised that beer isn't an option for the brunch as beer is something the Bournbrook does very well. The pub regularly serves a variety of both big names and locally brewed beers, so it would be nice to see one of these included in the brunch in the future perhaps.

What are the food options like? Well in my opinion they're equally as good. While the majority of bottomless brunches across Birmingham serve a platter of 'picky food' the Bournbrook brunch includes 2 courses. 


Mains available with the Bournbrook Brunch -


  • Smashed Avocado on Toast
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Eggs Florentine
  • Wild Mushrooms on Toast
  • Waffles & Bacon
  • Full English


Desserts available with the Bournbrook Brunch - 


  • Pancakes
  • Waffles and Ice Cream
  • Bournbrook Mess


Sipping on Strawberry Bellini's

Waffles with Pecan and Chocolate Ice Cream  (Just about surviving the sunshine in the beer garden)

For my main I chose the Eggs Benedict which was absolutely delicious and I can confirm the eggs were cooked to perfection - nice and runny, but not runny enough for me to be concerned about dying of Salmonella. My dessert was also incredibly tasty. I opted for the Waffles which come with pecan and chocolate ice cream, just what I needed after a few hours of sipping on Bellinis!


So would I recommend the Bournbrook Brunch? Absolutely! Not only is it one of the cheaper brunches in Birmingham, their bottomless drinks also last for much longer than most others, and the food is just incredible. If you haven't tried it out yet, get yourself booked in for an afternoon you'll not soon forget (or maybe you will, the drinks are unlimited afterall!)


The Bournbrook Inn

1273 Pershore Road

Stirchley

B30 2YT


Open  12pm - 10pm Monday - Sunday



Do you have a favourite Birmingham brunch spot?

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Birmingham, UK

THE BOURNBROOK INN - BIRMINGHAM'S NEW BOTTOMLESS BRUNCH (& it's only £25)

If you haven't already, head over to 6 times I thought I would die while travelling part 1, to read the first 3 of my rather questionable travel tales. If you've already heard all about those feel free to keep reading for the second part of my near miss stories!


Looking out an airplane window down on a city below

Here are 3 more times I thought I would die while travelling...



That time I almost drowned on a boat trip in Bodrum


Boat trips are an absolute favourite pastime of mine. If I'm not chugging along Europe's canals, I'm drifting around various lakes and oceans, I just can't get enough of it. And so when the much younger, bargain-hunting Grace spied a day-long boat trip for £8 in the party city of Bodrum, I snatched the tour operators hand off. 


On the day of the trip, I was beyond excited. Although I didn't expect much for less than a tenner, I was determined to make the most of the tour - it was my last full day in beautiful Turkey after all! Our first stop on the trip was to a small sea side spa. It looked more like an old run-down pool to me, and we didn't stay long. The next stop was much more interesting. We pulled up in a small bay with fairly shallow, crystal clear waters and were encouraged to take a dip. Here we were surrounded by ocean wildlife and I even spotted a tiny speckled octopus! I've never been so glad to have my goggles with me because I would have missed that gem had I not been able to open my eyes once I'd swam down to the seafloor.


The third stop was where we would stay the longest. By now we had moved on to much deeper water where we were unable to see much beyond our own toes. Many of the tourists decided that this was the perfect place to jump off the boat into the sparkling sea below. Scared but willing to give anything a go I plunged into the water. I came up spluttering and mildly shaken as even though I held my nose, water still managed to rush inside. I'd also managed to descend a little further than expected and so surfacing took longer than I had hoped. 


Not content with almost drowning next to our boat I set my eyes on another challenge. I spied a beach not too far away that other guests had already started swimming to. Determined to make the most of my time, and partially to impress the non-swimming partner I was with, I set out to reach the shore. It soon became evident that my eyes had deceived me and the shingle beach was much further away than it seemed. Still as stubborn as ever I pressed on, battling waves much larger than expected and taking on yet more seawater.


By this time it was too far to turn back and my achy limbs needed to rest. I calculated that I was now closer to the beach and I'd likely never make it back to the boat without a short break anyway. And it's not like there were any lifeguards onboard either, not on an £8 boat trip. So I continued to the beach, my legs on the verge of cramping and my lungs filling with gulps of salty water until eventually, my knees grazed the stones below. How I made it back to the boat I'll never quite know, but here I am, silly as ever and ready to make more bad decisions.  


Photo taken from the shore or Bodrum beach. Looking out across the bay at the clear waters and the boats in the distance.


That time we stayed in the scariest apartment in Budapest


On my quest for an affordable place to stay in central Budapest back in 2017, I booked what I thought was a nice little city apartment slap bang in the middle of Pest. The reviews were good, and the photos made the place look clean and modern, everything you could want right? But how wrong I was. 


On arrival, it was clear that this was just one of a string of apartments the company owned across the city. They had obviously been refurbished and furnished as cheaply as humanly possible. Cleanliness was also not a priority here as the pillows smelled less than appealing and on our first night, we were visited by a tiny cockroach. As well as all this we were plagued by a small plaque which hung on the wall stating the house rules which included things like 'no noise after 10 pm' amongst other more ridiculous rules. The apartment itself was within an old run-down pre-war building with minimal lighting and questionable health and safety standards. Looking back I'm unsure why we didn't grab our bags and make a run for it after that first night, maybe part of us thought it was actually quite funny that we'd ended up in such horrendous accommodation after a string of great hotels. It wouldn't have been so funny had we caught the black death mind!


But all this was nothing compared to the facility we had to use to even get to our dirty little room. While I'm sure the stairs were perfectly acceptable, staying on the top floor of a tall building could convince even the most nervous person to hop into a lift. And so that's what we did, or shall I say attempted to do. Once the elevator doors opened it was evident that two people and a suitcase would not fit. The floor space within the lift was barely 4-foot square, I'd never seen anything before in my life. It was clearly a slapped up homemade elevator that would never pass any kind of safety testing in the UK. I'll admit at this point it did look incredibly questionable, but not prepared to walk up several flights of stairs with a full suitcase I grabbed the bags and hopped inside to meet my partner at the top.


As soon as the machinery started going the tiny room was filled with clunks and crashes and the floor below me shook. At that moment I was convinced that this little wooden box would simply crash to the floor below with me inside it and no one would even hear me scream over the noise. Luckily I made it to the top floor and lived to tell the tale of the crazy little lift. I also used it every single time I left the apartment after that because although it was terrifying, I thought it would also be a really funny way to die. 


A close up shot of the shoes on the Danube memorial in Budapest


That time I almost froze to death while camping in Wales


When camping you really are at the mercy of the elements, I think that's part of the fun of it. Setting up your little tent, making it as comfortable as possible, and praying as hard as you can that your shelter won't be blown away in the night. There's just something so alluring about roughing it for a few nights and let's be honest, we all love getting pissed next to a roaring campfire!


I'm fairly new to camping myself, and my tiny tent isn't exactly the kind of accommodation I'd like to spend a week in, but my parents on the other hand have all the gear. Staying in their massive tent is like living it up in a 5-star resort compared to my two-man £20 festival tent. And so when they booked a few nights in Europe's biggest campsite I tagged along. It was May and it was warm. Regardless of the fairly mild temperate I still filled my section of the tent with blankets on top of blankets on top of blankets, to make sure I was extra toasty once the fire went out. I suffer from the cold at the best of times so it doesn't hurt to be a bit extra in that department. 


Fast forward a few nights and the temperate took a plummet. On this night sky was clear and the wind was howling all around us. The campsite being on the coast didn't help as we also had the freezing wind blowing in across the sea - we really had nowhere to hide. Even with my layers of blankets and my extra thick pyjamas, I felt it all. Before long I was dithering and my face was stone cold. My nose was streaming and I could not get warm no matter how hard I tried. I spent the first few hours in and out of consciousness just hoping I could stay asleep long enough to see the sun the morning. At one point I considered taking my sleeping bag up to the toilet blocks to try to survive the night in there but I was so cold I could barely move. That's when I finally got the courage to check the temperature. 4 degrees. Not cold enough to be freezing, but colder than a human should have to suffer. I decided then and there that I would die in this place, but by some miracle, myself and my family made it through the night. My sister told me she was also convinced her time was up as we thawed out over breakfast the following morning. 


Looking across the Danube at Liberty Bridge in Budapest

So those were 6 times I was sure I was going to die while travelling. And you want to know the worst bit? Those are just the few I thought were worth telling! Unfortunatly for me I'm rather clumsy and so these stories really are endless!


Please feel free to leave your own near death travel experiences in the comments below or over on Twitter!


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Birmingham, UK

6 TIMES I THOUGHT I WOULD DIE WHILE TRAVELLING (PART 2)

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