*This post contains gifted items

a flatlay image of the items I consider to be essentials

So summer is almost over but there's still a bit of time to soak up some rays. Whether you're jetting off to some exotic resort or making your way down to a little seaside town for a few days, many of us will be spending a lot of the time in the sun over the next couple of weeks.

I love sunbathing as much as the next person but as we all know it can be very damaging to our skin and hair. So to make sure we can all enjoy time in the sunshine I thought I would put together a list of my fun in the sun essentials!

Sun cream - Now this one should seem obvious but many people choosing to stay in the UK this summer seem to forget how important it is to wear sun cream. Its very easy to get sunburn even on an overcast day if you are not wearing sun cream. I've been using this Hawaiian Tropic sun cream for days out over the last few weeks and I featured it in my camping essentials post as I love it so much. This is great for less sunny days out but if you are venturing abroad I would recommend picking up a higher SPF as it will give you more protection for longer.

a close up shot of Carmex lip balm

Sunglasses - Another obvious and something I never leave the house without. I always have a pair of sunglasses on me, even in the UK we have super bright days. When I'm on holiday I cant always be bothered to do my makeup and I'm usually hungover too, so a pretty pair of sunny's are a must to cover up my zombie like features. The tortoise shell ones shown above can be found at Miss Selfridge for £10.

Moisturizer - This is more of an after sun product and one I wont go on holiday without. Even if you have used a good sun cream its still so important to put moisture back into your skin. Spending hours in the sun can really dry your skin out so I always take a good moisturizer on holiday with me to use after I shower. My favorite right now is this Simple Rich Moisturizer which can be used all over your body.

A close up shot of Hawaiian Tropic Sun Cream

SmartSun Wristband* - This is a nifty little product I was asked to test out a few months back. Although I haven't taken it abroad with me yet I did try it out whilst sunbathing in my garden the other week. You put the wristband on at the same time as applying sun cream and it changes colour when it's time to put some more on. When you've spent more time in the sun that you should the band will turn pink and that means its time to head indoors. I think this is such a great idea, especially for people with children who have a thousand things to think about on holiday. 

Lip Balm - Don't forget to look after your lips in the sun as it can be very damaging to them too. The sun can really dry your lips out and nobody wants cracked lips in their holiday photos. My all time favorite lip balm is my little tub of Carmex but if you want to be really protected its worth tracking down a lip balm with SPF in it.

a smart sun wristband leaflet

Hair Oil - It's not just your skin that gets dry in the sun, your hair needs protection too. I use hair oil everyday to put some life back into my dry ends but it would be especially useful on hot days in the sun. If you have fine or greasy hair an alternative would be to spray a fine mist of hairspray over your hair before you leave for the beach. Many good quality hairsprays contain some form of sun protection.

Flip flops - Last but not least, don't forget to take your flip flops. So many times I've been staying on a resort that has its own beach so I've wondered down from my room without any shoes only to be stopped by the red hot sand! If you've ever been to a hot country in the height of summer you will know just how warm the sand gets and some form of footwear is an absolute essential! 

So those were my essentials for staying protected in the sun. I'd love to hear what you think should have made the list!

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a tea stand at camden market. two teapots can be seen on the stand
rows of M&M sweets

Last week Sean and I took a day trip to London. We love going to London, there's always so much to do and I love the energy of the city. We couldn't believe it had been 10 months since we last visited for our anniversary.

We decided to start the day in Camden, but before we could get there we needed to buy our Tube passes. We usually buy the one day ticket but this time we purchased Oyster cards that we can simply top up every time we go! 

a paper bag from Bubba Gump restaurant
the sink area of a pub toilet. the walls are covered in blue mosaic stones

We had a little look around Camden but honestly it was just too busy so we wanted to get out of there pretty quick. We really wanted to grab some food in Camden though as everything looked so appealing and smelled amazing! We each picked up a delicious Polish sausage hot dog and found a spot by the canal to sit and enjoy our first meal of the day. I also wanted to track down somewhere to stop and have cold drink but nowhere seemed to sell fresh peach iced tea. I settled for peach and raspberry and we headed off to the station back towards central London.

We had a wander around Leicester Square, went in the M&M shop and popped into Bubba Gumps Shrimp Co. I didn't know the place even existed but I was amazed when we bumped into it. I picked up the cutest little Bubba Gump Shrimp badge whilst I was in the shop and I definitely want to visit the restaurant above next time we are in London.

a closer detail of the blue mosaic stones on the walls
Marble Arch Tube station sign

I really wanted to get some shopping done as I needed some new clothes for Amsterdam on Wednesday and for college in September. We caught the Tube over to Oxford Street as I wanted to look in Selfridges and I was desperate to wander around the new Lush store. Our first stop was Pull & Bear. I always buy their stuff from Asos and I didn't know they had shop on Oxford street. I bought a few amazing tops with the money Sean gave me for my birthday but there was so much more I wanted! Pull & Bear stock the most amazing t shirts, most of which are under a tenner and I wanted them all! Unfortunately they didn't have my size in hardly anything booo. 

We shopped until Sean was tired and needed a little coffee bless him. After a quick pit shop it was back to the shops! We went into Debenhams and Selfridges where I bought a few new bits. Time went so quick while we were shopping and before I knew it, it was closing time and I had completely forgotten to go to Lush. After that it was time to grab some grub so we walked to the nearest Spoons which happened to be right next to Marble Arch.

looking town the Thames river over towards the London Eye
Sean and Grace standing in front of the London Eye

By now it was getting quite late and we only really had an hour before our coach left. We thought about grabbing a quick drink in The Hard Rock but decided to spend our last hour walking around Westminster as the sun set, much more romantic! We took a few typical tourist photos and then headed back to the coach station to go home.

I love our little day trips to London and we don't have to wait too long till our next trip as I'm going back for a beauty event at the start of September!

I'd love to hear about some of your favorite places to shop, eat, drink, relax in London as I plan to spend a lot more time here over the next few months!

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London, UK


Grace and Sean posing for a photograph inside a pub
a tray full of cherry sour shots
a tray of kebab meat and chips

Friday - So this year, like every other year, I decided to be a complete brat and have a Birthday weekend. I know I'm not the only one who celebrates all weekend and frankly I love having a whole weekend all about me. I started my birthday celebrations with a night out with my friends. We did the typical British thing and went to the pub for drinks and then onto a bar for a little dance.

I bought a gorgeous black and white Warehouse dress for the night which I completely forgot to photograph but trust me it was pretty. I think there might actually be a photo of it over on my Instagram so you will have to do a little bit of scrolling to see it. 

We drank too much and danced until out feet hurt but I had such a fun night with all of my closest friends. We didn't stay out too late as I was off to Manchester the next day, so at around 2am we decided to call it a night and headed over to the chippy to pick up a kebab.

The chandelier inside the main entrance to the trafford centre
on of the beautiful glass dome ceilings at the trafford centre
the huge neon sign outside the Hard Rock Cafe Manchester
3 cocktails on the bar at the Hard Rock Cafe Manchester
My whole family at a table holding a happy birthday banner
Our meals at the Hard Rock Cafe
from the top floor of the Hard Rock Cafe Manchester looking down over the restaurant

Saturday - This was the day I spent with my family and Sean. A few weeks back I had asked if I could have my birthday meal at the Hard Rock Cafe in Manchester. Incase you didn't know, Sean and I are trying to visit them all at some point and we had already ticked off London, Amsterdam and Barcelona. So after a little bit of convincing Dad drove us all up to Manchester for the day. 

We decided to start the day with a bit of shopping at the Trafford Center and when I say start the day I really mean start the afternoon as me and Sean couldn't bring ourselves to get out of bed too early. We didn't really buy all that much which is typical because I actually had money to spend. We wandered around the shops for a couple of hours before deciding to drive into central Manchester to grab some food at the Hard Rock. 

When we arrived at the restaurant I was actually a little overwhelmed. It was huge and busy and loud and thinking about all the effort everyone had put into this weekend made me a little emotional. But I soon snapped out of that as it was cocktail time! If you have never been to a Hard Rock I would definitely recommend going just to try some of the amazing cocktails! Seriously grab yourself a Southern Rock and enjoy the atmosphere.

For my meal I chose a burger; now I can't remember which one I picked but it was huge and absolutely delicious. Mom and Dad picked the same as me and Hannah and Sean opted for a massive meal of chicken and ribs! After we had eaten our waitress brought over a huge sundae for me with a candle in and everyone in the restaurant sang Happy Birthday to me, it was probably the most awkward experience of my life but that desert was amazing. 
We then called it a night and set off for our long drive home.

a table full of breakfast foods
the bathroom sink area of the hotel room
Grace is holding a bottle of Champagne
A bottle of Champagne inside a cooler with two champagne glasses beside it
the bar area at Bacchus bar Birmingham
Our food at Bacchus bar Birmingham
Grace and Sean posing for a photo in a large mirror at the hotel reception
a table food of breakfast food

Sunday - Sunday was my actual birthday and I spent it mostly with Sean as he had booked us a suite in the most gorgeous hotel. We stayed at the Burlington  Birmingham (formerly the Midland Hotel) and it was fabulous. 

In the morning I woke up and opened all my presents and cards. I received some beautiful things and some money to put towards my holiday which I'm going on next week. After opening my presents we decided to head out for a full English at our favorite buffet breakfast place in Redditch. I stuffed myself silly and I didn't care because it was my birthday and you are allowed to eat like a king (or pig) when its your special day. 

After eating all of the things we headed home to pack our bags for our overnight stay in town. We arrived at the hotel just after midday and checked into our gorgeous suite. I will do a full post on the hotel soon so you guys can see the room properly, but it was so big and beautifully decorated.

Not long after settling into the room I got a knock on the door from room service who brought up a bottle of champagne for me; a surprise Sean had organised well in advance! We soon cracked it open and relaxed in our home for the night. Sean got comfy on the sofa with a good book while I decided to make use of the bubble bath we had been supplied with. 

It was soon time to get ready and head out for my second birthday meal, this time we opted for Bacchus Bar, a little place in the basement of our hotel. Its hard to explain but the interior of Bacchus Bar is almost like a medieval church, or like a vampires lair. I ordered another burger and Sean chose a mixed grill. Both meals where huge and fabulously cooked. I will definitely be returning to this creepy little bar soon. After a couple of drinks, we turned in for the night and fell asleep on the sofa watching Family Guy.

The next morning we were very sad to leave but we were excited for breakfast. We loaded our plates up with ham and cheese and I created the most perfect bagel I've ever eaten in my life. 

My Birthday was officially over, but it was bloody amazing!

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