reviews

First Sunday

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Slow Sundays are where its at. I like to go for a morning dip and then come home for a noon shower, scrub, cleanse, moisturise, condition, shave, wax, tone and polish situation. I’ve added a couple of new products to the mix thanks to Lush and now I’m a smooth milky sesame smelling bun of a son. My descriptions are mediocre at best and I apple c’d the lush descriptions so you can get a good whiff of an idea from your screen.

Soothing Sesame Lotion – I love a good dim sum and this sesame lotion reminds of the inside of a black sesame steamed bun. It’s very thin and runny in consistency and exactly what you need for the upcoming colder months, providing you with a nice glow and subtle sun protection. I’ve had it on for about three hours now and I still smell lovely and yummy haha! Mentally adding this to my things to repurchase next cart. What Lush says, “Dewy, radiant complexions start with walnut leaf infusion. Providing a bronzed glow before you step into the sun, simply glide this velvety lotion all over your body. Its sunkissed colour and lashings of hydrating cocoa butter from community growers in the Dominican Republic will give skin a head (to toe) start. If the great ball of fire in the sky could smell, it would likely be attracted to the irresistibly nutty scent of organic sesame oil too.

The Rough with the Smooth – Do you remember how in science class, they told us that human bodies get a new set of cells every 7 years? I’m pretty sure a good scrub down like this will definitely aid the process. I broke the bar into smaller bits but its a bit messy (melts slightly in the current heat) and I would rather it come in a tub. Regardless, it does what its supposed to do and I feel like my skin might be as soft as a baby’s. What Lush says, “This deeply exfoliating treat will take rough skin in hand, leaving you soft all over.”

Milky Bath Bubble Bar – I haven’t tried this one yet but with all Lush products, I find the glitter a bit unnecessary. If it’s like any of their other bubble bars, I’m sure this one will be a gem because who doesn’t want to bathe in milk a la Cleopatra? What Lush says, “This comforting little milk bottle bubble bar is filled with uplifting orange oil and skimmed milk to treat your skin to a dose of happiness. A cocoa butter bottle top adds a little bit of extra softness.

These Sunday Sessions will be a new addition to my site, designed for me to have an extra posting day where I can work on my still life photography and get a little rambly with you over some iced coconut milk and banana coffee … and if you don’t like it, there’s always another post to look forward to in the next 24 hours. I’ll be writing about anything on my mind and they won’t be pre-written unlike my other posts. I want to add some spontaneity to this site! Hope your weekend has treated you well lovelies x !

Products all from Lush (c/o)

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Seas the Day with P&O

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Ahoy! I have returned back on shore with sea legs and a full belly after seeing some of the ‘Secrets of the South‘. Last week, I spent 8 nights onboard the newly launched Pacific Eden which sailed from Sydney to Kangaroo Island and back. To give you a little idea of what a day in the life of a cruise-ling is like, I present to you a 48 hour recap that consists of one port day and one sea day.

po59po61po58Daily Essentials: Hat / Sunnies /Reversible Swimsuit (c/o)

Port Day

0700 – Breakfast at The Pantry: The Pantry is the closest thing to a buffet that you will get on the Pacific Eden. Gone are the days of sticky salad tongs and soda dispensers. Instead, the citrus coloured interiors are divided into cuisines and everything is served by cruise staff. If you want quick food without the hassle of waiting for a 3 course meal, The Pantry is the place to go. My favourite sections were the salad bar and the dessert bar 🙂

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0800 – Shore Tour: A port day means that the liner docks for a whole day  (usually around 7am -5pm) and you’re free to roam the place as long as you get the last tender back to the boat. This particular boat docked at Eden, Mornington Peninsula, Portland and Kangaroo Island. I squeezed in a couple of shoots at these places so I can’t wait to show you more beautiful photos in the coming weeks.

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1900 – Dinner at Waterfront: As the name suggests, this is the restaurant with views of the ocean. Serving up ‘Modern Australian’, Waterfront was my favourite dining option that didn’t come with a cover charge because the menu changed every night, the staff were wonderfully enthusiastic and the decor was stunning. There’s three courses for lunch and dinner plus an extra sharing platter for the evening that is another meal in itself!

2000 – Pre Show Drinks: The drinks on the Pacific Eden were flowing every hour of the day and there are plenty of bars all around. Keep your wallet at home – all you need is your cruise card and everything purchased is put on your tab.

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2045 – Velvet Rope at the Marquee: There was live entertainment on most nights but the Velvet Rope was my favourite because it coincided with The Great Gatsby party. Expect lots of singing, dancing and beautiful costumes – all delightfully tied up in a neat 45 minutehigh action show.

2230 – Late Night Movie: If you’re still not ready for bed you can always head over to the Torquay to catch the last movie of the day. Some of our options included Jurassic World, Kingsman, Gone Girl, Age of Adeline and Fantastic Four.

Sea Day

0800 – Morning Dip: Sea days are the perfect opportunity to test out all the amenities starting with a swim in the many pools available.

0900 – Breakfast at Waterfront: Then its time to have a long breakfast complete with all the juices, pastries and sweet and savoury breakfast options in the world.

1000 – Zumba in the Dome: With all the 3 course meals you’re consuming, this is a great morning workout to do. Can you still pull a one leg stretch with sea legs?

1130 – Hair Appointment at Elemis Spa: The Elemis Spa has a a huge variety of services available including massages, fire and ice manicures or even a chop and colour which is what I had done!

1300 – Lunch at Angelos: Aside from the Waterfront, there are two other restaurants that are included in your ticket. Angelo’s does Italian and Dragon Lady does Pan-Asian.

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1400 – Silver Screen: Breakfast at Tiffany’s: There’s always a classic flick on in the afternoon. I’ve been meaning to watch this Audrey Hepburn film for the longest time so this long sea day was perfect for that!

1530 – Gym: Get your body ready for dinner ha!

1730 – Spa: There’s an outdoor jacuzzi for those who don’t mind the natural elements but if you want to spoil yourself, try the Elemis spa rooms. There’s a wet and dry steam room, a jacuzzi and my personal favourite, the heated ceramic beds which dry your wet swimmers.

1900 – Dinner at Luke Magnan Salt Grill: Salt Grill comes with a $49 cover charge but its still a price that can’t be beaten if you were to experience his food in one of his physical land stores. The French and Chinese fusion inspired menu is presented in a simplistic way that still packs an incredible punch of flavour.

2145 – Comedy: A bit of cheeky fun for all the adults on board.

223o – Bianco White Party at the Dome: There are a ton of parties on board and there’s a great atmosphere created when everyone gets involved in the theme. Our cruise had a sail alway, a back to school party, a gatsby night, a bianco white party and a las vegas pool party.

2359 – Midnight Snack and Zzzzz: Your stewardess makes your bed twice a day which is service that I have never experienced. They will first make your bed in the morning and then whilst you’re having dinner, they get it ready for the evening by dimming the lights, placing a tray of midnight snacks on the bed and twisting your towels into animals. You will feel incredibly spoiled and taken care of for sure!

po41 2cheeky cheeky po27po57The Opera House as we sailed awayIMG_1115

Post created in collaboration with P&O Cruises

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Topdeck NZ Northern Explorer

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When I was initially researching this trip, I looked high and low for a review about this specific Topdeck tour but I couldn’t find anything that answered all my questions and was also recently published. Now that it has been almost a month since my return, I wanted to create a post for anyone who is looking to do the Northern Explorer tour in the future. I will be covering accommodation, food, attractions and the people 🙂

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I booked my tour a few months in advance with STA travel but you can also book online directly through Topdeck’s own website. I would definitely recommend doing it in person through an agent because you can ask as many questions as you please, the price is exactly the same and you don’t have to pay the whole trip up front, only a small deposit. If you don’t want the hassle of booking flights and buying insurance separately, STA are happy to hook you up as well but if you want to save some money you can grab those through Webjet which is what I did.

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Accommodation

My friend and I went together so we upgraded to twin share which was an extra hundred each. This was a really great decision on our part because our room was always much nicer and we would always have access to our own private bathrooms and amenities. I think the accommodation was fantastic in terms of variety, as you can see we stayed in a ski resort, a Maori Marae (which is the sacred meeting place) and also a small boat!

These are all the places we stayed at:

  • Pre-Accommodation at Travelodge Hotel, Wellington
  • Skotel Alpine Resort, Mount Ruapehu
  • Maori Marae, Rotorua
  • Sudima, Rotorua
  • Rock the Boat, Bay of Islands
  • Tanoa Paihia Hotel, Tanoa

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Rotorua Museum of History & Art

Attractions

I paid for three optional extras: Hobbiton, Hell’s Gate mud spa and Rock the Boat. There is a ton of other cool things that you can also participate in such as white water rafting, zorbing, inflatable kayaking and bungee jumping.

Hobbiton: to read more about my Hobbiton experience, you can visit my first New Zealand post here.

Hell’s Gate: was a nice experience after having skipped way too many showers on this trip! We spent an hour in the hot mud and springs where our noses accommodated to the sulphurous scent of Rotorua.

Rock the Boat: this was my favourite part of our entire trip! For 22 hours we went on a tiny little boat and saw all 144 islands with a very enthusiastic local crew. There was a paint balling introduction, fishing for dinner followed by night kayaking which was breathtaking. We paddled out at 10pm and the water was filled with phosphorous algae so when we dipped our paddle or arm in the water, a beautiful trail of glow in the dark algae moved along with us. We also lay in our kayaks and looked up at the glowing night sky and it was quite magical 🙂 After kayaking, the brave kids jumped in for a swim. It was cold but so worth it because as we swam, the algae continued to glow and everyone felt like a mermaid. Once all warmth had escaped our bodies we jumped back out and sat by the fire. The next morning we went snorkelling and hiked up a lush island barefoot. I don’t think I’ve ever had that many adventures in under 24 hours!

The activities that were already included in our tour were just as great and the night at the Marae was my favourite. Some of the things included a hike in Tongariro which you can read more about in my previous post here, a rugby lesson at the NZ Sports Academy and a night learning about Maori culture including the haka and poi dances at the Marae.

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If you choose not to participate in an activity you have the option of exploring the city yourself. None of the activities are affiliated with Topdeck so you can do as little or as much as you would like. Here’s a snap of me ‘skydiving’ and another of my friend bungee jumping.

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Te Papa Museum

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Food

Breakfast is included every morning at the location of the accommodation for the previous night. We had a combination of cold and hot breakfasts and three dinners were included. Lunch was always up to us and we were given the opportunity to go to grocery stores and stock up on water and snacks if we were heading somewhere remote.

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People

For the trip we had a tour leader, a driver and an extra person who did both jobs whenever the main people were tired. No tipping is required and they were all very helpful. Most of the the other travellers were Australian like myself but around 30% were from overseas. We had a big group of almost 40 including people from the UK, US, Germany, France and Switzerland. The best way to describe the environment would be like a big school camping trip. I know tours like these have a reputation for being party tours but I think it usually depends on the group itself. This was a bit of a quiet group so there was no pressure to drink if you didn’t want to and the places we travelled to lacked night life so there wasn’t much on offer in terms of after hours entertainment.

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Waiotapu Geothermal

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Overall, Topdeck tours are very fast paced adventure packed trips. If you want to see lots of scenery, I wouldn’t recommend going on one because we were only allowed 10 to 30 minutes tops at some scenic lookouts. However, they are very well organised so you don’t have to do much thinking aside from getting to the bus on time.

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Huka Falls

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I never have much use for souvenirs so I only bought one thing for myself – a kiwi charm (only available to purchase in New Zealand) to finish off my pandora bracelet for 2015.

Hopefully this whopper of a post was helpful for some people. If you have any questions in general about Topdeck tours or more specific ones about the northern explorer I would be happy to answer them in the comments below. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back with a fashion post on Friday! Lets hope this weather clears up a bit too eh?!!

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May(be) Baby

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I was always aware that Kmart had stepped up its game for about a year now but this month I discovered the cult following behind Kmart Forecast and I was hooked. They’re doing trendy decor on a budget and everything flies off the shelf. Its unlikely you’ll find any of these pieces left this late into the month but for future reference, keep your eyes peeled and hope they bring out some more bargains like this copper lamp for $20 and the breakfast in bed tray for $10.

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Oh Vogue Cafe! Situated in Macquarie shopping centre, this is my new mecca. I recommend the nutella milkshake because you need to try it once but then from there on stick to the juices and baked goods like the cronuts and cookies and cream scrolls. Skip the breakfast though because its really mediocre.

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I haven’t read in a while but this month I went through a lot of books. Grace Coddington’s memoir was a delight to read in my Uniqlo sweats. On the right was my favourite outfit and something that I am yet to shoot for. I feel very English in this with the Chelsea rainboots and scalloped shift dress.

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May was quite the month of sequels and nothing was really up to scratch except for Jenny Han’s P.S. I Still Love You. Pitch Perfect 2 was “aka-alright” according to my friend, Emi and you can read her fab review on the drab film here. Same goes for The Heir by Kiera Cass which was an unnecessary addition to the excellent Selection series.

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Rounding off the month recap we have my spastic self at TGIFridays, one of the few decent cafes in Chatswood called The Espresson Room and The Choc Pot which is located in the fairly new Chatswood Interchange and where I was lucky enough to win a free chocolate risotto!

I also want to give a shoutout to this beautiful blog! I don’t usually do this but I love nordic simplistic lifestyle and her photography is gorgeous!

Photo Credits: bottom right picture 4×4 by Emi // bottom left choc pot logo by LetsNomNom

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