Surviving social distancing and working from home.

Surviving social distancing and working from home.

I don’t know about you but working from home and social distancing has been a huge adjustment for me. Although I am thankful I am safe, spending so many hours in the house can take its toll on your mental and physical wellbeing. I thought I would share some hints, tips and products that I have been using to help keep my body and mind in tip-top condition.

Stick to your usual routine

If you are working from home, try and stick to your normal daily routine. Get up at a normal time, have a relaxing shower and change into some nice clothes. It’s very tempting to just stay in your pj’s but this is not very motivating! Trick your mind into thinking that it’s leaving the house.

Washing your hands

Washing your hands is paramount but using alcohol gel and washing all the time can dry out your skin. I’ve been using This lovely Black Tulip scented hand-wash from Shay & Blue which is both delicate and conditioning. Along with the nourishing hand lotion, it helps keep my hands silky smooth and hydrated. All their products are handcrafted in England with real flowers, fruits and spices.

Skincare

Your usual skincare regime can sometimes slip when you’re in the house all the time but it’s important to take care of your skin and also treat yourself at the same time. I highly recommend MODM Vitamin Repair face oil from The Method in Edinburgh. It’s full of high-quality cold-pressed oils that really nurture the skin. I use their MODM Gua Sha Facial Tool to massage the oil in and this depuffs, sculpts and releases tension in the face.

Self Tan

Isn’t it funny how a little bit of colour on the skin makes you feel and look healthier. For a while, I’ve been on the lookout for tanning products that look natural and are easy to apply. I recently released a blog post on my favourite James Read Self tanning products, head to blublazerguy.com to find out more here.

Skin Protection

If you are working from home and your desk is situated near a window it’s still very important to protect your skin against any UV rays which penetrate the glass. I recommend House of London Face Repair Cream which not only protects you from UV but also Infrared. Their products are organic and aim to feed, correct and protect the skin naturally.

Fragrance

Just because you aren’t going anywhere special doesn’t mean you should skimp on a fragrance. Pick a scent that ignites memories of positive times or one that lifts your spirits. My favourite just now is Italian Citrus by D.S. & DURGA as it’s uplifting, energetic and full of sunshine inspired ingredients.

Home Fragrance

Candles can add an immediate relaxing ambience to any room and coupled with a lovely scent can help calm and soothe the mind. I’ve just started burning this Buongiorno candle from Italian brand Acqua Di Parma. It’s refreshing aromas of freshly cut grass and sun-dried linen transport me to a summers day.

Another great candle is the Oceana candle from Essence of Harris. Oceana washes away worries with the cleansing aromas of samphire & sea minerals. These candles are hand-poured in the Isle of Harris in Scotland. The team are so lovely and have been helping their local community throughout this tough time.

Aromatherapy

Incense is also a great way to lace the air with relaxing aromas. I recently purchased these Azoth – Lavender and Marjoram stick from Lifestory lifestyle store in Edinburgh. The comforting essential oils immediately make me feel at ease. If you are looking for a contemporary incense stick holder, check out Concrete Goods who sell a fantastic range of styles and colours.

A Shakti Mat

This may not be for everyone but I absolutely love it and have been using it daily ever since I got it. The Shakti Mat is based on the Indian bed of nails concept. The mat has thousands of sharp spikes which apply pressure to the skin. The first contact with the mat can be overwhelming but once you get used to it you soon slip into this indescribable state of relaxation, so much so that I sometimes fall asleep on it. The Shakti mats are handmade in the holy city of Varanasi by 72 woman which not only helps the individuals but their family and their community.

Exercise

Working at home can be a challenge both mentally and physically. One of the things that have been helping me is moving my body more. Setting my Alexa alarm hourly reminds me to get up and stretch, lift weights or carry out some cardio. I also make sure I adhere to the government guidelines and get out once a day for a long run and fresh air whilst keeping my distance from other people.

Sleep

I’ve been finding it very difficult to sleep as of late but I found this amazing pillow spray from Drowsy Sleep Co. This spray contains 7 natural oils which help stimulate sensors in the brain to help aid sleep naturally. The fragrance is beautiful and it’s a fantastic additional tool to calm the mind so you can drift off into a deep sleep.

Hydration

Indoor heating and poor hydration can dehydrate your body and your skin so it’s very important to remember to hydrate both inside and out. Fill a water bottle and make sure you take sips frequently and avoid too much coffee, tea and alcohol. For your skin, I’ve found that hyaluronic acids applied before your moisturiser provides a fantastic additional boost of hydration. I recommend Hylamide SubQ skin, Niod Multi-molecular hyaluronic complex and Image total pure hyaluronic filler.

Nutritional Supplements

If you are eating healthy then you should be getting all the nutrition you need from your diet. However, If you require additional supplementation, I’ve recently been trying a new product from getting Nourished which I have been very impressed by. All you have to do is complete a simple questionnaire on their website and they will determine what supplements you need. The vitamins are then 3D printed into one convenient gummy stack which is vegan, sugar-free and tastes absolutely delicious. It’s a really unique and convenient way of taking your daily vitamins and nutrients.

Talk

Last but not least is to make sure you talk and communicate with friends and family on a regular basis. In a world that had become so disconnected, it’s amazing how technology is now helping us to stay as connected as possible with the likes of face time and social media. So when you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, reach out as we are all in this together.

I hope you enjoyed this little guide of things that are truly helping me get through each day at home. Let’s keep adhering to government guidelines and protecting each other by staying home. For information always look at official government websites for the most up to date and accurate advice. We will get through this testing time together and I send all my followers and readers lots of positive vibes. #stayhome #savelives #protectthenhs

Blu Blazer Guy Chats With James Read

Blu Blazer Guy Chats With James Read

After 18 years in the beauty business, tanning expert James Read has become a worldwide name in the tanning industry. Working with an abundance of celebrities, photographers and designers, his underlying dream was always to create his very own brand. Utilising all the knowledge he had gained over the years,  not only did he create his own brand, but he also managed to infuse his tanning products with the benefits of luxury skincare. With a copiousness amount of prestigious awards and a following from all around the world (me being one of them) it is no wonder this brand keeps going from strength to strength. I caught up with James to find out more about him and his successful company.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what lead you to become one of the world’s leading tanning experts?

I have worked in the industry for 18 Years and was the first self-tan expect to start the trend for layering your tan and making self-tan not just a spray tan but an experience. I previously worked with eight self-tan brands before starting mine, which helped me gain the experience and knowledge to launch my own brand.

What inspired you to create your very own self-tanning range?

Ever Since I was at school I wanted to be known for something. I remember watching The September Issue back in 2009 while working for St Tropez and there was a part where Anna Wintour’s dad asked her at 15 years old what she wanted to do when she was older, she said she wanted to be editor of American Vogue and now look at where she is. This inspired me to start my own brand, to create a brand that was both skincare and self-tan and to make a difference in the self-tan world. Years later I was at a launch for Net a porter and told by the beauty director of American Vogue that I had a whole page in the April issue for my sleep mask tan, I cried after she left as it was a dream come true.

Your Sleep Tan Mask (which is one of my favourite products) became world-renowned due to its combination of self-tanning and luxury skincare ingredients, what inspired you to combine the two? 

I used to use overnight hydrating masks and one day it clicked that no one has ever created a self-tan that combines both self-tan and skincare but also one that is an overnight self-tan, this is when the sleep mask tan was born. Eight years on and it won over 35 beauty awards.

James Read products are formulated with tantone technology, which promises its users the perfect golden glow, how does this technology work?

To me, Tantone creates a tan that looks natural and glowing but also takes the worry out of self-tanning. I wanted to create a perfect range of products where the tan works as a background colour and compliments your whole look but never overpowers it, which I believe I have successfully done.

What are your top tips for a flawless self-tan application?

Never over-apply your self-tan and always apply your self-tan in stages leaving your hands and feet till last. With the hands and feet always work the leftover self-tan over these areas so it looks more natural. In order to prolong your tan moisturise daily and exfoliate three days after to help your tan fade more evenly.

You have a few products geared towards men, is there a difference between the self-tan products for men and women?

The men’s self-tan for the face is more about calming the skin after shaving. The great thing about my brand is there is a product for everyone as the products are so natural.

Have you noticed an increase in men using self-tanning products?

Yes for sure, men are using more skincare as well as self-tan, they are also more conscious of what they put on their skin.  The fake orange look is so far away, today it’s about looking healthy but also golden.

One of your missions was to change the world’s perception of tanning, which I believe you have done, do you have any new product innovations or ideas coming to fruition in the near future? 

I have some amazing new stuff launching this year that will again change how people see self-tan, my lips are sealed but trust me you will be one of the first to know. To me it’s about being a leader, not a follower, never look to the left or right but look straight ahead, that way you never lose your direction.

This is completely off the subject of tanning, but as a fragrance lover, I ask this question to everyone, what is your favourite fragrance?

Byredo Bal d’Afrique, I love it so much!

Thank you James for taking the time out to answer these questions. Keep your eyes on James Reid Tan social for all up to date information.

Head to my blog post here to find out what my top favourite James Read products are.

James Read Tan – Self Tanning

James Read Tan – Self Tanning

Let’s face it we all love a good tan, it makes us feel and look healthy. After years of burning my skin in the name of vanity and with all the recent evidence of how bad sunbeds and sunbathing is, I decided enough is enough. I am now an avid user of self-tanning products and after trailing through different brands that never really provided the results I wanted, I finally came across James Read Tan who combines self-tanning with luxury skincare. Here are my top favourite products;

Sleep Mask Face Retinol

The first product I fell in love with and one that has taken the world by storm is the gradual tanner sleep mask. When using tanning products on my face I always thought I was missing out on my normal skincare and other self-tanners left my face dry and tight. James Read has cleverly included key skincare ingredients in this product including encapsulated Retinol, hyaluronic acid. Along with other skin-loving ingredients, this combination helps with the reduction in the signs of fatigue, dark circles and a dull complexion, so your skin isn’t missing out on anything at all.

The texture of this product is more serum-like and it absorbs easily into my skin. As with all tanning products, I exfoliate my face prior to applying this face mask so that it goes on evenly. As it is a gradual tanner, I can control the amount I use throughout the week to get the desired level of colour I want.

H20 Tan Drops

If you are not a fan of using retinol products and again you don’t want to skip your usual skincare routine then this product is fantastic. I apply this in the evenings when I don’t use the sleep mask and it is so convenient to use. All I do is add a few drops (this varies depending on the level of colour I want) into my normal moisturiser and it’s as simple as that.

The ingredients do not interact with your moisturiser in any way, so you can relax in the knowledge that you will be getting a great tan while still benefiting from your usual skincare.

The Glow 1 hour Face & Body

When I am in a hurry or life has been so busy that I have forgotten to tan throughout the week, this is the perfect last-minute product. Formulated with aloe vera, hyaluronic acid and jojoba seed oil, you are yet again getting the benefits of luxury ingredients whilst obtaining a tan. All you do is apply using a mitt and within 30 minutes you can start to see the glow appearing.

As I have pale skin I only need to keep this product on for around 45 minutes before washing it off and afterwards, I am left with a healthy golden glow. This is convenient to use before a night out or an event and doesn’t give off that undesirable fake tan aroma.

Hydra Tan Mist – for Men

Even though James Read products are unisex this Hydra Tan Mist with its chic black packaging and fresh fig and ginger fragrance has been tailored towards men. This mist is perfect for the man who is on the go as it is quick to use and very fast-drying. As it is colourless it also takes out the worry of any colour appearing on your fresh new shirt. It also calms and hydrates after shaving which is an added bonus. As with all the other products it features Tantone Technology which ensures the most natural result for your skin tone.

I sometimes spray this over my normal moisturiser throughout the day for an extra boost of hydration, knowing that I will also get a hint of colour at the same time. This is a multi-tasking and convenient product and one that should be in every guy’s toiletry case.

If you want to know more about the man behind the tan, head to my ‘chats with’ section where I chat to James Read about his life, career and his renowned self-tanning brand.

Nadia Banaisa – Founder of Les Soeurs de Noe

Nadia Banaisa – Founder of Les Soeurs de Noe

In celebration of National Fragrance Week (16th – 22nd March), I caught up with founder of Les Soeurs de Noe. This luxury niche fragrance house was born and created in Brussels, Paris and New York and inspired by Nadia’s childhood memories of travel, people and cultures. Le Soeurs de Noe launched in 2019 at London’s exclusive Liberty Department Store and as soon as I saw the gorgeous packaging and ingredients, I couldn’t wait to try them. I immediately fell in love with the unique and stunning fragrance notes and I had to reach out to Nadia to find out more about the inspiration and creation of this wonderful fragrance house.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and did you have any experience with the creation of fragrances before?

I was born and raised in Belgium with two cultures, Belgian and Moroccan. I travelled to Morocco many times from birth to visit my grandfather, and I have many memories of smells associated with those trips. His beautiful garden in Tangier was surrounded by Olive and Fig trees and I remember the scent of jasmine growing in his garden and the beautiful scent of orange blossom inside the house.

The intense colours of Morocco, as well as all the sweet smells have developed an indelible bond between my memories, emotions and fragrances. These memories were my introduction and my fascination with fragrances. I had no experience in the creation of fragrances but I‘m still training my nose every day and I have learned this new language of communication with my perfumers. I really love the way we work together.

What inspired you to create this luxurious range of fragrances? 

All the memories of my childhood inspired me but also the relationship to cultures, nature, people and many places around the world are a huge source of inspiration.

Where did the name Les Soeurs de Noe come from?

I have two daughters ‘Yara and Nahla’ and one Son ‘Noe’. My nostalgia for the past has been revived by the birth of my children. Thanks to them I found the strength to realise my dream by creating les Soeurs de Noe. This is why I dedicated the name to them. ‘The Sisters of Noe’.

Nadia at Liberty London

To bring your fragrances to life you chose master perfumers Jerome Epinette (known for the likes of Floral Street) and Pierre Wulff (who has worked with Byredo). What made you choose these individuals to create your vision? 

I was introduced to Jerome Epinette and Pierre Wulff by my designer Pierre Dinand who’s a close friend of Pierre Wulff during a trip in New York. We had a dinner and we got to know each other, started talking and we decided to work together. I really love their work. They are very talented and immensely creative perfumers.

I really developed a strong friendship with both of them. There is a dialogue and an understanding with Jerome and Pierre. We sit together and I am trying to get them to feel my emotions. The brief could be very visual or based on words, raw materials, music, a place, poetry, images,…

What captured my eye at first was the stunning packaging and bottle and the striking blue cap, how did the design come about? 

I worked with the designer Pierre Dinand and immediately fell in love with his work. He created the perfect association with luxury and craftsmanship. I wanted a round bottle to reflect the cultural diversity, the softness and the generosity of Les Soeurs de Noe. Its geometric motifs evoke all of the stories at the origin of Les Soeurs de Noe but also each person’s story. I wanted to use a new colour code in the luxury world for the cap and the packaging. Pierre and his wife Danielle came to visit me in Brussels for Christmas a few years ago. Danielle was wearing a magnificent necklace with a blue pearl. I loved it and this was my inspiration for the Colours of Les Soeurs de Noe. I was informed by Pierre Dinand that this necklace was part of a selection of jewellery that was proposed to Yves Saint Laurent by Pierre Dinand for their Opium project in 1977. In spite of its originality and beauty it was not selected by YSL. Now, more than forty years later, Les Soeurs de Noe is bringing it into the limelight.

A few of the fragrances are connected to the orient, where did this inspiration come from? 

I travelled a lot with my parents during my childhood and I was fascinated by different cultures and people I met. Being multicultural, I am sensitive to cultural diversity and I try to consider that very much in the creation of my fragrances. Les Soeurs de Noe explores this indefectible bond between the Orient and the West, establishing links between both regions’ heritage and cultural richness.

One of my favourites is Oud Rose as it has that perfect balance between Oud and Rose that I have been searching for, so thank you! Did the perfumers manage to encapsulate your memories perfectly first time or were there a few changes along the way?

Thank you very much Scott! The creation of each fragrance is unique and an emotional process. I focused on the feeling that the scent should evoke and worked with Jerome and Pierre to create it, we did several changes to get the final one.

Photo by Ahmed Bahhodh

Apart from your own range, do you have your own particular favourite fragrance and what do you look for in a scent when purchasing one? 

I always tried to find the fragrance that I am comfortable with physically. It is really important to know who you are. It’s subjective. One of my favourite fragrance is Chergui by‘Serge Lutens’. It takes me back to my earliest scent memory in Morocco with my grandfather. I remember the chergui wind blowing in his garden and all the smells associated with it.

Can we expect any further beautiful creations from the Les Soeurs de Noe range? 

We really want to grow slowly and create a truly unique fragrance experience. Now, we are working on new scents that will launch in the future.

Finally, can you sum up your perfumes in three words? 

Authenticity (quality, creativeness), respect (people and environment) and sharing.

Head to my latest video to find out more about each of the fragrances.

East Haugh House Hotel

East Haugh House Hotel

Located on the outskirts of Pitlochry in Perthshire is the 17th Century built East Haugh House hotel and restaurant. Originally erected as part of the Atholl Estate, it was converted into a hotel in 1989 by the McGown family who still run the four-star hotel today. Their personal and dedicated approach has won the hotel numerous awards including fishing hotel of the year for 7 years running, best country sports hotel and Best Hotel In Scotland (under 50 rooms). Having previously stayed in the hotel over Hogmanay I couldn’t wait to go back in order to share my experience with you.

Driving into the hotel grounds you immediately notice the hotels stunning stone Victorian façade with turreted roof and quant sash windows. As soon as you walk into the entrance you instantly feel the relaxed and comfortable ambience. The thick tartan carpet leads you to a small reception area where warm and friendly staff check you in to one of the lovely rooms. There are numerous rooms to choose from; Small double/twin, Classic double/twin, Superior double/twin, superior room with Jacuzzi bathroom, Four poster room with Jacuzzi bathroom, Superior suite with movie room and Jacuzzi bathroom and Deluxe superior with open fireplace and Jacuzzi bathroom.

Superior Room with jacuzzi bathroom

As the hotel is surrounded by some of the best areas of fishing such as the River Tay and River Tummel, each of the rooms are named after classic salmon fishing flies. On this occasion I stayed in their recently renovated Superior Suite called the Red Drummond located on the top floor of the hotel.

The Red Drummond Suite

The Red Drummond Suite was open and spacious and was split into three large rooms over the one floor. The first room was the beautifully decorated bedroom which oozed the traditional charm of the surrounding countryside along with some contemporary touches. The slanted roof, dark ceiling beams and unique shape of the room gave the room a quirky style and the décor cleverly accentuated these original features.

Double Bedroom

Two ceiling windows allowed light to flood into the space allowing you to enjoy the view outside and catch glimpses of the turreted roof that brings so much character to the building. The room contains a large super king double bed, lots of storage space, bottled water and tea/coffee making facilities.

View from Suite

Off the landing is a very large bathroom with a luxurious Jacuzzi bath. Again the sloping roof adds so much charm to the space and the addition of a vibrant print wall covering carries the fish theme and also adds a touch of humour.

Large bathroom

The small window allows you to take a bath while looking out towards the expanse of green and I thoroughly enjoyed the selection of luxury toiletries along with the fluffy white bathrobes and towels.

It’s all in the detail

What makes this suite stand out is the addition of a separate movie room which contains a 49’’ TV, DVD player and is connected to Netflix. The room also has its very own sofa bed and a fully stocked mini-bar and is a great space to chill out and relax before heading to your bed. There is also a TV in the bedroom but trust me you the bed is so comfortable that all you will want to do is sink into it and enjoy the quiet surroundings of the hotel. 

Movie room

 

What really stood out for me in this hotel is the food, and it is no wonder that the restaurant is recommended in the UK’s Michelin Guide and gained numerous awards. Their Chef Patron, Neil McGown along with Sous-chef Steven Fleetham heads a team of very talented chefs who produce dishes with ingredients that are both locally sourced and freshly cooked to order. The restaurant itself is located both in the bar area and a larger space that has been added to the building.

Restaurant

The bar area is small and cosy and a roaring fire makes it the perfect place to relax, enjoy one of the many delicious drinks and of course make your way through the tantalising selection of food.

Bar area and restaurant

We started off with one of their renowned cocktails, the aptly named kilt lifter! Not being a huge fan of whisky I was pleasantly surprised with this cocktail, so much so that I had to get the ingredients so I could make it myself.

Kilt Lifter

For the first course I tried the Seared west coast scallops with Chorizo, Cauliflower puree and pickled Cauliflower which were succulent, fresh and full of flavour.

Starter – West Coast Scallops

I then opted for the delicious Roast best end of Perthshire lamb, Champ potatoes, crushed minted garden peas and rosemary jus. The lamb melted in the mouth and the infusion of flavours were simply to die for.

Main – Perthshire Lamb

To finish I had a refreshing take on Eton mess, this time with banoffee. It was light and creamy and the perfect dish to finish such a beautiful and varied dinner. 

Dessert – Banoffee Eton Mess

 

Although I didn’t experience it the hotel also offers an array of activities and country sports, so much so that it has gained the accolade of Best country Sports Hotel at the Scottish Hotel Awards. With numerous packages available to suit everyone’s taste, you can take part in shooting, hunting and fishing to name but a few.

East Haugh House hotel has that traditional highland welcome and customer service that I long for when travelling around Scotland. Its relaxed ambience and comfortable rooms provide an excellent base to explore Perthshire and the surrounding areas. I love that it’s a family owned business and you can truly feel the passion from each and every one of them. It’s no wonder they have so many returning guests and I myself wouldn’t hesitate to book again when visiting the gateway to the Highlands. 

Blu Blazer Guy Rating:

Location – 4/5 – Easily reached by car and close to Pitlochry.
Customer Service – 4.5/5 – Warm and Friendly.
Accommodation – 4.5/5 – Traditional, comfortable and quirky.
Cleanliness – 5/5 – Spotless and immaculate.
Food and Drink – 4.5/5 – Varied menu and fantastic quality.

 

Float Philosophy

Float Philosophy

This time of the year is all about recalibrating the body and mind and I am always on the lookout for new ways of doing this. I recently came across Float Philosophy, a fantastic place that provides floatation therapy. I had heard about floatation therapy from a few friends and had been wanting to try it out for a while. I must admit I was a tad nervous as I really didn’t know what to expect, however as I arrived at the stunning countryside setting those anxious feelings had begun to dissipate.

The owner Nick has beautifully converted a previous farm barn on the outskirts of Edinburgh into a tranquil space. The relaxation room is where visitors can relax and unwind before and after their treatment. It is a calming blend white walls, artwork displaying positive quotes and comfortable contemporary furniture which is set off by a beautiful large window that frames the surrounding countryside views.

For those of you that don’t already know, floatation therapy involves lying in a bath of water combined with large amounts of Epsom salts (which allows the body to float) in a specially constructed pod. The pod is then closed and you are completely shut off from the outside world allowing you to truly disconnect and enter a zone of peace and tranquillity. Many countries around the world already use this therapy and in some places its prescribed by their doctor for a number of ailments. Due to stressful lives, sensory overload and the inability to switch off, there have been many studies into the psychological benefits of this therapy including:

·         Deep relaxation and Stress Relief

·         Promotes Wellbeing

·         Disconnection

·         Improves Sleep

As well as benefits to mental health it can also help with a number of physical conditions including;

·         Chronic Pain Management (such as muscle tension, Fibromyalgia and Arthritis)

·         Sports Recovery

Each pod is located in its very own room with a shower, including toiletries and towels, so you really don’t need to worry about bringing anything but yourself. When I first thought of lying in a pod in complete darkness, the fear of feeling claustrophobic did cross my mind but as soon as I saw the pod, I was pleasantly surprised. The state of the art pods are very spacious as they were originally built for athletes, so much so that they are in fact the size of a small car.

Before entering the pod you are asked to take a shower, ensuring you are clean and free of any skin products. As you are showering the pod automatically fills with the water and Epsom salt solution, then the soothing lights and music starts to play. After inserting earplugs (which are also provided) it was time to lay back, close the pod and experience floatation therapy.

As soon as my body entered the water and started to float I honestly felt an immediate relief from all my body pain (due to recently starting the gym and sitting at a desk all day) so much so that I let out a huge sigh! The water itself is continuously heated to body temperature so you tend to forget that it’s there and it feels almost if you are laying on a cloud. For ten minutes the soft light and music played and then slowly phased out leaving complete darkness. It is here where the true test lies as every one of your senses is cut off (sensory deprivation) and you are left with your own thoughts. At first, I became a tad restless and started to think about normal everyday thoughts but after around ten minutes I began to drift off into a state that is quite difficult to describe. My body became so relaxed that it would drift around in circles (that’s how big the pod is) and my mind became very silent and still.

My worry prior to the therapy was that I would fall asleep and drown or have some sort of accident. However this is literally impossible because soon as your body begins to turn on its side, it automatically goes on its back again. The whole session lasts around an hour and I was completely surprised when the lights and music gently came back on, it honestly felt like I was in there for no more than twenty minutes. As soon as I got out and had a shower I felt so relaxed as if coming out of massage treatment or a really nice nap.

After getting changed there is also a separate vanity room where hairdryers and mirrors are provided, yet again taking the worry out of having to bring lots of things with you. You then have the opportunity to sit in the relaxation room and enjoy a warming cup of herbal tea and read one of the many books on offer. What I especially loved was that you don’t feel rushed and the whole experience is truly geared towards making you feel as comfortable and chilled out as possible. I had dabbled before in meditation and mindfulness but was never able to fully focus. This however allowed me to truly switch off and not reach for my phone (well except once for blog reasons 😉 After a hectic year and busy festive period, I was looking for something help me to completely disconnect and this was the perfect solution. I can only imagine that continued use of floatation therapy would definitely benefit individuals who suffer from the ailments above and each time falling into that zen state would get easier. Float Philosophy is definitely a place I would return to.  When I left I felt as if I was on cloud nine and that night I had the best sleep ever.

Float Philosophy
6 Roddinglaw Business Park
Roddinglaw Road
Edinburgh
EH12 9DB

email: info@floatphilosophy.com
Telephone: 0131 285 8770

 

Nick Ede – Philanthropist and PR Guru

Nick Ede – Philanthropist and PR Guru

In 2020 I continue my search for inspirational people and share them with you through my “Blu Blazer Guy Chats with” blog posts. Over the past few years due to the ever-growing power of social media, I have been closely following the work of renowned philanthropist Nick Ede. With an unstoppable spirit and unlimited amount of energy, he pours his life and soul into working with charities and is now founder of his own; Style for Stroke. His work also includes organising numerous prestigious events which have become renowned the world over and help to raise funds for several charities. In addition, he is also CEO of East of Eden London which creates brand experience campaigns for clients not only in the charity sector but also consumer, lifestyle and fashion. If that wasn’t enough, his career has also allowed him to delve into the world of TV where he has judged and presented on numerous shows. I caught up with Nick to find out about his admirable work and illustrious career.

Nick Ede

First of all Nick, I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. You are a widely recognised philanthropist and have dedicated your life to numerous charities, with a specific emphasis on stroke charities, Can you tell me where it all started and what drove you towards this?

Thank you so much for inviting me onto your platform. From a young age, I’ve always been interested in altruism and wanted to make a difference, but I really started to want to do more when my mother sadly passed away with a stroke when I was 23. She died on the same day that Princess Diana died and so the world was a very sad place. I had no idea what a stroke was and it really angered and frustrated me that I didn’t know, so I decided to contact the stroke association and see if I could do more to help by either fundraising or volunteering. I decided to put on a night called ‘A night with Nick’ and I invited all my friends to buy tickets. At the time I had not famous contacts, So I wrote to numerous agents and asked if the clients would like to come. It was 1998 and all before Instagram and Twitter, so most communicating was done via fax or very slow modem-based emails. I remember having to fax Mark Moody who was the social editor for OK! Magazine to ask if he would feature my event and to my surprise, I received a reply saying yes. This fax really did change my life and I still have this fax to this day. On my first event, Jamie Oliver attended along with the cast of Eastenders and numerous soap starts. The next day the event was in the papers and the following week it graced the pages of OK! Magazine. This spurred on my interest both in PR, events and ultimately fundraising. I have now hosted an annual ‘A night with Nick’ for over 18 years and it has grown so big we have now attracted stars such as Luke Evans, Kelly Osbourne, Kelly Rowland and Naomi Harris who all attend and support.

As CEO of PR company East of Eden, you get to work with some of the world’s largest brands, clients and celebrities as well as continue your work in charity. What has been the highlight of your career and are there any goals, dreams or aspirations that you still wish to achieve?

I have so many highlights that I find it difficult to pinpoint a particular one. We launched Spanx in the UK, Hosted the VIP area for The V Festival and launched the cast of Geordie Shore, we have always been able to be at the right place at the right time with what we do. Part of this is down to my past and present teams, many of them have gone on to set up their own wonderful agencies and it’s great to see them doing so well. I have many aspirations to achieve greater things with the agency and we are looking to not only expand but work smarter too. I love that we have a really diverse client list who all compliment each other really well, it makes every day different and exciting, which is always a good thing.

After its success in 2018, you joined forces with Alexandra Burke to organise The Fall Ball which took place at Café de Paris in London this year. For those who don’t already know, can you describe what The Fall Ball is and how it contributes so greatly to the awareness of the charities involved?

Alex and I have been good friends for a while now and I asked if she would star in a campaign we did for BBC Children in Need, where she appeared for one night only in Les Miserables. We hit it off and stayed in touch and when her mother sadly passed away 2 years ago from a stroke, we decided to do something together to celebrate our mothers. Alexandra has the Melissa Bell Foundation that gives grants to Sylvia Young Students who are unable to afford a scholar scholarship and my foundation supports Interact Stroke and The Stroke Association. The Fall Ball is a fabulous event full of love, hope, inspiration and wonderful live music. In 2020 we will have our third ball and we are also looking at hosting one in either LA or New York.

Alexandra Burke & Nick Ede

You seem a very grounded individual, especially in the way you approach your work and how you engage with people. How important is it for you to remain authentic in a somewhat unauthentic world?

I am not phased by anything or anyone and to be honest one of the main things I remember my mother saying to me was to be true to yourself. If this all stopped tomorrow then I can honestly say I have done everything I wanted to do, apart from writing a book that is!

Working on TV and being in the spotlight seems to come very natural to you. Where does this talent come from and have you always desired to be on TV?

My mother had been a musical theatre actress and I was always in the school plays and although quite shy at times, I loved performing. I studied drama at Bretton Hall University in Leeds and I loved it so much as it really helped me with confidence and communication skills which I now use every day. When I was 30 I was deeply unhappy in my work and also unhappy that I was making more of a difference with the stroke work that I had been doing. A friend of mine worked for a TV production company and I convinced her to give me a contract to be a researcher, I left my well-paid job and started at Shine. I loved every moment of it and I learned so much from being there but in the end, I was told there was no work for me. I felt so despondent and I didn’t know what to do. The next day as I was packing up all my things, I was called to the office and asked if I would like to have a hosting role on a new day time talk show. The show was called The Russell Grant Show and I would be his sidekick ‘, Starstruck Nick’. I literally went from fetching diet cokes for people to be being on daily TV, interviewing celebrities and have my own clothing allowance. It was scary and exciting but ultimately led me to future jobs working on shows such as Taste on Sky One, Lorraine and Market Kitchen to name but a few.

You seem to have quite a busy lifestyle with numerous positions, events and activities. What is a typical day in the life of Nick Ede and how does he relax?

A typical day for me is getting up around 6:30 am and taking Beverly (our new Cavapoochon) out for a walk which I find really relaxes me. I then go to the gym before arriving at the office for 9 AM, Luckily I only live 5 minutes away. My day at the office involves planning with the team, numerous meetings and in the evening I will go to an event. If I have some filming to do then I will work around the team and make sure they know where I am or where to reach me. As well as walking the dog, cooking and going to the cinema and theatre really relaxes me. Now and again I also love visiting The Body Camp in Ibiza which is the perfect way to detox the mind, body and soul.

In 2015 you were awarded the Fashion Philanthropist Award for your ‘Famous Last Words’ fashion collaboration in aid of The Stroke Association and you also were a judge on TV reality show Project Runway. Where does your interest in fashion come from?

I have always loved fashion, design and Print. I went to Glasgow School of Art and did a foundation course there and this sparked an interest that has never left me. I really enjoy looking at the use of fabric and how garments are created and realised. We make judgements on what people are wearing and their personalities before they even speak and I find this so interesting. I am working on two fashion projects at the moment which is really making my creative juices glow. One is a new brand that I am collaborating on with a US manufacturer and the other is an experience, I cannot wait to share them in 2020.

On a more personal note, a few years back you married your lovely partner Andrew with a double ceremony in both London and L.A. As a member of the LGBT+ community, for me, marriage is something that is very important and was one thing I thought I would never be able to do. How important was it for you to get married and also can you tell us about that momentous occasion?

Getting married was such an important thing for us both to do. It cements our commitment together and being a traditionalist at heart, it meant a lot that we were and are able to be married. It should be legalised everywhere! The weddings were both amazing and both so memorable. London was in Dalston at our favourite restaurant called Jones and Sons and Los Angeles was The House of Elyx in Hollywood. I couldn’t have wanted more and I think that they both demonstrated our personalities and our love of friendship and glamour perfectly.

Nick Ede and husband Andrew Naylor.

You are a fellow Scot and were born and bred in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. Since leaving for London, is there anything that you miss about Scotland (except the weather of course)?

I love Edinburgh and any excuse to back and I am there. My brother still lives there, so I visit as much as I can. I miss the friendliness of Scottish people and their sense of humour and I miss a good fish supper the most.

You have accomplished so much in your lifetime, something tells me there is much more to see. So please do tell us, what is next for Nick Ede?

I have a lot of things I want to accomplish and fulfil and I am looking forward to some exciting things happening in 2020. I am mostly looking forward to Style for Stroke making more an impact internationally, East of Eden creating some exciting campaigns and the projects I have been silently working on coming to fruition for people to enjoy. I will sleep when I am dead, so until then there is no chance of me slowing down.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions Nick. You can keep up with all things Nick Ede on his instagram page.

*photography provided by Nick Ede.

Luxury Hideaways – Crieff

Luxury Hideaways – Crieff

Located near the town of Crieff in Perthshire is a new kind of glamping experience from Luxury Hideaways. Set within acres of the countryside are two luxury stunningly designed eco-friendly pods that provide an idyllic and relaxing escape. Driving down the quaint farm road I didn’t know what to expect. I have to be honest and admit that i am not a huge fan of the glamping scene. That being said I thought I would give it a go, and let’s just say I’m so glad that I did.

As soon as I arrived and walked up to the pod I was completely taken by surprise with its stunning and serene location. Using a unique code given at the time of booking and handprint to enter (just one of the technology quirks) I immediately fell in love with its unique and contemporary design.

On opening the door you are transported into a capsule of beautiful interior design and comfort. The first thing you notice is the sumptuous looking bed that appears to float majestically below a large circular window that provides an Instagram worthy photo of the landscape outside.

The luxurious and deep king size mattress is draped in high-quality linens, embellished with a cosy grey alpaca throw from the White Company and heavy sumptuous scatter cushions. On each side of the bed lie wireless chargers, sleek bedside touch lamps and an array of switches to control the lighting within the room. A pull out TV allows you to lie in bed and enjoy all the latest Netflix, Amazon of iPlayer programmes have to offer.

I do have to admit, as the automatic window blind came down and I slipped underneath the sumptuous duvet, I didn’t want to leave. The bed was extremely comfortable and actually better than some five-star hotels that I have stayed in. That combined with the silence of the location provided me with one of the best sleep ever.

Technology plays a huge role in making this pod as chic and contemporary as possible and each detail has been meticulously thought out. The pod contains underfloor heating, air conditioning/ heating and a heated towel rail which can all be operated from a screen located on the wall. Mood lighting, up lighters and outdoor lighting can also be controlled, providing the perfect ambience to relax and unwind.

Wi-Fi is also included so you can remain connected and your bluetooth device can be connected to the pod so you can listen to your favourite music.

Every nook and cranny of the pod has been designed to fully utilise the space and this carries on into the compact WC area, where a sink, shower and toilet are located.

Concealed wardrobes illuminated by LED lighting enclose fluffy bathrobes and white towels and small drawers provide great quality cutlery and dishes.

A small seating area in the pod provides an area to relax and eat.

The pod also contains a state of the art Nespresso machine and kettle with an array of coffee pods and teas to choose from.

An impressive hamper and fully stocked fridge containing an array of high-quality goods were provided, which was a very thoughtful idea. It’s these small personal touches that make this place stand out.

Outside the pod is a large decked area and even though it’s located adjacent to another pod it has been cleverly designed to be as private as possible taking advantage of the countryside.

There is additional rattan seating outside which allows you to take in the serene views. If that’s not enough, the pod also contains its very own 30-jet Jacuzzi hot-tub. I especially enjoyed sinking into the warm hot-tub, laying back to watch the stars and sipping on a glass of bubbly that is also provided during the stay.

I found my stay at Luxury Hideaways truly unforgettable and surprisingly relaxing, I can’t recommend this accommodation enough. The combination of unique and quirky accommodation, technology, location and friendly communication with the owner prior to arrival all added to a very special stay. I arrived not knowing what to expect but left with a newfound appreciation of the luxury glamping experience. Whether it be for a romantic getaway or simply to disconnect from the world, you certainly won’t be disappointed with a stay at Luxury Hideaways – Crieff.

Head to their website or Instagram for more information and keep your eyes peeled for future locations such as Turnberry in Ayrshire, Delamare Forest in Cheshire and Appin near Oban.

Blu Blazer Guy Rating:

Location – 4/5 – Stunning location but may be difficult to reach without a car.
Customer Service – 4/5 – Easy to book and excellent communication.
Accommodation – 4.5/5 – Unique and contemporary with luxurious touches.
Cleanliness – 5/5 – Spotless and immaculate
Food and Drink – 4/5 – Great quality luxury hamper and supply of bottled water.

 

Blu Blazer Guy Chats With Darren Kennedy

Blu Blazer Guy Chats With Darren Kennedy

Today I speak with the style king himself, Darren Kennedy. For those of you who don’t already know, Darren is a TV Presenter, Fashion Columnist and one of the UK and Ireland’s top lifestyle influencers. He regularly writes for top publications, presents on a range of TV shows in UK, Ireland and the USA and has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious brands. His social media is the perfect concoction of positivity, style, charm and is full of helpful fashion tips for guys of all ages. A year ago Darren launched his own grooming company, Kennedy & Co which sells a range of affordable and effective grooming products for men. I caught up with Darren to find out more about him, his career and Kennedy & Co.

You are a renowned Style Entrepreneur and fashion columnist, can you tell me where your love for fashion came from?

My love of fashion and style came from my parents. They were young adults of the 70s and our house was adorned with photos of my mother wearing amazing fur coats and my father wearing flairs and other interesting outfits, so to be honest, I think it stemmed from there.

Having such a varied and busy career what do you do to maintain and look after your mental health and wellbeing? How do you manage to stay so fit and healthy?

I have a couple of things I try to do, one of which is to visit a gym on a regular basis. I always try to visit a gym no matter where I am in the world normally working out for around 30-40 minutes which is enough to keep me sane and give me a sense of regularity.

Darren Kennedy in Attitude Magazine

I don’t really meditate but I love just to chill out, close my eyes and listen to relaxing music, this acts as a kind of meditation for me. It could be anything from Sufjan Stevens to a little bit of George Michael, anything calming really helps. I also try and take care of what I eat. I eat pretty much what I want but I always know if I am eating too much sugar, ice cream or chocolate which are all things I love, I start to feel a bit rubbish after a while. Likewise with alcohol where if I constantly drink too many nights in a row, I start to feel it. So it’s not rocket science but it’s just about keeping an eye on it.

You took part in Dancing with the Stars having no dance experience which is very courageous, are you someone who always welcomes a new challenge?

Dancing with the stars was absolutely terrifying as I have never danced or performed on stage in that capacity, so that was a real challenge. However, I do like a challenge and I believe in pushing myself outside my boundaries, sometimes it’s scary and it takes a long time to work up to it but I’ll eventually get there. I was very proud of myself with Dancing with the stars because I noticed as time went by and the harder I worked and the more training I put in, I was picking up the routines quicker, which just goes to show even without natural ability you can learn anything.

Dancing with the Stars

You have an infectious optimism and an abundance of confidence, which is portrayed through your social media, TV presenting and on-screen appearances, does this come naturally to you or is this something that you have had to work on?

Optimism does come a little bit more natural to me but I do work on it. Some people are a glass half empty and some people are a glass half full, I am definitely a glass half full. On days where I am feeling a bit empty I will work on it and try and pick myself up and there are mental techniques that I use. In terms of self-confidence, I wasn’t always and I am not always very confident but I guess I have learned to work on that as well.

Even in times when I feel very vulnerable and not very self-confident, I can fake it a little bit. I guess ultimately it’s not about confidence for me, it’s about being self-assured and being confident in my abilities for what I do in terms of work which has come with sheer experience and working really hard and consistent over time.

I notice that you get the opportunity to travel a lot, is travel important to you and is there any destination in the world that has had a lasting impression?

Travel is always something that I knew I would do with my life. In a way, it’s in my blood as my dad worked in the airline industry at Dublin airport. So even as a young child, we were very lucky that we got to travel because my father was able to get reduced price travel tickets. I absolutely adore travel and without it, I do start to sink a little bit so it’s very important to me. New food, new culture and new people are very important for my soul. I haven’t yet made it to Mexico City but that’s next on the list and hope to go this year. I went to Sri Lanka and fell in love with it. I lived in France for two years where I studied in Bordeaux and worked in Paris and I discovered Biarritz during that period. Biarritz is very close to my heart and I have now made some dear friends and love it as its the perfect mix for me.

You recently launched your Kennedy & Co grooming range, what was your inspiration behind the brand and does skincare play an important part in your life?

I launched Kennedy and Co over a year now and we celebrated our one year anniversary last November which is hard to believe. It was really born out of there being a gap in the market for really excellent skincare products that were within reach of everybody and that’s what we’ve done with Kennedy & Co.

The feedback on the products has been amazing, it’s doing wonderful things for peoples skin and hair. What’s most important is that it’s affordable, all under fifteen euros, made in Ireland, vegan, sulphate and paraben-free and not tested in animals which are all the things that I stand for. Skincare is important, it’s not something I invest hours in every day, it has to be quick and easy as I am a busy man, but I think that represents most guys these days.

Kennedy & Co Grooming Products

You probably have so many but do you have any top grooming tips that you can share with us?

My top grooming tip and my number one thing that I always say to guys is regardless of anything else you do for your skin, make sure you wear SPF every single day of the year no matter where you are in the world. Even here in the UK on the greyest of days, 80% of the damaging UVA rays still get through and they are the ones that are responsible for premature ageing of the skin. So that’s why the Kennedy & Co moisturiser comes with SPF 20 so you don’t even have to think twice about it, we’ve done the hard work.

Last but not least, I am a huge fragrance addict, can you tell me your favourite fragrance?

I am a massive fragrance fan and have been since I was around 13 when I used to steal my brothers Dior Fahrenheit, I’ve always been addicted to fragrance ever since. I guess one of my long term favourite fragrances is Bleu de Chanel, it’s kind of a signature for me and I have been using it since it launched. I also love Tom Ford’s Private Blend Collection, in particular, Azure Lime as I love the zestiness of it. I am a big fan of Hugo by Hugo Boss it’s a great fragrance and it’s been around twenty years and there is a reason it has lasted so long. Le Labo is fantastic as well, I like a few of their fragrances. I can keep going on and on, I love the fragrance!

Thank you Darren for taking the time out to answer these questions.

Head to Darren’s Instagram or webpage to keep up to date with what’s going on in his life and also head to Kennedy & Co Grooming to check out the range of products.

Cringletie – Sunday Lunch

Cringletie – Sunday Lunch

Amidst the rolling hills, fields and woodlands of the Scottish Borders is the impressive Cringletie. Conveniently located just 15 miles south of Edinburgh and two miles north of the Royal Burgh of Peebles, it is perfectly placed for a relaxing stay or a visit to their renowned restaurant for a delicious heartwarming meal.

I recently visited to try out their tantalising Sunday Lunch menu devised by their head chef Iain Gourlay, which was launched early in 2019 and has received some fantastic reviews. It was a cold and windy day just before Christmas when I arrived but as soon as I walked into the hotel’s beautiful entrance I was immediately greeted with a welcoming roaring fire. Walking up the beautiful staircase I couldn’t help but notice all the stunning architectural details but it is the dining room that truly surprised me.

As soon as you enter into the lavish room you are greeted with the most beautiful views of the gardens from the large sash windows that are voluptuously draped in heavy luxurious curtains. The opulence continues as you look up towards the ceiling where a beautifully painted mural sits. Although the room was large and airy it retained a homely warmth partly due to the deep-coloured thick carpet and the crackling fire.

I was seated next to the window at one of the many tables draped in white linen with comfortable chairs which fitted perfectly into the rooms décor.

The three-course Sunday lunch menu features an array of locally-sourced produce which includes roast beef from the Tweed Valley and also contains a number of vegetarian and vegan options. As it was a typical cold and crisp Scottish day,  I immediately gravitated towards the warming Chicken Broth with Chicken Dumplings for my first course and it immediately hit the spot, deliciously rich and full of flavour. In addition to this, the menu also delights with a Trio of Scottish Salmon or a Ham Hock & Gremolata Terrine.

Being a Sunday lunch I could not bypass the delicious selection of roasted meats. These were brought to the table and carved in front of me by the chef, and even before the food was placed upon my plate my mouth was salivating. I opted for a slice of all of them; roast beef, pork and turkey.

These were served alongside a selection of honey roasted vegetables, goose fat potatoes and greens. The meats were exquisitely succulent and full of flavour and paired with the side dishes, it was a perfect traditional roast. If these don’t take your fancy, there was also a fish dish of pan-seared fillet of Atlantic cod or another meat dish of slow-cooked pork belly, again with a selection of perfectly paired side dishes.

Dessert is always my favourite part of the meal and I always go for the sweet options rather than the cheese which was available on this menu. I went for the Chocolate & Hazelnut brownie with chocolate shards and yoghurt sorbet. Although deliciously decadent and moreish I did wish I had opted for something a tad lighter (due to the previous course) but who can resist chocolate and hazelnut together!

I really enjoyed my time at Cringletie House and it was a great little escape from the city buzz of Edinburgh. Its accessible location and scenic drive makes it the perfect place to combine some country walks along with an exquisite lunch or dinner. I myself am not a big fan of roast dinners but the delicious selection of food along with the ambience of the building made this meal truly enjoyable.  My only wish was if I could have stayed longer and enjoyed more of that crackling fire, however that only gives me an excuse to visit again.

Priced at £35 per person with a £7.50 supplement for cheese.

Blu Blazer Guy Rating:

Location 4/5
Service 4/5
Food 4/5