Highland Escape

Highland Escape

Although it looks like we will be unable to grab our passports and fly off to a sunny destination anytime soon, I look forward to the day where we can travel in our very own country. The popularity of staycations looks likely to soar this year as soon as restrictions and guidelines allow and perhaps we can really take this opportunity to explore the beauty that lies on our very own doorstep. 

Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands is an area of stunning beauty and is notably known for its apparent monstrous inhabitant, Nessie. In 1924 a man named Robert Kenneth looked across the water from the drawing-room of a lochside property and it’s here where the famous photo of the alleged monster was taken. Today this property is known as Highland Escape, a stunning six-bedroom private hire house that has been meticulously restored to celebrate Scottish art, culture and history.

As soon as the property appeared on the market, founder Mathew Meredith, who works in the music business in London couldn’t wait to get his hands on it. Due to its stunning location and infamous history, it was his ultimate goal to restore the property to its former glory, adding a few contemporary touches whilst remaining sensitive to its past.

I was recently invited to stay for the weekend (pre-covid) and I couldn’t wait to experience this historic building and all the bespoke services that are on offer. After a glorious drive through Scotland’s renowned scenery, I arrived to the glimmering water of Loch Ness and as if out of a fairytale the house appeared majestically on the horizon. Its exterior slowly comes into view and as soon as I stepped out of the car I couldn’t help but look at it in awe.

The Old Manse as the building is also known, exudes a typical Victorian exterior with turreted roof, sash windows and impressive stonework. Alongside The Old Manse is Bona Church, a quant and spacious addition to the house which can cater for intimate weddings and ceremonies.

Bona Church

I was met by the passionate Highland Escape Director, Magda Meredith who kindly provided me with a welcoming glass of champagne and encouraged me to explore the property, which of course I couldn’t wait to do. On entering the house I was completely taken aback by its stunning elegance, its large entrance hall setting the tone of what you can expect throughout the rest of the property.

Antique furniture that has been locally sourced from the Highlands stands sophisticatedly against the mellow hues of the wall as if they have been there forever and a sweeping staircase entices you in to explore the rest of this eloquent building.

The living room is a large and inviting space where no money has been spared and its roaring open fire conjures up images of relaxed evenings and a warming glass of whisky, of which I certainly did later that night. Specially selected antique furniture enhance the room, however it is the addition of small details that really make this place special. An elaborate and extremely comfortable sofa from British company Tetrad adds a sumptuous and luxurious touch and the addition of a large Harris Tweed footstool brings in a further traditional Scottish element. The artwork that hangs splendidly in each room tells the history of the Jacobite uprising and local prints that pepper the walls are from the famous Leakey’s bookshop in Inverness.

Adjoining the living room is ‘the snug’ which again benefits from an open fire, antique furniture, artwork and beautiful hints of luxury such as the bespoke handmade blinds from Mulberry. I especially loved this room in the evening watching one of the many movies on offer whilst the roaring fire crackled away in the background.

The Snug

The country kitchen is both spacious and light and is equipped with everything guests could possibly need. As well the traditional elements they have included many contemporary appliances including large fridge/freezer with wine cooler, double-sized cooker, dishwasher and wash machine.

Adjoining the kitchen and leading to the backdoor, is the fantastic addition of a boot room, providing guests with wellington boots, jackets and raincoats.

The Boot Room

Next to the kitchen is the impressive dining room which seats up to twelve people. This palatial yet comfortable room takes in the impressive views of Loch Ness and is where the famous photograph of the mysterious monster was taken.

The Dining Room

The property has six bedrooms over two floors which allows up to 12 guests to enjoy this lavish escape. Each of the bedrooms have their own distinct personalities yet manage to seamlessly blend together with the rest of the property. There are two super king four poster beds, two super king sleigh beds and two king sized beds each embellished with lamb’s wool throws and windows that take advantage of the surrounding views.

On the second floor, each of the rooms benefits from en-suite ‘Jack & Jill’ bathrooms which are generous in size and have the most exquisite interior design each containing a selection of premium towels and toiletries.

All of the rooms benefit from their very own tea and coffee stations, branded dressing gowns and slippers, meaning guests can relax in true highland comfort. I settled for one of the bedrooms in the upper floor that looked upon the surrounding hills, it was extremely relaxing and the huge comfortable bed insured I had one of the best sleeps ever.

What sets this private hire accommodation above the rest is when guests book directly with Highland Escape they can completely tailor your trip to make it as relaxing or as adventurous as possible. Highland Escape provides numerous bespoke packages which truly allow guests to get to know the area and enjoy this house to its fullest.

Me & Tony (Tour Guide at Tour Highlands)

I was treated to a privately escorted tour by Tour Highlands which included my very own knowledgable driver, luxury vehicle and customised itinerary.

Learning about Loch Ness

This individually designed tour really allowed me to delve into the history, culture and heritage of the region. This was one of the highlights of my stay and Tony our guide was extremely informative, humorous and friendly.

Whisky tasting at Glen Ord Distillery

As well as the above Highland Escape also have their very own luxury golf tours along with a concierge service, clay pigeon shooting and exclusive access to fishing areas in the Highlands with top guides, which I can’t wait to experience when I go back.

For guests who don’t wish to cook whilst on vacation then Highland Escape have the perfect answer. They provide guests with their very own chefs who can cook a bespoke restaurant-quality meal in the privacy of the home. Prior to my stay I pre-selected my food from an extensive menu of high quality local produce. As soon as I arrived back from my day trip around Loch Ness, the chef duo Steven and Veronika were already hard at work creating their culinary works of art.

Chefs Steven & Veronika

It was fantastic to sit back in the dining room with a glass of wine by the flickering fire and be served some spectacular dishes. This is just one of the services available which makes your experience at Highland Escapes both outstanding and remarkable.

Highland Escape provides a unique and memorable stay in a stunning area of Scotland. It shines not only due to the exceptional property but also because of the added bespoke benefits which truly makes a trip here unforgettable.

They have cleverly managed to combine the relaxation of a self-catering vacation with the added benefits of luxurious hotel service. If you are looking for a exuberant getaway at an affordable price in a remarkable location, then look no further than the immaculately presented Highland Escape.

Take a video tour on my IGTV.

Opening July 15th 2020. Book direct at highland-escape.com

Fathers Day Gift Guide 2020

Fathers Day Gift Guide 2020

I don’t know about you but when it comes to Father’s Day I find it very difficult to get my dad the perfect gift. I have come across some amazing products and I thought I would share them with you to make choosing your Father’s Day gift that little bit easier. Whether it be for your father or a special father figure, I am sure you will find the perfect item.

Mens Grooming

Horace

I first discovered this brand whilst in France and I couldn’t wait to share it on the blog. Horace is a men’s grooming range that uses ingredients that are a minimum of 95% natural ingredients. This simple yet effective range of products are very affordable and each one is formulated with ingredients that are proven to work. The range covers an array of grooming needs from haircare, fragrance and even oral care. Here are my favourites in the range;

Mesoa Skincare

What first caught my eye with this brand is their focus on male mental health. Not only does a percentage of their profits go towards male suicide and mental health charities, but they also have an online community on their website where men can share their own stories and chat to each other. Of course, the products are fantastic too and their simple packaging and informative website make it easy to understand what each of the products does by explaining their key benefits clearly. Here are my favourites;

Acqua di Parma Haircare

I am a huge fan of Acqua Di Parma fragrances and their Barbiere range is the perfect addition to this quintessential Italian range. Each of the products includes the stunning original cologne fragrance which is both uplifting and masculine.

Aurezzi

If you want to buy your father something unique then why not opt for this range of 24k gold pated oral health range from Aurezzi. Swedish designed with Swiss quality and backed by 168 years of dentistry this range exudes quality and style whilst being practical at the same time. The toothbrush has an exceptional density of bristles which not only helps clean the teeth thoroughly but also helps the brush retain its shape over time. It also comes with a stunning stand that you can proudly display the brush in. The toothpaste also includes gold particles and hydroxyapatite to clean and whiten the teeth.

Drinks

Flavair

I recently discovered this fine spirit membership club and I was very impressed. The club offers a number of benefits which will keep any spirit connoisseur happy. Each quarter, members receive a full-size bottle along with a themed tasting box that includes three 50ml samples, tasting notes and a Flaviar concrete coaster. It’s the perfect gift for someone who likes to experience spirits that are not always available in shops.

Feragaia

If he doesn’t drink alcohol but still wants to experience a tipple then why not treat him to Scotland’s first premium alcohol-free spirit. Feragaia contains 14 responsibly sourced botanicals from both land and sea that have been combined to create a delicious drink full of flavour, depth and body. With zero sugar and all-natural flavour, it makes a healthy alternative to alcohol.

Fragrances 

D.S. & Durga

Based in New York, this perfume house creates a fantastic range of fragrances that translates musical and literary pieces into scent. There are so many to choose from that I could recommend however I opted for Italian Citrus in the end. This spicy and citrusy scent reminds me of a traditional cologne however it has so much more depth and longevity. Its immediate fresh citrus blast provides an uplifting feeling of positivity and throughout the day the fragrance rises from the skin flirting between citrus, spicy, sweet and floral.

Stories Parfums

Created by Tonya Kidd-Beggs in the perfume capital of the world, Grasse, Stories is a perfume house that encapsulates the finest raw materials using traditional methods of perfumery. As soon as you spray them on you can tell that they were made with passion and they exude so much soul and life. Their complex notes interweave to create the most beautiful scents that float from the skin throughout the day. I couldn’t choose between the both of them as they both have such beautiful and individual personalities.

Rook Perfumes

After a complete re-brand and re-launch of Rook Perfumes in February 2020, I was immediately captivated by the new contemporary look and range of luxury fragrances. At the core of the brand is the simple yet impactful triangle not only representing the top, middle and base notes of a fragrance but also the balance of Nadeem’s career in performing, perfumery and medicine. All of the fragrances are fantastic but I recommend Forest, a fresh and uplifting scent that will transport the wearer to nature. Check my previous blog to find out more about this fragrance house.

For other fragrances check out my recommendations here.

Elemis Superfood Home Facial

Elemis Superfood Home Facial

I don’t know about you but I have been looking for an array of things to help me take my mind of everything that is going on at the moment and self-care has been one thing that I has kept me going. There is nothing I miss more than a relaxing facial treatment and I am missing my visits to Soprano Ice’s Facial Spa located in the south of Edinburgh. They recently came to the rescue and very kindly supplied me with a range of vegan and plant-based products from the Elemis superfood range.

The first thing you obviously need in order to carry out the facial is the products. Luckily Elemis Superfood products are an affordable range and are available on many online stores. They are vegan and plant-based and full of prebiotics that helps calm, hydrate and smoothes the skin. What’s even better is that it’s suitable for all ages so if you wish you can get the whole household to join in.

I thought I would use the range to do a nurturing facial at home that you guys could incorporate into your routine to help boost your skin’s health whilst helping you relax and unwind. So find a quiet place in the house, light up your favourite candle, put on some relaxing music and let me show you how to carry out your very own facial at home.

Step One – Double cleanse 

Double cleansing the skin helps remove makeup, SPF and any impurities that may have built upon the skin throughout the day. It also prepares the skin in order for it to fully absorb all the products that will be used in the facial.

First Cleanse

The first cleanser is the Superfood Facial Wash, this gel has a really thick and hydrating texture. It is filled with prebiotics to help balance the skin and includes an array of nutritious super greens such as kale, wheatgrass and broccoli.

Superfood Facial Wash

Directions – Apply the cleanser to dry skin, massage and take a moment to absorb the lovely fresh and uplifting scent (which reminds me of a really nutritious green smoothie). Using a warm damp face cloth, gently remove the cleanser from the face.

Breath in those lovely aromas

Second Cleanse 

Cleanse your face again but this time uses the Superfood Cica Calm Foam Cleanser. This cleanser provides antioxidant protection from fermented green tea seed oil. It also includes olive, mango and rice water which keeps the skin hydrated and provides the skin with nutrients.

Superfood Cica Calm Cleansing Foam

Directions – Apply a few pumps into the hand and massage onto a wet face and then with a dampened cloth, delicately remove the product from the skin.

Step Two – Tone

After cleansing its time to tone the skin with the Superfood Keri Tea Mist Spray. It includes rooibos tea which is a rich antioxidant and also has aloe Vera and coconut water which again provides extra nourishment. This can be used at the toning stage but it also throughout the day to give an added boost to the skin.

Superfood Kefir-Tea Mist

Directions – Close your eyes, spray over the skin and allow to absorb.

Step Three – Exfoliate

The next step of the facial is exfoliation and this is done using the fantastic Superfood Blackcurrant Jelly Exfoliator. Not only does this product smell amazing it also contains small blackcurrant particles to exfoliate and remove any build-up of dead skin cells. The addition of glycerin leaves the skin feeling smooth and soft.

Superfood Blackcurrant Jelly Exfoliator

Directions – Apply a thin layer to the skin and leave on like a mask and whilst those nutritional ingredients absorb fully it’s time to do a facial steam. You can purchase facial steamers online but this can easily be done by using simple items in the home. Fill a large bowl with hot water and place a your head above the steam. In order to capture the steam further place a towel overhead. For an added spa-like experience, add some essential oils to the water and breath in those lovely aromas. Do this for around ten minutes.

Before removing you can really take the opportunity to sculpt the face and use massage techniques in order to encourage lymphatic drainage. This helps depuff the face and release toxins. Ria from Soprano Ice has some tips below:

Afterwards, massage the skin fully so that the blackcurrant particles exfoliate further and then remove with a damp cloth.

Step Four – Face Mask 

It is time to treat the skin using the Superfood Vital Veggie Mask. This particularly helps with dull skin as its full of brightening and nourishing ingredients. As well as being packed full of super greens it also has passion fruit acid in there which hydrates the skin. The mask doesn’t use clay which can often dry out the skin.

Superfood Vital Veggie Mask

Directions – Apply a thin layer to the skin and allow those nourishing ingredients to get to work. Now is a great time to sip on a lovely green tea, listen to some tranquil music, lay back and relax. After 10-15 minutes, rinse the mask off using a warm dampened cloth.

Step Five – Calm, Hydrate and Moisturise

The last step really depends on the condition of your skin. Lately, mines has been very dehydrated, so I am going to use a combination of products to help with this condition.

The Superfood Cica Calm Hydration Juice is a really light gel moisturiser designed to help cool and calm the skin. It includes aloe Vera and cucumber, so really good if you have any sensitivity issues. It has a light uplifting scent and leaves the skin refreshed.

Superfood Cica Calm Hydration Juice

Directions – Apply a small amount to the fingers and massage into the skin and allow the product to fully absorb.

Using an oil not only helps seal in those previous products but also adds a further boost of hydration to the skin. Superfood Facial Oil is filled with rich omegas from broccoli, flaxseed and rosehip oil and has a really fresh and uplifting fragrance.

Superfood Facial Oil

Directions – Apply a few drops to the hand, warm into the palms and press into the skin on the face. Although the oil has a thick consistency it is easily absorbed and leaves your skin looking dewy and refreshed.

To final step of the facial is to apply the Superfood Moisturiser which comes in both a day and night format. Although they are both filled with vitamin-enriched super greens the night cream has a richer consistency and has the inclusion of lavender and ylang-ylang oil.

Superfood Cream

Directions – Apply a few pumps of the product in the hand, warm it between the fingers and massage into the skin.

Glowing skin

I was very impressed with this range of products and even though I don’t normally gravitate towards vegan skincare, using this range really surprised me. My skin was left glowing, supple and healthy-looking which is what everyone wants from a facial right? I know its not the same as going out for a treatment but trust me, after using these products it will not only give a boost to the complexion it will give you a moment to help you escape the anxieties and stresses of what’s going on around us. I can’t wait to get out again and visit The Facial Spa, but until then this easy to follow facial will help rescue me from my lockdown skin issues.

Head to my IGTV video to see the facial in action.

Scrivner for Men by Jane Scrivner Skincare

Scrivner for Men by Jane Scrivner Skincare

I’ve always been a fan of Jane Scrivner skincare products due to their pure and natural ingredients. When I used them previously, they always left my skin looking healthy and glowing. So when they recently released there the Scrivner for Men complete #5STEPSKINSTRATEGY Kit I immediately gravitated towards it. I am partial to a skincare kit as it makes the whole process of deciding what products to buy more convenient. Also you can  trust the products will work perfectly together in order to give your skin the best results.

The kit comes in a handy canvas bag which makes it easy to store and transport if travelling. In each bag there are five products with easy to follow instructions, so no man has the excuse of not having an effective skincare routine. The products included in the kit are:

Step #1 Skin Clean – Nourish Enrich Cleansing Balm

I love a good cleansing balm and I have previously written a few posts regarding them, however for many cleansing balms are a relatively new concept.  Cleansing balms add a more mindful ritual to your skincare routine, allowing you to take the time to massage the product into the skin. Cleansing balms are a really nourishing way to remove the dirt and grime from the skin whilst maintaining the skins natural integrity.

This balm, like many others has a thick consistency which immediately melts into the skin when applied. After massaging it into the face you simply remove it with a warm soaked mitt (which is also included in the kit) and your face feels cleansed and nurtured. The great thing about this product is that it can be used as a shaving balm either on its own or under your normal shaving foam, hence providing you with an extra layer of protection.

Ingredient Highlights: Organic Jojoba Oil, Rice bran wax, Tocopherol (vitamin E) and nine essential oils including sandalwood, star anise and carrot.

Step #2 Skin Resurface – Daily Resurfacing AHA/BHA Acid Exfoliator

Gone are the days of harsh face scrubs that can lead to irritation and skin-barrier damage. Acid exfoliators are a great way to gently resurface the skin to reveal smoother and clearer skin. I have been using acid exfoliators for a while so it’s fantastic to see one included in this kit and one that is geared towards men.

I found this exfoliator to be gentle with a subtle fragrance and as per instructions, only used it a few times a week before building up to daily use. All that’s required is a drizzle of the product onto a cotton pad, gently wipe it over the face and you’re done, such a simple yet effective step. What makes it more appealing is that it’s 100% natural and organic.

Ingredient highlights: English raw organic apple cider vinegar and numerous acids taken from pineapple, burdock, bilberry, orange, lemon, sugar maple, witch-hazel and white willow.

Step #3 Skin Hydrate – Smoothing Hyaluronic Gel

I don’t know about you but since working indoors my skin has been so dry. I often use hyaluronic serums as an extra step in my skincare routine, so I was very happy to see this gel which includes Hyaluronic acid as one of its main ingredients. Hyaluronic acid holds a thousand times its weight in water and acts like a sponge by attracting moisture to boost hydration on the surface of the skin.

Upon application, this clear gel gave my skin an immediate refreshing sensation and sunk immediately into the skin without that tacky or sticky feeling that most gels can leave. After using this product my skin felt plump and dewy.

Ingredient highlights: Plant extracted bio-fermented Hyaluronic Acid, Spilanthes Acmella (a natural muscle relaxant), organic aloe vera, white willow and frankincense oil.

Step #4 Skin Defence – Calm Nourish Enrich Face Oil

Jane Scrivner is known for sourcing the best raw and natural oils from around the globe, so I am very happy to see a face oil in this collection. Only a single application onto the fingers is needed. As you massage it into the face you can smell all the wonderful natural ingredients, star anise and sandalwood being the most prominent for me.

The oil sinks into the skin and you are left with this healthy and nourished glow almost as if you have had a restful nights sleep. What is great about this product is that you can use it as a beard or moustache oil too, so you are getting two products in one.

Ingredient Highlights: Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Oat Oil, Tigernut Oil and a blend of nine essential oils.

Step #5 Skin Protect – Oat Argan Moisturising Cream

For the last step of the skincare routine, there is this beautiful moisturising cream that seals in all of your previous steps whilst providing a protective barrier to environmental irritants. This cream includes Argan Kernel and Oat Kernel oils along with an array of other protective and nourishing ingredients.

What I love about the product is that natural uplifting fragrance but also the fact that even though there is an abundance of oily ingredients,  it doesn’t leave your skin shiny or greasy looking.

Ingredient highlights: Organic Oat Kernel Oil, Organic Argan Kernel Oil, Colloidal Oatmeal, Betulenic Acid, Aloe Vera and nine essential oils.

I have really enjoyed using these products and wouldn’t hesitate in recommending them. Although you can buy the products individually, I feel the kit provides everything you need for a perfect and easy to use skincare routine. At a time when we all need that extra dose of self-care these products and the good quality ingredients really do feel like having your very own nurturing facial every day.

Head to my IGTV where I show you how I use the products.

Head to Janescrivner.com for up to date prices and more information.

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

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.