Time Out of Time: Lusty Beg Island

Take time out, they say. It’ll be grand, they say. Truth: there is nothing like a nice weekend away, much less one that involves pampering. I’m honoured to have been hosted at spa hotels all over the country, but the sensation of being on an island almost exactly in the middle of this island added even more of that special feeling of ‘being away’ than I’ve experienced so far.

Lusty Beg Island sits in Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh. The drive from Dublin to Enniskillen was a manageable 90 minutes-ish on the bus, and travelling from the depot to the island took about half an hour. When we crossed a bridge onto Boa Island, I was a tiny bit bummed and said to the driver, ‘Oh, so… this is like Achill? You can just drive on?’ He said, ‘You’ll see,’ and in moments, I did: after going up a boreen (okay, it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t a dual carriageway), we came to a dock, and zipped onto a tidy little two-car ferry.

It was a journey of less than five minutes, if that, but once we disembarked, everything changed.

Lusty Beg Exterior (11)

Lusty Beg accommodation — one of the many options

From the Irish for ‘small lodge’, Lusty Beg was once home to monks, and within moments, I felt like I was stepping in their contemplative footsteps. Even with all the accommodation — 40 rooms, and an assortment of chalets, lodges, cabins and apartments — I felt like I had the place to myself. Even after having a lovely lunch in the bar, and seeing actual other people in the place, once I left to get my treatment, I had an uncanny sensation that I had the whole island to myself.

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THE SEAWEED BATH

Deep bath + VOYA seaweed = bliss!

I am masso fan of Lazy Days Seaweed Bath from VOYA, as I have described here; in fact, this was one of the very first products I ever blogged about. I haven’t had one in ages, so the chance to enjoy one, practically at the source, wasn’t something I was going to pass up. I’d already had a facial in the Island Spa that used VOYA products, and as such was pretttttty relaxed, but the soak in the seaweed-infused water finished me off, in the best possible sense.

There wasn’t a toxin left in me by the time the 30 minutes was up — and I didn’t actually make it for the full time. The tub, straight out of a sexy, renovated TV-decorating show bathroom, was long enough for me to stretch out in, and I added a bit of hot and cold water as necessary… but the drinking water from the pitcher that was set tub-side ended up going over my head to cool me down, as much as it went into me. I crawled out to take a break, and just as I was about to go back in for more, the knock on the door landed. As much as I wished it could have gone on forever, half an hour was in fact exactly enough.

I made my way to my self-catering log cabin (the kitchen was nicer than the one in my apartment), didn’t bother unpacking, and sat myself down on the couch, because:

THE VIEW

Utterly relaxing, rain…

And the next day, I spent a good few hours there again, because:

THE VIEW2

…and shine

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It’s not all seaweed baths and contemplation: there are numerous activities to avail of as well, of the casual adventure-type — although, having said that, the off-roading probably gets pretty hairy; from my own experience in the speedboat, don’t eat before embarking, because even if the lake’s not rough, which is was when I was taken for a spin, then the speed may make you want to vom.

THE BOAT

Yeah, okay, it looks as smooth as glass — it was not

Or you can try archery for the first time ever in your life and MAYBE HIT THE BULLSEYE.

BULLSEYE!

BOOM

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I adore a good illustrated map.

LUSTY BEG MAP

I literally didn’t even get to explore anything but the long skinny part #GottaGoBack

I can’t recommend the place more highly: it’s perfect for families, couples, solo travellers, you name it. Don’t bother thinking you can have your wedding there anytime in the new few years though, someone told me they’re booked out ’til 2018 — and I can’t imagine a better, low-key, fun, beautiful place to get hitched. See here for all the ins and outs and special offers, but honestly rain, shine or hail (I am pretty sure we got a little dose of that at some stage), this is one of the better breaks I’ve ever had — and I think it shows:

GLOWING!

Relaxed and glowy

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I Used ‘Em All Up: Simple Kind To Skin Micellar Cleansing Wipes

This is surprising, because I have long been suspicious of the micellar trend, and have never been all about the wipes. As regards the former, I found that most of them didn’t do the job they promised to do when it came to eye make up, and generally left an icky, sticky residue; in terms of the latter, I hadn’t come across one — and I’d come across many — that didn’t make me feel like I’d just rubbed a Dettol Floor Wipe all over my face. I tended to use all those unusable wipes to clean my horseriding boots, tbh.

But cometh the hour, cometh the wipe.

SIMPLE micellar

Loved these. They’re refreshing give, they give good cleanse, and they ~feel~ really clean. There was no way they were going to end up in my tack box!

I didn’t find them to be totally effective on the eye makeup (once again), but I used these to take off the first round of foundation, and to remove any lingering traces of whatever else was on my face that day, and they were perfect for that. The wipe itself is sturdy yet soft, and the micellar water was in no way sticky or stripping.

I also went for these in the morning for a nice pre-shower wake-me-up (Some days, it’s necessary).

They entirely lack alcohol, perfume and colouring, and come with vitamins B5 and E. Bonus!

It’s about time that the convenience of the wipe met good skincare practice. And in fairness to micellar water, I think the technology is advancing in this case, too…

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€4.99/25 wipes

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Can’t Blame Jet Lag: Darphin 8 Flower Nectar Oil Cream

I know, I’ve written about this already, but I gotta say: this is some seriously magical stuff.

DARPHIN
Since I haven’t written in a while, and because I wanted to blame travel/time changes/the weather, it’s a bit rich to be talking about something I’ve already mentioned — but not as rich as this little tub of gorgeousness LOLLLLL.

My flight back from The Christmas (remember The Christmas?!) was delayed by seven hours. Having been good and paid attention to the repeated warnings from United about what time to pitch up, I had basically been in Newark Airport for ten hours. Nightmare! All the plans I had to beat my jet lag went out the window, and when we landed at 11.45 am and I didn’t get in my door until 1.30pm, I thought to myself, ‘I am completely screwed.’

I decided that I was going to have to stay up forever and hope for the best. My frigid little flat was so cold that it was all I could to stay out of bed and not avail of the electric underblanket. I didn’t last long, and cuddled up with my laptop and tried not to drowse. I made it to about 8pm and gave up. I reckoned that I would never sleep through ’til the next day and that I would have the lag forever and ever.

Right before I succumbed to that horrible, buzzy, cold, dizzy feeling, I lashed on Darphin’s 8 Flower Nectar Oil Cream, and hoped for the best.

That’s all I knew ’til Tuesday. I may have woken up at one stage, but not enough to wake all the way… and that was it. Made it through the entire day, and then the next I had horses and sweat out any lingering lagginess and… yeah: that’s all she wrote.

Look, I know, it ain’t cheap — it’s €91.65/$150/£95 — but if you want luminous skin and a good rest {and I reckon the skin is luminous thanks to the good rest} this has never let me down. And I’d put this up against any jet lag cure I’ve ever tried. Can’t wait to fly long-haul somewhere else just to reinforce my theory…

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Gift Guide 2015: Happy Holiday Face

Here’s some lovely make up to get you in the festive spirit — I mean, to get your gift recipient in the festive spirit. {One for you, one for me…}

FUSCHIA MAKE-UP
Colour Pop €25; Defining Moments €25
FUSCHIA gift sets
These are just two of the 12 gift boxes from the Irish brand, perfect for fans of mineral makeup and ideal for stocking fillers. I love the little lippys! They’re perfect for slipping into a pocket, and also, who uses up a lipstick all the way to the end? These sizes are ideal as far as I’m concerned. The glam lashes kit is also perfect for the party girl in your world. They’ve also got a number of palettes available, also at €25 — I’m a fan of the Nudes Limited Edition. I find that mineral eyeshadow really lasts, as it promises: if you’ve got someone who likes to look natural with a touch of enhancement, this will fill the bill.

 

REAL TECHNIQUES
Deluxe Gift Set €40
REAL TECHNIQUES 1
I was lucky enough to have met Sam and Nic Chapman at a spectacularly fancy lunch several weeks ago: they were warm and lovely, and we all had great chats about makeup, and ghosts {you had to be there.} This five brush set includes their heroes: the Multi Task, Tapered Foundation, Angled Highlighter, Base Shadow and Fine Liner, plus a gorge wee clutch that will contain them with style. This is a hot item — failing this, I’d recommend the Travel Essential Kit for €28.95.

 

URBAN DECAY
Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette €46
UDXGWEN
It’s basically been the year of the palette, and despite competition from the brand’s Naked Smoky {without an ‘e’} offering, I think this is the one that pan-fans are gonna be happiest unwrapping. A combination of new colours personally developed by Gwen along with some UD perennial faves, each name has resonance with the singer-songwriter, and the balance of hues is such that you can go from a daytime nude to a nighttime colour blast all in one place. Heart this loads: I took it for a spin the other night and my pals couldn’t believe that I’d done my eyes myself, it looked that professional. That’s compliment, right…?

 

CLINIQUECLINIQUE High On Lashes
High on Lashes €22.50
Clinique do a great line in gifts, and you can get exceptional use out of their sample sizes. The Skinny Stick is new launch, this one in Slimming Black — and they’ve snuck a little bit of skincare thanks to their All About Eyes cream. I’d recommend the Lash Building Primer as well {€17} if you really want your friend/sister/mum to have gorgeous peepers in 2016. Also! I am saving some products for an end-of-year, finally-getting-round-to-reviewing posts, but I have to say, I love love love the Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen {€22.50}: it is easy and it is pretty, and it lasts and lasts — even through a long day at the desk and then on to horseriding. I’ve been using it for ages, and the tip hasn’t dried out, as do many liquid liners I’ve tested; it doesn’t get all gunked up even when I touch up over eyeshadow; and even after months of fairly regular use — let’s say three times a week — I still don’t feel like I’m seeing the end of it. Eh, guess that covers it, I’ll have to find something to replace this in my big plan!

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Gift Guide 2015: Happy Holiday Skincare

If you’ve someone near and dear who doesn’t indulge in luxury products, give them a helping hand this holiday…

DERMALOGICA
OMG look at all those gift sets €17.15-79.70
DERMALOGICA group
This literally puts the truth in the phrase ‘there’s something for everyone’ — and something for every budget, too. The Clean Start is perfect for the tween/teen on your list — and not just the girls, my nephews are huge fans of the Soothing Clearing Booster and would use this stuff in a shot. Skin that is mature, dry, normal oily, frequent travellers who want to keep their body care routine on fleek, those love a good facial exfoliation, those who just love the brand and its best sellers — that’s all catered for here. The packaging is also refreshingly non-festivity specific, so those who don’t celebrate via the fat man in the red suit won’t be alienated.

 

CLARINS PARIS
Double Serum And Super Restorative Collection €69.50
CLARINS Double Serum gift
Here’s one of the many offerings from this brand, and all of them targeted to a variety of concerns, but this has to be my pick, thanks to the Double Serum. I went through that stuff for a shortcut and still think of it fondly. The addition of the Super Restorative Day, Night, and Eye cream only adds to the attraction. Plus! It all comes in an elegantly iridescent gold clutch — I adore that detail on the zip tab.

 

CAUDALÍE PARIS
Huile Divine/Divine Oil €8.70 Eau de Beauté/Beauty Elixir €12.60
CAUDALIE BAUBLES
May be the best beauty baubles ever: both are a terrific introduction to the natural, paraben-free French brand, they look adorbz, and they are really well-priced. This is Secret Santa sorted. The Divine Oil is suitable from top to toe and smells delicious; the Beauty Elixir works as a toner, a makeup setting lotion, and a general pick-you-up.

 

CLINIQUE
Clean Skin, Great Skin €89
CLINIQUE Clean Skin Great Skin
Bit of a splurge, but I am such a fan of the Sonic that I urge you to splash out on someone special. It’s not enough that you get their terrific skin-cleansing brush — you get a carry case too! I will not travel anywhere without this little beauty, and a case like that surely beats the pair of socks I’ve been using to protect in as we journey forth. The samples of the soap, DDM+ and Clarifying Lotion pretty much set your dearly beloved up for a kickin’ start to the new year.

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Gift Guide 2015: Happy Holiday Gift Sets II

Make your giftee clean and bright…

LUSH
Selection of gift sets ranging from €11.95 to €220
LUSH gifts
Any Lush outlet takes on the atmosphere of Aladdin’s Cave at this time of year, and they’ve truly cornered the market on thoughtful, beautifully presented gifts. From the smaller boxes that contain two well-matched, full-sized products, to the massive collections like Wow! that comes with 36 samples from across their Christmas range — or the Winter Wonderland {117.50}, for the serial bath-taker in your life: 20 bath additives of the bomb, melt and bubble variety are sure to make someone happy for months.

LUSH winter wonderland

Here’s that magical box, and at right: the barest tip of the festive bathing iceberg. I know that people have widely diverging opinions related to the scent of Lush stuff — I heart it big time, personally. The best part of this particular gift set? The artwork on the box was created by ARTHOUSE Meath, a collective of art instructors who work with people who suffer from severe epilepsy, and those with learning and physical difficulties. This is just another indication of Lush’s commitment to outreach, and to involving local artists and artisans in their process. That’s the true spirit of the season, right there.

BENEFIT
Party Poppers €46 Get Your Party On and You’re So Party €56
BENEFIT GIFTS
This brand get it right year after year, and they’ve surpassed themselves in 2015. These two are my faves: Party Poppers is designed along the lines of an Advent Calendar, but celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas — along with a song that belts out when you open it… or even walk past it with too much vigour. It’s full of minis of Benefit’s greatest hits, and it’s well worth the fright you get when you hear someone singing and you don’t know where it’s coming from.

As far as collectible tins go, both Get Your Party On and You’re So Party are the proverbial gifts that keep on giving — I can’t even imagine how much stuff you could stash in these tins, once you gleefully decant the prizes inside. As regards the former, your amazed love one will find They’re Real Mascara and Hoola Bronzing Powder as well as a bottle of High Beam, and Gimme Brow in mediUm/deep. The latter will discover full-size They’re Real Mascara and Hoola Bronzing Powder, and mini POREfessional and Ultra Plush Lip Gloss Mini In Hoola. Like Lush, there are many choices to make based on your budget — it couldn’t be easier to shop.

ELIZABETH ARDEN
Original Eight Hour Set €30, available @theloopdublin in Dublin Airport
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Original Set €30.00
It’s unheard of for a brand to have a product that retains its cult status — for 85 years! — but that’s exactly what Elizabeth Arden have in their Eight Hour Cream. Originally developed by Miss Arden herself to doctor her thoroughbreds, it was the very first product to be released under the now classic name. For an astonishing price, you get Face Cream, Skin Protectant — which literally is useful from top to toe, for shaping brows to soothing rough heels — and a lip balm. A great introduction to a versatile product — and seriously, that price!

AVOCA
Medley Of Soaps €17.50, also at The Loop
Avoca Medley of Soaps €17.50
Everything about this is exquisite, which is one of my favourite words. The packaging, the variety of scents, and the price all combine to make this an terrific Irish gift for someone with excellent taste and fancy spare loo. Oh, forget that! Encourage your giftee to treat themselves and use them everyday! Just because something’s exquistie doens’t mean that it can’t be quotidian.

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Gift Guide 2015: Happy Holiday Gift Sets I

Welcome to 2015’s gift guide! 

Gift sets have come a long way since the days of buying your mum a dusting powder duo from the chemists. Here’s a few of my stylish faves.

GIFTS I

DERMALOGICA
Super Rich Repair + Two Gifts! €79.70
I adore this treatment cream, and this gift also come with Skin Resurfacing Cleanser and an exfoliating mitt. That mitt! I don’t know, I’d say any old skin cells will takeo ne look at it and give themselves up without a fight! When they say ‘super rich’, they mean it: this is a heavy cream that is well-suited for this time of year, when weather conditions are primed to wreck your face. The cream alone is the same price as the gift {it’s full-size} and the travel-size of the cleanser is big enough to get a good intro to it. That mitt, though — that’s the real bonus in this little beaut.

BURT’S BEES
Love From Nature €16.95
Sadly, we lost Burt this year, but his legacy lives on. As a devotee of lip balm, it doesn’t get any better than this — you get full-sized samples of their legendary Beeswax Lip Balm with Vitamin E & Peppermint, a Honey Lip Balm and Almond and Milk Hand Cream. As a devotee of gift boxes that you can use to put stuff in, this is one of the best I’ve seen so far this season.

L’OCCITANE
Hand Cream Collection RRP €32
I am not a fan of hand cream, but I adores those produced by the Provencal brand. This a lovely variety of scent, from clean {Dry Skin Hand Cream} to floral {Roses et Reines}, to fruity-flowery {Fleurs de Censier} to citrusy {Vervaine}. I received this sample from The Loop, the shopping centre in Dublin Airport, so if you’re stuck for a last minute gift and don’t want it to look you were stuck, then I’d say grab this up before you head for your gate.

ORIGINS
Ginger Pleasures €60
ORIGINS ginger
I love this range, and the scent is not so gingery that you smell like a little baked cookie man: there’s lemon, lime and bergamot in there, too. The brand have redesigned the packaging so that it’s got cool 60s Saul Bass-designed-movie-titles vibe {too graphic designer insidery?} and the samples in the set are really generous: 200mls of Ginger Souffle body cream, 100mls of Ginger Burst body wash, 100mls of Ginger body scrub, along with a mini Ginger Essence fragrance and a bottle of Ginger Gloss body oil — and a body puff!. This version is available at Arnotts, and if you like to layer, this is fragrant set does the business.

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