Tuesday, 6 August 2019

10 Ways to Make a Long Haul Flight Bearable

This is for those who, like me, travel in economy and travel often.  Some of this will still apply to those who turn left when they enter the plane, but for those who are regularly forced to walk right through Business Class when about to take off for a night flight this is for you.  As a regular long haul passenger I’ve worked out how to make it easier and much more comfortable. 
Airline loyalty card
1.  Make sure you’ve joined your chosen airline’s loyalty program – it surprises me that so many don’t bother.  If you fly often you can quickly tot up award miles, and even on the lowest level that can get you, along with extra air miles, priority check-in, priority boarding and the ability to book a premium seat before anyone else.  Go one step up and you get the above plus a free premium seat – on some airlines - an extra bag and entry to the Business Class lounge for international flights. 

Join one airline’s loyalty program then look at the other airlines affiliated to it.  American Airlines for example is affiliated to British Airways and Iberia amongst others.  Always just use one loyalty number whichever airline within the group (such as One World) you’re booking, to ensure you rise through the ranks as quickly as possible.

Antler 4 wheel cabin bag

2.  Have a four wheel lightweight cabin bag plus a tote that sits on top via a 'smart' sleeve or strap.  This just makes getting around the airport and to your seat much easier.  I prefer a cabin bag with a laptop compartment in the front which means you don’t have to open your bag to go through security.  By the way this probably won’t work for some of the budget airlines, but you can get packing for a full weekend away on a mainstream airline in one of these if you get it right.

Liphault Tote Duffle Bag

3.   A lightweight tote with a sleeve that slips on top of the handles of your cabin bag works in so many ways and not just for travel.  My favourite is by Liphault – Selfridges have the best range online.  These not only look good, hold far more than you think they will, and stay attached to your cabin bag but I sit my normal smaller tote/handbag inside plus my shoes once we’ve taken off, slip it under the seat in front and use it as a foot rest particularly at night.

You may get strange looks when you leave the plane with an extra bag (which you’ve removed from your Liphault tote just before landing) but frankly who cares? 

4.  Invest in a good pair of noise cancelling headphones – my headphones of choice for travel are by Bose.  Nothing cancels out the sound of that yelling baby completely but you’ll almost get there.  Make sure you carry a spare battery with you at all times.  I usually also have pair of every-day in ear headphones with me in the case as well to start off and land with so I can be all packed up and ready and yes that probably makes me obsessive but where travel is concerned I like to be totally organised.

You may think ‘ouch those are so expensive’ but if you’re travelling a lot they’re definitely worth the money and a great pair of headphones will  never let you down.  You can use these wireless with bluetooth, or wired if you want to plug into a sound or video system.


5.  The essential portable charger.  I am never to be found without one of these (most likely two).  On some long haul flights all you’ll need is the cable to charge your smartphone/tablet, on other planes, in economy, there’s no power source other than what you bring so don’t take the risk.  This one by Belkin packs 6700 mAh which is enough for a couple of smartphone charges and one iPad charge.  Make sure you’ve charged up your power bank first and don’t forget the cable…………..

Bcozzy Neck Pillow

6.   Get a good, supportive neck pillow.  This one above, the BCozzy chin supporting travel neck pillow is quite simply the best I have every come across and it’s worth every penny so ditch the U shaped ones – which don’t do the job anyway, and invest in one of these. 

Having also spilt coffee all over mine on one flight recently I can tell you it washes and dries to perfection in a machine (dry it on a low heat though).  For night flights and when you want to take a nap you need something that’ll keep you stable no matter how close the person sitting beside you is.  This one is brilliant.  You’ll find my full review here.

7.   Buy some travel socks.  I always put my feet up on my bag – see above – and move around the plane a few times and I don’t find I have a problem putting my shoes back on, however, I would never suggest wearing footwear that is high or restricting.  Sneakers are my footwear of choice.  So when I sit down I take them off, slip them into my tote and my feet into some travel socks.  So much more comfortable for a long flight.  I’ll confess I haven’t yet tried compression socks.  I probably will in the near future.

Travel Eye Mask

8.   Pack an Eye Mask
To keep out the light while you’re taking a nap.  It makes such a difference.  I keep mine in my headphone case.

Mountain Warehouse Fleece Blanket

9.  Take your own travel blanket.  This may sound like overkill but I assure you it isn’t.  Those economy airline blankets are dreadfully thin and will not keep you warm.  If you’re anywhere in the US look out for XpresSpa and buy (or order) one of their fleece travel blankets  – they’re divinely soft and will keep you snug.  Alternatively buy a fleece blanket from Mountain Warehouse – expand your carryon if necessary.  You definitely won’t feel the plane chill and frankly if you’re on a long flight that’s the worst.

10.   If you don’t want to get off the plane looking as if you’ve just got off a plane then treat yourself to a new makeup pouch - unless you already have one and are not one of those who just lets everything sit at the bottom of their tote.

Fill it with the following:  Powder foundation, blush, small retractable brush, eyebrow pencil, eyeliner pencil, lipstick, mini face wipes, travel tooth brush and toothpaste.  The last three you'll find at the airport.  I never go anywhere without these. 

A tip for those who do a lot of long haul travelling is to keep all of this together when you’re at home, preferably ready to go in your wheelie so that all you need to do is get up and go.  This really is long haul travel made so much easier, and you can even arrive looking as fresh as a daisy…..well, hopfully.

Updated 6th August 2019

Friday, 12 July 2019

Five Restaurants in Sussex Worth Making the Journey For

When I originally wrote a post on where to eat in Sussex I only included three restaurants.  They’re all here, plus two more that have been thoroughly tried and tested both for lunch and for dinner.  If you’re planning a stay in Sussex, hiking on the downs, visiting Glyndebourne these are the five I can recommend. 

Gravetye Manor 5

No visit to Sussex is complete without a visit to magical Gravetye Manor, set in exquisite gardens, with lovely rooms and a wonderful new restaurant - you have to visit here.  It doesn’t matter if you’re staying, walking on one of the public footpaths that skirt the grounds or eating in the restaurant this really is a beautiful place.

Gravetye Manor 3Gravetye Manor 4Gravetye Manor 2

The new Michelin Star restaurant makes you feel as if you’re sitting  right in the garden.  I confess, having enjoyed the previous restaurant on many occasions I was worried that the new one wouldn’t be as good, or as atmospheric, but this is so much better. 

As I said in my previous post this is quite a formal restaurant and not one for boisterous children.  It can also be expensive, although they have retained their Daily Menu which is exceptionally good value at £50 for 3 courses at dinner and £35 for 2 courses at lunch.  Almost everything-vegetable wise comes from the hotel’s kitchen garden, it’s very pretty food as you can see, but everything tastes exceptionally good.
Gravetye Manor 1Gravetye Manor 6Gravetye Manor 7

To visit Gravetye (restaurant or hotel) make sure you book well in advance.
Gravetye Manor, Vowels Ln, West Hoathly RH19 4LJ  Phone: 01342 810567
Parking – easy

Jeremys Restaurant 5

Next on my list is Jeremy’s Restaurant in Borde Hill Gardens just outside Haywards Heath.  This too is a marvellous restaurant set in beautiful gardens.  The terrace is the place to be if it’s warm and they have outdoor heaters if it gets a little chilly.

The restaurant itself is beautifully designed and a pleasure to eat in when it’s not warm enough (or dry enough outside) and the tables aren’t too close together.  Jeremy’s is always booked up so reserve a table well in advance and have a date or two to suggest – they also cater for weddings and parties.

Jeremys Restaurant 4

The food here is superb.  Alongside the a la Carte menu they have an extremely well priced set menu at £29 for three courses – this is a real steal and one of the reasons why the restaurant is so popular.  The dishes are fresh, tasty and prettily prepared.  Make sure this is one of your stops if you’re going to Sussex.
Jeremys Restaurant 1Jeremys Restaurant 2Jeremys Restaurant 6
Jeremy’s Borde Hill Gardens - 01444 441102
Borde Hill, Borde Hill Gardens, Haywards Heath, West Sussex. RH16 1XP
Parking – easy

Dorset Arms 4

The Dorset Arms, Withyham
is my next Sussex restaurant, although it’s really a gastropub.  To me there are gastropubs and gastropubs, some which stand out via great food and excellent service and others which just don’t make the grade.  Having had several excellent lunches at The Dorset Arms (before a long walk through the Buckhurst Estate) I visited it for dinner.

Dorset Arms 1Dorset Arms 2Dorset Arms 3

This is simple really well prepared food, very fresh, and the service is excellent and very friendly.  Try the chicken and avocado salad for lunch, it’s delicious.  Or the sea bass with salsa verde, the menu includes some pub classics but mainly modern European fare and there’s definitely something for everyone.

There are some pretty and reasonable rooms next door to The Dorset Arms and for any of this, as usual you need to book. 
The Dorset Arms, Buckhurst Park, Withyham, Hartfield TN7 4BD.  Phone: 01892 770278.  Parking – mostly easy.

The Cat Inn West Hoathly 4

On to The Cat Inn, West Hoathly
another pub/gastropub/restaurant that has become a real favourite both for lunch and for dinner and again a great place to start a hike on the Downs. 
The Cat Inn West Hoathly 2The Cat Inn West HoathlyThe Cat Inn West Hoathly 3

There’s a wide choice of delicious sounding dishes on the menu plus the daily specials.  If they have it try the calamari and crayfish salad, totally delish and don’t miss the ice cream for dessert.   Be prepared for The Cat to be very busy, book ahead and expect to be surrounded by a lot of noise.  If you can put up with that then this may well be your place.

The Cat Inn also has some pretty country style rooms with bathrooms.

The Cat Inn - North Ln, West Hoathly RH19 4PP.  Phone: 01342 810369
Parking –
can be tricky if it’s a popular time so try and go early or late

Griffin Inn 3

Any trip to this area needs to include a visit to The Griffin Inn in Fletching.  It has to be the most popular and well known of the gastropubs, with a large garden for pub food, a restaurant terrace, the restaurant itself and a large bar area. 

Griffin Inn 2

Come on a sunny weekend lunchtime and you’ll be competing for a table in the garden – they have a superb barbeque right through the summer and you can choose from tuna, sea bass, sardines and various meat options to which are added salads and potatoes. 
Griffin Inn 1Griffin in 4The Griffin Inn
The food here is very good, I would say there is just one menu which appears to be more aimed at lunch (lots of salads) than dinner.  But it is all excellent.  The Griffin also has some lovely bedrooms so if you stay there you won’t have to go far after dinner….

The Griffin Inn, High St. Fletching, TN22 3SS.  01825 722890
Parking -
can be tricky if it’s a popular time so try and go early or late particularly at lunchtime and at weekends.

Note:  I have never had a meal at any of these restaurants that has been anything other than delicious, they were all excellent and I’ll be going back.  I would say that at very busy times you may have to wait a little longer for service.  I would also note that at the gastropubs if you order fish such as sole or plaice you’ll be filleting it yourself – just so you know. 

Monday, 24 June 2019

6 of the Best Concealers with Built-In Sun Protection

I've always looked for double duty products, and there's no one more important that concealer/primer/foundations with SPF included in the mix.  And that's not just for summer, but for any time of year, so that you're using sun protection without thinking about it.

These are difficult to find as most beauty companies seem to concentrate on foundation and not concealer, however all of these will give you all the protection you need - from luxury brands to much less expensive products.

Having said that, finding basic foundation with SPF is simple.  Finding concealers that you use around your eye area anything but.  Which is frankly ridiculous.  I have used two of the products here, IT Cosmetics full coverage CC SPF 50 and Bare Minerals Correcting Concealer SPF 20 and they're both excellent, both from US brands but click through to buy them in the UK.

My final choice is a luxury cushion foundation with SPF 40, higher protection than most, for those who don't need a specific concealer but want a great foundation to use all over the face with seriously good protection.

Monday, 10 June 2019

10 Lightweight Rain Jackets for Summer Day Downpours

Having just spent a few weeks in Texas, where most people mistakenly think that the weather is always hot and sunny, and having got totally soaked in my inexpensive 'showerproof' jacket I decided that never again am I going to be caught out, and invested in a lightweight Columbia jacket which I've already worn several times.  And yes it keeps me totally dry even in a torrential rainstorm.

Whether you're out walking the dog or travelling somewhere, it may well rain without warning, and so an essential piece of clothing for the summer months has to be a lightweight waterproof jacket that can fold up into the bottom of your tote or carry-on and you can pull out at a moments notice.

My favourite waterproof jackets are light enough to go everywhere with me, black....because you can wear them perfectly well in town and country and have some kind of shape - slightly waisted for preference.  Oh yes, then there are the pockets for phone and other bits and pieces (I am never to be found without dog biscuits in my pockets no matter where) and of course a hood.  After all, what good is a rain jacket without a hood???  I also prefer a jacket that has both snap and zip fastening.  What fussy? Me?  You bet.

For best value and a jacket which ticks all the boxes check out Peter Storm's packable waterproof jacket - at a discounted price currently from Blacks.  I have to say that my all time favourite is Barbour's Val Thoren jacket, combining fashion with functionality.  If you'd like something that's a little longer and totally waterproof that I've been trying out recently you might like to look at Columbia's Splash a Little Jacket.  Another one where you can't go wrong.

A really good waterproof jacket, particularly if you're a fan of the great outdoors (or even if you're not, we all have to go out in the rain from time to time) is well worth investing in.  Don't go for cheap, fashionable and 'not quite waterproof', make sure you'rs is.  Having made that mistake and ended up soaking and with a slightly drowned phone it's just not worth the risk.... over to you

With regards to sizing put vanity to one side and if in doubt go a size up.  You want to be able to wear anything underneath your rain jacket from a fleece or sweater to just a t-shirt.  You definitely don't want if to be too small....