Sunday, 21 May 2017

10 of the Best Apps for Travellers 2017

I’m constantly searching for better apps for travel, from trip building to flight alerts to what’s around me and most of the time I find myself returning over and over again to the same ones because they do such a good job.

Some of these will be obvious and you may well already know them, possibly some less so, in any case these are my 10 favourite travel apps.

Tripit

Tripit
– I’ve written about Tripit before and wouldn’t go anywhere without it.  Tripit is designed to be your go-to place for all your reservations and places you’re visiting, and is particularly useful if you’re going on a trip that involves many stops, different restaurants and hotels, trains and planes.

You have to do all the input as you'll be pulling information from so many places such as email, online and phone reservations, but the joy of Tripit is that you can update it from your PC, laptop, tablet or mobile and it’ll sync every time you go to it.  Tripit stores past trips so you can look up where you’ve been before, a particularly good restaurant for example, and remind yourself of when you went and where it was.

Uber

Uber – Who doesn’t use Uber?  An invaluable app if you’re stuck for a ride in most major cities and less expensive than a normal taxi.  I’ve used Uber in Houston, Paris, London and New York.  Just make sure your driver knows exactly where you are and call him or her if in doubt.  Their directions are not always as accurate as yours. 

Just a note:  Uber is having difficulties in some European countries so check out the latest news before you try and use the app in Denmark, Germany and Italy.

Google Translate

Google Translate – Visiting a country where you don’t know the language?  Google Translate couldn’t be simpler to use.  Just download the app, input what you want translated and select the language.  You can even use Google Translate when you’re offline by downloading an offline translation file.  Available for both iPhone and Android

Kayak

Kayak – If you have dates in mind and want to check flight prices then Kayak is your next best friend.  Select your destinations and dates, filter by the number of stops and set up price alerts.  Then you can see immediately who’s offering what price.  You can also book hotels and sync trips using Kayak but I tend to use it for flights more than anything else.  Once you’ve found a good deal you can click straight through to book.

Hopper

Hopper – Hopper is an excellent app for predicting flight prices throughout the year as it colour codes the calendar to show you the cheapest times to go.  You can also set up price alerts here and have it watch particular flights for you.  Where flight predictions are concerned I usually use a combination of Kayak and Hopper plus the site for the airline I want to use if I have a favourite.

App in the Air

App in the Air and Flight View Elite – Having tried a couple of flight tracking apps with the demise of Flight Track these is the ones I now use all the time.  It’s easy to put in your flights and the flights of friends and family, and get notifications of delays and also to sync flight bookings straight from your emails so you don’t have to enter them individually. 

Flight View

For Flight View Elite there is a small fee for the Elite version which gets you your notifications whereas with App in the Air there’s quite a hefty fee.  The jury’s out on which of these is the best so I’ll be back but you can trial both to see which you like the most.

Around Me

Around Me – This is a seriously good app which, once it has your location, will take you straight to the nearest ATM, Cinema, Coffee Bar, Hospital, Hotels, Parking and more.  Just make sure you set your Location Services (within Settings-Privacy) to ‘While Using the App’ or it’ll drain your battery faster than you want.

Maps Me

Maps Me – This excellent app gives you detailed worldwide mapping from cities to islands and countries you may have never visited before and all offline.  Just make sure you download the map for the place you’re visiting before you go then you’ll have directions and route planning at your fingertips always.

XE

XE – This essential currency app will give you hourly market rates for your selected currency.  Use this not just for travelling but to compare with the rate you’re offered when you need to buy currency abroad.

All these apps are available on the app stores for both iOS and Android and once you've started using them you won't want to be without any of them.....

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Yellow Box–Perfect Flip Flops for Sparkly Sandal Lovers


Yellow Box Sandals
I discovered Yellow Box flip flops at a Macy’s store in the US a year or so ago and now have three pairs – my excuse being that one pair was slightly chewed by a puppy so I had to replace them and couldn’t decide.

Yellow Box Cliff Wedge Flip FlopsYellow Box Africa Wedge Flip Flops - Other ColoursYellow Box Jello Sandal - other Colours

These are perfect flip flops for anyone who loves sparkly sandals.  They’re incredibly lightweight which makes them great for both travel and walking in – I’ve tested mine out for miles, and they have non slip soles.  Some have a high-ish wedge and others not so high.  The bling effect is indescribable so be prepared.  They’ll work perfectly for holidays, casual summer evenings and weekends. 

In the UK and the US you can order them from Amazon.com and there is part of the range also at Amazon.co.uk – either way they’ll be shipped to you from the US so expect to wait about 10 days.  It’ll be worth it.  These are the most comfortable summer flip flops I’ve found and for those who love a bit of sparkle you’ll never want to take them off.  Let alone swap them for 5” heels.  You’ve been warned.

Monday, 15 May 2017

From Swiss Watch to Smartwatch–Is it Time to Ditch the Rolex?

It seems to have taken an inordinate amount of time for someone to introduce smartwatches that don’t look so much like a piece of tech they couldn’t be anything else.  Let alone one designed with women in mind.  And nothing until now has make me want to consider a change to my favourite ‘watch as jewellery’ timepiece.

Michael Kors Black Hybrid Ladies Smart WatchGuess Connect Smart WatchMichael Kors Ladies Access Smart WatchKate Spade New York Ladies Smart Watch
Armed with smartphone, tablet and laptop I’ve been asking myself the question do I really want or need yet another device I first have to learn how to use, then update, then trade in for a newer model which will no doubt appear in a ridiculously short space of time?  The answer has always been no, and yet now I will admit to being tempted. 

The launch of the comprehensive Michael Kors Smartwatch collection, Guess Connected’s smartwatch range and new smartwatches from Kate Spade indicate that some designers are waking up to the fact that women want smartwatches too that look like watches rather than a piece of tech, and with the added functionality of a smartwatch. 

Apple Watch Series 2Samsung Gear 3Huawei Smart WatchTag Heuer Smartwatch

Fully fledged smartwatches, including the market winning Apple Watch, and Samsung Gear 3 plus highly reviewed Hauwei and Fossil Q just don’t look remotely feminine.  This is most likely because a much higher proportion of smartwatches are bought by men.  Then you have the top end of the market Tag Heuer and Breitling smartwatches – beautifully made but chunky timepieces.

I can’t leave out smartwatches by Skagen, Armani Exchange and Emporio Armani and doubtless by the time you’ve read this there will be more.  Most smartwatches will work with both iOS and Android so you can take your pick depending on the look you like. 

For me?  I’m still going to wait, as the technology is improving, smartwatches will have a longer battery life, work better with apps across the board and there will be more choice for girls.  However,  I would be quite happy to wear one of the Michael Kors smartwatches in the meantime.  If you want something remotely feminine this has to be the range to have a good look at. 

Friday, 12 May 2017

Brightening Foundations and Blush by Laura Geller and Where You can Find it in the UK

Laura Geller New York is one of those beauty brands you may never hear about unless you come across it by chance, but it contains so many ‘hero’ products that you’ll never want to be without once you discover them.

What makes Laura Geller products especially interesting is not just that they do the job they’re supposed to, but they’re so deliciously presented you’ll find it hard to resist.

Laura Geller Baked Blush and Brightn in Tropic Hues
Laura Geller Baked Blush and Bright’n in Tropic Hues.  There are other shades, but this mix of warm peach blush with a hint of gold highlights is definitely my favourite.  And it’s more subtle than it appears at first, depending of course on how much you apply.  I also like the fact that there’s a half mirror in the lid, so you can use this easily on the go. 

Laura Geller Bronze and Brighten

Laura Geller Bronze and Bright’n is designed to give you a healthy glow and even out your skin tone at the same time.  Giving a dewy natural finish rather than a shimmer you can also use this for contouring.

Laura Geller Correcting Foundation
Laura Geller Baked Correcting Foundation – It may look more like a bronzer, but this mineral baked foundation is designed to be used on its own or as a setting powder over your favourite foundation.  You can use the colour Fair in the winter and Medium in the summer when you want a bit more colour.  I use this over a light foundation as a powder.

There are more traditional powder foundations and radiance powder foundations but I have to confess that the gorgeous swirl of creamy shades totally won me over.

Laura Geller Spackle PrimersThe Spackle Primers by Laura Geller are probably her best known products.  There are quite a few, all offering different properties, such as sun protection, colour correction and tinted primers.  They’re all lightweight, designed to give you an even skintone before you apply your foundation, and to help your makeup last a long, long time.  Choose from the range here.

Laura Geller Gelato Swirl Illuminator
Laura Geller Gelato Swirl Illuminator looks almost too good to use and it’s one of her most popular products.  Available in four colours: peach, honey, pink and a soft neutral, these will give you as much of a glow as you want.  My advice?  Go lightly as it’s easy to apply too much.

I particularly like Laura Geller’s products for the unique presentation and the fact that because they are baked they contain fewer ingredients and you need less product to get the desired coverage.  Many of the products, particularly the baked powders, are made in Italy.  Does that make a difference?  I have no idea, but they are all delicious to look at and use.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

12 Pairs of Ankle Strap Sandals that Actually Make Your Legs Look Longer

If you’ve noticed one thing that many of the new season’s sandals have in common, it’ll probably be the ankle strap, along with, in many cases a block heel (as opposed to a stiletto).
This may fill you with panic  as ankle straps are known to not suit everybody and flatter best those who are tall and/or with a slim ankle. 
Stuart Weitzman nearly nude patent leather sandalsOffice nude nubuck ankle strap sandalMichael Michael Kors Leather Ankle Strap SandalsWhistles suede ankle strap sandals
The way to get around this and have this season’s hottest heel is to invest in a pair that is almost skin tone.  In that way you don’t risk shortening your legs – as a black or dark tone ankle strap will almost certainly do. A pair of nude, light tan or skin tone ankle strap sandals will work for just about any occasion, dressed up or dressed down, and be right on trend.
Sam Edelman Nude Suede Ankle Strap SandalsKaren Millen Suede Ruffle SandalOffice Nina Block Heel SandalAldo Fiolla Suede Heeled Sandal
Make sure that the ankle strap itself isn’t too wide as this can again shorten your legs, and look for details, if you want them, such as bows and ruffles.  Personally I prefer mine plain without more add-ons as these shoes speak for themselves, they work for weddings and weekends equally, depending on the heel.
Dune Midsummer Stiletto Heel SandalMint Velvet Ankle Strap Stiletto SandalCoast Ankle Strap Nude SandalRavel Open Toe Ankle Strap Sandal

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Best Way to Condition Very Dry Hair

The best advice I’ve ever been given by a hairdresser was to ditch normal conditioners in favour of a conditioning mask and I’ve never looked back.  Whatever the season the elements, sunshine, air conditioning and blow drying are just waiting to dry out your hair.  Add to that having your hair coloured and you’re just asking for trouble. 

The added benefit of using a conditioning mask rather than an ordinary conditioner is that you may be able to go an extra day before washing your hair again.  The idea is not to leave the mask in for a long time, but just to quickly apply, comb through and rinse out. 

My four favourite Hair Conditioning Masks are these:

Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating MaskNexxus Nutritire MasquePhytojoba Hair MaskLeonor Gryl Paris Hair Masque

Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask –  Make sure you order the pot with the black rim rather than the ‘light’ version.  I find this hair mask is excellent and you can use it several times a week provided you don’t leave it on for too long.

Nexxus Nutritive Masque – The Nexxus masque does have a fragrance, but it’s quite subtle and pleasant.  Nexxus is a US brand that is finally available in the UK but it’s still quite hard to find.  It’s well worth trying out if you have dry or damaged hair.

Phytojoba Intense Brilliance Hydration Masque is my go to masque to buy in Paris where it’s less expensive - it’s now easily obtainable in the UK.  I really like the smooth texture of this mask and it produces sleek hair that lasts for more than just a day.

Leonor Greyl Paris Masque a L’Orchidee – this is the Rolls Royce of hair masques but the results are fantastic.  It’s worth the investment as the pot is quite large and a little goes a long way.  If you have serious problems with dry hair I would give this one a go.  Just don’t leave it out for the family to use…….
Fekkai Shea Butter MasqueAlso try:
Frederic Fekkai Shea Butter Masque – this one you’ll have to wait for as it ships from the US – however if you order more than one the postage price comes down per unit making it the most reasonably priced – it works extremely well and leaves you with soft and shiny hair for days. 

It’s about time Frederic Fekkai was easily obtainable in the UK – it’s an excellent US hair care brand.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

20 Dresses for Summer Weddings

Having just successfully completed the hunt for a dress to wear to a wedding in late August I realised two things:  Firstly that the perfect summer wedding dress is hard to find and secondly that if you leave it too late, when you do find your perfect dress, it’ll probably be gone, or not available in your size any more.  The floral dress I bought is by Coast and it was the last one where I bought mine although click on the link and you can still find it. 
Karen Millen Floral dressTed Baker floral jacquard strapless dressLauren Ralph Lauren lace dressDiane von Furstenberg floral print maxi dressKaren Millen Champagne Jacquard Dress,
I wanted something pretty, dressy, with a V neck, quite fitted but not so much that it wasn’t comfortable, and the right length.  I always have to have dresses altered length wise which doesn’t bother me but it adds another ‘leave enough time’ reason for finding the perfect dress as if you, like me, frequently have to have dresses shortened you have to have extra time.
Sheer Panel navy fit and flare reiss dressDiane von Furstenberg Zarita Floral lace DressTed Baker floral devore maxi dressReiss night navy off the shoulder dressErdem floral print stretch ponte dress,
What you wear will of course depend on so many things from budget to what time the wedding is.  I don’t think you can go wrong with a really pretty midi dress, or a lace dress, and florals are sweeping the stores at the moment so there are plenty to choose from.  Just make sure that whatever you choose is comfortable for sitting and standing in and preferably has some stretch in the fabric.
Topshop Unique printed silk georgette dressMarchesa Notte red lace dressCoast abstract pring shift dressKaren Millen floral sleeveless dressCoast navy lace dess,
If you have a wedding later in the summer have a look round now and if you see that a dress is sold out in some sizes then go for it immediately.  If you don’t like sleeveless my advice, because your choice is going to be limited, is to go with a little cardi or jacket, or better still a gorgeously coloured cashmere wrap.  And make sure that whatever you buy will take you from lunch time until 3am if necessary.  The days of the service and early afternoon reception appear to be over, after all.

Oasis tropical pleat midi dressTed Baker floral print dressGina Baccioni Lace and chiffon frill dressTahari ASL floral print dressCoast Metallic Stripe Dress