A Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Hanacure All-In-One Facial


My mother is proud of her family genes, she always pats her jawline slightly with her fingers and proclaims it, with a little smirk. She is right, she's always had lovely, clear, taut skin and we (my sister and I) have never had to deal with extensive skin issues, even in our teenage years.
This has made me slightly lazy with skincare. I have to have my morning rich moisturising cream, but truth be told, I don't do much more than that. Last year after a visit to the Barnsley House Spa, I discovered the Elemis Soothing Apricot Toner, which has now been added to my daily routine because it's refreshing, soothing and keeps my skin hydrated. I thought that was a big step forwards and I have been very chuffed with myself since.  
Lately though, every time I Facetime my sister, I hear "you look tired", to which I normally reply with "that's because I am tired".  She has a point, I am going through a demanding period and could probably do with a booster. When I looked around for hydrating and toning masks, I came across Hanacure, as one of the top 10 to watch.

Hanacure is a South Korean brand.
Even though I'm not an expert on skincare, I know that there have been a lot of cosmetics coming out of South Korea in the last couple of years. It's like a cult trend.
When I looked on the website - I realised that Hanacure only make this one product.
The strategist in me thought "If a company is confident enough to enter the market with one product only, it must be a good one". Step one towards being convinced, completed.
The little square box looked luxurious and even slightly clinical. It contained a serum in a glass bottle, a plastic square container and a sleek brush.  
If everything else fails "I have the brush", I thought.
Then I started doubting myself, "Did I really spent £24 on a one-time face mask?"
Preparing the mask involves an element of alchemy - pop the little glass jar and empty the serum in the little plastic container.
Shake and  bippity boppity boo, you have a miraculous, clear gel, ready for application!
As you can tell, I was having fun but I was still not convinced.
I used the brush to apply the gel all over my face, neck and back of the hands.
It had a cooling effect straight away, very soothing.
Nothing happened for the first ten minutes. 
Once the gel dried though I felt my forehead tightening, then the skin on my cheekbones.
Then I walked to the mirror - I saw a taut skinned clown, with perfectly round eyes, starring back at me. The mask has a  lifting and tightening effect, hence if your facial muscles look a bit distorted while the mask is on, it's because it literally sucks out all of the impurities.
After 30 minutes I washed the mask off with warm water.
Oh oh, slight redness on the forehead. Then my cheeks felt warm and my whole face turned red.
It wasn't burning, it felt warm though. I immediately started reading reviews to make sure I'm not having an allergic reaction. Everyone said "give it an hour or so to settle down". I did.
Once the redness went, I was left with visibly clean skin and I dare say no dark circles under my eyes.
Now, I'm an economist, causal relationships are very hard to prove, ergo although I accept that the mask did help with cleansing and tightening, I'm also more aware of my skin looking tired, hence I am making an effort with drinking more water and I have a really good blusher that I use for contouring in the right places.

Good start.
In the past two weeks, since I tried the mask, I've had two people randomly commenting on how bright my skin looks.
I think I'll give it another try, just to see if repeat use indeed produces lasting results.

Parmesan & Rosemary Biscuits

As September settles in, everyone seems to gather round home life, school life and (for the lucky ones) university life. Congrats to all new and returning students, make the most of it!
I love gathering my friends around for a fuss-fee, catch up session, this time of the year. I'm desperately trying to avoid calling it "afternoon tea" so let's call it "coffee and nibbles, with a side of bubbles".  
These Parmesan & Rosemary biscuits are perfect, little savoury bites that can be prepared in advance. The parmesan and rosemary flavours develop slowly and I saw my guests' faces light up after a few bites. 
I found the recipe on Pinterest from The view From Great Island, alongside the idea of a gorgeous Smörgåstårta - Swedish, all in one sandwich cake. I ended up building my gathering around these two recipes. 
I am more of a savoury person, even with tea or coffee, hence I made the savouries and bought the cakes. 
A Baker's Dozen - Parmesan & Rosemary Biscuits
1 1/2 (one and a half) cups of all purpose flour
1/2 (half) cup of slightly salted butter (softened but not melted)
2 spoonfuls of finely chopped rosemary
1 cup of grated parmesan
A pinch of salt & cracked black pepper 
1/4 (a quarter) of a cup of lukewarm water
Fresh herbs for decorating - Sage & Rosemary (Thyme and Oregano would also work)
Cling film
Parchment Paper
It's easy as one-two-three:
One - Place the flour, butter, chopped rosemary, parmesan, salt and pepper in a deep bowl.
Work with your fingers to create breadcrumbs by incorporating the butter in with the dry ingredients.
Then add a tablespoon of lukewarm water and use the bottom of you palm to bring the breadcrumbs together, into firm, dough-like consistency.  
It will be dry at first, keep adding as much lukewarm water as needed, until you have a uniform dough that has absorbed all dry bits from the bowl.
Alternatively - place all ingredients (including the water) in a mixer with the dough hook and let it do all the work for you until you have a firm dough ball.
Mould the dough in a big ball and flatten with you hands, to create a small, thick, disc.
Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for an hour.
Two - Take the cold dough out of the fridge, unwrap it and place on a dry surface like marble, or even a wooden chopping board.
Use a rolling pin to spread the dough out to all directions, allowing for 1 centimetre (1/3 inch) thickness. You'll only need a couple of rolls to achieve this and the dough will crack on the sides - it's fine. 
Place the rosemary stems or sage leaves, around the dough. Roll over with the rolling pin one last time, towards one direction only. With a cookie cutter, cut out your biscuits and place on parchment paper.
Collect and mould all the left-over dough in a ball and repeat step "Two", until you've used it all up. 
It makes 12- 14 cookies.
Three - Bake in 180C for 10-15 minutes, until the biscuits turn blondish; 
they'll keep cooking in the middle after you've taken them out of the oven.

Summer Pampering at the Gallivant, Camber Sands

As the UK summer is coming to an end, let me leave you with some sweet photos of summer days spent on the coast of east Sussex.
It's been a brilliant summer, hasn't it? The sun showed up and stayed on our shores for the whole summer!
I was spending a couple of days down in Rye, on a girlie road trip back in July.
Camber Sands is 20 minutes drive from Rye and boasts spectacular, endless, sandy beaches. I keep asking myself why life doesn't evolve more around the coast, we are an island after all. Camber Sands is almost unspoilt, there are a handful of cafes on the beach, but that's about it.
On the way to the beach there are a few pubs and the typical beach-side fryers, but the sand dunes are so high that there is no sight of the sea and no breeze, not very appealing.
{Fryer - typically a fish & chips shop, serving anything fried and/or pickled. Scampi, fishcakes, chicken nuggets, saveloy and off course cheesy chips!}
I'll tell you what's appealing though - the Gallivant. (check availability)

Lounging around the Gallivant with a cold coffee 
The Gallivant
...is a boutique hotel, hidden behind the towering sand dunes, off Camber Sands beach.
It looks like it belongs in LA, a one-storey, honey coloured building, with sparse greenery on the front.
Inside, it's so different. The lounge wraps around a fireplace and on the far end it borders a huge walk-round bar. On one side there is a little nook with build-in sofas for lounging, reading and general snoozing. The décor is New England coastal home crossed with Cotswolds shabby chic.  
The decked patio opens on the side, next to the restaurant. The restaurant here is well-known and is worth a visit. It was early and really, really hot so we didn't eat at the Gallivant, but we did enjoy cold coffees in the sun.
I know it's hard to maintain greenery so close to the sea, but I would have loved more green around this decked area. I suppose this is probably best for evening drinks under the summer stars.
The rooms
... are whitewashed and have little private seating areas outside, surrounded by lavender bushes. We didn't stay there, but on our way tot he Hut, I peaked through a couple of open doors. They looked peaceful, bright and relaxing.
The Hut
...They don't have spa per say; but they have a Hut.
A very picturesque hut for that matter, where spa treatments take place. To get to it, we navigated the back garden, an oasis of lavender bushes, dotted with colourful deck chairs.
The therapist was very polite, relaxed and took the full time required for each treatment. There was absolutely no rush around the whole hotel. Although it was one of the hottest days of the year, I thought that the Hut would be boiling inside, but no. It had a cool, Scandi feel. 

Now on to the beach!
Camber Sands is this huge stretch of sandy beach on the East Sussex coast. You can cross the road from the Gallivant, climb over the sand dunes and find yourself on the beach, but we drove, because we were heading home straight after.
We navigated the usual sea-side shop maze on our way to the beach and then....wow!
So. Many. People.
I have never seen such a congregation on an English beach. We go to Brighton and Dorset every summer and the beaches get busy, but nothing like that. 
There were whole families who looked like they had brought their whole household along, the kitchen sink... and then some! It made me giggle. There were food places, inflatables' shops and all kind of beach-paraphernalia pop-ups available...why do people feel the need to bring so much stuff with them?
Anyway, we brought nothing! We walked across the edge of the sea, splashing away, trying to move away from the hordes of people and eventually spread my shawl on the sand and lied in the sun.
Now here's another first for me: I have spent half my life in UK, yet it was the first time I sunbathed, on the beach, in a swimming suit!
Let me explain, usually people go to the beach fully dressed, because it's never hot enough, for long enough, to feel warm enough, to sunbathe in you swimsuit.
So chuffed!


Staycation - The George in Rye, East Sussex

Mermaid Street - the cobbled, ancient heart of Rye
A couple of weeks ago, my little sis was visiting mid-week. I thought of taking half a day off work to go to a spa and catch up in peace. Then something clicked in my mind...it was the middle of July, I had plenty of holidays left, no holidays planned, so why not take a whole day and a half off work - yes I hear the irony as I'm writing this - and sod the spa, let's go down to the coast!
Tell you what, midweek escapes are so much fun. Although I had the time off work, it still felt naughty.
Destination: the utterly summery triangle of Rye - Winchelsea Beach - Camber Sands.
Crooked beams and wobbly walls - Church Square, Rye 
Our bedroom at the George
Shower with a view over Rye's townhouses!
Coastal tones in the bathroom 
Sunset over Rye's rooftops 
You'll spot Rye in the distance, regardless of which direction you are driving in from.
It's a medieval, hilltop, market town, guarding the south coast of East Sussex. 
We arrived in the late afternoon, amongst July's record-breaking, scorching heatwave.
The town was alive with tourists and locals, kids, grandparents and families, all lazily strolling around, some evidently back from the beach, in search of a cool spot.
First things first, check in at The George.  
It's on  the high street, right in the middle of summery hassle and bustle. You can park just by the entrance for loading and unloading but then you have to drive down to the train station carpark (5 min walk) where you can park for £2 for the day.
The George is housed in an old building with lots of stairs and passages, it's decorated flamboyantly so it doesn't feel  narrow or crammed, as old buildings usually do, but pack wisely and avoid bring big pieces of luggage, as you might have to carry it all the way up to the third floor. 
Our room was right on the last floor, with amazing views over the town. It felt like the perfect nook  for a winter or spring escape but not sure about hot summer days - despite the oh-so-retro fan, there was almost no air - mind you, we've never had such hot summer before.
I don't think I've ever spent so much time in a bathroom taking photos - no, not selfies, ha! There was a perfectly round window, right by the bathtub, with views over the whole town and the surrounding area. Gorgeous spot!
Now on to Winchelsea Beach and Rye Harbour to catch the sunset and get a cold drink.
Lobster Monster at The George Grill
Sunset over Rye
Waking up in the George was a wonderful feeling.
It was around 5am, when the seagulls outside the window decided to have a chat. Because of their yapping, I had to get up and close the blinds, but I also got to witness sunrise over Rye. Simply magnificent. The orange-pinkish sun was stretching over the roofs and everything seemed happy. 
I snoozed for a couple of hours, until the first church bells started ringing.  
No other sounds, no cars or beeping, or ambulances, or people chatting. Just the seagulls and the view of Saint Mary’s Church bell tower catching the morning rays of sun and freshly breed coffee. A lazy morning in bed. Life is simple, yet we have a tendency to complicate things.
Breakfast was lovely, I had poached eggs on avocado toast and my sister had the full English, side of grapefruit, a bucket of coffee and off we went to explore the town.

Morning stroll around charming Rye

Èze - Eagle's Perch Over the Med

How do you get to describe one of the nicest days, in the South of France? It's tricky trying to sit down and contain all these feelings and then put them on  - virtual - paper! So here it goes...
Èze is poetic, majestic and dramatic. It's also beautiful, rustic and chilled and takes you back to a 50s movie set...
We caught glimpses of the Mediterranean's endless blue around every corner, terracotta roofs, light stone houses covered in bright purple bougainvillea, a very summery feeling.

The South of France is popular for the countless villages lodged in the hills, overlooking the Mediterranean sea. Choosing where to visit, is tough.
We based ourselves in Mougins and visited St Paul de Vence, Antibes, Cannes and St Tropez.
And then there was Èze.

It's located on the super-lux stretch between Monaco and Cap Ferrat, on a sharp hill that seems to spear up into the sky out of nowhere. The mountains behind it are often covered in passing clouds.

Tour buses usually stop at the bottom of the rock to visit the popular perfumeries. Even if you have limited time, do make the effort to climb up, the view over the Med is absolutely spectacular.
We left the car at the bottom of the windy road and climbed up slowly. The whole castle-city is built on many levels, hence, be sensible with your shoes.
First turn to the right for yellow Eglise d'Eze. It's a romantic spot if you are looking for somewhere special to tie the knot.
L'Eglise d'Eze

The old vine tree that provided shade and a great spot for long, easy lunching

Peach aperitif, produced locally, smooth, sweet and giggles-enhancing

It was our last day in Cote d 'Azure and all we wanted to do was soak in all that feeling of sunshine and slow living. So, we went for lunch!

We found this tree that had expanded its' branches over three different levels in the middle of the village and right below it tables and chairs were set up. Luckily it was the set up for Le Nid D'Aigle - eagle's nest. We camped there for the next couple of hours.

Lunching under the branches of this old vine tree was pure magic; salmon tartare, omelette complete and aperitif avec fraise (strawberries), not to forget the bread and salted butter… allez! The more aperitif we had, the more we were chatting to the waiters in our school-old French, great fun. 

The mere amount of tourists that pass through this place is mind boggling and how locals manage to remain calm and cheerful is a mystery.
Here's a thought, if you don't speak French that is perfectly fine, but there is no need to bark in English at the waiters. Try smiling and asking if they speak English first. They do. And they try to be helpful, so meet them half way.

We left with a bottle of locally produced peach aperitif underarm, which was the centre piece for our little gathering back home, alongside a cheese and charcuterie board with nuts, dried fruit and other goodies we  had bought in St Paul de Vence.  

Lunch might be over, but Cap Ferrat is just 10 minutes away. On to Paloma beach, for an easy-going afternoon by the clear and cool waters, endless pine trees, cold coffee and sweet tiramisu - step into the 50s this way please...

Dinner in Loches - Loire Valley

It was one of those sunny, sweet, spring eves, that follow a rainy start to the day.
We had just finished our visit at Chateau de Chenonceau (see our visit here) and we wanted to find a dinner destination quaint and romantic enough, to round off our gorgeous day. 
We headed to the lesser known town of Loches.
Usually, visitors head to Amboise after Chateau de Chenonceau, but we thought that Amboise deserves a whole day to itself.
The drive south of Chateau de Chenonceau, took us through endless green fields, gentle hills and even a leafless forest - it was great fun catching the afternoon light through the tall, dense trees.

Three options for dinner:
La Loire en Tonneaux - a wine shop really, with bistro seating and warm blankets outside.
Great for an informal evening of wine drinking and food picking. Grab a glass of red alongside a charcuterie board and watch the evening fall over the elegant townhouses and cobbled streets.

Sforza - gloriously massive, stone-oven-baked pizzas! Pizza in France? Mais oui!
A family place, full of locals, always a good sign, when it comes to food!
Apart from the thin, velvety, delicious pizzas, they also do salads with chunky tuna too.

Le P'tit Restau - your dreamy, petite, elegant, picture perfect, small French town restaurant!  3 starters, 3 mains and 3 desserts, changing every week.
All presented delicately, in candle-lit, intimate surroundings.

La Loire en Tonneaux
Dreamy, creamy and yummy pizzas at Sforza
Le P'tit Restau

Loches is a charming medieval town, built by the river Indre.
The castle that sits just above the rest of the medieval houses is not your usual chateau though; it's enclosed in a citadel, where all alleys and cobbled streets lead up to. 

It's not as touristy, as other towns around the region, it's got ample dinning options, romantic strolling routes and panoramic viewing spots; if you are after an easy-going trip, it'd make a good base to visit the Loire Valley from.

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