Boots #PetalParty and hotel stay giveaway

A little known fact about me - I didn't get hayfever until my early twenties and it's only been in the last few years that I've experienced the misery that it can cause. Constant sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose really is no fun and it's ruined far too many days for me until I got the symptoms under control. So this year I've teamed up with Boots for their 'Insneezia' campaign to raise awareness of the effects of hayfever at night and there will also be a special event in Central London next week to highlight this:

Boots #PetalParty, Hayfever, Insneezia, London, Oxford Street, St Christopher's Place
Boots #PetalParty

always thought early mornings would be the worst time for hayfever but it turns out that as temperature decrease in the evening, pollen falls therefore exacerbating symptoms and potentially even disturbing sleep. No wonder then that I always had to take an anti-histamine at night too!

Boots #PetalParty, Hayfever, Insneezia, London, Oxford Street, St Christopher's Place

To highlight this Boots will be showering St Christopher's place, just off Oxford Street with over three million petals at 7pm on Wednesday 4th May (weather depending). Lauren Pope will also host a DJ set to really get the party going. I'll be there with a few other bloggers so do come down and say hi or follow the live stream on Facebook!

In addition Boots are giving a night's stay at the amazing Mondrian Hotel (including breakfast) plus £200 to spend on food and drink at the Dandelyan bar. To enter simply share a tweet saying 'I'm going to the @BootsUK #PetalParty with @Peonieslilies to help tackle Insneezia from night time hayfever'. Terms and conditions as below, with the winner selected on 3rd May and you can claim your prize anytime within the next month. 

·         Entrants to this prize draw must be aged 18 or over and a resident in the UK.
·         Employees and the immediate families of Boots UK Limited or anyone professionally connected with this prize draw are not entitled to enter the prize draw.
·         This competition closes at 9am on 3 May 2016
·         This prize draw is free to enter.
·         Responsibility will not be accepted for loss, delay and corruption of any data in transit or in the incomplete nature of any entries to the prize draw.
·         All entrants agree to their names and comments being used for promotional purposes. Copyright in all material submitted as entries rests with the promoter.
·         Prizes - all entrants will be entered into a prize draw to win a night’s stay in a standard room at The Mondrian London, including breakfast, plus a £200 for food and drinks at Dandelyan in The Mondrian. To be used within a month from Wednesday 4 May 2016. This is the prize in full, travel and any other expenses are not covered as part of this prize.
·         There will be one winner in total.
·         Prizes will be confirmed within 24 hours of details being received.
·         The winner will be notified on 3 May via @BootsUK Twitter. This must be acknowledged by the winner within 5 hours. Failure to respond means an alternative winner will be selected from all valid entries received.
·         Entrants will be deemed to have accepted these rules and to agree to be bound by them.
·         We will not pass on your personal details to any other organisation without your permission, except for the purpose of awarding the prize if necessary.
·         The promoter’s decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.
·         The promoter of the competition is Boots UK Limited, 1 Thane Road, Nottingham, NG90 1BS.
·         The name and region of the winners may be obtained by writing to the following address after 04/05/2016: Boots Social Media Team, Boots UK Ltd, Thane Road, Nottingham, NG90 1BS.
·         This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Twitter. You are providing your information to Boots UK Limited and not to Twitter. By participating in this promotion you agree to a complete release of Twitter from any claims. Participation in this promotion is subject to the official rules.
·         All entrants agree to their names and comments being used for promotional purposes. Copyright in all material submitted as entries rests with the promoter.

Good luck and hope to see you at the #PetalParty next week!

*Post sponsored by Boots

The holiday skincare essentials

You may have guessed that I've been on holiday recently and although I still have a few more travel posts to publish I wanted to talk about a five of my favourite skincare essentials today:

Holiday skincare essentials, Sond skincare, Garnier ultimate blends, He shi, Biz Buin
Holiday skincare essentials 

Holiday skincare essentials, Sond skincare, Biz Buin
  Holiday skincare essentials

This last year my skin has become really dehydrated so going on a long haul flight I wanted to treat it as much as possible. In the past I've opted for leave on face masks but this time I decided to try a facial oil instead with regular hydrating sprays to top up during the flight. Sond replenishing face oil is specifically designed for sensitive skin so I knew it wouldn't irritate and it's packed with coconut oil to help hydrate and nourish. Like with all oils it leaves a slight sheen but it's non greasy and feels very comfortable on the skin. I've since started using this in place of a night cream and my skin always looks fresh and plumped up the next morning. 

Sond hydrating face spray was another skincare hero and as much and as I enjoyed using it during the flight it was on holiday that I truly appreciated the spray. With temperatures of 35 degrees the cooling liquid with such a welcome break and definitely much needed during the day! It's also really good for setting make up although because of the more powerful spray I'd recommend using it about an arm's length away. 

With sun damage being the biggest cause of ageing I made sure to stock up on SPF before leaving the UK. I don't like anything too heavy or greasy especially on holiday so Piz Buin ultra light dry touch face fluid remains a firm favourite. It's just so lightweight and quick sinking and doesn't interfere with my make up at all. Plus it offers broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Holiday skincare essentials, Garnier ultimate blends, He shi
Holiday skincare essentials

With my skin more on show I made sure to use Garnier ultimate blends restoring body lotion daily. Extracts of royal jelly, propolis and honey made sure my skin was soft and well hydrated, and although it's on the thick side I found it to be fairly quick absorbing and non sticky on the skin. Plus it smells beautiful and the scent will forever remind me of our amazing holiday. 

I'm not the most organised with fake tan so instead I packed my He-shi one day tan instead for days when I wanted to look my best. It gives a really gorgeous naturally bronzed glow and is so quick and easy to apply - I used a tanning mitt for the best results. It's a waterproof formula and I actually found it to be pretty transfer resistant, although I'd recommend avoiding wearing white just in case! 

Have you tried any of these 5 products? What are your holiday skincare essentials?

Vivanta By Taj - President hotel review, Mumbai

For our hotels in India we wanted somewhere luxurious and modern where we could relax in between all the sightseeing. Vivanta by Taj President Hotel in Mumbai was recommended to us by a friend and I have to say we really lucked out and couldn't have asked for a better place to stay:

Vivanta by Taj President Hotel Mumbai, Review, Travel blogger, Lifestyle blogger
Vivanta by Taj President Hotel Mumbai, Review, Travel blogger, Lifestyle blogger
Vivanta By Taj President is located in the south of the city, about an hour's drive from the airport and within walking distance of all the main attractions. After clearing security (mandatory in most hotels) we were greeted by the staff and led to this beautiful lobby. A truly stunning space with marbled floors, plush leather sofas, cold drinks on tap and fresh flowers galore. You really do get a sense of the grandeur and luxury of the hotel and the staff couldn't have been more helpful.

Vivanta by Taj President Hotel Mumbai, Review, Travel blogger, Lifestyle blogger
Vivanta by Taj President Hotel Mumbai, Review, Travel blogger, Lifestyle blogger
Our rooms were equally as lovely with it's modern but simple decor, home comforts and extra little touches which made it a real 5* experience. I don't know what it is about hotel beds but they're always just so comfy and I loved relaxing in the armchair with it's own little footstool. There's even a pillow menu and you can request a complimentary delivery of fresh fruits daily. For us bloggers there's free hi speed wifi throughout the hotel and should you want to relax more there's also a spa and swimming pool downstairs.  

Vivanta by Taj President Hotel Mumbai, Review, Travel blogger, Lifestyle blogger
Since starting to think about redesigning my flat I've come to really appreciate a good bathroom and the one in Vivanta By Taj President doesn't disappoint. With it's gorgeous marble and stone counters it mirrored the decor downstairs and I loved the power shower with it's own inbuilt shelf (such a good idea which I'm definitely going to steal for our bathroom). They'd even thoughtfully prepared a tray with mini toiletries, flannels and all the little extras that we could possibly want.

Vivanta by Taj President Hotel Mumbai, Review, Travel blogger, Lifestyle blogger
Another view of the lobby and I loved this tropical set up near the Italian restaurant. It reminds me of an outdoor terrace and would have been the perfect spot for some afternoon tea.

Vivanta by Taj President Hotel Mumbai, Review, Travel blogger, Lifestyle blogger
Breakfast was included and wow were we spoilt for choice! A huge buffet of Indian and Western food was laid out every morning and there was also the option of ordering a la carte too. I'd highly recommend the waffles, pancakes and Indian dosa, all washed down with a glass of Marsala tea.
Vivanta by Taj President Hotel Mumbai, Review, Travel blogger, Lifestyle blogger
Vivanta by Taj President Hotel Mumbai, Review, Travel blogger, Lifestyle blogger
In addition to Italian and Indian (you can see our Thali here), there was also a Thai restaurant which tired after a long day of exploring we definitely took advantage of! As with everything in the hotel you can tell that a lot of thought had gone into the decor and we all particularly enjoyed the Pad Thai.

Vivanta by Taj President Hotel Mumbai, Review, Travel blogger, Lifestyle blogger
Now the hotel was beautiful but it was the exceptional service and thoughtful extras which truly elevated it to 5* status. It was international womens day during our stay and it was a lovely surprise to come back and see that the staff had left flowers in our room. 

Vivanta by Taj President Hotel Mumbai, Review, Travel blogger, Lifestyle blogger
Vivanta by Taj President Hotel Mumbai, Review, Travel blogger, Lifestyle blogger
After an amazing 3 days in Mumbai it seemed only right to toast our trip with some drinks in the hotel bar. With it's cool wooden counters, comfy sofas, extensive drinks selection and gentle background music this was probably one of the nicest bars I've been to, and had we not had an early morning flight to Delhi the next day we could have easily sampled more of their yummy cocktails.

Overall we all absolutely loved our stay at Vivanta By Taj President Hotel. Nothing was too much trouble and the facilities and service were second to none. It's easy to see why they've won so many awards and if you're ever looking for somewhere to stay in Mumbai then I would definitely recommend. 

Next up, our Delhi and Agra (Taj Mahal) photo diary plus a review of one of our favourite restaurants!

Have you ever been to Mumbai or India? What are your favourite luxury hotels?

Smashbox cosmetics giveaway

I'm loving that so many companies are bringing out mini versions of their bestsellers. Not only are they super handy for taking away, they're also great for trying out new products. So with the holiday season coming up I thought these cute Smashbox cosmetics would be perfect for a Spring giveaway:

Smashbox cosmetics giveaway

 Smashbox cosmetics giveaway

The Smashbox Art.Love.Color set features four of their bestsellers, all in handy deluxe travel sizes. You may have seen this in my Christmas gift guide and I've been saving it for a giveaway ever since! Inside you'll find a Photo finish primer, Photo op eyeshadow trio, Be legendary lip gloss and Full exposure mascara. For your chance to win, simply be a Bloglovin and GFC follower of Peonies and lilies and leave a comment below telling me your favourite beauty product this Spring. This giveaway will be open internationally until 5th May 2016 and don't forget to leave an email address or Twitter handle so I can get in touch if you are the lucky winner.

Good luck and Happy Spring!

Britannia & Co, Mumbai - Restaurant review

Although we were spoilt for choice for food in India, there were two restaurants which really stood out to me. The first being the famous Britannia & Co in Mumbai:

Located in the south of the city, Britannia & Co serves authentic 
Parsi and Iranian food and is only open for lunch between the hours of 12-4pm.

After a few hours exploring the city, the refreshing home made
lemonade was a real thirst quencher and a much welcome treat.

Unfortunately I didn't manage to get a photo of this dish before it was served up but it was
 a delicious white fish with a savory herb crust. After all the rich curries we'd been eating I
was really craving something light and healthy and this freshly baked fish was just perfect.

Like a lot of Parsi restaurants the decor is very simple and homely. The restaurant is
run by 93 year old Boman Kohinoor who was so friendly and you can tell he really enjoys
talking to customers. On learning that we were from London he enthusiastically showed us
laminated letters from the Queen and Hilary Clinton and with cut outs of William and Kate
decorating the restaurant it's clear he has a real love for the Royal Family. In fact I read
 that he'd recently met them on their trip to Mumbai and I couldn't be more pleased for him!

Our second dish was a really tasty mutton in tomato sauce with crispy potato topping. The meat
was so tender and juicy and the lightly spiced sauce delicious for dipping our flat breads in.

Saving the best till last and Britannia & Co is famous for it's pulaos. A fragrant rice
dish with caramalised fried onions and berries with bitesize little chunks of meat hidden
 underneath. This was a real flavour explosion and a must try if you ever in the area.

Preferring a lighter dessert option myself I wasn't such a fan of the creme caramel or
baked yogurt but the other two really enjoyed it and both dishes were soon polished off!

Sometimes the simpler things in life are the best and for a truly authentic Parsi meal I would definitely recommend giving Britannia & Co a visit if you're ever in Mumbai. Make sure to say hi to the owner too, he's a real character and I'm sure he'll tell you all about his meeting with the royal family!

You can also check out my Hyderabad photo diary here and Mumbai photos here

Have you ever tried Parsi food? What are your current favorite restaurants?

Clinique play with pop - A new look for Spring!

I'm not sure whether it's the fact that Spring is finally here or because there are currently some big changes in my life, but recently I've been on a real mission to clear out my make up bag and update it with some new colours. Clinique have just launched 4 new 'play with pop' looks and with it's pretty pinks and nudes I thought the 'bare look' would be perfect for Spring:

 Clinique Ginger Pop blush, Vanilla Pop eyeshadow and Wink Pop lip lacquer, Clinque, Review

 Clinique Ginger Pop blush, Vanilla Pop eyeshadow and Wink Pop lip lacquer, Clinique, Swatches

With it's delicate floral design the Clinique blush pops and eyeshadows are so pretty and almost too nice to use! I'm glad I gave them a try though because the colours look even prettier on the skin than in the pan. Ginger Pop blush goes on a really beautiful rosy pink shade and reminds me of that naturally flushed look you get after a long walk in the park. Vanilla Pop eyeshadow looks rather unassuming in the pan, but on the lids the colour really pops ans it just helps to brighten and open up the entire eye area. Neither of the products have any shimmer but there's a subtle sheen which looks really lovely on the skin.

My favourite product though has to be the Clinique pop lacquer in Wink Pop. A new launch, this combines lip colour and primer for an intense pigment and long lasting wear. It feel creamy and moisturising on the lips and on me is the perfect my lips but better shade. It's a very natural finish too so perfect if you don't want anything too glossy or matte. 

Have you tried any of the Clinique Colour Pop cosmetics? What are your favourite make up items this Spring?

Mumbai photo diary

After the wedding in Hyderabad we repacked our bags, said goodbye to those leaving and made our way to the airport for our next adventure in Mumbai:

First stop was Gateway to India and although the heat took some getting used to it was so 
beautiful along the waterfront and we really enjoyed walking around and exploring the city.

 The famous Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

 Cricket is the national sport in India and no matter which park we went to
there were always a group of locals playing, even in the 35 degrees heat!

With all the noise, vibrant colours and street stalls, Mumbai was a real sensory overload
 but look up and you'll see some beautiful buildings and architecture. There are also a few
 parks dotted around which were a welcome break away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

 We also payed a visit to the local market which was a real treasure trove of
 jewellery, trinklets and gifts, as well as little stalls where you can get Mehndi done.

During our time in India we were spoilt for choice with food and I was very glad we 
had a friend with us who knew the area and could therefore recommend the best dishes. 
This Thali was made up of a creamy chicken curry, vegetables in cococut sauce and a 
dry roasted spice fish, all accompanied by the most delicious doughy Naan bread and rice.

 Walking around we came across Mumbai train station at the peak of rush hour which
 was an interesting experience! Crowds of locals surge past but it was the sheer volume 
of traffic and constant beeping outside which was really overwhelming. A real 
insight into life in India and it certainly puts commuting in London into perspective!

 Being in a tropical country we wanted to make the most of our evenings and 
rooftop drinks at Aer Lounge was a real highlight. Located on the 34th floor of
Four Seasons Hotel, the bar had amazing views over Mumbai and watching the sunset 
with a cocktail in hand, surrounded by friends will be a memory that I'll never forget.

Next up, a hotel and restaurant review, plus our trip to Delhi and Agra for the Taj Mahal!

Have you ever been to Mumbai? What's on your travel bucket list? 

Hyderabad photo diary - my first Indian wedding!

At the start of March we packed our bags and excitedly made our way to Heathrow Airport for a 10 day trip around India. We were going for a friend's wedding and as it was our first time there we couldn't wait to explore and immerse ourselves in the culture. First stop Hyderabad for the wedding:

 Hyderabad photo diary

Bleary eyed and jet lagged, we stumbled out of the taxi, into this beautiful resort and 
34 degrees tropical heat. Such a welcome after the miserable cold weather back home!

 The day before the wedding it's traditional for the women to have Mehndi (henna) 
done and it was so inspiring to watch the girls at work. Each design was so intricate 
and beautiful and I'm amazed at how quickly they did them all. 

 My Mehndi design

 The rest of the afternoon was ours to relax and explore and it wasn't long before 
we all decided to have a cocktail in the sunshine. There was a large group of us 
there and it was so nice to be all staying at the same resort. 

 The beautiful wedding couple. This was my first Indian wedding and it was such 
an interesting experience. Completely different to a Western wedding, instead a longer
 ceremony full of prayers and rituals and a much more relaxed atmosphere for the guests. 

 The wedding breakfast, so good!

Being a 3 day affair the wedding was really spread out and there was lots of time in 
between for us to just hang out or explore. Some of the others took advantage of the pool 
but being the big kid that I am I couldn't resist going on the swings!

 The evening reception decorations were absolutely beautiful and 
I loved this floral arch with it's ever changing coloured lights.

  The main stage was even more impressive and
 it made a lovely backdrop for all the group photos. 

 With a total of 7 meals over the 3 days we were totally spoilt for food and being a bit of 
a foodie it was so good to try all the authentic Indian cuisine. Everything was vegetarian 
but so well cooked and full of flavour and texture that it was absolutely delicious.

 Being in a hot climate the evenings were so balmy and beautiful and it was so nice to make 
the most of it by having the receptions outside. Sadly all too soon our little Hyderabad adventure 
was over but I can't wait to show you photos from the rest of our trip in Mumbai, Delhi and Agra!

Have you ever been to India? What trips are you looking forward to this year?
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