The Bantam Review

The Only Way is Essex – Pubs, Hen Nights, Live Music & More!

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Hello fellow bloggers!

Yet again I have been AWOL a fair while – this time owing to a combination of work and the dreaded summerholigeddon (2 weeks down, 3 and a half to go!). However I thought I would pop on and share with you one of my ongoing jobs that I am absolutely loving at the moment!

A while back now I started a contract providing blog posts for a website called iHeartEssex which is all about, yep you guessed it – Essex (UK for any of my readers across the puddle or the pond!). Its a fantastic website which looks at all of the best social aspects of life in Essex including the best pubs, clubs, restaurants, events, live music venues and more.

With the popularity of a reality TV show known as TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex) we also decided to focus on how to do a girls night out TOWIE style by visiting some of the salons, restaurants and clubs featured in the show. This blog post has been way popular so I thought I would share that, and a couple of the others, here with you. If you want to give them a sneaky share yourself then that would be awesome too 😉

The Only Way is Essex – How to do a TOWIE Style Girls Night Out!

Best Pub Gardens for Families in Essex

Best Live Music Venues in Essex

Hopefully once the gruesome twosome are back to school then I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming!

Thanks for stopping by!

Dee xoxo

And here’s a Freebie…

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http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00VD9FV4W?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_d_detailpage_o04_

So it’s that time again where I shamelessly give myself and one of the websites I work for a plug!

I have helped to produce this awesome eBook, “Simple Fermented Foods” for SoundBodyLife.Com

It is currently FREE until 3rd April (that’s tomorrow folks so buy it now!) to download on Amazon

I would be super grateful if you could pop over and get a copy – it’s free after all!

It is packed with information on what fermenting is and how to do it.

If you could leave a sneaky review on the Amazon page too I would be forever in your debt!

😉

Dee

xoxoxo

Lucy Bee Coconut Oil – A Health & Beauty Revelation!

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Hello lovelies – long time no see! I’m sorry I am awol so much at the moment, but I am busy working hard on new freelancing projects!

However I had to pop on and do a quick review of my new “wonder-product”! You know how it is when sometimes you find a product that just blows you away. Well this is my current one.

I have heard loads lately about the benefits of coconut oil, both to use in cooking and as a beauty product. In case you didn’t know, I suffer badly from dry skin, psoriasis and sometimes eczema. It always gets much worse, much drier and itchier in the winter months, probably owing to me having the heating on and drying the air out. I am always on the lookout for new moisturisers, and don’t get me wrong, body butters do the trick for the most part. But I can’t use them on my face without it getting sore.

Ladies and … well probably mostly ladies reading this although if there are any men – no judgement! May I please present you with Lucy Bee’s Coconut Oil. This huge jar cost me £6.99 in Sainsburys and so far I’m not even 1/4 of the way through.

I have used this product for literally everything!

* I have massaged it into my dry scalp, left overnight and thoroughly washed out the next morning – shiny and flake free hair that looks so well conditioned I feel I could star in a L’Oreal advert!

* I have rubbed a cotton wool ball against the hardened oil, and used it as a make up remover. Not only is in incredibly gentle on the skin, it removes make up easily and leaves my face feeling silly smooth. I have to admit I don’t know how well it would work on naturally oily skin, but for dry skin it works great!

* I have used it on my skin as a moisturiser. Scoop out a small ball of it and warm it between your palms before spreading. A little goes a long way! It leaves me feeling moisturised all day long without feeling greasy. It smells like holidays too! Last week both my underarms were extremely dry, cracking and sore. Less than 4 days later of applying the coconut oil twice a day and my underarms are soft, silky, pink and definitely not sore.

* As a cooking oil. Just scoop a little into a pan and heat til it melts, then cook as normal. Much healthier than some alternative oils!

Seriously, I am absolutely nuts about this stuff right now. If you suffer from dry skin or dry skin conditions, give it a try! And even if you don’t, buy some anyway. It will make you look and feel fantastic, inside and out!

My latest project available for FREE download – check it out!

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Hello my lovelies and welcome to my shameless plugging blog post!

I’m sorry I haven’t been around as much as usual, but I have been busy working for a new team – the amazing guys at http://www.soundbodylife.com

One of the projects we have been working on is the eBook “The Everything Essential Oils Guide”.

It is currently available for FREE  for a very limited time (until 13th March) on Amazon!!!

I will be quite honestly, I had absolutely no idea how awesome and how beneficial Essential Oils could really be until I started working on this project and I am now well and truly converted!

I would absolutely love it if you could stop by Amazon and download a free copy. If you would like to leave us a review that would be even better!

I know I am creeping a little, but as this is the first publication I have worked with the team on I really want it to do well!

And if you have any questions, feel free to pop them in the comments.

Also, feel free to check out http://www.soundbodylife.com for your complete guide to a healthy lifestyle!

Ta-ta for now and thanks in advance!

Dee xoxox

The Bantam Review: nspa Body Butter

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A review: nspa Body Butter – exclusive to Asda

So when I was in Asda I noticed that they had a lot of their health and beauty products on sale. Always drawn to a bargain I thought I would have a look and see what was on offer, when I discovered the nspa range had a body butter reduced from £3.00 down to a quite frankly obscenely-cheap £1.87. However let me tell you, there is nothing remotely cheap about this fantastic product.

I have battled with psoriasis and dry skin since I was a child, and so I am always interested in finding new products to help me combat the constant itch that accompanies dry skin. I usually only use body butters from The Body Shop as I have always found them to be the longest-lasting and most effective, but at around £13 per 200ml it is definitely not wonderful value for money as I can use two tubs in a month.

The first thing you notice about the nspa brand is the packaging which is bright, cheerful and packed with information. I particularly like the caption on the label, “our products are so fruity and juicy you might be tempted to eat them. Well don’t, they are not food”. You might think this is an exaggeration or somewhat egotistical of them, but in actual fact, if anything it is an understatement. I picked the Luscious and Juicy Red Cherry version and the moment I opened the lid my senses were assaulted by the deepest, richest cherry fragrance you can imagine. The smell, well it is just divine. It makes you want to eat it – and I don’t even particularly like cherries to eat! The fact that the body butter looks like yoghurt makes it even more appealing which moves me on nicely to the texture of the product.

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Normally I find that the main problem with a lot of products that advertise themselves as body butters is that they are just too thin. They absorb into the skin far too quickly and often either leave a greasy residue behind, or they don’t feel like they have moisturised your skin at all. In comparison the nspa body butter is thick, creamy and absorbs into the skin easily, leaving it soft and silky and feeling truly hydrated. There is no sticky feeling after application, and once I applied it after my shower, I felt moisturised all day.

Like Body Shop products, nspa is against animal testing and is produced in the UK.

Other products in the Fruit Extracts range include shower and bath gels, body scrubs and body mists. They also offer a Luxury range, selection of eau de toilettes and Beauty Rituals collection. It also offers a Mum to Be range, from which their body butter won the Silver Award at the 2014 Mother & Baby Awards – a massive recommendation in itself!

Overall I would give the nspa body butter a resounding 10/10. It does everything I could need it to do without irritating my extremely sensitive skin, and even at the usual price of £3.00 per 200ml is still less than a quarter of the price of The Body Shop alternative. I’m converted, now I urge you to give it a try!

Charlotte’s Belly Blitz – First attempt!

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It’s taken me a while to blog about the Belly Blitz that I did this morning – in part because its taken me a little while to recover!

Oh my GOD, I had no idea quite how hard some of it would be!

First of all I have to say, I love the intro the DVD, the trainers that work with Charlotte are both motivating but also relatable, as is Charlotte herself. She doesn’t speak too much (good if you don’t like the Geordie accent!) but when she does its to remind you to push through the pain (as opposed to Richard Callendar of The Biggest Loser – who just laughs when she says she is in pain!).

The warm up is easy to follow, gets the blood following and muscles warm as it should, and is followed by standard stretches.

The actual training programme is split into 12 x 3-minute rounds of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) each focusing on different areas, everything from boxing moves to squats to push ups. Don’t be fooled into thinking its easy – Charlotte makes it look easy but some of the moves are killer! Luckily the third trainer, David Souter offers some lower impact “beginners” versions which I found myself following at times. Hopefully with practise I will be able to move onto the regular workouts which Richard and Charlotte were demonstrating.

The 3-minute bursts mean that just as the pain gets really difficult its time to move on, and you have around a minute to recover whilst the routine for the next round is demonstrated.

I did the Belly Blitz straight after Day 2 of C25K today, possibly maybe why I found it tough going, but then Charlotte didn’t achieve that figure by having a nap after a bit of exercise so there is no way I will. I managed the warm up, cool down and four of the 3-minute rounds before I decided to call it a day for today. The beauty of the short rounds is that you can pick and choose what round you want to do, so you can practise a specific round over and over if you need to. Obviously it is recommended that you always do the warm up and cool downs as well.

There is also a ten-minute section called “Extra Abs”. I did start the section, but it is literally all crunches albeit different types and after the first five minutes I couldn’t face any more.

Clearly I have a LONG way to go to master Charlotte’s Belly Blitz, but from the way my muscles felt today it is clearly good exercise and will offer some results. There is also an “Eating Plan” section for anyone interested, although I plan to continue with my current one.

Keep your eyes peeled for further updates!

Cutting the String – C25K Day One is my bitch!

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Hello lovelies!

Just a quick update to let you know that after a delayed start (was supposed to start last week but life and headaches got in the way!) I officially did Day 1 of C25K today.

This may not seem like a big deal to many people, I mean running 8 minutes is nothing compared to what serious runners do, but I am not a serious runner. In fact I’m not much of a serious anything.

For anyone who doesn’t know my backstory, I am a severely unfit relatively obese 30-something. I am not a fan of exercising anything other than my mouth and opinions. I haven’t done any structured exercise in nearly two years, but in my mission to cut the string of yoyo dieting and improve both my physical and mental health, I am embarking on a new lifestyle.

Honestly, I thought Day 1 of C25K would be a killer. When I used to go to the gym I much preferred anything other than the treadmill. My legs always used to ache after 30 seconds and my chest would burn. However, I have to admit that C25K today was actually very manageable and quite enjoyable. It started with a 5-minute warm up brisk walk, followed by alternating 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of brisk walking. The 60 seconds of jogging was just enough to start feeling it and then the 90 seconds was a perfect recovery time. At no point did I feel overstretched or unable to carry on. In fact, I have to admit I feel really energised now – must be the endorphins – and elated that I actually completed it!

I have to do a minimum of 2 more runs at this level this week before I can move up a level, and they advise to leave a rest day in-between so I plan to do my next session on Wednesday and am looking forward to it already!

The app is brilliant, the podcast tells you exactly when you need to start and stop running and can be used over the top of your own playlist. With this in mind I am going to set up a new “running” playlist full of upbeat tracks this afternoon!

Edited to add: I am currently doing these at home (walking and jogging on the spot) until it gets a little warmer and I work up the courage to run in public!

Watch this space for more C25K updates!

Cutting the string – the first meal out

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A little update! We are currently on Day 13 of cutting the string and so far so good, we haven’t had any major hurdles to overcome and have been sticking to the meal plans we have devised. However today represented the first real challenge. We were out and about this morning and decided we would really like to take the kids out for lunch. It is something we like to do quite regularly, as hubby only gets two Saturdays off a month, and we rarely all eat together in the week.

So the first question we had to ask ourselves was where could we go that we could get something relatively healthy for lunch, but that also wasn’t too expensive. We had been out by the river for a walk this morning and we were all freezing and just wanted something warm and filling so we opted to go to the nearby Harvester.

My 4yr old loves Harvester, mainly because he is a bread monster and he loves the fact you can have free bread rolls, but it is actually a great restaurant for a healthy meal. First of all the salad cart is free. Yes there are a few unhealthier bits on it such as potatoes, pasta and coleslaw, but provided you don’t slather your salad in sauce or bacon bits, its really a good, diet-friendly way of filling up.

When it comes to the main course, I find it brilliant that every dish has the calorie content listed, so you know exactly how naughty what you are eating really is. You can also swap side and veg options, so instead of chips you can opt for a jacket potato or some rice. Hubby decided on “simply chicken”, which is basically what is says on the tin – a grilled chicken breast, jacket potato and peas, and it comes in at a very reasonable 557 calories. I usually choose the goat’s cheese and broccoli pasta shells which are delicious and only 580 calories, but today I realised that I could have a hearty serving of bangers and mash as they offer a “vegetarian” option using soya and leek sausages. Using regular sausages it would set you back 929 calories, but by swapping to the vegetarian version, I only consumed 559 calories instead. I know you can do the maths, but to save time I will spell it out for you anyway – a whopping 370 calories saved which is pretty much the equivalent of what I eat most lunchtimes, or enough to allow you a Harvester Sundae Best (all less than 300 calories) with cals left over! (I didn’t – this time anyway!)

So I have had a lovely lunch out with my family, feel completely full and for once, not at all guilty! First meal out – a success!

From above – Skydiving in Fiji 2004

I am currently participating in a “photo a day” challenge on facebook with some friends of mine. Basically we are given a different category every day and have to upload a picture around that theme. The other day the category was “from above” and I shared a picture of a skydive I had undertaken in Fiji in 2004. Reminding me of the experience has led me to this blog piece.

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 pic from 12000 feet                                                  the plane we went up in

In November 2004 myself and one of my best friends, Lisa, went on an extended holiday to meet other friends of ours that were on a year out travelling the world. They were on the last leg of their experience and we had opted to meet them in Fiji – somewhere I had always wanted to visit. Fiji was amazing and we were all very much caught up in the whole “once in a lifetime” type thing, knowing that it was highly unlikely we would ever return.

Whilst we were in Nadi, the capital of Fiji, we were having lunch when our friends were talking about the amazing skydive that they had done in New Zealand. Lisa mentioned that she liked the idea of doing a skydive and I thought it sounded incredible – the only thing that was standing in my way was the fact that I suffer badly with vertigo and I am absolutely petrified of heights. So surely I wouldn’t actually go through with jumping out of a plane thousands of feet up would I?

I don’t remember exactly how it came about, but the next thing was that we were in one of several “shops” that booked excursions and experiences and I was handing over several hundred pounds to a stranger for the highest jump they offered – then 12000 feet and 45 seconds of freefall. We knew nothing about the company that were going to provide the skydive, and I doubt we bothered with any insurance. We were 22 and I think we thought we were pretty much invincible.

I remember sitting in the lobby the next day, waiting to be picked up by the skydive firm. My belly was churning and my hands were clammy. I was beyond nervous. Our friends who had already done a skydive were coming with us for moral support.  Once we reached the airfield we were told basic safety instructions and paired with an experienced skydive instructor. When we discovered that the instructor that was paired with Lisa only had one leg it was hysterical – luckily for us he didn’t lose it in a skydiving accident!!!

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            The realisation hits!                                           Preparing to jump @ 12000 feet

The plane was tiny – there was literally only space for the 4 of us to sit cramped on the floor. In the front was the pilot and a camerawoman that would be jumping with us to film the experience (for me), whilst Lisa’s instructor had a videocamera on his wrist. Lisa went first and I watched her disappear from view. Then it was my turn and I couldn’t focus on anything. I crossed my arms over my chest like we were told and in the next breath we were flying!

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       11000 feet up                                                              on top of the world!

Throwing your arms out to create drag, you really do feel like you are flying. You are looking straight out at the horizon rather than straight down. The land mass below me in the pictures is Fiji, but the round lens makes it look like we are soaring above the earth.

At the same time it is both loud and eerily quiet. It is peaceful and yet utterly enthralling. I can easily see why people get addicted to both the adrenaline rush it brings, and the beauty of seeing the world from this way.

I’m not sure how high we were when my instructor pulled the chute, but sailing down towards the earth was amazing, landing well on a sandy area on Denarau Island. It was incredible that we were able to jump in just a vest and shorts with no need for special equipment.

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 holding hands with the camera woman 

The adrenaline rush stayed with us for several days afterwards – particularly when the company dropped off our dvds of the experience. I decided not to tell my mum and dad about it. Instead, when I got home several weeks later I opted to show them a “dvd of Fiji”. Their reaction was priceless!

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Oh my god I did it!

Aside from having my family, I maintain that the skydive is one of the best things I have ever done and if you get the opportunity to do one then grab it with both hands, you will not regret it!

Skydive Fiji still operate. You can find more information on their website: http://www.skydivefiji.com.fj/tandem-skydiving

Supersize. Your. Bras! Brilliant Bras from George at Asda & an appeal to supersize the sexiness!

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I just wanted to do a quick blog about the fantastic range of bras that are now available at George at Asda.

Until the end of the last century, bras were, for the most part and want of a better word – boring. Functional – yes, but if you wanted anything that deviated from plain cotton or lace then you were out of luck. And a bigger problem was that the range of sizes was limited. It appeared that the larger your breasts, the plainer the bra had to be.

However the average bra size has increased from a 34B to a 36D in recent years. Whether this is down to the fact that the nation is caught in an obesity crisis, or whether it points to something more naturally evolutional we are yet to see. What is does indicate though is the increasing need for larger and larger underwear to support (ahem!) this change.

So I think of the glorious selection of bras that I encountered when I walked into my local Asda store today. As soon as I reached the aisle I was met with glorious technicolour. Purples, greens, animal print, floral, lacy. They had it all. And whilst at the moment they only offer the really vibrant range up to around an E cup, they have really got the potential to reach out to those even bigger breasted ladies who would love to experience the pretty undies that have to offer. Coupled with the fact that they are reasonably priced whilst still retaining excellent quality, underwear from George really does have massive appeal.

On speaking to my friend Bec about my purchase of the bra pictured today, she said that she wished she could shop there for  “pretty bras” too. Bec is a H cup – something George are yet to offer.

So if anyone from George gets to read this, this is my appeal to you to SUPERSIZE your bras! Preferably using the stunning contemporary, fun, sexy designs you currently offer. For my friend Bec and all the other beautiful, big-breasted ladies out there who want to feel confident, sexy and most of all empowered by their bosoms.

Supersize Your Bras!

#supersizeyourbras