Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour

I’ve decided to start incorporating my music posts into A Lot of Lovely Things. Music is my main passion in life, it drives me. And it seemed a shame to keep it separate from my other loves. So here is my first post:

Let’s talk about Sam Smith’s new album In The Lonely Hour.


This single Money On My Mind has been in the charts, accompanying adverts and blasting out of radios for months. If you’ve missed it, God only knows where you’ve been. Give it a listen whilst I run down the rest of the album.

I bought the album In The Lonely Hour yesterday and it is one of the most beautiful albums I have ever listened to. I played this album on repeat about six or seven times at work and at one point I cried. Yes, I welled up at my desk and had to run to the bathroom to compose myself. The song in which brought about such a meltdown: Not In That Way. The story of unrequited love really touched a nerve. But, in hindsight, the whole album struck a nerve – every song is so raw, full of passion and love, and so well crafted – it is hard to not be affected by this work of art.

His latest single Leave Your Lover shows off the true talent of the BRIT Critics’ Choice Award winner. His silky voice, so full of emotion tells the story of our protagonist pleading with his love. A truly sad song which many people will be able to connect with.


Stay With Me, his third single from Sam Smith and is utterly gorgeous. His voice oozes with love and vulnerability, meaning you hang on to every word to see how the story ends.

“This album is supposed to be the soundtrack to those quiet moments in life” Smith told Digital Spy and I can’t agree more. It was when working on my own at work that I got so caught up the unrequited love story that I started crying. This is one to be listened to alone and when you’re ready for a time of reflection, but it is worth the tears as it is simply stunning.

Have you listened to In The Lonely Hour? What do you think of Sam Smith? Leave comments below as I’d love to know your thoughts!

Rx

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Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference

You may remember my, frankly catastrophic, time with the Clinique skin care range last year. It wasn’t fun for anyone involved. Since then I’ve been using the Body Shop Seaweed range, which has been, alright. And that’s all I can say about it really. It’s alright. My skin doesn’t look radiant, but it doesn’t break me out, it is pretty average stuff. So I’ve been on the hunt for some different skincare products which will improve the look of my skin.

I owe a lot to the Effaclar Duo [+] which is a cream sent from the gods. (I picked up another in Paris, and FYI, it is loads cheaper on the continent!) It keeps my skin clear and makes it feel amazing, but I can’t use just moisturiser, I need something to clean and cleanse my face too! As a result I am trying the Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference range.

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I bought the tester size pack from Debenhams for £15. I bought the set for combination skin as that’s what I have but there is another set available for dry skin.

As you can see you get a cleanser, a toner, a serum and some lotion. After using these four products for the last three weeks I can whole-heartedly say that my skin has been transformed. It really has made a visible difference (**cringe cliché alert!**). My skin feels radiant, nourished and looks healthy. I’ve barely worn foundation the last couple of weeks because my skin looks so clear.

The products themselves:
The cleanser is the wonder product of the four in my eyes. My skin feels better than it has in years after using the cleanser – it cleans your skin but leaves it feeling healthy and refreshed – a perfect way to start the morning.
The toner is brilliant for taking off any scraps of makeup etc, that the cleanser (or I) misses. It smells amazing and works brilliantly with the cleanser.
The serum is super nourishing, or it feels like it is anyway! It’s not got the nicest smell but because it feels like its working wonders I’ll forgive it.
The lotion is the product I like least. In that, I don’t like it at all really. I’ve come to realise that I hate lotions. Give me a super thick moisturiser any day of the week over a lotion. As well as the texture being totally wrong for me it also smells of cucumbers, which I detest too.

In summary, the cleanser and toner are wonderful and I will definitely be purchasing them in full size. The serum is also good but at £39 for 30ml (WHAT!?) I think I’ll be looking for a serum which is a bit kinder to the purse. Needless to say I will not buy the lotion but will stick with my La Roche-Posay and my age-old favourite Nivea Pure & Natural Day Cream for the mean time.

Rx

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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Myself and my friend Gill went to visit Kew Gardens the other day and it was bloomin’ marvellous. (Warning: There may be a large amount of horticultural puns in this post!)

It was a glorious day and as the sun shone over London we made our way along the Thames to Kew. The area around Kew Gardens is beautiful and oh so typically English – we passed the cricket green on the way – it was delightful.

Once you arrive at Kew you are faced with 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses. It is a gardener’s paradise! But what I found most amazing at Kew, is that whatever your expertise on plants, it is so accessible to everyone. If you don’t want to read the plaques and information you can just wander around the stunning gardens. If you want to learn all about a particular type of plant, the chances are it will be at Kew as the Botanic Gardens plays host to the largest collection of living plants in the world. In the WORLD. It is simply staggering.

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One of my favourite parts of Kew was the Princess of Wales Conservatory which recreated ten different climate zones. The cactii were brilliant but the iguana which was roaming free frightened the life out of me!

Another highlight was the bar… There was a huge display of herbs and plants which are used in bitters and tonics – often found in cocktails (a particularly passionate hobby of mine…!)

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Kew costs £16.50 for an adult (with a £1.50 donation) but a membership is only £72 per year. If you live nearby I’d get a membership and go whenever the sun pokes his head of out a cloud!

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Kew Palace is also situated within the grounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens. It was the home of George III in his youth and has been a resides of the royals for many years. Now, however, it is open to wander around.

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I think these pictures prove just how beautiful Kew is. I absolutely fell in love with the place. It feels like you’re out of London, in your own perfect paradise. As a Northerner stranded in the South I often find I miss greenery, countryside and, you know, space – but Kew has it all. It was wonderfully tranquil and reminded me of home. I can’t recommend it enough.

Have you been to Kew? What did you think of it? Leave links and comments below!

Rx