I find painting my nails an endless source of frustration, which is why I very rarely wear nail polish on my hands.

No matter how long I spend on base coats, top coats and clever application techniques, I always find that at the end of the performance (which also includes 30 minutes of having to sit perfectly still and not drink tea/play with my phone/do up the fly of my jeans for fear of smudging the damn things) they still chip within 24 hours.

Sometimes I almost feel as if my nails actually repel nail varnish – why do some people have these perfect little manis that last a week while mine looks like a complete mess two days later?!

Cheeky nails summer collection Hollywood review Stiletto La La Land Pink Perfect Bloody Mary Pink Fizz
However, I’m nothing if not optimistic, so when I was sent the new Cheeky summer nail collection I decided to give the products a whirl, if only because I adore the colours (I’ve written before about how I only wear brown eyeshadow, and my taste for nail paint is similarly traditional – red, pink, orange if I’m feeling cray cray).

The range, which launches today, is inspired by Los Angeles. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to L.A., but I have to say my main memories of the city, colour-wise, are blue (sky, sea), white (building upon building stretching out forever) and grey (endless, ENDLESS roads and motorways). However, I’m willing to accept that at aged 15 and on a family holiday, I wasn’t really experiencing the Hollywood glamour side of things, which is what inspired these shades.

Cheeky nails summer collection Hollywood review Stiletto La La Land Pink Perfect Bloody Mary Pink Fizz
From left to right: Stiletto, Peach Perfect, La La Land, Bloody Mary, Pink Fizz. 

As you can see the colours (which, according to the press release, ‘perfectly capture the kitsch glitz of La La Land’) are all very vibrant and perfect for summer, my fave being the orange-red Stiletto.

One thing I really rate is that the polish provides solid, dense colour with one coat – I can’t be dealing with products where you need to keep painting hundreds of layers until your nails are four times as thick just to get good coverage.

Obvs it’s what’s on the inside that counts in EVERY aspect of life (except butlers in the buff), but I also love the packaging – if you’ve ever been to one of Cheeky’s nail salons on London you’ll know it fits right in with their bold, fresh vibe.

But the most impressive thing for me though is that the polish ACTUALLY STAYED ON MY NAILS. To the point where I was going round at work like ‘Can you BELIEVE this?’ to my long-suffering colleagues. I didn’t get the standard 24-hour chip; in fact, even two days later the nail polish was still intact, which for me is something of a minor miracle.

Cheeky nails summer collection Hollywood review Stiletto La La Land Pink Perfect Bloody Mary Pink Fizz
Could this be the end of my ‘bare nail chic’, also known as ‘I can’t be arsed to paint my nails if it’s just gonna chip off in 5 seconds’? Quite possibly. And, because I have the opposite regime with my toes, i.e. I actually freak out at the sight of them naked because they are PERMANENTLY polished, these colours will be living on my feet this summer.

Thanks Cheeky, I’m impressed!

Cheeky nail polishes 3 for £10, website here.

 

Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and last weekend I got to go there with some of my best mates in the world (#SoBlessed etc).


When I got back lots of people asked what occasion we’d been celebrating, which I found odd – don’t lots of people swan off with their girlfriends for the weekend just ‘because’?!

After all, while trips with partners or family can be fun, there’s nothing quite like a girly holiday. So here are the reasons why I NEVER need an excuse to go away with my laydeez…

1. No one will tell you off for needing the toilet once an hour. You know how city breaks with guys involve them frequently saying ‘You need to wee AGAIN?’… That will never happen on a girls holiday. In fact, you just accept that you are permanently on the lookout for potential loos, given that at least two people will need it at any one time.

2. Drinking in the sunshine. No woman is ever happier than when she’s sitting on a sunny terrace, glass of booze in hand, putting the world to rights at an ever increasing volume. This possibly explains the toilet sitch above.

3. Sharing rooms. The adult equivalent of all those girly sleepovers you had as kids, except with less Truth or Dare and more discussing how you probably didn’t need that last bottle of Prosecco.

Our actual AirBnB!

4. The ‘squatting down in the middle of a piazza crying with laughter’ moments. The light-hearted mood of a girly holiday, coupled with all the comedic potential of being in a totally unknown environment, means there will always be at least one moment where you laugh until you genuinely need a gin and a lie down.

5. No one wangs on about their diet. Too much of women’s lives is spent thinking about what they should or shouldn’t eat, or hearing about what everyone else is or isn’t eating, so indulging in a collective ‘screw that’ moment is awesome. Question: Shall we get dessert? Yes, we bloody well shall.

More-zerella. Always.

6. Girls understand the difference between getting ‘ready’ and ‘ready ready’. You can say nonsensical things like ‘So are we doing faces today?’ to your girlfriends and they’ll instantly get what you mean.
7. If you suddenly realise you’ve forgotten lip balm/sun cream/brown eyeshadow someone else will have it. Although there will be a collective panic when you realise that everyone expected someone else to bring the hairdryer and straighteners, and therefore no one has.

8. It’s a bit like old times. Many of us meet our best friends at school or uni, where you spend half your lives in each other’s pockets. Then work, boyfriends and living more than a stone’s throw apart get in the way. Although I still see my friends at least once a week, I miss climbing into each other’s beds after a night out for a gossip or munching our morning cereal together. God I loved the old times *sob*


9. It forces you to relax. The more people who are on your holiday, the more you have to accept that you can’t have your own way and need to go with the flow. As someone who has literally never been described as ‘laidback’ in my whole existence, it’s quite nice to be forced into ditch my hour-by-hour life plan for a while.

10. Reaching a new level of ridiculousness. It’s a well known fact that girls en masse can reach higher levels of ridic than girls alone – hence why we ended up bombing round the park in this weird rickshaw contraption…


Need I say more?

It’s impossible for me to hide the fact that I’m a super competitive person. When I was younger, I would be quietly furious at losing a game of Ludo, and as an adult I spend my mornings jogging round Clapham Common trying to overtake all the blokes in front of me.

You can imagine, then, that a spinning class involving trying to beat everyone else in the room is right up my street.

Virgin Active’s new group cycle class, The Pack, involves three teams (yellow, pink and blue) going up against each other in a series of challenges covering speed, power and steady RPM.

When I went along to try the class at the Mayfair club, I obviously decided which team to be in based purely on which T-shirt colour I thought would suit me best, which of course was a massive error.

What I should’ve done as I entered the room was looked around and clocked which team looked the most goddamn fierce, but still, that is a lesson learnt (victory over vanity, every time).

Virgin Active the pack review

Anyway, the class itself starts off like your standard spin class, with thumping tuuuunes and lots of flashy lights, except in this case you have a big screen at the front of the class telling you what speed to cycle at, plus how long you have left on each track.

Interspersed with these more familiar spinning sessions you have a series of group challenges, which include ‘Sumo’ (where your whole team cranks up the resistance until you can barely push your feet round) and ‘Speed Freaks’ (by far the best – this involves each team racing round the track by cycling as fast as possible).

The entire class is 45 minutes long, with each sweaty second counted down on a clock in the corner of the screen. The name of the song playing is also displayed, which is useful if you want to go and Spotify the crap out of it afterwards.

Virgin Active the pack review

Getting my sweat on

Everyone is prompted to whoop along with their teammates/scream at them encouragingly if they’re not putting in enough effort, and I have to say, the competitive element is very motivating. After all, there’s nothing like a combative spirit to make you push a little harder when you might otherwise turn your resistance right down and chill at the back of the class.

By the end of the session I was sweating my face off and, according to my Fitbit, had burnt off around 280 calories (the monitor on the bike said more, but however much it was, it totally justified my post-workout Ben & Jerry’s).

I was definitely impressed with The Pack, although as I said before, if your an ultra-competitive weirdo like me, you might want to pick your team wisely, because it can be frustrating when you’re trying REALLY hard and still losing. Or maybe I just need to grow up a bit…

Virgin Active the pack review

You can find out more about The Pack here.

Another day, another AW16 press day – this time everyone’s fave for a bargain: New Look.

Apart from the most amazing breakfast canapé ever (teeny tiny Eggs Benedict) these are the other bits and pieces that caught my eye…

1. Dusky pink coat 


For ultimate nonchalance, I’ll be wearing this with my (p)leather trousers and a grey jumper.


2. Embroidered black dress 


From what I’ve seen so far, you’ll be NO ONE this winter if you’re not wearing something black emblazoned with colourful florals. You have been warned.


3. Black bag with gold stars 


I haven’t really worn star-print since I was about 21, but I feel like this black and gold bag could turn me. 

4. Silver shoes


We all know New Look shoes are the actual bomb, and I feel like these silver ones fall the right side of that tricky glamorous granny/fugly frump divide. Need. 

5. Metallic stripe sweater 


Glittery knits were BIG at the New Look press day (see below) and I’m enjoying the thought of this stripy one teamed with a sassy pencil skirt (really, is there any other kind?)

6. Cleopatra-worthy earrings 


I’m kinda known for my Pat Butcher-esque approach to costume jewellery so these are obviously going in my imaginary shopping basket. 

7. Chic grey coat 


For quite a while now I’ve wanted to be the type of girl who wears a coat like this because, as we all know, she’s cool. Although I feel like I need to perfect the dream ‘just thrown this up into a casual bun’ hair first. 

8. Silver witch shoes 


One of the benefits of having incredibly weird shaped feet is that cool and creepy shoes like these beauties actually fit me perfectly. WIN. 

9. More metallic knits 


Sparkly jumper of joy alert! And proof that the polo neck is going to be hanging around for another winter…

10. Embroidered bomber 

Where Mary Berry goes first, we all follow – at least that’s what I must assume from the amount of elaborate bombers I’ve seen popping up in AW16 shows. Tbh I don’t think I can pull this off, but I love the attitude. There’s also a denim option: 


11. Camo backpack 


Utterly ridiculous. I love it. 

12. Pleated silver skirt 


Another trend that’s going to hang around is the pleated skirt. Hooray if you’ve already got one then, if not, how about this little fella? SO shiny.

13. Leopard print coat 


Going to press shows and perving on leopard print coats is basically my job, and here is my latest love. Mmm, leopardy… 

I have a huge affection for London – after 8 years living here,  I’m still one of those people who gets a bit excited when I hear Big Ben chime or find a coffee shop that’s open at 9pm – but sometimes I need to get out of the city.

Most Londoners I know are like this – occasionally they’ll wake up desperate to be somewhere green and spacious, without hundreds of other people trying to do exactly the same activity as them. If that sounds familiar, then you need to find your most sensible footwear and try the walk my boyfriend and I did last Sunday, when we embraced our inner 55-year-olds and set off for the Surrey Hills.

wanborough godalming walk

The 7.5 mile route talks you from Wanborough to Godalming (both have stations that take around an hour from London), and although we followed a Country Walks guide that I managed to get my grubby mitts on while working at Time Out, it can be found online here.

The book states it is toughness level 2 out of 10, which I think we can all agree is ideal.

Wanborough to Godalming walk

This is what 2 out of 10 toughness looks like…

You start off at Wanborough station. When I got there it was basking in 26 degree sunshine and the sound of birdsong (obvs I started Googling house prices immediately).

 

After a few minutes strolling through the village, you turn into a field and the real ~countryside~ experience begins (luckily it’s the dandelions and butterflies version of the countryside, not the horse shit and crazy bulls chasing you round fields version).

wanborough godalming walk

Here is me trying to blow a dandelion adorably, but failing badly because seasonal asthma, plus the fact they are actually tough little bastards, do not equal dream Instagram moments.

 

However, I did manage to point at some flowers knowingly and say what they were  – “BLUEBELLS” etc – and represented the sisterhood by doing some good orienteering (aka, reading the instructions in the book correctly).

Wanborough to Godalming walk

So why should you bother with this route?

Well, for starters, there was a VINEYARD…

Wanborough to Godalming walk

We just walked through it, but you could probably stop off and sample the wares should the mood take you.

Plus, as well as covering lots of gorgeous countryside it includes the Watts Gallery (below) and Chapel. I’m going to level with you, we didn’t go in the former because we were too worried about getting to the pub on time to grab a lunch table (full belly over cultural enlightenment, AMIRIGHT?) but we did go the chapel.

Watts Gallery

Now this is going to sound weird, but that Watts Chapel was surrounded by the most idyllic cemetery I have ever seen. As in, I actually had the thought ‘this would be a nice place to be buried’. It’s set on a hillside, surrounded by the most beautiful green countryside, and incredibly calm and peaceful.

watts chapel cemetery

The chapel is worth seeing too: a quirky little building that you can have a snoop around for free, covered inside with ‘glorified wallpaper’ depicting angels. It’s tiny, you could probably only fit a handful of people in there at a time (which is why my boyfriend suggested if we ever got married we should do it there – oh how we laughed).

inside Watts chapel

After you’ve read a few of the gravestones and had a little cry (does anyone else do that?) then it’s time to skedaddle off to The Withies Inn in nearby Compton for lunch, which is just DELICIOUS, even for difficult veggies like me.

The Withies Inn

Celebrating the victory of an outdoor table

Be warned, if you’re in a big group you might want to book ahead for this bit, because otherwise you might not get a table and we all know hangry walking is seriously not the one.

The pub is around 4 miles into the walk, so try not to have too many ciders if you want to make it to Godalming in one piece. Also, you need to have your wits about you to do some serious property perving – the houses you walk past in between Compton and your final stop are amazing. We’re talking swimming pools, tennis courts and manor houses that look like this:

Wanborough to Godalming walk

Yes I leaned over a wall and took  a picture of someone’s house, I’m not proud.

The final stage of the route sees you walking alongside the River Wey before you arrive in Godalming, a lovely market town (I have to say that because my mum used to live there), although by the time we got there we realised we had four minutes to get the next train back to London or we’d have to wait an hour, hence we ended up doing that weird jog-walking.

River Wey

The route says the entire trip will take over 8 hours, which I assume includes being proper adults and visiting the gallery and afternoon tea shop. In total, it took us about 5, meaning we were back in London by 4pm where I rewarded myself for my exertion as sensible person does: with tea and a Netflix marathon.