Discovering WW1 History in Ypres

Ypres_Grote_Markt

When most people think of Belgium they probably think of Bruges, chocolate and Belgian beer.  Their first thoughts might not wander to the town of Ypres, a location steeped in First World War history.

Just before Christmas, David and I set off on a Belgium road trip where our first stop was Ypres. We were there to discover sites in and around the town that was unforgettably caught in the whirlwind of World War 1.

Ypres might not seem like a location, or a history, that fits my blog’s theme/aesthetic.  The First World War is often referred to as a ‘senseless’ war, but one we shouldn’t forget and Ypres certainly has a presence to that. This is why I’ve decided to tell you about our time there and what to do in Ypres.

What to do in Ypres

What to do in Ypres

In Flanders Fields Museum Ypres

I won’t pretend I knew all the battle sites around Ypres, known as the ‘Salient’, before arriving. However, I did expect that I’d feel humbled from what we saw and learned.

Arriving in town this had already began.  It was hard to believe we were looking at buildings that were completely rebuilt back to their medieval design (as they looked convincingly older!).  I found the Ypres Cloth Hall to be the most striking piece of architecture in this area, which shockingly was too reduced to rubble.

Impressively it was reconstructed to its prewar condition, which gazing up at its sheer size you can believe why this took a few decades to complete and why its one of the best sights in town.

1.  In Flanders Fields Museum

Ypres Cloths Hall now houses In Flanders Fields Museum.  We could have spent hours in here, with its high and varied volume of interactive exhibitions and artefacts.  Many of which are activated by a microchip embedded ‘poppy’ bracelet given on arrival, (that can also be kept as a souvenir).

View from bell tower of Ypres Cloth Hall

We chipped in an extra 2 Euros to climb the 231 steps up to the belfry, which provides the best views of the town’s medieval architecture and layout.  The exhibition exits through the Tourist Information Centre, where we lingered to find walking and cycling routes of the surrounding area.  (Our plan was to cycle the ‘Peace Trail’ the next day.  Alas, weather or time wasn’t on our side…)

2. Menin Gate

One of the most touching memorials is found at Menin Gate, inscribed within its walls are 54,896 soldiers names who were killed in the war, yet whose graves are unknown.  If that hasn’t hit home enough, as a tribute from the people of Ypres, every night at 8pm the road that passes through the memorial is closed and buglers sound the ‘Last Post’.

A ceremony that has been carried out, uninterrupted, since 1928 (bar a few exceptions).  Despite us visiting at the end of November when the town was quiet, we found it was bustling under the memorial’s arches before the ceremony began.  Silence soon fell among the crowd though when the buglers were about to begin, with thoughts turning to the men who lost their lives.

Menin Gate at night in Ypres, Belgium

Inside view of Menin Gate, Ypres

Inescapably, you walk away with a weight of poignancy, especially knowing this ceremony vows to occur for eternity.  As we sat in a nearby bar beforehand, a local man told us every November 11th sees the service not just fill the memorial, but crowds pour out onto the street covering the city.

3. Tyne Cot Cemetery

Lying just outside of the town in the quiet countryside is the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the world.  Walking to the entrance of Tyne Cot Cemetery‘s Visitor Centre we began to hear names spoken from various speakers dotted along the pathway.  Later we would discover these names, 34,887 of them, were those who were reported missing.

Whilst Tyne Cot can be a very mournful place, with white aligned gravestones forming row after row, the stillness of the surrounding landscape creates a peaceful resting place for the fallen.

Tyne Cot Cemetery in autumn

Battle of Passchendaele Museum in Autumn

4. Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

A short drive from Tyne Cot is the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.  Passchendaele was a horrific battle towards the end of the First World War where half a million men were killed for just 8km gain of ground.

Housed in a beautiful chateau, the museum explores not just the battle at Passchendaele but the old weapons and uniforms of soldiers.  Realistic dugouts and trenches can be experienced too.

5. Hill 60 / Caterpillar Crater

Much is to be learnt about the war through museum exhibitions and seeing how many lives were lost in the many graveyards scattered around the area and beyond.  However, seeing battle sites that are still weathering the carnage of the past really instilled a lasting impression for me.

Hill 60 had been fiercely fought over in the war and although the trenches were filled, the land remains scarred.  Close to this lies Caterpillar Crater, which for me was one of the area’s most sobering sights.  Despite grass and nature growing over it, the huge hollow of land where the mine was detonated has to be seen to be believed.

Hill 60 former battleground in Ypres Belgium

Caterpillar Crater Ypres Belgium

6. Talbot House

Another short drive away from Ypres is the sleepy town of Poperinge, which became a place of refuge for soldiers.  Away from the trenches and shelling, a townhouse was founded where troops could recuperate and feel a little more at home (and looked like it too!).  There’s a cafe on the bottom floor, where you’re welcomed with a hot drink (no charge, but donations are suggested) and a makeshift altar that was created in the attic room.

Talbot House unexpectedly interested me the most and felt like a place stuck in time.  Particularly when I read a few soldier’s letters that were sent home describing this as a place of peace.  It has a huge emotional draw, yet tranquility too which is inescapable.

Talbot House Poperinge

Altar in the attic room of Talbot House

Watch where else we explored in Belgium:

Have you ever been to Belgium?  Where did you discover and what did you like about it so much?  Tell me about your experiences in the comments section below!

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New Purchases Show & Tell – January 2018

New Purchases Show & Tell January 2018

At the start of the year I can’t help but think about the new purchases I’ll be making in the year ahead (mostly thanks to this series of mine).  However, starting now – as of my New Purchases Show & Tell January 2018 – there’ll be a bit of shake up.

Now that I’m classified as a ‘homeowner’ I’m looking to need to spend my money more wisely.  (Not that I haven’t done that in the past…)  There might be less clothes and beauty purchases, although don’t worry I’m sure they won’t completely go.  But I predict there’ll be a wider variety of products in the horizon for me this year  However, let’s start with some new year basics first!

New Purchases Show & Tell January 2018 video

Here’s what I’ve been buying to help me get ready and prepared for 2018.

Leucttrum 1917 Notebook Dotted A5 Black – 41 seconds in
Being only my second-ever Bullet Journal (in my lifetime!), I’ve changed the brand of notebook I’ll be using this year.  Part of me wanted to see what all the fuss was about with Leuchttrum notebooks.  I’d never heard of this brand, yet their notebooks seem to be a bullet journaller’s favourite. Now I can see why, through the many features their notebooks include, which I want to cover in more detail in a separate post.  For now though, take the example of having dotted pages (instead of squared, like I had last year). As well as giving a cleaner look and feel to my pages,  it gives more flexibility to more designs too.

New Purchases Show & Tell January 2018

Dymo Embosser Omega – 2:07 minutes in
I have wanted one of these FOR YEARS!  My inner geek (oh screw it – I am a geek!) fell in love at first sight, whenever it was when I’d first caught sight of one as a kid back in the nineties.  Having never owned one growing up, I felt as giddy as a little girl again when it was delivered to my door.  I love how retro the black tape looks.  I want to label e v e r y t h i n g.

Sweat app (for Apple) – 2:52 minutes in
Forgive the obligatory fitness purchase in January, but getting this app has been on my mind for the past year or so.  I’ve been aware of Kayla Itsines and her Bikini Body Guide (BBG) workouts from long before that too, so I took the leap and subscribed to her app.  Let’s just say it’s no walk in the park and I’m working out more than ever – a whopping 6 times a week!  But her workouts are 28 minutes long, meaning I can easily squeeze them into my busy schedule.  Tell me if you’d like a separate review?

Chok Idea Watchband – 4:14 minutes in
Closely related to the fitness kick I seem to be going through, I’ve bought a new watch strap for my Apple watch.  I’ve needed one for a little while, as mine was going a bit off colour.  (Ewe, I know.)  I can’t afford an Apple branded watch strap at the moment, but this cheap but comfy strap will do for now.  I think the white and pink colour combination freshens it up a bit too!

New Purchases Show & Tell January 2018

Next month…

Right. With Christmas done and dusted, this means my money is free to be spent on what I want again.  (Instead of getting into debt by spending it on gifts for loved ones and way too many ‘Christmas drinks’ down the pub.)  This also means I can get back to buying things for our house, finally!

David and I have our eyes on some blinds for the living room, which I admit doesn’t sound too exciting.  But I may want to purchase my first plant for our home too, as plants seem to be all the rage right now.  Rock n’ roll people, rock n’ roll…

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I have not been asked, sponsored or paid to review any of these products. I just like to shop!

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Birchbox UK January 2018

Birchbox UK January 2018 unboxing

It’s a new year already and Christmas celebrations (with all the feasts and parties) passed long ago.  Diets have begun, gym memberships are back to being active and even my Birchbox UK January 2018 is on a New Year kick.  It’s time to focus on the year ahead.

Most people are done with getting all glammed up this month, unlike last month when we received a number of sparkling treasures from Birchbox. But that’s not to say we can’t make time to pamper ourselves.  Find out what I received below!

Birchbox UK January 2018 unboxing

Birchbox UK January 2018 kick starts the new year with the theme Stand Tall.  (Figuratively speaking of course, as I’m only 5ft 2.)  And as it’s the time of year to get organised, Birchbox UK have teamed up with British stationary brand Ohh Deer.  Namely because stationary = getting organised!

As for resolutions, instead of the usual babble like ‘get fitter’ and ‘quit this or that’, Birchbox urge us to ‘rip up the resolution rulebook’ and embrace something we really enjoy.  If that means making a habit of trialling new beauty products then count me in!

Samples

This is what we’re all here for; the samples.  Birchbox subscribers knew they’d be receiving a full size Lord & Berry Blusher Crayon since being given the choice of two colours.  So let’s get down to the details!

Birchbox UK January 2018 samples

  • Lord & Berry Blusher Crayon (FULL SIZE!)
    I’ve owned blusher sticks before, but blusher crayons?  Trying it straight out of the box it’s surprisingly creamy and quite blendable too.  There’s no going overboard with it either, I drew a few lines on my cheeks (something I never thought I’d say) and used my fingers to blend, which left me with a natural-looking flush that was quite easy to master.
  • Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner in Charcoal
    Here’s another product that’s soft and smooth to apply.  Grey is a welcoming twist on the classic black for me, being so pale le noir can look too harsh at times.  I don’t often wear pencil eyeliner on my upper lid out of frustration from making a mess.  However, this glided on and, more importantly, stayed on.
  • Thermaliv Night Cream
    I usually reach for oil (over a cream) for my night time regime.  But this could be a game changer.  The collagen production boosting and vitamin E ingredients are what drew me in and oh my word, it’s a pleasure to apply.  Waking up the day after my skin felt blissfully smooth and I couldn’t wait to apply it again the same evening.
  • Paul & Joe Beauty Primer in Dagree
    So, after some leaflet confusion I discovered what this product is and its intrigued me even more.  A hydrating beauty primer (I’m listening) with 3 types of hyaluronic acid (yes, my skin loves that stuff!) that absorb into the skin at different times during the day to keep my complexion hydrated and boosted at all times (okay – sold!).  On first impressions, it definitely does what it says on the tin (bottle) and packs a dewy glow to boot.
  • Afterspa Amazing Makeup Remover
    Amazingly – get it – this works!  Admittedly, I was dubious at first whether a cloth and just water could break down and remove ALL of my make up.  (Including foundation.)  Even my usual makeup remover still leaves me with panda eyes in the morning.  But I was proved utterly wrong when I woke up without looking an inch like Robert Smith.  (Joy!)  This will come in handy when I stumble in after a night-out and can’t be bother to cleanse, tone, zzzz….

Added Little Extras

When I hear the tune of a Birchbox collaboration, I always look forward to the added little extras and there’s been a few this month.  Of course we, as Birchbox subscribers, have come to expect a little discount with the brand collaborator – 20% off at Ohh Dear can tick that off nicely.

On top of that however, for a discounted fee we were also sent the flamingo adorned weekly planner as well as some stickers that are both fabulous.

Birchbox UK January 2018 added extras

The added LOC Shadow sticks were a thank you for recommending a friend who signed up.  Another bonus if you managed to recruit more Birchbox subscribers!

Box round up

Well I think it’s fair to say I’m quite chuffed with this box.  Having tried all of the items already I don’t think there’s one weak link in here.  Birchbox UK January 2017 – you have started the year on a happy note!

The fun hasn’t ended here either (spoiler alert for next month coming up).  Another full-size product will be waiting for us in February’s box in the form of a Keeome (remember them?) Silicone Buff makeup applicator.  Give me some of that South Korean beauty good stuff!

Not a Birchbox subscriber?  Sign up here and get 50% off your first box!

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I have not been paid by, sponsored by or asked by Birchbox to make this blog post or video in any way – I just do it for the love!

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What I got for Christmas 2017

What I got for Christmas 2017

It’s New Years Eve, everyone’s posting their 2017 highlights and I’m playing catch up with my What I got for Christmas 2017 write-up.  Okay, so maybe I’ve indulged a bit this holiday season.  When I have managed to peel myself off the sofa, I’ve been busy enjoying a few drinks with friends, or dining out, as opposed to just eating-everything-in-sight at home.  I just can’t stop eating.  Full-stop.

So despite me being behind everyone’s schedule (apparently), my 2017 highlights will be delayed until it’s no longer 2017 so I can embrace the ‘better late than never’ spirit and show you what I got for Christmas first!

What I got for Christmas 2017 flat lay

A few surprises…

Apparently, I’m a ‘difficult person’ to buy presents for.  Every year, my friends and family usually ask me what I want for Christmas, which means I’ve also grown used to a lack of surprises on Christmas Day.

It was eerily quiet this year though.  When we were entering mid-December I still wasn’t asked one question about what I want to see wrapped up in pretty paper this year.  So when I said ‘I really wasn’t expecting this’, I really meant I wasn’t expecting this!  (As I didn’t know what to expect.)

Example; as I unwrapped and caught a glimpse of a GoPro logo I let out a gasp and stared blankly at my boyfriend for at least 2 long seconds in disbelief.  (A happy disbelief though, of course.)  I gave a similar reaction when I unwrapped an iPad from my parents too – needless to say, I’ve done well on the technology front this year.

What I got for Christmas 2017

Gifts for Body & Mind

I can always count on my sister to get me a good read for Christmas.  This year she’s given me Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird,  a book I’ve ashamedly never read (I know!).  This will soon change in 2018, don’t worry.  I’m a lover of the sixties decade too, so In her own Fashion is guaranteed to keep me absorbed, along with the Woodstock soundtrack.  (Oh she also gave me a Rolling Stones patch and cute panda earrings on top of this!)

I’m definitely set for some good pampering sessions in the new year too, with David’s parents and grandparents spoiling me with a mixture of smellies.  An array of The Body Shop and Nature’s Ingredients will keep me exfoliated, moisturised and smelling pretty probably way into spring!

An incredibly thoughtful gift from David’s parents of new Dune ankle boots is already keeping my feet feeling happy and stylish, as well as…

What I got for Christmas 2017

Gifts for the home

With buying our first house this year, I was happy to see home inspired gifts, even from the person I share my ‘home’ with!  My feet will be kept warm and snug inside as well as out with the slippers David bought me.  Along with the gorgeous yellow furry throw (featured in all the above pictures and from David’s parents, but unfortunately I forgot to feature it in the video). You’ll find us hibernating on our sofa until warmer times whilst devouring the new Black Mirror series!

I’m keeping the festive cheer going too with my new reindeer adorned cereal bowl – because it would be a crime to hide it away until next year, right?!  Finally, David’s grandparents have kindly provided us with some funds to continue decorating our house too, which is a great help to us.  Ikea round 3?

Watch what I got for Christmas 2017:

Well that’s Christmas over and done with (why must it always pass by so quick?) and my last post of 2017 (ahh!).  Although I’ve not written one before, a ‘2017 highlights’ post will be up in the new year when I’m back to getting motivated (and finished eating all the leftovers in the fridge…).

Happy new year to any new and old readers of my blog, let’s see what 2018 brings!

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New Purchases Show & Tell – December 2017

New Purchases Show & Tell December 2017

As promised, I’ve brought you my New Purchases Show & Tell December 2017 earlier than usual.  The reason being is so that you can snoop at the the Christmas gifts I’ve got this year, for any of your last minute inspiration.

But don’t be thinking this is yet another Christmas gift guide; it’s not.  I’ve bought other things for myself too (as I did last year), although unlike last year I haven’t just ‘accidentally on purpose’ treated myself to a few things I want/need… Instead I’ve bought mine and David’s first Christmas decorations!

New Purchases Show & Tell December 2017

Bring on the Christmas gifts:

Call of Duty WW2 on Playstation 4 – 48 seconds in
Let’s start with the boyfriend – the one who I now live with and don’t trust to NOT go looking for these presents.  He probably already knows he’s getting this, well he did ask for it, but that’s not the point.  I’m a bit dubious that he may read this post or watch my video too, which if he does then that’ll definitely ruin the surprise for the next present…

Men’s Christmas Snowflake Onesie – 1:13 minutes in
As he knows what his main present will be (above), I had to get him a surprise gift of some sort – otherwise where’s the fun in seeing him opening his gifts?  So yep, that’s right, a Christmas onesie is definitely that kind of gift to surprise him with!  Hilariously, I’m not sure what his reaction will be to it, but I’ll update you after Christmas whether he wore it or not.

Swarovski Field Butterfly Pierced Earrings – 1:36 minutes in
Back to the more serious gifts.  Jewellery is always a winner, particularly stud earrings – the most wearable jewellery, if the giftee has their ears pierced of course.  That’s kind of essential.  Along with Swarovski being a brand that can make anyone go ‘Oooo’.

New purchases show & Tell December 2017

Jimmy Choo Eau de Parfum – 2:16 minutes in
Along with jewellery, you can’t go wrong with gifting someone perfume either.  Although with perfume being subjective it can be tricky when choosing which one to pick.  I know for a FACT my sister likes this perfume, since I’ve bought this for her a few years ago.  (So surely she must have used it and is in need for another one by now…)

Nina Ricci Miniature Set – 2:50 minutes in
If you’re not sure which perfume someone likes, this gift idea isn’t totally lost just yet.  If you can at least remember a brand they like then you’re onto the money!  For me I remember David’s mum mentioning a Nina Ricci perfume she liked, although I can’t remember which one exactly, but now she can have them all.  Plus this time if I ask which one she enjoyed the most I’ll note it down for a potential present next year.

Clarins Pampering Selection Set – 3:17 minutes in
There’s a part of me that doesn’t like how beauty-influenced my Christmas gifts are this year.  But you know what?  At least I know people will actually use these presents.  Like my Nan, who’s really not that fussy, but enjoys a nice bath.  Enter a Clarins bath set, her Christmas present; done and dusted!

New Purchases Show & Tell December 2017 Christmas

The Rolling Stones On Air – 3:33 minutes in
I can have a little more fun when shopping for my Dad’s Christmas presents.  As we have a similar taste in music and film, I know what he likes. With us being both Stones’ fans too I know he’ll appreciate this.  (Now I just hope he’ll lend me this to listen to, at one point…)

Game of Thrones House Stark T-Shirt – 4:04 minutes in
I find it both sweet and funny that my Dad likes to wear TV show t-shirts.  (He has a Hisenberg/Breaking Bad t-shirt that particularly makes me giggle.)  So I had to get him a Thrones t-shirt with one of his favourite quotes from the show.  (Sadly though, it’s not ‘you know nothing Jon Snow’…)

Christmas decorations – 4:17 minutes in
Excitingly, David and I bought are first ever Christmas decorations this year.  This weirdly feels like a big deal when you become a homeowner, as I spoke about in this post.  It’s like you’re investing into future Christmas’s, because think about it; Christmas decorations are pretty much kept until they break.  Could I be seeing these baubles again when I’m 40?  Quite possibly, and god that’s a crazy thought.

Next month/year…

I let out a little scream inside as I typed ‘next year’.  It feels like only yesterday when I filmed my New Purchases Show & Tell for January this year!  However, this just goes to show how time can pass so quickly and that I should focus on spending my money more wisely.

Next year will certainly include home-related purchases, but I also want to invest in better equipment for my blog and YouTube channel.  Watch this space.

I have not been asked, sponsored or paid to review any of these products. I just like to shop!

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