An Afternoon in Rye (England)

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A couple of years ago at about this time of the year, the bloke and I visited Rye in southern England. Rye is a town popular with tourists and has many gift shops, souvenir shops, pubs, hotels, and tea rooms. The town has a rich history. It is located on the coast and The Mermaid Inn and The Olde Bell Inn were both used by smugglers. Many of the buildings date to the middle ages, and The Mermaid Inn dates to the mid-1100s. I enjoyed wandering around this town and getting photographs. It is a picturesque town with some beautiful buildings, but I regret that we could not spend a little longer here. I would have loved to have had a drink in one of the old pubs.

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Much of the town is built on the hill. At the bottom of the hill is the dock area. 

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The Old Bell pub

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Bell at The Old Bell

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Beautiful carved detail on side of building

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Many of the names of houses or streets refer to the sea or trading/smugglers. Trader's Passage is one place, and Watch Bell lane and Mermaid Street are others. Many buildings have their build date inscribed. "The House with the Seat" was another name for one of the houses here.

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Trader's Passage and Oak Corner

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The Mermaid Inn

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The Mermaid Inn

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Thomas House

We found ourselves at St. Mary's Church, which is one of the oldest buildings in the town. We had a peek inside before a wedding was due to take place.

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We also had a visit to the castle, known as Ypres Tower.

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At the end of our visit, it was time for a cup of tea and cake. We stopped off at Apothecary coffee shop on the way back to the car. It's a charming little shop on the corner of the High Street, and it's the perfect place to watch people. They have a large selection of cakes. I also loved the interior, which is made with old books, old card catalog cabinets and other chemistry or biology-related trinkets.

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All cakes were presented in wonderful cake domes. It was a hard decision for me to decide which flavour of cake to have as they all looked delicious.

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At the end, I had a bite to eat for lunch and this was followed by chocolate cake and tea, which was tasty.

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Have you ever been to Rye? I recommend visiting it.

A Visit to Rye Castle (Ypres Tower)

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Rye Castle is also known as Ypres Tower, and it was built sometime in the 14th century. It was constructed at the same time as the old city wall and its purpose was to keep out the French who would raid the coast. It was also used as a prison, and this became a primary use of the building later on. A separate tower was also used for women prisoners. In the 1800s, it was used as a soup kitchen for the poor and as a mortuary. It was used as a mortuary until the end of the 1950s. Today, it is a museum and one of the oldest buildings in Rye.

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The women's tower has information about women prisoners and the conditions. Outside this tower and in the grounds of the castle is a medieval herb garden.

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One of the exhibitions is located in a cell where murderer John Breads was kept. He was a butcher who was cheating people because he was deliberately using false weights to measure meat. He had a grudge against the judge and attempted to murder him later on. He wanted revenge and ended up mistakenly murdering the wrong man, so he was imprisoned in the tower before he was hanged. His body was put into a gibbet and displayed. A replica of this gibbet and a skeleton is on display in the cell. (The original gibbet and the remaining skull are in the town hall.)

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From the tower, there are views over the countryside. The tower is on one edge of the city and on a hill, so there are views from the top.

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The Rye coat of arms is located in many places in the city.

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Have you visited Rye Castle / Ypres Tower?

This month, the So Susan Lip Love subscription comes in a bag that contains a quotation by Audrey Hepburn - "The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters." It is decorated with many miniature Russian dolls. Keep reading below to see what I received in the May 2016 edition of the So Susan Lip Love bag.

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The contents of the bag are pictured below.

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Light Pulse by Jelly Pong Pong: This is a lightening crayon that helps achieve the 'glow'. This can be used to highlight the cheekbones, nose, above the eyes, and anywhere else to blend to create a glow. I've tried this out, and it does give a subtle highlight or glow to where it has been applied.

So Susan Angled Eyeshadow Brush: I've received eyeshadow in previous bags, so I'm happy to receive a brush to apply it in this bag. I'm always on the look-out for more good brushes, and the angle on this one helps me to add the colour to my eye lids without too much effort or mistakes.

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Trifle Cosmetics 'Creamsicle' in 'Gelato': 'Creamsicle' is the name of the liquid brush product, and the colour is 'Gelato'. It's an orange-pink colour, and it is creamy but leaves a subtle colour. 

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So Susan Cashmere Blush: We received another blush product this month in the light pink powder shade, which is a nice colour that should compliement most people.

Reflect London @ Covent Garden

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A new art installation has been launched at Covent Garden this spring. The installation covers the façade of Covent Garden market with 32,000 square feet of mirrors. The mirrors are also functional in that they hide the building work currently taking place at the market, which will enable a new restaurant (SUSHISAMBA) opening up here. I am happy that they have opted for reflecting mirrors instead of covering the building in ugly scaffolding.

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The installation, known as 'Reflect London', is brought to us by design agency Sculptivate and will be in place for eight months. Previously, Covent Garden hosted other popular art installations. Last summer, 'Heartbeat', a large cluster of balloons, was installed inside the market by Charles Pétillon. The summer before, we saw a floating building by Alex Chinnock

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The installation is worth a visit and the perfect place to get photographs by using the mirrors to capture reflections and interesting profile pictures or selfies.

We've been going to the theatre quite a bit due to my partner's company giving out free tickets. The previous week, we went to see "Jersey Boys" (our second visit to that play having been several years ago now). This week, we received tickets to "Beautiful - The Carole King Musical". Before the show, we ended up going into the newest branch of the restaurant chain Bodean's, which is located on Catherine Street in Covent Garden.

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Bodean's has been a popular London restaurant for several years now. I've previously only been to the branch in Tower Hill (twice), but there's other locations throughout the city serving up American-inspired food such as pulled pork, burgers, cornbread, and barbequed food. Soho was the first branch, and it opened 15 years ago.

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The Covent Garden branch of Bodean's is inspired particularly by Kansas City barbeque, and the team made a visit to Kansas City in January to try some of the best barbeques before bringing them to its newest restaurant.

The bloke had a burger, and I had the barbeque chicken. Both mains came with chips, and I received cornbread in substitution for coleslaw. (I dislike mayonnaise and hence dislike coleslaw.) We received excellent service here, and it's rare to get such great service in London. So, we will return.

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After we ate, we walked around the block to Drury Lane where Aldwych Theatre is located in order to see "Beautiful - The Carole King Musical". I actually had not heard of the play before, but it has been showing in London since last February. The play is about the life of Carole King as a song-writer and later as a singer. It was very good, and I encourage you to see it. I am sure that you know some of the songs she wrote or performed herself. Many of them were sang by The Shirelles, The Monkees, Bobby Vee, Little Eva, The Drifters, and others. 

UK 2016 Birchbox Reviews: April

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April's UK Birchbox (Bloomin' Marvelous) was a collaboration with Rifle Paper Company, and subscribers could choose which box design that they wanted from a choice of two designs: the herb garden design or the floral garden design. I choose the herb garden design. For those who do not know, Birchbox is a monthly beauty and skincare subscription box, and each subscriber receives around five sample (or sometimes full-size) products in each box.

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This month, a product from cosmetics company Benefit was promised with each box. I received the following items in my box:

So Susan Lip Dome in 'blackcurrant' - Two shades were up for grabs this month, and I received the darker shade called 'blackcurrant'. The product is not clumpy and it leaves a tint of the colour on the lips.

Balance Me Tinted Wonder Eye Cream (x2): Okay, I've previously received this same product in one of the first Birchboxes that I had received, and I don't use this type of product. Also, I never noticed any difference when using it (or not using it). Others received the Cynthia Rowley eye liner pencil, and I loved this product and would not have minded a repeat of it.

Parlor Detangling leave-in conditioner: I've also previously used this product before and think I must have received a sample size in a previous box. [MORE]

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Benefit 'Dew the Hoola' bronzing powder: I received the bronzer, and it's not a product that I've tried before. [MORE]

Kueshi Foot Care Cream: As a reminder that summer will be with us soon, it appears that every subscriber received this foot cream in order to give their feet a little after-winter TLC. [MORE]

What did you think of April's Birchbox?

Last weekend, the annual Ruislip Woods and Ruislip Lido Railway open day festival took place. We had amazing weather, and Ruislip Lido beach attracted many people, which resulted in traffic and parking problems in the area. This was our first visit to Ruislip Lido since we moved into the area in October last year. Ruislip Lido has a sandy beach, woodland centre, cafes, pub, and Ruislip Lido Railway.

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Each year in early May is the Ruislip Woods festival. This brings many attractions and a festival to the banks of the lake at Ruislip Lido. Attractions include many stands for organisations and clubs in the area (including walks and charities), ferret racing, bird of prey shows, ducks and other animals, Morris dancers, an outdoor cinema showing historical videos of the local community, and the Ruislip Lido Railway open day.

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First, we checked out the lake Ruislip Lido. We could see the beach from the other side and noticed how busy it was.

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We had a wander around the green area where the festival was taking place and had a look in the pub The Water's Edge, which is a carvery. We ended up getting a bite to eat here before leaving, and it was packed because children can eat for free. 

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We made our way to the small train station Willow Lawn. We were in time to take a ride on the only steam engine that the railway owns, known as 'Mad Bess' after a local woodland area. The other trains that they own are diesel trains. We had a drink in the Turntable Tea Rooms while we waited for the train, but we were the first in the queue and it was not too busy.

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We got a few photographs of 'Mad Bess' steam engine as she turned around on the turntable to get into the position to take us back the other way.

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Finally, we were off. We were sat in the first carriage and enjoyed woodland views as we wound our way around the lake.

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Eventually, we arrived at Woody Bay station, the main station where the beach is located and where we could see the trains and train workshop for the Ruislip Lido Railway open day.

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We could sit in the trains, and the controls were explained.

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And we could blow the whistle and see the working steam engine.

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We also had a walk around the workshop.

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After we had seen enough trains, we walked back around the lake. The beach was so busy. It was too busy.

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At some point, we will visit Ruislip Lido again and hopefully be able to take advantage of the beach if it's not too busy. It was the warmest day by far last Sunday, and so many people were out at the lake to take advantage of it. Have you made a visit to Ruislip Lido?

I've been wanting to try 'The Lemon Tree' for a couple of years now. The small pub is near the Strand on the north side (near Charing Cross) and a stone's throw from Covent Garden. The pub (known as 'The Lemon Tree' has a Thai restaurant inside, and this restaurant is located upstairs in a tiny room above the pub. I had the excuse to go recently as the bloke had two free tickets to see "Jersey Boys" at Piccadilly Theatre.

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First up, the restaurant. We were lucky to get a seat in the small room upstairs. We actually both got out of work at a decent time, and it was not long before a family of tourists 'camped' out in the room. They were using is as a rest-stop but did not order any food, which we thought was a little rude in case there were others who wished to dine.

Drinks for the meal could be ordered from the pub, but the waiting staff take orders for the food. The pub downstairs pours a good pint, and my pint of soft fizzy drink was good; many pubs water it down too much. We ordered starters and main meals. I had the vegetarian spring rolls, and the bloke had fish cakes. For mains, we both had the same stir fry dish except I ordered chicken and the bloke ordered beef. The food was good, and I would visit again.

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After the meal, we did wander around Covent Garden and went to Whole Foods. Okay, I may have had a snack of a pizza slice at Whole Foods. The pizza slice, cooked in the little bakery there, was absolutely delicious.

Now, on to the play. We had both previously seen "Jersey Boys" when it was at Prince Edward Theatre near Tottenham Court Road, but this was several years ago now. We've since seen the film. On our second visit, we were equally impressed with the play even though we'd been before, and we got amazing seats in the stalls and were only about 7 rows back and in the middle.

"Jersey Boys" is a play based on the true story of the members of the 1960s band "Franki Valli and the Four Seasons", and they have quite a few songs that I enjoy. I've always enjoyed the music from the band, but it seems 'cool' today to admit that you like it than it did when I was growing up.

Have you seen "Jersey Boys"? What did you think?

So Susan is a cruelty-free beauty brand who have been on the beauty subscription box service for their product (LipLove) for a short while now. I signed up at the end of last month and received a second subscription bag from a previous month with my first order. I received January 2016's bag, so I will be reviewing both of those here. My first impressions on the products are good, although they are more expensive than many of the traditional beauty subscription boxes (such as Birchbox and Glossybox) on offer. 

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Above is the contents of the March 2016 box that I received. From what I can gather, all products are the same for each subscriber. I'm not how good that is for different complexions and colours, but perhaps the colours of the products are trialled to fit more of a global fit for all subscribers.

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Lip Parfait in 'Exotic Fruits' by Trifle Cosmetics was the first product, and i was drawn to the cute fruit illustrations on the tube. It's a pale shade and has a creamy texture, but I was not wowed away by the colour.

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The Muse Palette by So Susan is a trio of universal eye shadows (in tan and medium brown shades and a metallic brown shade). I was really excited about receiving this product, but the little plastic case that it comes in is cheaply-made and I struggled to open it and ended up sticking my finger in the product as I pried it open. 

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So Susan Powder Primer promises to minimise the appearance of pores, protect the skin with its sub-block formula, and moisturise the skin without clogging pores. 

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Jelly Pong's Malibu Melt is a blusher and lip colour in stick form, making it easy to blend on cheeks and apply to lips. The product has a gorgeous fruity smell, and it's a nice earthy orange shade.

Next up is the contents of the January 2016 subscription box, which I received as the extra box as a bonus.

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The first product to review is All Over Glow by Jelly Pong Pong. I've previously tried this product in another subscription box and still own the product, so this is just extra for me. It's best described as a shimmery highlighter to add a subtle glow to the skin.

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So Susan Liquid Powder Shadow Palette in 'Sumptuous Smoke' is an eyeshadow palette with eight earth tones. I was excited to receive this product will easy-to-wear shades.

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The So Susan Jello Shot Cheek & Lip Tint comes in an attractive and bright red-orange little tube that reminds me of the colour of Jello. I love the packaging for this. When applied, the colour is not as red-orange as it appears. It's a perfect multi-purpose product.

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Really appealing and cute with a pug dog on the packaging, the Lip Parfait in 'Guilty Pug' by Trifle Cosmetics was one of the first products to catch my eye. The lipstick is a dark brownish-orange colour, and I've never owned a lipstick this colour before. It is also a creamy consistency, and I've enjoyed using it.

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I will be receiving the next two months of the 'So Susan' beauty subscription, so stop by later this month for my review of May's. 

Earlier this week, Krispy Kreme and Nutella combined forces with a clever marketing campaign to alert fans who had signed up to its newsletter about its new range of doughnut filled with Nutella. The marketing campaign came in the form of a 'recalled' email message from Krispy Kreme's marketing director with a typical 'confidential and for internal use only' company clause. At first, I believed that it was a genuine mistake and someone did unintentionally email the wrong list and recalled the email. But, it was part of the marketing plan.

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On Monay, the Krispy Kreme shop outside of Holborn station in London became a vending machine. (Okay, so it's a human-operated vending machine as there is a human behind the window stocking them.) The hashtag #HoleInTheWall was used. 

The machine simply takes a contactless card and charges two pounds. In return of successful payment, the screen lifts to reveal a doughnut in a small box placed on a red cushion. This can then be taken away and consumed.

I was at Holborn station yesterday evening, so I went to check it out. The Nutella doughnut was delicious, and it was fresh.

The Krispy Kreme Nutella doughnut vending machine is a pop-up that is only available at the Holborn branch (whilst the remainder of the store is under re-development). It is open from 8:00am to 8:00pm, and it is open until 21st May. Doughnuts cost two pounds each and only a contactless card is accepted. The proceeds go to Teenage Cancer Trust.

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