UK 2014 Glossybox Review: November

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Glossybox is a beauty subscription box, and each month, a box with a few beauty and skin-care sample items arrives in the post. Sometimes full size items are included, and this month's box had two full-size products. These were a Burt's Bees Lip Shine (gloss) and a Lollipops brand eye pencil. Every subscriber got each of these items in their box, along with extra samples.

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My box arrived early last week, and I received the following items:

Lollipops Make Up Eye Pencil (in black): This black eye pencil is easy to blend, and I really enjoyed using this product. The product is inside a plastic casing, so no pencil sharpener is required. The product blended well and it has become by favourite eye pencil. I would purchase it again.

Burt's Bees Lip Shine (in Smooch): This berry shade is perfect, and when I saw the spoiler a few weeks ago that each subscriber would get one of these lip shines in a different colour, I hoped for this berry shade. This is another great product, and it kept my lips hydrated. It was also not too sticky. I would purchase this product.

H2O+ Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment: This gel is to be massaged onto the face as a mask, and it is meant to reduce fine lines. Luckily, I do not have fine lines yet, so I cannot see if it does what it claims. However, the product does not feel greasy and is absorbed into the skin. I also tried putting it into the fridge to cool it, as directed, and this cooling felt nice on my skin.

MONU Skincare refining capri facial oil: This product claims to decongest pores to prevent acne. I've been using it for a few days now, and it does leave my skin feeling hydrated and perhaps cleaner.

OGX Argan Oil Shampoo: Subscribers either received this in shampoo or conditioner, and I received the shampoo. Argan oil seems to be used in many beauty products these days; I saw the Argan nuts and trees on a visit to Morocco a few years ago and the oil is used to make spreads and dipping sauces as well as used to aid the body's skin and hair. This product smelled nice, but I was not overwhelmed. Also, it left my hair looking shiny but greasy (in my opinion). 

For previous reviews of Glossybox, read my 2014 October Glossybox review and my UK Glossybox reviews for June, July and August 2014.

Basingstoke Christmas Lights Switch On

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I was able to watch the Basingstoke Christmas Lights Switch On this year. The date of the switch-on was on Friday, the 21st of November. The Basingstoke Rock Band, Common Ground, and Concept provided some of the entertainment before the switch-on and fireworks display this year. The last time I saw this was in 2012.

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Common Ground are a boy-and-girl band that won an award this summer. They sang a couple of their songs and a Christmas song, and I really liked them.

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Common Ground

Concept is a boy band from Basingstoke, and they were on X-Factor this year, but they did not get past the judge's houses. Shame! They were really good and better than some of the acts that made it through to the live shows. They are quite popular now.

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Concept

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Concept

Keith Chegwin was the celebrity to turn on the Christmas lights. Every large city that has a switch-on event has a celebrity come to turn on the Christmas lights officially. Santa was also there, along with the two elves, who hosted the entertainment for the evening. Santa, the elves, and the band Concept joined Keith Chegwin in order to push the large button that turns on the Christmas lights.

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I loved the expressions of them as they pushed the large button. This turned on a glowing Christmas tree in Festival Square and set off the fireworks on top of Festival Place shopping mall.

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The fireworks were beautiful, and I got plenty of photographs of them.

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Thanksgiving Day is in a few days, and the Christmas lights have started becoming switched on since the start of the month, so it's safe to start posting Christmas / holiday posts now.

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This year's Christmas Lights Switch-On was better than the previous year that I went to see it. The fireworks were beautiful, and we had some good entertainment and bands. Enjoy.

A couple of months ago, I came across the company Philosophy by noticing some nice package designs for their combination (shampoo, shower gel, bubble bath) products. The design of the product is minimal and consists of simple black typography and the colour of the actual product through the clear plastic bottle.

The name (scent) of the product is followed by a receipe. For example, coconut frosting, pumpkin icing, and cinnamon buns are three of the scents for their bath products, and each contains a recipe for an edible version of the product. (I can also vouch for the products as they smell delicious and lather up well.)

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Drinks also feature in the range of scents for the bath products, such as melon daiquiri and margarita. Both of these also contain recipes for creating the drink. In addition, the brand sells  non-food scents, and the text underneath is an inspirational message instead of a recipe.

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Some of the products can be purchased as a gift set with the bath product and lip gloss. 

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This minimalist branding with the typography works well. The company was even brave enough to leave its brand name off of the product.

Reka One's "Keep Calm and Carry On" Mural

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Street artist Reka One completed a new mural on Chance Street. The mural was finished in the middle of September and is located on the side of a building, replacing a previous mural by the artist, which I covered here. The mural is titled "Keep Calm and Carry On".

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Street Art: David Selor

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David Selor is a street artist from France. This summer, he visited London and left behind several paintings on walls featuring his dog-like character and witty or thought-provoking slogans. I have photographed and added to this post all of his work that I have managed to come across in the past few weeks. Some of these no longer exist now as London's walls are always evolving.

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Visit David Selor's blog here: http://david-selor.blogspot.co.uk

Visit his Flickr here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidselor/

Street Art: Roes (SmileMaker)

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This summer, Hong Kong street artist Roes (SmileMaker) visited London and left behind several colourful walls. The artworks encourage the viewer to smile. I located several and photographed them for you to view here. Many of these have since been painted over. Roes visited during the "Meeting of the Styles" event at the end of June.

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What is your favourite mural by Roes (SmileMaker) in London? I like the business man on the wooden rocking horse because it makes me laugh. The large party boy with the pig mask is also funny. I actually saw the artist painting the business man on the rocking horse.

UK 2014 Birchbox Reviews: November

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My November subscription box Birchbox arrived at the end of last week, and the month's theme is "Cozy at Home". Birchbox is a monthly subscription box that brings sample size (and occassionally full size) beauty products to subscribers. As the colder, darker, and rainy weather hits the UK, the theme of the box is perfect for this month. 

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The box contained a wintery "I'm staying in and binge-watching" card that subscribers were encouraged to fill out and post on social media. As the holidays are quickly approaching, I put "It's a Wonderful Life." This is one of my favourite films.

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The November box contains a couple of full-size items along with the samples, so there are six items in total. The full size items are OPI nail polish and a Dr. Jart+ skin care product. I have used OPI nail polish before and own a couple of bottles of it, but Dr. Jart+ was new to me.

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OPI nail polish in 'Turn on the Haute Light': The different shades of nail polish available in the Birchboxes this month were from the brand's Coca-Cola range. I am extremely happy with the silver colour that I received. The other two options were red and purple. OPI nail polishes are always good quality, and this only took one coat, and it has a shimmer to it. The product also dried quickly. Overall, I like this product, and it is a win for me.

Beauty Protector 'Protect & Detangle' for hair: This product promises to detangle and de-frizz hair as well as to add shine. This does seem to do the trick and made my hair feel soft.

Lord & Berry mini bronzer in sienna: I have only used bronzer once or twice, so it's not a product that I would use normally. However, I cannot fault the product as it is a nice colour and easier to apply than my current bronzer.

English Laundry 'Signature for Her' perfume: This perfume is described as having floral and musk notes, and I think it has a coconut smell. I love perfume, so I was happy to receive this. The scent is also similar as one brand of perfume that I used to use that has since been discontinued. The perfume that was discontinued is in the range Harajuku, which I covered here: Design Review: Harajuku Perfume). 

Dr. Jart+ V7 Turnover Booster: This serum is described as boosting skin's radiance. The gel is quickly absorbed into skin. I have only used it every day for a few days now, so I cannot vouch for the effectiveness of the product. I am always a little skeptical of anti-aging skincare products.

Drinkwel: This product can be used to help recover after having a night of drinking. I am not sure when I will use these.

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Overall, I am happy with this box. I have been a subscriber of Birchbox since June, and some of my past reviews are here: UK 2014 Birchbox Reviews: OctoberUK 2014 Birchbox Reviews: September, and UK 'Love Me Beauty' box reviews: July, August, September.

Carrickfergus Castle

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Carrickfergus Castle in located in Northern Ireland on the western coast. It was out final sight to see for the day after we had spent the majority of our time wandering around Ulster Folk Park and Transport Museum. The castle is located on the edge of water (Belfast Lough) and a small harbour nearby. The castle was built in three stages; the first stage was built in the 1170s. It is one of the best-preserved Norman castles and was also used in World War II.

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In 1210, King John of England conquered the castle and claimed it. Over the years, it was influenced by the English and built upon further to contain a chapel and other battlements. The Scots also conquered the castle. It was even invaded by the French in the mid-1700s, and they looted the castle and town before they were later caught by the Royal Navy.

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The castle was used as a prison in the Napoleonic Wars, and it was later used as an armoury and then an air raid shelter in World War II. After the castle was regarded as a national historic monument, any additions created in modern times were removed and the Great Hall and other areas were transformed into what the castle would like like in medieval times. Recent excavations this spring have turned up several historical finds related to the castle, including a tunnel that went to the Great Hall and other pieces of the old walls. Pieces of pottery and buttons were recovered. 

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Interior of castle

The interior of the keep has been redecorated to show what it would have looked like in medieval times. This is where King John would have stayed. It is the largest room at the top of the keep with a large window for natural light and a large fireplace. There's a large chess board on the floor and other games that can be played here, and there's also mock weapons and armour.

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Room at the top of the keep

There is also a cellar and a well in the keep. The well can actually be used from the ground floor, but you can also glimpse it in the cellar below.

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Cellar and well

We also got to see the latrine that the king would have used and the Great Hall. There was even a mannequin of King John on the toilet. Outside in the ward, we saw cannons and some of the cannons had the English rose emblem. Apparently these cannons with the emblem on them are rare.

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Latrine, Great Hall, and English rose emblem on cannon

There were battlements all around, including this small room/tower that faced out over the water that allowed archers to have a look at three sides and shoot arrows at enemies approaching.

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Archer in tower over sea

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Battlements

One of the areas of the castle holds an oubilette (jail). The jail does not have a door, but there's a window and it is located over the water. Prisoners were thrown in from the trapdoor above, and this is also where their food was thrown in. There was one prisioner who is said to have escaped through the window.

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Oubilette

Some of the battlements can be walked on by visitors today, and there are some decent views over the harbour.

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Views of the harbour in Carrickfergus

This autumn, nearly fifty painted bus charity sculptures have appeared in London's streets to celebrate 2014 as the Year of the Bus. The bus sculptures started to appear at the end of October and will remain in their locations until early December. The buses have been brought to London by the London Transport Musuem (and Wild in Art, the company responsible for many of the charity art sculpture trails) to raise money for charities.

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Stephen McKay - London Telephone Bus

I spent a couple of lunch breaks and had trips up to London at the weekend in order to track down this bus art sculptures across London! I am showing my favourites here.

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Sian Storey - Swinging London

The Year of the Bus celebrates London's iconic red buses. This year marks the anniversaries of different types of buses, and a hundred years have passed since the first motor bus, which carried soldiers in 1914. This year also marked the introduction of the new Routemaster buses, which I saw unveiled at the London Transport Museum three years ago, to London's streets. 

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Mandii Pope - Buckingham Palace Bus

Four main trails for the bus sculptures included the Olympic Park, City of London, River (around London Bridge), and Westminster/Soho.

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Beth Quinton - Moquette

The Great War was a theme common for some of the buses. Another bus was decoated like Buckingham Palace, and another was painted to look like a row of telephone boxes.

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Crispin Finn - Ding! Ding!

I honestly cannot pick a favourite bus art design! There were so many that Ioved, and the bus is a great canvas. More photographs are below.

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Sarah Jane Grace - Poppy Fields

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Cath Kidston

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Damien Jeffery - Rock 'n' Royal

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Kristel Pillkhan - Spectrum

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Jane Callan - Brollybus

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Mini Moderns - Push Once

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Srokowski Design - Invisible to the Environment

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A large selection of buses

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Michelle Heron - Tower Bridge Bus

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Detail from 'Travels with Edward' by Valerie Osment

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Jenny Leonard - Lord Mayor of the City of Westminster bus

These are not all of the buses on display at the moment. Another trail of buses will appear on London's streets before Christmas, and word has it that it will be based in Croydon. I believe that the bus art sculptures will be auctioned off in January.

In the middle of October, the bloke and I made our way to Millbank Tower along the river Thames in London for a date night. Millbank Tower is just down the river from the Tate gallery and is not far from Westminster; the tower is 118 meters tall. I had made a reservation in advance, and this included enjoying the views over London whilst sipping on a cocktail at Altitude London's Sky Bar, Skyloft (the bar/restaurant at the top of Millbank Tower) and a film in their ground floor cinema.

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Skyloft

We went straight to the venue after work and were told to get the lift up, which we did. We arrived at Skyloft with an impressive view of west London all around us. We were the first to arrive, so we got the drinks order in quickly. I already knew, from the menu that I read online, that the Millbank Melon was the cocktail for me. I love melon cocktails. This one contained coconut and melon rum, pineapple juice and orange juice. 

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Cocktails at Millbank 

However, I was worried that it would taste a little too much like rum, so I had a bellini. My partner had the Long Island (vodka, gin, tequila, rum, and Cola).

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Cocktail

The cocktail was nice and fruity. I sipped it in between taking a load of photographs of London, and we got to watch a beautiful pink-purple sunset appear as dusk fell over the city.

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Views of Westminster

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Looking toward the City

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Looking toward Battersea

I went around to the different windows and got photographs over Westminster, the City, and Battersea. I could make out all of the landmarks, and the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus could also be seen as the light faded.

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Skyloft bar

The bar area expands a good portion of the open plan room. One side is for the bar, and the other side is set up for a restaurant. I was able to get many photographs because the restaurant was empty, and the bar was empty as well. However, the bar did get busier as the time progressed due to others arriving to see the same film.

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I liked the brickwork and the decor of the bar area with couches and chairs set up near the windows, each with trendy pillows on them. I've wanted a Union Jack pillow for some time.

After polishing off the first cocktails, I ordered a second one. I actually got two because I was not sure which one to try. In the end, I decided to try the Millbank Melon, and it was lovely. I got the Raspmopolitan, which is a Cosmopolitan with raspberry vodka. I love raspberry vodka with cranberry juice. It also had Cointreau in it, and it was a little too strong. The bellini and melon were my favourites. 

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As we had just come from work, we decided to get dinner here. I did not have any lunch due to being swamped at work, so we both ordered burgers (sliders) from the restaurant menu. We still had to sit in the bar area, as the restaurant was fully booked. The restaurant actually has the nicest views as the windows face west London. I had the chicken slider, and this came with chips. This was just enough for me.

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Chicken slider and cocktails

I got several photographs of London as the lights were starting to come on.

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After we had finished eating and admiring the views, we got the lifts back down to the ground floor where the film was being shown. The deal came with free popcorn each, so I collected our popcorn and ordered a couple additional drinks before we were ushered into the cinema. 

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Popcorn

The film for the evening was "What If", starring Daniel Radcliffe, and it was released last year. The film is set in Toronto and follows the complicated relationship between Radcliffe's character and the lead female character (Zoe Kazan) from the beginning of their friendship. 

Overall, it was a fun night out, and we walked all the way from Millbank Tower to Waterloo, dodging tourists at Westminster and Big Ben. Walking around London in the evening when there's not quite so many people is much more bearable, and there's something charming about London at dusk and in the evening. 

Have you been to the Millbank Tower for cocktails or a film or food? What did you think?

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