Revlon Love

So I don't tend to do any 'beauty' related posts because to be honest, I get most of my recommendations from other blogs and I'm sure if I've read about it then you have too! 

However, at the moment I am just loving Revlon lip products and I had to share the love!!

I know that everyone and their dog knows about the Revlon Lip Butters by now, so I will just give them a quick mention. I bought one in Berry Smoothie a few months ago and have adored using it, it's so moisturising and pigmented enough that it adds a splash of colour to your lips but not so much that you need a mirror to apply it without looking like a clown.

On Tuesday (my first payday, wooop!) I popped to Boots at lunch and got another one, in Macaroon. After getting home I realised they're actually very similar shades, but Berry Smoothie is more pink-toned and Macaron more orange-toned so I think it's allowed!

As you can probably see from above, my Revlon Just Bitten Kissbale Balm Stain has been fairly well used. I am essentially quite a lazy person when it comes to things like make-up, and I can't be doing with re-applying something every half an hour, or every time I take a drink or eat some food.

Enter, the balm stain. It will literally stay on for hours. The balm itself will come off, and you might think you will need to re-apply but lo and behold, you go to the bathroom and your pout is still pretty perfect. I have it in the shade Crush which looks like a bit of a scary dark purple at first but settles to a lovely fuschia-plum colour. Another reason I like them is because of the pencil style applicator, which lets you apply it really precisely if you want to.

At the moment I love to layer it with Bare Minerals Marvellous Moxie Lipgloss which gives a gorgeous bright effect (see below).

L-R: Matte Balm, Lacquer Balm, Just Bitten Balm Stain, Lip Butter in Macaroon, Lip Butter in Berry Smoothe
Due to my love of the balm stains, when the Colourburst Matte and Lacquer balms were released I was itching to try them. So of course, on my trip to Boots I also bought one of each (it was 3 for 2, so it would have been rude not to get all three right?); the Matte Balm in Sultry and the Lacquer Balm in Flirtatious. 

Out of the three, I was the least convinced that I would like the Matte Balm as I generally like quite a glossy finish. I also wasn't sure I would love these two as much as the Balm Stain as they don't claim to be a stain, and that is one of the best things about it in my opinion. 

However, I was pleasantly surprised. It goes on so smoothly and I really like the matte finish. Best of all, it's staying power is brilliant! I couldn't believe it when I went to the bathroom at the pub on Friday after a couple of glasses of wine and the colour was as strong as ever.

I can't speak properly of the Lacquer Balm yet as I haven't fully tested it, but I have very high expectations thanks to its sister products. 

I would say the only thing I am not fond of with all of the balm sticks is the smell - I think it's quite an artificial minty smell and I just don't enjoy it. However, once it's on my lips I don't notice it so it doesn't really matter!

If I were you, I'd get yourself down to Boots pronto to try these out while the 3 for 2 offer is on!

Are there any brands you're loving at the moment?

Where I Live Now

If you read my recent post on finding a graduate job, you will know that I have moved! I have now been living in Chester (Cheshire) for one week and have completed my first week of my new job.

Things are going really well so far; my housemates are really nice and I'm enjoying my job, though it's a trainee position so I have a lot to learn!

Not my street - I just liked the doors

Chester is a really lovely, if small, city. It is steeped in history, with walls surrounding the city remaining from the Roman Era which you can actually walk all the way round, and the frontage of all the shops in town dates back to Tudor times. It's unfortunately been pretty miserable weather so far but today the sun has come out and I have had a lovely stroll around town.

And perhaps best of all, there is a huge number of restaurants and bars that I am very much looking forward to trialling.

Have any of you been to Chester? Any recommendations for me?

Interrailing Part 2: Bratislava and Budapest

Technically, this part of the trip started back in Prague, where we were about to board our night train to Bratislava. Most of the trains in Europe have little compartments, so we figured we'd be fine dosing in one of those so didn't bother to reserve a sleeper compartment. Boy, do I regret that decision.

This train turned out to be a huge big long carriage with no compartments, that reminded me much more of trains at home. It was busy, noisy and as we got on at midnight, littered with empty beer cans. Ew.

Sorry Sara!
One of the many glamorous aspects of interrailing: waiting around on station floors

We were to disembark at Bratislava at about 6am, and since we were waking up at least every 20 minutes we cleverly decided that we wouldn't need an alarm. Massive error. At one point, I woke up, the train was quite empty and stationary and I look outside to see a sign for Bratislava. S**t!!!

I woke Sara up, and we tried to get our bags down from the ceiling rack but in another genius move we had padlocked them together - this was actually sound advice from another traveller, as it's much harder to steal a bag if it is attached to another one! However, in my sleepy but panicked state, I was fumbling with the (probably cheap) lock and it broke. So, we had to drag our bags down and to the end of the carriage, where the conductor literally threw them off as she blew the whistle, we jumped down and the train left immediately.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the most exciting part of Bratislava. (The subsequent moment where we tried to ask a Slovakian cloakroom attendant for scissors to separate our bags was also high ranking.)

We ended up at our hostel ten minutes later, but of course, our room was technically booked for the following evening so we couldn't get into it, it was too early to do anything anyway and we really wanted some shut-eye. Luckily, the kind guy at reception led us outside where there were seats and big cushions, and brought us blankets so that we could have a sleep. Not so luckily, we woke up a couple of hours later with other guests eating breakfast just along from us. Not the best of introductions.

Oh it makes me laugh just thinking about it. (I was not laughing at the time.)

We luckily managed to get into our room after breakfast where we freshened up then headed into town to explore Bratislava. Which took all of about ten minutes. I am being slightly harsh there, but we did see the best bits of the town in just a few hours, an hour of which was taken up by a free walking tour. The guide for which was not up to Filip's standard, but I think it was her first ever tour and she was pretty good, and it's definitely a great way to be introduced to a city.

Cannonball in the town hall

"First Skyscraper in Bratislava" - we were not impressed

View from our 1 lunch
 Bratislava, for some reason, really loves statues. Which makes for some good photo opportunities.

Bratislava "Castle"
After wandering back down to the main square, we came across this little festival involving a somewhat bizarre performance of a local dance which involved people shouting at the same time. It's not something I have any urge to see again but for me, coming across random things like that is one of the best things about travelling.

As you can see, Bratislava is a very picturesque town, though I would say you don't need more than a day to explore it.

The next morning, after catching up on some lost sleep and attempting to avoid our creepy male roommates, we headed back to the train station to travel to Budapest.

Three of our friends were actually in Budapest as well, also on an interrailing trip but doing a slightly different route. We dropped our stuff at our hostel (The Marco Polo Hostel - great, cheap hostel with well designed dorms that give you plenty of privacy) and then headed down to meet them at the river. We wandered past the Parliament (apparently modelled on Westminister - can you see the similarities?) and up to Castle Hill.

I should explain at this point that Budapest was previously two cities: this side of the river is called Buda and the other is called Pest. Buda has more of the historical buildings while Pest is where all the cool ruin bars are. I loved this about Budapest and you could really tell the difference between the two sides.

There's loads to explore on Buda Hill, so much so that Sara and I returned at another point to see more.

Fisherman's Bastion on Buda Hill - hello Disney castle?

Most of us then headed over to Gellert Hill, where Jade picked some plums for us to snack on and we climbed all the way to the top to see the Liberty Statue and get a lovely view of the city and the river.

That night, on recommendation from the other girls who had been taken there by another traveller, we went for drinks at one of Budapest's many ruin bars, Szimpla Kert. 

You enter through this dark dodgy looking doorway, which opens up into a vast space with various different rooms, including an outdoor area. The seats are made out of things like old cars, and the tables are accessorized with used tires. It felt like a little hidden secret, but since then I have seen Szimpla Kert on just about every travel list concerning Budapest. And the wine was as cheap as the beer: bonus!

Another highlight of our night in Szimpla was bumping into Luke Pasqualino, who played Freddie in Skins and is D'Artagnan in BBC's Muskateers at the moment - swoon. I had my back to him at first, so didn't notice until Sophie said "That guy over there looks like Freddie from Skins," and I immediately realised that's because it was. Que a lot of girly giggling and unsubtle behaviour...

We plucked up the courage to talk to him while some of the girls were at the loo, and asked if we could get a photo with him when they got back, but we were distracted by some chatty Irishmen and he was led off by a ladyfriend so alas, this sneaky shot is from when we first spotted him sitting behind us!

After a bit of a lie in the next morning, we went on another free walking tour in the afternoon (can you tell I'm a fan?) which started at St Stephen's Cathedral in Pest, and ended up back on Buda Hill.

Love Lock 'tree'
Over on Buda Hill, our guide informed us that it was a student tradition to climb this statue and what I'm doing in this picture in order to bring you luck in exams. I'm not one to say no to a bit of luck so...

The next day we headed to one of Budapest's thermal baths, the Szechenyi baths, and spent a good few hours dipping in and out of the naturally heated pools and jacuzzis and even attempted the tradition of sitting in a hot sauna before plunging into a freezing pool - the locals were not impressed with our subsequent squeals. The water is supposed to be very good for various health conditions - I'm not convinced that one visit will make a difference, but I'd certainly advise going if you're in Budapest!

Photo from the bath's website
Before walking back to the hostel, we made sure to try Langos, a deep fried flatbread available with various different toppings. As a Scot, I'm well versed with deep fried things, so I thought it was delicious although I did have taste of garlic in my mouth for the rest of the day!

We meandered down the lovely streets of Buda back to the hostel where our friend Laura, who was joining us for the rest of the trip, was waiting! We hastily walked her down to the riverside where she could at least see some of the sights before we left the next day.

And of course, I couldn't leave Hungary without trying goulash!

Navigating the Graduate Job Hunt

As some of you will know, I have been mostly unemployed since I graduated from university last June, apart from a couple of months where I worked in a local cafe for some pennies.

And I finally got a job!!

The superstitious part of me feels like I shouldn't even be saying anything about it yet, as I don't start for another week, but the logical part of me says it's pretty unlikely that they will change their mind all of a sudden.

But that said, the last few months have been really, really difficult for me and if there are any of you in the same situation I just wanted to take a moment to say it will be ok!

Having come out the other side, I have a few thoughts on how to deal with being in the position of having not yet secured a graduate job, so here goes:

1) Don't panic

It is really easy to quite quickly get yourself in a state when you see where your classmates or friends are at and worry that you're falling behind. But remember, in the grand scheme of things a few months will not make a difference and it's much better taking time to figure out what is best for you then panicking and making a choice that might lead you away from the direction you want.

Around December, I was having more moments where I felt really down and quite lost, and ended up applying for a job that I knew really I didn't want to do, but thought I had a better chance of getting. Luckily, the job I have now been offered was advertised around the same time, which I knew instantly I felt much happier about.

2) Go with your heart

Choosing a career, and a place to live, is a huge decision. Of course, think about it carefully but when it comes down to it, I think you know what's right for you, and you certainly know what isn't. I had lots of (well-meaning) people saying things like "Why don't you go abroad to get a job?" which, while I love travelling, didn't feel right to me for various reasons. 

At the same time, don't feel bad for taking a job to tide you over in the meantime, if you are able to find one.

3)...but be flexible

It's great to have a dream job in mind, but particularly once you've finally finished university you have time to think about other options and it's important to bear in mind that things might not go the way you'd planned.

I got the grades I wanted at school, went to the university I wanted and got the degree classification I this is really the first time in my life that things haven't gone quite to plan. Which is no doubt partly why this has been so difficult for me, but I do think things have probably worked out for the best. My new job is in a similar vein to the other career I had been interested in, and actually I think may be better suited for me...but we'll see!

So apply for anything you're interested in. You can always decline an interview, or even a job offer, if it gets to that stage and it's not right for you, but going through the process is invaluable both in terms of gaining experience in applying and interviewing, and in learning about options you hadn't previously considered that might actually be ideal.

4) Allow yourself  "time off" & get out of the house

I know all too well what it's like, trawling all the job-websites under the sun, spending loads of time editing your CV and writing application forms - and even feeling guilty when you're not doing this. You will go crazy if you do this all day, every day, so try to allocate a certain portion of time for this each day and don't allow yourself to feel bad if you spend other time watching TV or films or whatever else. In the end you'll be in a better position for putting your all into your search and in a few months you WILL be employed so won't have the chance to chill out like this! And you've worked hard for 3+ years at university, I think you're allowed a bit of down time.

And I'm sure you are probably very low on funds, but try to get out of the house as often as you can. This could just be for a good walk which will clear your head like you wouldn't believe, or a coffee with a friend which won't break the bank! Trust me, getting out of the house will keep you sane and take your mind off of things for a bit. Again, don't feel guilty about doing things other than job hunting - you simply can't and shouldn't do it all the time.

5) Keep your head up

Try not to feel too down for too long. If you're anything like me, you're probably going to have a wee cry at some point, but don't let it overwhelm you. Remind yourself how well you've done to get where you are, and know that something will come your way eventually if you keep at it.

I kept a happy book to help me reflect on things and appreciate the little things in each day. For example, I have been back home with my parents for this period, and could not be more grateful of how supportive and understanding they have been.

I hope some of that rambling mess helps any of you who are in a similar situation to the one I was in. I know I took comfort in the fact that I was not alone, and neither are you!

So...I am moving to Chester (England) on Saturday. My job isn't actually in Chester, it's a short commute away but I think it'll be a nice place to live - though I'm more nervous for this move than I was for going to uni!

If anyone is local or knows the area, I'd welcome any suggestions or recommendations you have :)

And if anyone has any questions or just wants to talk about my experiences after graduation, go ahead and pop it in the comments.

Interrailing Part 1: Vienna to Prague

After asking if anyone would be interested in hearing about my interrail adventures, I had a few positive responses so I thought I would go ahead with a little series about them. Bear in mind that this was back in 2011 (which I actually can't believe!) so some information may now be out of date.

I'm sure you all know, but just in case anyone doesn't, InterRail refers to a scheme by which you can get a rail pass for travelling in many countries in Europe. I believe it's called EuRail if you are living outwith the EU. You choose which ticket suits you best: we had a 22 day unlimited travel ticket but there are options to do, for example, 10 travel days out of 22. You can also choose a travel ticket for just one country, if you want to see somewhere extensively. Basically it's a very cost effective way to travel, and means you don't have to book tickets - though be careful, sometimes you do need to reserve seats.

The first part of our route was actually a little nonsensical. Vienna and Bratislava are the two closest capital cities in the world, so it would make sense to visit one after the other, right? Right, but being the clever people that we are, we booked flights to Vienna before realising we could fit Prague into our itinerary so instead we travelled from Vienna up to Prague and down to Bratislava. I would advise against this unnecessary extra travel time and start at Prague instead!

Anyway, we started in Vienna which I think was quite a nice place to ease ourselves into travelling again. Vienna is clean, safe and easy to navigate although quite expensive. We also stayed in the nicest hostel of our trip...which could have been a mistake, but I think it was nice to start out in a particularly comfy place.

Sara's photo of the dorm

Eating dinner in the communal area beside the kitchen

We stayed at the Wombat's Hostel at the Naschmarkt and it was really modern, had loads of facilites and the bedrooms were spacious with lockers big enough to fit our bags - perfect. Here we stayed in a girls dorm, I'm not sure why as we stayed in mixed dorms in other cities, but this is certainly something that is offered in a lot of hostels if you are nervous about that kind of thing.

The location was also ideal, right beside the lovely Naschmarkt market and only a few minutes walk from the Museum Quarter. I love a good foreign market, I think they can instantly make you feel more immersed in local life.

We arrived late afternoon, so explored the nearby area and had dinner in the market, and the following day explored more of the city sights. Vienna is a beautiful city with wonderful architecture, so just strolling around it is a pleasure.

Museum Quartier - lots of museums and outside sitting areas

Sand sculpture in Museum Quartier


Austrian Parliament Building


Sneaking a look at the horses from the Spanish Riding School

St Stephen's Cathedral - these patterns are caused by lights, not the stained glass windows as I originally thought, but still beautiful

Prater - the Vienna funfair that's like a mini themepark

Some sort of sparkling wine concoctions - yes even Sara's red

Anca, our roommate and first travel buddy. I wish I'd got her contact details as she was a lovely girl

We also took a trip to Schonbrunn Palace, which is a bit further out from the city centre. It was apparently modelled on Versailles, and at the time I had not been to Versailles so found Schonbrunn very impressive but having since visited its predecessor I can see that Versailles is in a whole different league! That said, the grounds are beautiful and we had a nice, if a bit too hot a day meandering around them.

Having fun at the centre of the maze in the gardens
I did enjoy Vienna, but I would say it was almost so nice that it lacked some of the character some of the other places on our trip had.

After three days, it was finally time for our first train of the trip which took us to Prague, where on arrival we fittingly got to see Thomas the Tank Engine.

We had just one night in Prague, but got a night train the next day so had nearly two days to explore. Note: I am wearing a vest top in these photos but that was overly optimistic of me, it was not the warmest place we visited by a long shot.

On the first afternoon, we had a walk round the city. Prague is quite a good city just to wander in, partly because it is so busy, you don't even really need to look at a map you can just follow the crowds of tourists, particularly if you're heading to Charles Bridge.

We happened to visit while a little market festival was going on in the main square

Rubbing the statues on the bridge

We then headed across the river to Petrin Hill, where you can walk up this mini version of the Eiffel Tower and get a good view of the city.

At dinner I ordered a "pizza pepperoni with chilli" - but this wasn't quite as I expected

The next day we went on one of Sandeman's New Europe free walking tours. I cannot recommend these enough, I did this one in Prague and another in Berlin and both were brilliant. The tour guides are knowledgeable, funny and engaging and work purely for tips so they give it their all. In Prague, Filip was our guide and he was brilliant and shared several personal stories which made the history of Prague all the more interesting.

On the tour, we revisted a lot of the places we had already seen but this time we actually learnt something about them as well, so it was well worthwhile.

We then headed up to Prague Castle, which again has nice views over the city - I love the red roofs! And then back down the hill where there were lots of interesting shops to explore, including one only selling absinthe, and we were given a free sample of Ben and Jerry's - win! 

One of my favourite finds in Prague was the John Lennon Wall. Initially started as a means for young Czechs to voice their grievances for the government, now the city allow the wall to be used for graffiti and its appearance continually changes. If you go now, it won't be the same wall that I saw, and I love that. Annoyingly, Sara and I didn't have a marker we did our best to make our mark with biro.

"You're only given a little spark of madness, you mustn't lose it"

We headed back across Charles Bridge one last time as we headed up to the station to catch the night train...

I loved Prague; it is a really interesting city filled with beautiful sights and built on a fascinating history. My only regret was not investigating the nightlife more - at the time we were told it was a bit dodgy, but in retrospect I'm sure we would have really enjoyed it!

Next stop - Bratislava!

Have any of you ever been to Vienna or Prague or plan on going?