Swindon Designer Outlet Part 1

She and Hem: Swindon Designer Outlet

Having grown up in a town that lies between Bristol and Bath, I can assure you that neither city was quite the shopping destination that they can now both claim to be. For myself and my friends it was either Topshop, Pilot and Claire’s in Bath or, errr,  Topshop, Pilot and Claire’s in Bristol. Cheers, then. It was for that reason that we used to very often board the train to Swindon to visit their Designer Outlet where we would spend many a happy afternoon picking out our new knickers Kickers for school (showing my age terribly here) or buying the biggest, warmest GAP hoodie we could find.

It was a nice nostalgia filled surprise then, when an email landed in our inbox inviting us to come check out what’s new at the McArthurGlen owned centre. I probably hadn’t been back to the outlet since maybe 2004 and was instantly very curious to revisit this shopping haunt of my past. As it turns out, we’ve both been doing a lot of growing up!

She and Hem: Swindon Designer OutletShe and Hem: Swindon Designer OutletShe and Hem: Swindon Designer Outlet

The first thing I did on arrival was to appologise to Victoria for having never told her about the place. As she got massively overexcited at seeing a Cadbury factory shop and I lost my composure at the sight of a Ted Baker outlet, we both realised that despite having a lot of great shops on our doorstep, there’s always time for a good discount. We spent an embarrassing amount of time looking around all of the many (over 90!) stores on offer, only pausing for breath for a cheeky Wagamamas (soy happy). We left with so many bags we could barely carry them all!

She and Hem: Swindon Designer OutletShe and Hem: Swindon Designer Outlet

She and Hem: Swindon Designer Outlet
Hat from Fox and Feather, jumper from Matalan* (menswear), top from M&S and jeans from Topshop

We weren’t being completely self-indulgent though as we had in-fact been set the challenge of buying Christmas presents for three of our nearest and dearest for under £250…..as well something for ourselves for under £100. OK, that’s pretty darn indulgent but let’s go with it. So, without further ado, here are my results! Mum, if you’re reading this, STOP READING THIS.

She and Hem: Swindon Designer Outlet

I began with my other half who, as you might have already guessed, is a big kid. I knew the moment Victoria took me into the Hornby shop (more on that from her in part 2) that I wasn’t going to leave without some sort of train set for the railroad-tycoon-sorta-chap I married. It’s also, really, a present for my nephew (an actual child) as I know the two of them will be playing with it for years to come. I plumped for a Christmas themed set as a) it will look so cute around the bottom of our Christmas tree and b) I will only have to deal with tripping over train tracks once a year. SMART. On the hunt for another gift, I spotted the Cold Brew Bottle in Whittard and knew it would make the perfect addition to all of his tea and coffee related paraphernalia. I rounded things off with some chocolate from Lindt……..I am hopeful that I might get a few sneaky squares!

She and Hem: Swindon Designer OutletShe and Hem: Swindon Designer Outlet

Next up for a bit of Christmas spoiling was my lovely Mum (WHO SHOULD NO LONGER BE READING THIS BY THE WAY). I knew before I arrived that I would be heading to Radley for her main gift as she is obsessed with that little dog and it’s not the sort of thing I would usually be able to afford for her! I spent quite a lot of time umming and ahhing over the range of bags and was so pleasantly surprised at the very heavy discounting on offer! I ended up paying under £50, which is a pretty good deal for a Radley! I had already picked her up some Lindt and decided a Christmasy Yankee Candle would finish things off nicely. Luckily for Mum (WHO HAD BETTER NOT BE READING THIS) I then spotted her beloved Origins GinZing eyecream in The Cosmetics Company Store for at least a fiver cheaper than it would be on the high street and threw that in for her too. What a nice daughter I am.

She and Hem: Swindon Designer Outlet She and Hem: Swindon Designer Outlet

Finally it was the turn of my teenage cousin who also ended up with some goodies from The Cosmetics Company Store! The trio of Bobbi Brown goodies above set me back a cool £30 which is pretty insane value and I’ll admit I am very tempted to keep that lipstick for myself! I picked up the bow bag from M&S because I considered it to be well trendy and added a salted caramel Yankee Candle because everyone knows that it’s the absolute best.

She and Hem: Swindon Designer Outlet She and Hem: Swindon Designer Outlet

It was then on to buying stuff for me! Hooray! I knew that I wanted to buy some sort of sparkly Christmas outfit and having narrowed down my options to about 34 different dresses I finally took the plunge in French Connection and bought the beauty you see above, along with a lovely gold bag to go with it. I had a little bit of money left over which went on another salted caramel candle for yours truly! It’s the best, remember? I buy myself the greatest presents!

What do you think of my choices? Will it be a very merry Christmas?

I will definitely be seeing you again soon Swindon Designer Outlet. Thanks for a great day! To see what Christmas goodies Victoria purchased, check out Part 2.

Jx

Sleeping Beauty

She and Hem | Sleeping Beauty

If you read this blog often you will know that I (Jo) really struggle with looking tired. It’s something which I am always aware of and I drive my loved ones crazy by constantly questioning them on just how tired I look. Over the years I have tried everything and anything to combat those dreaded dark circles and puffiness but, really, the obvious solution is to combat my horrendous sleeping pattern! When I was younger I could never fall asleep and would lie awake for hours (until I became a teenager when instead of lying awake I simply spent all night on the Internet).Now that I am older I seem to have developed the opposite problem in that I wake up at stupid o’clock and can’t get back to sleep! Frustrating, much? So when an email landed in our inbox from Time4Sleep offering me some extra help with getting enough sleep and, crucially, covering it up when I haven’t, I had to say “Yes”. A few days later a little box of goodies arrived which I have been using as part of my routine, alongside my usual ‘I’M AWAKE’ staples.

She and Hem | Sleeping BeautyShe and Hem | Sleeping Beauty

Let’s begin with the lotions and potions! A while ago I put a plea out on Twitter for eye cream recommendations and the lovely SJ from Ship Shape and Bristol Fashion pointed me in the direction of Origins. I’ve tried approximately one million things that claim to reduce dark circles but none have impressed me as much as this Dr. Andrew Weil cream. I really feel it has made a difference! As a result of this success, I decided to also buy their No Puffery Roll as it had such great reviews. I now always have it about my person for some emergency eye cooling and I’ve been enjoying using it alongside the cooling Dr Organics Aloe Vera gel*!

Eye cooling, I’ve discovered, is key. If I am off somewhere important and haven’t managed to get anywhere near enough sleep I will use the pink mask shown in the top photo. It lives in my fridge and does a wonderous job of reducing puffy eyes and waking me up for the day. I remember wearing it to breakfast on the morning of my best friend’s wedding like some sort of bridesmaid superhero. It worked though. No tired eyes in those important photos!

She and Hem | Sleeping Beauty‘Conceal, don’t feel!’. Oh boy, I am forever indebted to whoever invented concealer. I am never without it. I would wear it around my neck if I could! The two above are my current favourites, although having borrowed my fair share of Victoria’s Collection 2000, I fear I may be adding a third. The Bourjois one is a bit of a blogger fave and for good reason. It does a great job of combating those dark circles and I apply it pretty liberally on top of my Smashbox hydrating under eye primer to ensure that it stays put all day long.

She and Hem | Sleeping BeautyShe and Hem | Sleeping Beauty

But what of my sleeping pattern, I hear you cry? Well, I’ve been trying all the top tips. No TV or phone for an hour before bed, calming chamomile tea, aromatherapy candles, three shots of whiskey. It all seems to be helping. I have also been super impressed with the Aroma Home Luxurious Eye Mask. It’s full of lavender seeds, which help with soothing and relaxation but, more importantly, it does a fantastic job of blocking out the light so when I wake up at 5am, I can pretend that it’s midnight.

Jx