The Sussex Girl - Christmas Advent Calendar 2016

Well hello there lovelies! It’s the 1st of December and I’ve been putting together an Advent Calendar to keep you all feeling festive til Christmas Day.

There are all sorts of things hidden behind the windows from Christmassy videos to make you smile, some recipes to add Christmas sparkle and even some giveaway items as an extra special treat!  Some of the windows have little reminders to stop and take a deep breath throughout this busy season to help you keep balance and some are purely there to make you smile.

I hope you enjoy it and will keep checking in throughout the month to see what’s behind each door.

You can join the giveaway at any point during Advent and the winners will be drawn on Christmas Eve so that prizes land on your doormat in January to blow away the New Year blues! Just enter using the Rafflecopter form below.  Some of the giveaway items are live now but watch out for new giveaways being announced during the month.

Much Christmas love to you and your family.

Beckie x

PS. Don’t you just love these snaps of Father Christmas’ reindeers in their pre-season training? My sister, Grandad and I spotted them in Finland having a break before their busiest time of the year. ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rush East Grinstead - The Sussex Girl

I’ve never been that confident when sitting in the hairdresser’s chair.  The scary ‘what do you want?’ question sends shivers down my spine. I just never know quite how to describe it and end up saying ‘whatever you think but nothing dramatic’…which, funnily enough, doesn’t usually get the result I want.

However, my recent trip to the new Rush salon in East Grinstead was an experience that certainly didn’t leave me walking out feeling disappointed.

From the moment that I walked into the salon, I was instantly put at ease by Jessica, one of the two co-owners of the brand new Rush branch. The salon has a really relaxed vibe, not too bright or glossy but rather more comfortable glamour which doesn’t leave you feeling intimidated.

Co-owner Hannah brought over a stack of magazines and the biggest mug of tea you’ve seen – it’s like she knew exactly what was going to tick the boxes on that chilly Saturday evening.

Jess explained everything she was doing with my hair and listened to me when I said ‘nothing too dramatic’ but didn’t let me leave with a ‘safe but boring’ cut.  She talked me through the changes she was making to my layers and worked with my hair’s unique properties (double crown, widow’s peak and super-thick as you asked!) to create an elegant, bouncy cut which is classic enough to keep me happy but with modern layers that keep an edge to it.

Rush East Grinstead The Sussex Girl

Rush East Grinstead The Sussex Girl

This is Hannah and Jess’ first salon together and they’ve got big plans for future expansion within Sussex.  From what I’ve experienced, they’ve got a magic formula and I won’t be surprised to see the salon staying super busy so get your visit booked in now!

Thanks to Rush Hair and Beauty in East Grinstead for inviting me to visit their salon – I only feature products or companies on my Blog that I would personally use and recommend to my readers. All reviews, words and opinions are my own and posted with no obligation to the collaborating brand.

Lush Christmas 2016 The Sussex Girl

Lush Cosmetics are a brand that, up until recently, I thought just sold novelty bath bombs.  Turns out they do a little more than that and with a lot more science than I anticipated.

I recently headed to the Christmas Bloggers Event at Lush in Crawley, a lovely little group of bloggers gathered together just after the store closed one Saturday to celebrate the launch of the Autumn/Christmas Lush collection.

The friendly staff, Laura, Mark and Elena, were on hand to show us that actually, Lush has a lot more substance than simply glitter-filled bath bombs!  I was introduced to the skincare range by Elena who unpacked a few of the key values that Lush holds dear as well as talking to me in great detail about the ingredients they use.

Lush Christmas 2016 The Sussex Girl

Lush Christmas 2016 The Sussex Girl

Lush Christmas 2016 The Sussex Girl

I have really sensitive skin and so usually shy away from anything with strong fragrances or colours as chances are my skin will react really badly to it.  Lush have something for everybody and so Elena introduced me to two of their skin cleansers – the Ultrabland cream and also the 9 to 5 Cleanser.  I tried samples of each for a week and went back for the 9 to 5 cleanser after finding it is not only super-effective against my makeup and waterproof mascara but also really soothing due to its combination of Almond Oil and Dove Orchid milk.  The Ultrabland cleanser was really moisturising but actually a little greasier than I like.  It did leave my skin feeling incredibly clean though.

Learning more about the different ingredients that they use helped me understand how to pick products that would work well for my skin.  I know that I can’t tolerate Tea Tree Oil for example and knowing that the staff have such an in-depth knowledge of what is in each lotion, gives me confidence that I won’t leave with something that will irritate.

Lush Christmas 2016 The Sussex Girl

Lush Christmas 2016 The Sussex Girl

Lush Christmas 2016 The Sussex Girl

Aside from the skincare range, we also got hands on with the festive bath bombs, soaps and gels.  Finding out about the essential oils and creams that are locked into each bath bomb opened my eyes that it isn’t just shimmer and glitter! Under the watchful eye of Laura, I even turned my hand to making my own Butter Bear Bath Bomb. Lots of fun!

I’m a particular fan of the Northern Lights bath bomb and the Bubbly shower gel  – you can’t go wrong with a Bucks Fizz themed shower in the mornings.

It was really evident that all the staff at Lush Crawley are super passionate about the products, ingredients and the work of the company.  Lush famously stand against Animal Testing but also campaign for other environmental and human rights issues – currently they’re speaking out against internet shutdowns and censorship across dozens of countries worldwide.  I do love a company with values!

Lush Christmas 2016 The Sussex Girl

Lush Christmas 2016 The Sussex Girl

Lush Christmas 2016 The Sussex Girl

Lush Christmas 2016 The Sussex Girl

I’ll be popping back over the next few weeks to stock up on little presents and stocking fillers for friends but I think I’ll also be treating myself to some more of their skincare range now I’m a Lush convert.  You can find their Christmas range online if you can’t make it to a store.

Thanks again to Lush, the Crawley store and their lovely colleagues for being so welcoming, sharing their in-depth knowledge and for the goody bag.

Thanks to Lush Crawley for me to visit their store – I only feature products or companies on my Blog that I would personally use and recommend to my readers. All reviews, words and opinions are my own and posted with no obligation to the collaborating brand.

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

We’ve just got back from a lovely few days in Paris.  It was high time that we visited the city and we had the opportunity to take some much needed time off work together – the perfect match!

We travelled on an early morning Eurostar from St Pancras having raided M&S for breakfast supplies before boarding.  It was my first experience of the Eurostar and we really enjoyed it. When we booked, we selected table seats which proved to be perfect as we ended up with a table for four all to ourselves both on the way out and back.  Plenty of leg room, charging points and big comfortable seats – much nicer than the flight would have been.

Arriving mid-morning gave us the perfect opportunity to drop our bags with left luggage at Gard du Nord and head out for a little orientation walk before we could check in to our apartment.

Paris in Autumn -The Sussex Girl

Paris Canal St Martin The Sussex Girl

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

Paris in Autumn Canal St Martin - The Sussex Girl

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

We had booked a beautiful apartment in the heart of Montmartre through Airbnb. After falling in love with the photos of the view, we hoped that it would live up to expectations. It didn’t disappoint.

From the 7th floor of the most delightful Parisian block in a little private square, our apartment faced south and offered a panoramic view from East to West.  Both the living room and the bedroom had floor to ceiling glass doors that opened onto little balconies that meant we could glimpse the sights of Paris whenever we wanted to.  There was something mesmerising about watching the Eiffel Tower shimmer from the warmth of the living room with a glass of wine in hand!

Paris Air Bnb - The Sussex Girl

Paris in Autumn - The Sussex Girl

Paris Air Bnb apartment window box - The Sussex Girl

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

We spent four days exploring Paris, it’s such an enormous city so we only really scraped the surface but we were delighted to see some of the most famous sights.

From Notre Dame to the Sacre Coeur, the Eiffel Tower to Saint Chappelle, we walked for miles and miles! I was wearing my Bellabeat Leaf and we clocked up around 20,000 steps each day which made me feel slightly less guilty about the indulgent pastries we popped out for each morning!

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

I had my camera slung over my shoulder most of the trip as there was so much beauty in the architecture of Paris as well as the incredible autumnal colours evident in the parks of the city.

Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing our round-up of what not to miss in Paris as well as some budget-protecting tips about how to enjoy a few days in what is an incredibly expensive city to visit!

For now though, a few photos from our travels.

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl

Paris in autumn - The Sussex Girl