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As some of you may know, I do enjoy cooking and in the Summer time, I really enjoy our garden at home and use our barbecue almost every day, as attested by my Instagram stories. I was almost going to say ‘weather permitting’ but the Summer of 2018 has been the best ever in the UK and it is safe to say that weather has permitted a lot of fabulous outdoor dining.

I have, however, found myself in a little cooking rut – I do have a decent repertoire, but I wanted to jazz it up a bit. I do however hate following recipes and do not have a lot of patience for really hard to follow recipes, so simplicity was key.

I have bought each and very book, and in most cases, I have bought dozens other copies to give to friends and family, as I think they are exceptional. If you see diet this or that, worry not – it means that the recipes will be healthy, but that isn’t the point of this post.

Without further ado, there are Mrs. O’s 5 easy and healthy cook books – all Mrs. O approved.

5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver

Costs £13.00 (hardback) and you can get it from Amazon.

I am personally got a great fan of Jamie Oliver (in all honesty), but he won me over with this book. Everything really needs only 5 ingredients and it has changed people’s lives – for example, I have friends who could barely fry an egg and now can cook incredible meals. This is great for confidence boosting, promise.

Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond by Sabine Gayour

Costs £19.00 (hardback) and you can get it from Amazon.

I am obsessed with Middle Eastern food and this book was recommended by my acupuncturist as we talked about my Tabbouleh recipe which came from another book (see below). I have now bought a new ingredients such as zaatar, sumac and pomegranate molasses and I have really started finding my way around this type of food. (Waitrose also sells all 3)

I also bought another book from Sabrina called Feasts (and is discounted to £5) and waiting for the Summer to end as she organises cooking sessions with dinner in London and Mr. I and I are definitely going.

The Dirty Diet by Kate Harrison

Costs £6.47 (to be precise) from Amazon

I have mentioned this book previously and if you are interested in health and wellbeing, I cannot recommend this book enough – ignore the diet bit. The recipes are outstanding and ‘my’ version of the Tabbouleh is inspired in Kate’s. There is also a divine Mexican bean soup recipe and many many others.

Lose weight for good by Tom Kerridge

Costs £7 (hardback) from Amazon.

I actually bought mine at one of Tom Kerridge’s restaurants, The Coach in Marlow, as we are ‘almost’ neighbours. I first met briefly Tom as he was one of the pop-up chefs at Belmond British Pullman and with us being a few miles from Henley, we do go regularly to both his restaurants nearby.

Despite being a bit more cheffy, the recipes and method are only 1 page long – and they count the calories for you. It has some really nice curry recipes, salads and barbecue recipes.

Fish Indian Style by Atul Kochhar

Costs £18.95 (hardback) from Amazon

This book is something else – and completely different in terms of flavours. I love cooking fish (and Mr. O and I have taken years to perfect the art on the barbecue, oven , baked in salt, and I really needed some inspiration. On a recent visit to Pub in the Park (imagine a more countryside version of Taste of London, but where chefs who are really good friends like Tom Kerridge, Heston Blumental, Jason Atherton and Atul and a few others get together and decide to do their own thing), I had the chance to try a tikka masala chicken pie (probably the best pie I ever had) and chat a bit with Atul Kochnar, who happens to be one of my favourite chefs. We go to Benares in London a fair bit (see my guide to London) but always forget he has Sindhu in Marlow – we will go shortly.

Anyway, the way Atul understands fish is very different to mine and we have been introduced to marinades, to grinding our own spices and generally pushing ourselves. I never thought I would cook some spiced pineapple as a side dish to a grilled sea bass, but I have and it was amazing. Go me!

These are our go-to reference books as they really deliver on the ‘easy and healthy’ front, which is something that matters to us (at least currently).

I hope you find the right one for you and let me know if you try something you love.

xo

Mrs. O

The post 5 easy and healthy cook books appeared first on Mrs. O Around the World - a luxury travel blog by Ana Silva O'Reilly.

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That title was quite a mouthful, wasn’t it? But in all honesty, I wanted it to be highly descriptive of a recent three-night long weekend in Seville with days out to Jerez for sherry and Jabugo for jamon iberico. You get the main idea of what was involved, surely?

I will cut the chase – this wasn’t our normal weekend away. This trip was our first outing post my husband’s prostate cancer operation (7 weeks later), and we were taking it very easy. We both got tired easily and we actually just wanted to get out of our house and get a bit of Spain in our system. And warmth. Or something like that.

Thursday Evening in Sevilla

We flew in to Seville from London Gatwick with BA, and the flight (all going well), lands at 7.15pm which is great to go out for dinner.

We left our hotel booking until the very last minute – because we weren’t sure we were actually going. We actually booked our tickets in July 2017 on a BA sale (£170 for business class) and literally just played it by ear. But as luck would have it, pretty much everywhere in Sevilla was booked for our dates and Saturday night was particularly difficult (or non-existent), so I got crafty with my last minute plans. There you go, the Os living dangerously.

We got a room for 2 nights at the Hospes  “Las Casas del Rey de Baeza”, which you can book as a Design Hotel via Starwood and earn points. We got a better rate that way and were very very lucky to be confirmed a room. On a previous visit, we stayed at the Alfonso XIII, which is the city’s grand dame, but there wasn’t a single room to be had.

The hotel was nice enough – and quite unique, but I felt the bathrooms could really do with an update. Other than that, I have zero complaints. The location wasn’t bad, the room was pretty nice and we did grow quite fond of the bar and sitting area which is as close to home as one can get. Which is exactly what we needed.

We got to the hotel, quickly freshened up and met the lovely Shawn Hennessy of Azahar Sevilla at reception. Shawn is one of our Seville fairies – we met for the first time on a previous trip and I don’t think there is someone who knows Sevilla and the area and its restaurants as well as she does.

We had booked a gourmet tapas tour – and she took us everywhere she wanted. We were on almadraba tuna season, so we had a fair bit of that (which was incredible), obviously a lot of jamon iberico and a little intro to Sherry. All which would come in handy in the next couple of days.

Shawn is very flexible – and you get what you pay for. You can choose a normal or a gourmet tapas tour and you can choose to pay for her time and then pay for your own food and drink separately during the tour, or you can get it all in one price. You can read about a previous experience here and also about a round-up of food tours I wrote about a while back.

Whatever you do, book Shawn way in advance as she is incredibly busy (and she can only do one evening tour a day). You will also discover quite a few restaurants you can then visit during your trip.

Friday in Seville

With breakfast ending earlier than we wanted to on Friday (and because we were on a completely different post op schedule), we chose not to stress and wake up early and find breakfast on the way.

As all roads led to the El Corte Ingles department store and we were keen to have some churros, Shawn suggested Centuria, a very traditional local place which serves little more than churros and coffee. I was so nervous to order, I cannot tell you – and I speak Spanish. I did manage to order 2 coffees with milk (cafe con leche) and 2 portions of churros, but the waiter thought it was too much. Turns out one was plenty and the whole thing cost 5 Euros. I think it is kind of worth a visit but so not my kind of breakfast! Turns out I do like the 1 churro on a hotel buffet and not 7! Oh well!

We spent ‘a few hours’ at El Corte Ingles (if you go, also visit the Gourmet Experience on the top floor) and walked around a bit as Seville has some decent shopping. It is all high street brands, but there are more upmarket ones since last time we visited. No complaints here.

For lunch, we were delighted to meet with my friend Ana (and her partner Vitor and her 2 children) who lives near Malaga and timed a visit to the Portuguese consulate in Seville so we could meet. We had to find a place where they could park and we chose to return to Vineria San Telmo which was great, as it was on our last visit.

We had a quiet afternoon (with our friends) at the hotel living room, and then took a taxi towards the Cathedral area and spent the rest of the evening going to some of the bars that Shawn recommended. It was great. We also met Fiona Flores Watson, who writes about this part of the world for The Telegraph amongst others, which was lovely too.

Saturday in Jerez de La Frontera

On Saturday bright and early, we had breakfast at the hotel and then drove to Jerez de La Frontera which is the home of sherry. 100km separate both cities and the drive took around 90 minutes.

As I mentioned earlier, this trip was literally organised a week before we arrived – and I cannot thank Nadia, who I met when I first visited Finca Cortesin 5 years ago and has been a great friend ever since, who pretty much decided what we should do whilst in Jerez.

It wasn’t difficult: we were to get a private tour at Gonzalez Byass, followed by a very educational tasting. Most tastings around town in other wineries take place only in the morning (which I wasn’t expecting) and there aren’t many open after lunch (and closed on Sundays). So book before you go – tours cost 21.50 Euros with 4 wines and tapas and absolutely worth it.

Sherry comes from Southern Spain, in the triangle formed by the towns of Jerez, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María. Sherry can be dry or sweet – and I kind of finally understood what the fuss was all about. I learned a tiny bit about, I drank a fair bit of it – and I will confess to one thing, we brought some home. Turns out that we have a thing for Oloroso and Palo Cortado. I found this website which has some interesting info about sherry, appropriately called Sherry Notes.

I also learned that the ‘drink’ that most people in England consider Sherry (the famous Bristol cream) is something only produced for the UK market (and the cause of a laugh or three by the Spanish). There’s a whole world out there for me to discover (just as I have been drinking and enjoying Port).

For lunch, Nadia (and her friend Jose from Gonzalez Byass) booked us a table at La Carbona and we had a seriously lovely lunch. I hadn’t had prawns (for obvious reasons) for a pretty long time and I seriously almost cried when we got them. I missed red mullets – they had it on the menu. The restaurant was beautiful too (I couldn’t capture too much as it was packed), and we loved it. Lunch for 2 was around 125 Euros if memory serves me right.

We wanted to wander around a bit, but it was time for a rest. Jerez doesn’t really have any luxury hotel options and we stayed outside the city, at Casa Vina de Alcantara, which is owned by another branch of the Gonzalez family and is known to be the place to stay. It really is like a house (with ensuite bathrooms of course), and if you get home late, you will need to wake the guard up – we had to, and was a bit strange.

The room was very comfortable and I knew there is a great pool. But I conveniently forgot to mention that it did not stop raining since the moment we landed in Seville. It hasn’t rained in months, everyone was delighted – except for us, of course. But as you can see, it didn’t stop us from doing anything and gave us even more excuses to nap in the afternoon. I did have a rather lovely post-sherry nap indeed.

For dinner, and as fate would have it, Stuart and Anna, very good friends of my husband Simon were at their house in nearby Arcos de la Frontera. We convinced them to pick us up and take us to dinner in Jerez (and plenty of time for me to stock up on essentials at the El Corte Ingles supermarket as we were leaving the following day and with it being Sunday, it meant that there would be no supermarkets open).

Dinner was at A Mar (also picked by Nadia and Jose) and it was really good – modern decor with traditional food and we really enjoyed it. Somehow, dinner was only 100 Euros for the 4 of us, but we are not complaining

Sunday in Jabugo

We weren’t quite ready to leave Casa Vina de Alcantara,  but we had a very important appointment in Jabugo, which is the home of another of Spain’s best gifts to the world: 100% acorn-fed jamon iberico.

We had a deliciously simple breakfast (by choice) and what was the nicest freshly squeezed orange juice I had in a very long time. This guest house was very traditional in style, but I am very glad we stayed there. I would assume it would be completely different in the Summer, so maybe I should go back?

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Every time I attempt to cook something and decide to share it on an Instagram story, I get dozens of messages from friends and readers asking me to share recipes. One of my most popular photos was indeed of fresh mango salsa.

I cook pretty much every day when I am home – and my cooking is pretty simple. For me, it is all about the ingredients and how I can maximise flavour… I also pick up quite a bit of inspiration from my travels  and I adapt recipes to suit my palate (and what I can find in my local supermarket).

One of my favourite barbecue side dishes is fresh Mango Salsa. I have discovered its delights in Mexico and also San Diego and they are a firm favourite of friends and family when they come over to Maison O’Reilly.

WARNING: these photos were really taken by myself when I was cooking. Some dirty hands were involved and the focus was to get the mango salsa made in time. I will try and replace the photos with something more artistic, but you get to see the real life version here.

Mango Salsa recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Difficulty: Very easy

Servings: 4

Calories per serving: 84

Mango Salsa recipe ingredients

(serves 4 as a side dish)

3 ripe mangoes (approx 450g without skin or stone) – cut in small cubes

1 red onion (approx. 120g) – cut in small cubes

1 red pepper (approx. 120g) – cut in small cubes

Juice of 1 lime (or 2!)

1 chilli pepper (or whichever hot pepper, like jalapeño) – deseeded and finely chopped

Coriander (cilantro) – 5 springs minimum – finely chopped

Pinch of fleur de sel (or whichever salt you prefer to use)

Mango Salsa Method

It is very difficult… literally chop everything in small pieces and mix together. Add the salt and the lime juice (I sometimes add a second lime) and season to taste.

I would recommend putting it in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving and stir it a few times. Eat on the day (but it will keep for another couple of days).

Prep utensils used:

Microplane Herb & Salad Chopper ($12.95 USA/Canada). European alternative: Oxo Herb Mincer (£10 UK/Europe)

Chef’n Herb Stripper (£10.95 UK/Europe, $7.95 USA/Canada)

Ikea white cutting board

Knife – part of Wusthof knife set (£499 UK/Europe, $479 USA/Canada)

Oxo stainless steel mixing bowl (£13 UK/Europe, $45 USA/Canada for a set of 3, which you cannot buy in Europe for some reason)

Let me know if you try this salsa and if you like it. I hope you do! If you are in the mood, you can have a look at this Tabbouleh recipe, which is also delicious.

Xo

Mrs. O

The post Mrs. O at hOme – Mango Salsa Recipe appeared first on Mrs. O Around the World - a luxury travel blog by Ana Silva O'Reilly.

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One of my current favourite salads or a side dish for a barbecue is this version of Tabbouleh, a Middle-Eastern staple, by Kate Harrison, author of the book, The Dirty Diet.

This is a really interesting book if a) you need to shed some weight (I do!) and b) if you are in a rut and want some new super simple recipes. I have bought the book for friends who absolutely are not on diets and do not need to be, only because the recipes there really are fantastic. It is the best £6 you will spend all week and you may surprise yourself.

I have adapted the recipe a teeny tiny bit, and we really enjoy this dish. In the book, the quantities show below are for 2 servings (perfect at 131 calories per person). Personally, I think these quantities make a generous side dish for 4 and go really well with grilled chicken wings, for example.

Without further ado, here is the ‘Tabbouleh’ – I am using inverted commas as this recipe skips some of the key tabbouleh ingredients and is just a salad.

The Dirty Diet’s ‘Quick as a flash Cauliflower and Broccoli Tabbouleh’ recipe, with some Mrs. O edits.

Time to prep: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Servings: officially 2, but I would say 4 as a side dish

Calories per serving: 131 (if 2) or 70 (if for 4)

Quick ‘Tabbouleh’ ingredients

200g mixed cauliflower and broccoli florets (or just broccoli)

Handful of fresh mint

Handful of fresh flat parsley

3 spring onions, chopped

30g fresh pomegranate seeds

150g fresh cherry tomatoes (we usually do without)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

Quick ‘Tabbouleh’ method

  1. Pulse the florets in a food processor until they form ‘grains’. Add to serving bowl.
  2. Pulse the herbs and spring onions together. Add to serving bowl.
  3. Mix everything together in serving bowl. Add pomegranate seeds and/or cherry tomatoes and stir together.
  4. Pour over lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt if necessary and serve.

This is a very simple recipe, but very different to something we would normally have at home and we love it. We are adding a lot more herbs to our salads and they really make a difference.

If you are in the mood, you can have a look at my Mango Salsa recipe which is also delicious.

Let me know if you try it!

xo

Mrs O

The post Mrs. O at hOme: Quick tabbouleh recipe appeared first on Mrs. O Around the World - a luxury travel blog by Ana Silva O'Reilly.

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Every time I attempt to cook something and decide to share it on an Instagram story, I get dozens of messages from friends and readers asking me to share recipes. One of my most popular photos was indeed of fresh mango salsa.

I cook pretty much every day when I am home – and my cooking is pretty simple. For me, it is all about the ingredients and how I can maximise flavour… I also pick up quite a bit of inspiration from my travels  and I adapt recipes to suit my palate (and what I can find in my local supermarket).

One of my favourite barbecue side dishes is fresh Mango Salsa. I have discovered its delights in Mexico and also San Diego and they are a firm favourite of friends and family when they come over to Maison O’Reilly.

WARNING: these photos were really taken by myself when I was cooking. Some dirty hands were involved and the focus was to get the mango salsa made in time. I will try and replace the photos with something more artistic, but you get to see the real life version here.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Difficulty: Very easy

Mango Salsa recipe ingredients

(serves 4 as a side dish)

3 ripe mangoes – cut in small cubes

1 red onion – cut in small cubes

1 red pepper – cut in small cubes

Juice of 1 lime

1 chilli pepper (or whichever hot pepper, like jalapeño) – deseeded and finely chopped

Coriander (cilantro) – 5 springs minimum!

Pinch of fleur de sel (or whichever salt you prefer to use)

Mango Salsa Method

It is very difficult… literally chop everything in small pieces and mix together. Add the salt and the lime juice (I sometimes add a second lime) and season to taste.

I would recommend putting it in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving and stir it a few times. Eat on the day (but it will keep for another couple of days).

Prep utensils used:

Microplane Herb & Salad Chopper ($12.95 USA/Canada). European alternative: Oxo Herb Mincer (£10 UK/Europe)

Chef’n Herb Stripper (£10.95 UK/Europe, $7.95 USA/Canada)

Ikea white cutting board

Knife – part of Wusthof knife set (£499 UK/Europe, $479 USA/Canada)

Oxo stainless steel mixing bowl (£13 UK/Europe, $45 USA/Canada for a set of 3, which you cannot buy in Europe for some reason)

Let me know if you try this salsa and if you like it. I hope you do!

Xo

Mrs. O

The post Mrs. O at hOme – Mango Salsa Recipe appeared first on Mrs. O Around the World - a luxury travel blog by Ana Silva O'Reilly.

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One of Southern Spain’s most iconic hotels, Puente Romano is located in Marbella and it is, without a doubt, one of its grand dames (alongside its sister Marbella Club).

I had not been for years – and must confess it wasn’t a place that immediately came to mind, but A LOT has changed recently and we are very glad we went. Here’s how my stay at Puente Romano Resort Beach Resort & Spa, a member of Luxury Hotels of the World, with Sovereign Luxury went.

Getting to Puente Romano

Puente Romano is located between Marbella and Puerto Banus and around 40 mins private transfer from Malaga Airport (AGP). We flew with British Airways from Gatwick and the flight time is around 2h30. Malaga is one of the best connected airports in Spain, so getting there really isn’t a problem.

At Gatwick, and as usual (and standard to all Sovereign guests), we were able to fast track security and use the lounge – which we could anyway as we were flying business, but it means that anyone can, despite their airline of choice. Our driver had also been pre-booked and coordinated between Sovereign and the hotel and all went without a hitch.

The hotel and checking-in

This is not a small resort – but after a day or so, it is easy to get one’s bearings. The resort is made up of the Hotel (which has 211 rooms, the smallest of which is a junior suite, which gives you an idea of dimension) and recently the grounds have welcomed another hotel: Nobu Marbella. At the time of my visit, only Nobu (the restaurant) had opened, so I have not experienced the changes that have happened (although I have had feedback from friends and readers who have visited since). There are also villas and apartments on the resort grounds.

Our check in was quick and efficient (and worth noting that for those who have visited the hotel, reception has moved location) and we were very grateful that our room was ready. We had one of those brutal 6am flights (which always seem a brilliant idea when you book) and getting settled was just we needed.

The hotel is made up of various 2-floor buildings, which are named alphabetically and hidden by lush gardens. We were taken to our room by buggy – but we did not use the service again, as we thought the distances were perfectly walkable.

It is worth mentioning that the hotel does not feel huge – it is really secluded.

Our Junior Suite at Puente Romano

Our stay was organised at the very last-minute and the hotel was fully booked despite it being mid-October.

Our room was a Junior Suite (which could make it one of the smallest) and has been refurbished – but a quick search online shows a variety of decors.

We also had a balcony which overlooked the gardens (every room does). I still cannot make up my mind about the room decor – as it felt a bit mismatched, in my opinion. Other rooms have much neutral colour schemes, which would make it more my style.

There were sockets on each side of the bed (yay!), and the room felt really spacious. The air con has not been changed and we found it really loud, so we had to switch it off during the night.

The room came with the usual safe, mini bar and coffee machine combo – but worth noting it was an Illy machine. We also had a phone and tablet to use during our stay, which was a nice touch.

With regards to the bathroom – I have to say, I love the original Spanish tyles – I understand why the hotel wouldn’t want to get rid of them (but again, other rooms have all-white bathrooms). I 100% approved of the choice of the toiletries (file it under ‘worth bringing home‘), but I wished that the taps and the shower had been updated. They are Grohe, but they are 15+ years old – testament to quality, but if the hotel has been ‘refurbished’, this seems to have been overlooked.

Hotel grounds, pools and beaches

The hotel grounds are lovely – and this is the place to come for some peace and quiet. When we visited, the hotel was full and so were the pools. There was space for everyone, but I felt that sunloungers were too close to each other.

We found the beach area quite lovely – but again quite small.

We really liked the gardens which really made the hotel – you felt you were miles away from the world, but oh so close to everything. We ventured out the hotel a bit and you absolutely cannot beat the location.

The hotel also has a Six Senses spa, but we did not have time to visit on this occasion.

Eating and drinking at Puente Romano

We LOVED LOVED LOVED the food and drink options at Puente Romano – I do not know where to begin.

The hotel has more than a handful of restaurants – and the evening ones are located all in the Village Plaza, which is easily accessible to both hotel and non hotel guests.

From traditional Spanish, to modern Japanese, Italian, Thai and even gluten-free – everyone should be pleased. We loved the bar area in the middle and how lively the whole place was.

This location is the home of Dani Garcia, a fabulous Spanish chef who has its 2-Michelin star flagship at the hotel (Contradicion), but also a more casual bistro option. I had the pleasure of meeting Dani at the end of my stay and if you are on Instagram, he is a very interesting person to follow.

The hotel has recently welcomed Nobu, which has opened its first Spanish restaurant here and we had a fabulous meal there. Dinner for 3 was €250.

On other nights, we tried other restaurants, one being the Sea Grill, by the beach – we thought it was fantastic (and I wished I had gone for lunch as the seafood looked incredible).

We had a wine pairing too, which was really interesting – most wines were from the region (which doesn’t exactly come to mind when one thinks about Spanish wines). Our sommelier was so good, he prepared us a list of new Spanish wines for us to try (and buy the following day to bring home).

With regards to lunch, we tried the Chiringuito on the beach which was fabulous – and looked very very pleasing to the eye. We felt we were in Spain from the moment we arrived – and the food was exceptional.

Puente Romano is also home to Celicioso (a gluten-free restaurant) and Rachel’s (which is super healthy). We tried Rachel’s and in all honesty, it was way too healthy for me – all I kept thinking about were the prawns and the jamon iberico we should be having. The ginger shot woke me up, but I didn’t go all the way to Spain for a chicken and quinoa salad (but I am sure many will love the option).

With regards to ‘adult beverages’, we enjoyed the Plaza bar and also the Owners Lounge, which when we opened was really quiet. It seems that Nobu hotel guests get priority access – and some Puente Romano suite guests too.

I had a fabulous Gin Mare gin tasting experience and we went back every night for more than a nightcap – the barmen were lovely and I may have had the best dirty martini ever. The olives were excellent.

Out and about Marbella and Puerto Banus

Puente Romano’s location is fabulous and only minutes to Puerto Banus. We had asked for a boat charter for a couple of hours and the hotel and Sovereign’s Adviser coordinated it for us. Sovereign no longer offers a local concierge (which I confess I used a LOT on..

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It has been a while since I did a Beauty Essentials list (maybe because I haven’t been in the right frame of mind) – but I am feeling the love for Spring and I know Summer is just around the corner.

I like trying a few things (but most of my beauty routine hardly changes) – so if a product makes this list, it is really because I love it.

Here are my Top 5 Beauty Essentials for Spring, which I hope you will love too.

Bamford Rose Hand and Body Wash (250ml)

Costs £22 and you can get it from Liberty London or Net-a-Porter – both do international deliveries. (also have a look at the hand wash and lotion option from Liberty)

I didn’t know that Bamford and Daylesford were owned by the same brand until my friend Molly visited their amazing spa and told me about it. I love their rose scent and can also swear by their bath oil (which is a family favourite).

Shiseido Advanced Body Creator super slimming reducer anti-cellulite cream (200ml)

Costs £56 and you can get it from Harvey Nichols, John Lewis & Feel Unique (UK with international shipping) and Look Fantastic (US/Canada or rest of the world) 

Weirdly enough, there are a LOT more options for cellulite creams in Continental Europe than in the UK (and I think it is because the others have a Summer season per se, but I am not sure). I did a search online and this came up as the best option – I am two weeks in and the results are visible. I am not sure if things ‘have reduced’ but the skin is visibly smoother and I am grateful. There is also the effect after a week where things get a lot worse before they get better.

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion (29ml)

Costs £16 and you can get it from Harvey Nichols and Liberty and $16 from pretty much everywhere in the USA such as Amazon or Ulta. I actually have the “repair kit” which you can get from Amazon or Nordstrom for $46.

I am going to do a whole post on spot treatments as I have been suffering quite a bit, and this has been really really really good. You apply this at night (it is a pink powder inside a bottle with some white liquid which you cannot shake) and you will have pink marks all over your face. Visible effects after one single night – that, I promise you. I bought mine and made Luxury Travel Mom buy one too and she agrees with my verdict.

Rosie for Autograph Divine Sugar Body Scrub 195ml

Costs £10 from Marks & Spencer

I go to M&S for food (and food rubbish bags as they are the absolute best) and I recently had a very pleasant surprise when my favourite body scrub from Clarins had sold out at my usual department store. The lady from Clarins told me to cross the street to Marks & Spencer and ‘see if I could get’ the Rosie for Autograph Divine Sugar Body Scrub (this is a true story). There was none, but a nice lady found me one. I am now on my third one and have been popping in and out of M&S and rarely found one. Best option is to order online – and it is only £10. If you like ‘proper scrub’, try this.

Living Proof frizz Shampoo and/or Conditioner (236 ml each)

Costs £22 for each at John Lewis, Marks & Spencer or Amazon  in the UK and Europe, and $36 (for both the shampoo and conditioner) in the USA/Canada with Amazon. There is also a discovery kit from John Lewis.

I love everything about this range – and it has been firmly on my ‘rotation’ of 3 shampoo brands which really work for me. I have quite a bit of volume in my hair (and I also colour it because the greys are ruthless and seem to love me) and this is just perfect.

I love all 5 products and have recommended them to my best friend. If you are having trouble sleeping, we should talk – I have loads of trouble but having a good run at the moment with no medication and only these 5 items. If you fancy changing your perfume in time for Spring and Summer, here are my current choices (some new ones there!).

If you have tried something you love and are definitely on your top 5 beauty essentials for Spring, please let me know.

xo

Mrs. O

The post Top 5 Beauty Essentials for Spring – 2018 Edition appeared first on Mrs. O Around the World - a luxury travel blog by Ana Silva O'Reilly.

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I am the world’s worst sleeper – and I am married to the world’s best. It is true and it is the story of my life. Some can find ironic that I am attempting to give any sort of advice in this area – but I have been trying some things and they have helped.

My sleeping nights are not perfect, but I can now fall asleep quicker than I ever have (and that is without taking any sleep aids or medications, which is something I am really trying not to do – and have been successful for the last 3 months).

Without further ado, here are my suggestions of 5 things that can help you sleep better at home and away.

I have bought all items and have been using them for the last 3 months.

This Works Sleep Plus + Pillow Spray, 75ml

Costs from £28 from This Works, £26 from Marks & Spencer£20 from Amazon UK and $40 from Look Fantastic (USA/Canada), Net-a-Porter or Neiman Marcus.

This Works has a huge range of sleeping sprays and I have worked through them all – and this is my favourite. I do not think it will magically put you sleep – but it smells divine and I now associate that smell with a good night’s sleep. It also cancels out the smell of the magnesium oil (below) and it is perfect for travelling as your beds will smell the same.

They say ‘A motion activated sleep solution, to help restore sleep patterns for restlesss sleepers’.

You can also try a sleep kit from This Works for £22.

BetterYou Magnesium Goodnight Spray 100ml

Costs from £8.25 from Amazon UK (ships internationally) and $22 from Amazon USA.

This product was recommended by a friend who is a master sleeper and had some serious trouble sleeping recently. I have tried this spray and I think it really works – it smells a bit strange, but I now put it in my legs and my feet every night (you have to build up tolerance to the spray and start with less) and things have improved. It is all natural and seems to be some sort of cult item.

What they say? ‘Magnesium is required by the body to maintain a state of rest. Magnesium deficiency can lead to leg cramps, restless legs, stiffness and excess muscle tension. All of which can cause interrupted sleeping patterns and sleepless nights.’

Aromatherapy Associates Relax Roller Ball (10ml)

Costs from £18/£25 from Aromatherapy Associates, Feel Unique (Europe), Look Fantastic (US/Canada), Saks Fifth Avenue.

The sleep set can be bought for around £35 in the UK/Europe at John Lewis or North America.

This is one of my must have travel items – not only for sleeping but also when I am a bit anxious or nervous. I also used it when I quit smoking and needed a little pick me up. Smells divine and I use it on my wrists, behind ears or chest. I don’t use all three products at the same time time, by the way!

PS. May 22-29 – the roller is 2 for 1 on Aromatherapy Associate’s sale.

Noisly App

Costs £1.99 from UK App Store and $1.99 from USA App store.

This is the wildcard here and I have to say, it is one of my favourite apps – you can create white noise and specific noises/sounds to help you fall asleep and combine them. You can also set a timer on your phone to disable the app after a set time (or it can just keep going all night). I found it particularly useful on planes too.

Fitbit Alta HR (used in conjunction with the FitBit app)

Costs from £115 from Amazon UK and $148 from Amazon US

I haven’t worn my fitbit for about 3-4 years and I have recently started a ‘healthy programme’ and thought I needed a new one. I had completely forgotten about the sleep tracker and I have been enjoying it a lot. The app is completely changed from what is was back then (progress!) and I have now set a sleep schedule which we are sticking to 7-days a week. The new fitbits send you ‘go to sleep notifications’ on your wrist but the biggest change? I stopped using my phone as an alarm (and I have moved it away from the bed). The fitbit comes with a silent alarm (vibration based) and I cannot recommend it enough. I was worried at the beginning that I wouldn’t feel it, but hasn’t failed once.

I don’t like the plastic bracelet the fitbit comes with, so I got a very cheap (but quite nice) bracelet which makes it look more normal. You can get it in Europe here (£7.99) or USA/Canada here ($10).

I am also having acupuncture, and I feel that it has helped a lot of issues (I haven’t been the easiest patient).

I hope one of these products help you sleep better if you are a challenged sleeper like me. If you have any tips to share, feel free to leave a comment or email me anytime.

xo

Mrs. O

The post 5 things that can help you sleep better at home and away appeared first on Mrs. O Around the World - a luxury travel blog by Ana Silva O'Reilly.

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I had first visited Manchester in 2008, a year before I moved to the UK. Seeing as I was making quite a big commitment in the name of love (and by that I meant marrying Mr. O in 2009), I felt I had to go on a whirlwind tour of its main cities.

But it took me 9 years to return to Manchester – and I will tell you something: I should have gone back way sooner. It really was my loss. The city really had transformed itself in 10 years and whilst quite a few have discovered the delights of the Manchester, I had not.

However, life works in mysterious ways and I found myself in Manchester twice in a month for one reason: the airport. What Manchester airport lacks in comfort and style makes up for amazing longhaul business class fares. In November 2017, I flew to the USA and Canada (where I explored the delights of Victoria and Vancouver) with American Airlines and by departing from Manchester, we saved over £3,000 per person.

So we went the night before, discovered the delights of San Carlo (thanks to my readers), had a comfortable stay at the Radisson Blu at the airport and off we went.

A month later – we had a similar scenario (due to being terrible flight bookers). My family took their sweet time in deciding when they were coming after Christmas and by the time they decided, the tickets were over £900 per person with BA to Heathrow. The best option, was to fly to Manchester direct from Lisbon with TAP Portugal (for a mere £150 one way) and we would meet them there. Obviously they would fly back home from Heathrow.

As we had to drive 2h30 to Manchester – we decided to explore a bit more and show my family a bit more of the North of England and stay the night.. and come back home after a couple of days (with our last stop being Birmingham).

Where to stay on your stopover in Manchester

Do you think the photo above looks great? SO DID I. I asked my readers for help on Facebook of where to stay and where to go in Manchester and EVERYONE said: Kingstreet Townhouse. But did they have 3 rooms on December 27th? No. The Gotham? No. The Lowry? No. Immediately after Christmas, Manchester’s luxury hotels were fully booked and it was impossible to find a hotel with 3 bedrooms.

I had no choice but to rent an apartment in Salford’s Media City (the location didn’t matter so much as we would leave the next morning), but I cannot recommend my readers to stay there – the photos look ok, but they were a bit polished, to be honest. And the reviews way too kind and I had to apologise to my family (although I made up for it the next day in Birmingham where we stayed at the most amazing place)

If you want to stay at the airport (which I would recommend if you have a morning flight), I have no problems recommending the Radisson Blu .

What to see on your stopover in Manchester

We had the most beautiful Winter day and decided to explore the city centre on foot. We parked right by where we were having dinner (more on that later) and just walked for hours.

I didn’t remember how pleasant to the eye Manchester’s city centre actually was – a good mix of old and new and some very very good shopping.

The nicest surprise was actually the Cathedral – I had no idea there was one (I seriously cannot remember) and we all loved it and spent almost an hour there just exploring it. I am sure you can go in and out in 15 minutes and if that is all the time you have, do it.

We also kind of found the Northern Quarter (or the edge of it) and had a little wander, but decided we would explore further in a future visit (because we would all like to go back for a weekend).

And I will be honest here: my sister wanted to shop. Being the day after boxing day (when the post-Christmas sales begin), the shops were full of stock and no queues which was just perfect. From Selfridges to Harvey Nichols, from Burberry to Barbour (a Portuguese obsession) – we had no trouble helping the local economy.

Where to eat and drink in Manchester

Well, if you only have a day, this can be a problem. Why? Because the city’s foodie scene is quite something and there are LOADS of great options. We had a very simple Greek lunch at Dionisus which was good (my family always fancy Greek when they come to Britain and it was a good choice after 4 days of non stop eating at Christmas).

For drinks, we obviously had to go to Manchester House, which has amazing views of the city. We booked a table (via twitter which is something that many restaurants and bars do not understand) and recommend you do so too (via whatever means of communication suit you).

And this is where you see the difference in the cost of living – and how amazing value Manchester is compared to the South. A double gin for £5? (obviously plus tonic because in England it is how it works). At my local pub, a single costs more than £5. And this is one of Manchester’s top places.

For dinner, we managed to get a table at San Carlo, a Manchester institution (probably named so by 20 something readers). I have to confess that when I was almost ‘forced to go’ on the first trip to Manchester, I thought “really? Italian in Manchester?’. Well, really. And I even drove to Birmingham a month later to go for lunch. And absolutely delighted that San Carlo opened at Selfridges’s rooftop in London and is opening in St James this Summer. If it weren’t for Manchester, I would have not had San Carlo in my life – and I recommend you do too.

Mains are really around £12-17 and I think we paid around £35 per person with wine and service. And it was AMAZING. AMAZING.

But this is just one place – there are so many more (just judging on the first hand recommendations I had from my readers). And a note here: I did not know I had so many readers who lived in Manchester.

My verdict

I feel really stupid. I really really do. I keep going around the world or Europe for weekend trips and never ever in my mind did I even consider Manchester. We only spent a day there but all of us (and that means my husband, my mother, my sister and her husband) were genuinely impressed and surprised by the city.

It really had a distinct personality – it isn’t all shiny of course, but the city centre offered a good blend of old and new and we only scratched the surface. So a weekend there would be just perfect.

I am going back shortly for another stopover in Manchester as I am going back to the USA and the difference is £3,000 again per ticket. And that is perfectly fine by me.

xo

Mrs. O

Disclaimer: I undertook a social campaign for Visit Britain, similarly to what we did before on a trip to Bath and you can start planning your next UK getaway at their website – just search online for #lovegreatbritain. 

The post Lux StopOver: 12 hours in Manchester, England appeared first on Mrs. O Around the World - a luxury travel blog by Ana Silva O'Reilly.

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