How Would You Spend A Spare £100?

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I love playing imaginary games over coffee like “What would you buy if you won the lottery?” Dreams of buying a swish new house, treating yourself to a new car, going on a couple of luxury holidays a year, buying a posh handbag… What’s a bit harder is thinking what you would spend a spare £100 on. There are almost so many options that I find myself going around in circles and ending up thinking I’d just pop it in the bank.

Would you treat someone you love?

£100 would cover a lunch for two at a restaurant like the Berners Tavern in London or a couple of tickets to see The Book Of Mormon – two of my favourite things to do in London.

Would you treat yourself?

We all need a little R&R sometimes so taking yourself off for a spa day somewhere like Whittlebury Hall. From £89pp you can book their Escape & Spa Stay package which includes an overnight stay and a 25 minute treatment.

Would you give it to charity?

The Nepal Earthquake Appeal is the one that springs to mind, first of all. Hundreds of thousands have lost their homes and over 7000 people have died. Donating money to the appeal would help – a little….

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A Long Weekend At Ikos Oceania, Halkidiki

katie-ellison-alison-perry

Five years ago, I was pregnant and excited about what was ahead. I knew my whole life was about the change beyond all recognition. My online shopping habits had already shifted from Topshop boots and Asos dresses to sterilisers, changing mats and nappy bins from Mothercare. I knew that the regular mini breaks enjoyed by me and Mr P would soon be a thing of the past (which is why we squeezed in a quick trip to Babington House when I was five months pregnant) but I knew I wanted to carry on holidaying in semi stylish places – the thought of going on an all inclusive package holiday would never even cross my mind.

Does that make me a holiday snob? Probably. But just in the same way I’m happy to shop in Lidl but someone else might only buy organic produce from Waitrose, we all have different things we’re happy to spend money on, right?

But there’s been a change. The all inclusive package holiday has evolved and you can now book holidays to beautiful resorts that will relax and revive you at the same time as keeping your kids deliriously happy.

Ikos Oceania in Halkidiki is one such hotel and the packages you can book through Sovereign Travel to the Greek resort are outstandingly fab. I recently spent a long weekend at Ikos Oceania – but it didn’t feel long enough!

Ikos Oceania review

As soon as I walked into the hotel lobby (after being whisked from the airport in my complimentary transfer, organised by Sovereign Travel), I felt calm. The reception and bar areas have pale floors and walls, sheer white fabric hanging by the large windows and gorgeous pale blue chairs and sofas with beautiful flowers everywhere. It had a chilled out vibe, similar to a spa, and set the tone for the whole hotel.

Ikos Oceania review

I stayed in a one bedroom deluxe suite, which was huge and had a separate living room area with large sliding doors leading out to the sea view terrace. The large bedroom also had a door leading out to the terrace, as well as lots of wardrobe space and (pause for effect) the comfiest pillows I think I have ever slept on. I’m not even kidding. If I could have smuggled one of those bad boys out of the hotel, in my suitcase, I would have been tempted.

Ikos Oceania bedroom

Ikos Oceania review

Ikos Oceania pool area

The view from my room was breathtaking – vivid purple flowers, the pool area and the sea. As well as the pool near my room, there’s a main pool – an infinity pool, no less, which looks out to the sea, and an indoor pool by the spa area. Oh the spa! If the hotel lobby has chilled out vibes, the spa is zen-like. You can head to the spa to sit by their pool, perhaps read a book while the relaxing music plays gently in the background. You can also book treatments at an extra cost… I highly recommend the back, neck and shoulder massage.

Ikos Oceania review

Just hanging out, casually, in the infinity pool

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Did You Feel Like Wearing Tracksuit Bottoms, Kate?

Royal baby

Before I go any further, let me say one thing: I’m a fan of Kate & Wills. Not in a hardcore-royalist way, but I like them. I think they seem like a decent couple and they appear to be doing well, finding their way in what must be a strange hybrid of honouring tradition in a modern world.

When it was announced that Kate was in labour and had been admitted to St Mary’s Hospital, I confess, I got a bit excited. I have no idea why! Millions of women give birth every day, so why is this one different? But there’s something about a new prince or princess being born that is exciting. News correspondents reported that it might be hours before the baby was born (on hearing this, did anyone else think: ‘Nah, this is her second baby – it’ll be here quicker than you think!’… and she was.)

At 8:34am, the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

At 6.12pm – less than 10 hours later, Kate and William appeared on the front step of the Lindo Wing with their new baby. Kate wore a yellow and white Jenny Packham dress, nude heels, her brown hair was curled and tumbling on her shoulders, dewy glowing make up looking perfect.

Ten hours after giving birth.

I’m guessing she had a team of people head into the hospital to glam her up, for her exit – a hair stylist, a make up artist and possibly an assistant who could help her into her beautiful dress. It’s royal tradition that the couple appear outside the hospital with the new baby, for the world’s press to see and photograph, and on one hand, I totally understand Kate wanting to look her best.

But on the other hand… do you think she said William, inside that hospital: “Oh William, do we HAVE to? Can’t we just sneak out the back?”

Because, ten hours after giving birth, I still felt like I’d been hit by a bus. I didn’t know what day it was and the surge in hormones meant I wanted to laugh and sob at the same time. Like every new mum, there was a lot of bleeding as my body got rid of the lining of my womb and thanks to the stitches, walking hurt a bit and I was scared to go to the loo. If you’d asked me to shower, pop on a pastel frock, heels and have my hair and make up done, I would have cried into my (unwanted) Bounty pack.

A pastel frock – a designer pastel frock no less. Imagine leaking blood all over that. Yes, it’s a gross thought, but let’s be honest, it’s the reality that every mum goes through after she’s given birth. Maxi pads are our friend. I think I used two at a time, for the first few days.

I do wonder whether Kate just takes her royal duties on with a smile, or whether she has a private cry sometimes, and then faces the press with a big smile on her face. And of course, it’s not just Kate who’s affected by these royal traditions – it actually has a subconscious effect on every pregnant woman who sees the photos. Chances are, many of them will think that it’s totally normal (expected, even) to snap back to normal, on the day they give birth. So will they feel like a failure when they’re heading home from hospital, greasy-haired, pale and hobbling slightly as their stitches smart a little?

To be fair to Kate, I don’t blame her for sprucing herself up, when the world’s media is waiting for her outside the hospital. But wouldn’t it have been refreshing if she’d ignored what was expected of her and actually thought about what she wanted? Wouldn’t it have been brilliant if she’d scraped her hair into a top knot, dabbed some powder on her tired shiny face and worn tracksuit bottoms for her hospital exit?

 

The Perfect ‘Meeting Outfit’

alison-perry-boden-outfit

Because I work from home, I’ve got to admit, my usual daytime outfits consist of jeans, sweatshirt/tee and flats. If I know I’ll be meeting a friend for coffee, I’ll put some make up on and add a statement necklace to make myself seem less of a scruff. If I’m having a really lazy day, the postman and any delivery men have the joy of seeing my lovely unwashed hair scraped into a top knot and my PJs, when they knock on my door. I’m a vision of beauty, I can tell you.

So this means that since leaving the magazine I worked on and going freelance, last year, my wardrobe has slid from being semi-stylish to very casual. I no longer have a real reason to buy heels or smart clothes, so I don’t.

But I’ve had a bit of a problem recently, when I’ve had meetings with PRs or editors in London. Apparently it’s not acceptable to turn up to a meeting wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. To be honest, I’ve never been good at dressing smartly. Even in my days of working at magazines like More and Look, my day to day outfits consisted of skinny jeans, heels, a Breton t-shirt and a statement necklace. Working in a creative environment like a magazine office, no one wore suits (apart from the really top bods who usually sat on a different floor) so my outfits worked.

So I’ve struggled recently, when raiding the depths of my wardrobe for something vaguely smart. “Can I pull off this cocktail dress on a drizzly Tuesday?” I’d think, before opting for jeans again. Because that’s how the scale of my wardrobe goes…

SCRUFFY -> CASUAL -> COCKTAIL DRESS -> MY ACTUAL WEDDING DRESS

Don’t worry, I’ve never rocked up to a meeting in the latter.

So hurrah for Boden who have come to my rescue by sending me this outfit. The Long Line Shirt (£44) isn’t something I’d normally choose (mainly because shirts aren’t a fan of my boobs: see photo at the top for proof) but I love it, especially with the Bistro Crop Trouser (£59). I bought a pair of these in a green pattern last summer and loved them. They’re a great fit and look brilliant with sandals, flats or heels. I’ve been wearing them, this week, with my black Birkenstocks and a neon yellow necklace.

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What do you think? Presentable enough for a meeting?