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4/29/2016

First Impressions: Garnier SkinActive Moisture Bomb* | Just Add Ginger


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After religiously following my bridal skincare routine right up until the beginning of April, as you would expect, I started to run very low on moisturiser. I suffer from combination skin, and in winter-y weather, my skin can get especially flaky, which, let's be honest, isn't a particularly sexy look! 

So when BzzAgent let me know about their Garnier Moisture Bomb BzzCampaign, I immediately put my name down to get involved. I have participated in several BzzCampaigns in the past, but having never really tried a lot of Garnier products in the past,  I was really excited to give these a try. 

Formulated for dehydrated skin, there is a designated Moisture Bomb for use during the day, and one for application at night. I have to say that I was instantly appreciative of the pump applicator of the Moisture Bomb Day. When crawling out of bed, bleary-eyed and half asleep, the last thing I want is to put too much moisturiser on my face! A pump makes dispensing an appropriate amount really easy, and helps keep the process clean and I almost wish Moisture Bomb Night had the same packaging for the same reasons. 

Packaging aside, there is also a slight difference in consistency, which may be linked to the effects that each moisturiser is aiming to achieve. Moisture Bomb Day is light and creamy, and does require a little more work to sink in to the skin, where as Moisture Bomb Night is almost gel-like in formula, and is absorbed in to the skin quicker. It is still light in consistency, but feels more luxurious. It also has a pale blue tint, which is definitely quite a novel touch! Both moisturisers are delicately scented. Not at all a fragrance that is too powerful, but really pleasant, and is a definite reminder of summer - light, and almost fruity. I'm all for a little bit of perfumery, so liked this very much! 

Designed to rehydrate skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and generally keep skin feeling and looking happy, after using Moisture Bomb Day for nearly a week, I have noticed some changes in my skin. My face feels a lot smoother and supple, and any dry patches have disappeared. As yet, I haven't noticed any change to my fine lines (I have them around my eyes,) but it is still early days.  

Using Moisture Bomb Night, I wake up to skin that instantly feels hydrated. My face doesn't look so dull, and used in conjunction with Moisture Bomb Day, the formula helps to keep my skin feeling smooth from one day, right through to the next. Like it's daytime friend, Moisture Bomb Night is designed to help make fine lines look reduced, so we'll see what happens as the weeks go on. 

So far, I'm really happy. I love the packaging of the products (that turquoise colour is gorgeous,) I like the scent, and I like the formulation. Neither are greasy or slimy, and really have helped to get my skin feeling softer. And as for those fine lines....we'll just have to see what happens! 

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Have you tried Garnier Moisture Bomb yet? What results did you see?
*I received Garnier Moisture Bomb Day & Night as part of a BzzAgent BzzCampaign. All opinions are 100% my own and defined by my personal experiences and results


4/27/2016

My Berketex Bride Experience | Just Add Ginger

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I hadn't planned on going wedding dress shopping so early, but right before Ryan and I had got engaged, MG had taken a fall and broken her shoulder. Feeling down in the dumps, after Ryan popped the question, I suggested she and I head to Berketex Bride just to try on a few dresses and have some girly time to act as a bit of a distraction. 

In that one trip, I came, I saw, and I found. I literally had no idea what sort of dress I wanted to wear, so went in with a completely open mind, and a few ideas that MG, Ryan, and one of my maids of honour had picked out. Of course I completely disregarded all of these and went for something completely different, but that's a different story. 

There aren't many bridal shops directly near to where my parents live, so growing up, Berketex Bride was the wedding dress shop that I'd always glance in to oogle at the pretty dresses, so it was like living out a childhood dream actually standing in there staring at all the gowns.

Right from that initial trip, the staff in the store could not have been more helpful. From offering advice and guidance on choosing a dress, to just generally being friendly and helping us have a fabulous experience. Nothing was too much trouble, and never at any stage did I feel they were rushing us. I tried on several dresses that first trip - some of them twice - and I really did have all the time I needed to make the right decisions. 

Berketex was the first and only wedding shop I went to. Some might say that that was a bit impulsive, and I may have missed out on a better dress, but for me I didn't need to see any more or visit any other shops. It wasn't just the dress, which of course I absolutely loved, but it was the happiness I'd had buying the dress. It got me excited and eager for the gown to come in. I didn't want to go to a shop where I dreaded going in. And at Berketex Bride, I really felt like I got the bride-to-be treatment.

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We ordered my wedding dress way ahead of time. Ryan and I were engaged 18 months before we got married, so you can imagine how long I had to wait before my fittings. But the staff in the store were so accommodating, understanding that I lived 200 miles away, and reassuring me that they would look after the dress and keep it safe from when it came in up until my final fittings. This also put my mind at complete ease, because along with kindly storing the dress, the staff also said that whenever I was visiting my parents, I could make an appointment to come in and try on the dress. An offer which I took up a few times at various points to show friends and family, see styling ideas with my hair, and to just generally feel like a princess and get excited. 

The long-distance relationship I had with my dress was never an issue, and dress fittings never a problem. The team in-store were always on hand to answer any last-minute questions about underwear, hair, accessories, veil choices....even tips on how to go to the toilet! They were very caring and understanding, really looking after me. On one visit, I was being pinned ready for alterations, and started to go a bit wobbly (standing still in a heavy wedding dress for a long time isn't the easiest.) Seeing my discomfort, the staff ensured I sat down, and only when I was ready would we carry on. That care and attention really did make me feel so appreciated as a customer. It was a fabulous feeling.

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I really did have the best experience shopping at Berketex Bride, and can honestly say that if you are in the Hertfordshire area, to head on in to the Watford branch and take a peek. The staff are so friendly and really take care of you, and the gowns are just gorgeous. On hand to offer advice, guidance, and reassurance, I never felt out of my depth or uncared for. The store must see so many brides come in week on week, but they really make each customer feel special, and get your excitement going. Looking back, I really couldn't have picked a better shop. With tips given on how to hang the dress and veil, there were no hiccups leading up to the event, and on the day I felt like a true princess, with my dress fitting perfectly, veil steamed to perfection, and feeling so comfortable.

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Photo Credit: Wedding guest
It really was the wedding dress of my dreams!

For more information about Berketex Bride, and to find your nearest store, click here.

4/25/2016

Dinner at Brookhouse | Just Add Ginger

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As soon as we made our first visit to Brookhouse last year, we instantly knew we had to return. Set in the picturesque, chocolate box village of Clapham in Yorkshire, the location is idyllic and one of those places that completely captures your heart. We had the most fantastic stay at Brookhouse last time, so the minute I could, I booked Ryan and I on a little mini-moon to whisk ourselves away on straight after the wedding.

What I thought was a fantastic touch the last time we stayed, was the Brookhouse does offer dinner several nights of the week. Perfect for if you have been out all day and just want to head back home in the evening and relax. Taking advantage of this previously, this time we dined in two nights out of our four night stay.

Food at Brookhouse is really reasonably priced, with several choices of all three courses on offer, plus a wine and drinks menu if you fancy a cheeky tipple to accompany your food. With quite a lot of things to choose from, selecting what to have was quite difficult. But because we were to be dining in on more than one occasion, I somehow managed to narrow my choices down, and split these up across two evenings.

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I started out with the pork belly and black pudding. Black pudding is one of my biggest weaknesses, so as soon as I spot it on a menu, I'm in there! On this night, the pork belly cut was not available, with a substitute of cheek in its place. This did not phase me at all, and readily awaited my order. 

Juicy, succulent, and melt-in-the-mouth, my knife barely caressed the pork cheek before it fell apart. With the black pudding accompaniment the elements were a match made in heaven, with the apple, rhubarb and ginger chutney adding a subtly sweet element. The salad that came with the starter was delicious too, but I found myself gravitating more towards the meat, and then eating this separately. The dish size was perfect for a starter. Neither too small, or too overwhelming, it glided down and was a beautiful way to start our meal. (I loved this starter so much I ended up ordering it on both nights!)

After having a few sips from my glass of red, our main courses were placed in front of us. Opting for the steak, it came out perfectly cooked, cosily nestled under a layer of bacon, onion rings and tomatoes and served with boiled potatoes, a potato fondant, and a side of vegetables. Like with the pork, the meat was fabulously juicy, and I only needed a little help to cut it. The potato fondant was a lovely touch - crisp and crunchy on the outside, and fluffy in the middle. I wish I had got a better photo - mine doesn't do the dish justice - but I was itching to get eating! 

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What would a romantic mini-moon dinner be without dessert? This was the only dish that from the get-go I knew I wanted to eat on both nights. Being the chocoholic that I am, the hot chocolate brownie ticked all the boxes. The sponge was soft, and really chocolatey, with the orange sauce acting as a zingy, sweet accompaniment that was so warming and comforting. With a choice of ice cream or cream to go with the dessert, I opted for ice cream, which, once I'd gobbled up the brownie, was lovely to eat with the remainder of the sauce. 

The only thing I would have wanted to change about eating at Brookhouse is that I wish we could have eaten there every night. But that's me just being really greedy! Host Alan does all the cooking, hosting, and running of Brookhouse so definitely deserves the break. Plus having only a few days of dining makes the experience that more special. 

Thinking of visiting Yorkshire? Definitely check out the Brookhouse. It's an amazing place to stay, with a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and the food....oh my goodness - it is simply delicious! 

For more info about Brookhouse, click here.  

4/22/2016

25 Food Question Tag | Just Add Ginger




It's no secret that I absolutely adore my food. I love cooking it. I love eating it. I love going out to restaurants to sample it. Put a plate of food in front of me, and I am one happy girl. Last week when we were away, I put on 5lbs....5lbs! Yes, as soon as the wedding dress came off, the bridal diet was well and truly over!

I found the 25 Food Questions Tag on Fabulicious Home Life and knew I just had to give it a go. If you are as passionate about food as I am, then TAG you're it....it's your turn to have a go next!


1. What's your favourite breakfast?

I go through phases, but at the moment it would either be chocolate porridge, banana and yoghurt, or smashed avocado on toast. I've just discovered avocado, and am literally obsessed!


2. How do you drink your coffee?

With a splash of milk. I used to be one for having all the syrups, but now I like keeping it simple.



3. What's on your favourite sandwich?

Hmmm...that's a tough one. I have a love/hate relationship with bread, and don't really eat a lot of sandwiches any more. But if I had to pick something it would be mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, chopped tomatoes and pesto.

4. Soup or Salad? 

Soup. There's nothing like a big hearty bowl of soup on a cold day or to have as the ultimate comfort food. Spiced parsnip is my favourite!

5. What's your favourite cookbook? 

I'm a really big Jamie Oliver fan. And his Ministry Of Food cookbook is brilliant. I know how to cook several dishes in there by heart and they always hit the spot.

6. No more sweets or no more hearty food? 

Do I really have to choose? Really? Oh gosh this is such a tough decision. I guess if "sweets" means desserts then I'd have to get rid of them. I love my puddings, but nothing beats big dishes of hearty, home-cooked food.

7. What's your favourite cuisine (country?) 

Italian or Indian. It's a tough call. I love them both.

8. What's your favourite food movie? 

Chocolat....Johnny Depp and chocolate. Is there any better a combination?

9. What's your most guilty pleasure? 

There's a dessert at our favourite restaurant that I just love. Every time we go there I order it, even if I'm full. And I once ate two in one sitting. At home though it's a big mug of hot chocolate...delicious!

10. What's your greatest inspiration source? 

Watching Masterchef. I watch it every year and after it's finished that's when my passion for food goes in to overdrive. Watching Ryan cook is fascinating too. He has such a palette and isn't afraid to try anything. I really wish I was more like that.

11. Cooking at home or going out to dinner? 

A bit of both. Home-cooked food is amazing, but going out is such a treat, and something I really look forward to.

12. High end or low profile? 

If this is in terms of restaurants I like to sample both. I love supporting local businesses, so visit both family-style, or one off restaurants and high flyers. I learn a lot from both and always appreciate the food. 

13. What's your favourite restaurant? 

Yukti. Every time.

14. I do my grocery shopping at...? 

Tesco mainly, with a few visits to Asda every so often.

15. The tastiest food I've ever eaten was...? 

Again, this is a really difficult question, and one that's so hard to answer. I can't say there has been one dish that has surpassed all others, but I was blown away by a sea bass dish I had at Bill's last weekend. It was divine!

16. What's your favourite cocktail? 

Basil Grande. They are quite difficult to come by so as soon as I spot one on a cocktail menu I order it.

17. Coffee with George Clooney or Heston Blumenthal? 

Has to be Heston - I'd love to pick his brain and learn more about him as a chef. I think he's fantastic.

18. What should not be missing in your kitchen? 

Herbs and spices. I'm not the most confident at experimenting but I love adding things to make dishes extra tasty.

19. What's your favourite snack? 

Depending on how I feel, either some cheeky chocolate biscuits, crisps, or cheese and crackers.

20. What's on your pizza? 

Same as my sandwich - mozzarella, pesto, basil and tomato.

21. What food do you really dislike? 

There are a few. I really can't stand celery, radishes, marzipan, cherry liquor, and anything pickled!

22. What's your favourite food blog? 

She doesn't write exclusively about food, but I do like watching Niomi Smart's food videos on YouTube. Everything looks so delicious and colourful.

23. What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten? 

Sheep testicle. I didn't realise what it was, and I really thought it was yummy. 

24. What's on your food bucket list? 

I'd love to go to a really high end restaurant to eat. There's no food item on my bucket list really. I love being curious and discovering things as I go.

25. I couldn't live without...? 

Chocolate. Or cheese. Both hold a pretty big place in my heart,

Fancy having a go at this tag? Leave your links or answers in the comments!

Bet you're feeling hungry now, aren't ya? 




4/20/2016

KEEP CALM. It's Your Wedding Day | Just Add Ginger



It's no secret - things can get really stressful on the lead up to your wedding day. As somewhat of a perfectionist, I knew that without enough time to prepare, I could easily succumb to pressure and turn in to a raging, quivering, quaking Bridezilla (with a capital 'b' for extra ferociousness!) 

But by putting some easy steps in to practice, come the wedding day (aside from a fussing, excitable Mama Ginger,) everything ran smoothly, and I was calm and relaxed right up until I put on my wedding dress. So for all my fellow fretting Brides, here are some of my top tips for keeping calm on your wedding day. 

You Can Never Be Too Organised

It's true. And it all started from the minute the invitations went out. Planning in advance, we stated our guests needed to be seated well ahead of time. This ensured there were no stragglers, and that everything (and everybody) was in place before I arrived for the ceremony. 

Okay, so this is going to sound very "Monica Gellar" of me, but on the day, to be absolutely sure everybody knew what they were doing and when, I wrote my bridesmaids an itinerary with approximate timings for everything, and a broken down list of what their duties were and when so that they were always ready should I need to call on them. All big tasks (speeches, photographer's aide) were delegated way ahead of time, so that the girls knew what specific jobs they had should they be needed. At the bottom of their itinerary were the numbers of my husband-to-be, my mum, and the venue so that if there were any questions problems, or queries, they could be contacted and I could be left to concentrate on keeping calm.

And the over-enthusiastic planning didn't stop there. Together with Ryan we sat down and divided all that was needed to dress the venue into envelopes, individually labelled and coordinated. There were table diagrams, check-lists and labels galore. I even wrote him a list for the wedding morning of what he needed to do at the venue so that nothing would be forgotten. 

It all may seem a little OTT, but it's always best to be as prepared as you can be. You never know when those pre-wedding jitters are going to kick in. Ryan was the epitome of calm right up to the wedding morning, and then he was a ball of nerves. Having these plans in place meant that even though he was stressing out, nothing got forgotten.


Let Yourself Breathe 

It's okay to feel anxious. To get stressed out. To feel those nerves. It's a bride's prerogative. All that time planning for your big day, making it all as perfect as you can, and then before you know it...BOOM, here it is! And you want it to be amazing.

If you're feeling wound up as you get ready for the wedding, it's alright to slip away and just have some moments to yourself. Pick somewhere quiet, with no noise, and just give yourself a minute or two to gather your thoughts. I did this twice whilst everyone was getting ready Once to go through my vows one last time (I honestly was so scared I'd cock them up,) and the second time for a toilet break. I didn't make a big deal that I was feeling a little nervous. I took myself out of all hustle and bustle, gave myself some time, and when I was ready, I came back.

I have to hand it to our photographers and my bridesmaids that day. They really helped to keep my grounded. MG was getting very over-excitable just before I got dressed, and me, having been cool , calm and collected for the majority of the morning could feel tension begin to bubble up inside me. And when I get really nervous, it takes a lot of control to re-centre my thoughts. I shake. I shake uncontrollably. And in that situation, I knew I'd probably start to cry and that would have been a disaster....I HAD FALSIES ON PEOPLE!

That's where your bridal party is your biggest support system. MG left the room, distracted with another task, and accompanied by a bridesmaid, whilst I got dressed with my other two bridal party members. Our photographer was also great, sensing I was close to tears, and ensuring I was okay. Within minutes, the atmosphere was returned to a relative state of calm, and the situation averted.


Set The Mood 

Never underestimate the power of music on your wedding morning. As soon as it was a reasonable hour, I turned on Spotify, and hit play on my "Wedding Morning Playlist," which was essentially the exactly same playlist of songs we had had for the Hen Night. I knew that playing relaxing, calming melodies would just not work for me. I needed something that would get me up and dancing, singing, smiling, dancing round the apartment, and that would create a massive firework display of excitement. The last thing I wanted was to be shaking from start to finish of the preparation process, and turning up to the wedding in a big dishevelled mess!

Of course, choose music that works for you. If you like soothing sounds, spa tracks, motown, 90's pop, rock, hip-hop, or jazz, make yourself a collection of your favourite tunes to play that morning to act as background noise, entertainment, and to set the right mood for you as you get ready.


Remember To Eat

Sound so simply, doesn't it? But it's something that's really, really important. Because the fact of it is on your wedding day itself, you might not get to eat that much. I remember having a few spoonfuls of soup (I was scared of spilling it on my dress,) about half of my main (my dress was quite fitted and space was limited,) and only a little of my dessert. Canap├ęs were lost on Ryan and I because we were having photographs taken, and by the time the evening reception came along, I just wanted to have my glasses of fizz and let my hair down. So food in the morning is so important. PG acted as our food delivery man, bring round a huge selection of pastries, juice, and chocolate milk, just in case I was too nervous to eat. There was fruit in the fridge from Friday night, and tea and coffee galore. Plenty for everyone and some to spare.

And it was breakfast that carried me through. Admittedly, it took me about an hour to eat it (I was here, there and everywhere,) but it filled that hole and stopped any nervous nausea. I understand you my not feel like eating as you're getting ready to go, but even if it's a juice, smoothie, fruit, or piece of toast, get something in your stomach so that you're not running on empty.


Remember What It's All About 

You might be worrying about what could go wrong. People might be flapping and fussing around you. But always remember what your wedding day is about - you and your other half. A celebration of the love you have. And ultimately, nothing else matters. Don't dwell on the ifs, buts or maybes about the ceremony, food, flowers, or reception, because when it comes down to it all, those things aren't so important. What is important is making the day memorable for the two of you, to see yourself off on the start of a brand new adventure.

I don't remember that much of the ins and outs of the day. What I do remember is walking down the aisle towards Ryan, and knowing that we are going to have the most wonderful, exciting life together.

Your wedding is one fabulous day. Your marriage is one fabulous lifetime. 

4/15/2016

We Did It! | Just Add Ginger


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Photo Credit: Wedding Guest
I'm sure that if you follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook you will already know this, but I wanted to officially say this on the blog.... 

WE GOT MARRIED! 

Boyfriend and I tied the knot on 2nd April 2016, and I don't think I'm ever going to come down from this cloud. We whisked ourselves away on honeymoon almost straight away, heading for Yorkshire on the Monday and not coming home until the Sunday, and thinking about it all still makes me want to cry! 

I'm not going to go into too much detail of the day (there are just some things you want to keep private) and I'm not going to start filling my blog with wedding-related content, because I do understand it isn't appealing to everybody, but I just wanted to update you lovely lot, and just say thank you to everybody who sent across well-wishes for the day. It really meant so much to me reading all your kind tweets and comments on Twitter and Instagram - I was very touched! 

So now I'm officially a MRS (or Jackie O as I'm calling myself - just couldn't help it!) My new husband obviously cannot go as Boyfriend any more on JAG, and has kindly given it the okay for me to use his real name, Ryan. So from now on, if you see me refer to 'Ryan' in my posts, you'll know it's him, and not some randomer, or a companion we've got for Dave! 

There are a few wedding posts I want to upload relating to the day/honeymoon, but all of these will be uploaded on a Wednesday as a #WeddingWednesday featurette. And once we get our official photos through, I will of course be sharing a few of those, but I promise not to go overboard with too much wedding content. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea.

Thank you again for all your love, support and best wishes..It really does mean the world to us!

4/13/2016

Stay EPIC | Just Add Ginger


EPIC Apart Hotel, Just Add Ginger

Pretty much as soon as we had booked EPIC Apart Hotel as our wedding accommodation, and had our mini-tour, I couldn't wait to stay there. Throughout the booking process, and during the lead up to the wedding, the staff had been incredibly helpful, and really helped to kick-start the excitement as the festivities approached. 

We decided to go for an apartment rather than a hotel for a couple of reasons. The first being that an apartment would instantly be able to house all my bridal luggage. My dress and veil needed loads of space to hang, and the last thing I wanted was to be tripping over all my things. The second being that it meant hair and make up could come to us, set up, and beautify the bridal party in a sort of production line. Looking round EPIC the first time, I realised there was not only a lot of space, but also a lot of light, which would work perfectly for those getting pampered. And lastly, it meant I could spend the night before the wedding with my 'maids, all of us together in one big space. Something that was really important to me, as I knew those pre-wedding jitters surrounding saying my vows would hit me pretty hard. 

EPIC Apart Hotel, Just Add Ginger


EPIC Apart Hotel, Just Add Ginger

Walking in to our two bedroom apartment, I was completely blown away by how light and big and airy it felt. Tall ceilings, crisp white walls, and lots and lots of light. Immediately I took myself on a little tour, scoping out where would be best to hang my wedding dress and veil, then headed over to the sleek kitchenette to turn up the tunes on Spotify and wait for the girls. 

The tall ceilings and beautiful beams really worked to my favour, as we were able to hang my veil (which was cathedral length - go big or go home) on one of these in the back bedroom with only a minimal amount touching the floor. My wedding dress was hung on the front of one of the wardrobes, where it draped down with ease and with no chance of it creasing up again. 

EPIC Apart Hotel, Just Add Ginger

EPIC Apart Hotel, Just Add Ginger

EPIC Apart Hotel, Just Add Ginger

EPIC Apart Hotel, Just Add Ginger

What I really liked as well were the two bathrooms. The first, opposite the front door, contained a toilet, sink and shower/bath combo, which I knew I had to commandeer in the morning (I had my LUSH Golden Wonder packed in preparation for a good ol' wedding morning soak.) The second bathroom, which was closer to the back bedroom, had a toilet, sink, and one epic shower. Linking this bathroom to the main section of the apartment was what I affectionately called the "powder room" - a little area with a huge mirror, vanity counter, and stool - the perfect place for either hair or make up in the morning. 

Staying in EPIC was absolutely perfect that weekend. On the Friday evening, the girls and I drank fizz, played games, and partook in general merriment without being at risk of disturbing anyone. The two bedrooms ensured that we all got a good night's sleep, with me opting to take the first bedroom, just in case I got so nervous and there was no chance of getting any shut-eye. In the morning, we could all get ready without falling over each other. Hair and make up equally had enough room to operate, and when the photographer came, there was such gorgeous light pouring in from the huge windows that I know the photos are going to be stunning. It really was more than I could have ever hoped for. 

But it was the staff who really made it for us. Whether it was supplying us with extra tea and coffee so that we could make brews for everybody, ensuring that we had everything we needed to make us comfortable, coming out in the morning to wish me luck, re-vamping the room for me and the hubby to stay in on the Saturday night, to even helping arrange a little surprise for us when we came home from the reception. I felt very looked after, appreciated as a guest, and like any potential stress had instantly been taken away. 

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If you are looking for the perfect place to stay during your wedding, hen party, or stag do, I cannot recommend EPIC more. It provides the comfort of home, with all the facilities you are looking for, and definitely takes the stress and struggles away of trying to negotiate the space you need to get ready on your Big Day or party.

And me? Would I stay at EPIC again? Oh yes! All I need now is an excuse....

For more information, head here
Apartment images c/o Epic Apart Hotel, who have kindly let me use these for my review.