Author: pollymadeline

About pollymadeline

PR girl and owner of Devonshire Dolly lingerie. Mad about knickers, beauty, fashion, my career and adventures.

A week in Marrakech: Part 1

(Excuse the Instagram photos. Proper camera uploads coming soon)

To kick off January and as a cheeky joint birthday present to each other, my boyfriend and I decided to head to Marrakech for the week and escape the vile British weather. We only got back a couple of days ago and miss it SO much. It was so lovely to spend the week focusing purely on each other, doing stuff we’ve never done before, eating food we’ve never eaten before and generally having a jolly old time. We both agreed it was the best holiday we’ve ever been on and we’re itching to book up our next adventure.

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The first day in Marrakech is a little overwhelming. The roads are an absolute mess with donkeys, cars, buses and bikes racing around roundabouts in what looked to be a totally random ‘just go’ system. I loved watching the hustle and bustle on the big roads but I wouldn’t even consider hiring a car unless you were very experienced and a bit gutsy/mad. The ‘just go’ system also works for pedestrians when crossing the road. At first it’s a bit scary but you’ll soon get worryingly confident stepping out in front of oncoming traffic. The first day we walked to the Koutoubia mosque which is the centre point of the life of Marrakech via the Cyber Gardens which is a peaceful park off the main road with wifi and computer screens. The mosque stands tall in the old town next to the souks and is a great landmark if (when) you get a little lost. We had a lunch of tagine and water (alcohol can’t be sold or drank in sight of a mosque) and then headed into the markets.

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Cyber Gardens

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Orange trees everwhere

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This was when the only negative event of the week occurred. THE HENNA LADIES. I think we were just unfortunate with this particular group but one lady ran over to me knocking chairs over in the process and grabbed my hand and started drawing away. I politely tried dragging my hand away but she was seemingly stronger than me and managed to coax me to the seating area while another one grabbed my leg and boyfriend and started drawing away on them. To cut a long story short we ended up overpaying them as at the time we hadn’t got to grips with the currency stupidly, and felt a little pissed off. They were the only people we came across that were unpleasant in the game of bartering though and for the rest of the holiday I gave a super firm ‘No Merci’ to all Henna ladies who shouted Hello at me. It wasn’t even a nice henna tattoo!

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From then on everything was on the up. The next day we visited the beautiful Saadian Tombs which date back from the time of the sultan Ahmad al-Mansur (1578-1603). They really were beautiful and a must see if you’re visiting. They were followed by strawberry milkshakes on a café terrace overlooking the souks and we also met this little guy in the photo below.

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Saadian Tombs

Although it’s probably MUCH easier to hop in a taxi we then walked for about 45 minutes to the Agdal Gardens through the palace grounds which have stunning views of the Atlas mountains and a lake filled with huge carp. There were quite a few locals there but it was very peaceful and impressive.

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Agdal Gardens

After that we headed back to the souks for dinner and settled in a Terrace restaurant which was utterly gorgeous. (I’ll find the exact name of it and add it in!) We had a delicious three course meal for £7.50 each and kick started our love for mint tea. Eating out in Marrakech is so cheap! We ate like Kings and paid like peasants, if you go don’t bother with self-catering.

The next day we devoted our time to the Souks. I had no idea just how big they are but once you’re in there and see the little winding alleways that seemingly go on for ages it’s easy to get lost. Tom thankfully is a total map nerd so I just happily followed him around. I wasn’t looking for anything except a gift for my Mum but Tom needed a new belt so we headed to the leather part where they dye, cut and create glorious leather bags, shoes and belts. Within 20 minutes Tom had a pretty fly black belt tailored to fit his skinny hips perfectly for about £9. We could have probably got it even cheaper but Tom had bartered them down a bit and thought it was a fair price anyway. After we had had our first bite of proper bartering I was raring to go again! It’s funny and challenging and the sellers are usually witty and friendly back.

We love leather

We love leather

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I ended up buying 3 bottles of pure Argan oil in all it’s nutty glory for about £20 and a decorative plate for Mumma T. Tom bought a mint tea set for us both and a berber silver bracelet for his little sister. We had so much fun that day. Don’t feel nervous about it. People will shout at you trying to get you in their shop but if you’re not interested keep on walking with a polite ‘No’ in arabic or french and they’ll let you carry on your merry way. On the other hand if you see something you do like don’t shy away. Always, always haggle down to about a third of what they originally offer you and be confident at walking away. Chances are you’ll find a very similar piece around the corner.

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The souks are incredible though and I will always remember them! They sold doors, potions, rugs and more and the apothecaries sold every spice, herb and mineral to cure every ailment under the sun. There’s also nice little cafes and terraces hidden away in the mix that are perfect for picking up some lunch.

The next post promises mountains, berbers and mouthwatering food.

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Autumn Warmers

The days are getting mighty chilly and like our clothes, our food needs injecting with a little comfort and warmth too. These are my two favourite recipes to get me through the cold months. Both are free of sugar and completely clean (if you count oats and almond milk).

This is my super healthy chicken casserole. I’m not the best cook but even I find this unbelievably easy and so tasty.

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It’s so healthy and low-calorie that you can make yourself a HUGE bowl and keep eating until you are full. It’s like a super thick broth and you can chop up the chicken or challenge your eating skills by just bunging in a couple of thighs in and reaping the benefits when you realise how tender they are! This meal has sooo many superfoods involved in it also for you health nerds.

2 chicken thighs
1/2 a cup of lentils
1/4 cup of quinoa
1/2 an onion
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon of Turmeric
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of Paprika
1 teaspoon of coriander

Fry the garlic and onion until browned, then brown the chicken. Fill the pot with water, about halfway up the chicken. then add all the other ingredients and season. Cover and simmer for 25-30mins. Voila! You might need to tweak the ingredients quantities but play around and let me know if you tried it.

Bonus Breakfast

This Cocoa Porridge is the perfect morning breakfast to warm you up for the day and SO quick and easy. I’ve really been trying to majorly cut down on sugar- we all know how bad it is so I won’t go into it on this post but I am finding it HARD. I’m a complete chocoaholic so I’m going a bit crazy but getting there with a few tricks i.e. Stevia.

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45g Porridge Oats
120ml Almond Milk
1 teaspoon of Green and Blacks Organic Cocoa Powder
A sprinkle of Almonds
1 teaspoon of stevia

My New Toy

Christmas is coming and I’ve got a couple of rather lovely events lined up that I actually want to photograph for once in my life. My phone pictures aren’t great and my beautiful Samsung is a bit big and unsubtle when at restaurants and out with friends. Plus it’s like my child and I’m so scared of damaging it that it’s rarely allowed outside.

After a lot of research I decided to get this little guy, the Fujifilm Finepix JX650.
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It was weird going back to a digital compact camera and at first I was a little shocked at the quality being used to the Samsung but after I’d fiddled around with it for a while it started to take some nice pictures. I’m in love the look of it and that it’s tiny enough to fit in my handbag. It’s basic with 16MP and 5x zoom but for £49.99 from Argos it’s pretty good value . It has face detection and different camera modes. All in all I’m excited to take it on days out with me and not worry about taking it on nights out. You can also get a 1/2 price 4GB SD card if you buy from Argos!

This is my beautiful Samsung NX 1000:

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Liz Earle: Sheer lip gloss & Eye Pencil (Free Vogue gift)

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The other day I renewed my subscription to Vogue and because I did it through a different company I got a free gift! When I heard it was Liz Earle I was so excited. I used to use their excellent quality skincare all the time and I’ve always hugely respected and admired the brands ethics and principles. Naturally active, against animal testing or using animal products etcetera.

I had never tried their make up though so was eager to open my present! I was sent the Sheer lip gloss in Fuscia and Eye Pencil in black. The packaging was simple in keeping with the brand, but a navy blue instead ofthe light minty green we usually know the brand for.

First of all the lip gloss. Excuse the photo, I’m still getting used to my camera.

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I very rarely wear gloss. I’m much more of a lipstick kind of girl, so immediately I thought it was just another freebie that would be shoved to the back of the dressing table drawer. When I tried it on though I was pleasantly surprised, it looks quite natural and isn’t greasy at all. It’s also enriched with avocado oil and shea butter which I love. If I were to pick a lipgloss it would be something along the lines of this. The colour was a little too pink for me unfortunately so it’s not something I see myself wearing a lot, especially this Autumn. However, next summer when I have a bit of a glow I may give it another try, if my sister doesn’t nab it first. Usually this costs £13.50 which is a little too high for me. If I was a lipgloss devotee and found my perfect colour it wouldn’t be a problem but I’d rather save my pennies and try their lipstick.

Next up the Eye Pencil

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 Eyeliner is much more my bag. It is included in every make up look I do and I feel underdressed without it so I was especially excited to give this a go. It glided on really well and made my eyes look instantly defined. I put it on my outer top lid and inner lower lid. Unfortunately it cracked fairly quickly on my upper eyelid, I rarely have this problem with the more waxy eyeliners such as Benefits BadGal liner. The bottom lid stayed covered for a good 8 hours but was smudged on the inner and outer corners which was annoying. All in all, it was ok. It defines your eyes brilliantly and would probably make a great day liner if you only put it on your lower, inner lid, or sat there all day with your eyes closed. At £11, I think this is reasonable.

I have huge faith in this range though so as soon as possible I’ll be trying their brow pencil and mascara. I’ll let you know.

xx

PR/Blogger Relationship Counselling

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I know Patsy wasn’t a PR but if you had to draw the stereotype!

I know PR people have a reputation…and just like every other industry, 5% of the time this may be the case. I’ve recently seen a lot of tweets and blogposts about how rude and unprofessional PR’s can be. This is hugely sad. It’s a time of blogging mania and PR’s should be building long term working relationships with the talented blogosphere heroes and emerging writers out there. I haven’t been working in PR for years on end but I do know that if you can’t communicate with people as individuals  and read people correctly then you’re in the wrong job.

However,  I’m sad to say that some bloggers are a little bit shabby on the manners front themselves. If a PR is friendly, genuine and professional, treat them in the same manner. It’s a win-win situation mostly so be nice, and if they are assholes just press delete, move on and watch this completely unrelated video of a penguin falling over. Forget that free tube of lipgloss, you have class!

Don’t:

Say you want to review something then just sell it on ebay unopened – you’re a canny money man but it’s beyond cheeky. You may think that you’re the little guy and cheating a big brand is Robin Hood-esque but really you’re just stabbing yourself in the foot. If you’re not interested say from the beginning so they don’t send you something you can’t review with honesty or aren’t bothered about. It will pay off in the future when after having built a trustworthy relationship with you a new client comes into their hands that you love and you have a first class ticket on that train.

Creep – I totally agree with bloggers making the most of their blog and pursuing products that they think go well with it and would love to review. Everyone’s out to get something, PR’s especially, so there is no harm in approaching someone with an idea for a feature or post. But don’t get desperate. Don’t email every two days asking if any new products are available for you, if we could send you a refill etc. You have to be in a really really good and successful working relationship for that to fly. There are plenty of bloggers out there so make yourself known but don’t turn up on the doorstep.

Bitch – If you don’t get an invite to something don’t bitch about it online. You won’t be invited to anything else and will get a reputation. If you are super to go then there is no harm in politely asking if there are any opportunities to come along if you pay travel expenses etc. Obviously, it depends on each event but most PR’s will atleast respond politely and register that you are interested in coming along to similar events in the future. Be nice about it though, with zero catty undertones.

I know that 95% of bloggers are lovely, clever people who know how to be friendly and professional. Don’t get sucked into a conversation with a twatty PR trying to plug products that have no interest to you and your readers.

Be silly. Be honest. Be Kind.

x

Max Factor buys

New makeup! Today I tested out some new Max Factor goodies that I bought in Boots on their good old 3 for 2 deal. I bought foundation, liquid eyeliner and two new lipsticks.

Max Factor Colour Adapt Foundation

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This has been around for a while and I seem to remember using it a couple of years ago. I usually use Teint Miracle Liquid Foundation by Lancôme which is around £28, but as I’ll be using a little more than usual over winter, I wanted a cheaper foundation to use everyday. Colour Adapt is £9.99 for 34ml which is a very reasonable price and I got the Creamy Ivory shade. It promises to ‘adapt to your individual skin tones…even out skin tone and blend away imperfections.’ The coverage is really impressive and it does balance my skin tone really well. It does seem to wear off rather quickly though and I tend to need to reapply it after 3 or 4 hours which isn’t great. It makes your skin feel so soft! So much so that I almost prefer it to my usual foundation, it’s like using a primer! It’s incredibly good value for money and will now be a staple in my beauty bag.

Max Factor Colour Elixir Lipstick

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Finding a lipstick I like is an ongoing battle for me. I’m not overly keen on pink tones, peachy tones can drain me a little and I only like a very few shades of red so I didn’t have high hopes when I put these on my bare lips but I was pleasantly surprised. The first one pictured on the left is Pearl Maron and the  right is Mulberry.  Pearl Maron is great for girly day make up looks and Mulberry is perfect for taking your look into night. They lasted a fair while but I’m still getting used to the shades. I actually used the Mulberry in a trashy makeup look I did for Halloween! It is a nice colour though so don’t hold that against it. They contain vitamin E, conditioners and antioxidants and my lips did feel gorgeously soft and failed to dry out like they do with some other lippys. The selection of shades wasn’t great though but if they add some more I’ll definitely be popping back to the counter for a browse!

Max Factor Masterpiece Glide and Define Eyeliner 

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WORST photo I know…sorry. This was ok. It goes on well, doesn’t smudge and stays on pretty long. However, sometimes it’s really hard to get any. It’s like a faded felt tip pen no matter how hard I shake it sometimes, then goes back to normal. It can be pretty frustrating and I don’t think I’ll buy it again which is a shame because everything else about it is quite impressive!

x