Posts Tagged ‘Northern Ireland’

Baytree Boutique B&B

As the Easter holidays approached and I had not one thing planned for my days off, I was contacted by the lovely Susan, the owner of a new boutique B&B near Hillsborough, and invited for an overnight stay.  Now I have to admit, watching the progress of this B&B growing and changing on Instagram, whether I had anything planned or not, I was definitely making a space in my diary for a stay at this new location.  And as a bonus, Ruth from Willow Lane was coming along too!

Baytree Boutique B&B

It’s a long time since I stayed in a B&B so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  But Baytree Boutique B&B is so far removed from what I remember of the last B&B I stayed in, and I have to say, that was a bit of a relief!  You have the comforts of the personal touch from the owners, but you also have the space and anonymity I search for when on holiday.

Baytree Boutique B&B

My view

Let me explain a little more!  On arrival, we were greeted by Susan and welcomed into Baytree B&B where the necessary information was laid – Wifi password, taxi numbers, breakfast menu – all the essentials!!  After a tour of the property (which is separate from the main house, but close enough if you have any issues), Susan took our coffee orders and left us to make ourselves comfortable – we headed straight to the living area for a catch up!  The decor is minimalist and fresh but in contrast to the quaint look outside, is surprisingly modern inside.

Coffee and homemade treats devoured and Ruth and I set to taking some photos.  I was taking full advantage of having a photographer (who isn’t 7 and doesn’t require pocket money for all photos taken!) and also the beautiful gardens around the house.


This pleather dress was bought from Zara in the last of the sales. It cost £5. Current price per wear 71p;)

silver brogues

This cosy knit from Miss Selfridge was perfect for keeping the heat in while relaxing outside on a beautiful spring afternoon!


The bell sleeve and embroidery on this top from Primark ticks all this season’s trends boxes!

Puma trainers

I wasn’t sure how wearable these Puma trainers would be, but they have easily integrated into my wardrobe. Slightly quirky, very comfy;)

As the B&B is set just outside Hillsborough, it is in the ideal location to explore the area. From the castle, to the park and lake or into the village for lunch at The Owl and The Pussycat, flowers from Twigs and Twine or pick up something from a Northern Irish designer stocked in In klover.  Ruth and I decided to explore a little further however, so headed for dinner at one of my current favourite restaurants, Bull and Ram in Ballynahinch (worth a visit if you haven yet been!).

On return to the B&B, the lights were on, the fire was lit (those special little touches are everywhere!) and we were ready to sit down with a glass of chilled prosecco!  After the perfect relaxing evening, a magazine and easter egg were waiting upstairs for me to enjoy, so we said goodnight and headed off to our rooms.  Fresh linen from The White Company with pillows of different densities for the best night’s sleep – to say Susan has thought of everything really is an understatement!

Baytree Boutique B&B

The 8am alarm came far too quickly!  Although, the part of this stay I was looking forward to most was awaiting us – the breakfast! Susan offers an extensive menu of hot and cold dishes, all of which are selected the previous evening.  Again, Instagram had sold me on her yoghurt and granola and the eggs benedict (even now as I write this, I’d happily go for breakfast every morning!!).  Breakfast is served in Susan’s dining area in her own home but she also offers the option of serving it in the house, especially for guests staying a longer period.

Baytree Boutique B&B

Breakfast at Baytree

Check out time came too quickly.  We were slightly hesitant to leave, I’m already trying to work out my date of return!

Thank you to Susan for an amazing stay – whether you are visiting the area for a particular reason, or just getting a break away, Baytree Boutique B&B is top of my list of recommendations!


Beauty Bootcamp

Anyone who reads silverbrogues regularly will know that I will happily spend my hard earned cash on new clothes or shoes, but it takes an arm twist to invest in beauty products.  I have my beauty routine, I style my hair pretty much the same way every day – some may call it habit, but if it works, why change it?!

Well, that is where Beauty Bootcamp steps in. Started by TV3’s beauty editor Liz Dwyer after spending time behind the scenes and watching  transformations happen, she decided she could provide an opportunity for all women to have a taster of the techniques needed for the everyday transformation.  With a team of international make-up artists and hair stylists, help is on hand to give you the opportunity to learn the techniques you know you want to learn and a few more besides!

So how does it work? A full day includes tips on hair and beauty.  We began the morning with coffee in hand and a browse of the make up and styling products on offer.  I had actually signed up to go alone, but ended up going with a friend.  However, there were many mixed groups of people – some alone, some part of a family, some friends, all ages, all females looking for a little guidance whether they had lost their way or never really got started.

We were given the choice of which area we would like to begin with. We chose hair with many of the group interested in curls. The last time my hairdresser cut my hair, she left it a little longer so I could style it with curls but of course my hair remains straight everyday.  I ultimately wanted to know the quickest way to curl my hair so it was an everyday option and what to do if it went wrong!

Beauty BootcampBeauty BootcampBest tips learned when curling hair?  If a strand goes wrong, let it cool before you try again.  After you have curled, don’t be afraid to put your hands through it – you can always go back and make a few changes.

Next up, make-up.  We were going to learn both how to chose products and how to apply them for an everyday look into an evening look.  Having a hands on approach definitely meets my learning style – if I don’t practically try it out, I will always find it hard to apply it.  The make-up products needed were available for us to use including brushes.  Naomh took us step by step through the layers, with a final focus on the eyes and lips.  I love heavy evening make-up but was unsure of how to soften this for the day.

Beauty BootcampBeauty Bootcamp

Best beauty tips – first up, buy yourself a beauty blender sponge.  Great for blending your foundation and concealer, but also useful for fixing mistakes! Using when it is damp is best; recently someone mentioned applying your primer with it first so it doesn’t soak up your foundation.  Secondly, you know when you are applying liner to your top lashes and then you get to the gap between your lashes and your nose. On that part, apply the liner along the inner eye line to make it look more natural. And finally, when putting on lipstick, apply, blot and apply again. That way, your first application should encourage a longer lasting hold.

Ultimately I think however, practising the techniques is the essential component to finding out how to make it work for you.  Time consuming, but true.  And again, that is what a day at Beauty Bootcamp offers.  Time to explore, try out and also to get expert advice.  The girls were great – they showed different techniques on you and then gave you the chance to do the same.  The professionals were  there to help with any questions or to guide you when fixing any mistakes.  You also came away with a handbook which gave a round up of all you had learned.

My conclusion.  Beauty Bootcamp offers a great day out with the girls where you come away relaxed, having learned an array of new skills.  At a price of £65 it seems a bit steep for anyone who just wants to ‘try something new’, but a £20 discount comes with a friend.  And it is a whole day where you can literally revamp your beauty regime.  My tip – go with a few things you really want to learn, write down any questions, and photograph or video what you learn on the day.

Thanks to Liz and CMPR for the chance to attend Beauty Bootcamp and Naomh for organising the day.


Love Local

One thing I have really enjoyed since beginning to write here at silverbrogues is the opportunity to find and support local companies.  I wanted to give you a little sample of some of the designers, entrepreneurs, creative talents of Belfast and Northern Ireland – go check them out!

First up, Gráinne Maher: Fashion Vault, designer of one of my favourite pieces of jewellery, a pink perspex Butterfly necklace (see photo below).  Gráinne opened the doors to the Fashion Vault in Spires Mall, a little spot that has always held treasures unique to Northern Ireland, and more recently held the much loved Fashion Souk, a place where I have found many bargains over the years!

As you step through the glass doors, the minimalist, industrial interior sets the perfect backdrop to focus on fashion and accessories.  Gráinne will be stocking a range of independent local designers, both up and coming and well established, and designers from further afield, as well as her own designs of course!

Bella Malone

The lovely Aoife Malone modelling

Gráinne Maher

Gráinne Maher, Designer Gordon Donaldson with Model Aoife Malone, Deux Cara Designers John Gerard O’Neill and Neil Coogan

There is never a time when we don’t want to get treats in the post, is there?  So when The Foxy Boxy offered to send over one of their boxes, I couldn’t say no!  Described as ‘a monthly box for lovers of fashion, fun and frills!’, The Foxy Boxy was set up by two local girls, Jill and Laura.  With a different theme each month (June box was entitled ‘Ooh La Laa’), the letterbox friendly box contained a mix of little handbag treats, and at 9am on the first day of each month the next theme will be announced!  The website is easy to use, there is no subscription making it easy to sign up as and when you wish to get it delivered to your door, or send as a little treat to a friend!  I love how the girls add a little personal touch with a video about the contents!

Dressing table

A lace collar adapted to make my dressing table look pretty! Also check out my Butterfly necklace by Gráinne Maher.

A lover of a bargain, and again, the appeal of finding a unique piece of fashion, Colour Pursuit has been set up by local girl Amanda Rankin as a ‘celebration of second chances’.  Check out her online store and see if you can find a piece you can give another chance!

colour pursuit

Amanda from Colour Pursuit and Kelly Black from The Sewing Cottage in Moira

Lines and Current

And a post to follow on Lines and Current – until then, check out all that local designer Rebekah has to offer!

And now to some food.  Enjoying some healthy treats at Raw Food Rebellion on the Lisburn Road wearing my favourite summer dress by local designer Zoe Boomer (thanks to my photographer Ruth from Willow Lane).

The tasting plates presented on the opening night of Raw Food Rebellion were swiftly devoured – not only because each flavour that entered your mouth was delicious, but the vegan, dairy free and gluten free food is sold as ‘clean eating’.  I would happily eat the hummus for the rest of my life;)

And last up, I recently became a Brand Rep for local company Itty Bitty Book Co – a company that, through cards, wall banners, framed pictures and the most adorable little books, basically just want to promote positivity!  Great for your handbag, your desk drawer or your mantlepiece and a perfect gift for a friend!

Itty Bitty Book Co

Buy here!

Any locals you love?  Send over the links and we can check them out!


No Shopping Allowed for the Minimalist Look

We had our sports day in school last week – the memories of previous years; the sun shining, the need for ice lollies to cool down, the sun hats shading from the sun…okay well it doesn’t often happen, it may be a little wishful thinking, but seriously, this cold?! I wore 5 layers and it still took all afternoon to warm up!

Anyway, enough of the complaining, but a week later and I’m still thinking of how to prepare for this weather? My tips – don’t buy anything new, and less is most definitely more.

Go to your wardrobe and sort.  Pull out those plain tees, shirts and single knit jumpers.  Jeans of course are key to the minimalist look, simple ankle skimming trousers also work.  Brogues top it off of course (socks hidden inside to add to the warmth!).

And then mix it up – add a statement necklace, a leather jacket, a hat.  Or vary with the tuck on your top or the roll of the trousers.

Here’s what I’ve dragged out and have been wearing this week…

Easy peasy – you can’t get more minimalist than that;)  Let’s hope my next post will be celebrating the summer which has finally arrived…now there’s some wishful thinking;)


Fresh Faced with eléni

Recently I reviewed a ‘take away‘ product from eléni and the difference in my skin after only using the products for a few days really took me by surprise!  I am not easily convinced by sales talk and the ‘90% of people would recommend it to a friend (in a sample of 40 people)’ always makes me suspicious, but when I know something works for me, I stick with it!  And the ‘secrets‘ section on the eléni web page helps to outline how it all works together.

So when I was offered the opportunity to review a eléni facial with Invoke Beauty, I of course jumped at the chance!  There was a selection of four to choose from – Hydrate and Nourish, Problem Skin, Luxury Turn Back Time and Busylife Youth Revival.  Knowing what my skin had been like following another busy term, I opted for the Busylife Youth Revival Treatment.

First step was to call Ishia to book a suitable time. Ishia works on Tuesday’s and Friday’s but is also available for appointment during the week.  My final day of term was the perfect date – what better way to begin the holidays!

Invoke Beauty is a beauty salon within a hairdressers which also shares space with a holistic therapist – it is basically a little spot for clients to meet every need in one stop!  Rock, Pamper, Scissors is set in the little village of Aghagallon, a place admittedly I had never been to before but found easily on the road from Moira – and a bonus, free parking (there is nothing more stressful than a full pampering session worrying if your money has run out on your parking ticket!).

eléni review

On arrival I was greeted in the homely hair salon, before entering the calming environment of the beauty room.  Ishia sat me down to discuss my health, my skincare regime and any problem areas.  She immediately made me feel relaxed and comfortable and explained exactly what clothes I needed to remove (is it just me that finds this an issue when going for a treatment?!) before stepping outside the door until I was ready.

eléni review

Electric blanket on, snug blanket wrapped around, and the treatment began.  Ishia started with the cleanse mask and the exfoliating deep cleanse that comes with each treatment, before taking a light and studying my skin.  This was my biggest selling point – I knew that I would be getting the treatment most suited to my skin.  At this point, on noticing my skin was particularly dry, Ishia suggested she go ahead with the Hydrate and Nourish Treatment.  Although not part of this particular facial, Ishia also included a mask she felt would enhance the treatment, meanwhile offering me the choice between a hand and arm or half leg and foot massage (another bonus – I hate when you have your mask applied and are left while it does it’s work, I want to optimise my pampering session!).  Treatment complete (always too soon!), glass of water consumed, tips given.  At this point I normally feel pressure to buy, but in a very relaxed manner, Ishia advised me of any suitable eléni products I may wish to use at home, and any further treatments necessary.

eléni review

Selfie taken straight after the treatment – already looking fresher!

Two weeks later – firstly, being told my skin is dry, I have been much more sensible and have been moisturising morning and night without fail.  Not only did Ishia’s advice kickstart my extra care, but her attention to my needs enabled me to continue.  I also plan to book in for my next facial and will continue my regime with this.

Of course this began as a review of the facial, and continued as a review of Invoke Beauty, but the package is what makes it – the facial was perfection and I feel a change in my skin, however, Ishia made the experience one I would happily recommend to a friend and one I will definitely be doing again!


1 2 3 4