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Giving Life to My Dull Hair WITHOUT Cutting It at Austen Thomson Hair, Edinburgh

Austen Thomson Hair Edinburgh

My Hair History

I've had a LOT of different hairstyles over the years. Even just in the course of having this blog, I've had a bob, I've tried hair extensions, I've had a fringe and ombre hair, I've been blonde...I've been blonder. The list goes on! Pre-blog, I had bright red hair, I had sort of purplish ends in my hair, I even had those awful tiger stripe blonde/orange highlights. Safe to say - I like to change my hair up a lot.

My hair is currently at the longest length that historically I've let it get to before I've got bored and chopped it off. I tend to find that at this length it starts to look a bit limp and lifeless, it gets knotty and ratty looking and I just can't be bothered anymore and lop it off. NOT THIS YEAR. I'm getting married in October, and I know that I want to have my hair up with lots of volume and pretty plaits, which means that cutting it into a bob right now would be the worst possible decision. 

I can't dye it either, because Sean (and my mum, and Sean's mum...and me I guess) would like me to have my natural hair colour for the wedding photos, rather than something that I'll get bored of in a year and then never have ever again in the course of my entire lifetime. 

So I figured I was pretty much doomed...until, enter Austen Thomson Hair in Leith!

Austen Thomson Hair Leith
Hairdressers in Edinburgh

LEARNING HOW TO DO A GOOD BLOWDRY AT AUSTEN THOMSON HAIR:

After I had a good chat (maybe more of a rant) to the LOVELY hairstylist Lauren, who greeted me when I walked through the door, she suggested that maybe I'd be a bit happier with keeping my hair pretty much exactly how it is for the next few months if I spent a teeny bit of time properly drying and styling it, rather than just tugging a brush through it and chucking it up in a ponytail.

I'd always thought that it would be too much of a hassle to do this in the mornings if I was in a rush to get out of the door, but I was persuaded by the promise of a few tips and tricks that would cut this right down.

THE TIPS:

  1. I was told that I should change up my shampoo and conditioner, and use the sort of brands that are used in hair salons, not just whatever's on offer in Boots that day. (I have now done this, and can confirm that I can notice a difference in the condition of my hair!) 
  2. Lauren also recommended that I start taking the time to do some hair masks or hair treatments on a more regular basis, to keep the ends of my hair in better condition - let me know if any of you guys have a must have product I should try!
  3. To cut down on the amount of time that I would spend styling my hair, the next recommendation was to blast my hair upside down until it's about 90% dry, which would add volume even before styling.
  4. The last 10% required my nemesis - a round brush, but I've found that now that I wait until my hair is almost dry before doing this bit, it's much easier to do.
  5. To add a bit of texture without weighing my fine hair down with loads of products, Lauren suggested splitting my hair into sections and just tonging the bottoms to add a slight wave, using only a dry shampoo and a non-crispy hairspray so that it stayed looking and feeling very natural.

Scottish beauty blogger
Scottish lifestyle blogger

Voila - an easy, quick-ish way of making my hair look like I actually put some effort in, rather than just leave it to do whatever it wants on a daily basis. 

Since my visit, I've been putting into practice some of the tips that I was given and I've definitely been noticing a difference - I don't tend to find knots in my hair so much by the end of the day and Sean has even commented that my hair has been looking nice - an accomplishment indeed from someone who once took an entire day to notice that I'd added extra furniture to the living room.

A blowdry at Austen Thomson Hair costs between £35 and £50 and is a great experience with lots of advice on products and technique, plus a bloody marvellous head massage thrown in for good measure. I reckon I might have to pop back on my birthday as a bit of a treat and I'll also definitely be heading back for my first haircut after the wedding - maybe I'll go short, or maybe by then I'll be so enamoured by longer hair that I'll only be after a bit of a trim!

The atmosphere in the salon is fab, with great music being played, cool decor and friendly, chatty hairstylists offering teas and coffees pretty much as soon as you've sat down. If you're looking for a hairdressers in Edinburgh and haven't found one you like yet, I'd definitely suggest giving AT a try - they were just shortlisted for Scottish Salon of the Year at the HAIR Magazine Awards, so you know it's not just me who thinks it'd be worth your while!

*My visit to Austen Thomson Hair was complimentary for review purposes, but as always all opinions are very much my own - and I came away with products that I paid for myself because I was so persuaded! (Much to Sean's annoyance...)
  • A Weekend On Arran at Auchrannie

    beaches near auchrannie
    beaches on arran
    message in a bottle
    things to do in arran

    I bloody love living in Scotland. It's just the prettiest, most awe-inspiring place to live, with so many amazing little corners of it to discover and enjoy. Sean and I have made a mini pact to visit all of the Scottish islands, which we kicked off with Skye last year, with Mull on the cards for this summer. 

    So it seemed a little bit like it might be fate, when the fantastic people at Auchrannie Resort on the Isle of Arran got in touch and asked me if I'd like to come for a visit. I think the only possible answer to that was oh my gosh yes please how soon can I come. 

    arran aromatics
    arran cheese shop

    Getting from Edinburgh to Arran

    I think Arran is actually the closest Scottish island to Edinburgh, and it took us a total of about three hours-ish to get there. We drove from the centre of Edinburgh to the ferry at Ardrossan (just past Glasgow) in about one hour fifty and then the ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick takes about fifty minutes. Auchrannie is then only a five or ten minute drive as soon as you're off the boat. 

    Fair warning - you will want to book your ferry in advance, and I think it was about £45 return for both of us together. Also bear in mind that in winter the ferries run less often! We headed off on the last weekend of January to get the ferry closest to midday, with plans to get food at a little place a friend recommended on the other side (more on that in a sec.)

    Unfortunately the weather on the way over was the typical Scottish offer of grey drizzle, so we poked our heads out on deck just long enough to spot a teeny tiny sausage dog in a jumper before settling down with a coffee and a crossword. Is anyone actually able to complete a cryptic crossword? I think we got precisely zero of them right...

    THINGS TO DO ON ARRAN IN WET WEATHER

    Unfortunately, one thing we didn't realise about visiting Arran in winter, was that actually quite a lot of places close during the winter. And not like, limited opening hours...a lot of places close for months on end. So the little place we planned on going to for lunch was closed...then we drove to the Arran distillery (which was closed) and then headed round the corner to a place recommended on Google Maps for lunch (yup, closed again!)

    I don't want you to think that this was a particularly negative experience though - whilst we would have liked to visit the distillery, we had very much planned a spontaneous trip, so we still enjoyed the drive around the top part of the island and then headed back in the direction of the hotel, keeping an eye out on the way for anywhere to stop. 

    I happened to spot the Arran Aromatics sign out of the corner of my eye, and the little sign in the window that proclaimed that there was an onsite cafe persuaded Sean that it was worth visiting. After a particularly Scottish lunch of haggis panini, we browsed the candles and soaps in the pretty shop and then popped into the cheese shop next door to try a ridiculous amount of samples and come away with three wheels of cheese (only baby ones though, don't judge!)

    executive suite at auchrannie resort
    hotels for families on arran
    places to stay in arran
    auchrannie executive suite
    auchrannie resort arran
    auchrannie resort
    scottish lifestyle and travel blogger

    THE EXECUTIVE SUITE AT AUCHRANNIE SPA RESORT

    We were staying in the newer resort building at Auchrannie, in one of the Executive Suites. You guys, I have never been so excited walking into a hotel room before. I spent about twenty minutes just wandering around squealing over the amazing little touches - the Nespresso coffee machine, the wall mounted electric fire, the separate little kiddies room with bunk beds and individual televisions...the amazing circular seat built into one of the walls(!!) 

    We had planned to head back out for a few hours before our dinner reservations, but once we'd seen the suite we had to ourselves, we didn't want to leave. Instead we made ourselves a coffee each, got into the comfy bathrobes provided and kicked back on the sofa, flicking through channels on the TV.

    Dinner is going to get a whole other post to itself, because I couldn't possibly do it justice with just a short paragraph crammed into this already mammoth post - but I finished off a wonderful Saturday with a bubble bath in the huge bathtub, before we practically threw ourselves into what felt like the comfiest bed on the planet. 

    auchrannie local food
    breakfast at auchrannie
    scottish oatmeal with cream and honey

    Breakfast the next day was leisurely and delicious - with plenty to choose from. Still feeling pretty full from our feast the night before, Sean opted for pastries and a smoothie with a small selection of hot items from the buffet, whilst I ordered a bowl of porridge with berries, cream and honey. 

    We quickly checked out and stored our luggage in the car (though there is storage in the hotel and even an option to have your luggage taken to the ferry if that works better for you) before Sean headed off to play a few holes of golf nearby, and I headed to the ASPA for a relaxing hot stone massage. 

    auchrannie aspa
    auchrannie relaxation room
    spa hotel on arran
    scottish spa hotels

    THE AUCHRANNIE ASPA

    I've never actually had a massage before, which is why I decided to try one out at Auchrannie. I was worried that I'd find it a bit uncomfortable, but it was so relaxing and even the slightly painful bits felt good in a weird, slightly masochistic way. 

    Almost as good as the massage itself was the hour I spent in the relaxation room, wrapped up in yet another bathrobe and sipping on Chai tea whilst flicking through one of the magazines available. It made me really convinced that I must start planning the occasional spa visit just for myself to enjoy, as I really did feel so chilled out and happy by the end of it!

    If my morning hadn't been indulgent enough, Sean came back to join me in the spa for a quick lunch before we were due to leave, and the glass of prosecco and bento boxes filled with Scottish salmon, Arran cheeses, freshly baked bread and oatcakes filled me with happiness. So much happiness, that I may have accidentally handed over my bank card in order to leave the spa with a few Ishga beauty products to try out at home - more on those in another post!

    things to do on the isle of arran
    arran scenery
    arran stone circles
    isle of arran scenery
    machrie moor stone circles
    scottish scenery
    scotty dog

    THINGS TO DO ON ARRAN IN NICE WEATHER


    When we finally dragged ourselves away from the spa we still had an afternoon to spare before our evening ferry back to the mainland, and since the sun was shining we thought it would be a waste to not try out one of the many recommended walks on the island. 

    We headed off in a different direction to the day before (there's only about three different roads you can drive down in Arran, so it's difficult to get lost) and decided to check out the Machrie Moor stone circles, which apparently date from the Neolithic period and early Bronze Age. You pull up into a small carpark off the main road, and then stomp off through some fields belonging to an obliging farmer, with the whole walk there and back taking about an hour in total. If it's been raining it will be muddy, so make sure you've got your wellies to change into! 

    The sight of the tallest stones against the vivid yellows, greens and blues of the surrounding scenery was a really stunning sight, and one that made me very grateful for the opportunity to take the trip! It was a gorgeous weekend from start to finish and I can't thank Auchrannie enough for having us.

    WOULD I GO AGAIN?

    Yes, yes yes - a thousand times yes. I enjoyed every second of my trip to Arran, even with the slightly changeable weather and the many winter closures! Auchrannie itself was a dream - a stay in the Executive Suite would be the perfect choice for couples on a romantic break (perhaps even on a mini-moon?) and families of four would find it ideal as well - shouldn't all hotels have mini televisions for everyone to save arguments? 

    Stay tuned for a post on our dinner experience at Eighteen69, one of the on-site restaurants. In the meantime, if you'd like to win a stay at Auchrannie yourself, why not enter their #AuchrannieModels competition. You can find the details on their Instagram.

    *We were invited to enjoy a complimentary stay at Auchrannie for review purposes, however as always - all opinions are my own (and all gushing on this occasion fully deserved!)

  • The new Dine Out menu at Tigerlily in Edinburgh

    tigerlily edinburgh dine out menu

    Tigerlily on George Street, Edinburgh


    I've often heard the restaurant Sketch in London being described as a blogger paradise, with the candy pink decor, cool tableware and edgy prints. If I were to pick one place in Edinburgh that could be described as our blogger paradise, it would be Tigerlily on George Street. 

    I've been to Tigerlily a few times for various reasons - afternoon tea with friends, drinks with my in-laws and even blogger events, and each time I've not been able to resist the urge to take as many Instagram snaps as possible of the amazing interior. 

    I've never been for dinner though, which is why I was delighted to be invited along to try out the new Dine Out menu, especially since the menu was created in association with a Scottish food blogger - Hilary from mymonkfish.com.

    tigerlily edinburgh george street
    tigerlily dine out dinner menu deal

    The concept behind the new Dine Out menu is that delicious, seasonal food shouldn't have to cost the earth. Essentially, why should people have to dine in when they could be dining out! This is something that very much appeals to me, considering that we have just bought a house and are saving for a wedding, and yet I can't seem to let go of my love of going out to eat at restaurants. What can I say, some people love shoes, I love food. 

    The Dine Out Menu:


    The Dine Out dinner menu costs £15 per person for a starter and a main course, with an extra £5 getting you a sharing dessert and coffee each. There's a choice of four different starters and four different mains, with a vegetarian option included, although because the menu is small I'm not sure how suitable the menu would be for those with various food intolerances and allergies. 

    For a starter I decided on the garlic sourdough and thyme forest mushrooms with parmesan and truffle pesto. Sort of like a version of a bruschetta, the flavours were delicious, though the portion was quite small, even for a first course. I did also kind of feel like it was something I could easily replicate at home, so perhaps next time I'd have opted for the hot smoked salmon instead. 

    For the main course I originally wanted to try the pork belly, but unfortunately it was no longer available. I imagine this was probably because that option had proven to be much more popular than the others in the first week of the menu being offered, which was a shame, but I soon got over it when I tasted my second choice - the hake with saffron mussels, crushed potatoes and soft poached egg.

    The hake was perfectly cooked and everything that had been chosen to go with it worked incredibly well - this was definitely a dish that I would have expected to pay more for at a restaurant at any other time. Plus it's so pretty, just look at it with the marble tabletop and copper salt and pepper shakers in the background - blogger goals indeed.

    places for dinner in edinburgh

    There is only one option for the sharing dessert, but who needs choices when the option is as good as this one? Warm cookie served with salted caramel sauce and ice cream - the stuff that dreams are made of, am I right?!

    I kind of want Tigerlily to start offering this dessert just on its own so that I can go back and eat it whenever I fancy, although perhaps its a good thing that I can't, because I think I could probably end up having it a good 3 times a week. 

    Would I Go Again?


    Whilst I wouldn't necessarily say that the food was the best I've ever had before in Edinburgh, I would definitely say that it is very impressive for the cost, and on top of that the cocktails and atmosphere of Tigerlily make it the perfect choice for a weekday dinner with friends, or perhaps a weekend lunch after a long morning of shopping on George Street.

    Plus, you know, go for the cookie. Maybe even take a friend who doesn't like dessert and eat it all to yourself...

    The new Tigerlily Dine Out menu is available for lunch and dinner from Sunday to Friday, excluding Mother's Day on the 26th March. 

    *I was offered the chance to review the new Dine Out menu at Tigerlily however as always - all views are my own and I was not paid for this post!