by Fiona Duncan-Steer

Month: October 2017

Stay & Sail Days With Viking Mariners

Stay & Sail Days With Viking Mariners

Sailing- something I have never done and if I’m honest something I have tended to avoid ever since having a bout of sea sickness on a ferry to Ireland, but then the sea was very choppy and is notorious for it.  Nevertheless ten years later […]

The Kitchen At The Cross Keys Epperstone

The Kitchen At The Cross Keys Epperstone

Visiting The Kitchen At The Cross Keys is like stepping back in time to the days when village country pubs welcomed you with open arms, a roaring fire greets you and the food is traditional, unpretentious and just darn good…. Des and Trish run this […]



I first met Gul Bains-Khosa at a high profile charity dinner at a well known Indian restaurant in Nottingham, as she was offering complimentary henna body art to guests,  which was a nice touch to the evening and also my very first experience of henna…

The traditional style Henna is dark red in colour although appears black,  however I opted for a more original white and bright pink body paint with glitter on the back of my hand, applied in the same way as Henna, which looked stunning, attracted lots of positive attention and even made the papers!

Gul and I Kept in touch and consequently I booked in with her recently for a couple of treatments she offers through her fabulous new business – Beaut-ology

The treatments in question; HD Brows and LVL Lashes went very much hand-in-hand, however can be taken separately also, though I was very pleased to have both done back to back, as it made such a difference to my eye area.

Having had HD Brows done once before I knew roughly what to expect from this treatment, which lasted about 45 minutes and consisted of the upmost attention and care my brows have really ever seen, including plucking, waxing, threading, finished off with a natural tint.  Gul pays copious amounts of attention to detail to ensure not a stray hair goes amiss and her artistic flair ensures she gets the shape perfect for your face shape- I was very pleased with the outcome.

Process: High Definition Brows

A 7 step procedure which includes threading, waxing, tweezing &

tinting to create the ultimate in defined brows. Each treatment is created to

enhance your overall face shape, creating a truly bespoke service.

The treatment is finished off with the application of High Definition Brow make-up to give you a polished look.

More details can be found here :

The second treatment was to my lashes, which have always been naturally very short and straight- LVL Lashes is essentially a state of the art lash perm, which curls your lashes from the root upwards giving length and volume.  A clever treatment which made my eyes ‘pop’ and appear to be more awake than they naturally are- something very handy for a busy woman on the go! As the results last for a good few weeks, I’d advise this for not just special occasions, but to incorporate into your general beauty regime, as it saves you time in the  long-run in having to apply mascara each day if you’d rather not, as you can certainly get away with natural lashes once you’ve been ‘LVL’d!’

Process : LVL LASH LIFT 

  1. Clean lash area
  2. Apply silicon shield to eyelid
  3. Attach lashes to shield
  4. Apply lifting balm to the lash root
  5. Remove lifting balm
  6. Apply volumising fix to lashes
  7. Remove volumising fix
  8. Apply tint to lashes which creates a mascara effect
  9. Remove tint
  10. Apply conditioning serum to the lashes to nourish then and release them from the shield
  11. Comb through the lashes to separate
  12. Enjoy your Lash lift which lasts 6-8 weeks with minimal maintenance and is your natural lashes, no extensions!

More details can be found here :

Gul currently works from her home salon based in Wollaton, which is about a 15-20 minute drive from the city centre of Nottingham.  I was offered a drink on arrival and made to feel very comfortable from the offset, I filled out some forms and Gul couldn’t be more attentive, ensuring I was ok at all times, checking I was warm enough and even offered me a cake at the end of my treatment! I would not hesitate to recommend Beaut-ology for Hd brows, LVL lashes and henna body art and will most certainly be returning.

Fiona Duncan, RSViP


Yew Lodge & Marco Pierre Whites New York Italian

Yew Lodge & Marco Pierre Whites New York Italian

The Best Western Premier Yew Lodge Hotel sits nestled in the heart of Kegworth Village, Nottinghamshire not far from East Midlands Airport, giving it an instant USP… Excitingly Marco Pierre White has also decided to open a branch of his New York Italian restaurant within […]

Feel The Fear….And Do It Anyway….

Feel The Fear….And Do It Anyway….

Alison Hollingworth’s strap line is ‘Coach, Trainer, Inspiration’ and that she most certainly is… Stating that she herself lived life the ‘wrong way round’ according to tradition, getting married and pregnant in her teenage years, divorced by the time she was 25 and then going […]

De Vere Venues East Midlands Conference Centre & Orchard Hotel

De Vere Venues East Midlands Conference Centre & Orchard Hotel

A hotel based on and around a fruit…the apple.  Something very original, unusual and new to me- yet it works so well.

The Orchard Hotel based at the East Midlands Conference centre site of the Nottingham University campus, is a much needed addition to the area, with the conference centre being one of the most busy events venues in the city.  The requirement of overnight accommodation has been in existence for years and is very welcomed by many far and wide.

The beautifully designed boutique hotel’s architecture is based on well- an apple, hence the name and as such the theme really does continue throughout, with the restaurant aptly names Bramleys Brasserie.  You will find an interesting mural of an apple tree on one wall of every hotel room, which cleverly seems to grow the higher you climb in the hotel, with the tree reaching a crescendo in the top floor rooms, not to mention the apple shaped sculptures dotted around the venue, the whole building is one great big ergonomically designed fruit!

The bedrooms are very contemporary in style with a strong feel of being environmentally conscious- always good. As such I did find the usual pamphlet asking you to ‘Think’ about whether you really do need your towels washing, but this leaflet stated way more than just that; ‘The hotel features state of the art technology to reduce carbon emission. Solar voltaic panels and ground-sourced heat technology are incorporated, as well as a lower –energy –assisted cooling ventilation system’ and to top it off all bathrooms are fitted with water pebbles which help conserve water usage – impressive!

Our room had a great view over green fields, unusual ultra modern furniture and lighting and even a bottle of water with 2 apples alongside a welcome card on the desk- it’s the little things.  Two pairs of slippers and two robes hung in the wardrobe and the toiletry products were by a quirky company called Anatomicals and were larger than normal hotel smellies.

Our table was booked for 8pm in Bramleys Brasserie and we were welcomed by the restaurant manager and handed the dinner menu by the extremely friendly waiter Popa Stefan.

With five dishes of each course to choose from we selected the seasonal soup which happened to be celeriac to start- a good sized portion served with wholemeal bread.

For main, the pumpkin and brown butter risotto was on the agenda and as a strict vegetarian it was important that this did not arrive containing parmesan cheese, given that this is made from a hard cheese containing animal rennet and so the chef ensured a fresh batch was made especially for me minus the parmesan, which incidentally was a very generous portion, topped nicely with toasted sunflower seeds.

For my meat eating friend, the pork fillet was a welcomed choice, which came on a potato rosti bed and a mattress of pickled cabbage, surrounded by kale and apple with a greedy side order of triple cooked chips – not needed in this case due to the company of the potato rosti, but very nice all the same.

Our very full bellies were in need of something sweet to finish off with, even though two courses were more than sufficient, but it was all too good to pass on and I was curious to taste my first ever caramel parfait, which sat next to whiskey ice-cream, Crème Anglaise, oats and popcorn- Oh my!

Breakfast was an array of choice from a cooked full English to continental, but with the added extras of gluten free options on the bread and muffins, which was a delight to see.  The pastry selection was also very varied with a large fruit bowl and it was also impressive to be able to have soya milk with my tea- they really have covered all bases.

From check in to check out our stay went extremely smoothly, exceptional service, great food and a super comfy bed, I have to say I would highly recommend the Orchard Hotel and Bramleys Brasserie and will most certainly be returning again in the near future.

Fiona Duncan, RSViP

Bramleys Brasserie offer RSViP cardholders 20% off the 2 & 3 course lunch menus






A recent visit to newly opened Dolcino located in the Market Square, Nottingham certainly opened my eyes to a new trend that seems to have arrived here in the UK over the past year or so- dessert bars/restaurants, where you can go and solely enjoy […]

Chino Latino & Park Plaza

Chino Latino & Park Plaza

Park Plaza has been situated in Nottingham for as long as I can remember and so when I was offered the chance to stay the night to have a nosy at their rooms,  I of course obliged.  Having attended and hosted many events in their […]

A Retreat To Remember at Horspools

A Retreat To Remember at Horspools

As a business owner I am sure many of you can relate to the fact that you just ‘keep going’ and often forget to take sufficient breaks, holidays and well general ‘me time’ and I am no exception, so when Jamie and Tina Polak, owners of the 5 star gold awarded Horspools Luxury Retreat, invited me to stay, you couldn’t get me there fast enough…

Horspools is based in the quaint village of Gibsmere, Southwell in beautiful rural surroundings, which were once derelict farm buildings, dating back from between 1816 and 1910.  Situated within 16 acres of private gated land,  the orchard and landscaped gardens are also South facing meaning the main bedroom is an amazing sun trap which spills out onto a terraced area- great for BBQ’s!

The accommodation has been well designed to allow as much natural light in as possible and is clearly finished to the highest of standards.  A quadrangle configuration around a Mediterranean style courtyard, really does give the feeling of being on holiday abroad when the sun is out.

The interior of the property is done to a stylish, contemporary finish and you will find a 15ft heated swimming pool located in the former vaulted threshing barn, along with an air conditioned relaxation area with tables, chairs and recliners.

Upon arrival into the stony driveway you cannot help but say ‘wow’ to both the exterior of the barn conversion and the scenic beauty of the surroundings.

We were greeted by the manager Luke, with a friendly smile and given our keys, excitedly looking forward to seeing our Jacuzzi suite, we did not anticipate the sheer size of the property until we were inside, the open plan kitchen had enough storage space to open a shop!  Whilst wondering around the property, we counted three ovens, nine televisions, seven DVD players and enough beds to sleep twenty five… great for celebrations and family/friend getaways and what’s more they accept same sex parties- duly noted.

With regards to hiring the property for celebrations, it really does lend itself to this, having a 7ft slate pool table with cues, a great quality chess set ‘area’ with seating, as well as other games, a DVD library and a private area for beauty treatments – of course not forgetting the pool, Jacuzzi and outdoor areas, this place really is set up to house all of your requirements, they don’t seem to have missed a trick.

I myself really just needed to relax, so most of the above extras on this occasion were not required but nice to have on call nevertheless, as I simply laid back on the luxury leather couch, in the ‘Garden Room’ relaxed and watched wildlife from the window with ‘Enya’s Greatest Hits’ on my Ipod.

I did rise a little later to enjoy a pub lunch at the local Bromley Arms, which came recommended by the owner Tina and was a very impressive experience- great food and great service with absolutely no cause for complaint and is now on my list to revisit.

Dinner was planned after a dip in the pool and Jacuzzi- well it would be rude not to!

The main bathroom, is very large, with an impressive wet room and the largest rain shower head you have ever seen and comes with full sized White Company toiletries provided – the smell of Jasmine will now always remind me of my time at Horspools.

Dinner was a fun experience as we got to use the humongous 60ft kitchen and all its amenities, there isn’t anything they have forgotten, so there really is no need to take anything with you if you plan to spend your time cooking at the retreat- which is advised.

Plus all those foodies out there would certainly appreciate the high spec of the equipment, such as the Smeg dishwasher and ovens, warming draws, entertainment grills, the American style fridge/freezer and Vinidor wine cabinet.

We did finally manage to find something that was missed at the place however, when we could not find a kettle to make a cup of tea- ah ha and so obvious too, only then to discover the impressive chrome ‘Zip Tap’ which runs instant boiling water upon pressing a button, along with a chilled water version right next to it- whatever next!

Generously a bottle of Champagne on ice was gifted to us, along with a box of delightful Hotel Chocolat’s and so these were enjoyed whilst we prepared dinner – a pasta dish with garlic bread, which we ate at one of the two large tables in the place. (one table seats twenty four so again great for large parties ).

Spring and Summer is a lovely time to visit the retreat as the place really does lend itself to attracting the sunlight through every window and with the view of fields from every direction, sunbathing, garden activities and BBQ’s are a real must.

Equally my fiancé and I are planning to return in December just before Christmas for a Festive break as there are lovely modern fireplaces in the building, which need to be used and snuggling up on the sofa watching Christmas films, after cooking up a feast really does seem appealing at that time of year.

It is worth mentioning the under floor heating at this point too, which really makes a subtle difference to the temperature of the rooms and is very comforting when walking around barefooted.

Horspools recommend local attractions in the area, on their website and in pamphlets,  as well as offering optional extras upon booking, such as beauty treatments, which of course I took full advantage of with Laura the lovely therapist, who arrived at 6pm sharp for my full body massage.  It was a much-needed pamper after a super busy first quarter of the year and a great quality, professional treatment which I will no doubt be booking again on my next visit.

The property also provides free unlimited WIFI access, Sky television including sports and movie channels, a docking system with speakers, an extensive book collection and utility room with full laundry facilities.  Most bedrooms come with en suite including baths, luxury while bed linen, towels, robes and slippers. The secured parking can house up to 40 cars, with additional parking to the side of the property, if necessary.  A BBQ is available on request and outdoor dining furniture is provided.

Country walks in the area are an absolute must, so don’t forget your wellies in the winter months and outside catering can also be available upon recommendation.

The highlight for me was simply the location and tranquil sounds of the countryside, a place to relax, unwind and de-stress before going back into the world to the old routine, therefore regular visits to Horspools Retreat are advised and I will most certainly be reserving my dates for the remainder of 2016.

I’m so pleased to have discovered this idyllic place – Most grateful thanks to the Polak family.

Fiona Duncan, RSViP







A Moment of Clarity

A Moment of Clarity

Jolene Field has a passion for all things healthy and nutritional and as such decided to turn her passion into a business- the sign of all great entrepreneur’s… April 2014 was a great month for me because this was the time that I met Jolene […]