Honest JUCY Campervan Review (Plus Helpful Tips & Advice)

29 October 2019

A month in a campervan travelling 3000km down the east coast of Australia, what an adventure hey? See this post for an in-depth itinerary of where to stay, what to do etc - and keep reading this one for a review of JUCY, one of the most popular rental companies for tourists travelling in the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

The idea is that you pick up the vehicle of your choice at one JUCY depot, have the journey of a lifetime and then drop it off at another. It's super simple but there are some real horror-story reviews out there, so I hope this sheds some light on things (from someone who wasn't entirely sure they were up for a month of camping, but ended up loving it!) 

Toying with the idea of buying a camper instead? We were too, but unless you've got the luxury of time to re-sell it, save the stress and go for a well-known rental instead. It's far more straightforward, insurance is covered and you won't spend the end of your trip asking for "serious offers only, please!" on Gumtree.


JUCY have various vehicles available - we went for the JUCY Crib, which is also referred to as the JUCY Cabana. It costed $45 per day, has 4x seats in the back that convert into a double bed that sleeps two, and (aside from the hideous green and purple exterior that screams 'I'm a tourist!'), we have absolutely no complaints. The JUCY team themselves were extremely friendly and helpful throughout the entire trip.

The JUCY Crib served our every need - the bed was surprisingly comfortable and quick to make once you got the hang of it, it was smooth to drive, really easy to keep clean and the 'kitchen' comes fully equipped with everything you need to cook your own meals.


When you pick your JUCY up from the depot, thoroughly check the vehicle for any damage to avoid getting hit with 'there's a scratch on the door here, there's a chip on the windscreen there' fines that were actually the previous owner's fault, and not yours.

Make sure you know what to do in the unlikely event that you break down or get pulled over, and don't be embarrassed to ask any questions - neither of us had driven an automatic before so it was good to know what kind of gas it took, the fact that it used a footbrake rather than a handbrake and so on.

The only problem we encountered with our JUCY Crib was that halfway through our trip our fridge stopped working due to the cable being loose. We lost about $30 worth of food which was a shame, but JUCY resolved the issue really quickly by booking us into a nearby garage. We dropped Sheila off, went in search of a pie shop and by the time we came back, the fridge was repaired and JUCY had picked up the bill. 


JUCY offer additional items that you can rent and then return at the end of your trip along with your vehicle, and the ones that you absolutely need are camping chairs and a table - you'll use them every single day. JUCY state that you get a 'table', but this is located underneath the mattress and isn't suitable for outdoor use.

Another helpful thing we bought from JUCY was a car charging port so we could charge our phones and portable batteries on the go. Use the maps on your smartphone to navigate.


There's not a huge amount of storage space in the JUCY Crib - at first you might struggle to find a place for your things but after a few days you'll have figured out a system. In the evening we stood our big backpacks on the driver and passenger seats, shifted the seats forward then lifted the double mattress into place and pulled the sheet over. In the morning we put the end of the bed down, moved the seats back and put our backpacks on the mattress. In the beginning you think you'll convert the bed back into seats every day, but in reality there's really no point!

We kept our camping chairs under the bed, left our camping table outside at night and found places for all of our things (e.g. laptops in the pockets behind the seats, books in the compartments next to our pillows etc). Make use of storage in the front of the camper - we kept our small backpacks in the footwells and our cameras in the glove compartment.

Items that weren't included and came in really handy were: torch, mosquito net, battery-powered desk fan (a lifesaver on hot, stuffy evenings), camping power cable (this meant we could pay a bit extra for a powered site and charge our laptops).


Cooking is super easy in a JUCY, and it's also the cheapest option. Head to a supermarket and get yourself the basics: bread, butter, pasta, pesto, olive oil, salt and pepper, cereal, coffee, milk, eggs, washing up liquid, tea towels etc. Go for things that won't go off (tins of baked beans, soup) and will be quick to heat up when you're tired after a long day of exploring. The fridge is a decent size but bear in mind that you've got limited space and things might not stay upright, so you may want to go veggie (if you aren't already).

Will and I are proper foodies, we love cooking and it was a big part of our campervan trip - we made tons of meals from scratch like sausage and butterbean stew, pumpkin and sage risotto, Spanish omelette, halloumi burgers... the works! We became experts at one-pot meals, so let me know if you'd like some recipes.

Handy tip if you drink alcohol: boxed wine is mega cheap and perfect for camping!


The best thing to do is download the WikiCamps app and pay for the premium version - it's a huge database of campgrounds, caravan parks, hostels etc and fellow travellers leave helpful reviews and tips. It gives all the information you need (cost per night, facilities on site) and even works offline! It's the perfect way of finding somewhere to stay for the night and you can narrow down the search (free, must have hot showers). Always double check signs to avoid parking fines or illegal freedom camping.

It was 95% fun but admittedly, there were times when camping got a bit old. Heavy rain, being too hot/too cold, craving a proper shower and bed - they all contribute towards fatigue and a feeling of 'screw it, let's just book an Airbnb'. The great thing is, you can! Just park up, rest up and then return to the campervan life all refreshed.

Have an amazing time, and let me know if you have any questions in the comments! You know, for a girl who would've immediately dismissed the idea of camping a couple of years ago, I sure am missing good old Sheila already...

The Ultimate Nude Liquid Lipstick - That's Also Glossy!

18 October 2019

bareMinerals GEN NUDE Patent Lip Lacquer High Shine Liquid Lipstick

Described as
"nude liquid lipstick with a moisturising formula, full-coverage colour and a high shine finish"

Meg says...
Whenever I ask my boyfriend "do you like my lipstick?" he replies, 99% of the time, with "yes, it's a... pinky nude". Pinky nudes are LIFE. So the fact that bareMinerals have brought out an entire range of pinky nude lip products? LIFE MADE.

Simple, sleek and slim in a long thin tube - perfect for chucking in your handbag (or, y'know, any other receptacle). My only gripe is that after a few months of use the product has kind of overflowed and gone all over the lid, but to be fair I don't think I've ever used a lipgloss on a daily basis that didn't require some kind of wipe/tissue clean-up at some point.

These have a fairly thick consistency, but in all of the best ways - balmy and cushiony and gorgeous - and are the kind of gloss you'd happily use instead if you forgot a lip balm, as they contain a moisturising mineral complex. Thin glosses aren't the one for me as they wear off far too quickly and don't have that lovely 'bouncy' feeling that these do. I can imagine that if you're used to thin glosses or only wear lipsticks then you might describe these as sticky, but in my opinion a little tackiness is what makes a glossy liquid lipstick perfect - you need that tack for the colour payoff and ultimate staying power!

Smooth af. Seriously, the application is so satisfying! The soft applicator is dual-sided (one side being one more flat and the other with a little hollow to hold more product) and both are the perfect shape for starting on the outside of your lip and then the cupid's bow.

Think freshly baked gooey double chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven. Oh, yeah.

I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if you find it really hard to choose a shade in this range, especially if you're shopping online, so that's where I come in to help. Get the shade 'Everything'. It is, in fact, everything. A warm, deep pink nude with the right amounts of mauve and brown, it's a guaranteed crowd-pleaser that'll compliment every skin tone and is a product that I'll shout from the rooftops about until my throat's sore.

I also love 'Can't Even' which is a lighter baby pink nude and 'Dahling', which is fairly similar to 'Everything'. I kind of want (read: am convincing myself I need) every single shade!

An impressively glossy, full-coverage nude pink lip that feels ridiculously comfortable to wear. There's no need to dip back into the tube for more product or apply a traditional lipstick underneath as they're so highly pigmented, and they wear off beautifully with no white lines. bareMinerals call these "the ultimate marriage of shine and coverage", and it's so true! If you love the look of nude liquid lipsticks but find yourself applying gloss or balm over the top halfway through the night as they just feel so dry, these are the solution.


The bottom line
This is going to be the easiest and quickest 'bottom line' I've ever written. You need at LEAST one in your life. Meg out!

Photos by Megan Duffield Photography

How I (Honestly) Feel About Coming Home After Travelling

16 October 2019

Yesterday, the 15th October, marked one year since Will and I left the UK for 9 months. If you were to hop in Dr. Emmett Brown's DeLorean and travel 365 days to the past, you'd find us: weary with jetlag but delirious with excitement, in a noodle bar in the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Hong Kong, talking about how "the trip has finally begun!"

Get Doc (and Marty, if you're lucky - what an 80s dish he was) to bring you back to present day, and you'll find me: in my old office in sleepy Norfolk, house/cat-sitting for my parents whilst they're in Crete, thinking about how "the trip has been over for ages."

This post has been an idea that has sat, drumming its fingers in my mind, waiting for something to set it in motion and get written. That something turned out to be someone - Beth Sandland, one of my favourite travel bloggers. In her most recent Instagram story she talked about heading home next month after 11 months of backpacking, how "it's really, really hard to accept that it's coming to an end" and being unsure whether to post a blog post about those feelings for fear of looking ungrateful. I haven't read Beth's post yet as I didn't want this one to end up a carbon copy, but I know it's likely that when I do (this afternoon with a cup of tea, naturally!) I'll find it just as relatable as today's stories.

We flew home at the end of June, just in time for Will's brother's wedding, and the idiom 'in limbo' sums up how I've been feeling ever since. Life, in the 2 hours and 50 minutes it took to fly from Reykjavík airport to London Heathrow, changed dramatically. In incredibly good ways, mostly - I got to hug my family and friends who I missed sometimes so much it hurt, everything familiar that I longed for was right where I left it and I've always thought about how fortunate we are to have a life that we couldn't wait to come back to.

In other ways however, it was bittersweet. There's a Kacey Musgraves song where she sings "happy and sad at the same time, you got me smiling with tears in my eyes"... that.

Everyone always asks "where was your favourite place?" and automatically every time, I launch into "some islands in the Philippines are completely untouched", "we ended up living in one spot in northern Thailand for a month", "I've never been anywhere as breathtaking as New Zealand." It was only a question, asked in a pub garden by my best friend Josh, that prompted a answer that was just as truthful but much more personal.

"You must miss travelling so much, mustn't you?"
"I've actually been really depressed."
"I could tell."
"How could you tell, we haven't spoken about it!"
"I could just tell."

Before we went backpacking, I felt like this pretty much every day. At the time of filming that video there was only a few weeks left before we'd be getting on the first of many planes, so it was easy to think: 'I'm not happy right now, but when we're away I will be.'

And I was! It's easy to be carefree when all that's on the daily agenda is which beach in Bali to visit or how many kangaroos you can spot from your camper in Australia. It was the coming back to reality and realising that travelling didn't solve my problems (like I secretly, naïvely hoped it might) that didn't sting, but ached.

It's at this point in the post where I've been letting thoughts spill out with reckless abandon - love that I've just used the phrase 'reckless abandon' as I'm sat here in the Norfolk countryside in my fluffy slippers with my cup of English Breakfast - that I pause.

I pause because I've started to fret that everything I've written so far is too negative. Why can't you just look back on the trip with fond memories and leave it at that? Lots of people would love to go away for that length of time and they probably wouldn't be feeling sad right now. They'll think you thankless, unappreciative, spoilt, just stop moaning. Hit 'delete', or 'close', anything that means 'do not save'. Delete to protect yourself from judgement, or to erase the feeling so that it never even happened.

As you can probably see, it isn't long before my frustratingly overthinking mind spirals and before I know it, I'm in a weird headspace where I'm thinking less about how amazing the trip was and more about the empty, hollow feeling its end created within me.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who struggles to challenge their negative thoughts, and whilst it's daunting to share - here are some that have been threatening to dull the shine of the trip and a few words from my more rational, less worrisome self.

  • "I can't even edit our travelling vlogs as it reminds me of how little I'm doing with my days now." Of course snorkelling off a tiny tropical island with wild sea turtles was better than doing your taxes with drizzle at the window today. But that doesn't make it bad or boring, you just got used to having an adventure literally every single day for months, and magic exists in 'normal life' too. Instead of wishing for that time back, appreciate the little things you missed that you've now got again. Mainly a proper cup of tea. Remember that (slightly overused) "she designed a life she loved" quote and know that life can still be an adventure even if you know where you'll be sleeping every night. Oh, and Meg? Edit the damn vlogs.

  • "You could've put deposits on three different houses with the amount of money you spent." Yeah, this one eats you up a bit, doesn't it? You spent a fortune. But that was your choice, and what were you saying before you went away? 'I've saved up way more than I think I'll need because I want to stay in nice hotels if I don't like hostels', 'I'm taking this much as I want to be able to say yes to anything', 'it's a safety net for my chronic illness.' For the most part, you weren't really backpacking; you were on holiday for 9 months. And that sh*t's expensive. You gave yourself the chance to say 'we might never come here again, let's just splash out and book it.' You're pretty broke at the moment (you say 'f*ck me' more times than JaackMaate did in the new Sidemen roast video whenever you look at your bank statements) but you're earning the money back again and are rich in other ways now.

  • "It's tough being away from Will after spending 24 hours a day together for 9 months." Well yeah, of course it is - it's a huge change to go from waking up to the same lovely face for that long to going to sleep alone sometimes. You've cried in his arms at the kitchen table as you don't want to say goodbye and get on the train and you've wondered 'do I need to google what separation anxiety is?' You both miss each other, naturally, but it's never more than a few days before you're stuck at the hip again and the time will come when you're settled in a new flat or you've decided to go on another trip - you never know and that's thrilling in itself!

  • "I haven't uploaded properly for the best part of a year and the industry has moved on so much." But you've still got the most wonderful audience in the world, haven't you - who've stuck by you and not minded when you've taken time off? In fact, you just hit the 85k subscriber milestone on YouTube despite giving yourself the Most Inconsistent award and beating yourself up about it. Although it's a fast-moving industry, you're still working and the passion you've got for it all never went away. I know you're worrying that you didn't get enough ~content~ whilst you were away (with extra worry due to how expensive it was) but that's pishykaka. Nobody says 'I wish I'd uploaded more Instagram stories' on their deathbed.

4 worries down, 8450 to go. Only joking (kind of). I've established that my brain is an anxious one and if yours is too, try what I've just done for yourself - write down something you're worrying about then put on your Rational Pants and tell yourself what you'd tell a friend. I've had these thoughts swirling around my brain for months and it's a relief to break them down and realise that they're not as terrifying as they seem.

So, that's how I honestly feel about coming home after travelling. Grateful to have experienced it, scared about the things I've got to work through in order to feel as free as I did when we were away. Happy and sad at the same time, smiling with tears in my eyes.

I think it's normal to mourn the end of something that was pure magic. It was the adventure of a lifetime with my best friend and the happiest time of my life. How lucky we are to have experienced something so good that we'd do every second of it again in a heartbeat. <3

Charlotte Tilbury Youth Glow Primer: Yay or Nay?

15 October 2019

Charlotte Tilbury Brightening Youth Glow Primer

Described as
"an anti-ageing, colour-correcting, glow-boosting primer to help even your skin tone and [appear to] blur away blemishes"

Meg says...
As a big Charlotte Tilbury fan (I rarely try anything I don't end up loving from her range and many have holy grail status for me) I've got high hopes for this. Primer isn't something I reach for on a daily basis, so it'll be interesting to see whether that changes - I think it'll have to be really amazing for me to remember to use it before I have that 'doh, totally forgot to put any on and I'm already halfway through my foundation' feeling!

Luxe af, as you'd expect from The Tilbs - the gold lid (that has an extremely satisfying 'click', may I add) and sleek thin design looks extremely pretty! It's also really practical - the squeezy plastic body combined with the thin pointed nozzle makes dispensing super easy and you'll have zero problems travelling with this baby.

This has the consistency of a light, liquid-y moisturiser or sunscreen - think the majority of your skincare cabinet that comes with a pump.

Quick and foolproof. Massage a blob all over your face (you control the amount, more product = more sheen) and watch how quickly it sinks in and becomes one with your skin. My foundation (I'm currently using Benefit Hello Happy) sits beautifully on top when I first apply it, although I do notice that my base doesn't last as long when I use the Youth Glow Primer (especially on my forehead) so I  use a touch more powder to ensure even coverage.

There's a slight rose scent, but it's very inoffensive and I personally really love it.

The product is the same colour you can see in the tube (white, with a opalescent sheen to it) which blends out to leave a pearly glow on the skin. It's well worth pointing out at this point that I'm a pale white woman and am not sure how this would sit on darker skin as it does leave a faint 'brightness' behind - Wonder Glow may be a better option.

My complexion looks visibly brighter with a noticeable glow. As for the colour-correcting claims this product makes I can't see I see much of a difference - any blemishes don't look any less red nor my dark circles any less purple - but I do like how it 'blurs' imperfections like large pores and dullness. This would be great on holiday with just concealer!


The bottom line
On the whole I like this product, mainly because it offers a pearly sheeny base that shines through my foundation, concealer and powder and makes everything look that bit more dewy and luminous. The price, however, is an issue for me as I often forget to use it after I've done my skincare/SPF and for a £40 primer, I want it to be so good that it doesn't slip my mind. I feel as though right now - in my fine line-less early 20s - I'm happy to use a blinding highlight for extra glow, whereas in my 30s and 40s I'm imagining that I'll be much more inclined to use products that make my skin look amazing in a more natural, lit from within way. So, with that being said - see you in 2034, Youth Glow, you're a definite yay!

Photos by Megan Duffield Photography

Everything You Need To Know About Glossier's New Serum/Oil: Futuredew

14 October 2019

Described as
"a new skincare step that packs a one-two punch: an instant glow, plus hydration and skin-nourishing ingredients. When you apply it today, you not only get the instant dewy glow from light-reflecting minerals payoff - you start feeding your skin what it needs to wake up brighter-looking and more moisturised tomorrow"

Meg says...
On the day that Harry Styles kickstarted HS2 with his new single Lights Up, the postman knocked on my door with an unreleased Glossier skincare product called Futuredew  - tell me, has my personal brand ever been more represented? I think not!

Trust Glossier to *invent* a step in our routine that we didn't know we needed until now. The press release literally calls it "a new category of skincare" and it promises "your healthiest-looking, dewiest most radiant skin". Designed to mimic the sheen your skin has after you've applied all of your skincare, I'm expecting glow by the bucketload...


Faultless, in terms of function and cuteness alike! Practically it's brilliant - just the right neat size, in heavy-duty glass that's actually fine for travelling and with a lid that actually can't fall off. Now for the fun stuff - it's metallic y'all! The classic #glossierpink lid sits atop a sheeny-shiny bottle that appears a sparkly light pink but shifts into purple or lilac or blue or green or red depending on how the light hits. Kacey Musgraves didn't write the song 'Rainbow' about it, but she could have.

Glossier call it an "oil serum hybrid", an accurate description as the consistency is that of adding a few drops of oil to the balmiest serum you own. In fact, balmy is the takeaway word here - it isn't thick but it definitely has some tack and grip to it.

We're advised to apply two pumps all over as the last step in our routine. Unsure about where SPF comes into this ~new~ skincare routine? I was too, so I sent the gTeam a DM and they confimed that it's as follows: skincare, then Invisible Shield (or whatever SPF you use), then Futuredew. Apply makeup on top as your final step if you wear it!

One pump is sufficient. Two is nice but a bottle is 30ml, and at £23 for what's essentially a very 'extra' step, I'd whizz through it - plus, one is enough for me and I have dry skin.

Lavender, unexpectedly! The scent is exactly like something you'd spritz on your pillow to help you sleep - I stuck this under my boyfriend's nose with a 'smell this!' command and his comment was "lavender, it's medicinal... I'm getting Play-Doh. Do you not think it smells like Play-Doh?" To me, it's best summed up as 'herbal'.

Out of the bottle it's a light peach color with teeny pinky golden sparkles in it (Glossier call these "light-reflecting minerals", naturally) and it blends into skin with no visible colour.

An immediately and visibly plumper face. It instantly makes your skin look incredibly hydrated, even if it isn't, which makes perfect sense seeing as it's designed to look like you've got a ton of skincare on - and for that look to last. Upon application your skin looks incredibly shiny, but the shine does die down with time and becomes luminous rather than oily.

As for makeup, it applies as normal on top of Futuredew as it would with a regular primer and it lasts, surprisingly! My first thoughts were "my skin looks as healthy and glowing as it can, but my foundation is surely going to slide off within an hour", but the coverage and finish actually looked great after 7 hours with Futuredew as its base.

The bottom line
If you're oily then the sheen might be too much for you, however, as someone with a dry skin-type who's living in the UK in October - it's a yes from me! It's probably not something I'd use everyday: more a product I'll reach for after a night out or a flight, or when my skin is looking particularly parched and in need of an extra hydration hit plus glow.

Glossier are great at coming up with (very millennial aesthetic) ideas that nobody has thought of before, and this is another one: something that makes your skin look like you've got the #shelfie of a Vogue coverstar, even if it's literally the only product you've applied.

Ribbed Jumper | Gold Shield Necklace | Layering Necklaces | Sundial Hoop Earrings
Disclaimer: this post contains PR samples/gifted items and uses affiliate links.
Photos by Will Burchill Photography

5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself

11 October 2019

Our nine-month backpacking journey is nearing its end, and as I'm currently sat in a hotel room in Vegas with a sprained ankle - maybe a story for another time - I thought I'd sip my (annoyingly cheap considering the price of the hotel) cup of coffee and take a few moments to reflect on things I've realised about myself along the way.

1. I like pushing myself out of my comfort zone, provided that I know I'll enjoy the situation at least somewhat. I know that's a complete contradiction, but bear with! At times opportunities came up that made me nervous, like embarking on a week-long motorbike trip with Will, but it was that good kind of excited nervous. Other times opportunities were just 100% Not My Thing, like caving, but I went anyway purely for the sake of 'trying something new'. Lo and behold, I hated every moment and the group having to stop every few minutes as I was slipping on wet rocks and felt a panic attack coming on made me think 'I knew from the beginning that I didn't want to do it, I should've just stuck to my guns'.

It reminds me of the time we went for a debriefing-brunch of the night before at Fego and our mate kept trying to get me to drink some of his Bloody Mary. "I really don't like tomato juice" I said, to which he replied "have you ever tried it?" I hadn't, and this sparked a 'how do you know you don't like it if you've never tried it?' dispute that we were both far too hungover for. In the end I took a big gulp just to put an end to the whole thing, had to run to the bathroom and it all ended with a rather frosty "I told you I knew I didn't like it". And now, I guess - I can say the same for caving!

2. Something that has surprised me is learning is that I'm not as much of a homebody as I thought. Maybe it's the years I lost to chronic illness that've meant I'm glad to be doing something different, or maybe it was our jam-packed schedule that gave me little room in my brain to think about good old sleepy Norfolk, but I haven't pined for home like I thought I would. I've had a couple of wobbles, sure, but for the most part I've enjoyed our little 'temporary homes' all over the world.

Whether it was for three days or for a month we've had endless basecamps that we've called 'ours', and I think it's comfort that I crave and not necessarily a certain place. If my environment isn't comfortable and the people I'm surrounded by don't make me feel at ease, that's when I feel homesick and like booking a one-way flight back to England. If I'm with Will and we've got a cosy room on the other hand, I could happily stay in one place forever!

3. I love meeting new people and socialising (this sounds like a dating profile), I'm not shy, reserved or quiet and my job requires the confidence to stand in front of 20+ crew members and talk to a camera as though I'm filming a YouTube video alone in my bedroom. So an extrovert, right? Not exactly, as I'm truly content with my own company and crave 'alone time' to recharge, and I actually feel a bit trapped and get this feeling that I can't leave our room sometimes. When I do, I realise that everything's fine and I thoroughly enjoy the conversations and mingling. Is an 'extroverted introvert' a thing? If so, that's me!

4. Grab your armbands if you can't swim as we're about to get pretty deep, and that's because I've realised that I need to seek help for my mental health. Depression and anxiety haven't been topics I've covered much online (something I'm willing to change if it'd help others in some way), and going on a trip like this one for the best part of year has brought certain issues to the surface that I've probably been ignoring for far too long. Backpacking doesn't leave anywhere to 'hide' - you can't put a sign around your neck that says Do Not Disturb whilst you're having a depressive episode, because you're staying in a dorm or you have a tour booked or you're getting on a flight. Feeling the way I have since we left the UK has been a reminder that turning a blind eye when it comes to your mental health simply doesn't work, and I'll be looking into therapy when we get home.

5. Let's have a lighthearted one to end things on - and offset that last 'world's smallest violin' moment - shall we? I bloody love camping! I didn't think I liked camping at all. In fact, I denounced it and said it was Not My Thing, just like - oh I don't know... caving? As explained in #1 however, I did know that I'd somewhat enjoy the whole experience so Will and I have done a fair amount (both in a campervan across Australia and regular tent-and-pegs camping). It's always such an adventure - rocking up to a gorgeous National Park and setting up for the night, cooking risotto from scratch on our wee hob and spending the evening chatting around the campfire. Absolute heaven, I tell you!

Now that I've taken a long look in the mirror and deduced a thing or two about me, myself and I - and now that my cheapo coffee is empty - it's probably time to call it a day on the self-reflection and go watch Rocketman with Will in the multiplex cinema in our hotel. Yep, the multiplex in our hotel. The bad coffee just doesn't add up does it, pals?

Top | Skirt | *Necklace
*PR sample/gifted
Photos by Will Burchill Photography

The California Road Trip (San Francisco to Death Valley)

8 October 2019

California is probably the state in the US that I was most excited to experience (mainly due to years of watching The OC) and if you've got a visit coming up - this is the post for you!

Whilst there was no Seth Cohen on this trip (sob), there was fun in abundance, from the moment we hired a car in San Francisco until we left California for Nevada. Here's every place we went, with recommendations for Greek fries, movie museums, camping and more.

San Francisco

Hayes Valley Inn - a little worn around the edges and the Standard Room could've had a bigger bed (Will and I are both tall) but overall, lovely stay! Don't let the shared bathroom put you off - they're spotless, we never had to wait for other guests and there are gorgeous sinks in the room so you can get your seven-step skincare routine on in private. The location is superb - we walked everywhere minus one Uber home from Fisherman's Wharf, and a plethora of restaurants are situated literally outside the front door.

Souvla - Greek food of restaurant quality that's served in a matter of minutes, we went back three times - in my opinion the salads (huge, fyi) are better than the wraps, definitely get the Greek fries and there's always a queue out the door for their frozen Greek yoghurt.

Brenda's French Soul Food - you'll want to come here with a healthy appetite as the menu is extensive and the portions ain't stingy! They do a real big dirty breakfast - think secret recipe fried chicken, Louisiana cuisine and grits. If you're vegan, a few of their dishes (salads, sandwiches etc) are centred around this blackened cajun tofu that's rather divine. 

a Mano - with the star of the show being their hand-made pasta that's created fresh every day, head here for their cacio e pepe or my favourite, the parsley tagliatelle. Pasta portions aren't huge (at least compared to many other spots) so you may want to order one of their delicious antipasti dishes - or talk your partner into getting the asparagus, green garlic, stracciatella and lemon pizza so you can nick a slice. Not that I did that, or anything...

Caffe Sport - we really wanted to go to the famous Tony's Pizza Napoletana, but the waitress was mega rude so we cancelled our reservation and walked in search of somewhere just as delicious (but hopefully a bit friendlier!) - and that's exactly what we found at this Sicilian restaurant. The elaborate interior and polaroids of celebrities who've dined there over the years mean your eyes will never get bored once inside, and your tastebuds won't be bored either. I had the risotto ai funghi porcini on the chef's recommendations and oh my goodness - the creamiest, richest risotto I've ever had! It's big enough to share, so maybe order one between two and an insalata caprese on the side.

Fisherman's Wharf - a must-do in San Fran, the centre of the city's world-famous fishing district is packed with things to do: fine dining, cheap eats on the boardwalk, views for days, boat trips, arcade games, variety performances - it's hard not to have fun there, and it'd be my number one recommendation if you're visiting as a family with children.

Alcatraz - my only advice is: book ahead. And that's because we didn't, so we couldn't go...

Mrs Doubtfire House - I'm afraid that the 'Meg Says Do' section of this post is rather lacking, as we were seriously suffering after an 18-hour time difference from New Zealand and felt like zombies with hangovers. Going to visit the house from Mrs Doubtfire (my #1 childhood favourite) was top of my list but jet-lag got in the way, so go and wave hi to good old Euphegenia for me, will you?


Airbnb (Luxury Studio Condo) - under £60 a night (use this link for money off) and only ten minutes from Truckee's centre, we stayed here on Will's 25th. The host was kind enough to give us a late checkout when our heads were throbbing after Will's birthday night out, and I can't even tell you how comfy the memory foam bed is! It's one of those Airbnb's where they've thought of everything, so if you've forgotten your toothpaste or your bottle of wine isn't a screw-top - they've got you covered.

Moody's Bistro Bar & Eats - when the sun is shining, head to the perfect lunch spot that is Moody's - the staff are anything but moody btw, total rays of sunshine! - and choose from their range of pizzas (The Forage was my favourite) or sizeable burgers. Whilst my veggie take on beef carpaccio with beets was really yummy, the portion was minuscule and I had to make an emergency order of their truffle & parmesan fries. Poor me, hey!

Pianeta - we made Will's birthday dinner reservation here (special thanks to Mum & Dad Says, who paid for it!) and it's a must if you're in Truckee with your significant other. The perfect date night restaurant with low lighting and candles, once you've ordered a bottle of wine (we had a Valpolicella Ripasso red, highly recommend) the server opens it at your table and leaves you the cork to make a wish and add to the collection that's literally coming through the wall behind you. Our pasta dishes (aglio e olio and bolognese) weren't the best we've had, but the salad and olives we had to start were truly something special!

Squeeze In - if "the best omelettes on the planet" doesn't tempt you to try this joint, maybe the queue of locals and visitors alike waiting outside for a table will. The menu is so big that having to wait actually proves to be a good thing, as it gives you time to read the thing! Let me narrow it down for you: their Mexican dishes are great so go for the burritos, huevos rancheros, chilaquiles section. They also have an entire vegan section - big plus!

Donner Lake - known as the Jewel of the Sierra, there are a ton of water-based activities here (swimming, fishing, sailing etc) and plenty of hikes and walks that'll keep you busy. Also visit the Donner Memorial State Park where you can camp or simply learn about the history of the area at the Visitor Centre. Keep an eye out for chipmunks - so cute!

Dressed Boutique - with polka-dot wrap dresses and on-trend leopard pieces in the window, we actually made a special trip back to Truckee from Tahoe City just so I could have a proper browse in here. Think ZARA meets Mango.

Pastime Club - after leaving Pianeta we heard a band playing here, then the 70+ lead singer spilled out onto the pavement still strutting his stuff - and we were sold! We ended up dancing on the bar to What's Up by 4 Non Blondes at 2am and it was fab.

Tahoe City

Mother Nature's Inn - a pet-friendly choice located just over the road from stunning Lake Tahoe, the owners welcome you to come and "hibernate" in this cosy and charming inn. I felt like I'd stepped back in time (in a good way) with all of the pine furniture and kitsch decorations! Get the King Room if you can - maybe I've been backpacking for too long but it's one of the comfiest beds I've ever stayed in.

Bridgetender - at Fanny Bridge (I'm not laughing, you are) you'll find this local-filled tavern that claims to have the best burgers in Lake Tahoe! Will put their blue cheese & bacon cheeseburger to the test and gave it a thumbs-up, plus another for the delicious waffle fries (that I snaffled at least ten of). With new specials every day and happy hour from 4.15-6.15, you'll be as happy as the giant cowboy smoking a pipe on the roof of the restaurant.

Fire Sign Cafe - our go-to breakfast/brunch spot! If you like eggs, you'll love it here - pretty much the entire menu is dedicated to omelettes, scrambles, benedicts or 'how you like 'em cooked'. I had the tostado one day which was delicious but way too much - I could barely eat half and it came with a big basket of chips with homemade salsa too. After that Will and I shared meals at Fire Sign and there was always enough for two - great for budgeting!

For a 'minimum effort with maximum payout' job, do the Eagle Rock Hiking Trail Homewood - I did it in Birkenstocks that were giving me a killer blister (plus I'm not fit in the slightest!) and it only took 20 minutes to reach incredible views at the summit! Emerald Bay State Park isn't far and again - hikes fo' beginners with views fo' days.


Tamarack Lodge & Resort - it's worth at least a night's stay in Mammoth Lakes for the amazing sitting room in this lodge alone - it's a total pleasure to sink into one of the armchairs and read your book in front of the roaring fire! As well as lake views and a whole host of nearby activities like skiing, scenic gondola rides and snowcat tours, there's also a free continental breakfast to start your day and an in-house restaurant to end it.

Slocum's Bar & Grill - it snowed whilst we were in Yosemite and this was the perfect place to warm up in front of the fire with a nice glass of red. I had their ultimate mac and cheese which was satisfyingly stringy without being overly rich. Get the smaller portion, mind!

Wild Willy's Hot Springs - an Irish couple in Queenstown told us about these free hot springs - their exact words were "you'll keep thinking you've gone the wrong way but just keep going, you'll get there!" (which is actually rather good life advice isn't it, thanks cute couple) and it's a must if you're in Mammoth Lakes. It's basically a natural hot tub in the middle of nowhere with stunning mountain views - wear your swimming costume under your clothes (there's nowhere to get changed) or just forgo the clothes, and go at offbeat times if you want it all to yourselves. Twenty minutes in the car will take you to Convict Lake, also!

El Rancho Motel - you know in Crossroads when Britney and the gals rock up to that motel and Kit's all like "I'm not sleeping here"... well, I was Kit when we first walked into our room here! I was ready to turn and run from the hills when I saw an unmade bed and someone else's lipstick on the coffee cup, but it turned out that we'd been given the wrong keys and we were staying in a room that had, y'know... actually been cleaned. Nothing special, but fine for one night and you get that authentic motel experience!

Pupfish Cafe - if you're looking for a cute, non-crowded place to get really good cup of Joe - come here. Their menu has your classic American eggs, bacon and waffles etc but they also have an entire avocado toast section... yup! Plus you'll find it at the back of a lovely bookshop, so you can breathe in that glorious new book smell with your morning coffee.

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest - this was one of my favourite days of our entire trip! You've probably heard of the Giant Sequoia trees? Well, these babies are a whole millennium older than those, and are in fact the oldest living trees in the world. Take a little picnic, 'aww' out loud at all of the chipmunks and spend a few hours walking around and learning about this interesting, majestic forest!

Lone Pine

Lone Pine Campground - it was around this point in our trip that we realised just how expensive America is to backpack around, so we hauled-ass to Walmart and bought ourselves a load of camping equipment. It felt like a lot of money at the checkout, but compared to staying in hotels every night? Bargain. Campgrounds have such a cute sense of community and this one is no different - not even the warning signs about bears could stop us from smiling as we played card games round the fire.

Alabama Hills Cafe & Bakery - bring your appetite, as these portions are big and you'll absolutely want a loaf of their homemade jalapeño bread to go! I had the vegan breakfast which restored my faith in ordering a vegan dish and not getting wafer-thin slices of beetroot topped with walnuts - it was probably big enough for two and came with a ton of delicious fresh fruit.

Museum Of Western Film History - killing time before heading to Death Valley led us to find this gem - turns out that Lone Pine is Hollywood's favourite filming destination, who knew?! Every great Western you can think of was made against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada and the Alabama Hills, and directors of many modern movies brought their filmstars and crews to Lone Pine also. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Iron Man, Gladiator - the list is endless and this is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Movie Road - if you're gonna take my last suggestion then you've gotta do this, too - not far from the film museum is Movie Road, where you can visit the exact filming location of movies like Django Unchained. You can totally picture the characters there and it's clear to see why directors love it - it's otherworldly and full of photo opportunities!

Death Valley


Sunset Campground - a large, open campsite with toilet facilities and running water etc, this seemingly in-the-middle-of-nowhere spot is great for campers. Most people there are in RVs and campervans, so be prepared if you're in a tent like we were - we arrived in May and the conditions were crazy! It took twenty minutes to knock just one peg into the rock-hard ground and a sandstorm threatened to rip away not only our tent, but our car. We came back the following (less windy) evening and camped there successfully, but on our first attempt we gave up and drove to...

Pahrump Nugget - with The Oasis across the road being fully booked, we made the drive to Pahrump and stayed in our first ever casino. If you find yourself in a pickle in Death Valley or you want to stay somewhere that isn't ridiculously expensive, this is a reliable spot with 'ooh, I really didn't expect it to be this nice!' rooms and 24/7 dining.

Timbisha Tacos - Death Valley isn't exactly teeming with restaurant options (I think there's only around eight places that you can get food) and we chose this mega-casual Native American taco shop. They do a traditional fry bread with taco toppings, burritos and Hawaiian shaved ice with more flavours than you can shake a stick at!

Artist's Palette - on your way into or out of the National Park, make sure you take ten minutes to do the drive here, it's well worth it! Put a great song on the stereo (we went for Sedona by Houndmouth), crank up the volume and fly through the rock formations. It's the craziest, most winding road to the point where you genuinely feel like you're on a rollercoaster in your car!

Badwater Basin - yes, it's just as cool as it sounds! Make sure you see the salt flats, marvel at the incredible natural beauty of Inyo County and take a selfie with the Sea Level sign (the basin is the lowest point in Northern America).

We managed to squeeze so much into this two-week road trip and it was such an adventure - if I had to pick one highlight then it'd be our beautiful day at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, although every day was an adventure in itself. I'd love to return to California someday to see Los Angeles and San Diego!

Overnight Sleeper Trains In Thailand: What To Expect & Advice

4 October 2019

When travelling through Southeast Asia, nothing would fill my Instagram DMs with 'are they awful or okay?!' messages from backpackers-to-be's like a Thai overnight sleeper train.

It's a convenient and cost-effective option - cheaper than flying plus you save one night's accommodation - but if you're a first-time traveller (or female, or you've heard horror stories) then please allow me to shed some light on what they're actually like...

A common route is Bangkok to Chiang Mai or the other way around; we did both and they take 11-14 hours. It costed roughly £35/$45 for a 2nd Class A/C Sleeper at the station - prices are higher online here, although it's advisable to book in advance to ensure a seat.

You'll be allocated a seat number on your ticket, so find it when you first get onto the train - the luggage space provided isn't huge, but it's big enough for two large backpacks or medium suitcases. You can take your own food and snacks onto the train, and you'll also be offered a food menu with standard Thai dishes - I had stir-fried vegetables with rice. A table that's kept underneath your seat will be put up whilst you eat, and put away after.

At this point it'll look like a 'regular' train and everything will be business as usual until around 8pm, when the staff come to change the seats into beds. This is executed with practically military position and you'll be stood to the side as though watching a magic show whilst a Thai man expertly folds seats into mattresses and tucks in sheets.

The differences between the lower and the upper bunks aren't huge, except the lower is about 200 baht more expensive, you don't have to go up or down a ladder and it's a little wider. All bedding is provided, although you may want to wear warmer clothing (long sleeves and socks etc) as the air conditioning is non-adjustable.

The bunks are pretty cosy with a curtain for privacy and a plug socket for charging devices. Like most things in Thailand they're pretty small, but it's only one night!

Let's talk about safety. My friend had a bad experience due to begging children on the train and waking up to find that some of her money had been stolen from her bag. I, therefore, boarded my first Thai sleeper feeling really anxious and apprehensive and didn't sleep much due to fear of being robbed. I'm so pleased to tell you that nothing bad happened whatsoever - there were no children (except those travelling with their families, of course) and I didn't feel as though I were in any danger at all.

Having said that however, obviously you need to keep your wits about you - don't wave your iPhone around and keep an eye on your belongings. A good rule of thumb is to keep any valuables on your person - put your passport, laptop, cards and cash etc in your day bag and sleep hugging it or with your legs through the straps. On my second journey I felt much more relaxed, but still - don't make it easy for someone to nick your things.

There are shared bathrooms onboard and these are pretty much what you'd get on any train or airplane, except they're more 'hole in the floor' than 'action-sensor dual-flush'.

If someone has paid extra for the bottom seats then you'll be on the top bunk - I would say the bottom is comfier (it's impossible due to the ladder, but I kind of felt like I was going to roll off the top) but there's not much in it. Download some podcasts, remember your eye mask, take some lavender essential oil, tuck the curtain underneath your mattress so you're in your own little cocoon and let the motion of the train sway you to sleep!

The experience may feel alien and take some getting used to, but it's exactly that - an experience! If you go into it with a negative, wary mindset (like I initially did) then you'll probably be up all night worrying, but if you see it as a little mini-adventure (like I did the second time around) on your Thai backpacking journey, then it's actually really fun.

Glossier Lidstars: The Shades You Need, And The Ones You Don't

3 October 2019

Glossier Lidstar Glistening Eye Glow

Described as
"one-step eye enhancement - a wash of soft, glistening colour that lasts all day"

Meg says...
Boy, am I excited to try these. As a self-confessed Glossier fangirl, I've been waiting for the day they'd announce eyeshadows and it's finally here! Well, I say eyeshadow - the gTeam are actually saying "less shadow, more glow", so I'm expecting something super sheer and super sparkly. Hey, if it's good enough for Beyoncé, it's good enough for me!

Ridiculously cute, obviously! Were we expecting anything different? Adorable little test-tubes with millennial pink screw-on lids, what's not to love? If this was what we learnt about in Science at school I would've gotten a much better GCSE grade... just saying. I love how neat they are as they take up hardly any space in your makeup bag, and being able to clearly see which colour you're picking up and how much you've got left is really handy.

Their creamy consistency has a lovely 'glide' to it - I was expecting something more liquid-y, but they're actually quite mouse-like in texture and have play-time before they dry down.

Easy, but not as easy as Glossier says, in my opinion! They market the Lidstars as a kind of 'swipe and go' product, and if a barely-there sheen with the slightest hint of pigment is what you're after then that's great, but they require a little more effort if you want decent colour payoff. With a stronger shade like Cub, at least two coats is required for an opaque finish - any less than that and the result can look a little thin and verges on streaky.

The best way I've found to apply them is to dab the colour all over your mobile lid and use your finger or a fluffy blending brush (like a Real Techniques 200) to diffuse, then go back in to build up the pigment on your lid before blending again. They're designed to give a soft wash, so if you're used to good pigmentation then I'd highly recommend using my method - once you get the hang of that, they're really easy and fairly foolproof to use. The doe-foot applicator works a treat as it doesn't pick up too much or too little product, and it has a 'precision tip' which is perfect for swiping colour along the lower lashline or for dabbing shine onto inner corners. The shade Lily looks amazing here!

As there are currently half a dozen shades in the range, I thought I'd rate them 1-6 - 1 being 'omg you absolutely NEED it, prettiest thing eva' and 6 being 'give this a miss, hun'.

1. Cub (a rose gold with warm shimmer effect)
Every time I wear Cub I get a lot of compliments, which I think is down to how insanely blue it makes my eyes look. I can't think of anyone it wouldn't look unreal on!

2. Moon (the sheerest cream base with blueish opalescent glimmer)
Not something I'd wear all over my lid on a regular basis, but when I'm going for a full face of Glossier I love wearing this in my inner corner - very soft and pretty.

3. Lily (a sheer lilac base with blue and violet pearls)
Unsurprisingly cute and surprisingly wearable - just make sure you don't skimp on the black mascara. Wear it smudgy and bold à la Katie Jane Hughes.

4. Slip (a sheer baby pink with golden highlight effect)
My 10-year-old self would've gone crazy for this, and my current self likes it more than expected! Pair with Cloud Paint in 'Puff' on the cheeks and Generation G in 'Like' for matchy-matchy goodness.

5. Herb (a smoky green with yellow gold pearl)
Whilst I can imagine this would look SO cool on others, it doesn't suit me at all. I can't get the colour to build properly and end up with an uneven, kinda dirty-looking mess.

6. Fawn (a cool, smoky taupe with violet and neutral gold pearls)
Again, cool on others (hi, Queen Bey) as it's such a unique shade that with different applications could look super sophisticated or super grungy - but a hot mess on me!

I'd say this is all down to how you apply them as you can go for the sheerest 'look at my effortlessly cute eyelids' wash of sheeny colour, or you can go for full-on bright (dare I use the word mermaid?) vibes, so it depends... which makes them very versatile, woohoo! Personally, the result I get is a very pretty one - every shade is glistening rather than glittery which makes them look all whimsical and dreamy. Their staying power is really impressive also as they truly do last 12 hours without creasing, which can actually look rather funny - picture me at the end of a very long day with basically zero makeup, except shimmery purple eyelids! That longevity is fab for inner corner/browbone highlighting.


The bottom line
Cub is probably the only Lidstar I'd repurchase, and I can imagine that it's their most popular shade. The rest aren't the most wearable colours in the world - apart from Fawn, maybe Herb - and unless you're super cool (or thirteen!) I don't know whether the pastel pink and lilac hues will appeal. They're very pretty and do push you out of your comfort zone when it comes to trying cool new shades, but as this is 'the bottom line' - Cub or snub!

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Photos by Megan Duffield Photography