It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Review : Royal Oak Nails, Royal Oak, MI, USA

You might have guessed that these aren't my actual nails ...

This post is probably only of interest to us girls - sorry, boys!

When we'd just moved to Michigan about 7 years ago, I asked around as to where I could get a good pedicure and a bunch of folks said to head to Royal Oak Nails in Royal Oak.  I went there for the whole time we were living in Michigan and they did great work.  It was a small salon, always busy, and the prices were good.

When we were last in Michigan, we were staying out at Novi, so it was a fair drive (about 45 minutes) into get my pedicure, but I decided it was worth it because they'd always done such a good job.  You don't need to make an appointment, so I lobbed in to find that they'd expanded, taking over the store next door and doubling the space available.

They could fit me in immediately, strangely there weren't a lot of other customers around, though I could see that the manager (owner?) was the same guy who'd always been there.  I asked if I could get a leg wax first because I remember them doing waxing (though I'd never had it done there).  They said that it was no problem and escorted me to a treatment room out the back.  The treatment room was actually a storage room with a broken treatment bed and the remnants of someone's lunch resting on the basin.

I precariously balanced myself on the broken bed and my waxer set about my legs.  Now, I'm not sure if she'd ever waxed before, but her long hair wasn't pulled back and was always in the way, and each rip of the wax hardly got any hair out.  I could see vast patches of untouched hair and I kept telling her to have another try.  Eventually she got most of it and I was worried that the bed was going to collapse by the time she said she was finished.

There was still quite a lot of hair left on my legs, but I could see that she didn't have much of a clue about how to do it.  It was a bit of an accident on my part, but I've had my legs waxed by six off duty Thai hookers in a Bangkok brothel and they did a better job of it than this girl - and that's saying something.  Another story for another day?

Then we moved onto the shellac pedicure.  She did the normal stuff in the usual big massage chair with the integral basin, but then moved to the front of the salon, to the manicure tables, to apply the shellac.  And to do this, she sat on the floor.  Yes, on the floor of the salon.  Not on a stool or anything.  Very weird indeed.  It took a while, and she didn't speak to me, just tapping my feet and pointing when they had to come in and out of the machine (I felt a bit like a horse being asked to pick up its feet!).

The shellac pedicure is fine.  I'm typing this nearly eight weeks after I had it done and everything still looks brand new.  I asked her to take the nails right back, which she did, but the whole experience just felt wrong.  The broken waxing bed in the grotty storage room, the sitting on the floor, the whole feel of the place has changed and it was very odd to see it with so few customers.

The half leg wax and the shellac pedicure came to $75 plus tip (20% is usual, I didn't do that).

Michigan is full of nail salons and I definitely won't be making the long drive back there next time.

Royal Oak Nails
106 E 5th Street
Royal Oak  MI  48067
Phone:- 248 542 1209

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer is HERE!

It's time for sunshine, lazing outside,
dipping your toes in the lake, BBQs,
cocktails on the terrace, smores by the fire
and warm evenings.
Bring it on!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Photo Gallery : Rome

Oops, sorry folks!  I took these photos in Rome back in February of this year, and then forgot to post them on the blog.  So here's a random selection of shots I took, mainly with Instagram, on our whirlwind stop in Rome earlier this year ...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Eyebrow Threading?

I'm pretty low maintenance with regards my beauty regime, but I do seriously like nicely shaped eyebrows.  When we lived in the US I used to see a great eyebrow girl who was expensive, but gave great results.  Then we moved to Germany and it's been one mini-disaster after the next, including having half of one eyebrow waxed off by accident ("Oh, sorry, we won't charge you") and numerous patchy waxings.

About five years ago I had eyebrow threading done for the first time and it's brilliant.  Of course, I can't find anyone who does it here (except for one Iraqui guy who was okay, but made them far too thin), so whenever I'm travelling in the UK and see a "Blink Brow Bar" I head straight in so that they can sort me out.

Blink Brow Bar usually set up near the cosmetic sections of big department stores like Selfridges, and they do your threading out in the open which is a bit weird, but you do get used to it.  I think they do it that way so that people can see how good the results are, and then they get more customers.

Now, for those of you that don't know what eyebrow threading is, here's a definition:-

In threading, a thin (cotton or polyester) thread is doubled, then twisted. It is then rolled over areas of unwanted hair, plucking the hair at the follicle level. Unlike tweezing, where single hairs are pulled out one at a time, threading can remove short lines of hair.
Advantages cited for eyebrow threading, as opposed to eyebrow waxing, are that it provides more precise control in shaping eyebrows and is more gentle on the skin. It can be painful as several hairs are removed at once: however this can be minimised if it is done professionally.
Most people believe threading originated in India over 6000 years ago and spread throughout Asia, the Middle East and in recent times Europe. The Arabic word for threading is 'Khite'; in Egypt it is also called 'Fatlah'.[3]

And if you want to see it done, here's a video:-

I know that in the video one of the customers says that it doesn't hurt, but that's not true.  It does hurt, but I find it doesn't hurt as much as waxing and the result is a lot better.  There's also a lot less chance of making a mistake with threading than there is with blobby hot wax being applied.

Give threading a try, I bet you'll be a convert!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

International Hotel Bed Sizes

How many times have you checked into a UK hotel and opened the bedroom door to find that the bed is much smaller than you had thought it would be?  You've been looking forward to a lovely nights sleep in your big King sized bed only to find that you're going to be shoulder-to-shoulder with your spouse in what the UK call a King sized bed.

We've made this mistake a few times - "King" size in the US is VERY different to "King" size in the UK.  King and Double are the usual bed sizes quoted on hotel websites, so I thought I'd list the different sizes below (in metric), so we can all stop getting a surprise when we see those small UK King beds.

US King - 193Wx203.2L
UK King - 152.4Wx1981.L

US Double - 137.2Wx198.1L
UK Double - 137.2Wx190.5L

You can see from the measurements above, that the UK King is actually smaller than a US Queen (152.4Wx203.2L).  Click HERE to find a comparison chart of the rest of the US v UK bed sizes.  If you're a bad sleeper and you're used to sharing a much bigger bed, maybe it's an idea to book a UK Twin bedded room instead of a UK King - then you can both get a good nights sleep and enjoy your holiday.