Popular with cyclists, walkers and locals, The Cowper Arms pub and restaurant in Cole Green Hertfordshire, has all the charm of a traditional English pub with filling food and a warming atmosphere.

The pub, which sits beside a disused railway line that passes through Hertingfordbury, Letty Green and Welwyn Garden City, isn't unfamiliar to me. In fact, over the summer Ben and myself often found ourselves sat outside in the beer garden, catching the last of the afternoon sun on many occasion while digging into our favourite dishes. 

Speaking of favourite dishes, I was initially concerned The Cowper Arms would have scrapped my go-to main of battered halloumi with twice-cooked chunky chips (£11.75), following a week-long refurbishment earlier this month. But despite the sleek makeover, the menu is relatively the same and I'm pleased to say the battered halloumi is here to stay.

Yet the entrance, dining room, bar and toilets have had a stylish revamp. And I was all for it. From the pendent ceiling lights, subway tiles, marble countertops, copper accents and mix of leather and velvet studded chairs, they got it right. The venue now boasts a whole new contemporary look.

Whether you want fine dining, or classic pub food, The Cowper Arms offer a selection of great food that comes well portioned and presented. Including hand stretched pizzas (from £10.95), chicken and leek pie (£14.50), home-made British beef burgers (£12.95) and 9oz rib-eye steak (£20.95), which Ben described as 'beautiful', yes really. And if you're feeling bougie you can add on lobster too and with a much more palatable price tag (£8.95). And I want to put great emphasis on the quality of its food, as whatever you order it's always really tasty.

And if like me you like a good ol' gin and tonic, they've got a vast line-up of floral, fruity and dry gin. Want an interesting gin to order at the bar? Try a raspberry gin and ginger ale - it's surprisingly good. 

London has an abundance of pubs with good grub, but when it comes to cosy pubs you can't beat the countryside. So if you're passing through Hertfordshire, or fancy visiting, be sure to book and order the sticky toffee pudding (£6.50), as its mouth-wateringly delicious.

Station Road, Cole Green, Hertford, Hertfordshire, SG14 2NL
Visit thecowperarmscolegreen.co.uk

What's your go-to pub dish?
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*This post was in collaboration with The Cowper Arms. 
Three Vegan Skincare Discoveries
Up until recently I didn’t really give much thought about where my beauty ingredients come from - it takes time and a whole lot of googling to decode a product label. It’s a bit of a minefield. But unknowingly to me, three skincare products that I’m currently besotted with, are actually vegan. Meaning these lotions and potions do not contain any animal extracts, or animal by-products. I’m not particularly snobby with my skincare ingredients, if I see results I’m sweet. But it seems upping my ethics and being more conscious of what goes into my skincare products is worth my time and money as these products have been a god send. 

Herbivore Moon Fruit Superfruit Night Treatment £48.00

Similar to PIXI Peel and Polish, Herbivore Moon Fruit Superfruit Night Treatment is packed with fruit enzymes to gently resurface the skin and unclog pores. The overnight mask also contains hydrating butters and hyaluronic acid, which gets a thumbs-up from me as it helps to keep my skin plump. And despite its purple appearance, you can wear the mask overnight without creating a mess on your pillowcase as the colour disappears as you massage it in. I’m yet to be completely won over by its lavender-scented formula, but slapped onto the skin in the evening, topped off with a facial oil to boost hydration (as Herbivore suggests), I wake up in the morning looking like I’ve drunk my two litres of water. If you’re dehydrated, sensitive or wanting to ditch dull skin, it’s worth the splurge.

Dr Roebuck's No Worries Hydrating Face Moisturizer £30.00

I’m fussy when it comes to moisturisers, as I have dehydrated skin, but I hate anything thick or tacky on my face, especially when the weather turns sweat-tastic. But Dr Roebuck's No Worries Hydrating Face Moisturizer has been ticking all the right boxes and has slipped seamlessly into my skincare routine, bumping all other moisturisers to the back of the cabinet. Its lightweight formulation includes a simple blend of effective ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and macadamia nut oil two moisture-magnets and vitamin E for added anti-aging benefits. Gently massaged into my skin it’s easily absorbed and non-greasy, leaving it feeling soft, supple and plump. And it’s inclusion of glycerine (commonly found in primer) helps create the perfect canvas for makeup. The only criticism is it doesn’t contain SPF. But as I’ve been pretty dedicated to my new skincare find I’ve invested in an additional facial SPF. 

PIXI Peel and Polish £24.00

Meet my current skincare favourite; PIXI Peel and Polish. This 2-in-1 mask and polish is a miracle worker. Because with most skincare products you don’t expect to see actual results until you’ve used them consistently for several weeks, but I kid you not, in just 5 minutes this product transforms my skin. The PIXI Peel and Polish contains lactic acid and papaya enzyme, which acts similarly to an AHA (but is far gentler), to remove all the dead skin cells from your face. Twice a week I apply the mask for 5 minutes post-cleansing, then with my fingertips I gently massage it in, then remove with warm water. As its acid based it does cause some tingling, but it’s fleeting and comfortable. The result? Instantly softer, brighter skin, with no tight feeling or drying. In fact, the results aren’t too dissimilar to Peter Thomas Roth's Pumpkin Enzyme Mask, but it’s far cheaper and your skin won’t look red immediately after use.

What are your thoughts on vegan beauty products?
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This summer I’ve been embracing a minimal makeup routine and it seems wearing less product is worthy of a compliment or two, as a few of my eagle eyed colleagues have noted and praised my laid back barely there makeup. For the first time I gracefully accepted the compliments with confidence, as this routine doesn’t make me feel naked, unattractive or self-conscious. Who’d thought eh? The girl who once spent all her paper round money of a tube of what was effectively coloured paste at Milton Keynes outdoor market and wouldn’t leave the house without smothering her face in the stuff, would love to dabble in little to no makeup at all. 

We all know minimal makeup is tricky to master and besides MAKE UP FOR EVER Water Blend Foundation (£33.00), I’m yet to find another base that perfects your complexion without looking as though you’re wearing any makeup at all. But on occasion I’ve been skipping foundation all together and opting for Glossier Stretch Concealer (£15.00)* instead. The potted concealer offers sheer to light coverage and melts into the skin leaving it fresh, dewy and diffused while allowing my real skin to shine through. If your complexion is on the oiler side and you’re worried about looking a hot mess, either layer a primer underneath, or apply a translucent setting powder to help with any unwelcome shine.  

For a minimal makeup look I like to switch up my powder bronzer and contour in favour of something with a creamy texture, as I find the finish is more natural. Chanel Soleil Tan De Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base (£40.00) is a cream-based bronzer and although it isn’t exactly handbag friendly, it’s my go-to for faking an impressive summer glow. I apply the bronzer where the sun would hit my face naturally - forehead, nose, cheeks and chin – using a stippling brush and it blends with ease. The finish is a soft matte with zero shimmer and is almost undetectable. However, this is not a product I can wear when I’m a little pasty, as it has an orangey undertone - so something to bear in mind if you have a pale complexion, as unfortunately it’s only available in the one shade. 

Unless I’ve had an overzealous plucking session, I’ll simply brush a couple of coats of Glossier Boy Brow (£14.00) through my eyebrows to help tame them and add a little texture. Available in four shades Boy Brow delivers on its claims that it fluffs, thickens, and shapes without getting flaky or crunchy. But when my brows have those occasional sparse areas, I’ll opt for Benefit’s Goof Proof Eyebrow Pencil (£20.50), which provides a more soft look than a powder, or pomade. And if I want my brows to look uber-natural (and I can be asked with the additional effort) I’ll opt for not one, but two shades of Goof Proof, taking the lighter shade through the front of the brows and the darker through the arch and tail to lengthen and define. 

Before applying mascara I like to conceal my veiny eyelids with a neutral matte eyeshadow that’s a tad deeper than my natural skin colour to help disguise any discolouration. Generally I tend to wear one of the following three; Makeup Geek Eyeshadow in Creme Brulee (£4.95), the eighth shade in Huda Beauty’s Warm Brown Obsessions Palette (£25.00), or Anastasia Beverly Hills Eyeshadow in Burnt Orange (from £12.00), all of which are great picks for day-to-day. And then I’ll apply mascara which is non-negotiable careless of what look I’m trying to achieve. Glossier Lash Slick (£14.00) is a great everyday mascara that goes on without clumping and it lifts, lengthens and separates every single lash. It doesn’t add much volume, but its buildable and it feels as though I’m wearing no mascara at all. In short it does for your lashes what boy brow does for your brows.

Among the rotation of lip products I’ve been hoarding in the bottom of my handbag is Dior Addict Lip Glow Colour Awakening Lipbalm in 001 Pink (£23.40). The cult balm from Dior doesn’t just lend my lips a boost of hydration; the pH adaptable lip colour glides on almost transparent before developing into a flattering rosy tint. What I particularly like also, is it’s super soft texture and that it’s never, ever glossy or sticky no matter how much you apply. And when my cheeks are looking a little dull I’ve found that it doubles nicely as a cream blush. I rub the bullet onto the tips of my fingers and gently pat the product onto my cheeks and it leaves my skin looking brighter, rosier and dewy. 

If I apply Dior Addict Lip Glow to my cheeks, I find the need for highlighter is less. But when I do want a little suminsumin, it will come as no surprise that I reach for something creamy that has little to no shimmer. For a glow without the glitter Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter (£30.00)* does the trick and imparts a beautiful luminous finish, that’s so lovely and natural looking that it’s hard to resist apply all over. And to top it all off I lightly mist MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ (£19.00) my favourite glow-giving mist over my skin. 

What products do you use to create a minimalist makeup look?
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My suitcase weighed in at 20kg as it hit the scales at Gatwick airport when we checked in for our flight to Porto Santo last month. I would usually regard myself a light packer and I did up until this point. But I should have considered this a possibility the moment my sister asked me why I needed to fly half the contains of the bathroom cabinet with me to Portugal as I shoved my wash bag into my case. And in hindsight she had a point, as it’s safe to say not every single product got put to good use during my holibobs. But a handful of products did and I thought I’d share those with you today.

Wilko After Sun Aloe Vera Gel £2.50

It might be the most unappealing product in this round-up, but it’s easily one of the most important. If like me despite your best efforts your skin burns within minutes of being exposed to the sun, aloe vera gel is a must. I repeat, it’s a must pack beauty product for a hot summer holiday. Typically brand-to-brand the formulation of aloe vera gel doesn’t differ, so I tend to pick up a tube from wherever is convenient. But trust me when I say this green goo will help soothe, hydrate and calm the worst sunburn of your life.

HERBIVORE After Sun Soothing Aloe Mist (60ml) £10.00*

Although aloe vera gel doesn’t make you oily, it can leave a sticky film on the skin. So to ensure you can wear your favourite (and most comfortable) dress to the all-inclusive evening buffet without the garment sticking to your thighs (or backside in my case) after sun sprays such as HERBIVORE After Sun Soothing Aloe Mist are a great alternative. The blend of aloe vera, lavender and peppermint essential oils means the mist is cooling, soothing, hydrating and anti-inflammatory. It’s worth noting however that HERBIVORE uses glass bottles to house their beautiful products, which is great for the environment, but not our luggage. But it’s nothing a Glossier pink pouch couldn’t help a gal out with. 

Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream (75ml) £18.00

My love for Sol de Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream hasn’t wavered since it first made an appearance on my top shelf last June, as smothering my limbs in this stuff is always a pleasure. Not only is the sugary, summery scent addictive, it’s hydrating, creamy and leaves my skin noticeably soft and suppler, without that typical greasiness associated with most body creams. But does it make my butt plump? Honestly, this isn’t a Brazilian bum lift in a jar per se, but the dimples in my skin, scars and stretch marks have been visibly reduced. 

Moroccanoil Treatment Light (25ml) £13.45

Typically I don’t tend to style my hair on holiday, it goes up during the day, gets washed post pool/sunbathe session and is let to air-dry before I head out to consume several piƱa coladas. But one of my all-time favourite styling products and after sun hair saviours is Moroccanoil Treatment Light. To apply I gently squeeze out the moisture from my hair (after washing), rub a very small amount of the oil into the tips of my fingers and work the product through the mid-section and into the ends of my hair. The lightweight oil feeds my hair back to its best after being exposed to heat and humidity, reducing frizz and unruliness, leaving it seriously soft and shiny. 

Alpha-H Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF 50+ (50ml) £29.00

Call it a quarter life crisis but I’m suddenly seeing fine lines developing on my face and I’m freaking out. I blame the one too many years of using sunbeds and not wearing a sunscreen with a high SPF rating. But rather than dwelling on the should haves, I now wear and strongly suggest investing in a moisturiser with a SPF rating of 30+ (and not using sunbeds blah, blah, blah…) to help slow down the ageing process. My current favourite is Alpha-H Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF 50+ that has a SPF of 50 as well as a high UVA protection. It can be worn alone, or under makeup and is comfortable, lightweight and doesn’t look white on the skin – it just feels like a regular moisturiser. And of course you can still get a tan while wearing sunscreen. So don’t disregard the importance of facial SPF, or rely solely on your foundation with SPF.

Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask £42.00*

While it’s not a necessity it’s always nice to pack a beauty product that helps you to indulge in a little pamper whilst you’re away. And as I was planning to lounge in the sun for hours on end, which can leave my complexion feeling zapped of moisture, I opted for Summer Friday’s Jet Lag Mask, which has a seriously hydrating formulation - more so than Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask. It also contains vitamin C, Niacinamide, Green Tea and Chestunut Extract to boost hydration, brighten, soothe and reduce uneven skin. The balm is thick and smells a little minty and I found is best applied overnight, especially if you’re after uber-dewy plump skin. 

Vita Liberata Body Blur Instant HD Finish 24HR Wear (Latte Light) £27.00*

Admittedly this was the first time I’d taken a false tan product abroad and to do so sounds a little ironic doesn’t it? But I wasn’t blessed with skin that tans seamlessly the same shade from head to toe and I found that Vita Liberata Body Blur Instant HD Finish 24HR Wear actually came in handy during my stay. In fact, it worked a treat at helping to even up my skin tone, I simply applied a thin layer of the wash off self-tan every evening to any exposed limbs and rinsed off before I getting into bed. But it’s worth mentioning if you apply too much, the product can ball up and I recommend applying with a tanning mitt to avoid a streaky finish. I’m not one to book a pre-holiday spray tan, but I wouldn’t hesitate at packing this again. 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam Eye Shadow Palette £43.00

I love to experiment with new eyeshadows whilst I’m away as I have the time (and energy) to do so. And before my trip I hadn’t even opened the Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam Eye Shadow Palette despite the fact I’d purchased it back in March(!) so it was the ideal candidate for the job. The latest palette from Anastasia Beverly Hills features a selection of neutral eyeshadows including a handful of warm peaches, which are undoubtedly my most worn eyeshadow shade of the past two years. During my stay I wore all 16 shades and found they complimented my blue eyes and golden glow perfectly. 

By Terry Cellularose Brightening CC Serum (Sunny Flash) £61.00

Rather than second-guessing and buying a foundation that is darker than my usual shade, I like to mix my foundation (MAKE UP FOR EVER Water Blend Face & Body Foundation) with a pump of By Terry Cellularose Brightening CC Serum in Sunny Flash. The CC serum isn’t something I reach for during colder months, but when my base needs a hint of warmth the bronze serum is my top pick. The CC serum isn’t a coverage product, but it blends well with my go-to bases, brightening, smoothing and blurring my complexion. It is however rather pricey and perfumed, so two things to consider if you're strapped for cash and sensitive to perfumed products. 

What beauty products do you take away with you?
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