On Wednesday I made my way over to Essex to meet Laura, who writes the lovely blog Tiny Twisst, for a girly day out at intu Lakeside shopping centre.
I was really looking forward to it, for more reasons than one. Guys, I've had such a stressful start to September and haven't really allowed myself much downtime from work to relax - I really needed a happy day. But also, Laura is one of the loveliest blogger ladies out there so I was really excited to spend some more time with her just having some fun together - especially with someone who understands the levels of stress we can sometimes put on ourselves as bloggers.
I arrived at Lakeside and was taken aback by just how vast it was. Having never visited before I wasn't sure what to expect but the sun was shining and sitting outside waiting for Laura to arrive I felt excited for what felt like the first time in months. It just felt like the best day to start a fresh; turn over a stress-free, new leaf and treat myself to a new A/W wardrobe whilst I was at it. Remind myself that actually, I'm doing okay and taking some time out to have fun is definitely allowed.
With a day of shopping ahead of us, we made our way to the Customer Service lounge - we had an appointment booked in with the personal stylist Carlene and we were both excited to see what that entailed.
Carlene doesn't work on a commission either, she's just salaried to be there so you know she's not going to apply pressure or favour some shops over others. I filmed a vlog of the day and Laura and I asked her a few questions and even had our body shapes confirmed before we started shopping, so you can take a look at that here if you want to know more and get a better feel for what you can expect from that service.
I have to admit I was utterly blown away - the fact that it's completely free, there's no minimum spend and if you go out shopping with Carlene and end up finding nothing you like, it doesn't matter. It's basically like shopping with a friend that knows exactly what they're doing and genuinely wants to help you feel fabulous. I'm always in the mood to shop, but it made me feel so positive and happy I couldn't wait to rummage through all the stores and apply some of Carlene's tips to help me shop a little more sensibly for my shape and felt way more secure in myself and not intimidated by the prospect one little bit.
With all this new knowledge under our belts we both agreed grabbing some lunch before we started was the way to go. Luckily, Lakeside was Laura’s local hotspot, so she knew the place like the back of her hand. We headed upstairs to the Eatery and took our pick from the large selection of restaurants and pop-up cafes filling the entire top floor. We opted for Five Guys - a first time for the both of us and it did not disappoint. Have you tried it? Because basically my mouth was in heaven. Not to mention the ridiculously cool coca cola machine with all of the coke options in the world ever.
haul video here!) but the shop I was most impressed with was Topshop. I have to say I'd been put off them in recent years, their style had gone a bit too young and girly for me and I'd found myself setting up camp more often in Zara. However, this was by far the best Topshop I think I've ever visited. It was set out fabulously, it was a breeze to walk through and there was so much space that it didn't feel overwhelming...they've clearly taken a turn for the better because I loved everything in store, and needless to say spent most of my money in there.
Resting areas are dotted across one side of the centre too (if the customer service lounge is a little too far to walk to), so once we were almost finished we perched our bums on these armchairs, checked our phones and rested our feet for a few minutes...
...Fab indeed, Lakeside!
Laura and I literally shopped until we dropped. Before we knew it it was 8pm and we thought we'd grab some dinner before heading home. Situated just outside the centre, sat on the river is the Boardwalk - a little area filled with all of the good food, aka. highstreet restaurants. We opted for Wagamamas and stuffed our tired little faces with all of the food before making our way out just before the centre closed at 10pm.
I know sponsored content on blog posts can be a little off-putting for readers sometimes, but genuinely, I had the best day ever. I couldn't recommend intu Lakeside's services enough and can't wait to take my friends and family back to experience it.
So, if you've ever been dubious of taking some time with a personal stylist before, pop-in to lakeside, not only is that service incredible, but the centre itself makes for the perfect girls day out with all of the things to do.
Thanks Laura for being such a love and to Lakeside for having us for the day! I'd really love to know what you think if any of you stop by - it was such a lovely day for us.
intu are passionate about providing people with a compelling shopping experience, we help retailers flourish. But most important, through our brand intu, we create uniquely compelling experiences, surprising and delighting our customers. This means providing both consistently outstanding service and the technology people need to get in touch and stay connected
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Intu Lakeside via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Intu Lakeside.