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I saw an advert for the Flip Ultra HD on Facebook and really liked the idea but expected a HD video camera of that size to be way out of my price range. I had a look on eBay and found they were averaging about £100 for a brand new one which I thought was good value for money so I treated myself to one for my birthday. In the box along with my Flip I got the battery pack, a wrist strap and a soft case to keep it in along with a quick start guide. I was extremely impressed with the quick start guide as it is only short and all in English so I didn't have to hunt through the millions of other languages before I could find out how to use my new toy.
For those of you who have never seen a Flip before I thoroughly recommend you go to doyouflip.co.uk and find out what all the fuss is about. It is an amazing little gadget. The Flip Ultra HD is a handheld HD video camera that is about the size of a mobile phone (4.25" x 2.19" x 1.17") that weighs 6oz. It is called a Flip because there is a built in flip out USB arm (up to USB 2.0 speed) in the side of the camera that is released when you slide a clip down. It is boasted as the World's simplest HD camera and that is a very true statement. On the opposite side of the camera to the USB arm is the on/off button so you can't get confused and turn it off by accident. The camera takes no longer than 4 seconds to power up and it has a power saver option which automatically turns your Flip off when you have not used it for a while. On the front on the Flip is the lens and at the top of the back of the device is a 2.0" (diagonal) LCD screen which has a resolution on 320 x 240 with Transflective TFT which helps you see the screen in bright day light. Underneath the screen is a red circular button in the middle which is the record and stop recording button. This is surrounded by 4 buttons, the top one is for zooming in or turning the volume up, the bottom for zooming out or turning the volume down, the right is for fast forwarding or moving to the next video in playback mode and the left for rewinding or moving back to the previous video. On the left of these is the play button so you can switch to playback mode and on the right is the delete button (there is a function to lock this too so you don't accidently delete any videos which I think is a great idea). That is it, all there is to it. Idiot proof in my eyes, well I haven't been able to go wrong yet.
The camera has a 2hr recording time with an 8gb internal memory (not expandable) and is currently available in black and white. The video has a resolution of 1280 x 720 and the camera has a ¼.5" HD CMOS sensor (2.2 µm pixels). It has ultra low-light sensitivity (>1.4 V/lux-sec) with automatic low light detection with automatic white balance and black level calibration. The average bitrate is 9.0Mbps (auto-adaptive algorithm) and has Flip video engine 3.5 which is the most up to date. The video has automatic exposure control with dynamic exposure compensation and the videos are saved in MP4 format with H.264 video compression and AC audio compression. The lens is fixed focus (1.5m to infinity) and the aperture is f/2.4 which is apparently a fast lens for great results in low-light environments. The camera has a smooth multi-step 2x digital zoom.
The Flip comes with a AA rechargeable battery pack (1.2 Volt NiMH rechargeable) which can be charged in about 6 hours via a computer USB port or in about 3 ½ hours if you buy the separate power adapter. I bought the power adapter for about £7 on eBay and a pack of 3 USB leads (about £12 on eBay) to connect the two as I was not overly happy about my Flip being left dangling from the plug socket. The reason that I chose the Ultra HD instead of the smaller and lighter Mino HD is because the Ultra HD will also work with 2 AA batteries if your battery pack runs out while you are out and about. The battery pack will last for up to 2.5hrs though which is longer than it will take to use up the memory.
The Flip Ultra HD has a built in speaker and a built in wide range stereo microphone. I found that the sound quality was really good when I was listening to it through the camera and through my PC. You can also buy Mini HDMI cables so you can plug your Flip straight into your HD TV (if you are lucky enough to own one) and watch the videos on the big screen. There is a tripod mount in the bottom of the Flip and I bought a Gorrillapod which has bendy legs so you can attach it to things for £3 brand new on eBay. The Flipshare video software allows unlimited private video emails or video greeting cards and has a facility to directly upload to MySpace and YouTube. You can take still photos from your videos. Automatic and on-demand online software updates are available for both the Flip and the Flipshare software. Minimum computer requirements are:
PC - 3.0 GHz Intel® Pentium® 4 or faster processor, Windows® XP SP2 with 512 MB of RAM or Windows Vista®/Windows 7® with 1 GB of RAM, and USB 2.0 port
MAC®: 1.66 GHz Intel® Core DuoTM or faster processor, 1 GB of RAM, OS X Leopard® 10.5 or Snow Leopard® 10.6, and USB 2.0 port
Official Flip accessories consist of underwater case (about £40), soft pouch (black & silver), USB cables, Power adaptor, battery pack, tripod, HDMI cables and an action tripod. I have also bought a hard case (£10) and a silicon cover (£11) for added protection for my Flip.
I found the Flip USB arm clip really easy to use and the connection seems to be very secure so the arm doesn't feel like it is about to drop off. The screen may not sound very big at 2" (diagonal) but it is big enough to do what it needs to. The video on the camera is clear and easy to see and stays the same way once you have put it onto your computer. All the software, drivers etc are stored inside the Flip so there are no discs to lose. I plugged my Flip into my Vista laptop, a pop up came up, I chose I wanted to install the software and that was it. A few minutes later the software was available for use.
The Flipshare software is extremely easy to use. Along the top you get the normal windows type toolbar consisting of file, edit, view, share, create, playback and help. On the left hand side you get a bar with a list of your films separated in to the month that you uploaded them so it is easy to find the video you want in the future. You can also set up your own files to make finding the correct video even easier. Along the bottom you get a section that tells you if an action is taking place (like a video being transferred from the Flip to the laptop, a video being converted etc), a button to transfer videos from the Flip to the laptop, 3 sharing options and 3 create functions. The rest of the screen is filled up with thumb nails of your videos. There are 3 different options available depending on how big you want these thumb nails to be. I have currently used the email function and the publish videos on the web options. Both of these were really easy as you just drag and drop the video or videos you want to send as an email, type in the email address and click send or drag and drop the videos you want to convert. I have only uploaded videos to Facebook so far so I haven't used the auto upload the MySpace or YouTube options yet. When you want to upload the videos to other websites such as Facebook, Flipshare will convert the videos into .wmv format and puts them into a folder on your desktop which you can name anything you like. The take still photos from your video function is very user friendly as you can stop the video at the desired place and then move frame by frame to get the picture that you want. I did find the photos a little bit fuzzy but they were still viewable. I haven't got around to trying the create movies with titles and music option or the create a DVD of your video function yet but I would imagine that they are just as easy to use. The help section is comprehensive and easy to navigate and the flip website has a fantastic support section if you get stuck with anything. They even have a team of advisors waiting to talk to you via video to help you if you still can't resolve a problem.
When I registered my Flip, I was asked if I wanted a free 2 for 1 family fun days out card sent to me. I don't have children but thought I would say yes as it is free. This card gives 2 for 1 days out at over 200 selected venues such as Flambards, National Seal Sanctuary, paintballing, Royal Marines museum, Camelot theme park and Thomasland (full list available at www.doyouflip.co.co/familyfun). You can use the card as many times as you like until the 31st Dec 2011 and you can even use it to go to the same venue over and over again if you wanted too. The card also entitles you to 1 free lesson in golf, horse riding and football for 5-11 year olds. If you have a family, this card could help you redeem the cost of the Flip without you even realising. It is not redeemable against family tickets or booked parties and you should check with the venue first.
I love my Flip and have it in my pocket now most of the time so I never have to miss out on those golden opportunities. I can't recommend them enough so we have become a 2 Flip family as my 73 year old grandad has bought one after trying my Flip. All of my friends have been impressed with the quality of the videos and the ease of use of the camera. The facility to take still photos would have been an added bonus but I am not greedy.
I used to buy these chocolates a lot but I haven't been able to find them in shops for ages. I saw them in the vending machine at work for 60p and although they were more expensive than the other chocolates available, I had to have them.
The packet is just over 45g in weight and I had 17 chocolates in mine. Each bag contains 240kcal, 3.4g of protein, 25.4g of carbohydrates and 13.7g of fat. At 56.4% carbohydrates and 30.5% fat, these are not the healthiest snack around but if you want something healthy, chances are that you won't be buying chocolate anyway. The chocolate contains milk as the name suggests and may also contain traces of Soya and nuts.
Each ball of chocolate is a bit smaller than a malteser and is made of pure Dairy Milk chocolate. They are shiny on the outside so they do look like they have a hard shell, They are just the right size for biting into. They seem to stay hard longer than normal chocolate bars so when you bite into the little balls of goodness, you get a satisfying crunch experience. This also means that the balls don't end up as a soggy mess in the bottom of the bag. The chocolate is thick and creamy and has a lovely taste. It really coats your mouth well while you are chewing it and leaves a lovely rich after taste. I find that you get just enough chocolates in the bag to enjoy without them becoming sickly. I could quite happily eat 2 bags of them in fact but then I do love chocolate.
If you fancy some chocolate and like Dairy Milk chocolate but don't feel like eating a whole bar, then I thoroughly recommend these Tasters. I have been introducing my friends at work to them and they all agree. These are one of my favourite treats at the moment.
The film begins with a young Alice explaining to Charles, her father, that she has had a dream about falling down a hole and seeing strange creatures. 13 years later, Charles has died and Alice is sat in a carriage with her mother on their way to a dance. Alice tells her mother that she has not slept well due to a recurring bad dream about falling down a hole. At the dance, Lord Hamish, an ugly ginger haired man asks Alice to marry him. Alice sees a rabbit moving through the undergrowth, she follows it saying she needs a moment to think about the proposal. So begins the story we all know and love. However, there is a twist to the original story. This is Alice's second visit to Underland and this time she has to fulfil her destiny but is she the right Alice?
Mad Hatter - Johnny Depp
Alice - Mia Wasikowska
Red Queen - Helena Bonham Carter
White Queen - Anne Hathaway
Stayne (Knave of Hearts) - Crispin Glover
Tweedledee/Tweedledum - Matt Lucas
White Rabbit - Michael Sheen
Cheshire Cat - Stephen Fry
Caterpillar - Alan Rickman
Dormouse - Barbara Windsor
March Hare - Paul Whitehouse
Bayard - Timothy Spall
Charles Kingsleigh - Marton Csokas
I watched this film with my grandparents who are in their early 70s. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. If I am totally honest, I didn't expect much from the film as remakes are never anywhere near as good as the originals and this is such a classic story. I was very pleasantly surprised.
The special effects are brilliant and when Alice falls down the rabbit hole at the beginning of her adventure, you really feel like you are falling with her as the clocks and pianos etc fly past her. I really liked the way the room changes as Alice grows and shrinks with the eat me and drink me potions. Everything was kept to scale and very cleverly done. I really wanted a rocking horse fly and was particularly impressed with the way the film handles the differences in size between Alice and the Mad Hatter. The scenary was brilliant with a perfect mix of props and computer generated plants etc.
I felt the film was very well cast and the all star cast help to make the film what it is. Alan Rickman is superb as the caterpillar and his voice really suits the character. You could hear the boredom in his voice at being asked what he felt were very trivial questions. Matt Lucas made me laugh as Tweedledee and Tweedledum. I don't think that anyone could have filled that role in a better way. His facial expressions worked so well with the dim brothers. The Cheshire Cat was very cute and the way he moved was very cat like. I remember the cartoon cat being slightly more sinister but I don't think he needed to be in this adaptation on the film. I am not a huge fan of Helena Bonham Carter but she did a really good job as the queen of hearts. She added a sinister edge to the role at the beginning which becomes laughable by the end. I really liked the character Bayard, the bloodhound and felt so sorry for him, being forced to hunt Alice against his will. The character of the White Queen was not as interesting as the Red Queen and although I usually like Anne Hathaway, the character really began to get on my nerves by the end. She is so regal throughout and very much like a stereotypical Disney queen without getting any feel of depth of character. I don't watch very many films so had never seen Mia Wasikowska before. I think she was perfect as Alice. She had just the right balance of naive innocence mixed with a determination to succeed in her difficult life path.
After watching the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where I wanted to beat Johnny Depp the entire way through for being so annoying, I didn't expect much from this film. Don't get me wrong, I love Johnny as an actor and no one could have played Jack Sparrow better than he has but in that film he annoyed me. What a difference he brought to the role of the Mad Hatter. If I had to choose, he would be my favourite character in this film. The story of his decline into madness is very well portrayed and really pulls at your heart strings. I loved the way his eyes changed colour and he changed to a Scottish accent during his moments of madness. Depp really gave the character depth and made the Hatter to be a believable character.
Although the film may be a bit dark and creepy for younger viewers, I would thoroughly recommend this film to anyone. There are quite a few laugh out loud moments in the film (generally from Matt Lucas) and I was very impressed and will be watching this one many more times as I feel you will pick up on bits you missed if you watch it a second time.
I bought the DVD for £9.99 from Play.com
As many of you know I love the Montagne Jeunesse range of products as they are affordable, easy to find in most shops and the majority of them work really well. I bought this mask from the Montagne Jeunesse website for 99p. If you spend over £7.50 on the website you get free P&P.
The exfoliating masque with peach kernel and walnut is suitable for normal, oily and T-zone skin. I have T-zone skin so I hoped that this product would remove some of the oil. The mask contains walnut shell powder to gently exfoliate your skin to leave is clean and smooth. As it contains lots of natural oils and extracts, the packet recommends that you do a sensitivity test before using it on your face, just to make sure there are no allergic reactions. This mask is suitable for vegetarians and is BUAV approved. It is also gluten free.
Directions for use: Thoroughly cleanse face and evenly apply mask with fingertips. Massage for a minute, avoiding eyes and lips. Leave on for 10 minutes. Massage once more for a minute and rince with water. Pat dry. Use fortnightly.
My skin was looking really dull before I used the mask as it was the work pay day party on Friday and I over indulged. When I opened the packet, my first thought was of the lovely fruity smell that emerged. The mask is a pale yellow in colour with load of small brown specks of walnut shell. You would be forgiven for thinking that you had just squirted St Ives Apricot scrub from the sachet. I found it easy to apply to my skin and the consistancy was just right. It was thick enough to stay on your skin without dripping off but still easy to massage in. You can feel the walnut shell pieces doing their job but the mask feels really thick, creamy and rich and this prevents the walnut pieces being scratchy on your skin.
I found the mask comfortable on my skin while I was waiting for it to clean my skin. I was able to play games on my laptop without any of the mask falling off on to my keyboard. It didn't dry out at all on my skin so I was able to move my face without worrying about the mask cracking. The fruity smell stayed with the mask for the entire time too which was lovely. I found it a really relaxing process.
After the 10 minute waiting time, I found that I only had about half the mask on my face still as the rest had soaked into my skin. I was still able to massage the remainder of the product into my skin without it feeling rough or scratchy. I used a flannel to help get the mask off and found this process easy too. My flannel was also easy to rinse clean afterwards. I gave my face a final rinse with cold water just to get rid of the last few pieces of walnut shell.
I was very pleased with the results, my skin looked plump and glowing. My cheeks normally get quite dry but after the mask my skin felt even all over with no dry or oily patches. My complexion looked really fresh. My skin was soft to the touch and the mask had removed the last bits of spot that I had left. I was still able to smell the fruitiness on my skin for over an hour after removing the mask. The slight bits of redness I had before using the mask from a few spots had gone and I looked my brighter than before. I would definitely recommend this mask.
This book is the first of the celebrated Earth's Children series by Jean M Auel. It is set at the dawn of mankind when the world was very different. I got this book from a charity shop for 50p but it is available from Amazon from £3 new and 1p used. This book has also been made into a film.
The book begins with Ayla playing in a river when an earthquake separates her from her family. She becomes more and more lost as she runs into the forest to avoid the tremors until she collapses from exhaustion. Once she recovers she doggedly follows the river trying to find her family. As hunger takes over and she becomes delirious, she unexpectedly ventures into the territory of a group of cave lions. One of the lions attacks her, the wound becomes infected and once again Ayla's life is at risk when she passes out. The clan of the cave bear are looking for a new home at this time as their cave collapsed during the earthquake. The find Ayla lying close to death but the medicine woman Iza takes pity on her and the clan take Ayla with them, not expecting her to live.
Ayla is classed as one of the "others" as she is a more evolved human species that looks more like us. The clan just think she is ugly as she is so different to them. She is terrified of the clan when she wakes up but realises that Iza is trying to help her. As she settles in to clan life, the clan are distrustful of Ayla as she speaks like we do and the clan see superfluous noises as inappropriate. Creb takes a huge interest in her and starts to teach her to speak the language of the clan so he can communicate with her. Each clan member is given an animal totem relating to their character. The clan start to think that Ayla is blessed with a really strong totem spirit when she is the first one to see their new cave.
The story follows Ayla's life with the clan but as she grows so does Broud's hatred of her.
Ayla - The heroine of the story. She is 5 at the beginning of the book and is tall, blond and very intelligent.
Iza - Clan medicine woman whose totem is the saiga antelope. She is pregnant when we first meet her but her husband died during the cave in.
Brun - The Clan leader with a bison totem. He is a strong believer in the spirits and believes that their anger caused the cave in. He worries he will anger them more if he doesn't allow Iza to take Ayla with them. Iza is his sister.
Ebra - She is Brun's mate
Creb (The Mog-ur) - He is the magician of the tribe who is able to cross between the worlds to the spirits and has a cave bear and a roe deer as his totems. He is disabled and is described numerous times as deformed and managed to survive the amputation of his arm. He is the eldest brother of Iza & Brun and would have been the leader if it wasn't for his affliction. He is a kind and gentle man but is revered by all.
Goov - He is just over 11 years of age at the start of the book and has completed his manhood ceremony. He was chosen as The Mog-ur's acolyte.
Broud - Brun and Ebra's nearly 12 year old son. He is to be trained to lead the clan when Brun dies.
Oga - nearly a woman in age. She is sharing Brun and Ebra's fire as her mother died in the cave in and her mother's mate died when he was gored.
Aga - a clan woman whose mate died during the cave in. She has two children, Ona (owl totem) who is a baby and Vorn who is nearly 4 years old.
The other clan members are mentioned but not so much
I really enjoyed this book. It is very well written and the historical information I found to be really good. It describes in depth the way the world used to be with the different forests giving way to huge expanses of grass land interspersed with rocky areas complete with caves. The various animals such as the cave lions which are twice the size of today's lions, 6ft high at the back Aurochs with their curved horns, oversized bison and giant deer are all well described so it is easy to see them in your mind. You immediately warm to Ayla and her plight being so young and separated from her family. She is too young to know what is edible and what is not so is close to starvation when she is found by the clan.
The descriptions of the prehistoric man are fantastic. I could clearly picture their faces and their communications via hand gestures as they had limited speech caused by undeveloped vocal organs. As their brains were made up in a different to ours, prehistoric man was very different. They had great memories but were unable to think ahead to the future. I found reading about the rituals the clan used to ask the spirits for help and to appease them really interesting and found it added a different dimension to the characters. I was intrigued by the social hierarchy of the clan and really felt I understood their ways as the book describes them well. Women were very much the underdogs and the foraging they did while they were travelling was interesting as all the plants are described in detail as well as their uses.
Although there is no way to find out if the book is 100% accurate I believe that Jean M Auel has done a fabulous job recreating prehistoric man. The book is written from the point of view of all the characters and it kept me enthralled all the way through. I have read 4 of the 5 books in the series previously but I am re reading them as I now have the last one. They are as good to read the second time as they are the first and I thoroughly recommend them.
I love Lush products and I really like trying out new products that I haven't tried before. I needed some shower gel so decided to pick one up while I was in Lush. How could I resist a shower gel called Yummy Yummy Yummy? I paid £3.10 for a 100g bottle (bigger bottles are available 250g costs £6.25 and 500g costs £10).
The label says that yummy yummy yummy is a shower cream wash rather than a gel and will leave you with yummy soft skin. It states that the product is suitable for body and hair if you want to save time. It contains fresh strawberries, honey to soothe, almond oil to moisturise and olibanum to rejuvenate. It is said to smell like strawberry and almonds.
The shower cream is pink in colour and I had to shake mine before each use as it seemed to develop a darker pink oil that floated on the top. Giving it a shake is no hardship though when you know you are putting natural products on your skin. I personally found the smell a bit odd. I could smell the undertone of strawberries but it had another smell mixed in with it that I just couldn't fathom out. It certainly didn't smell like almond to me. It smelt sort of like a cake made with fake strawberry flavouring.
To start with I found the shower cream quite had to get out of the bottle and I had to squeeze it really hard. My first impression of the cream wash was that it looking more like a body lotion than a wash. Normally with Lush shower gels, I pour a 5-10p sized amount onto a body puff and that is enough to clean all of me. Not with this shower cream. I ended using at least 3 times as much of this product as once I had put some on the body puff and cleaned my top half, there were no bubbles or shower cream left on the puff for the rest of me.
Once I had got to about half way through the bottle, the shower cream seemed to become really runny and just flew out of the bottle. Whether this was due to the heat as it was during the really sunny patch we have just had, I don't know. I still had to use loads to get washed all over. I did find that yummy yummy yummy didn't leave me feeling overly clean after I had used it like Lush's other products have either.
The smell stayed on my skin for a couple of hours after I had used the shower cream and it stayed in my bathroom all day. I didn't notice much of a difference in my skin softness and there is no way I would have tried using this on my very dry, coloured hair so I can't comment on how well it works as a shampoo. The 100g bottle lasted me 10 days and I used it everyday during that time. Other Lush 0100g bottles have lasted me over a month.
Overall I would say I am disappointed with this shower cream. I know other people really love it but it did nothing for me. I much prefer Happy Hippy or one of the other shower gels. I didn't like not feeling really clean even though I had just got out of the shower. I wasn't overly keen on the smell and I found it expensive for the amount of time it lasted. I won't be buying it again.
I bought this film from Play.com in their sale for £2.99. I like scary films and the idea for this film sounded really good. I watched the trailer on Play.com and that swayed me into buying it. The film was released in 2008 so it is still quite a recent film really but I don't remember it being in the cinema.
Elaine, her partner Jonah and her three children Casey, Miranda and Paulie go to spend New Year with her sister Chloe, husband Robbie and two children Nicky and Leah. Chloe and her family live in a huge house in the middle of nowhere and it is snowing when Elaine arrives. Casey is not very happy to be there as she is a teenager and is missing out on a party with her friends as she has been grounded by her step father. Chloe and Robbie are a very natural family, they believe in home schooling and nothing artificial for their children. Elaine and Jonah are very conventional and he is a high powered business man who se latest way to make money is through Chinese medicine.
Miranda is very happy to see her cousins but Paulie seems a very quiet child who spends most of his time hitting his xylophone. Nicky is obsessed with aliens which seems to frighten Leah a bit. Robbie does his best to make Casey feel more comfortable and she obviously fancies him. Casey plans to escape to the party with her friend who she has arranged to pick her up. Leah starts coughing up blood when they go to bed on the first night. While everyone is asleep, Robbie is seen to be stood at the edge of his parent's bed just staring at them.
The men, children and Casey have a snowball fight and play about while the women are preparing a roast. Paulie wanders off towards the woods and lets the sledge go. The sledge shoots down the hill, straight into Chloe's ankles as she is bringing the food out and the food ends up everywhere. During the makeshift meal all the children start to complain that they are ill. Leah starts to have flashbacks of her cat being killed. Chloe doesn't like the attention that Robbie is giving to Casey and drops it in to conversation that Casey has a tattoo which she was showing Robbie. Casey is livid as her mum and step father didn't know. Miranda lashes out at Chloe during the meal and scratches her face. Jonah carries the screaming Miranda upstairs and she just keeps on screaming. The film then flashes from Miranda going quiet to Casey falling down a hill on her way to meet her friends to Robbie falling on to the sledge and sliding down the hill into a hook. The children's screaming brings the adults out of the house to see Robbie covered in blood. Elaine and Jonah take the children indoors before Elaine goes back out to help her sister. The children try to force their way back out but are not allowed until Paulie cuts Jonah's arm with a knife and they escape into the woods. Miranda is still sat upstairs and starts screaming again.
The film then follows the children becoming more and more sinister and attacking the rest of the family. The ending of the film leaves it open for a sequel.
Elaine - Eva Birthistle
Jonah - Stephen Campbell Moore
Casey - Hannah Tointon
Paulie - William Howes
Miranda - Eva Sayer
Chloe - Rachel Shelley
Robbie - Jeremy Sheffield
Leah - Raffiella Brooks
Nicky - Jake Hathaway
This has to be one of the scariest films I have seen in a long time if not ever. I did wonder half way through whether I would be able to watch it all. I had my hands over my eyes quite a few times during this film. The scenery is absolutely stunning and the film crew found what I believe to be the perfect location for the film. Hannah Tointon who plays Casey is a brilliant young actress who does gives a perfect example of a stroppy manipulative teenager at the beginning of the film and then almost has the leading role by the end. She really grows with her character and I look forward to seeing other films with her in. The character of Paulie comes across as being slightly odd from the beginning and I didn't like him at all.
The film is full of suspense and will leave you gripping your seat. It is cleverly shot especially the woods scenes where you get very quick glimpses of the children running through the trees. These scenes are so quick they almost leave you doubting yourself about whether you did see the children or not. The tension builds throughout the film and I believe that the characters were well cast even though I have never seen any of the actors/actresses before. They portrayed their characters well and in a believable way. Although there are quite a few sickening bloody scenes, the film uses psychology to scare you rather than gore. It was nice to watch a horror film where people don't fall over when they are running away from the enemy leaving you screaming at them to stop being so stupid and get up.
The pace builds slowly throughout the film and was perfect for me. The camera angles used add to the suspense and you can really believe the parents unbelieving reactions to the fact that their children are trying to kill them and it's a case of kill the children or die. You can feel the almost hate between Jonah and Casey and this is built on throughout the film. The film is British made and is lower budget due to the lack of big stars which enhances rather than detracts from the film. The film is definitely worthy of a sequel but I am not sure I would be brave enough to watch it. Definitely not one to watch alone or in the dark
Killing Children - The making of the children
I found this quite and interesting feature. It allows you to meet the producer, director and the cast a bit more and to get their views on the film. It gives a little bit of information on the special effects used to create the injuries and explains how difficult some of the scenes were to shoot. You get to see that film making is not all exciting as the cast seem to be standing around a lot. I found the bit about how the stunts were shot very interesting. This is a great behind the scenes extra that has something for everyone.
Paul Hyett talks prosthetics
Paul is the special makeup effects producer for the film and he explains how they made all the different wounds and effects throughout the film. I found this really interesting and it is very clever how things are done for movies.
Snow set design featurette
Tom Shankland's Lair
This extra shows where Tom Shankland stayed during the filming. It gives a good insight into the man himself along with how he gets his inspiration and ideas. I found this feature really interesting and Tom talks openly about how he copes with the stresses and anxieties of making a film. He comes across as very honest and down to earth.
Working with children featurette
Directed by Tom Shankland
Produced by Allan Niblo and James Richardson
Run time 85 mins
I was getting low on conditioner so while I was in Lush I decided to see what they had to offer as I love their products. My hair is dry, regularly coloured, curly and frizzy so when I read on the front of the bottle "keep your dry, processed or curly hair in splendid condition" I decided that this conditioner sounded like it had been made just for me. It is made with creamed coconut and lemon juice so I thought I would like the smell too.
I paid £3.25 for a 100g bottle but it does come in 240g (£6.45) and 490g (£10.60) bottles too. The Lush website says that the creamed coconut is softening and calming for the hair and scalp which helps to make is shiny and it also contains the essential oil of vetivert and benzoin gum to help calm irritated scalps. I get Psoriasis on my scalp so I hoped the conditioner would help with that too.
When I first used the conditioner I found it a bit too runny for my liking and ended up with it sliding off my hand onto the floor of the shower which was annoying. The smell was ok from a distance but when I was putting it on my hair it smelt a bit like gone off coconuts rather than the coconut smell I expected. I did find it easy to apply to my hair but I did need to use quite a bit for my shoulder length hair.
The conditioner rinsed off easily and while my hair was wet it felt soft and I found it easy to brush as it was tangle free. I allow my hair to dry naturally and found that it stayed very soft and was shinier than normal. I did find that it gave me a bit too much volume for my liking and my hair was a bit fly away although it was less frizzy than normal. The smell that stays on your hair is much nicer than the smell of the conditioner while you are applying it to your hair. I had a lady sitting next to me at the bus stop ask what the lovely coconut smell was. The smell also lasts for ages which is nice. I straightened my hair the day after washing it and found it straightened really easily.
I did notice that my Psoriasis was a bit better after using Coolaulin but they may also have been because I was less stressed too. I was my hair every other day and found that the 100g bottle lasted me 2 weeks. I did find that this conditioner was quite expensive for what it is but then Lush products always are but then knowing that you are helping the environment and that the product is not tested on animals is priceless to me really.
Although this conditioner does have its plus points I don't think I would go out of my way to buy it again. I would rather spend a little bit more and get a bottle of Aussie conditioner which is twice the size and I need to use less.
I am slowly working my way through the Walker's flavour cup range of crisps at the moment. I don't normally eat crisps but some of the names of these flavours meant I couldn't say no. I haven't been impressed so far but if they really can make crisps taste like cheeseburgers, I will love them forever.
Each flavour in the range is based on the cuisine of the named country and these are the USA entry. Walker's want people to text in and vote for their favourite flavour.
These crisps are suitable for vegetarians, contain no MSG or preservatives and no artificial colours. They do contain milk and mustard though. The pack weighs 34.5g and will give you 180kcals, 2.0g of protein, 17.4g of carbohydrates of which 0.4g are sugars, 11.4g of fat of which 0.9g are saturates, 1.4g of fibre and 0.17g of sodium.
When I opened the bag, I thought at first that the crisps smell like pickled onion ones but then the undertone of gherkin came through. I hate gherkin so I was really hoping that they didn't taste like it too. I was really pleasantly surprised by the taste. I couldn't work out the flavour at first but as I chewed the crisp I could really taste a juicy flame grilled burger with salsa. I couldn't taste any cheese though but on the plus side, there was no gherkin taste either. The flavour doesn't last very long though and the after taste is just potato. My grandparents were quite impressed with the flavour too.
The crisps varied in size from bite sized to huge ones that took 3-4 bites to get through. They are really crispy and you get a good crunch when you chew them. They are golden brown in colour and the ones with more colour have a stronger taste. I could easily sit and eat these all day.
I have found a way to eat cheeseburgers without quite so many calories and so much fat. I hope Walkers make these forever. I love them and can't wait to get some more.
I was at a bit of a loss after finishing the 9th Sookie Stackhouse book as I still have over a month to go before the 10th one comes out so as I missed the TV series, I decided I would have a read of the Vampire Diaries books. I paid £3.48 for the first two books on Amazon.
Elena Gilbert is the most popular girl at school but she is feeling a bit out of sorts before starting a new school year after her holiday to France with her guardian and Aunt Judith and 4 year old sister Margaret. Stefan Salvatore has just moved to the town of Fell's Church as he is tired of living alone in Italy. He is able to read minds but has made a promise to only use his powers when absolutely necessary. He arrives at school on the first day in a Porsche 911 turbo which causes a stir amongst the other students. Elena is intrigued by the newcomer especially as he pays her no attention.
Stefan starts to remember his student days from the first time around. He is the son of Guiseppe, Count di Salvatore and has a brother called Damon. The daughter of his father's friend Baron von Swartzschild, Katherine, is staying with the family in Italy to recover from a prolonged illness. Stefan fell in love with her the day she arrived but although she is friends with Stefan and shares a secret with him, she only has eyes for handsome Damon. Something terrible happened to Katherine and Stefan blames himself for it. He thinks that Elena looks just like Katherine so avoids being anywhere near her. This mortifies Elena who is used to getting all the attention.
Stefan finally realises he can't be without Elena but there is something more sinister than Stefan in Fell's Church.
Meredith (Elena's best friend)
Caroline (been friends with Elena since kindergarten but they are drifting apart)
Matt Honeycutt (Elena's boyfriend)
Robert - Judith's fiancée
I didn't know what to expect when I started this book as I missed the TV series and was so in awe of the true blood books that I thought that nothing would meet my expectations. The book starts off with an extract from Elena's diary and there are other extracts throughout the book which helps to break up the main story a bit and makes up understand Elena more. I found it gave me more of an insight into Elena's character. At the beginning I found that this story was too much like Twilight and wasn't overly impressed but I carried on anyway. The story is well written and has good descriptions. I could almost feel Stefan's hunger at points in the book. The characters are believable but I did wish that Matt would get a spine and stand up for himself which annoyed me. It was nice to see the popular girl at school brought down a peg or two at the beginning.
The book to me is written for teenagers so it is an easy read but not a patch on the Sookie or Carpathian series (they are aimed at an older market though). I was a bit confused by what was happening at the beginning of the book (where were Elena's parents for example) but this was all made clear throughout the story. The book flicks between Elena's diary, modern day and Stefan's memories of the past but all the parts flow well together. Once I had got about half way through the book, I did find it hard to put down and I finally finished it by staying up to 1am as I wanted to know what happened next. I was very tempted to start the second book there and then but an early start in the morning prevented it. Roll on the Struggle.
Elena confronts Damon about what he has done to Stefan. Damon wants her but is that just so he can hurt his brother once again? He is much more powerful than Stefan and is the evil to Stefan's goodness. He swears that before winter comes he will have turned her. Elena and her friends find and rescue Stefan but he still feels he shouldn't be around humans and blames himself for the tragedies in the last book, even though he didn't do them.
Alaric Saltzman, a new teacher at the school takes over Mr Tanner's place as European History teacher. He invites Elena's class to a party at his house that night. Damon appears at the party and then seems to be everywhere that Elena goes. Someone steals Elena's diary and keeps leaving extracts of it around the school. Who is causing all the trouble and will Damon finally claim his prize?
This book carries on exactly where the last book left off. It was just like going from one chapter to the next. This book is really well written again and I was willing Elena and her friends to find Stefan and quickly. The emotions of the characters really came out in the way the story was written. Something didn't seem right about Alaric from the time that the reader first meets him. I really began to hate Damon through this book as he was so manipulative of Elena and knew exactly what buttons to press to get a reaction.
I found this book really hard to put down and it kept me engrossed all the way through. This story is a lot more action packed than the first one which was really setting the scene. The smaller characters from the first book such as Caroline and Tyler get more of an airing so you get to learn more about them which was nice. The book flicks again between the story and Elena's diary but again they roll seamlessly into each other. I liked the portrayal of Bonnie's psychic moments and Meredith's dry sense of humour. The book ends with a cliff hanger and leaves you desperate for the next instalment. It is a really good read and I enjoyed it.
I was intrigued by these crisps when I saw them at work in the vending machine. I love garlic bread so although I don't eat crisps very often, I had to buy these. I paid 60p for them which seems about average for crisps now. This range of crisps is new to Walkers and they want people to vote for their favourite flavour by texting in the country that the flavour comes from. Obviously, these are the French option.
The crisps are suitable for vegetarians and contain no MSG, preservatives or artificial colours. They do contain milk though. The bag I bought was 34.5g in size and contain 180kcals, 2.0g of protein, 17.5g of carbohydrates of which 0.4g are sugars, 11.4g of fat of which 0.9g are saturates, 1.4g of fibre and 0.15g of sodium.
When I opened the bag I was very surprised that they smelt of onion rather than garlic. I don't have much of a sense of smell after numerous operations on my nose to sort out my sinuses but I asked other people to smell them too and they said the smell was more onion than garlic. The crisps are golden coloured and come in a range of sizes from half a bite size to huge crisps that took 3 or 4 bites to get through. The bag was quite full which pleased me and they were really crispy and had a good crunch to them. That is where the good bit stops and the disappointment kicks in. The crisps do not taste anything like garlic bread or baguette. I couldn't taste any garlic what so ever and I forced some of my friends to try them just to make sure it wasn't just me. Nobody else could taste garlic either. Such a shame as I love this idea for a crisp flavour. The after taste is almost buttery so I guess that could be part of the baguette flavour. I think that these crisps would have been better off being advertised as French Onion soup flavour as I feel that naming them French garlic baguette is false advertising. My work colleagues now think I am totally nuts for forcing them to smell and taste my food for me but at least I didn't have garlic breath at the end of the packet.
I would say the flavour is different to all others available on the market as it is not a pickled onion taste but I was very disappointed in the flavouring so won't be buying them again.
I bought these from the Montagne Jeunesse website when I was looking through their product range. I have not seen these anywhere else so I thought they would be worth trying out. I work until 10pm so it takes a while for my brain to shut down enough for me to be able to sleep and have to get up again at 7.15 to deal with my horses. This tends to lead to puffy eyes from lack of sleep. These patches say they will help with this.
The eye patches come in a re sealable foil sachet with a plastic compartment inside which holds the eye patches. You get 4 patches in the sachet so two uses. I paid £1.99 for them which I didn't think was a bad price for two sets. They contain plant collagen, liquorice and pumpkin to help calm swelling and irritation, revitalise circulation, make the under eye appear tighter and firmer and reduce visible signs of aging. The eye patches are suitable for vegans and are BUAV approved. They are also dairy, gluten and nut derivative free.
The pouches need to be put in the fridge for at least an hour before you use them. I ended up putting mine in the fridge and forgetting to use them so they were in there for a few days. The directions then say to remove one set of eye patches (why do I feel like I am writing about a pirate set?) and apply one eye patch under each eye and press down firmly to ensure contact. Put the unused patches back in the fridge and leave the ones you have on for 30-50 minutes for best results. They are suitable for daily use.
Trying to get the patches out of the sachet is a bit of a nightmare as they are covered in a sticky liquid. When I managed to get them out eventually, I did find them quite easy to separate but I couldn't work out which bit stuck to my face. This is not clear on the packaging but after trial and error for a few minutes, I worked out that the patches themselves have a protective covering on each side. They are made of a rubber gauze material so they do stick to your skin easily but they are easy to remove and re stick if you put them on in slightly the wrong place. I was quite surprised that the patches were not cold at all even though they had been in the fridge for 2 or 3 days. You do have to wash your hands after apply the patches to get rid of the nasty sticky liquid.
Once the patches are on, they are not uncomfortable but they do feel a bit strange. You can see them when you look down which I found a bit disconcerting at first. I managed to do some college work with them on and was looking down typing and the patches didn't move at all so they do stick well. I didn't feel that the patches were doing anything while they were on. I didn't find them refreshing or cooling on my skin so I found it really hard to leave them on for the recommended time. Although these patches are suitable for daily use, how many people have 30-50 mins free each day in their hectic schedules to put eye patches on? I just kept hoping the results were worth it.
I managed to leave the patches on for 30 minutes, just. I got so bored of having them on that I was tempted to take them off earlier but refrained. They were easy to remove and all the liquid had dried on the outside of the patches. I did rinse my eye area to get rid of the last bits of residue. At first look I could see no difference at all on my under eye area. I had to look really closely to notice that the puffiness had reduced very slightly but my under eye was still a bit puffy and the small lines that have been beginning to appear not that I am getting a bit older were still there. My skin under my eyes was smoothe and soft to the touch like I had just applied moisturiser but apart from that I can't say there was any real difference.
I won't be buying these again and if I hadn't paid for them, I wouldn't bother using the other set of patches that came in the sachet. I was disappointed with these. If your eyes are really puffy, not just slightly like mine were, then they may have a bigger effect but I won't be bothering to find out.
I like to have something quick to prepare but filling for my lunch before I go to work. I do get bored of having the same things all the time and sometimes baked beans just don't fill me up. I saw these in Asda for £1 which I thought was quite expensive but I decided to try them anyway. I liked the idea of this combination as it sounded more filling than beans by themselves but still quick and easy to prepare.
The 415g can has a combination of Heinz baked beans with lamb meatballs. You can heat them on the hob or by sticking them in the microwave for 2 ½ minutes. If you don't use all of the beans in one go, you can keep them covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. They do not contain any artificial colours, flavours or preservatives but do contain gluten, wheat and mustard. A serving size is suggested as half a can. This will give you 193kcal, 11.3g of protein, 23.8g of carbohydrates of which 8.7g are sugars, 5.8g of fat of which 1.8g are saturates, 6.6g of fibre and 1.7g of salt.
The meatballs are all on the top when you open the can. When I emptied the can into my saucepan I had 6 meatballs and about half a can of beans. The meatballs were an ok szie, they were not huge but they were about an inch in diameter. They were multi coloured though which put me off a bit. They have green bits which I am guessing are herbs but I couldn't find anything in the ingredients to help me work out what the red bits were. There was a lot of orangey brown sauce which was a bit runny for my taste. While I was heating the beans and balls I noticed quite a spicy smell which reminded me of Morrocan cooking.
The sauce has quite a fruity flavour (which is from the lime in the ingredients) and was not spicy as I first feared. The beans themselves were really nice, they were soft and I didn't find any hard ones. I was disappointed with the meat balls. I didn't find that they had much flavour and they were gritty when I chewed them. The after taste was fruity again with a slight herb undertone. I won't be buying these again as I was not overly impressed at all.
My nose tends to get greasy quite easily and quickly. This causes lots of spots, open pores and a few blackheads. I saw this product on the Montagne Jeunesse website for £1.49 and as I was doing an order I thought I would give it a try.
The pack contains 3 nose strips (50p each doesn't seem a bad price to me) and the natural hardwood charcoal is meant to have excellent qualities to absorb excess sebum and blackheads for cleaner, less visible pores around the nose. Sebum is the oily substance that orevents your skin from drying out and too much of it makes your skin look greasy, it is secreted by the sebaceous glands. The strips also contain volcanic ash to help clear dead cells.
The strips contains no added parabens, are gluten and dairy free, nut derivitive free, are suitable for vegans are are BUAV approved. The packet says to wet your nose, take the sticky cover off the nose strip, apply the strip smoothe side down, leave for 15-20 minutes and gentle peel off. The should be used no more than 3 times a week.
The strips are individually sealed so the stay usable for longer. They are black on the side that sticks to your nose and grey on the other side. I found that the strip stuck easily to my wet skin. It felt a bit like having a plaster stuck to my face and slightly odd at first. After a couple of minutes though I forgot I had the strip on my face. Thankfully I didn't go down stairs so I didn't embarrass myself by letting anyone see me with the strip on though. It is easy to put the strip on before doing something else like housework or watching TV so you can get two things done at once.
I peeled the strip off after 20 minutes and it did feel like pulling a plaster off but it didn't hurt. I was surprised to get a whiff of tea tree as it came off. When I had a look at the strip where it had been stuck to my nose I was pretty disgusted. Loads of muck had come off on the strip including the contents of my pores. It wasn't pleasant viewing at all. When I looked in the mirror, I was really impressed. My blackheads had near enough gone and my spots were a lot less pronounced. My skin across my nose felt much smoother too. I had no redness where I had pulled off the strip, just clean and fresh skin.
I think that this product is a great buy and really good value for money. I will be adding them to my next Montagne Jeunesse order!! If only I could buy them for my chin and forehead.
I bought this pasta in Asda alongside the spinach and ricotta ravioli as it was on special offer of 2 for £2.50. I find that pasta helps to fill me up before I go to work as well as being easy and quick to prepare. The packet is 300g in size and comes in a recyclable plastic tray with a non recyclable film plastic lid.
There was a lot of pasta in the tray and it was nearly full up which makes a change from buying products that only half fill the packet they come in. The pasta itself was a lovely golden yellow colour and they were a good size each with a good sized pocket of filling. The filling includes emmental, taleggio, mascarpone and gorgonzola cheeses. The tortelloni do not contain any artificial colours, flavours or hydrogenated fat but they do contain gluten, milk, wheat and egg and also may contain traces of nuts.
The pasta is easy to prepare and heat as you just have to add it to a pan of boiling water, bring to the boil again and simmer uncovered for 2 minutes before draining. It can be frozen and only takes a minute longer to cook from frozen. A serving suggestion size is half the packet which will give you 313kcals, 11.4g of protein, 37.4g of carbohydrates of which 1.8g are sugars, 13.1g of fat of which 6.3g are saturates, 2.4g of fibre and 0.36g of sodium.
The pasta is soft and goes paler in colour once it has been heated. I didn't notice any smell at all while I was heating the pasta or once it was ready to eat. The filling of the 4 cheeses has a subtle flavour which is quite nice but by the time you have eaten a few of them, you can't really taste it any more. The packaging recommends serving the pasta with a sauce but you would have to be careful what kind of sauce you used if you wanted to be able to taste the pasta in it. The filling of the tortelloni was soft but not gooey and I didn't think that it needed any more seasoning as it was fine for me. I was disappointed with this pasta as although it filled me up, I felt like I had just eaten a bowl of plain pasta as the filling was not strong enough tasting. You could give it a try if you wanted but I wouldn't recommend it, the spinach and ricotta ravioli is much better.