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CleverRabbit

CleverRabbit
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Member since: 23.12.2009

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    • Orly Nail Polish / Make Up / 22 Readings / 21 Ratings
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      02.06.2010 13:07
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      Cheaper than most salon brands but a quality polish nonetheless

      I'm a new Orly fan. And I love it!

      It's not really available on the high-street here in the north east so I found mine for quite a reasonable price from an ebay store for under £5 a bottle. I consider Orly polishes to be on par with salon brands and the capacity of the bottles is slightly bigger than OPI, Jessica and Nails Inc which are also fabulous polishes but twice the price.

      The two most recent Orly polishes I've tried are La Vida Loca (Bright fuschia pink with blue/purple shimmer) and Fantasea (duochrome pink/mauve/purple) both of which are stunning and vibrant.

      I'd like to de-bunk a myth that Orly polishes take a while to dry. I did not find this to be true.

      My method:

      OPI Chip skip
      1 coat Mavala Ridge Filler
      1 thin coat of Orly polish
      Allow a minute to dry
      1 not so thin coat of Orly polish
      Allow 5 minutes to dry
      1 coat Mavadry

      Everything was touch dry in a few mins and properly set in about an hour or so - which is decent considering the thickness of my application.

      Colour was smooth and even after the second coat with opaque coverage and the manicure lasted well about 4 days without having to re-apply additional topcoat.

      The brush on Orly polishes is great, not too wide like some OPI polishes but not too short - I find Zoya brushes a little short to work with. Plus the handle/lid of the Orly bottles is rubberised and textured for easy grip and easy opening / securing closed the bottle. I can't fault the design of the bottle here. It's a classic shape - nothing unusual or gimmicky.

      My only concern with the polish is that it had a tendency to drag the first coat on application of the second coat. Please allow sufficient drying times between coats to avoid this.

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        27.05.2010 16:14
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        A definite winner from Lush's product range.

        First off I'm not a huge Lush fan - I like their stuff but I don't go mad on it. One day I popped into a Lush store with the intention of trying out their Lemony Flutter cuticle butter (which is great) and spotted Smitten close by. It smelled great and after trying a dab out I made the impulse decision to buy a pot - and I'm so glad I did!

        Packaged in the standard 100g black plastic pot, with a screw top lid, you'll not waste any of this product, nor will it leak out anywhere. I do find it a little messy though if it tips upside down or to the side - the product gets onto the inside of the lid then into the screw threading which I hate, but a quick wipe every now and then does the trick and so does trying to keep it upright!

        I've got a pot on my desk at work and a pot on my bedside and I like to apply it lots throughout the day especially after hand washing. Smitten is super nourishing with Almond oil, Avocado oil, Flaxseed oil, Coconut Butter, Glycerine and Wheatgerm oil among other things. A little goes a long way (which is good to know at roughly £6 a pot) but for a more indulgent hand treat I like to put a bit more on and sit with greasy hands for a while, letting it all soak in and work its magic. I recommend this hand cream for lovers of oily / greasy but not necessarily heavy hand creams and oils because that's what Smitten is. It's not one of those creams that disappears - it's definitely more oil based than water based. I fall into that category but I really don't like creams that are too heavy. Smitten is intensely hydrating but without being heavy, it's very spreadable and makes your skin feel silky.

        The smell is delicious too, not over powering, its subtle and I'm sure it's not deliberately fragranced but lends its scent from the nourishing ingredients within. I really hate very perfumey hand creams. Smitten smells lightly of almonds and a bit like marzipan. I don't think that the scent is particularly feminine and it wouldn't surprise me if you found your boyfriend/hubby stealing this off you.

        I use it often because it's a pleasure to use and have noticed a great improvement in my hands and cuticles, it quickly restores lost moisture after washing my hands and soothes my cuticles which are prone to drying out and splitting. Smitten keeps my hands soft and, ultimately, my manicure looking great.

        I think the price is right, the packaging is fine (nothing flash - but all Lush packaging is the same) it really works and I like using it. I'll be repeat purchasing this for some time to come. I really do think this is my Holy Grail hand cream!

        Like it says on the tub - 'One touch and you're smitten' - I definitely am!

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        26.05.2010 17:44
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        Soltan's self tan mitt is the way forward!

        I'm rather pleased with myself for picking one of these inexpensive mitts up the other day when purchasing a bottle of Vita Liberata's Rich Chocolate self tanner (but that's for another review I think!). I'd read 'use a mitt' or 'use gloves' in many self tanners' instructions but chose to ignore them in the past in favour of seriously scrubbing my palms after application. But Vita Lib's tanner is a seriously dark chocolate colour and I thought... maybe this time I should do what the instructions say!

        However this didn't stop me trying to apply my new tanner with my hands but after one lower leg application I was HORRIFIED at my dark chocolate coloured palms I immediately scrubbed them and grabbed my new Soltan Self Tan Mitt. CONVINCED that it would be rubbish and thought FOR CERTAIN that it would interfere somehow with the application of the tanner (like how am I meant to feel what I'm doing through a mitt???!!) I was so so so surprised when the tanner just glided on so smoothly, so effortlessly and so quickly. Both legs were done in no time, confident that things were going so well I continued with the rest of my body including my face, then the back of my hands and popped it in some soapy water in the sink to soak.

        Done.

        I was impressed.

        If you use a self tanner that has a guide colour I recommend trying this mitt out because it definitely made a marvelous job of my tan. When it developed it was very even and not a streak in sight. I owe it all to the mitt because when I started applying the Vita Lib tanner with my hands, I must admit, it was looking a bit scary! But the mitt saved the day - and my tan!

        A few points I'd like to make though...

        - It will stain, but it's cheap, so just wash it as best as you can but accept that it's not going to stay new for very long. It'll still work when it's a bit tanned itself! It dries quickly too because it's only thin.

        - Use it for your face but you might want to blend the tanner a bit more with your fingers into the nooks and crannies.

        - I usually dispense a grape sized amount, maybe a bit more, directly onto the mitt for every half limb and buff it into the skin using smooth large oval movements with a few sweeps going around the limb to avoids streaks. Don't be afraid to swap hands if necessary to reach different areas - I'm thinking of getting another mitt to apply using both hands at the same time but surprisingly, single handed application works well for now.

        - Not a lot of product get's absorbed/wasted by the mitt but obviously it grabs onto a bit. A bit like a very thin sponge. Take note that application might be slightly more sheer because of the mitt so use a bit more tanner or apply another layer to suit your requirements. I think this might depend on what product you're using though. (At least it's not your palms absorbing the tanner!)

        - I tried this mitt with a non-guide colour tanner and the results were very pale, but this was my first attempt with that particular tanner so I can't say for sure if it was the mitt's fault, mine or the tanner's. But I thought I'd make mention of this to show that with all self tanning there is some trial and error - my tip is if you're in doubt, to try any self tanner application method out on your legs first because these are easily hidden with trousers, see how it develops before you repeat the method on your body and face.

        For £3.49 this was a great buy, you can pick one up in Boots next to the Soltan self tanning range.

        Now all they need to do is sell one that reaches the middle of your back! - these are hard to find but I think St Tropez and Famous Dave sell them if anyone's interested. :)

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          10.03.2010 17:33
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          A great concealer for mineral makeup fans.

          My search for a decent concealer - Chapter 2:

          Next up for consideration in the trials for the ultimate concealer is Bare Escentuals Bisque.

          It's a 'multi-tasking' mineral concealer which essentially means you can use it everywhere - as an eye lid base, around the nose, under the eyes, on blemishes etc. And I'd say that it does a pretty good job of tackling these problem areas. It's best to apply with one of BE's concealer brushes, you'll get a more opaque application this way and achieve greater control over the blending, which this product does really well. Bisque will work well under any other mineral foundation too if you like to apply concealer before rather than after foundation. I haven't tried it with liquid formulas though... I gave them up many many moons ago!

          Colour wise, Bisque generally works with fair to medium skin tones both pink and yellow in hue though Summer Bisque is avalable for warmer skin tones and Honey Bisque for more yellow undertones. I've always repurchase this product when it runs out because I find it a really reliable concealer to use. It cancels out the dark circles under my eyes and evens out the tone on my eye lids and does a pretty good job at making red blemishes disappear too. Bisque and a concealer brush is one of the best concealing product for breakouts because I find it doesn't cling or catch onto broken/irritated/flakey skin as much as some liquid concealers do. This is a big bonus for me.

          It's available in small eyeshadow pot sizes (very portable!) or bigger 2g pots which usually last quite a while, about 4 months with daily usage. Another trick is to mix Bisque in with your mineral foundation for greater coverage but obviously this will make your Bisque run out much quicker.

          As with the whole BE range, Bisque has very few ingredients, it's very pure. So unless you have a specific allergy to the ingredients it contains I'd say you're unlikely to break out. I definitely get less break outs since switching from liquid to mineral makeup. Bisque is finely milled and silky on the skin. It has no shine or light reflecting properties as far as I can tell and should offer a matte finish to the skin.

          My main gripes, which don't completely deter me from this product but do generally annoy me are:

          It's messy - but most of BE's packaging does mean mess. It's a shame.
          It's expensive - you're looking at £17 for 2g. Used to be cheaper on ebay but not so much these days.
          It could offer more coverage. You can build it, but you get to a point and it starts to look cakey.

          It's these last few points that keep me looking for a better concealer out there. I do love Bisque, I wholeheartedly recommend it. But think that before you trust it to cover your flaws - you should know about its own flaws - it's only fair!

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        • Eve Beauty Salon (Newcastle) / Spa / 14 Readings / 12 Ratings
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          10.03.2010 11:00
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          I'm so glad I discovered this salon!

          After my first visit to this salon I was compelled to review it, I knew it wouldn't be listed here in the dooyoo catalogue so I suggested it to be added so I could give the girls at Eve Beauty Salon the praise they deserve.

          Eve Beauty Salon is situated in Whickham in the Gateshead area, it's easy to find and basically it's just on the other side of the A1 opposite the Metro Centre, and a few mins along the road.

          The building is cute (an old cottage building I think) and the interior is beautifully presented in a clean, classy boutique style. I recommend you visit their website for photos, it really is lovely and cosy too.

          I booked my appointment at the salon after stumbling across it on google maps and was impressed that such a small establishment had a good website (they often don't - salons, hairdressers etc) I had been suffering from very stiff shoulders and really needed a massage to put them right.

          When I arrived I filled out a quick form and was taken into the cosy yet spacious treatment room which smelled gorgeous and immediately I felt relaxed and soothed by the calming music. After a few quick questions (allergies, medication, preferences relating to the massage) I was left to get sorted and lie on the bed.

          The massage was great and Amy (the therapist) was really skilled, really knew what she was doing and paid particular attention to my shoulders to help work out the tension and 'nodules' that were causing me discomfort. I opted for a full body massage (which treated my back, lower back, shoulders, neck, arms, legs, front of legs and front of shoulders and a quick head massage) and it cost £35 for one hour. Compared to other places, I thought was a great price, obviously with this salon being in an out-of-town location you do benefit from less extortionate pricing which makes this a salon you can visit more often because it's more affordable. Do have a look at their price list on their website for current prices and offers, I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised and very tempted. The products used in the salon for massages and facials are by Dermalogica. Which I hadn't used or been treated with before but I was impressed with how my skin felt and smelled after the massage and wouldn't hesitate to try more products by Dermalogica.

          After the massage I was very thirsty (this can happen with the oils used in the treatment) and was offered a glass of water while I got dressed. And after paying at the reception desk I quizzed Amy on their range of facials and got to take home some mini brochures on the product range for more info.

          Once I got home, in fact while I was driving home, I immediately felt the benefit of the treatment and while I knew that a massage would only be a temporary solution to my shoulder and back problem, til it healed itself fully, I was glad I invested the time to visit the salon and felt that the money was well spent. I'd definitely return for another massage or to try a facial.

          I was really pleased by the quality of the service offered by Amy and the girls - it's a really professional yet welcoming and informal atmosphere. I think anyone looking for a bit of 'me time' would be happy visiting Eve Beauty Salon. It's a real gem.

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        • Pom Bear Crisps / Snacks / 30 Readings / 29 Ratings
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          16.02.2010 14:00
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          Crunch, munchy, moreish bears in a bag!

          Pom Bears (original flavour - in the red packets) are my crisps of choice when it comes to packed lunches for work or an accompaniment to a sandwich at home.

          They are my go-to potato snack for several reasons...

          Reason 1: These little bears are LOW in calories, extremely low in calories when compared to other types of crisps. They're only 97 calories in a standard bag.

          Reason 2: Although the standard bag is only 19g you get a lot of bears in there! This has a lot to do with their bubbly crunchiness, they're mostly filled with air (a lot like the light texture of Quavers) but at the same time I find they are just as filling as regular crisps.

          Reason 3: They're light and crunchy. I really don't like heavy, greasy, overly salty crisps. Pom Bears are a delight to munch on for this reason.

          Reason 4: They're cheap (usually on offer - about a £1 in supermarkets for a multipack of 6) and my local Sainsburys sells them. You can also pick them up individually in Superdrug where they sell them at the bargain price of around 36p.

          Reason 5: I like the taste! (Always very important) I love Pom Bears!

          Pom Bears are gluten free and contain no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives which is always reassuring to know. In a standard pack there's 0.3g of salt and 5.4 grams of fat which I think is reasonable and definitely a lot lower than your regular packet of crisps.

          Obviously (judging by the packet design) these crisps are aimed at children. I presume this is why they're free from all sorts of nasties and are low in calories, salt etc. But don't let the un-sophisticated appearance put you off... or the bear shaped crisps inside (look! they're waving!!) make you feel, as an adult, you're not allowed to enjoy them. You are. I promise!

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            10.02.2010 16:22
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            I'm gonna keep searching...

            My search for a decent concealer - Chapter 1:

            I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Arden's mineral foundation and Intervene moisturiser range, so when I was out shopping for a concealer, the Elizabeth Arden counter was my first stop.

            They have 3 types of concealer available and this one I'd say was in the middle in terms of texture and coverage (there's a heavier cream one in a pot and a light highlighting pen type of concealer - most likely their answer to YSL's Touche Eclat and Dior's SkinFlash).

            So I chose Elizabeth Arden's Ceramide Concealer and off I went. I was pleased with my purchase at this point and the packaging, both the box and the tube, are elegant and sophisticated. (You know that buzz when you've bought something gorgeous and you generally just feel all happy?) I was certain that this would be a marvelous addition to my daily makeup.

            My needs were simple:

            1. Cover up and brighten my dark under eye circles
            2. Brighten up skin around chin and nose
            3. Cover / minimise the occasional blemish

            I'm sad to say this concealer didn't really perform well on any of these points. And at £17 a tube I now feel very bitter on the whole concealer subject and I'm more inclined to try a cheaper option next time - to be on the safe side!

            My main gripe is that it really, really settles into the fine lines around my eyes (at 24 years old I obviously have no wrinkles... but normal creases under my lower lids: yes) This concealer just makes them so obvious. And when you've spent the time to apply eyecolour, the last thing you need is your concealer going creasy or cakey under your eyes. It's not a good look. It has a very thin consistency and I wonder if this is what causes its awkward behavior?

            I've tried using more, using less, using a primer, blending with my finger, blending with a brush, setting it with powder. It's no good.
            In a vain attempt to make good use of the product I thought it would be ok elsewhere where I have no fine lines but it's no good anywhere else on the face either as it doesn't blend into the skin so well (quite possibly the colour is not spot on for my skin tone) and catches on any obvious pores or dry patches (clearly a flaw in the formula). Its undesirable effects are even noticeable under foundation. Terrible.

            Elizabeth Arden - you've failed me this time!

            If you're still interested in the product I recommend visiting the counter at a quiet time and having a good try and play with this product - I tried it out in store and thought it was a good product, and a good colour match. But in the end it's still another beauty boo boo.

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              16.01.2010 17:19
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              Head to the Serenity Spa for a day of pure relaxation

              I visited Seaham Hall's Serenity Spa in November 2009 with my Mam, it was a girly treat for us (because we both deserved it!) and we went for the 'Hours of Idleness' day ritual package which was £170 each and entailed the following...

              **Full day access to the spa facilities, thermal baths, showers and free refreshments
              **Fluffy bathrobes and complementary flip flops for the day
              **Lunch in the Ozone restaurant
              **Hot Stone Therapy (full body massage)
              **Serenity Idleness Facial

              And I have to say right now that a day spent at Seaham Hall is truly a full 5 dooyoo star experience!

              Now £170 might seem a little steep, but there's various other packages you can go for, some a little cheaper, some more expensive. I think that ours was really worth it and as I treat I'd definitely pay that price again. One thing I would note is that when you book you have to pay the full amount upfront and a certain percentage of this will be kept if you make a cancellation. So be sure of your booking before you do so.

              For more details on the other packages and special offers visit their website:
              www.seaham-hall.co.uk/the_serenity_spa.asp


              Arriving at the spa
              *********************
              Seaham Hall is simple to find (especially if you're equipped with a tom tom) and parking is free and we found a space no problem. It's situated close to the coast is a quiet and secluded area which sets the tone perfectly before you enter the spa which is in a completely round part of the building. The spa reception is straight infront of you as you go through the doors and the staff were very welcoming and friendly and offered us complimentary orange juices as we filled in various forms (skincare questionnaire etc). We were then given our treatment schedule, robes, flip flops and locker keys and went on the short tour of the Spa to get our bearings. The spa is set round a circular walkway and although you think this sounds quite cool and simple - we often got a bit confused in which direction we were going. But it was just slightly humorous and didn't spoil the day in the slightest.

              Facilities
              *********************
              The changing rooms / showers / toilets etc were immaculately clean and well set out. The lockers were especially neat with electronic keys - very fancy! And there were also hairdryers in the changing room which were free to use. Bodywash, shampoo and conditioner were to be found in the showers but I had brought my own.

              *Tip* it's useful to bring some detangler and a wide tooth comb (if you have long hair) if you plan on going swimming or having any of the massages (they often mess up your hair if they include a head massage).

              Towels were fresh, heated and abundantly available throughout the day - free of charge.

              The Thermal Baths
              *********************
              This is where the relaxation happens! I had such fun the in thermal baths area - trying out all the different steam rooms, chilling in the outdoor heated hot tubs, swimming in the Ozone cleansed pool (no harsh chemicals = no chlorine smell) and as the website states - it really was like swimming in Evian water! There's loungers set all around the pool side where you can sit and enjoy drinks - a lot of people had brought books and magazines to read - regulars perhaps?

              The website gives full documentation of what each steam room / bath entails but here's a quick rundown of what they have...
              Steam Room
              Sauna
              Sanarium
              Hammam - I couldn't stay in this one for long as it made my eyes water.
              Hydrotherapy Bath
              Plunge Pools and Ice Fountain - I loved plunging into the icy water. It was shockingly refreshing!

              Lunch
              *********************
              Lunch was fantastic! Far, far, FAR superior to the lunch at the Malmaison petit spa (see my Malmaison review). Again in a round room with huge windows to enjoy the view of the surrounding gardens and country side while having your meal. The menu was varied, but select and everything looked prepared to perfection (I had a spy at other guests' tables to see what they were tucking into). I had a Parma Ham Salad plate to start - yum, a Chicken Caesar wrap and French Fries for the main course - yum yum, and a Chocolate Brownie (but not just an ordinary brownie) for pudding - yum yum yum! It was superb. I highly recommend staying for lunch or dinner if you plan on visiting the spa! The only thing not included in the cost of your spa day ritual package is drinks - these need to be paid for when you leave the restaurant after lunch. You have the choice of having lunch in your fluffly robes and flip flops or dressing for lunch - the only thing asked of you is that you don't turn up for lunch soaking off the pool. A lot of people were lunching in their robes but I chose to get dressed.

              Hot Stone Therapy
              *********************
              Up until my visit to the Serenity Spa, I hadn't had the pleasure of a hot stones massage, so wasn't quite sure what it would be liked. I hoped that it would be good and I'm pleased to report that it was indeed very good. Extremely soothing. From what I could tell (obviously I couldn't exactly see what the therapist was doing as I was facing the floor through the massage bed... and also I think I dosed off at one point...) the stones were heated and in turn the stones heated the massage oil. One by one a series of stones were doused in oil and massaged over the back muscles, leg muscles, shoulders and arms and also wrapped into towels around your hands. It was all very cosy and serene and I'd suggest trying this particular therapy out if you suffer with tired or painful muscles or if you work hard at the gym - this would be an excellent treat for your body.

              We both got a short head massage included in the time of the massage which I think lasted about an hour. The head massage isn't mentioned on the website so this was an unexpected bonus!

              The Serenity Spa uses Elemis products in it's treatments and all the lotions and potions they use can be bought in the spa's beauty shop but Elemis is available easily enough online or in department stores such as John Lewis if you'd rather not impulse buy and shop around for a good deal. Elemis products run on the expensive side (but well worth it) as they are a professional spa brand.

              We both had our treatment in the same room (I requested a double treatment room when I booked the spa day and this was no problem to arrange) it really made the day feel extra special having our treatments done together. I'd recommend enquiring about a double treatment room if you plan on going with your mam or a close friend.

              Serenity Idleness Facial
              *********************
              Again, surprisingly, this treatment also included a head massage at the end - our heads were truly relaxed by the end of the day!!
              The facial was what you'd expect from a top notch Spa. Before the therapist got started there was a brief consultation about your specific skin requirements and any particular problems that needed treating. Again, Elemis products were used in the facial and I found myself muttering 'ooh that smells nice' and 'mmm' for most of the facial. I think part of the experience was the aromas, but my skin was definitely looking peachy and pleased with itself afterwards. My only complaint about the facial was for a lot of the time I had various eyemasks on with a lavender eye pillow on top. This got took away and replaced several times (between cleansing, toning and masks etc) and I wish that it had been on for a shorter length of time - it got quite heavy on the eyes and I found it a little uncomfortable.

              I can't be sure how long the facial lasted - by this time minutes and hours were merging into one and there's only actually one clock (in the pool area) in the whole spa! This definitely encourages a thoroughly relaxed mood and at one point... I think after a good swimming session, sauna and then a facial me and my mam retired to one of the relaxation lounges, enjoyed some free smoothies and fell asleep! They had reclining loungers and it was warm and cosy and there was ambient chill music playing and basically no one could resist a nap under those conditions! We weren't the only ones snoozing either - it seemed to be quite normal to completely zone out. After all - a spa day is such hard work! Hehe.

              But then the end of the day came and we were sad to leave. We got dressed and admired the building and ambiance for a while and as we left we were sure that we would definitely return!

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              • OPI Chip Skip / Make Up / 32 Readings / 31 Ratings
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                15.01.2010 12:55
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                I wouldn't miss this out of my manicure!

                I recently got a request for a review of Chip Skip by OPI. So here it is! Chip Skip is a product that I have recently integrated into my manicure routine and I'm quite happy to recommend this product to anyone wishing to extend the wear of their nail polish between re-paints. I think it works, I'm not saying it's a miracle worker on it's own (as I use various other clever products to achieve a perfect finish on my nails) but I like to use it and haven't felt the need to search for a better version or abandon it at all.



                What is Chip Skip?

                Chip Skip is a nail plate dehydration treatment. Meaning it will dry the surface of your nails. Just the surface, not the entire structure and so if used correctly this should not make your nail condition any worse by 'drying out' your nails. It's a temporary effect and is meant to be used immediately before painting your basecoat or colour onto the nail. Nail technicians use similar products to improve the adhesion of acrylics to natural nails. Chip Skip essentially prevents nail polish from chipping... letting you skip the chips!



                Why do I need to dry the surface of my nail?

                Nail enamel / polish / basecoat will adhere better to a dry and preferably rough surface. If it adheres better then it's got a better chance of resisting chipping when faced with trauma such as knocks, bends and scrapes i.e typing frantically, hunting for keys in a handbag, everyday wear and tear etc. I think that Chip Skip helps with 'tip wear' where the polish doesn't exactly chip away but wears off at the tip of the nail. Though for this particular issue I'd suggest a good topcoat. (See my Seche Vite review)



                OK, so why do I need a 'rough' surface on my nails?

                Like any adhesive (glues, paints etc) nail polish will adhere better to a rougher surface. It's got more grip this way. So put down that 3-way buffer! If you buff your nails to a pretty smoothly polished surface with a buffer or one of those miracle shine buffers that give your nails a highly polished wet look - your nail colour will NOT stay put as long. Buffing your nails is for when you leave your nails au naturale without colour or maybe just a coat of clear polish. I recommend buffing with a buffer that does not achieve a polished finish (i.e the roughest surface on a 3-way buffer) and only just to even out the ridges and bumps if you have any and STOP there. You'll get longer wear out of your polish - I promise.

                Note: Over buffing of the nail plate will weaken it and then you will be in more trouble than you started with. So buff with care and caution!



                How do I use Chip Skip?

                So you've took your old polish off and maybe buffed out a few ridges here and there and filed your nails the way you like. You might have even applied a spot of hand cream, cuticle treatment or nail oil to keep your hands nice and nourished - that's good right? NO!! They'll hamper your nail enamel's staying power. Go wash them off!!! Avoid adding oil and other emollients to your hands before your manicure and when you wash your hands before your manicure try to dry your nails and surrounding areas thoroughly.
                Right... onto Chip Skip. Unscrew the cap, wipe off any excess on the bottle neck and brush onto nails. Not in great quantities, but not sparingly either. You'll see that the formula is the consistency of water and that as it's applied to the nail surface it appears to sink in and disappear. Your nail will then look dry and the creases where the nail meets the cuticle and surrounding skin will be oil and moisture free. This is important as it's these edges where nail polish can start to chip first (not just the nail tip) and it's because this is where little bits of hand cream and oil and other moisture like to hide. These products will definitely prevent polish or basecoat from sticking to the nail plate. So make sure to cover all of your nail with Chip Skip. One coat is all you need but feel free to brush more on if you feel you have missed a bit. The brush on Chip Skip is short and stubby, unlike regular nail polish brushes, to make it easy to get into these creases and also it doesn't need to hold the same amount of fluid within it with the consistency being much thinner than polish.



                What next?

                Go ahead and apply your basecoat/ridge filler or move straight onto coloured polish. You've got plenty of time so there's no need to rush. Your nails will stay dehydrated long enough for you to apply your polish without reverting back to their previous hydration level.
                I always recommend a short drying time between coats of polish and highly recommend a good top coat to finish the manicure (again - see my review for Seche Vite). I mainly use colours from OPI's range of nail enamels but Chip Skip is compatible with any brand of polish.

                When you've finished your nails and everything is dry and set - this is the right time to go ahead and apply moisturisers and nail oils etc. Sit back and enjoy your manicure!



                How much do I get? Where can I buy it?

                Standard bottles are 15ml like other full sized OPI nail enamels but you can sometimes pick up mini sizes in gift sets or sometimes they have the trial size available individually in department stores or dedicated beauty supply stores. I like to buy a lot of my manicure supplies from www.tailormadenails.co.uk and from here the 15ml size will set you back around £7. Though prices do vary store to store and it's worth looking around for any savings you can make on this product. I've been using my 15ml bottle for around 6 months and I've still got over half of the bottle left. So it's quite an economical product and even the mini sizes should serve you well for many manicures.

                I can't fault this product so I've awarded it a full 5 dooyoo stars. If you're enthusiastic about your manicures or just looking to get longer wear out of your favourite colour then invest in a bottle of Chip Skip.


                Thanks for reading this review - I hope it has helped you in your quest for the perfect manicure!

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                  12.01.2010 11:26
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                  A film worth owning on DVD

                  "It's going to be a place where only the things you want to happen, would happen..."

                  A memorable, melancholic film based on a popular children's book by Maurice Sendak.

                  Firstly I just want to say how intrigued I was when I first saw the trailer for this film. It really reminded me of childrens' films back in the day (the 80s) when they were a bit dark, mysterious and distinguishably more odd than today's more happy, fluffy offerings.

                  I had to see it.

                  And it did not disappoint!

                  Quite possibly it was the huge monster creatures made by the Jim Henson crew (muppet masters of The Labyrinth and the Muppets of course!) that gave me that curious eerie feeling or maybe it was the fact that this film has been 'in the making' since the very early 90s, that took me right back to childhood. Eitherway this film was magical in a way that you just don't find everyday. And it's because of this that I urge you to go see it and take your young ones with you.

                  Most of the kids stayed as captivated as the adults in the audience when I saw the film, though some slightly scary parts caused some unrest among the smaller children. It's certified PG but if you wouldn't want your child watching the equally as dark, though more scary, 'The Dark Crystal' (another marvelous Jim Henson creation) please take caution with Where The Wild Things Are. It managed to scare me - and I'm 24!

                  Where the Wild Things Are is a story of Max, a young boy, who after throwing a tantrum at his family, runs away from home and sails away to a far away land where he meets a family of monsters (the Wild Things). Cunning, young Max fools the monsters out of eating him and into making him their king and thus their adventure begins. You can't help but feel that the narrative has a definite sadness about it and the soundtrack captures this with an enigmatic score of beautiful and contemporary tracks. My ears certainly pricked up when I heard the Arcade Fire's 'Wake Up' in the trailer, sadly I don't think I heard any of their work in the actual film but for any other Arcade Fire fan's out there - you'll definitely like the way this film sounds as it has a very similar feel to it.

                  Some interesting trivia - I did some reading and apparently the monsters are actually actors in 8 foot tall costumes, there's a whole load of animatronics in there to help the creatures move but their faces are computer generated. The actor for each character (the one responsible for it's voice) would be followed around by numerous cameras to capture their facial expressions these would then be cleverly imposed onto the muppet's face to correspond to the actor's performance. Fascinating right?

                  I whole-heartedly and enthusiastically recommend this film and urge you to spend your pennies on a ticket to (or future DVD release of) Where the Wild Things Are instead of one of the other over-hyped, over-rated and over-priced kid's 3D films that are doing the rounds these days.

                  Where the Wild Things Are is a must see and I'll definitely be buying it on DVD for keeps when it it released.

                  I can't wait!

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                    11.01.2010 18:00
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                    Fool your friends into thinking you're loaded with some Diamonique bling!

                    Today I'm reviewing QVC's famous Diamonique products in general and in specific the two rings that I ordered most recently... you see - that's the thing with Diamonique - it's so 'purse friendly', you see two designs you love and think 'waheyy! I'll have them both!'.

                    For anyone not familiar with Diamonique - it's a range of jewellery (everything from earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, bangles - everything) all featuring simulated gem stones of all colours, notably the clear Diamond colour, which was the first and most important gem for the Diamonique brand. It's low cost (a fraction of the price if the designs used real stones) and looks stunning. That's the basics of Diamonique. And it's exclusive to QVC.

                    I only switched the channel on for a few minutes because there was nothing else on TV: It was Silver Diamonique hour and this sparkly ring caught my eye - '£9.74 you say???' - 'I'll be having that!' I thought, and while I was dialing the number another one came on the TV and I liked that too! It was only £15 so I thought I'd get both and I could decide on which one to keep when they arrived.

                    The guarantee with QVC is you have 30 days to try out the product and if you're not happy for whatever reason you can return the item for a refund.

                    Postage and packaging is extra on all items at QVC and for small items like jewellery it's usually about £2.95. Which is a bit undesirable but you do get the guarantee and Diamonique is excellent value for money to begin with and QVC packages have always turned up safely in the post for me. So I don't mind so much. Unfortunately there's no 'combined postage' offers unless you're buying 2 of the same item, then there's a discount on the postage of the second item.

                    But when they arrived, I couldn't part with either! I was thoroughly pleased with the quality and style of both rings and for the price I thought they were completely worth it, and I was worth it, so I kept them both!

                    One ring is quite contemporary in a half bezel setting. I think this one is most likely to be caught out as a fake because of it's modern fashion jewellery look. But the stone is so convincingly fine and sparkly you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's the real thing. And the finish on the piece is very convincing - these aren't costume pieces you'd get in department stores or Marks and Spencers, Diamonique is far, far, far superior. Even though they're simulated diamonds, the manufacturers treat the stones like real ones and take time, care and pride in the design and manufacturing as you would with fine jewellery. The result is a very low cost product that looks and feels as good (if not better!) than jewellery found in the likes of Goldsmiths. It's not glued together haphazardly, and stones won't drop off or fall out. I must stress! - it's not 'junk jewellery'. It's real!

                    The other ring has it's stones set in claw settings and again if this was sitting amongst the diamond engagement rings in a jewellers like Goldsmiths I doubt you'd pick it out as a fake! I've actually got a diamond ring from Goldsmiths (not a big bucks one, it was £300) and this £9.74 one looks a hundred times more expensive. It makes you wonder why to bother spending big money on real gems when QVC seem to have bigger and more sparkly offerings for a mere fraction of the cost. I'm incredibly impressed and super pleased with my purchase.

                    Seriously, if someone presented you this ring, and got down on one knee, you would not question it for a second. That's actually worrying... but not a bad idea if you want a big glitzy engagement ring but can't afford the price tag. Only YOU would have to know.

                    The only drawback I can see is that some designs (I spent a while on the website too!) are so flamboyant and just plain huge that there'd be that seed of doubt, you'd see it in people's eyes: 'that can't be real...it's too big!'. But again, the pieces are so stunning - would you care?

                    I think the ring I got was exceptionally good value for under £10 and there are lots of other pieces around this price range. But don't be mislead - the Diamonique range is vast and there are lots of pieces at a higher price tag if you feel the need to spend more, or you want something more substantial like a tennis bracelet, or one of their pendant, earrings and ring sets. There's something for every need or budget.

                    Diamonique comes predominantly in 925 Silver and all pieces are stamped e.g. '925 DQCZ', but there's also the 'Epiphany' range in platinum clad silver and collections of Diamonique jewellery in gold. I haven't bought any of these yet but I wouldn't hesitate to try them, I'm sure the quality is superb.

                    My top tip would be to check the showtime schedule on www.qvcuk.com to watch the Diamonique hours - you'll get a sense of size and fit of the pieces as they're modeled by the presenter.

                    Or browse directly by clicking on 'Jewellery' then 'Diamonique' at www.qvcuk.com, you can search by type of jewellery e.g. 'bracelets' or by collection - QVC like to separate them out into different collections, sometimes by specific designers or themes. There's always 'view all' if you're not sure and many of the items have a short video to watch, which is ideal if you've missed one of the shows.

                    I think Diamonique is perfect for gifts and all the pieces come in light turquoise blue boxes with white ribbon bows tied around. They are a joy to open and gaze inside (as I did for a while before trying the rings on) and any recipient of such a gift will no doubt be over the moon. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Valentines, Thank you's, Well done's, Graduations... rainy days even! Diamonique is an excellent gift for others or to yourself on any occasion.

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                    • Picture Perfect (DVD) / DVD / 42 Readings / 42 Ratings
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                      10.01.2010 18:12
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                      Light and fluffy, fun and witty rom-com.

                      It's an oldie but a goodie this one. (Well as old as it can be for a 24 year old such as myself!) Picture Perfect is from 1997 and stars the lovely Jennifer Aniston along with Kevin Bacon and Jay Mohr.

                      It's one of a few films that Aniston starred in while her career in 'Friends' was blooming and in this case I think the combination of such a popular actress and a great yet simple story line delivers a romantic comedy that just can't fail!

                      Kate (Aniston) is a creative in an advertising agency, desperate for a promotion (which she definitely deserves on talent alone) she fakes an engagement with a guy she recently met at a wedding to make it look as if she has certain desirable life commitments which pleases her boss no end and happily gives her the promotion. Before she was young and fancy free, but now with Nick (Mohr) in the picture, Kate has everything she needs - a husband to be, perfect career and a chance to be with office bad boy Sam (Bacon).

                      Things take a turn for the worse when Nick (always 'working this weekend' or 'can't come down from Boston this Friday') gets his 15 minutes of fame on TV and is spotted by Kate, Sam and all their co-workers.

                      Kate has to convince Nick (someone she's only really met once!) to come to New York, have dinner with her, the bosses and their wives and act out a big fight so that they have an excuse to 'break up' and finally de-complicate things for Kate.

                      Will Kate get her perfect ending?

                      Watch the film to find out! It's a really decent rom-com and with a PG rating it's unlikely to offend. There's 'occasional, mild' language according the DVD cover (I didn't notice it) and some mild references to sex/nudity. I have to say that some of Aniston's outfits (wacky as some of them are) are a bit revealing! But you can't blame them for dressing such a great bod in the way they did. Personally though I think Aniston's boobs need their own place on the credits list. They feature in the film enough!!! Sheesh!

                      (I'm probably making this out to be a bigger deal than it is. Although her outfits are a bit... low cut... at times, it's subtle and was most likely in key with the fashion at the time. Jen's a classy lady after all!)

                      Getting back to more serious matters... it's got a run time of 97 mins (short - just like Aniston's dresses - eeesh) and you'll find no special features on this DVD unless you have a more fancy version than mine, I picked mine up in the HMV sale for £3. Bargain!

                      I recommend this film for fans of Jennifer Aniston (she's in the film the whole way through, every scene, there she is!), fans of quality rom-coms and fans of chick flicks. Having said that, when I sat down to enjoy this DVD during Sunday afternoon, my Dad (not exactly this film's target audience) really enjoyed it too and it surprised me when he was laughing along with me to the funny bits. So maybe that's an indicator that this is a well executed chick flick with a broad appeal? I think so.

                      I'd like to add that the acting is very good in this film, Aniston's on screen presence is to the standard of her 'Friends' performances and beyond. The supporting cast can not be faulted and you become completely absorbed into the story. I don't think you can really fault this film - it's a shame there's not more just like it out there!

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                        08.01.2010 13:25
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                        The only way to finish off your manicure!

                        To be honest I'm a bit reluctant to review Seche Vite because then everyone will know my top manicure secret!!

                        But here it goes...

                        Seche vite is a remarkable - can not live with out - smudge preventing - high glossing - can't finish a manicure without this - top coat!

                        But it's not like all those other little bottles of clear polish claiming to be 'top coat' posing like the little frauds that they are, on beauty store shelves. No no.

                        Seche Vite is the real thing, it's the best.

                        Ok so you've got your polish on, base coat, 1 coat of colour, 2 coats ok - whatever is your preference. Right - before that last coat even considers drying you need to apply the Seche Vite. Don't worry - if you do it right it won't drag / smudge / make everything go wrong with your carefully applied polish below.

                        You need to take a very big bead of the top coat on the end of the brush (it has quite a thick consistency) and smooth this over your nail as you would any other polish but applying it quite thickly and without really pushing or dragging down too much with the brush. A light sweep is what you need. Seche Vite levels itself out quite well and you only really need one coat.

                        Then rather promptly you'll notice that your painted pinkies are dry to the touch! I can't comment on how fast exactly because the high shine / wet-look nature of the product deters me from having a feel too prematurely. But I'm confident you'll be impressed at the speed. (I estimate at about under a minute)

                        Then Seche Vite continues to work it's magic... The formula is designed to sink through all the layers of polish underneath and bind them into a durable finish that protects against chipping. Clever yes?

                        On top of these practical benefits of the product you get this super duper shiny finish to your nails which can often improve the effect your get with some of your colour polishes, which may not be so shiny to begin with.

                        I must point out that sometimes I have experienced some compatibility issues with certain polishes. I'm not sure if Seche Vite dislikes certain brands or types of polish but sometimes it seems to shrink the colour back from the nail tip slightly. Not extremely noticeable but nonetheless annoying after you've spent a while on your nails. It affected a Jessica polish and a Rimmel Polish. It seems to be random, but most of my OPI polishes it agrees with no problem.

                        Another thing worth mentioning is that as you get to about half way down the bottle the formula thickens up a bit and gets a bit awkward to use. At this point the manufacturers advise purchasing 'Seche Restore' (a nail polish restorer which I think can be used for any polish including Seche) to add to your bottle of Vite in order to thin it out a bit. I've reasearched this and apparently due to the unique formula of Seche Vite, this is unavoidable, and it's just the way it works. (Still sounds like a bit of a swizz to me...)

                        I've gotten to that halfway point but have yet to 'Restore' my bottle, although I plan to soon because some of my OPI polishes need thinning too.

                        Seche Vite can be bought in department stores, some large Boot stores and at Sally Beauty Supplies to name a few. It retails around the £9 mark (it's worth it!) but online you can find discount on this.

                        For anyone who paints their nails only to smudge them soon after - get Seche Vite. You will love it!

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                          06.01.2010 12:42
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                          I'd definitely return for another massage!

                          My review for the Malmaison Hotel (Newcastle) refers specifically to their 'petit spa'. I went for a half spa day and ate lunch in their brasserie but I can not comment on their rooms / hotel service.

                          Now I've made that clear...

                          I went for a half spa day for my birthday (this was a while ago) and went with my Mam. The half spa day package (weekday) was £100 each and included lunch.

                          We arrived at half 9 and on arriving at the reception we were pointed in the direction of the petit spa, which is situated in the basement.

                          So into the fancy lift and down we went. It's pretty dimly lit in the spa, I think you'd call it 'mood lighting'. We were greeted by some flustered staff members (even though the spa was empty?!) and shown where the changing rooms and lockers were. Everything is 'petit' (small) in this spa and the changing area was no exception. A nice way to put it would be cosy. Everything was very clean though (I'm picky about that). So we got changed into our 'fluffly' robes (they weren't THAT fluffy, I thought they'd be fluffy...) and went to relax in the massage chair room while we selected our lunch for later. You have to pick from a limited menu which I found odd. A friend said I should definitely get the burger, but there was no burger so I chose a salad. I had a hard time picking lunch actually. I'm not big on weird, fancy food. There wasn't a great selection - about 3 dishes to chose from in each course. I later found out that as part of the spa package you have this limited menu and can't order from the full menu. Bit of a let down.

                          The massage chairs were a bit unpleasant - a bit rough. It nearly chomped my leg off! But this wasn't what we came for... the best was yet to come.

                          Our therapists came and took us to separate rooms for our treatments.

                          We had...

                          Aromatherapy facial
                          -----------------------------
                          This was so great... the smells ... the textures. Ah, heaven.
                          There's a choice of essential oils and various cleansers, toners etc.
                          Before we got started the therapist encouraged me to smell each one. Apparently if you like the smell it means you need it. If you don't like it or can't smell it (my Mam couldn't smell one of them) your body doesn't need it.
                          So my nose picked my treatments and we began.
                          I can honestly say it was the best facial I've ever had. They use the ESPA range of products and of course they do advise you to purchase some of them to take the treatment home with you (and in the end I did). It's not the hard sell at all, you get product cards to take with you and ponder over.
                          I don't know whether it was the products or the skilled hands of the therapist but my complexion never looked so good. It was glowing... for days after too! Wonderful!

                          Indian Head Massage
                          -----------------------------
                          Wow. Just wow. This happened seamlessly after the facial. Pink clay mud and various other wonderful things were massaged around my scalp and I found this part of the experience particularly blissful! Head massages are not something you should miss out of a pamper day in my opinion. My hair looked like I'd stepped out of the 80's afterwards but this can't be helped in these situations!

                          Back Massage
                          -----------------------------
                          Not a full body massage unfortunately but it only really misses out your legs because your arms get a good seeing to in the process. I felt that the massage therapist I had was extremely skillful when it came to my back massage. It honestly felt so divine and I was convinced that there were two people massaging me! (or she had 4 hands?) It just felt as if I was being kneaded all the way down my arm across my back and nearly down to my bum all at the same time. It was extremely relaxing and I definitely nodded off for a while. Again the therapist used ESPA oils and I think they had been pre-warmed because I wasn't startled by anything too cold as she applied them. The treatment bed was ridiculously comfy - I think Malmaison have invested in top of the range beds - it was like lying in a big, soft, quilted, heated, towel cocoon. No wonder I fell asleep...

                          I think out of all the treatments I had that day, I'd recommend the Back Massage if you were only stopping by for one treatment and not staying for a half or full day package. It was my favourite bit!

                          Manicure
                          -----------------------------
                          It might just be me, I might just have high standards, but I've never had a decent manicure off another person, anywhere. The Malmaison was no exception and although I was kinda hoping they would do a good job - they didn't. Bless my therapist... her skillful massaging, soothing, wondrous hands were my best friends moments ago back in the massage room but now it was clear they couldn't paint nails for toffee. Or file nails. Or buff nails. It was hopeless. So don't expect too much from this part of the package. You might hit lucky and get a good manicurist. I wasn't so lucky. However I'm still awarding the spa 5 stars on account of everything else exceeding my expectations and me and my Mam both enjoyed the other treatments thoroughly.


                          We definitely enjoyed lunch, the food was very tasty and the surroundings very comfortable. We were given ample time to get showered, dressed and ready before lunch was served and didn't feel rushed at all. The service was prompt and friendly and afterwards, when we'd finished eating, skin glowing, bellies full, I was sad that the day was over. (Though I couldn't wait to get home to re-do my nails - tut!)

                          For a special occasion the half day package is a good value treat and is worth the money for a city centre spa. Though if you're looking for jacuzzis, saunas and fluffy robes you'll need to take your pennies elsewhere. (Quite possibly Seaham Hall - a 'proper' spa near the coast in County Durham, not far from Newcastle)

                          All in all I'd recommend the treatments at the petit spa and was glad I decided to go. It was lovely and luxurious!

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                            06.01.2010 11:59
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                            A good time had by all - money well spent!

                            Fleeced! is a superb classic-in-the-making board game. There's no moving parts or assembly required, there's no DVD or electronic gadgety business and not a AA battery in sight! "Just how games used to be!" - you all cry! Yes, yes it is.

                            After ten years in development (so I've read) Nick Park, the genius behind the Wallace and Gromit empire, brings to you 'Fleeced!' the Wallace and Gromit board game. It's for kids and adults and gameplay is for 2 to 6 players. I got it before Christmas in Debenhams for £25 (steep right?!) read on...

                            The idea of the game is to rustle sheep either from their hideouts or from other players and make it back home. Rustle as many sheep as you can before all the sheep have been rustled back to the characters' homes and the winner is the one with the highest score (the little plastic sheep all have different point values on them). Some are clearly more valuable and more rare than others, and I have to say that things got quite aggressive around the table when a black sheep came out of its hideout and everyone made a mad dash to steal it... black sheep are worth 6 points you see! When sheep are rustled from their hideouts you are instructed (by a card) how many sheep were hiding and this is the amount of little plastic sheep you place in the middle of the board in the 'Village Green'. You can then rustle the sheep for yourself - blow your whistle and roll the dice to see how many sheep you can take and line them up behind you on the board. You then have to try and make it all the way back to your home with all your sheep in tow but be warned - other players will be making every effort to steal your sheep! Gameplay ranges from quite frantic (rustling and stealing etc) to quite slow when you're waiting to land on the right spot so you can free some sheep onto the board. This is the only downside in the game.

                            Each player gets a character to move about the board - Wallace, Grmmit, Wendolene, Shaun, Preston and Feathers McGraw and you get a bag full of little plastic sheep. I have to say that the build quality of the pieces is solid and the board is of very high quality. The entire game is nicely manufactured and it's an impressive package which really is worth the steep price tag (£25 - ouch!). We made sure we got our money's worth out of this game over the Christmas holidays and we enjoyed playing it very much. So don't be put off by the price too much, it really is worth it. My only gripe is the red plastic bit inside the box that holds all the pieces. It's quite thick and tough (quality, strongly made...) but it makes getting the pieces and cards out difficult and little red marks have rubbed off onto Shaun and Gromit! A slight design oversight I think.

                            The rules were a bit bambooziling on first read. There's cheese cards, and whistles to blow and it really isn't like any other game you've played. Once you understand the rules, gameplay is quite straight forward really and my parents (who are smart people but have gotten to that point where board game rules, microwave meal instructions and text messaging takes a while to fully sink in!! - no offence) they got into the swing of it just fine though and we all had a fun time. (I had a good enough time just messing about with the sheep I had at the side of the board! standing them in pyramids, making them talk in funny voices, some of the sheep have worried expressions... maybe I was paying them too much attention... maybe that's why I only managed to win once... oh well!)

                            If you like games with a bit of strategy behind them then this one is for you. It's a roll of the dice game so you don't need any general knowledge skills and you don't even need any background knowledge of Wallace and Gromit to play although if you've seen some of the Wallace and Gromit films and TV shows then that obviously would give you more appreciation of the quirky illustrations on the board and the funny looking character pieces etc. But it's not essential!

                            Fleeced! is an excellent family board game to have stashed away for rainy days, Christmas, Easter, Birthdays or anytime you feel like rustlin'!

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