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Coxy1974

Coxy1974
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Member since: 18.12.2006

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    • Desserts / Recipe / 33 Readings / 29 Ratings
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      13.11.2007 11:30
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      An instant hit with everyone

      After months of planning my Fiance and I finally managed to get both sets of parents to meet. We had toyed with the idea of taking them out for a meal but then thought that might be too formal so we intivted them both round for lunch one Sunday afternoon.

      Pressure was on me after that and as I am part Italian I got out my good ole Italian cookbook. I did Melon with Raspberry Coulis to start, Golden Chicken Rissotto for the main with salad and garlic bread and then did this recipe for Italian Bread Pudding.

      This recipe will serve 4.

      Ingredients

      15 grams or 1 tablespoon of butter
      2 small eating apples, peeled and cored - slice these into rings
      75 grams granulated sugar
      2 tablespoons of white wine
      100 grams of slized bread (slightly stale baguette is ideal for this) remove any crusts
      300ml single cream
      2 eggs, beaten
      rind of 1 orange cust into matchsticks

      Method

      1. Lightly grease a 2 pint deep overproof dish with the butter

      2. Arrange the apple rings in the base and sprinkle half the sugar over them. Add a light sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

      3. Pour in the wine and add the slices of bread. Press them down firmly to flatten them slightly

      4. Mix the cream with the eggs and them add the remaining sugar. Add the orange rind and pour the mix over the bread. Leave it to soak for 30 minutes.

      5. Bake in a pre-heated over at Gas 4 or 180 C for 25 minutes until you have a lovely golden colour and the pudding is set. Serve the pudding warm.

      I served mine up with Ice Cream or Cream and it went down a storm. I think I also added slightly more wine than it said in the recipe but hey who cares.

      Variations on this include adding dried fruit such as Sultanas, Apricots, Cherries or Dates.

      The in laws to be and mum and dad have been begging for me to produce it again but I'm saving it for special occasions now!

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      • Eastern Airways / Transport National / 38 Readings / 37 Ratings
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        31.10.2007 18:07
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        I suppose you get what you pay for

        I recently needed to get back to East Midlands airport from Aberdeen. I'd flown into Edinburgh BMI Baby, stayed overnight and trained and then hired a car and driven to Aberdeen. I couldn't get over how difficult it was to get a flight from Aberdeen. I could fly to Birmingham from there but exactly clever when I'd left my car at East Mids.

        However, I came across Eastern Airways purely by chance by Googling Aberdeen to East Midlands flights. I typed in all the information and nearly fell off my chair when the price came up £195. Christ on a Bike were my first thoughts. Anyway, I wasn't paying so made the booking and duly flew home from Aberdeen.

        Eastern Airways are a small airline that have about 30 or so planes in their fleet. The one I flew home on was a jet stream seating about 29 people.

        I always arrive at Airports early and like to get luggage rid of asap so I arrived at 5pm to be on the 7pm flight. I was able to check in straight away and was asked which seat I would like. The check in was great, really speedy and efficient and the lady on the desk was really very polite which seems to be a complete rarity these days. She told me to make my way down to the Eastern Airways lounge which at Aberdeen is located at Gate 10.

        I decided to have a drink in the bar first and browse which at Aberdeen airport takes about 5 minutes as theres not much to browse around. Feeling refreshed after my pint I wondered along to the lounge past people with screaming kids (there'd been a flight delayed) and although have nothing against kids I'd had a hellish couple of days travelling and training and I just wanted some peace and quiet.

        Entering the lounge the calmness of it washed over me. With free tea, coffee, biscuits and soft drinks it's a very nice lounge to sit in and wait for your flight. You still get all the flight announcements and there's a screen with the flights on so you can still check.

        Boarding was OK however, Eastern Airways now operate a Valet hand luggage system where you leave your hand luggage on a cart for it to be stowed in the hold. I had a company laptop and because of the regs at the minute no handbag so all my stuff was in the bag. Made to leave it at the Valet I was a bit concerned but when I boarded the plane the lady said I could go back and fetch it which was nice (also company policy is for laptops not to go in the hold under any circumstances) and I stowed it under the seat in front of me. I had a double seat all to myself as the plane was only about half full.

        The flight was smooth and I actually enjoyed it - one of the smoothest take off and landing ever experienced and this flight was the 30th this year. After take off the announcement came over that there would be refreshments (actually the flight attendant had come round earlier with a bowl of sweets - yes a bowl - for take off) and snacks. Great I thought as I had about a fiver on me and was starving. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were all free including Champagne.

        It wasn't just one glass either, the attendant kept coming over and topping me up (maybe that's why the landing was so smooth) and asking if I needed anything else.

        Once off the plane I entered the airport terminal to find my suitcase already on the carousel! Never ever ever happens except at Edinburgh airport but that's only because the walk through the terminal is so long. I was literally off the plane and out of the airport within 10 minutes.

        To be honest I really couldn't fault the service of the airline. It was of the very highest standard and made such a change to be travelling in that way. I felt really taken care of and more than a little tiddly when I arrived home to my now husband to be. Even had to leave the car at the airport and take a taxi home!

        At some airports you can actually go through security faster and from what I remember reading the company magazine this includes Birmingham airport and the bigger ones.

        Only downfall is price and I feel for what you get it's expensive. If I was paying then I wouldn't fly and I would drive but I would definitely fly Eastern Airways again if the company are paying!

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        • The Weather! / Discussion / 56 Readings / 51 Ratings
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          04.06.2007 14:19
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          Look out of the window of course - it has never failed me yet!

          These reviews seem to be very popular at the moment so I just had to write one.

          Looking out of the window now whilst I sit at my desk during my lunch break Dooyooing I notice that it looks cold. This morning on the drive into work it was misty and I found I needed fog lights! Mist in June??

          The weather is an interesting subject and you can debate for hours on what is causing climate change. My other half has a theory on this (he isn't quite the ignoramous that I am!). He says that if you look back through history then climate change is all part of nature. We've had the Ice Age etc and it does beg the question of whether nature is just taking it's course. Or is it down to man that we are accelerating this natural change? Is it just the government that is conditioning us into thinking that it is caused because of polluting the atmosphere in order to introduce more 'green' stealth taxes?

          Well, according to my other half the latter is true and Climate Change actually causes global warming and is in fact natural and not man made in that particular sense. (God I even sound like him now!) So which is true? Not sure and don't even want to hazard a guess! All I know is that it's hotter in summer than I can ever remember it being, flash flooding seems to be more common and the seasons are all to cock.

          I want to get up in the morning and listen to the weather forecast and know what to wear so that I don't end up resembling a woolly sheep when it's 100 degrees. Likewise I don't want to wear flip flops when it's going to pee it down.

          Last Friday is a great example. The weather forecast on a nameless radio station was thunder and heavy showers for the afternoon. So I wore a jumper, trousers and boots. Very nice pointy stilettos but I digress onto my shoe fetish here! My point is it was a lovely day. Glorious sunshine and very warm. I spent the day with a red face feeling far too hot. I couldn't wait to strip off - of course I waited till I got home - I didn't want to put anyone off their lunch!

          So far this year - my plants have flowered too early, I've not seen a hint of frost on any of them either, we've had snow in February and March, freak weather where it snowed, rained, hailed and had bright sunshine in the space of one afternoon.

          We now get March winds in April, April showers in May, Hot sunny days in April and May and summer seems to last until October! I'm sure it wasn't the same when I was a kid. I can remember long, hot summer days in the six week holidays where we'd have a bowl of water on the back garden (as a paddling pool) and doing my dolls washing in it along with giving Barbie a Shampoo and blowdry (if she had any hair left from my makeover hair cut!). But the days didn't seem as hot back then - maybe memory has dulled it over time.

          The kind of hot summer day here is very different to abroad. I love the dry heat of being abroad but the summer in England seems to sap you of energy but we tend to have much more 'muggy' oppresive heat.

          So what do I like about the weather - I want it to be warm and sunny because it makes me feel better. I need it to rain sometimes to ensure that my plants grow in my garden and I love to go for walks in the snow. (For walk read play, jump about in snow that other people haven't walked on and generally throw snow balls at my mums windows)

          What don't I like about the weather? - Getting caught in Thunderstorms. A storm once scared me so badly that I peed myself but that's another story! I really hate motorway driving in torrential rain and I dislike driving in snow. I hate walking in the kind of rain that wets you through and I really, really dislike windy days. I used to hate windy days when I smoked because you'd never get your fag lit.

          I love it when forecasters get the weather wrong because it gives me something to moan about and what do British people love doing? Moaning about the weather!! It's either too hot or too cold - there is never a happy medium!

          Anyway - I am now rambling so I will leave you with this thought...... If you want to know what the weather is like outside then what do you do?

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          • More +
            04.06.2007 09:17
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            Fruitylicious!

            For my recent birthday my future parents in law brought me a small gift set from Marks & Spencer. The Ingredients Tube Sampler Carton. I love to test things such as this and think that these are a perfect way of trying something new before buying a large container of the product. Also his mum and dad know how much I travel with my job and how many holidays we have had and have planned this year so these also make perfect travel items to go in my overnight bag if staying somewhere like a Travel Inn which don’t supply toiletries.

            It made a lovely gift and was parcelled with some Lip Balm which I will review separately as it doesn’t make up part of the package.

            Packaging

            The tubes of product are contained in a cardboard box with a hole in the front so that you can clearly see the products contained inside. It tapers at the top and the whole thing is finished with a dark brown satin ribbon with the Ingredients logo on there. The box is a light tan colour with the M&S logo on the left at the top. Underneath the window is white writing saying ‘Uplift, smooth and soften’ and beneath this 4 x 50ml – which indicates that each product tube contains 50ml of product. There are no ingredients list on either the tubes or the packaging. Each tube is clear in colour so that you can see the colour and consistency of the product it contains.

            All in all the packaging is very attractive for a gift.

            I was eager to open but as we were going out for dinner and needed to make our reservation we had to go. Regretfully, I left it on the side and off we went to dinner. As soon as I got home though the packaging was ripped apart ready for me to smell the different products.

            What you get

            4 tubes of different products – each containing 50ml of each product. Contained in the package are

            Buttermilk Softening Hand and Body Cream
            Sweet Orange shower cream
            Lemon Balm softening shower cream
            Coconut shell smoothing body polish

            Upon opening the tubes and smelling I was in heaven and couldn’t wait to try but I had to because it was nearly midnight by the time we got back and I needed to be up early for work the next day so had to get some zzzzz’s to avoid the panda look.

            As luck would have it I overlaid so no time for a shower I had a quick wash and off out to work (yes I did remember to dress but my other half had to remind me to take off mooing cow slippers and put on shoes before I shot out the door) so I made up for it with a nice long hot bath when I got home.

            I’m going to review each of the products in turn in this review. I’ll start off with the body polish.

            Coconut Body Polish

            Taking off the cap for the tube my nose was instantly twitching as the smell of coconut hit me. Quite overpowering really. I squeezed some out of the tube. It’s in a white lotion that does foam a little with actual ground coconut shell. I smoothed it up my arms and down my legs and all the bits in between, rubbing gently to remove dead skin. It smelt heavenly to say the least. I love the smell of coconut and have a shower cream from Tesco that complimented this perfectly.

            Once finished my skin glowed. It felt so smooth to the touch but you get this with any good exfoliant. The only thing is that it left ground pieces of shell in the bottom of the bath when I emptied out the water that was hell to get rid off.

            This claims to leave your skin glowing and healthy looking whilst being smooth and it certainly did live up to it’s claim and the smell was a bonus. It does tell you on the packaging to rub gently over the skin – an exfoliant is an abrasive so too much rubbing and your skin will be a bit raw to say the least. It’s not to be used on the face either as it’s too rough for there.

            Buttermilk hand and body cream

            I’m using this as I write the review. I get very dry hands (my other half doesn’t have a dishwasher – well he does and it’s me! But I digress – I have my hands in hot soapy water at least twice a day and also bleach water to scrub floors and wipe down worktops so you can imagine how much of a battering they get.

            This smells really nice – not sure what Buttermilk is supposed to smell like so can’t comment on the authenticity of the smell. It does have a kind of milky buttery smell to it so I suppose it’s authentic enough. The cream is cream in colour and light textured, not runny but not thick and rich.

            I squeezed a small amount out onto the back of my hand and rubbed into my knuckles (which is where my hands are the driest) then smoothed up my arms and onto my palms. It doesn’t sink in straight away and can feel quite greasy to begin with. I continued to smooth into my skin until it had sunk in. After a couple of weeks of using this product my hands are back to being lovely and smooth with no dry patches at all. This is brilliant as I hate to use gloves when washing up and stuff so my hands really aren’t spared the worst of any clean up session.

            A little of this product does go a long way and you can feel it sinking into your skin and see the lines being plumped up (if you have any) to smooth out the skin.

            And so onto the next tube in the gift set – will this impress more than the others?

            Lemon Balm softening shower cream

            Wow – it smells just like Lemon Meringue. I used it in the shower a few nights ago and squeezed onto my squeegy sponge. It foamed instantly on contact with the sponge and water. As I soaped myself the smell got stronger as more of the fragrance was released. It smells gorgeous. Just the thing for a morning when you can’t wake up, stumble into the shower and bing – this would waken the dead. My other half could smell it downstairs and thought he’d got a tasty dessert for after dinner – well he had, me, but that’s another story or maybe not!

            My skin did feel softer after I got out of the shower and the smell lingered on my skin for a long time afterwards. I’ve used it a couple of times since and with the same result. It’s nearly all gone now though so a bit disappointed at amount of uses out of this one.

            Only one more to go – will this be the crowning glory?

            Sweet Orange shower cream

            Yummy – just like peeling a jaffa orange. Very sweet orange smell assaults your sense of smell as soon as you open the tube.

            This was the first of the shower creams I tried and seems to foam much better than the lemon one as I seem to need much less product to achieve the same amount of foam.

            Again as I soaped the smell was stronger until the whole house smelt of oranges. It really is a lovely smell and again it had staying power, lingering on my skin until way after bed time. It doesn’t claim to soften skin or anything like that and is more of a perfunctory shower cream but my skin did feel soft to the touch after use so this more of a bonus rather than an expectation. The smell is so orangey and it is lovely – again another one that’d make you feel like you’d been slapped in the face of a morning to wake you up!

            Recommended or not?

            Well this gift set comes priced at £5 for 4 tubes of very nice products. I’d recommend as a gift but I won’t be rushing out any time soon to see if I can find larger versions of the product when I can get similar stuff at Tesco or the body shop. They are lovely as travel sized toiletries when going overnight to a budget hotel.

            On the whole it was a lovely gift and a very useful one at that. I loved the smells and still have some products left – I use the coconut body polish once a week and the buttermilk hand and body cream after every wash up and each time I wash my hands. I’m not sure about value for money though as I did go through the lemon shower cream very quickly and used it in about 3 go’s but I might have been using too much.

            I’d definitely buy this a gift for a friend to go with some wine and choccies as a pampering gift.

            Availability

            All M&S stores
            www.marksandspencer.com

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            • More +
              01.06.2007 16:44
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              A very good book indeed even if I did want to throttle her in certain places!

              I was given this book by a friend after she had read it – I won’t bore you with her comments but she’d intrigued me so I had to read it.

              I love any kind of books really and once I have started to read one I will always make sure I finish no matter how hard going the book may be. So what did I think of this one.

              The book is written by Kate Holden and it is a true story. If follows her life and in it she shares her thoughts and experiences living in Melbourne, Australia. The daughter of loving parents and with one sibling they seemed like the ideal family. Kate begins the book by sharing her earliest child hood memories and recounts feeling different from other children.

              Basically a shy person and a dreamer, Kate quite often hid herself away to fantasise about a different life. She recounts how at one point at a party, the children had all been given boxes, crayons etc to play with and make something but she hid herself away in her box because it made her feel safe and she refused to come out. Growing up into a teenager Kate went on to University to study Classics and worked in a Bookshop. This is where she met James.

              Moving in with each other in a flat in St Kilda she quickly begins to notice that James and their circle of friends ‘disappear’ quite regularly and James confesses that he uses Heroin. Kate is enthralled by this and wants to try it. James resists letting her try it but Kate is insistent and it doesn’t really seem to take much to persuade James and his friends to help her along the way.

              Kate describes her first ‘taste’ of the drug as something that she didn’t really notice any effect so she thought she needed to try again before she could say that she had really ‘tried’ the drug and describe it’s effects on her. So she goes for a second hit.

              This book really isn’t for the fainthearted and if you are offended by references to sex and drugs then please stop here.

              Kate describes in great detail what it feels like, the needle pricking the skin and watching the blood cloud the syringe before injecting the drug into her vein. She describes the feeling of relaxation and numbness that comes over you after a ‘taste’.

              Kate goes onto describe how she descends into a life of drug dependency and prostitution. Her dealer lives across the road from the flat she and James share. They go into rehab together at Kate’s parents insistence and the attempt fails. Struggling for money James goes into rehab on his own and leaves Kate to become more and more involved with her dealer and his prostitute girlfriend. He’s all too eager to help Kate to get into the world of prostitution after she steals from the bookshop she works in and after being discovered she’s sacked.

              At first Kate works the streets of St Kilda, calling herself Lucy and describes in great detail her first client. She describes her body and being separated from her mind and that selling sex was just another job to her. After being arrested Kate decides to move from selling herself on the streets to a legal organised brothel. Here she is introduced to a whole new world of prostitution and different names for different sex acts. She describes the clients as people that she helps to overcome certain problems. She describes the horror side to it as well, the times she was brutalised and the injuries she sustained from a 12 hour shift in a brothel.

              All the while she describes her clamouring need for Heroin and the grip it has over her. How she couldn’t believe the amount of money she made from her shifts at the brothel and how it would nearly all be spent on drugs and cigarettes. Her parents despair but try to understand how and why Kate turned to drugs in the first place and desperately try to wean her off them. She has two unsuccessful attempts in rehab and after verbally abusing her mother when she finds Heroin on her and flushes it down the loo they ask her to leave. When her parents find out she works as a prostitute they accept the fact but don’t like it – Kate describes her mother constantly trying to persuade her to go into rehab and to get clean and be safe.

              I found the book to be a fascinating story of the life that Kate led. At times I wanted to physically shake her and shout ‘Wake up to what you are doing to yourself and your family’ and once I actually put the book down in frustration, much to my partners amusement when he asked ‘Good book?’ and I replied ‘Yes but I want to kill her!’

              Kate tells of how the drugs made her body so numb she rarely got any sexual pleasure and how she viewed her body as a means to an end. How she’d soak up the adoration of the men she serviced.

              Kate goes on about hiding her bag of clean syringes etc under bushes whilst she worked the streets, exchanging dirty for clean, the bad drugs that she had, the times when she snorted cocaine with clients and took speed to stay awake so that she could work more hours to get more money for drugs and the withdrawal effects that she suffered for going without them.

              She talks about the different sex acts she performed on men and women and how she sometimes gave away freebies or lowered prices to get more customers if she was having a slow night. How liberating it was sexually to be working in a brothel and the identity of Lucy gave her the courage to be more adventurous. She describes how it felt to have sex with another woman upon request of one of her clients and the trepidation she felt at doing this for the first time.

              There appeared to be nothing in the early stages of Kate’s life to indicate that she would fall into a habit of using drugs and it does beg the question of why? Throughout reading the book I felt deep sympathy for her parents and sister who seemed to suffer the most. Indeed, Kate describes deep feelings of shame and guilt for everything that she put them through.

              Throughout it appeared that she still had strong family links and reading between the lines I got the impression that her family would have had her back like a shot if she chose to come home and get clean. Her mother constantly worried about her and the phone calls and visits home that Kate describes, leave her with a feeling of being loved.

              I hope never to be in a position like Kates parents – they must have constantly been asking themselves where they went wrong and what they did wrong. They must have been wondering how they could help their daughter even after she lied to them and stole money from them to pay for her drug habit.

              My sympathies also lay with Kate. However, at times I was infuriated with her. I’ve never taken drugs and never felt the temptation even though some of my friends do take drugs and I have been present when they have. So with never having experienced that particular addiction I cannot comment on how easy it is to get clean.

              What I couldn’t understand was Kate’s reluctance to get clean. All the way through the book she describes this hold that Heroin has over you but you sense that there was never a desperation to get clean. At times she would describe her living conditions and a longing to be back how she used to be when she lived with her parents but doesn’t portray a desire to give up Heroin.

              She displays indifference to the fact that she prostitutes herself and states that she was actually proud of what she did. If people asked her what she did for a job she would tell them straight. It was that simple to Kate. I willed her to be strong and give up the drug and cheered when she finally went on a Methadone program to wean her off Heroin.

              There is a picture of her in the back of the book and I purposely didn’t look at it until I’d read the book. I was already halfway through it before my friend told me about it. I like to be able to build up a mental picture of the characters I am reading about but I can tell you I was way off base. Nothing at all like I expected.

              The beginning of the book is the best written for me whereas other, later parts of the book feel a little ‘padded out’ to lengthen the book. It’s not that she doesn’t have a story to tell but I did sometimes wonder why lines such as ‘We’d gather together in the lounge to be looked over again and again’ were repeated several times through out the book when she described working in the brothel.

              I actually started to read it at work on the same day I was given it. On the whole it took me about three weeks to finish the book and this isn’t because it is a thick book. It’s 292 pages long but due to the nature of the book and the different emotions I experienced whilst reading it I found I was only able to manage a chapter or a little bit more every time I picked it up.

              I got my copy for free but if you fancy a thought provoking read then it’s available from Amazon for £5.24 in Paperback.

              Published by Canongate Books it was first published in August 2005 and my copy was printed in 2007. ISBN 9781920885908.

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              • More +
                28.05.2007 20:52
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                Follw simple, sound advice and you'll find out that it is possible to get out of it in the end

                Thought I'd add my two penneth in here.

                I'll start by saying that I have 13 years worth of experience working the credit industry so know how the system works inside out and what I don't know about a credit file isn't worth writing on the back of a postage stamp.

                So what is a credit file?

                The express intention of a file of information about your past credit history is there for the intention of...

                A. Providing other lenders with information on how you have managed your accounts in the past

                B. How you manage the accounts you currently have

                C. Advise of bad debt

                D. Advise of fraud information

                There are 2 main credit reference agencies. These are Experian - Nottingham based and Equifax - Glasgow based. There are other smaller ones Call Credit being one of those. Experian is actually owned by a catalogue company called Great Universal Stores or GUS for short (I know this little known fact because I worked at Experian for 5 years) but oddly it isn't a client of any of the catalogue companies that come under the GUS family umbrella.

                Basically what happens when you apply for credit is that your file with Experian and Equifax is checked. Depending upon the lender the CRA (Credit Reference Agency) will be asked for either the full information or a coded version of it in the form of a Delphi or Wescore (Delphi is Experian and Wescore is Equifax). Both the Delphi and Wescore are lifestyle scores depending upon the information held such as how many accounts are open, previous and present credit history along with monitoring how credit hungry you actually are (how many other applications for credit have you made in the last year). Again depending on the lender they may take the decision to decline based solely upon the information provided and the scores provided.

                There are certain pieces of information that will make you lose points such as County Court Judgements, Defaults, Bankruptcy, Voluntary Arrangements, Sequestrations and many previous Searches for credit. All of these indicate that you are a bad credit risk.

                The basic function of a credit file is to help lenders maximise lending whilst minimising risk.

                How is the information used?

                It's used in many ways. Credit companies will check files and depending upon their procedures will also check back to other addresses you may have been known at in the past 6 years including any second addresses that you may have. They will do this because any information will last for 6 years from it's last update date with the exception of Searches and CIFAS information. It is used to decide whether to lend, to confirm Identity and address details and also can be used to combat identity fraud.

                Credit File explained.

                I thought it might be useful at this stage to explain the areas you will see on a credit file should you request yours from one of the agencies concerned.

                Voters Roll - this is public information and is the Electoral Roll

                CCJ - County Court Judgement. If you have one of these then you usually have been invited or appeared in court and ordered to pay the lender a set amount each month because you defaulted on payments from the original account.

                Bankruptcy - If you have one of these you have declared yourself bankrupt with the court and have wiped clean a good portion of debt with it. This will be valid for a year from the date you declared yourself bankrupt and you must declare this on any application for credit. Lenders view this as being morally wrong to lend to someone who is bankrupt.

                Voluntary Arrangement - Bit like a bankruptcy but you have come to arrangements with the court to pay into a fund which is distrubuted amongst all of your creditors to pay them all off and this will only be concluded once the last payment has successfully been made. Failure to comply with the terms will result in Bankruptcy.

                Sequestration - Scottish version of a Bankruptcy. Same terms apply.

                CIFAS - this is an acronym of Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System. This organisation made up of lenders allows them to operate under a loophole in the data protection act and share information on fraud that has been committed at the address whether this be in your name or someone elses. This is the only piece of information on a credit file that matches at address level. Fraud is in different categories and can be loaded to protect the identity of the residents of the address.

                CAIS - Credit Account Information Sharing (Experian) or Insight (Equifax) - These are all the accounts previously and currently held. Displays name, address, lender, credit limit, balance, payment history and current status. Basically if the payment history says 000000 then this is good because it means that you have never missed a payment. 1 means 1 missed payment, 2 means 2 consecutively missed payments and so on.

                Previous Searches - any applications for credit in the last 12 months.

                All information on a credit file will match with the person who has been searched directly and not at address level with the exception of Voters Roll and CIFAS.

                It is a common myth that people believe that their address is blacklisted. There is no list and no address is blacklisted or prevented from gaining credit. It may be that there is CIFAS information that the lender is obliged to check under the regulations set down by the Financial Services Authority.

                Reasons your application may be declined

                Basic scoring principles - you may not have enough credit to deem you a good credit risk

                Bad debt in your own name

                Overexposure - this means that your available amount of credit at the minute far exceeds your current income. An underwriter and the subsequent lender is obliged to lend responsibly and not to add to this exposure. This is what gets people into debt in the first place.

                Owing more that you earn.

                Applying for the wrong kind of credit card or wrong product. Oddly, the kind of card or product that you apply for can mean that you need different amounts of points to be accepted for it. Most companies will not disclose their lending criteria and each is different depending upon what product you have applied for.

                Fraud Information other than CIFAS - this could include credit information that may be at different addresses to those that you have declared on your application form. This can lead lenders to believe that you may have moved from your current address to a different address and fraud may be occurring from the address you have just vacated.

                How to improve this

                For a start and this is easy to say - don't get into financial difficulty. But this is easier said than done and I have gotten in a little over my head in the past before I started to understand how all of this information is interpreted by other companies.

                If you have no credit history

                Then how are lenders supposed how good you will be at repaying - if you have no history they have nothing to work from statistically to show how good you will be as a customer to them. Try opening a couple of mail order accounts or a mobile phone account. This will show with one of the two major agencies and after a few months of paying it properly it will bump up your rating. Don't go mad though as too many previous searches will show that you are credit hungry.

                If you have poor credit history

                Then take positive action and try to consolodate your debt into one. Speak to the CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) who will help you draw up offer letters to everyone that you owe credit to and offer them a certain amount. No credit company can come after you for money or assets that you genuinely don't have and they would be laughed out of court if they did. They're much better off accepting a decent offer to repay than taking you to court, paying legal fees and ending up with the court awarding them the same amount or less.

                If you are declared bankrupt

                Don't apply for more credit. Morally lenders see this as wrong to lend to people who are up to their ears in debt. Speak to a debt councellor such as the CAB.

                If you are asked to provide proof of who you are and where you live then send the exact documents that the company ask for. You are required to send in an original and it must be dated within the last 3 months and also demonstrate activity. Acceptable documents would be bank or credit card statements and utility bills. Definite no no's are Mobile Phone bills and Internet Print Outs for online banking.

                If you are called from the company to ask if you do have any credit at other addresses be honest with them. It can actually demonstrate further affluence if you own a property that you rent out and you have your buy to let mortgage registered there. As long as it all adds up and gives the underwriter a bigger picture of you and your history to allow a profile to be built then this is OK and the lender can then decide how much they can lend based upon this.

                Remember - all information with the exception of CIFAS and previous searches only lasts for 6 years from it's last update date anyway. This means that if you default on an account and declare yourself bankrupt say in 2007 by 2013 (as long as you never pay off the defaulted account) it will be wiped from your file. The bankruptcy only lasts for 1 year and will be wiped in 6 years anyway.

                Don’t be tempted by these adverts for Debt Consolodation or help agencies. They’re making huge profits off other peoples misery because of debt. If you follow a few simple rules and use the free advice available to you then you won’t ever need to use these kinds of loan sharks who charge the earth for their so called friendly and helpful service to give you peace of mind. Utter bollocks. They’re laughing at people who get themselves into debt, often through no fault of their own and making a huge prfit whilst doing it.

                Contact Information

                Citizens Advice Bureau - www.citizensadvice.org.uk - I’ve tried this and typed in Debt in the search box on the left of the screen. It brings up about 10 links and if you read through all you’ll receive some very good advice, can get links to template letters to print off to send to companies offering them a set amount per month.

                Experian – based in Nottingham and the main credit reference agency. Web address is www.experian.co.uk

                To obtain a copy of your credit file navigate to Online Credit Report where you can view your report online for a fee of £2 payable by credit/debit card (ironic!) or you can phone 0870 241 6212 where the fee is £2.50 and it takes about 7 days for a paper report to be sent to your home address.

                Equifax – based in Glasgow and is the secondary agency. Web address for ordering your report is www.equifax.co.uk and navigate to Equifax Credit Report. The cost for this is £14.95 for an online comprehensive report.

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                  28.05.2007 00:13
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                  What doesn't kill you will make you stronger!

                  I've just noticed this topic and thought I'd share with you my experience of redundancy.

                  Back in April of 2005 I decided it was time to move to another job if I could find one. For various reasons I ended up staying where I was and accepting promotion.

                  I worked for a large credit card company and had been there for nearly 8 years. I'd started off underwriting applications for credit and finished as a Trainer.

                  Shortly after I'd been promoted to being a trainer the company announced that they were to restructure. This had been done several times before so I had been expecting it.

                  We duly went along to the announcement and discovered that the 'support' areas of the business were to be restructured. What followed was a process of consultation and re-consultation, appeal and redundancy.

                  The announcement was made in the September and individual consultations commenced in the October. I went along to mine and discovered that the entire training department was effectively being axed. I was being offered one of three choices. There were two other positions on the table or the option to take the redundancy.

                  I deferred the decision and appealed against the selection criteria. You're probably wondering why if I wasn't happy. Well, they had given ratings for certain things and mine had been done incorrectly.

                  At the second consultation I was told that my scoring had been unfair but due to the nature of my job it made no difference to the fact that redundancy was still an option. My decision had been made as soon as the announcement had been made. I asked for the package.

                  Now this is where it becomes complicated. When you are made redundant you run through a whole gauntlet of emotions. I know I did.

                  Even though the redundancy had been my decision and I knew that it in no way reflected my performance in the position I was in, I was still left wondering why. Why me? What did I do wrong? How am I going to get another job? What do I do now? How will I manage if I don't get another job? And if you let it this is where the panic can start to set in and if you're not careful the depression.

                  For me I did a difficult job and stayed on with the company until just before Christmas. I had told people that I was taking the redundancy and they all appeared to be sympathetic - because of the job I did I had colleagues and my job dictated that I wasn't very well liked so you can imagine the gossip behind my back. This isn't something that normally bothers me and I do have very good friends there that I see on a regular basis but the rest were colleagues and would just as soon spit on you as talk to you such was the competitive nature of the business we were in.

                  I was determined not to let others see I had been upset and was bothered by this. I was determined to be strong throughout and positive. You can view redundancy as one of two things. Negatively - 'God I'm now on the scrap heap' or positively - 'What an opportunity to be able to relax for a few months and actually think about what I want to do'. For me - I chose the latter. I had garden leave for 3 months such was the nature of my work.

                  I had the luxury of doing whatever I wanted to do in those months whilst still getting paid and the prospect of the redundancy money. In my case the payout was good being in the tens of thousands and I know that some are not as fortunate.

                  When people at the bank asked me what I was going to do in a really fake concerned voice I replied 'I'm off to Barbados and when I come back I'll think about it'. It felt so good to see there faces fall before a big fake smile was pasted there again. Such a good feeling as if I was saying 'Up Yours' for all their nasty comments because I'd given them developmental feedback which had been honest and grounded.

                  What I actually did was register my CV on Monster jobs along with Total jobs. I registered for job alerts with the local newspaper job website and also with the local job centre. I wrote speculative CV's and letters and sent them to local banks and building societies. You see I had no idea what I wanted to do beyond knowing that I was a bit sick of training - I'd become a bit cynical and had lost my confidence a bit.

                  I went for interviews with Ofsted (which was one of the first ever interviews I have actually got up and walked out of as it was a waste of mine and the interviewers time as the hiring manager had no idea what they were after or what the job entailed), an EPOS firm, 3 banks and one interview the company I work for now. This is a complete change as I now work in the construction Industry as an IT Trainer.

                  I started my garden leave mid December 2005, by the end of December I had a new job and started the new job as soon as my garden leave came to an end and I was released from my contract.

                  When I went for my interviews I let my gut instinct tell me which was the right one for me. How right I was to do this as I have not looked back since. For me the experience of being made redundant was a positive thing - I viewed it as a positive thing and it gave me the kick up the arse to move out of a situation I wasn't happy in but the job was comfortable to me. It got me out of a rut, I went off to Barbados on holiday, got a new car, paid some of my mortgage and generally enjoyed myself without having to worry about money.

                  What I would recommend if faced with redundancy is

                  1. Look at the selection criteria - it's a must that it is transparent and communicated to you before the selection begins

                  2. 2 consultation meetings must be conducted. This is so that you have a chance to find out what is happening and appeal

                  3. Put any appeal in writing to the manager that you have had your consultation meeting with. There should be a week lag between the first and second consultation meetings

                  4. At the second consultation meeting the manager must provide evidence that your appeal has been heard and provide the conclusion of the said appeal

                  5. Once you have the package you will usually be asked to sign a compromise agreement - get yourself a solicitor and don't fall for being asked to sign it there and then.

                  6. Listen to the legal advice being given when you go to sign your compromise agreement. They give very sound advice and will tell you if there is anything amiss with the agreement itself or if anything is unreasonable.

                  7. Garden Leave - agree a term for garden leave and ensure that they time will be given off for attending other job interviews - legally they cannot stop you attending another interview

                  8. Only commence another job once your garden leave has finished - this is because you can be called back into work at any point on garden leave and it is considered a reasonable request to do so.

                  9. Register your CV with as many websites as possible prior to leaving. It's always easier to get another job when you have a job

                  10. When asked your reason for leaving at interview tell them it is due to redundancy. That's what I did and I was told after that it was the attitude I had when I answered the questions that really clinched the fact that I got the job

                  11. When writing a CV put down months and years when giving work history - can mask periods of unemployment that can be uncomfortable to answer.

                  12. When asked what your current salary is say between so and so and so and so. Take your base salary and multiply it by 1.5 to allow for bonuses, overtime, private healthcare etc. Put the bottom end figure down and then the top end figure i.e. between £25 - £30 k.

                  13. Above all take any kind of counselling or other support that your company may offer. They sometimes offer support in the form of attending a Consultancy to help you find another position. Mine was Right Coutts and I got my job by other means but I could see how they could be helpful if I'd needed them. I went into their offices a couple times a week whilst on garden leave because I was bored and needed something to motivate me to get me out of bed. All I really did was apply for other jobs in case the one I had didn't work out and surf the net.

                  Redundancy has many far reaching implications and can culminate with the person concerned being left feeling depressed or as if they are unemployable. This is never the case and sometimes it can be as simple as thinking out of the box and finding something different to do rather than trying to find the same job somewhere else.

                  There's worry, stress, anxiety, a general feeling of fear, fear of the unknown. Feeling upset is normal. After my second consultation meeting took place I got my stuff together and went home. Once there I took out my CV and gave it to as many neighbours as possible then went home and cried on my mums shoulder. That was the only time I cried and it's hard to say why I cried because I was so bloody glad to get rid of the job.

                  I'll conclude my ramblings by saying I think that you need to approach redundancy with positivity, think of the chance that is being handed to you, the opportunity you have to change something in your life. It can be so easy to be sucked into the depression route but you can't let it - be strong and be happy about the decision because it has been made for a reason and remember that it's not always a reflection of how well you do your job and is usually nothing personal.

                  Be optimistic and use the help offered - it's not nice but not as bad as you fear it will be!!

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                    22.05.2007 16:26
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                    I'll sum it up in one word - to quote the Krankies - Fandabbydosy!

                    The other evening my partner and I went over to some friends of ours for dinner. Rather than them cook us anything they had decided to take us out for dinner. This came as a surprise as I had thought that we were going to have Chinese food and I’d psyched myself up for Chicken Satays and stuff.

                    Off we went, us following in the car behind and pulled up at an Indian Restaurant called Simla which is situated in Dordon Tamworth, Staffordshire. With my love of Indian food I have tried a lot of Indian Restaurants with mixed results, so I was particularly keen to try another.

                    From the outside the restaurant is set high up from the car park and to me it resembled a Portacabin. When you get closer though this impression leaves you and you walk up the steps to the entrance. There is a veranda that runs the length of the front of the restaurant which is nicely gravelled with potted plants set at intervals.

                    Inside it is ultra modern being decorated in black and white. Linen is black and the table ware is white and very square. We were greeted and shown to a table by the window overlooking the veranda and car park. Although the restaurant is just off a main road which is very busy, you don’t get this impression when in the restaurant itself and it feels like a little haven of peace and quiet.

                    The lighting is subtle and not intrusive just dim enough to provide a nice ambience but light enough so that you can see what you’re eating. The chairs at the table are very comfortable being leather armchairs. I know this sounds odd and you’re probably thinking ‘How do you reach the table then?’ but the chairs are such that you are the perfect height for eating yet you can still touch the floor. Being under 5 foot this is a rarity for me as I usually end up with dangling feet or not being able to reach the table properly.

                    What also struck me is the way that the table is set out. Obviously ours was set for 4 people so was a larger table but when I checked out the smaller tables they were set up in the same way as ours. Just cutlery, starter plates and wine glasses meaning that the table was completely uncluttered. Tables are set far enough away so that you don’t feel crowded in and you can hold a decent conversation without being overheard at the next table. Certainly you couldn’t really hear others conversation; just a light hum of conversation. Music plays in the background but this is very muted so as not to interfere with conversation.

                    Anyway, onto the rest of the review. By now I was impressed especially as I had checked out the toilets and found them to be ultra clean. By the time I’d got back to the table wine had been ordered so I can’t comment on the wine list but my other half assures me this is extensive with something to suit everyones taste.

                    An Ice bucket was quickly fitted to the end of the table and our wine poured. The waiter also brought along with him water glasses and still water in a bottle so that we could pour our own.

                    We were then invited to order our meals. Skipping over the Pops as we weren’t really in the mood for these having scoffed a load before we came out whilst drinking our champagne and wine we went straight for starters.

                    Looking at the menu I was pleased to see that there was not a huge selection of them. Pakora’s, Bhaja, Samosa etc all feature in several variations of lamb, veg, chicken etc along with Kebabs.

                    Onto the main courses and there are a couple of pages of these and are separated into Traditional dishes, Tandoori dishes etc. Again you could have any variation of these that you required and there were about 10 mains under each section. Sundries are clearly marked in their own section of the menu and include plain, saffron, pilau and basmati rice, aloo saag, Bombay potatoes and even chips. There is also an English selection of dishes such as Cajun Chicken and Steak so the restaurant includes something for everyone.

                    I chose Veggie Pakora’s and Chicken Tikka Tandoori with Egg Fried Rice. Other dishes ordered were Chicken Pakora’s, Chicken Tikka Masala, Sheesh Kebab, Aloo Saag and various rices.

                    Our Starters arrived about 20 minutes after ordering by which time we were on another bottle of wine. I love it when my partner drives as he doesn’t drink so I get to take full advantage of the wine on offer. The presentation of the meal was exceptional. There were 3 pakora’s on the oblong shaped plate with a small amount of side salad, raita dip and a very small amount of oil drizzled around the edge of the plate. Very simple, yet very effective presentation and made the meal all the more appetising. Looking at everyone else’s plates confirmed that theirs was just as appetising as mine.

                    Tucking in – oh yum. The Pakora’s were just as they should have been with a slightly crumbly texture and lots of lightly spiced flavoursome vegetables with a crunchy outer coating. The Raita was cooling yet spicy, adding another nice touch. Moments later I had cleared my plate, totally ignoring others I had not paused for air and must have looked like I needed a shovel!

                    I needn’t have worried though as the others had all done the same. We all looked at each other a bit sheepishly but poured more wine and had a bit of a laugh about it. 5 minutes later our mains arrived.

                    The chicken was set off to one side, again raita and salad were provided with the dish and the rice was in a circular upside down bowl shape on a side plate. The Kebabs looked exceptional with 3 of them being attractively arranged on the plate. I couldn’t wait to attack my food so digging in I cut through the first chunk of chicken. The knife glided straight through and I always check the colour (been served too many undercooked chicken curries in my time not to) and was pleased to see it was completely white.

                    The taste and texture of the chicken was amazing – never really had chicken tikka like it, not even my own! The chicken had obviously been marinated in the spice, tenderised and then slow cooked. It was lean and tender and had a slight melt on your tongue quality to it. Upon biting in your senses were infused with the spice that had cooked into the meat – not hot spice but tasty, mouthwatering flavour. The rice was light and fluffy with enough egg chunks to satisfy my craving for Chinese that I’d had before hand.

                    We lingered a while after dinner and were not rushed into having dessert or coffee, although we were offered the dessert menu we declined – I was having to open the top button on my jeans as it was and they have Lycra in them!

                    We finished the wine and our hosts got the bill. Now this is the really great part – there were 4 of us, we had starters, 3 bottles of wine, 3 bottles of water, lemonade, main courses, sundries and a side order and the bill was £95.

                    Starters are in the region of £3 - £4 each and mains in the region of £6 - £10 depending upon what you have. Rice is not overpriced either being about £1.50 - £3 for the most expensive. You could quite easily go out for a meal for 2 people on about £20 at this restaurant and this is not because they have skimped on quality because the food is exceptional.

                    The service is discreet, we were only bothered by the waiter for

                    A. Wine and food order
                    B. To pour wine
                    C. To serve food
                    D. Once to ask if everything was OK
                    E. Clear plates
                    F. Pay bill

                    Yet we knew that if we needed anything we only had to look up and catch their eye from where they were standing, ready to attend to anything you required and it would be done. Upon leaving we were thanked for our custom, doors held open and just that little bit extra which ensures that you’ll remember them and go back.

                    On the whole, my experience of this restaurant was extremely positive. Excellent food and service with the right ambience make for a perfect evening out. I’ll definitely be going back here once my stomach has recovered from the gastro feast it has just received!

                    Information for you

                    Website – www.cafesimla.com

                    From their website I gleaned that they have another restaurant in Market Bosworth called Simla Peppers. They also provide a take away service and have just started to provide a delivery service. They also cater for larger functions such as weddings and corporate events.

                    Contact Information

                    Simla – 5a Watling Street, Dordon Tamworth, Staffs, B78 1SY
                    Tel – 01827 331111

                    Simla Peppers – Rear of 9/11 Main Street, Market Bosworth, Leics, CV9 0JN
                    Tel – 01455 293311

                    Opening times are 5.30 – 11.30 7 days a week.

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                      27.04.2007 18:53
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                      If you're looking for inexpensive meals then this is your place.

                      I recently went a business trip over to the Isle of Wight and stayed at the Premier Travel Inn (nice I know but it was local to the site I was training at) and as the Inn doesn't have it's own restaurant it refers it's business to the Brewers Fayre across the car park.

                      I stayed on the Medina Quay in Newport. Easily accessible from the Ferry port and about 10 minutes walk from the centre of Newport.

                      The Brewers Fayre I am going to rate is called Medina Quay and is located on the Fairlea Road in Newport.

                      It sits right beside the Medina River and I imagine in summer it's a lovely location. The outside is clean and welcoming.

                      Walking inside the restaurant is furnished in light wood, with light wooden panelling and nice, plush chairs and benches for you to sit whilst eating your meal.

                      My partner was lucky enough to get the week off work and come with me so I wasn't travelling alone for my trip. It was a welcome change as I usually travel on my own but he knew I would be nervous as I'd never been on a ferry before.

                      Anyway, we'd prebooked breakfast with the Travel Inn and this is served at the Brewers Fayre.

                      On the first evening we arrived about 8.15 pm and after checking in I asked about the restaurant and could we still get food after we'd unpacked. I was pleased to hear that food is served in the Brewers Fayre until 10pm. Excellent - we went and unpacked and ambled over.

                      You get shown to your table by a waiter or waitress and then told about ordering food from the bar making sure you make a note of your table number.

                      The prices were very reasonable for meals - so we made our choices and my other half went off to order and get drinks. This was a very simple process and the ordering was done without fuss.

                      When our food arrived, which we only waited about 15 minutes for, it looked delicious. He'd chosen Barbecue Chicken which came with chips and the chicken was topped with bacon, cheese and smokey barbecue sauce. He was in heaven.

                      I had chosen a rather more traditional half roast chicken dish with potatoes and gravy. This was delicious although I do wish that they'd use chicken without bones as I always feel that it looks unsightly eating chicken off the bone and it makes me feel self concious - especially as it can get messy!

                      Our dirty dishes were collected without fuss and we were asked if we wanted any desserts and they'd get them for us. We declined this and went back to our room.

                      Breakfast

                      Wow - is all I can say. The juices and hot drinks were laid out for you so you could help yourself. You do have to wait to be seated and you're asked if you have pre-booked your breakfast and then you're shown to your table. Here orders for hot breakfast are taken. I was especially pleased to see that veggie sausages were an option and that I could also have bacon with them. (I am not a veggie but I prefer veggie suasage to the real thing because I have been in factory where they are made and it put me off for life!)

                      You are then told to help yourself to a buffet selection of cold breakfast. You can have cereal and there is plenty of choice, along with plain Granola where you can add your own dried fruit, selection of Yoghurts, toast etc. It really is a feast.

                      Just as we'd finished our cold selection our cooked breakfast arrived. They'd forgotten the sausage for me and my partner hadn't any bacon so they had to fetch that for us.

                      The food was high quality and well cooked - I cannot stand bacon that looks as though it has been frightened with being cooked!

                      We ate dinner again there on the last night we were there and this time I had Curry and my partner had Gammon. Both were superb.

                      Overall, I couldn't fault the food in the Brewers fayre and along with the fact that it wasn't expensive then I would definitely recommend as a quick place to eat.

                      The only thing that did put me off was the following and you may think that these are minor points but for me they let the place down somewhat....

                      1. Every day I had to request missing items from my cooked breakfast.

                      2. The Brewers Fayre staff were always over in the Travel Inn gossipping with other staff members and bitching about their work and the customers.

                      3. The cooked breakfast came quicker each day and by the third day we'd not even sat down at our table before our order was taken. Then we'd just returned with our cold selections to find our hot breakfast dumped on the table.

                      4. Some of the staff looked really miserable - OK you may be miserable and hate your job but is it really fair or professional to look like it. You are in a public service job and I'd much prefer to be served by someone with a lovely smiling face rather than someone who looks like they've gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson and then chewed a wasp.

                      5. When I asked on the third day for the tomatoes I'd ordered and my bacon to complete the cooked breakfast I was greeted with a 'God it's a nightmare in the kitchen!' and then the waitress flounced off. She nearly threw my missing items at me in her haste.

                      6. Drinks prices. I know these are set by the chain but surely it doesn't cost £3 + for a pint of Stella these days - or am I out of touch???

                      Anyway - overall my experience was a good one apart from those listed above. The food is good - but this is probably because so much of it is pre-cooked and not actually cooked on the premises.

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                        27.04.2007 10:15
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                        I wouldn't bother if I were you

                        I bought this product when I attended an Aloe Vera party conducted by a Forever Living rep at a neighbours house last year.

                        When I attended the party I hadn't a clue who Forever Living were but I was soon put straight. For those who have read my review on the deodorant you will already know about the Forever Living brand & the healing properties of Aloe but for those who haven't then here goes....

                        Forever Living

                        FLP (Forever Living Products) are based in Arizona and they claim to be the largest grower of Aloe Vera along with being the largest producer and distributer of Aloe Vera products.

                        Rex Maughan is the founder of the company, which was apparently founded in 1978. He extols the virtues of Aloe Vera and the company produces a wide range of gel drinks, cosmetics, face creams, shampoos, toothpastes and household goods.

                        As far as I understand the products are marketed through television mail order, internet and through the parties.

                        They also offer a 60 day money back guarantee on your purchase.

                        Aloe Vera

                        Aloe Vera has been used in skin creams for years and for thousands of years we have used it in it's purest form to help skin problems but I have found out that it has other properties too.

                        Drinking Aloe gel can help digestion and it is claimed it also contains anti-inflammatory properties. Certainly the rep at the party was keen to go on about it's healing powers.

                        The Product

                        We were passed testers of various products to try before we bought. One of the testers was a small amount of the tooth gel. I tried a bit on my finger and then rubbed on my front teeth - it certainly convinced me to buy a tube.

                        Packaging

                        The toothpaste tube is in a long oblong shaped box with the Forever Living logo on the side and the name of the product beneath. You get 130g of tooth gel in the tube.

                        Taking off the screw cap there is a foil seal over the neck of the tube to prevent tampering with the product.

                        Claims

                        The rep claimed that the Forever Bright Toothgel would make my smile pearly white again. At the time I was a smoker so this appealed.

                        The Gel claims that it is non abrasive, contains stabilised Aloe Vera and will strengthen and nourish your teeth and gums. It has a minty taste which will leave your mouth feeling fresh all day long.

                        God I was sold on this frantically scribbling on my order form. Did it live up to these claims?......

                        The Gel

                        To say that the claim is that this is non abrasive I was surprised that it looked quite grainy when I squeezed some out onto my toothbrush.

                        When I'd tried it at the party it didn't have this consistency at all. It is a thick gel consitency and smells very minty.

                        I always make sure I wet toouthpaste when it's on the brush before I start brushing so I did the same with this and began to brush my front teeth. As I went on brushing my back teeth and along my tongue the minty taste began to burn. Also the taste was quite overpowering and I had to wash my mouth out quick.

                        What did I think?

                        I perservered, using this twice a day for 2 weeks but it didn't get any better. I was loathe to waste my money so I carried on a couple more weeks and the burning sensation did lessen each time I used it.

                        As for the claim that it brightens teeth - well I noticed no change in that area as my teeth were still the same colour (they're not stained just an offwhite colour) so maybe they weren't bad enough for me to notice any difference.

                        The minty freshness did last until about lunchtime though so at least this claim was halfway there.

                        Recommendation

                        I did finish the tube but I won't be rushing to buy any more of this product and it didn't last any longer than my normal colgate toothpaste so I was a bit disappointed with it.

                        I can also think of much better things to spend a fiver on these days so for the amount of toothgel that you actually get I felt that this price was a bit hefty.

                        I didn't think at the time but writing this review reminds me that they have a 60 day money back satisfaction guarantee and wish I had used this but I forgot!

                        Price and availability

                        I paid £5 for the gel and you get 130g of product.

                        It is available to buy through

                        www.foreverliving.com
                        www.aloeveraproductsonline.co.uk
                        Or find out who's having a party - there isn't actually any information on this on their website so not sure how this is organised.

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                          25.04.2007 19:06
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                          Definitely worth giving a whirl

                          I have had this product on my bathroom shelf for the last 8 months but have only been using it since December last year.

                          I was sceptical when the woman down the road invited me to an 'Aloe Vera' party but thought I'd go along as it might be a bit of a laugh and a good get together with the neighbours.

                          Once there I was introduced to the world of Forever Living. Who are they? Well I had the same question as I hadn't a scooby of who or what they were.

                          At the party you are taken through who the company are and the benefits of Aloe Vera. I'll go through who the company actually are before moving onto the product and Aloe Vera.

                          Forever Living

                          FLP (Forever Living Products) are based in Arizona and they claim to be the largest grower of Aloe Vera along with being the largest producer and distributer of Aloe Vera products.

                          Rex Maughan is the founder of the company, which was apparently founded in 1978. He extols the virtues of Aloe Vera and the company produces a wide range of gel drinks, cosmetics, face creams, shampoos, toothpastes and household goods.

                          As far as I understand the products are marketed through television mail order, internet and through the parties.

                          Aloe Vera

                          Aloe Vera has been used in skin creams for years and for thousands of years we have used it in it's purest form to help skin problems but I have found out that it has other properties too.

                          Drinking Aloe gel can help digestion and it is claimed it also contains anti-inflammatory properties. Certainly the rep at the party was keen to go on about it's healing powers.

                          Well this certainly convinced me and after a few testers of different products I was soon writing on my order form and getting out my by now exhausted credit and switch cards.

                          The Product

                          I bought several products at the party and will review each in other reviews. One of the products I bought was the Ever Shield Deodorant Stick.

                          I have problems when buying a deodorant as I do sweat and I also have sensitive skin. Sure is a no no with me so I really only ever get on with Dove or Nivea but using these twice a day I end up buying them a couple of times a month.

                          Packaging

                          There is no box. When I received my parcel it was all sealed in a pretty bag with the Forever Living logo on the side. Delving in I came up with the Deodorant.

                          The tube (if you can call it that) is kind of a flat oval shape about 10 inches high. There is the hygiene seal around the top of the product to show it hasn't been tampered with.

                          The Forever Living logo is in gold with the name of the product underneath.

                          It has a twister at the bottom so that as you twist the deodorant stick will appear above the lip at the top ready for use.

                          The deodorant has no smell and it's not an antiperspirant. I twisted the stick up and smoothed a little on my hand. It had a nice texture and glided easily. I couldn't wait to try it out but as I am a stickler for finishing one product before trying another then I had to wait.

                          Claims

                          This product will not stain clothing. It contains no aluminum salts (I'd read somewhere that these could cause cancer!) and can be used after shaving and waxing.

                          It's natural and fresh scented and will keep you fresh all day long.

                          Hmmmm - not convinced about this let's find out how it fared with me.

                          Usage

                          After finishing my normal Dove deodorant I decided I'd move onto the Ever Shield. I'd been in the shower and had shaved under my arms. As I have sensitive skin this is always an ordeal for me as the hairs sometimes have a tendency to grow inwards too so my armpits can feel like they're on fire!

                          I smoothed on the deodorant and was immediately struck by the cooling almost soothing sensation. Almost like I was rubbing on a moisturiser. It was completely dry too so I didn't have to wait to put my clothes on.

                          The first few days I found that I sweated a little more than I would normally but as this isn't an antiperspirant that is normal as it doesn't block sweat. What I did notice was the absence of smell. Sometimes at the end of the day you can smell your deodorant (or at least I can - maybe I'm abnormal?!?!) but with this I couldn't smell anything - not even a whiff of BO.

                          I continued to use it - shaving under my arms every other day - and noticed that I was starting to sweat less. This is because my body had started to get used to the way this product works.

                          At the end of the first week I noticed that the dry patches under my arms had disappeared and they were nicely smooth. The red blobs where I had shaved (which normally appear) were also absent and I didn't experience any stinging after shaving.

                          Now nearly 6 months on and I have used this product every day - not even halfway down it yet. My underarms have never looked or felt so good.

                          A big plus with me - I wear a lot of dark colours and with other deodorants I used to end up with white lines where I'd pulled on a Jumper or something but with this product I don't get that anymore. It really doesn't stain your clothes.

                          Recommendation

                          God yes. I only need to use once a day, no stinging, keeps me fresh and my underarms are smooth and look great.

                          Price & Availability

                          I paid £5.25 for 3.5 fl oz of product, which considering the length of usage I am experiencing is extremely excellent value for money.

                          It is available to buy through

                          www.foreverliving.com
                          www.aloeveraproductsonline.co.uk
                          Or find out who's having a party - I couldn't actually find any details on this at all on the website so not sure how this is organised.

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                            22.04.2007 20:40
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                            Really good value for money product that does what it claims - another No 7 triumph

                            I am fast becoming a fan of the No 7 brand at Boots. I tried their products years ago and they didn’t suit me at all but I was persuaded to buy their products again recently when Boots had offers on their cosmetics and were giving away vouchers for No 7.

                            About 4 months ago my M&S concealer ran out. Being of a certain age I need something that will have the light reflective quality to deflect light away from those wrinkles and make me look young again. My other half says that I barely have any but I know they’re there, lurking and popping up when I least expect it too – a bit like the grey hairs that are appearing almost daily and are the thickest and wiriest hairs known to man and they are pure silver. But I am digressing yet again.

                            I used to use Touch Eclat but at £20+ it is now a bit beyond my pocket so the Body Shop was a close alternative but this was discontinued. I was very happy with my M&S but again they had discontinued theirs too!

                            I thought I’d check out the No 7 range after my success with the Foundation and the Moisturisers so off there I went. I also had a voucher for £5 off. I looked at the 2 concealers in their range.

                            Using the testers that had helpfully been jammed back in their slots obviously by teenagers who have nothing better to do I decided which shade to have and went off to pay.

                            Packaging

                            The concealer comes in a black box – long rectangular shaped. The shade is at the end of the box with the No 7 logo on the side in gold lettering. The product name is beneath this – again on the side of the box so the writing reads downwards towards the shade on the end.

                            Opening the box the concealer inside is in a long tube. The writing on the tube is exactly as it appears on the box.

                            You get 2.5 ml of product.

                            The Claim

                            This is short but sweet – ‘Light-reflecting lotion to chase away under-eye shadows’.

                            Well I had been after one that was light reflective. So let’s see.

                            The concealer

                            When you take the tube out of the packaging you notice that there is a button on one end and a lid on the other.

                            Concealers that I used in the past used to come in the form of a crayon, stick or with a wand that had a foam tip. This one is different. You take off the lid and there is a white brush. You need to hold the tube brush down towards the floor and pump the button on the other end.

                            By pumping about 10 times you’ll start the product coming through and out onto the brush. Apparently the brush is meant to better to apply the product with as you are able to brush into smaller areas that you couldn’t reach before.
                            Anyway – I pumped until the product began to tint the brush.

                            Application

                            There are no instructions on how to use this product. I think this must be taken for granted that if you are buying this product then you are able to know how to use it.

                            I usually use a concealer to hide the dark shadows that have appeared beneath my eyes in recent years when I don’t get enough sleep or when I’ve got a spot appearing that I want to conceal from others.

                            I pump a couple of times and then draw the brush beneath my eye to leave a line of the product beneath it. I repeat for the other eye. I then normally dab the product until it disappears and the shadows with it.

                            Result

                            This concealer really does cover the shadows and reflect the light away from those crows feet. I can go from looking really hung over after 10 pints the night before to looking like I’m as fresh as a daisy in a couple of seconds with this product.

                            Value for money

                            This concealer retails at £11.50 but as I had a £5 off voucher I picked it up for £6.50 for 2.5ml of product. A little goes a long way though and I can see me having this concealer for some time to come.

                            Recommendation

                            I would definitely buy this again. It does exactly what a good quality concealer should do, isn’t too sticky or runny and the colour shade is good so that it blends perfectly with my skin tone and the foundation that I wear.

                            Availability

                            www.boots.com
                            All larger boots stores that stock No 7

                            It’s available in 2 shades Shade 1 is a brown type of shade that I imagine would be good for darker skin and Shade 2 which is pinkier than shade 1.

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                              15.04.2007 22:26
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                              Having realised how much this is I now know how much of a bargain I actually got!!!

                              On a recent trip to Boots to fill a prescription I was attracted to the little basket of reduced make up at the side of the till whilst waiting for the prescription.

                              I am attracted by any kind of reduced bin – regardless of whether or not I actually need the product. I will rummage through in case there is a bargain lurking in there. I have actually been found in Debenhams sales buckets, dangling feet first trying to reach the bottom (well I am only 4ft 11) looking for bargains. But that’s probably yet another review. Back to this one…

                              Anyway, I’d run out of my favourite Clinique foundation a few weeks before and I’d gotten an Estee Lauder replacement that cost an arm and a leg so I didn’t particularly want to use it every day so I was looking for a foundation that was a bit easier on the pocket so to speak.

                              Rummaging through the bargain basket I came out triumphantly with a bottle of foundation. No 7 Radiant Glow foundation to be precise. I was even more ecstatic when I discovered that it was my shade.

                              Packaging

                              This product doesn’t come in a box, or at least the one I bought didn’t. Maybe it does if you buy it at full price. There is a cellophane hygiene wrapper around the lid and the upper part of the bottle to ensure that there has been no tampering.

                              The bottle is clear glass so you can see the actual shade of the foundation that you are buying. The bottle is topped with the signature No 7 black top. In Grey lettering on the front of the bottle is the name of the product and on the back is the shade number and name along with it’s claim.

                              The bottle contains 30ml of the product.

                              The Claim

                              Well No 7 claim that this foundation will help you ‘look beautifully radiant in any light’ and that the ‘light reflecting particles add a healthy luminous glow to keep skin looking naturally flawless all day long’.

                              It then has the directions for use underneath this bit.

                              I hadn’t read this before I got home but when I did I immediately thought ‘Blimey best not wear this with my Skinlights or else I’ll glow like a beleisha beacon!’

                              So did it live up to it’s claims – let’s find out…

                              The foundation

                              I have very fair skin and don’t like to look too made up so I always opt for a nude shade and this is the one I chose from No 7. It is shade 15.

                              No 7 state on the bottle that this foundation has SPF 15 and is hypo allergenic.

                              I took off the cellophane and removed the black cap which just pulls upwards. Underneath the cap you have essentially a white pump mounted on a gold screw mechanism. After pumping a few times I managed to achieve a 5p blob of lotion which was more like streaky water.

                              ‘Nice’ was my first thought. ‘No wonder it was bloody cheap’ was another thought as I stared at the streaky blob on my hand.

                              Then I read the destructions on the back of the bottle and realised I hadn’t shaken the bottle before I pumped any out. After shaking the bottle I went back to pumping. Ah yes – that’s how it’s meant to be. A nice, even shaded 5p blob of lotion.

                              It doesn’t smell, which I found rather odd as all other foundations I’ve had have had a slight or strong smell but this was noticeably absent from this foundation. The lotion is of a smooth consistency and not thick but not thin either so it keeps it’s shape when pumped out.

                              Application

                              I pumped out the 5p sized blob and then read the rest of the instructions. It says ‘Shake before use. Blend on smoothly and evenly with your fingertips or a sponge.’

                              I actually dip my finger into the blob and splodge a bit on my forehead, chin, nose and each cheek before dampening a latex sponge (from Boots) and blending in the foundation.

                              Make sure that you blend right under the chin and over the neck down towards the chest and again out into the hair line so that you prevent that hard make up line.

                              I had a maths teacher at school who wore loads of make up and she always had a ‘tide mark’ on her neck where her foundation shade was wrong and she hadn’t blended properly. But back to my review..

                              Result

                              The lotion is of a nice consistency so you can easily splodge it where you want it and then blend away with a sponge. I feel it would look too heavy if you used your fingertips but maybe that’s just me as I like the less is more look, when it comes to makeup.

                              I blended the foundation in really easily with the sponge as the consistency means that a little goes a long way and it really tones with your natural skin colour.

                              After I’d finished my skin looked great. A more even skin colour (I have a typical English rose complexion) so I was pleased that my natural rosiness had been toned down. My skin kind of glowed and I didn’t need to use my Skin lights as usual. I just applied a little more foundation with the sponge under my eyes to relieve the dark circles and I didn’t even need my concealer after that as the foundation did the same thing!

                              This product really does deliver exactly what it claims. I dusted over my translucent powder and stood back to survey the results. I looked so much better. My skin looked as good, if not better than when I’d used the Skin Lights for the first time. I literally glowed. There was a dewiness to my skin that hadn’t been there before. My skin felt soft to the touch and I didn’t look like I’d layered it on with a trowel. Really pleased with the results I set about applying the rest of my make up.

                              Value for money

                              For me this has been excellent value for money as I managed to get it for £1 in the bargain basket. I only need to use a couple of pumps of the product (about 10p size) for it to cover my whole face and also do the same job as a concealer and my Revlon Skin Lights in one product.

                              Recommendation

                              Yes. Yes, Yes – even at full price you cannot fail to go wrong with this product. Yet another triumph for No 7 branding that previously to trying this and their moisturiser I wouldn’t have touched with a barge pole. What a turnaround.

                              Availability

                              Boots stores
                              www.boots.co.uk

                              This product is priced at £12.50 for 30ml bottle.

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                                13.04.2007 11:48
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                                Express yourself and get paid to do it!

                                What is Opinion writing all about? A good question and a topic that requires some thought. It's interesting to read other peoples opinions on what this all about too as each of us will have a different one and different reasons for sharing this with us.

                                For me writing about things I have tried, places I have been and just really taking part in the fun of writing and expressing myself helps me to vent frustrations and express pleasure at a positive experience. It’s good to share information too.

                                Really an opinion is defined as a personal belief or judgement that is not founded on proof or certainty. Thus it means that you will be expressing your perception of a particular place or product. Sometimes you are able to quantify your opinions with facts as in tried and tested products but sometimes when we have experienced things then this affects our overall perception of the company or person or place.

                                Different people will have different opinions and I think that this is the most important thing to remember when writing and reading others opinions. I could write an opinion on something (and indeed have done) where I have had a really positive experience and highly recommended it whereas someone else has either heard or had a bad experience so their perception is different to mine. It has also worked out differently the other way for example – my house. The builders were awful and I still haven’t had repairs repaired properly however, others have had really positive experiences with the same builder!

                                One thing to remember about opinions is that they are exactly that and no one is wrong because they are your opinion. I’ve seen some sites where people have been slated for an opinion that they have written – is it wrong to have an opinion? No it’s not but there is a way in which you should go about expressing your opinion.

                                In our house my Dad is very opinionated and he is always right in his eyes. Nothing wrong with this but he won’t listen to others opinions and is completely closed off to anything else. If we listen and take into consideration others opinions we just may end up being better people and making different choices in life.

                                Opinion writing is also about making sure that you keep the reader interested. There’s nothing worse than reading a really long opinion on something if the actual writer cannot keep your interest. I have read some where I have been interested in the topic but because of the writing I have been unable to continue with it and skipped bits. Maybe I take it too seriously though!

                                In my opinion a good review should clearly outline what you are talking about, give useful information such as cost, results, things to do, where the product can be bought etc along with your experience of the place or product. Keeping it concise, free from grammar and spelling mistakes and spacing things properly will save your reader from having to scroll through reams of information to find key facts. Also if the review is too long then you may lose the reader along with making sure that the review follows in a logical order.

                                I suppose you could liken a good opinion review to a presentation with a beginning, middle and ending. A bit like reading the news really. Now I’m getting on my soapbox and at risk of turning this into a written training session about opinion writing!!!!

                                One good thing about opinion writing is that you can share information on your experiences with a company or using a product that can help them to make a more informed choice about whether or not to use the company or the product. I have found that using others opinions of companies for energy companies I have been influenced over which company to use but only after reading several opinions and experiences so that I can make a balanced choice and not just plump for the cheapest. I’ve often gone for the cheapest supplier and found out later to my cost that they were not the best company to be dealing with. If I had known beforehand of the existence of Dooyoo and other review sites then I could have read before I bought and this would have influenced me to go for maybe a better company that does charge a little more but is actually there in case of a problem.

                                I think sites where you can express your opinions in a constructive way are an excellent way of sharing experiences as so many people now research things on the internet as opposed to other more traditional methods. I certainly use these sites a lot more now and I am constantly on the internet.

                                The fact that you also get paid for doing it (albeit not much) is fantastic as it does allow you to get little extras that I might not be able to afford otherwise and it also gives me new things to express further opinions about.

                                The things that I generally tend to write about are hotels as I travel a lot and will be in the Isle of Wight next week so there's another review coming up. I have loads of makeup and other skin care stuff so have a fair few of those up my sleeve, I have bad experiences with power companies and generally disaster seems to follow my every move - honestly everything I put my sticky fingers on seems to go tits up. I've had a bash at some recipe reviews and a DVD review but I am fairly new to this sort of thing.

                                I do find it good to get feedback from other more longstanding members and taking this on board I have been able to produce some more quality reviews. I've not made a huge amount of money by sharing my opinions with the community but for me that's not what it's about. It's a chance to share my thoughts with others.

                                Thanks for reading!

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                                  12.04.2007 00:40
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                                  Brilliant product that I use when going out after a long day training to brighten up my skin

                                  As mentioned in some previous reviews my partner is always saying that I am an advertising mans dream with my attraction for special offers and bargains. I am a complete sucker for additional advantage points and free gifts in boots along with 3 for 2 offers or BOGOFs however, I think I excelled myself this time with the product this review is about.

                                  I used to work in Nottingham and in the days before I was a trainer and required my car to travel to and from work I would bus it into the city centre so on the walk down to the train station I would pass Boots and vice versa on the way home.

                                  Working in Nottingham and travelling on the bus was a nightmare for me as I spent a fortune! But that’s not what this review is about – I’d be tempted into Boots on my way home and take a look at the latest special offers and products they were offering.

                                  This is how I happened upon Revlon Skinlights. I had no idea what it was so I stopped to have a look as the promotion was additional advantage points and an introductory price. Basically Revlon Skinlights is a Face Illuminator. I, by now had convinced myself that I had a sallow and sad looking complexion and quickly snapped up a tube after trying one of the testers on my hand.

                                  There are a few shades to choose from and I have very fair skin so I chose the Natural Light or shade number 1.

                                  Packaging

                                  There is no box with the Revlon Skinlights. You get a cellophane sealed pink tube which contains 40 ml of the product. The writing on the tube is gold and proclaims the product in larger letters beneath the Revlon branding.

                                  On the back of the tube is a blurb in English and 4 other languages which tells you a little about the product and how to use it.

                                  The lid is a pinkish clear plastic which has the bar code label stuck to it along with a pull off piece to display the ingredients. I will not display the ingredients as I understand none of them with one of them being Saccharomyces Iron Ferment and another being Phenoxythanol but is does contains perfume and Ginseng.

                                  The Claim

                                  The bit on the back of the tube claims that this product will instantly illuminate your face and give it lasting luminosity. Well it convinced me.

                                  The lotion

                                  This product can be used either with or without foundation. It contains SPF 15 and IP 15. You need to shake the tube vigorously before using.

                                  I peeled off the cellophane when I got home and took the lid off. Shaking the tube I then pressed the pump and nothing happened. You need to press the pump several times very firmly to start the product coming up the tube inside. Once it does and it comes out you have a very small amount of the lotion on your fingertip.

                                  It is pink in colour (that was just my shade I can’t comment on the colour of the other shades as I didn’t try them) and when rubbed in loses the pinkness.

                                  Into the bathroom I went and rubbed all over my face. My god – I looked like I’d been covered in fairy dust my face looked so bright and was a kind of iridescent shade of pink. It looked terrible. Washing it off I sat down to ponder where I had gone wrong.

                                  Trying again I pumped another small amount of the product into my hand but the time instead of spreading all over my face like some demented idiot I placed strategic splotches – similar as to what you would do if you were applying a foundation and the got a damp make up sponge and blended away.

                                  The result was completely different. My face had it’s natural colour however, you could see the difference the product had made. My skin looked fresher, more illuminated and had an almost luminous quality to it. I looked younger and more awake, not as if I’d just spent 8 hours sat in front of a computer approving peoples credit card applications.

                                  Result

                                  I now use this as a shader when I wear foundation to compliment my concealer. I smooth a little of the product beneath my eyes and underneath my eyebrows. This gives the illusion of me having larger eyes and more defined eyebrows. As it contains light reflective particles I also smooth a little around my eyes to reflect light away from those little crows feet that have started to appear since I turned 29+3.

                                  The result that I see is that my skin looks so much fresher and younger when I have used this product than it would have done normally. It is perfect for if my skin is looking tired and I’ve been burning the candle at both ends.

                                  Value for money

                                  I paid £6.99 for my tube and it contains 40ml of the product however, I’ve had the tube for what seems like forever. It now retails for around £12 in Boots but I’ve seen it cheaper in the Revlon cut price shops such as McArthur Glen for around £8.

                                  As you need to use so little of the product to achieve fantastic results then I believe that this has worked out to be one of the most value for money products that I have brought. I think I actually purchased it back in 2001 so it probably needs updating now but there is still plenty of the product left in the tube.

                                  One thing that I have done every now and again is to unscrew the cap and remove it and the attached pump tube inside. When rinsed under warm running water it clears out any build up of the product in the tubing thus ensuring that each time you pump you get purely new product instead of stale left overs from last time you used it along with ensuring that the tubing doesn’t get blocked.

                                  Recommendation

                                  I think you’ve guessed by now that I am going to recommend this product – if not for the results then for the sheer value for money.

                                  Availability

                                  Boots
                                  Superdrug
                                  Major Chemists
                                  Revlon cut price shops
                                  www.revlon.com

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