- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
My last Hotpoint Fridge Freezer had only a half-freezer and did 15 years of loyal service before having a hissy fit between Christmas and New Year. This time I decided to get a full-sized fridge-freezer, but I had a preference to stick with Hotpoint as the last one had been so reliable.
Armed with some online research I popped into a local Curry’s and bought this one for £225. Delivery was free, as was collection of my old appliance.
The appliance is available in white or black and the doors are reversible.
The fridge is the top half of the appliance and has three glass shelves, two of which are adjustable. In the door is a bottle rack and two other adjustable racks, as well as an egg holder. I can't quite get the combination quite perfect for shelf/rack height however. The fridge has two drawers under the bottom shelf which are clear for ease of visibility and a half width each. They cannot be adjusted. This is fine but some veg, such as leeks can’t fit in as they are too long. The fridge door closes automatically which is a good function, unless you push it right back.
The freezer has three and a half drawers. The top drawer is a fast freeze drawer.
The bottom drawer is a half drawer in that it only goes back half the depth of other drawers (but is full width). I use this for bread and milk and because it is the bottom drawer and the most awkward it doesn't worry me It can be fiddly to get back in when you've pulled it out though. The middle two drawers have a blue plastic ice cube ‘tray’ fitted in to the top of the front of the drawer. I tried to use them once but found it all a bit of a faff.
I find the space more than adequate for my needs.
The fridge was quite noisy for the first few days whilst it ‘settled’, but after that it was as quiet as a mouse.
I think this would be a good fridge-freezer for a single person or a couple or perhaps a small family who shopped often but a larger family would probably need a bit more room and functionality to meet everyone’s needs.
For the price I paid, I was very happy with a good spec fridge-freezer from an established brand which I have had for a few months now. As with any white goods purchase it is always worth shopping around for promotions and sales.
The Pritt stick glue is another office staple in my workplace. I also use one at home when I am undertaking any craft projects (less so these days). It is reliable and easily available.
My current office stick is 43g which is the largest size they do at 11.5cm high. Expect to pay anything from £1.50 for one this size. My home one is smaller as I use it less frequently and cost me about £1 in a stationery shop. I've seen them in supermarkets too, so I am sure you will find one for a good price.
I basically use it for sticking paper to other bits of paper both in work and at home. I believe it is suitable for other materials, but I don't find it works very well with fabrics (although perhaps lighter weight fabrics than the ones I use may work better). I understand that it is suitable for photos, but prefer to use a specialist acid-free double sided tape when using photos in crafts.
The cap sits on tightly and even though it inevitably gets sticky, I don't have a problem removing it. I twist up the base, until just enough of the sticky stick reveals itself for my uses. As my one is quite chunky I like to have a scrap of paper underneath as it is difficult to swiftly swipe the stick properly over the back of smaller pictures without getting the glue on something else. A smaller stick would be narrower and easier for small things. Of course, little people would not be very accurate with their application so keeping the surface covered is always a good idea if working with children. My stick advises it is not suitable for those under three, but for all other kids I think this is ideal as it is easy to hold, is not gloopy and won't spill so a lot less messy than the glues with brushes I remember using for school craft projects.
I've had my sticks for a while, and a long as the glue is would down slightly and the cap put on again, there is no reason it cannot last for a couple of years.
Stabilo Boss are the preferred brand of highlighters in my workplace. In the past we have tried other brands but usually they dry out quicker or are not as thick or bright. I've tried a few other brands myself, and find them lacking.
Currently my pen tray contains four of these - yellow, green, turquoise blue and what is officially a red, but in reality an orangy-pink. I use them for different things - usually to highlight (ha ha!) text that I need to draw my attention too. Often information that I receive from other colleagues is not always exclusively relevant to my job, and I can use the pens to pick out the parts that I would need to refer to at a later (and busier) point, which saves me a heap of time and lessens the chance of me missing something when under pressure. On cluttered design sheets I can be sure that I can find the info that I need easily as the highlight colours really do jump out off the page.
The pens are short and stumpy, but easy to grip and control. A little bit of effort pulls the secure cap away and the thick tipped pen gives a line of approx 0.5cm across your page. If you click the cap into place afterwards you can be sure that the pen won't dry out. I store these lid down in my pen stand. I forget how long I have had them in there, I certainly haven't needed to raid the office stationary cupboard for a good long while.
In the workplace we tend to buy in bulk as that is cheaper. If you are looking to buy for personal use for study et, then you can get a pack of four for about £5. I believe they are about £1.50 individually, and you have a choice of nine different colours. I recommend purchasing these highlighters over other brands for longevity and quality.
A Tipp-Ex has always been an office essential for me. In years past it was always the original correction fluid - which would dry lumpy and was hard to write on. These days it is the mouse correction strips, which are much easier and more practical to use.
The blue plastic casing has a face printed on it, to give it a mouse-like look. Flip up the red plastic 'snout' to expose the tape. I then press gently with the exposed tip flat to the paper, then slowly and firmly drag the mouse across the text I want to correct. This does take a few attempts to get used to. The strips are only 4.2mm wide so if you are changing larger text/writing then you may need to go over it several times. I find it is instantly dry but as it has a bit of a sheen to it, I occasionally find that the writing over it will smudge sometimes - some ballpoints are worse than others but worth bearing in mind.
I would never dream of using this on a professional document that was sent outside the department, I would always re-print with amendments - but if it is a copy for my records, then I would just make any small changes I need by hand using the mouse, to save re-printing a document. It is not perfect but is a vast improvement on the old, dried up bottles we used to have.
Mostly I use these at work and we get a good deal by buying in bulk. For individual use you could pay up to £4, but I think it is worth shopping around if you want to keep one at home.
When Noelle, a respected midwife, commits suicide, her best friends Tara and Emerson are devastated as well as shocked. They don't know why there friend would do this and start to look through her personal effects to find some clues. What they found was not what they expected and there seemed to be a long series of lies and untruths that Noelle has lived with for years.
I've always enjoyed Diane Chamberlain's novels and this one is no exception. You hear different voices throughout the book - all female - from Noelle's friends, their teenage daughters, and other characters who it is revealed had their lives impacted by Noelle. Each will take a chapter and tell their side of events. You can start to build a picture up of events that led to Noelle's death but many key pieces are missing, and it takes a while to get to the bottom of what actually happened.
Chamberlain's characters are all normal - hard-working mums and teenage daughters. They aren't perfect, they make mistakes and they have to deal with the consequences. For the most part I found the characters and their reactions to various situations believable, although I found Noelle hard to 'gel' with in her back-story. The book does cross several time-lines as Chamberlain cleverly weaves the tale to its conclusion. I didn't really try and guess the outcome, I took the story for what it was, accepting each new revelation as it came. Noelle's back-story clarified more for the reader, but of course her friends didn't have the benefit of this!
I would recommend this book as it is easy to read without being dumbed down. It would make a good holiday read as there is a good plot, engaging characters and plenty to chew on, without over-loading your beach-brain to much!
I bought this night cream in the supermarket whilst doing my weekly shop. I had been getting low and had not had chance to get to the local High Street to pop to Boots for something else. I've always thought highly of the Nivea brand, so was happy to try this one. I forget how much I paid for my 50ml tub, but I believe it was less than £10.
The product is boxed and within a wide glass jar with a plastic lid. These gives good access to the last dregs of the cream when you get towards the end of the jar. The cream is quite thick and I just scoop a little bit out on my finger tips and massage it into my cleansed skin outwardly and upwards. It smoothes on really well and starts to soak in immediately, it does not fully soak in straight away, and does leave my skin a it shiny for a few minutes, but I quite like this feature of a night cream - I'm going nowhere from here other than to bed, so it can take as long as it likes.
The cream is fragrance free but I can detect a subtle scent, much like cold cream and similar. It smells natural and there is nothing synthetic about it. I assume it comes from one of the ingredients. A full list of ingredients is on the outer box or available online, for those that are interested.
I am happy with how my skin feels the next morning, it feels soft and moisturised, not dry at all. The product claims to be anti-wrinkle and I don't think I have gained any new ones recently, but I think we have to take such claims with a pinch of salt - wrinkles are sadly inevitable...
I pot has lasted me a few months, being used most nights (occasionally I use a different product such as a facial oil or if I go away overnight) and I reckon there is still a good few weeks left so I am please with how well it has lasted. It is not my first choice of night cream but I would certainly consider purchasing it again.
I have read a number of Diane Chamberlain novels, and of those I think the Necessary Lies is my current favourite. It was one of the best books I read last year.
The novel is set in North Carolina, USA in the 1960s. There are two main characters - One is Jane, a young newly-wed who goes against the grain in wishing to pursue a career after marriage (in social work). Ivy is a poor teenage girl living on a farm with her grandmother, sister and baby nephew. She, and her family, become one of Jane's 'clients'.
Jane becomes more involved with the family than she expected, and wants to do well by them. However the system in this era is very different from how things are done in our more enlightened days and this causes a massive moral dilemma for Jane. I don't want to spoiler the plot for you (information is available elsewhere if you wish to know more) but the book is based on real life events. The 'help' that Ivy's family, more specifically her sister, receive is not something that I would normally have expected to happen in a supposed civilised country in relatively modern times.
Jane comes across as a bit wet at times, but she is inexperienced and thrown into the deep end of dealing with extreme poverty like she has never seen before. Ivy is spirited, yet young and naive. Both characters frustrated me at times. However I really enjoyed the book, and found it very engrossing. Chamberlain may not be troubling the panel of the prestigious book prizes any time soon, but her novels are well-written, well-researched and engaging and this ticks the box for me most of the time.
The key topic covered are clarified at the end of the book with more information if you are interested.
I highly recommend this book for fans of contemporary fiction. This is not chick-lit - there is no real romance, but it is all about the people and how they deal with a unique situation. The characters are flawed also, don't expect some glossy haired heroine. They make mistakes and must deal with the consequences.
I hadn't used Simple products for ages, having moved onto premium skincare products as I got older, but before my last holiday I picked up a 50ml bottle of this in Boots.
There is no pretentious packaging with this product – you get a white bottle with a green screw cap lid. All the information you require is on the sticky label attached to the bottle.
I usually prefer an SPF in my day creams, this one only has 'defending UV filters', so you would need to ensure you got adequate SPF protection elsewhere. Simple don't use any animal derived ingredients, nor do they add perfumes or colours to their products which they claim are suitable for sensitive skin. I don't have particularly sensitive skin but I am always happy to use a gentle product, if effective.
The cream is quite thick so doesn't really pour out the bottle, you may need to shake it and bash it against your palm the get it out - especially towards the end of the bottle. You don't need a huge amount of this as for a thick cream is softens and spreads easily on your skin (in an upward and outward motion as directed). It soaks in easily, even when you’ve misjudged the quantity and have a bit too much on! I tend to leave my moisturiser to soak in whilst I have breakfast and then apply foundation on top of it. I suspect I could apply it more of less straight away as it does seem to soak in well.
I don't use this as a night cream as it mentions UV filters and I prefer to avoid such chemical type ingredients in my night cream to balance it out a bit
The moisturiser is supposed to last all day (12 hours) and I have no cause to dispute it on my personal experience technically, but my skin seems better moisturised with the higher priced product, so I still prefer the premium or even mid-range brands to this. It is hard to qualify, but they just 'feel' better on my skin. Saying that, I would purchase again a small bottle for my wash-bag if I needed to. As a budget product it has a lot to offer and I do recommend people try it to see if it suits them, as you can save yourself a few quid if this turns out better.
The bottle is recyclable. I forget how much I paid for my little bottle, but 125ml bottle is available for a very reasonable £4.50 in Boots. I have also seen Simple products in various supermarkets, so it should not be hard to track down.
I first bought this novel in 2007 but as I buy far more books that I can read, it languished on my shelves for years until it became by book club's selection for April. I am so glad I finally got round to it, as it was so an enjoyable read.
The book is set in 1960s Nigeria, before and during the civil war there. I knew nothing of this war (or even that there was one) and sometimes felt the references to significant political figures (on either side) went over my head a bit. However, this is very much a character led novel, the events surrounding it are just the catalyst for the behaviour of the characters.
There are several 'regular' character sin the book but the stry is told from the perspective of three of them:
Olanna is from a middle class background, daughter of a well of businessman, she received a British university education, and is a university professor. She lives with, and subsequently marries Odenigbo, a fellow professor and they spend their time entertaining with other intellectuals.
Richard is a British ex-pat and writer who falls in love with Olanna's twin sister Kainene. On secondment to the university that Olanna and Odenigbo work at, he falls in with their crowd.
Ugwu - is Olanna and Odenigbo's young houseboy. Encouraged to continue his education, he is also going through puberty and is learning about himself as his country is falling apart.
Although Adiche is Nigerian, she was too young to remember the war herself, the historical part of the plot is based on research and family memories. I found the book engaging to read, Adiche's style is accessible and unpretentious and I was able to engage with the story and the characters. I found the dynamics between the main and the secondary characters interesting and felt that Odenigbo and Kainene were particularly well-drawn despite not getting a voice of their own in the book. It is no surprise to me that the book won much critical acclaim as well as the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction.
I would recommend this book to people who enjoy richly drawn character based novels, set against an true life background.
I have both these items which were purchased separately from Robert Dyas. The kettle had been a gift but I bought the toaster for a very reasonable £17.99.
They are almond and stainless steel and look good together in my kitchen. Obviously the stainless steel part seems to get smeary quite easily and needs to be wiped down a bit more than I would have liked.
The Kettle has a rapid boil function but this doesn't seem to make a huge amount of difference time wise, in my opinion. I like the fact that the cord is a good length yet can coil inside the base, so it not cluttering up your work surfaces. The lid is opened by a button and is a smooth operation and it is not too tricky to get a full (heavy) kettle back on the base. The kettle is fairly lightweight empty. The boil switch is right by the base and sticks out. I have often caught it when I have put down chopping boards or pot and pans nearby and accidentally turned on an empty kettle. I think this aspect could have been better designed.
The Toaster has two slices and has seven setting on a dial depending on how brown you want your toast. I like mine lightly done and find that setting 3 does the trick. It toasts evenly and there is a button to depress if cooking toast straight from the freezer so you don't need to worry about changing the dial. There is also a button if you want your toast back early for any reason (I use this for pitta). The levers and movements are always smooth. There is a small crumb tray at the bottom.
It is too early to talk about reliability as I have only had them a few months, but I believe Prestige to be a good brand and I would expect them to last well in my low usage household.
Both items function well and represent good value for money in my opinion as you get a stylish, functional and reliable product.
I had been keen to try Lidl's own brand perfume Suddenly Madame Glamour for a while as I had heard it was just like Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle which is one of my favourite all-time fragrances, that I often go back to. The Lidl version is about £4 instead of the £50 you'd pay for Chanel. I have seen this product on Amazon for £12, which seems pricey if you know you can get it for £4!
This £4 buys you a 50ml bottle also, packaged in a glossy white and gold cardboard box, which looks quite sophisticated. It apparently sells out quite quickly, I managed to get mine as I popped in just after a delivery.
Inside the box is an uninspiring glass bottle, with a cheap plastic lid. Obviously at this price, there isn't a huge budget for packaging and design, so it isn't surprising really! The liquid in mine is a deeper orangey-pink than in the photo above.
The notes include bergamot and jasmine which are similar to Coco Mademoiselle. Whilst the overall affect is similar, I do find the overall initial fragrance to be sweeter in this perfume, but it settles down after a while. When I wore Coco Mademoiselle I often had compliments on my perfume, this has not happened with this one (yet!) or maybe people are assuming I am wearing the same thing again. I always used to save the Chanel version for special occasions, but this one I don't mind wearing everyday.
I have heard people claim this doesn't last as long, and whilst this is true, I was surprised that it lasted until mid-afternoon after an 8am application. It is not like it disappears after a few hours as some cheap perfumes do.
If I am honest I prefer my Chanel as it feels a bit more special and luxurious. I *know* what I am wearing even if no one else does! However if you do manage to spot one in Lidl I think it is well worth buying as you haven't lost much if you find it isn't for you. The overall affect is floral-oriental.
Although not the cheapest powder blusher on the market (£22) this is my first choice. Clinique are an established premium cosmetic brand and their make up and skincare is available in larger Boots and Department Stores at their dedicated counters. The item comes boxed and within in a clear plastic case, with a mirrored lid is the blusher.
The case contains 6g of blusher which doesn't sound a lot, but you only use a little. I think my current one has lasted ages, and still has a way to go. The lid is mirrored inside and there is a space for the supplied brush. The brush is of excellent quality, and is shaped to help application and shading.
I prefer col 110 'Precious Posy' which is a coral/pink shade. As mentioned, the shaped blush means a few sweeps of powder across my cheeks are sufficient. The blusher is a pressed powder so there is no wastage. It looks natural and just enhances my naturally pale skin, making me look more human and less corpse like!
If I could change anything I would make it stay on my cheeks a bit longer, but I have to say that this is mostly down to me and my (bad) habit of resting my chin/face on my hands at my desk meaning make up has a bit of a battle to stay on. However when I am out and about and not rubbing my face, it stays on just fine, so I am not sure it is fair to state this is a disadvantage.
As mentioned the price is expensive and it means I sometimes hesitate before purchasing. However the quality of the product, the elegant packaging and a decent brush usually means I'll fork out for this over one of the High Street brands that don't supply a brush and look cheap.
This No 7 Perfect Light Loose Powder has been my face powder of choice for a couple of years now. Previously I used Clinique but I find this powder to be equal to it in quality, but substantially cheaper at £10.50. As it is part of the No 7 brand from Boots, there are also often offers to be had such as ‘three for two’, discount vouchers from your shopping, or (as I had last time) a free gift with a purchase of two items. This makes it even better value, and worth keeping an eye on.
The packaging has changed from the pictured version and now has a clear base (with holes in the top to shake the powder through) so you can see easier how much is left, with a dark brown lid with the logo indented . I think it makes it look a lot more modern and more like a premium brand than a high street one. It comes with a puff for application but I prefer to use loose powder with a brush as I am applying on top of foundation and find the gets grubby and unhygienic too quickly.
There are four shades available and I always use translucent. Again, as I apply on top of foundation, I don’t need the colour. Mostly I use it to help ‘set’ the foundation to make it last better, and I am satisfied with how well it does this (it could be better, but then I could also not spend half the day resting my face in my hands).
They claim that this gives a light reflecting, flawless finish. I have to admit I am not entirely sure what they mean by ‘light reflecting’. It certainly doesn't make my skin look dull and it looks healthy, but how much of that is down to this product and how much is my light foundation or is natural, I really cannot say. I give a light dusting and the product does not clump, and does give a flawless look. However I would not expect it to conceal blemishes, I would be looking at a different product for that, but it can help keep my skin tone looking even and make my foundation last longer.
Overall I think this loose powder offers excellent value, as it is a very good product that is easy to apply and lasts well.
Boots No 7 Moisture Drench is currently my preferred lipstick. I do love Clinique's products, but I feel that the No 7 brand gives me better value for money. The last lipsticj I bought from them was £9.50. At the time there was a promotion on where I got a free gift for purchasing two products at the same time (I bought the face powder). You can also often get discount vouchers at the till with other purchases for No7 products. It is worth keeping an eye on the deals if you are looking to buy
The lipstick is in a sleek black tube with the No 7 logo indent and has no other packaging. You simply remove the lid and twist the base to reveal the lipstick. If I am going somewhere special I sometimes use a lip brush, but on a day to day basis I just smooth it on, once in each direction on each lip. At first I am aware that something is there but not so much that I am uncomfortable or want to lick my lips. It is something I get used to after about 30 seconds. My lips feel moisturised but not sticky. The colour has a shine to it, when on your lips, a subtle shimmer but is not glossy.
If I am honest, a dedicated lip balm will give better moisturisation, if that is all you are looking for, but as a lipstick I think this is one of the better high street brands for moisturisation and colour at a reasonable price. The lipstick also has a 15 SPF. They do have a good range of colours, although not every store seems to stock them all, but I love their pinky shades and find them very wearable.
I think this lipstick lasts quite well, and I have been pleased how long it lasts without re-applying. As a dedicated dooyoo reviewer I applied some just before eating some spaghetti bolognese. I was pleased to note that some colour remained on my lips, although the sheen had gone and they were feeling less moisturised. Generally however, when eating a less messy dish, or for sipping drinks the colour does last fairly well, but isn't perfect. I have no problem with re-applying after eating.
Overall I think this is worth trying if you can get a good deal as I think the shimmer and moisturising properties are better than many of its peers in the same price range.
I first tested this fragrance in a local department store, and liked it straight away, but didn't purchase it until I had the opportunity to buy it from Duty Free. Expect to pay £40 upwards for the 30ml Eau de Parfum.
The bottle is attractive, and quite classic in design (short and wide, with clear glass), with a gold lid finished off with a simple black bow at the neck and packaged in a classy black and white matt cardboard box. Even without the bow the bottle looks nice on my dressing table and not at all gimmicky.
As you would expect from a fragrance entitled 'Flora', it is a floral based scent! The top notes are peony and agrums. I can detect the floral part of that straight from the nozzle, but I don't know what agrums are. There is a tang to the first spray, and I would guess that is what it is.
The heart notes are rose and osmanthus flower from China. Again I am unfamiliar with the second scent but the rose is detectable and pleasant. It doesn't smell synthetic or cheap. The heart notes last a good few hours and the scent is strong but not over-powering.
The base notes are patchouli and sandalwood and they are very pleasant and not too strong. This scent can linger on scarves and things and I get a pleasant waft when I put them on again. Sometimes 'old' perfume can smell a bit off on these occasions but I've not noticed that with this fragrance.
Overall I love the perfume but would likely not buy it too often as I like to try other perfumes. I am pleased with the longevity which will last all day. Obliviously it is a premium brand and therefore not cheap, but I think it is worth the investment for special occasions.